Why Do they attack Pope Benedict?

ROME, September 3, 2010 Andrea Tornielli,  the Vatican correspondent for “Il Giornale,”and Paolo Rodari , reporter for “Il Foglio”, have jointly written  a book called “Attacco a Ratzinger” (The Attack on Ratzinger), which is published by Piemme. Sandro Magister – the reporter for the magazine “L’espresso” has written an article (the article is originally published on chiese.espressonline) on it, and explains exactly why Pope Benedict is being attacked:

“Why They Are Attacking Me” – Autobiography of a Pontificate

by Sandro Magister
Two books have been released this summer, in the United States and in Italy, that reconstruct and analyse the merciless attacks on Benedict XVI from various sides, since the beginning of his pontificate, with a crescendo that reached its peak this year.

The book by Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson, editors of Catholic publications very widely read in the United States, focuses on the scandal of sexual abuse by the clergy.

The book by the Italian vaticanistas Paolo Rodari and Andrea Tornielli instead extends the analysis to a dozen attacks against as many actions and speeches of Benedict XVI: from the lecture in Regensburg to the liberalization of the ancient rite of the Mass, from the lifting of the excommunication from the Lefebvrist bishops to the condemnation of using condoms to prevent AIDS, from welcoming Anglicans into the Catholic Church to the scandal of paedophilia.

Rodari and Tornielli provide a highly detailed reconstruction of each of these episodes, including some previously unknown background information.

Their conclusion is that three different attacks are underway against Benedict XVI, carried out by three different enemies.

  • The first and main enemy is the external one. It is the currents of opinion and centres of power hostile to the Church and to this pope.
  • The second enemy is those Catholics – including not a few priests and bishops – who see Benedict XVI as an obstacle to their project of “modernist” reform for the Church.
  • Finally, the third enemy is those officials of the Vatican curia who hurt the pope instead of helping him, out of incapacity, ignorance, or even opposition.

It does not appear that these three fronts are commanded by the same general. But this does not mean that a unifying reason cannot be sought that would explain such bitter and constant attacks, all concentrated on the current pope. This is what Rodari and Tornielli do in the last chapter of their book, collecting the opinions of various analysts and commentators.

But it is no less important to know how Benedict XVI himself interprets the attacks brought against him. In the homily at the concluding Mass of the Year for Priests, last June 11, Benedict XVI also referred to an “enemy.” As follows:

“It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the ‘enemy’; he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God’s concern for our good, turns into its very opposite.”

And this is what the Pope said at the beginning of his trip to Fatima, last April 11:

“The attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without. […] The greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification.”

It can already be intuited from this that for Benedict XVI, even the horrible year of 2010 is to be lived as a year of grace, just like the previous years, likewise riddled with attacks against the Church and the pope. For him, everything holds together. The tribulation produced by sin is the condition of a humanity in need of salvation. A salvation that comes only from God, and is offered in the Church with the sacraments administered by the priests. Because of this – the Pope explains – the rejection of God coincides so often with an attack on the priesthood and what publicly distinguishes it, celibacy.

Last June 10, on the eve of the closing of the Year for Priests, Benedict XVI said that celibacy is an anticipation “of the world of the resurrection.” It is the sign “that God exists, that God matters in my life, that I can base my life on Christ, on the future life.” For this reason – he continued – celibacy “is a great scandal.” Not only for today’s world, “in which God does not matter.” But for Christianity itself, in which “God’s future is no longer considered, and the now of this world alone seems sufficient.”

Pope Joseph Ratzinger has said repeatedly that “making God present in this world” is the priority of his pontificate, particularly in the memorable letter he addressed to the bishops of the whole world, dated March 10, 2009. But connecting the question of God with that of the priesthood and of priestly celibacy is by no means a given. And yet this is precisely what Benedict XVI does constantly.

For example, at the end of 2006, making an assessment of his trip to Germany that had made an impression because of his lecture in Regensburg, after emphasizing that “the great problem of the West is forgetfulness of God,” he continued by saying that “this is the central task of the priesthood: to bring God to men.” But the priest “can do this only if he himself comes from God, if he lives with and from God.” And celibacy is a sign of this full dedication:

“Our world, which has become totally positivistic, in which God appears at best as a hypothesis but not as a concrete reality, needs to rest on God in the most concrete and radical way possible. It needs a witness to God that lies in the decision to welcome God as a land where one finds one’s own existence.”

It is therefore no surprise that, just before his election as pope, Ratzinger called for a reform of the Church that would begin with purifying God’s ministers from “filth.”

It is no surprise that he conceived and proclaimed a Year for Priests intended to lead the clergy to a holy life.

It is no surprise that the liturgy is so central to this pontificate. The priest lives for the liturgy. It is the priest that God “has enabled to set God’s table for men, to give them his body and his blood, to offer them the precious gift of his very presence.”

The liberalization of the ancient rite of the Mass, the lifting of the excommunication for the Lefebvrist bishops, the welcome extended to the Anglican communities most attached to tradition are parts of this same plan. And they are all promptly the object of attack.

There is a mysterious lucidity of vision that unifies the attacks on the current pontificate. As if an “invisible hand” were at work in them, hidden from their own authors. A hand, a mind that glimpses Benedict XVI’s basic plan, and therefore does all it can to oppose it. In the Gospel of Mark, there is a “messianic secret” that accompanies the life of Jesus and remains hidden from his own disciples. But not from the “enemy.” The devil is the one who recognizes Jesus immediately as the saviour Messiah. And shrieks at him.

The paradox of today’s attacks on the Church is that, precisely while they intend to reduce it to impotence and silence, they reveal its essence, as place of the God who forgives.

“Seraphic Doctor” is the nickname of Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, one of the first successors of Saint Francis as head of the order he founded. It could also be applied to Benedict XVI, for how he is guiding the Church through the storm. In the catechises he dedicated last March 10 to this saint – whom he studied extensively even as a young theologian – Pope Ratzinger also spoke his mind about his “enemies” within the Church. To those who, discontented, are demanding a radical palingenesis of the Church, a new spiritual Christianity made of the naked Gospel with no more hierarchies or precepts or dogmas, Benedict XVI said that it’s a short step from spiritualism to anarchy. The Church “is always Church of sinners, and always place of grace.” It progresses and evolves, but always in continuity with tradition. To those who base Church reform entirely on new structures of command and new commanders, he said that “governing is not simply an activity, but above all thinking and praying”: which means “guiding and enlightening souls, directing them to Christ.”

The attacks that are focused on Pope Benedict are, for him, the proof of how big the wager is that he is proposing to the men of today, even the unbelieving: to live as if God exists.”

As we prepare to welcome the Holy Father to our shores, please remember him in your prayers.


About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
This entry was posted in Church Politics, Pope Benedict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Why Do they attack Pope Benedict?

  1. Brother Burrito says:

    God bless our Pope, the servant of God’s servants.
    With his heart filled with the Holy Spirit of Wisdom and Divine guidance,
    He leads from the back, taking all the enemy fire.

    A sage wants nothing but to point to the Fount, to the Water gushing forth from it.
    (Where that Water goes thence, who can tell, but always it will bring life).

    Why do so many look at his gifted finery and home, or spend their lives examining his fingertip?

    Pride, lies, stupidity, sloth, jealousy, greed, lust, anger, etc.
    The sheep must remove their wolf clothing, or they won’t be admitted to the fold.

    “Onward and Upward!”, our leader says from behind, the shepherd to his flock.
    “Get to the Fount, and drink!”


  2. yoda says:

    Good morning everyone.

    I have some bad news: BB must have upset somebody important, because the hounds of hell have set out after him. He has had to go on the run. He is thinking of and praying for you all.

    He has asked me to do his ‘locum’ for him, until he can break cover and return from hiding.

    Message ends.


  3. toadspittle says:

    Why Do they attack Pope Benedict? Gertrude poses the question.

    The answer may lie in a parable. We like them, don’t we?

    When a Judge was sentencing Willie Sutton to jail for the umpteeth time, he asked him, “Why, against all the odds, do you persist in robbing banks, Mr. Sutton?”
    Because that’s where the money is, Judge,” said Willie.


  4. toadspittle says:

    How wonderful to have a ‘snap’ to go with the story of Our Holy Father holding a bullet-proof Bible in front of his face.

    Better safe than sorry!


  5. toadspittle says:

    “He leads from the back, taking all the enemy fire.” says Burro.

    One gets the uneasy impression that God’s army is facing the wrong way. Reassure us please, BB!


  6. toadspittle says:

    What happened to my two (or three) postings on this ‘thread’ today, Yoda?

    Banned? Censored? Now what have I done? Anything? Is it my fault? I hope so.

    Anyway, what the flying fluke has it got to do with you? You’re from the planet Omvend, or somewhere, aren’t you.

    Mind your own business!


  7. kathleen says:

    Yes Toad, you’re right….. God’s army is facing the “wrong” way – in the eyes of the secular world that is! They call the “right” way all that is comfortable, selfish, hedonistic, self-glorifying…… or in other words, all that takes one along the wide and easy road downwards that Our Blessed Lord warns us against.

    Pope Benedict is leading his army, the Church, in the opposite direction, the steep and narrow path which leads to Eternal Life.
    And those who are in this army are joyful and full of hope……. and for some strange reason that really gets the goat of its enemies!


  8. toadspittle says:

    Yoda and all, my deepest apologies. For a moment there, some comments by me seemd to have vaporised. But now they are back, safe and sound and as stupid as ever!

    But I suppose Burro is off somewhere with Omvendt punching ( or possibly roasting) a ‘dissident’ not quite hard enough to kill him.

    More power to his elbow, or whatever part he is using while doing God’s work!


  9. toadspittle says:

    Thanks, Kathleen.

    I, for one, am utterly reassured.

    Facing the wrong way is absolutely the right thing to do! I see it clearly now.

    And the naughty hedonists will NEVER get Toad’s goat!


  10. kathleen says:

    Good for you Toad 😉
    (Yup, you’re one of ours at heart, whether you like to admit it or not – and to use your lingo – ain’t you?)

    And btw, your “parable” at 12:53 gave me a good laugh…… just like in the Good Old Days!


  11. yoda says:


    Joint statement from Yoda and Burrito(incognito),


    Message ends.


  12. toadspittle says:

    Joint statement from Yoda and Burrito(incognito),


    Message ends.

    What wasn’t? Am I even more dense than usual today? Or what?
    I’m getting some clue as to how Rabit must feel all the time.

    And what has this insightly green extraterrestrial suddenly got to do with anything?
    He looks a bit like a toad. But not enough.


  13. toadspittle says:

    Make that unsightly.

    On the other hand, maybe I was right in the first place.
    He seems to know more than I do, anyway.


  14. Frere Rabit says:

    More on the Daily Mail report on the ‘Popegate’ missing documents:

    “Jim Treherne, manager of the ‘Moorings Bar and Grill,’ Leamington Spa where the documents were left, said: ‘If someone with malicious intent got their hands on these they’d be able to plan all sorts of trouble.’ ”

    It has now emerged that the documents fell into the hands of a highly dangerous extremist group in Leamington Spa, an alliance of Caritas and the local Vincent de Paul Society, who had begun to use the knowledge of the Pope’s movements to plan a diversion and allow the poor and the marginalised to meet the Holy Father. After MI5 was tipped off, they were arrested and detained without trial for the next five year, under the 2010 Prevention of the Gospel Act. A spokesman for Tony Blair said that these extremist ideas originated in the Middle East and he was still trying to put a stop to them.


  15. Shakin' Lightshade says:

    Or was that the Prevention of Heroism Act 2003?

    (Sorry I’m new here, and I’m only 12)


  16. Frere Rabit says:

    Thank you Shakin’ Lightshade and welcome to the CP&S blog. You joke is appreciated but since you are only 12, we need to ask why are you up so late? Sorry, but this is a traditional Catholic blog, so you should expect to be asked these things. And have you done your homework?


  17. Shakin' Lightshade says:

    Fanks Frair Rabid

    Me spelin is really conim alon, fanks to the grate teechers weev got in the UK, but I mussent giv them orl the glory, cos itz reelly down 2 thair manidgers, innit.

    I amm upp laite bcos I fink Im a purmanently countercultchral annarkissed, inn’I.

    Dem Kaflicks seem just like me. I wanna join uppp.

    Fags alot. Chears! (luvley 2 spk 3ly, luv u!)


  18. Frere Rabit says:

    Methinks the shakin’ lampshade make a good sort of hat for a donkey becuse the ears go straight through the big hole at the top. The fringe keeps the flies off too. Perfick.


  19. Gertrude says:

    Quite suitable for Rabits with long ears too!


  20. golden chersonnese says:

    Shakin’ lampshade? I just supposed it was that “tent of clay” thingie.


  21. Frere Rabit says:

    No, Gertrude: fringed lampshades are not suitable hats for rabits. Donkeys is very intelligent aminals and looks quite fetching in silly hats. Rabits is quite stupid aminals but very portant, therefore cannot be seen in silly hats as this would be undignified. If Burro wants to wear fringed lampshades, I will be pleased to support him in his continued search for the right size and his colour (which the present rose shade is certainly not; but rabits would not be seen dead wearing lampshades, wotever the practical convenience regarding the ear projections.


  22. annem040359 says:

    Maybe the reason why this Pope has been attacked is maybe, just maybe it is because he is proclaiming the good news of Jesus to a world that NEEDS it?


  23. toadspittle says:

    “Maybe the reason why this Pope has been attacked is maybe, just maybe, it is because he is proclaiming the good news of Jesus to a world that NEEDS it?”

    annem040359 says:

    (As a Toad of little brain, I find your sobriquet a little interminable. Do you mind if I call you ‘annem04035,’ for short?)

    All too sadly true, annem04035.

    But the tradition of ‘shooting the messenger’ goes back to biblical times. That is why, in the delightful accompanying ‘snap’ to this ‘post’, the Holy Father is exhibiting sound good sense by covering his face from infidel snipers, be they Atheist or Islamic, with a bullet-proof bible.


  24. golden chersonnese says:

    Touche, Teresa


  25. toadspittle says:

    Well, we are all agreed on that, at least.

    And ‘touche’ too, from Moi!


  26. golden chersonnese says:

    Or rather”

    Touché, Teresa!


  27. golden chersonnese says:

    Or rather:

    Touché, Teresa!


  28. toadspittle says:

    Or rather:

    Touché, Teresa!

    from Toad as well!

    (That’s enough touché, Ed.)


  29. golden chersonnese says:


    What do you think of this as creative minorities go?



  30. firenze05 says:

    Listened to R4 this morning, a programme supposedly about Catholics and Catholicism. Well I was a fool to listen and waste my time.
    I believe the main attacks on the Holy Father come from within the Church itself and we can start with the wet nelly bishops we’ve have inflicted on us.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s