One of Toronto’s local newspapers, The Toronto Star, published a scathing editorial on the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI titled: Pope Benedict XVI pushed the Catholic Church backward. This particular author frustrates me so consistently that I am not sure I should respond out of fear of being uncharitable. She demonstrates a shocking lack of understanding (or even caring) how the Church functions or why it does what it does.
For example, she writes: “[He] has not always played nice with . . . Jews (Benedict lifted the excommunication of a bishop who openly denied the Holocaust)”
Rosie is conflating two unrelated issues here. She links this particular Bishop’s excommunication (Bishop Richard Williamson) with his denial of the holocaust. One had nothing to do with the other. He was excommunicated over 20 years ago for being illicitly made a Bishop without Papal approval. This was declared an act of schism. He is one of four Bishops with the traditionalist group Society of St. Pius X who were similarly censured.
The excommunication was lifted in 2009 in an attempt to bring them back into the fold. Unfortunately, just days prior, Williamson had made a statement on TV denying the holocaust. As unfortunate (and deplorable) as this is, it is unconnected with the reason for his excommunication. At the time, the Vatican clearly stated that:
Williamson’s views were “absolutely indefensible.” But he denied that rehabilitating Williamson implied that the Vatican shared them. “They are his personal ideas … that we certainly don’t share but they have nothing to do with the issue of the excommunication and the removal of the excommunication. . . (1)
I suppose, Rosie thinks only perfect people should be in the Church (by her definition of course). The Church is not a museum for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners. In any case, relations between SSPX and the Vatican are not all sunshine and roses and there still exists a lot of work to be done to regularize them. I do not know if Rosie made that connection out of ignorance or malice. Either way, she is demonstrating her lack of qualification to write this piece.
Someone I knew from Tyndale University, Wayne Veenstra, has penned an excellent rebuttal. Remarkably, Wayne is a Protestant but knows when to call a spade a spade and take a stand for theological correctness. I highly commend the article to your reading.
Popes do not teach unpopular things because they’ve become a necessary part of their identity. The absence of divine revelation in her framework for understanding religion is again part of the fundamental worldview clash between a theologically liberal understanding of religion and historic Christianity. The recognition that God had spoken clearly in the Scriptures and through the person and work of Jesus Christ is essential to the Christian faith—both Catholic and Protestant—and so long as this is overlooked there will be very different rubrics for assessing the work of Church leaders.
Well said Wayne. Blessings.