Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Why did the cardinals choose Ratzinger?

Commentators are spilling a lot of ink about this question, and certainly a lot can be said. Here are a few thoughts that come to my mind; please add what you think about it.

Up to now we've only known Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF. In that capacity, he had a job to do and he did it. He himself would have preferred to be free to work on developing his own theological writings. Instead he had to be concerned with ensuring doctrinal integrity. What we don't know is Ratzinger as pastor and bishop. He might very well surprise people by his pastoral sense. He's not John Paul and we can't expect him to be. But the reports are that on a personal level he is very gracious and warm.

This might sound like a crude political analogy, so please excuse that, but it's a comparison that may shed some light on his election. Bush won the election last year because he followed Karl Rove's advice to energize his base. He didn't spend time trying to attract voters who would not like him anyway. Perhaps the cardinals are signaling that the time has come for the Church also, in a similar way, to energize its base. The Pope needs to make it clear to committed Catholics that he supports them in their efforts to live faithful lives of discipleship. I don't mean to imply that John Paul didn't. Pope Benedict made it clear in his first homily that he wants to continue ecumenical dialogue, etc. But he's not going to change Church teaching on controversial matters in order to try and attract people who would not accept those teachings anyway. That might mean having a smaller flock, but one that is more committed. No one wants to see people go away and leave the Church. It breaks my heart to see that. But it must have broken Jesus' heart to see many of his disciples leave him after he gave the discourse on the bread of life (John ch. 6). But he let them go. He didn't call them back and say, "I didn't really mean what I said." It was a hard saying, and people left because of it. That's free will. God respects the freedom we all have to accept or reject the message. But he's not going to change the message.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said it better.Thanks Sister!

Christine said...

Thank you, Sister! Perfect! Despite what the media might say, I see a lot of very devout and orthodox Catholics who are (somewhat) young - under 40, at least.

I especially love your comparison to our Lord's reaction when half (!) of His followers left Him after His promise of the Blessed Sacrament!

God bless you!

Seismic said...

A Church that stands for everything stands for nothing.

The Catholic church must draw a line in the sand and trust in the Lord to sustain it through the challenges that will arise.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Those are all great points, especially trusting that the Lord will bring the Church through all the challenges. Yesterday on the radio I heard a commentator say that the Catholic Church is dying. It might get smaller, but it will never die because of the Lord's promise to always be with it.

Christine said...

AMEN, SISTER! The gates of Hell shall not prevail!

I saw a quote from "God and the World" (the book-length interview with then-Cardinal Ratzinger) that really struck me. I have links to the place I found it here:

But here is the quote. He said that the Church will "become small, and will to a great extent have to start over again. But after a time of testing, an internalized and simplified Church will radiate great power and influence; for the population of an entirely planned and controlled world are going to be inexpressibly lonely…and they will then discover the little community of believers as something quite new. As a hope that is there for them, as they answer they have secretly always been asking for."

I thought this was both beautiful and prophetic. I have been dismayed at some of the unorthodox things my parish priest has said and done, and when I confronted him about some of them and commented that I believe that the Church has the answers to the problems in life, he said flatly that he didn't believe that the Church holds all the answers. I have to really remember to pray for him more often. But it comforts me that the cardinals have given the Church the gift of Benedict XVI - I look forward to reading his books!

Anonymous said...


If Papa does these things as you suggest, if he holds his ground as Our Lord did in the 6th Chapter of St. John's Gospel, then the Catholic Church will explode with new members, with regular Mass attendance, and with a much more visible presence of the Holy Spirit. We pray for him, and are willing to do what we must to help him. I feel inside an active call to live the faith, and to pursue holiness. I am sure that it is a new "breath."

Brian said...

I always here this "the Catholic Church is dying" nonsense from people who are obviously not attending Mass where I do.

I live in the Washington D.C. area, and when I attend Mass, it's always full of people of all ages, not just the older crowd.

Holy Trinity is in the heart of D.C., and if you don't get there 10 minutes before Mass begins, you will have to stand.

So I think the "church is dying" rhetoric is overblown and is a mask for the hope that some people unfortunately have.

Anonymous said...

Very well said, Sister--sounds like quotes from me!

I, too, am sad to see people leaving the Church; but the 69 percent of American Catholics who think that Benedict XVI should up and say that birth control is all right, the 31 percent who figure that he should announce that abortion is licit--these people left the Church a long time ago.

Let's try to get them back. I think that we have the Holy Father's unstinting support in that.

Anonymous said...

Great site, A must!!! By the way is yourOrder the same one which has that Sister who wrote a great book on Depression. If so, you must be a wonderful group.
. I have the book upstairs and I am too lazy to get it,but thanks to that book Oh, I just remembered her name , It is Sister Kathryn Hermes. Highly recommended,
. She really put it all together for a lot of us. Good Luck with your site. I will be checking regularly. From NYC.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Yes, Sr Kathryn is also a Daughter of St. Paul. I know her well. She did a great job on the depression book and is writing something else now on suffering.

Gerald Augustinus said...

I fully agree, Sr.Lorraine, motivating the base is the key. The Church certainly isn't dying here in San Diego. I was baptized this year along with 46 other adults in my parish. San Diego had the highest number of converts in its history (so did Boston I hear). We have six Masses per weekend, new churches are being built in San Diego all the time, millions donated for that purpose.
The dying Church mantra comes from people with a "progressive" agenda. The reason why the churches who gave in to their agenda are empty is simple : "progressives" don't go to church ;o)

Sr. Lorraine said...

It's great to hear about the church flourishing in San Diego. I've also heard that in LA the Masses are always packed.
Despite the problems Boston has been having, there are converts here too. People need the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered you through NRO's blog The Corner and look forward to coming back regularly. I was so relieved when I heard that Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope, because he seemed so perfect for the job. What I dislike in the recent coverage of his election are those who try to take solace in describing Pope Benedict XVI as "transitional" - in other words 'We haven't got the pope we wanted now, but just wait our man will come.' I pray that God grants Pope Benedict XVI a long and fruitful life. This also gives me a good reason to re-read AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY and the many other works he wrote when a Cardinal.

Anonymous said...

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whosoever may believe in Him may have eternal life. This is eternal life, to know the Father and He whom the Father has sent.

The knowledge of Jesus Christ is found in its fullness only in the Roman Catholic Church. Thank God for His gift to us of our new papa Benedict XVI.

Anonymous said...

Praise be to Jesus! We have a Pope who understands what People need most - to connect with Him!!
I raised my kids on the basis of what they needed not what they wanted. Hopefully Pope Benmedict XVI will do the same.