Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Winds Of Karma Rock The Ivory Tower

Strong karmic winds are blowing the lid off this papacy. Can any of Benedict's trusted hands really catch it?

As Archbishop, Benedict Focused on Doctrine
By KATRIN BENNHOLD and NICHOLAS KULISH New York Times - March 27, 2010

MUNICH — When Pope Benedict XVI was archbishop of Munich and Freising, he was broadly described as a theologian more concerned with doctrinal debates than personnel matters. That, say his defenders, helps explain why he did not keep close tabs on a pedophile priest sent to his archdiocese in 1980 and allowed to work in a parish.

Yet in 1979, the year before Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, approved the Rev. Peter Hullermann’s move to Munich, the cardinal blocked the assignment to the local university of a prominent theology professor recommended by the university senate. And in 1981, he punished a priest for holding a Mass at a peace demonstration, leading the man to ultimately leave the priesthood.

Pope Benedict’s four-and-a-half-year tenure as archbishop is among the least-examined periods of his life, but his time presiding over 1,713 priests and 2.2 million Catholics was in many ways a dress rehearsal for his present job tending to the Roman Catholic Church’s more than one billion members worldwide.

As archbishop, Benedict expended more energy pursuing theological dissidents than sexual predators. Already in the early 1980s, one could catch a glimpse of a future pope preoccupied with combating any movement away from church tradition. Vatican experts say there is little evidence that Benedict spent much time investigating more than 200 cases of “problem priests” in the diocese, with issues including alcohol abuse, adultery and, now under the microscope, pedophilia.

“His natural habitat was the faculty lounge, and he hadn’t even been a faculty chair,” said John L. Allen Jr. of The National Catholic Reporter. “He would be the first to concede he was much more interested in the life of the mind than the nuts and bolts of administrative work.” (The life of the mind can be a much safer place to spend time relative to the challenges of actually spending time with people.)

Andreas Englisch, a leading German Vatican expert and the author of several books on Benedict, said that Cardinal Ratzinger “was never interested in bureaucratic stuff,” and noted that when he was first asked to be archbishop of Munich, he considered turning down the post because he did not want to work as “a manager.” In his autobiography, Benedict described taking the post as “an infinitely difficult decision.” (That's an interesting statement. No mention of working as a shepherd, of guiding people--just managing things. I bet it was a difficult decision, but let's face it, Archbishops have a much brighter future in the Church than plain old theologians.)

His management decisions are now the central focus of the widening scandal in the church in Germany. His supporters say that although he approved Father Hullermann’s move to his archdiocese, they assume that he may not have paid attention to a memo informing him that the priest, who had sexually abused boys in his previous posting, was almost immediately allowed to resume parish duties.

“He certainly would not have realized anything; he was in a different sphere,” said Hannes Burger, 72, who covered the church, including during Benedict’s time as archbishop, for the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

“He held beautiful sermons and wrote beautifully, but the details he left to his staff,” said Mr. Burger, who interviewed the future pope several times before he went to Rome. “He was a professorial bishop, with Rome as his goal.”

Three decades ago it was common practice in the church to ignore or cover up incidents of molestation, or, in severe cases, to transfer priests to faraway parishes. Even outside the church, both victims and law enforcement authorities were less likely to take decisive steps to expose and combat abuse.

But Benedict’s track record in handling such cases under his direct control has assumed new relevance because he presides over a church troubled by scandal. He has to weigh whether and how severely to punish bishops who failed to act to deal with abuses in their domains.

In fact, in his efforts to combat child abuse in 2010, Benedict faces a dilemma over how to handle the same kind of institutional secrecy that was practiced by his own archdiocese in 1980. The future pope himself chose “co-workers of the truth,” as the motto for his time as archbishop. (Someone should really sit down with Benedict and dialogue with him about his notion of love in truth. First it's the other way around, and secondly the kind of truth one finds is not a list of rules from the catechism. Like Aquinas, if Benedict ever has a true spiritual experience, he may find his total life work appears to be 'so much straw'.

The case is alarming, wrote the German newspaper Die Zeit last week, not “because Ratzinger was guilty of an exceptional offense.”

“It is the other way around: It is significant because the archbishop acted as probably most other dignitaries in those years,” it wrote. “In 1980 Joseph Ratzinger was part of the problem that preoccupies him today.”

Benedict was a stern disciplinarian on the issue that propelled him up the church hierarchy. An early enthusiast for reform in the Catholic Church in the early 1960s, he soon changed his mind and joined the ranks of those trying to put the brakes on the liberalizing forces unleashed by the counterculture movement. (Was it an event or a person, who got to Benedict?)

His time in Munich was marked by confrontations with the local clergy, theologians and priests who worked there at the time.

Cardinal Ratzinger ruffled feathers almost upon arrival in Munich by ordering priests to return to celebrating First Communion and first confession in the same year, rather than having the first confession a year later, a practice that had become established over the previous decade, and which its advocates considered more appropriate for young children.

One priest, the Rev. Wilfried Sussbauer, said he wrote to the archbishop at the time questioning the change, and said Cardinal Ratzinger “wrote me an extremely biting letter” in response.

After receiving the letter, Father Sussbauer and other priests asked for an audience with their archbishop in 1977. They did not get one. But the visiting sister of President Jimmy Carter did. When the priests found out, they called Cardinal Ratzinger’s office. “We asked, ‘Who is more important, your own priests or the sister of the American president?’ ” Father Sussbauer, 77, recalled. “Then suddenly we got an appointment.”

Cardinal Ratzinger was already something of a clerical diplomat, traveling as the official representative of Pope John Paul I to Ecuador in 1978. And with two conclaves to select a new pope in 1978, it seemed at times as if the archbishop already had one foot in the Vatican.

“His predecessor as archbishop was simply more aware of the practical problems of pastoral work,” said Wolfgang Seibel, a Jesuit priest and editor of the Munich-based magazine Stimmen der Zeit from 1966 to 1998. “He didn’t have enough time to leave his mark.”

How closely he would have watched personnel decisions, especially with an administrative chief, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, who had been in his post since 1968, is an open question. But the transfer of Father Hullermann from Essen would not have been a routine matter, experts said.
Mr. Englisch, the Vatican expert, said that transferring a problem priest was “such a difficult decision” that it would necessarily have required his opinion.

“I think the guy who handled it would have gone to his archbishop and said, ‘This case of transferring a priest is not common, and we should really have an eye on him,’ ” Mr. Englisch said. Referring to Benedict, he added, “I don’t think that he really knew the details; I don’t think he was really interested in the details.”

“As they say in the legal profession, you either knew or you should have known,” said the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, who once worked at the Vatican Embassy in Washington and became an early and well-known whistle-blower on sexual abuse in the church. “The archbishop is the unquestioned authority in that diocese. The buck stops there.”


I could maybe cut Benedict some slack if he was falling back on the age old pastoral notion of belief in the healing efficacy of a true confession, but that's a pastoral justification for his lack of action in Munich. It would be out of character for someone who saw his position as one of 'managing', enforcing truth, and staying in the pristine world of his thoughts. That person would be inclined to delegate both authority and responsibility and claim he knew nothing, was not responsible, was tied up in other concerns. This is exactly what Benedict is claiming concerning Fr. Hullerman.

I also find it interesting that one of the self perpetuated views Benedict promotes about himself is that of the reluctant leader. We read he didn't want his position in Munich, he wanted to retire from the CDF but JPII wouldn't accept his resignation, he was not keen on being Pope as he preferred retirement with his brother in Bavaria. And yet, he never acts on these longings, instead taking positions with even more 'managerial' responsibilities, in which he doesn't do much managing. He continues to read, write, and act primarily as an academic theologian who just happens to wind up in situations in which he has all the authority he needs to make his theology a virtual doctrinal system. We now have a situation in which the academic Ivory Tower is synonymous with the Papal Throne.

This is not a good situation. There are very good reasons brilliant academics who live in their head are not put in charge of Universities. The first reason has to do with the fact these brilliant people do not do day to day responsibility well at all. They don't prioritize in the same way a real managerial type does, and they do not deal well with situations which fall outside their comfort zone--which tends not to be a very big zone. For all of Einstein's brilliance, he was never President of Princeton.

Another reason, a kind of stereotype which has some truth, is that channelized academic brilliance tends to be lacking in common sense and wisdom. Wisdom is an intelligence which is a product of both head and heart--literally, but that's another post. Heart intelligence is relational intelligence. It's about relationship with people, not ideas. If this papacy has a signature flaw at this point, that signature is all about priority of ideas and ideals over people. It is not a papacy whose hallmark is pastoral wisdom and this is a trait which is pronounced on all levels of heirarchical authority. There is no voice of pastoral wisdom at this point in the Church. Those voices have been silenced or choose to be unheard whispers. This is what's killing the heart, and therefore, the soul of this Church.

Bill Lyndsey has written a very important post about the karmic cycle Catholicism finds itself in at this point. He makes the point that the Church's karma is Benedict's karma. What Benedict has set in motion, even as far back as Munich, is coming home to roost. Jesus made this same observation about the religious authorities of His time. He pointed out that in destroying Him they would set in motion the energy which destroyed them. This is perhaps a point Benedict might want to meditate on this coming week. Perhaps then he would stop blaming everyone and everything else for his current travails.


  1. Your analysis is very close to what I've heard through the channels about our pope. He very much lives in his head and has little knowledge of the goings on in the Vatican. This is evidenced well by the various media flaps of recent times. One hand does not know what the other is doing.

    I also agree with your point on Christ's criticism of the religious leaders of His time. It strikes me as ironic that the hard liners in the Church, both cleric and lay, feel that our faith should be nothing more than a strict adherence to rules and regulations, as if our sanctity relied only on that. It's as if they'd never heard the word "Pharisee".

  2. The idea that he "didn't want" high office is a sham. He didn't want the papacy, either - but mounted a masterly political campaign to get it.

    As a young man, he was all in favour of academic freedom for theologians - until he had the authority to silence those who disagreed with him.

    He was all in favour of transparency for the proceedings of the CDF - until he was directing those proceedings himself.

    He has told the Irish Church that canon law did not "prevent" referral of molesters to the police, and that his earlier directive had been "misunderstood" - but when he met the Irish bishops some years ago and discussed the abuse, he did not then point out any misunderstanding, or direct them to refer offenders to the police.

    Benedict does not simply live in an academic power. He lives rather in a world in which church doctrine takes precedence over all other considerations - and his own interpretation of doctrine is the only one that matters.

    The man is a megalomaniac, intent only on total control of the church, in a world where the church is subject to no external control.

  3. Thanks Colleen. Here is another link with an article about this karma in full force this Holy Week. A link to an article by Sinead O'Connor is also more karma coming back at Benedict and the Vatican which is within this link.|main|dl1|link3|

    As a footnote, I saw the Saturday Night live program in which Sinead O'Connor ripped up a picture of JPII. At the time I knew nothing about what she was protesting against. I think a lot of people now do understand what she was protesting.

    It makes a lot of karmic sense that the Truth that Benedict must face and hear is the wisdom of the Holy Spirit during this Holy week. Will he hear it or ignore it, or as you say Colleen, will PB "stop blaming everyone and everything else for his current travails."

    Great insight and wisdom from you Colleen & about what Jesus said - "He pointed out that in destroying Him they would set in motion the energy which destroyed them."

  4. More Karma at the start of this Holy Week for the Pope and the Vatican. Here is another link of two video stories.

  5. Here's a link to the latest from John Allen, Papal Press Secretary, pouring gallons of whitewash on the issues and making Benedict a near hero of al the mess.

  6. Does it even matter any longer whether or not the Pope "gets" the Karma? For he's become PART of it without realizing it. Every time he opens his mouth - or someone else speaks "for" him - it only inflames the conflagration spreading all around him. For example, this from his "sermon" today: faith in God helped lead one "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion". Well... that only fans the flames! It only gives the press or the bloggers one more opportunity to remind everyone of the back story - not because there's a vendetta as the pope would have us believe - but because words such as these are yet more evidence that he lives in an alternate universe... one quite different from the one where Jesus walked and ate and prayed and suffered and died as he gave up his Spirit in total love for us.

    So the Pope is actually aiding and abetting the Karma!!! He sees that the "dominant opinion" is AGAINST him, but he is so totally wedded to the idea that his opinion is in line with God that he cannot consider the alternative, plain as day, and plainer by the day.... Thus he appears more and more and as a pitiful figure, a caricature... Karma indeed!

  7. Herr Ratzinger has all the hallmarks of a professional BS artist. Let's be very blunt: we are speaking of a brilliant, multi-lingual, multi-disciplinary, virtual polymath with an in house reputation as a micromanager.

    Thus any contention that he 'did not know the details' is either a flat out lie, or an extreme case of Cognitive Dissonance.

    Now, let us ask another pregnant question: in 1977, what exactly were his qualifications for the position of Archbishop of Munich?

    Answer: none.

    He had NEVER pastored a parish or been a Chancery official. Thus in pure business terms, he was completely UNqualified as an administrator. In terms of the Pastoral he was (obviously...) equally UNqualified.

    For Ratz, the position of AB of Munich was a mere stepping stone. Crucial as it made him a Metropolitan, but as is assured him a Red Hat..... on the (true & freely willing???) signature of a then half drooling Paul VI, who had less then a year to live. The Red Hat was to come courtesy of JPII, whose first official act as Pope was to venerate the tomb of Jose Maria Escriva.

    Is a picture starting to form now?

    Or shall we note that his Roman Status was very obviously on the heels of the establishment of Opus Dei as a bizarre 'Personal Prelature" (parallel church) in 1982 by JPII.

    There is also the contention - spun more then a 45 in a juke box - that he 'never wanted to be pope, only to retire'.Only those lacking in powers of observation would take that claim seriously.

    Was he gunning for the Papacy? Duh......yes! But one does NOT connive to become the 'viceregent of God on earth' alone. One needs helpers. Supporters. Or 'godfathers', if you catch my drift.

    Just as Karol Woytilya was long ago pre-chosen by the Opus Dei to be pope - and groomed for the job over decades, so was Herr Ratzginer. There is however one critical difference between the two men:

    The former had no clue what he was getting himself into (or surrounding himself with....). The latter, by contrast knew full well & is willingly 'their man'.

    That Opus Dei itself & Escriva's writings are full of the "Leaven of the Pharisees" should be obvious to anyone who comprehends the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ergo: Ratzinger is the personification of said "Leaven", of which Christ warned.

  8. You will love this one anon. I was doing my meditation thing today and threw a question out to the lords and ladies of Light, as they are called down here. I was thinking specifically of AB Martin's homily. I asked what it was that needed to be done to bring this Church back on track.

    The answer shocked me because I was not thinking on that wave length at all. Here it is: Cleanse the Church of the energy of Spanish Catholic fascism. It's old and it's signature is abuse."

  9. Colleen-your meditation message is spot on!

  10. "Cleanse the Church of the energy of Spanish Catholic fascism. It's old and it's signature is abuse."

    Very interesting. My response would be: it is 'old' because its spirit & mode are of the Ancient Serpent. Opus Dei is simply a systemic embodiment of something very ancient & very evil - under the guise of "piety".

    When we have Fascism, the mechanism for abuse is its byproduct. Leaders of any kind who are taught to think of themselves as automatically above reproach or 'holy' simply by virtue of their job title, are ripe for corruption of all kinds.

    The worse part is not JUST the ready-made set up for systemic abuse, or even that it happens. They feel entitled to it; to the power to abuse with impunity.

    And I have had clerics tell me that to my face - both overtly & in subtext. Just as they consider parish funds to be 'theirs' to do with as they please, ppl exist for their pleasure.

  11. It's interesting you mention this anon: it is 'old' because its spirit & mode are of the Ancient Serpent. Opus Dei is simply a systemic embodiment of something very ancient & very evil - under the guise of "piety".

    I was told that I didn't have enough knowledge of Spanish history prior to the Spanish Inquisition. That this energy was ancient and Catholicism in Spain was morphed by existing energy. I havent' yet done the research I need to do, but your synchronistic posting tells me I better get on it.

  12. Colleen -

    In re the early history of Spain, you need to look back prior to the year 1000. What we know as the 'Spanish Inquisition' is, if you wish, the karmic embodiment of something centuries prior to its invention.

    Look into the history of monasticism in Spain. What were they studying there? In more then a few cases, literally the occult.

    The 'long story short' is that they obtained ancient texts on occult sciences. Some came from the Arabic/Moorish sources within Spain. Some from documents from the Great Library(s) of Alexandria.

    The word Alchemy comes from two Arabic roots: 'Al-Chemi(Khemi)" Literally: "from Egypt/from evil".

    I am not referring to the healing arts or ink making...or the scientific origins of what we now call 'chemistry'. No, I am referring to what Pope Sylvester II studied while in Spain. The 'legend' about him is not a legend (he is revered in Theosophy...)

    While this was not true of every monastery in Europe, ask yourself this:

    What exactly were they doing there? With all that manpower reading, studying, copying ancient texts? Doing 'scientific experiments'?

    Considering the vast number of monastaries....why did they not teach the common man to read? Or aid them materially (peasants living on/adjacent to their lands were taxed)? Exactly how were they teaching the Gospel?

    Not by personal example. And they were not just copying Bibles.

    They were playing the pipes of Pan.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  13. Anon, I have a lot of thinking to do, correlating some rather unique experiences with this information.

    I used to think ritual Satanic evil was myth, but have since been disabused of those notions. Someday I'll write the story. It's pretty fascinating and the resultant instantaneous healing was the real deal and very much supported by medical documentation.