Sunday, March 18, 2018


It is so very very peculiar. Why is the Vatican so concerned to shore up Pope Francis' academic qualifications in the first place? Who is raising the concerns in the second place? And why was Pope Benedict's letter wrongly used to do this in the third place?

Is there a behind the scenes attempt to correct the pope? And in high places? And is the section of Pope Benedict's letter removed by the Vatican a critique in any way of the current papal Magisterium which is so highly endorsed by two authors who are so opposed to Pope Benedict and St. John Paul II?

I happen to believe, contrary to what Andrea Tornielli writes below from La Stampa, that Pope Benedict, in a letter marked personal and confidential, is showing his complete disdain to Msgr. Vigano for even suggesting that Pope Benedict write an endorsement of the 11 volumes. There appears to me to be an ironic sarcasm when Pope Benedict writes that it is wrong to say that Pope Francis having pastoral skills has no academic credentials and Pope Benedict who has academic credentials has no pastoral skills.

The thing Pope Benedict sarcastically is saying is that he, Pope Benedict, has pastoral skills and his academic skills are in no way questioned. It is Pope Francis academic skills that are questioned here!

And then there is this: Pope Francis very, very peculiar apology to his native Argentina for His Holiness' offensive gestures which you can puzzle about HERE. Is this in any connected to all this Vatican fake apologia for His Holiness?

This is from the Vatican Insider of LaStampa's newspaper, a secular Italian paper and Andrea Tornielli normally very supportive of the current Vatican direction:

Benedict’s letter, here is the original 

with the omitted passages 

First, there was the news of the omitted paragraph
that had neither been published nor read out, in
which Ratzinger criticized the choice of a theologian
among the authors of the series. Then, the publication
of the integral letter by the Holy See 
Pubblicato il 17/03/2018
Ultima modifica il 17/03/2018 alle ore 19:06

At one point today, Benedict XVI’s letter that was read by the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, Dario Edoardo Viganò during the presentation of the series of 11 volumes on the theology of Francis, seemed like an unexplained mystery. Yet now it finally came to a conclusion. The text of the original letter written by the Pope emeritus contained in fact a further paragraph which was neither published nor read during the press conference on Monday 12 March. Vatican expert Sandro Magister broke the news, which Vatican Insider also confirmed after carrying out a verification. 

The complete original letter in the hands of the Prefect of Communication has not been disclosed, while the rough draft is in the computer of the monastery where Ratzinger lives after having renounced to the pontificate. It was found that the omitted lines contained the Pope emeritus’ criticism on the choice of entrusting the drafting of one of the small volumes to Peter Hünermann, a German theologian who was strongly critical of Pope Wojtyla and his successor Benedict XVI.

Ratzinger’s negative judgments on the choice of commentators on the “Theology of Francis” however, were supposed to remain confidential as the envelope of the letter sent to Viganò reads ’confidential/personal’. The question that crossed everyone’s mind at that point was: did Benedict XVI’s entourage consent to the disclosure of the first two paragraphs? And, where they warned about this decision?  
The answer arrived in the late afternoon of Saturday 17 March 2018, with the publication of the integral letter by the Holy See in agreement with the entourage of Benedict XVI. It is plausible now to think that the Pope emeritus’s collaborators had been warned on the decision to disclose part of the text. 

The full letter was published accompanied by a note from the Press Office of the Holy See, which reads:  

“On the occasion of the presentation of the series “The Theology of Pope Francis”, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, which took place on 12 March last, a letter was made public by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. There followed much controversy about an alleged censorial manipulation of the photo distributed as accompanying photo. What was read out from the letter, which was confidential, was considered appropriate and related to the sole initiative, and in particular to what the Pope Emeritus says about the philosophical and theological formation of the present Pontiff and the inner union between the two pontificates, leaving out some notes regarding contributors to the series. The choice was motivated by confidentiality and not by any intention of censorship. To dispel any doubt, it was decided to make the letter public in its entirety. 

Here is the paragraph of the letter that was not yet known:  

“Only in the margin I would like to mark my surprise at the fact that among the authors there is also Professor Hünermann, who during my pontificate  
had been shown for having led anti-papal initiatives. He played a major role in the release of the “Kölner Erklärung”, which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendor”, virulently attacked the magisterial authority of the Pope especially on issues of moral theology. The “Europäische Theologengesellschaft”, which he founded, he initially conceived as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Later, the ecclesial sentiment of many theologians prevented this orientation, making that organization a normal instrument of encounter among theologians”. 

The letter ends as follows: “I am sure you will have understanding for my refusal and I greet you cordially”.  

The controversy over the omitted texts of the letter of the Pope emeritus risks transforming into a boomerang the original effect it intended to have with the disclosure of the published parts. Although the fact remains that Ratzinger wrote those clear and hard sentences against the double “foolish prejudice” of those who consider Pope Francis too practical and not particularly strong in theology, and of those who consider Pope Ratzinger too theoretical. Stressing also the “inner continuity” of the two pontificates. A text that, also in the light of what has followed – namely the distancing from the editorial choice – looks even more by Benedict XVI.  


John Nolan said...

Criticism of Veritatis Splendor was not confined to a couple of German theologians. An Argentine theologian, Victor Fernandez, took issue with it and published some controversial essays, extracts of which surfaced more than a decade later in Ch.8 of AL.

Benedict is, of course aware of this, and the fact that the same Fernandez is PF's ghost-writer and theological guru. One wonders why the doctored letter was released in the first place. Admirers of PF (like Austen Ivereigh) stress 'paradigm shift' rather than continuity, and traditionally-minded Catholics have little confidence in Francis anyway.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course, since day 1 Pope Francis has fashioned himself not in continuity with Pope Benedict and his Hermenuetic of Continuity and also famous for his Christmas speech to the cardinals about the correct way to interpret Vatican II.

The current pontificate has surrounded himself with people who are of the school of rupture and discontinuity and using the silly language of paradigm shift. The fact that those most virulently opposed to Pope Benedict and St. John Paul II are praising Pope Francis says it all.

And Pope Benedict knows this and thus indirectly but most skillfully is sending a rebuke to Pope Francis but via a letter that was marked personal and confidential knowing that Vigano would share it with the pope or the world.

The question is did Vigano share it with Pope Francis and did Pope Francis edit it for his benefit and want it published by Vatican Radio to strike out against Pope Benedict--that's the million dollar or euro question, no?

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

It was announced today at all the Masses at our parish that Rev. C. Frank Phillips has been removed as Pastor of St. John Cantius in Chicago, and as Superior of the Canons Regular. Cupich sent the Vicar for Priests to read the announcement letter.

God bless.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

God bless you, your parish and Father!

TJM said...


Although I am not a parishioner, officially being a member of a fake catholic parish in the western suburbs the type Cupich adores, I have attended Mass frequently at St. John Cantius for almost 30 years and have long admired Father Phillips and his tireless efforts to restore the Mass.

Given his age and responsibilities, color me cynical on the substance of the allegations against him. At a minimum Cupich should be accompanying Father Phillips.

Our prayers and thoughts are with Father Phillips and the entire St. John Cantius family.

Anonymous said...

Bee here;

Thanks TJM.

In my reflections I have thought, "oh, I guess Father Phillips is entering that next level of holiness - undeserved persecution by your own."

To support him, a parishioner started a round-the-clock-rosary chain for Father Phillips here: There's also a site set up for prayers of any kind:

Please also pray for the accuser, and for Cardinal Cupich and his advisors.

God bless.

TJM said...


That's a wonderful plan to help support Father Phillips.

He will continue to be in my prayers as I will pray for Cupich's conversion to the Catholic Faith.