CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER, LATER POPE BENEDICT XVI FORESAW THE REVOLUTION IN THE CHURCH
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th. • ChurchMilitant.com • February 15, 2018
“We must be saved not through the Cross but from the Cross”
As Church leaders reconsider greenlighting contraception and others claim Catholic teaching on sexual ethics has undergone “a paradigm shift,” which is “nothing short of revolutionary,” it’s helpful to recall that Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, foresaw this sexual revolution in the Church coming some 30 years ago.
Addressing a doctrinal commission in 1989 Cdl. Ratzinger, then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, identified the essentials of the sexual revolution being pushed by Church Leaders. “The principle elements of this litany,” said Cdl. Ratzinger are:
The rejection of the Church’s teaching about contraception, which means … every kind of means for the prevention of conception upon whose application only individual “conscience” may decide; the rejection of every form of “discrimination” as to homosexuality and the consequent assertion of a moral equivalence for all forms of sexual activity as long as they are motivated by “love” or at least do not hurt anyone; the admission of the divorced who remarry to the Church’s sacraments; and the ordination of women to the priesthood.
The cardinal described the push for sexual liberality as a “revolutionary vision about man which has appeared behind our rather haphazardly concocted litany of objections to the Church’s teaching.” He explained how the objections to sexual morality were rooted in a false notion of Christ. One view he says discards morality as legalism based on a liberal-minded Christ and the other view is of a social-justice Christ so prevalent in liberation theology:
There are today two principal models for the alleged figure of the historical Jesus: the bourgeois-liberal and the Marxist-revolutionary. Jesus was either the herald of a liberal morality, struggling against every kind of “legalism” and its representatives or he was a subversive who can be considered as the deification of the class struggle and its religious symbolic figure.
Cardinal Ratzinger elaborated on these two false notions of Christ:
Evident in the background are the two aspects of the modern notion of freedom, which are seen embodied in Jesus; this is what makes Him God’s representative. The unmistakable symptom of the present decline of Christology is the disappearance of the Cross and, consequently, the meaninglessness of the Resurrection, of the Paschal Mystery. In the liberal model, the Cross is an accident, a mistake, the result of short-sighted legalism. It cannot therefore be made the subject of theological speculation; indeed, it really should not have occurred and a proper liberalism makes it in any event superfluous.
In the second model, Jesus is the failed revolutionary. He can now symbolize the suffering of the oppressed class and thus foster the growth of class consciousness. From this viewpoint, the Cross can even be given a certain sense, an important meaning but one which is radically opposed to the witness of the New Testament. Now, in both these versions, there runs a common thread, namely, that we must be saved not through the Cross but from the Cross.
Watch the panel discuss the sexual revolution in the Church in The Download—Attacking Humanae Vitae.
THE DOWNLOAD: ATTACKING HUMANAE VITAE
Enemies within the Church push sexual revolution.
February 15, 2018
Enemies within the Church push sexual revolution.
How can we best understand and handle what seem today to be incessant challenges to the faith from inside as well as outside the Church?
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger gave some helpful pointers in a prophetic 1989 address in which he showed not only how these new revolutionary “paradigms” have evolved, but how to understand their specious nature, and in what way the faithful can effectively respond to them.
In his discourse to doctrinal commissions in Laxenburg, Austria, entitled Difficulties Confronting the Faith in Europe Today, the then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pinpointed a “litany of objections” to the Church’s teaching and practice repeated by “progressive-thinking Catholics.”
The first of these objections, he said, was the rejection of the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception — a long-standing dissension which, during this 50th anniversary year of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, is now, for the first time, being promoted without censure by papal-appointed Vatican figures.
Cardinal Ratzinger said the rejection takes the form of placing artificial birth control on “the same moral level of every kind of means for the prevention of conception upon whose application only individual ‘conscience’ may decide.”
A second objection concerns the Church’s “discrimination” with regards to homosexuality, and the “consequent assertion” by progressive-thinking Catholics of a “moral equivalence for all forms of sexual activity as long as they are motivated by ‘love’ or at least do not hurt anyone.” Connected with this, he singled out the “admission of the divorced who remarry to the Church’s sacraments,” and, lastly, “the ordination of women to the priesthood.”
Cardinal Ratzinger noted how these “objections” question both sexual morality and the Church’s sacramental order, but are “very much linked together,” springing from “a particular notion of human freedom” and difficulties relating to the “Church’s traditional sexual morality.” Today, he said, man feels he has to “come to terms with his sexuality in a differentiated and less confining way” and he thus urges a revision of standards, ones which are deemed “no longer acceptable in the present circumstances, no matter how meaningful they may have been under past historical conditions.”
Such thinking, he added, claims to show how today we have “finally discovered our rights and the freedom of our conscience” and how we are “no longer prepared to subordinate it to some external authority.”
He added that for those who hold such opinions, the “fundamental relationship between man and woman” should be reordered in such a way that “outmoded role expectations” must “be overturned and that complete equality of opportunity be accorded women on all levels and in all fields.”
The cardinal said it would be surprising if the Church, being the “conservative institution that she is,” would go along with such an ideology, but if she did, she would be obliged to “set aside the theological justification of old social taboos, and the most timely and vital sign of such a desire at the present moment would be her consent to the ordination of women to the priesthood.”
The future pope then turned to the roots of this “progressive-thinking,” and noted that its “key concepts” are the words “conscience” and “freedom” which, although supposed to “confer the aura of morality,” actually are a “surrender of moral integrity” and the “simplifications of a lax conscience.”
Conscience, he pointed out, is no longer understood as knowledge derived from a “higher form of knowing” but rather the “individual’s self-determination” — each person deciding for himself “what is moral in a given situation.”
Furthermore, he said the concept of “norms,” or the “moral law,” take on “negative shades of dark intensity,” and while an “external rule may supply models for direction,” for the progressive Catholicthinker it can in “no case serve as the ultimate arbiter of one’s obligation” — an argument used recently by a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life who placed conscience and responsibility above the moral precept of artificial contraception as an intrinsic evil.
These changes in approach, Cardinal Ratzinger said, are portrayed as “liberation” but actually lead to the disappearance of the differentiation between the sexes, precipitated by the separation of “sexuality and procreation” that was first “introduced with the [contraceptive] pill” and “brought to its culmination” by being able to “‘make’ human beings in the laboratory.”
It has led, he added, to seeing as “unimportant” the differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality as well as other extra-marital relations — a “revolutionary vision” which lies behind the litany of objections to Church teaching he laid out at the beginning.
“Without a doubt this will be one of the principal challenges for anthropological reflection in coming years,” the cardinal said presciently, and predicted meticulous work is needed to discern which is in opposition to the faith’s vision of man, and which could be “quite meaningful corrections to traditional notions.”
Breathing in Paradigm Shifts
He then looked at how such thinking has come to be adopted by Christians, and concluded that it rests on a “far-reaching change of ‘paradigms’” that appear plausible while removing the old ones for consideration. Many Christians “breathe in” such an atmosphere, he said, which can easily appear more attractive.
“Who would not be for conscience and freedom and against legalism and constraint?,” he asked rhetorically. “Who wishes to be put into the position of defending taboos? If the questions are framed in this way, the faith proclaimed by the Magisterium is already manoeuvred into a hopeless position. It collapses all by itself because it loses its plausibility according to the thought patterns of the modern world, and is looked upon by progressive contemporaries as something that has been long superseded.”
To effectively respond to this, Cardinal Ratzinger advocated expressing the “logic of the faith in its integrity, the good sense and reasonableness of its view of reality and life.”
He also stressed the need to understand how this new revolutionary “paradigm” came into existence, and put it down to changes in three areas: The complete disappearance of the theological doctrine on creation which is connected to the demise of metaphysics; man’s “imprisonment in the empirical,” that is, knowledge based only on the senses, which has led to a “weakening of Christology” and essentially a lack of belief in the divinity of Christ; and lastly a loss of belief in the Last Things, and the fact that belief in eternal life “has hardly any role to play in preaching today.”
This has led, he continued, to the “Kingdom of God” being almost “completely substituted” by the “Utopia of a better future world,” but it is a yearning that “does not suffice.” Rather, it is dangerous, he added, “if the better world terminology predominates in prayers and sermons and inadvertently replaces the faith with a placebo.”
Cardinal Ratzinger ended by not wishing to appear too negative, but rather to set out the “obstacles to the faith in the European context” and to examine the “deepest motives which give rise to the individual difficulties in ever changing forms.”
“Only by learning to understand that fundamental trait of modern existence which refuses to accept the faith before discussing all its contents, will we be able to regain the initiative instead of simply responding to the questions raised,” he advised.
“Only then can we reveal the faith as the alternative which the world awaits after the failure of the liberalistic and Marxist experiments,” he added. “This is today’s challenge to Christianity, herein lies our great responsibility as Christians at the present time.”
The talk can be read in full on the Vatican website here.
FATHER JOSEPH RATZINGER 1969 PREDICTION OF THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
In a 1969 German radio broadcast, Father Joseph Ratzinger offered this prediction of the future of the Church:
“The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves.
To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered.
If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!
How does all this affect the problem we are examining? It means that the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is all empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by the psychotherapist and other specialists; but the priest who is no specialist, who does not stand on the [sidelines], watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of man, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future.
Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.
The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century.
But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”
Another fascinating interview with Raymond Arroyo in 2003:
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SAINT OF THE DAY
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VATICAN’S TOP CANONIST: CIVILLY REMARRIED CAN RECEIVE SACRAMENTS http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/02/15/vaticans-top-canonist-civilly-remarried-can-receive-sacraments/
Vatican doctrine chief Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller rebukes bishops using Amoris to justify ‘mortal sin’ of adultery http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/02/01/vatican-doctrine-chief-cardinal-gerhard-ludwig-muller-rebukes-bishops-using-amoris-to-justify-mortal-sin-of-adultery/
What History May Tell Us About Amoris Laetitia? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/01/26/what-history-may-tell-us-about-amoris-laetitia/
Global priests’ movement urges Pope Francis to answer 4 Cardinals: ‘A clarification is clearly needed’ http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/02/01/global-priests-movement-urges-pope-francis-to-answer-4-cardinals-a-clarification-is-clearly-needed/
Maltese Catholics rebuke ‘abominable’ Communion guidelines in stinging full-page ad http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/01/31/maltese-catholics-rebuke-abominable-communion-guidelines-in-stinging-full-page-ad/
DUBIA CARDINAL CARLO CAFFARRA BREAKS HIS SILENCE http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/01/16/dubia-cardinal-carlo-caffarra-breaks-his-silence/
Catholic Teaching on Marriage and Communion is Unambiguous http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/14/catholic-teaching-on-marriage-and-communion-is-unambiguous/
Cardinal Burke Corrects Errors of Papal Defenders; De Mattei Sets Historical Stage for Confrontation http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/16/cardinal-burke-corrects-errors-of-papal-defenders-de-mattei-sets-historical-stage-for-confrontation/
CARDINALS SEEK CLARITY FROM POPE FRANCIS ABOUT “AMORIS LAETITIA” http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/15/cardinals-seek-clarity-from-pope-francis-about-amoris-laetitia/
CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE REPEATS: ‘AMORIS LAETITIA’ NOT MAGISTERIAL http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/16/cardinal-raymond-burke-repeats-amoris-laetitia-not-magisterial/
Updated: Who are these four cardinals who wrote the ‘dubia’ to the Pope? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/25/updated-who-are-these-four-cardinals-who-wrote-the-dubia-to-the-pope/
CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE: PAPAL CLARIFICATION OR DISUNITY http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/17/cardinal-raymond-burke-papal-clarification-or-disunity/
CARDINAL GERHARD MÜLLER: NO CORRECTION OF THE POPE http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/01/09/cardinal-gerhard-muller-no-correction-of-the-pope/
Pope Francis: Everything in Amoris Laetitia was supported by the synod http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/08/pope-francis-everything-in-amoris-laetitia-was-supported-by-the-synod/
CARDINAL GERHARD MÜLLER AFFIRMS CHURCH TEACHING ON MARRIAGE: “Amoris Laetitia” must be read in light of traditional doctrine and discipline http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/02/cardinal-gerhard-muller-affirms-church-teaching-on-marriage-amoris-laetitia-must-be-read-in-light-of-traditional-doctrine-and-discipline/
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy to priests: Embrace ‘LGBT families’, give Communion to ‘remarried’ http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/29/san-diego-bishop-robert-mcelroy-to-priests-embrace-lgbt-families-give-communion-to-remarried/
Vatican Chief of Sacraments: No pope can change divine law on Communion http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/21/vatican-chief-of-sacraments-no-pope-can-change-divine-law-on-communion/
HEAD OF VATICAN COURT: CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE COULD BE STRIPPED OF RED HAT http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/29/head-of-vatican-court-cardinal-raymond-burke-could-be-stripped-of-red-hat/
Staunch Dubia Opponent Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto on Famous List of Freemasons and who redoubles his rebuke of the four Cardinals http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/04/staunch-dubia-opponent-msgr-pio-vito-pinto-on-famous-list-of-freemasons-and-who-redoubles-his-rebuke-of-the-four-cardinals/
Amoris Laetitia: The Controversies Explained http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/05/amoris-laetitia-the-controversies-explained/
Time to choose sides in the civil war over Amoris Laetitia says Catholic academic http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/06/time-to-choose-sides-in-the-civil-war-over-amoris-laetitia-says-catholic-academic/
BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER: SCHISM IS ALREADY HERE http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/07/bishop-athanasius-schneider-schism-is-already-here/
Church Leaders Respond to the ‘Dubia’ http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/07/church-leaders-respond-to-the-dubia/
23 SCHOLARS SIGN STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF FOUR CARDINALS AND DUBIA http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/10/23-scholars-sign-statement-in-support-of-four-cardinals-and-dubia/
THREE MORE DIOCESES: NO COMMUNION FOR DIVORCED AND CIVILLY REMARRIED http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/12/14/three-more-dioceses-no-communion-for-divorced-and-civilly-remarried/
African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier: If we allow Communion for adulterers, what about our polygamists? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2017/01/11/african-cardinal-wilfrid-napier-if-we-allow-communion-for-adulterers-what-about-our-polygamists/
HOW DOES THE CHURCH CORRECT THE SERIOUS ERROR OF A POPE? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/11/27/how-does-the-church-correct-the-serious-error-of-a-pope/
Pope Francis encourages the integration of the divorced in the Church: Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Latin for ‘Joy of Love’) was presented http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/08/pope-francis-encourages-the-integration-of-the-divorced-in-the-church-apostolic-exhortation-amoris-laetitia-latin-for-joy-of-love-was-presented/
POPE FRANCIS RELEASES FINAL WORDS ON SYNOD: ‘AMORIS LAETITIA’ – Reaffirms Church teaching on marriage http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/08/pope-francis-releases-final-words-on-synod-amoris-laetitia-reaffirms-church-teaching-on-marriage/
CARDINAL RAYMOND BURKE: KEY TO INTERPRETING ‘AMORIS LAETITIA’ IS IN LIGHT OF CHURCH DOGMA AND DISCIPLINE http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/12/cardinal-raymond-burke-key-to-interpreting-amoris-laetitia-is-in-light-of-church-dogma-and-discipline/
Defenses of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/13/defenses-of-pope-francis-apostolic-exhortation-amoris-laetitia/
What has Pope Francis given us in “Amoris Laetitia”? http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/12/what-has-pope-francis-given-us-in-amoris-laetitia/
VIDEO — Cardinal Christoph Schönborn: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Needs Serious Theological Discussion http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/12/video-cardinal-christoph-schonborn-amoris-laetitia-needs-serious-theological-discussion/
Amoris Laetitia: All Things to All Men http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/12/amoris-laetitia-all-things-to-all-men/
Father Spadaro: Amoris Laetitia Is a Jesuit Document http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/04/12/father-spadaro-amoris-laetitia-is-a-jesuit-document/
THE DOWNLOAD—‘AMORIS LAETITIA’ AND THE NEED FOR CLARITY http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/02/the-download-amoris-laetitia-and-the-need-for-clarity/
IGNORING CONTEXT IN POPE FRANCIS’ “AMORIS LAETITIA” EXHORTATION LEADS TO SACRILEGIOUS COMMUNION http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/03/ignoring-context-in-pope-francis-amoris-laetitia-exhortation-leads-to-sacrilegious-communion/
VATICAN DOCTRINAL CHIEF CARDINAL GERHARD MULLER: ‘AMORIS LAETITIA’ ISN’T CHANGING CHURCH DISCIPLINE http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/05/05/vatican-doctrinal-chief-cardinal-gerhard-muller-amoris-laetitia-isnt-changing-church-discipline/
The Family Synod’s Final Report is Out in English, and It’s Remarkably Strong http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2015/12/15/the-family-synods-final-report-is-out-in-english-and-its-remarkably-strong/
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI breaks silence: speaks of ‘deep crisis’ facing Church post-Vatican II http://www.pagadiandiocese.org/2016/03/16/pope-emeritus-benedict-xvi-breaks-silence-speaks-of-deep-crisis-facing-church-post-vatican-ii/