The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Extra, Extra! News and views for January 4, 2023

Here are some articles, essays, and editorials that caught our attention this past week or so.*

"Notizie del mondo"[News of the World] (1874), by Celestino Turletti, after Francesco Mosso (Image: National Gallery of Art /

Revolutionary Changes – “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rarely got credit for having turned the Vatican around on clergy sexual abuse, but as cardinal and pope, he pushed through revolutionary changes to church law to make it easier to defrock predator priests.” While blamed, Benedict fought sex abuse more than past popes (ABC News)

Marian Theology – “For the past year I’ve been working to change my perception of this woman whose “yes” to God was a profound moment in salvation history, as Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, points out.” Looking at Mary as My Mother (Intermountain Catholic)

Latin-Byzantine Border – In the twenty-five years since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, new sanctuaries, many looking quite literally like mushrooms, have sprung up in the once religion-free communist-era housing developments surrounding the historic city center. On the Border of East and West: Searching for Icons in Lviv (Image Journal)

The Psalter – “Every once in a while fantastic finds are made, which boggle the mind.” The prayer book of St. Thomas Becket (Fr. Z’s Blog)

Benedict XVI and Modernity – His “progressivism consisted of wanting to make Catholic orthodoxy comprehensible to the modern world — not in wanting to overturn those orthodoxies!” Benedict XVI’s Apocalypse (The American Conservative)

Jesus of Nazareth – “Throughout this book, we have listened to Pope Benedict ‘propose’ Jesus of Nazareth to us. He has not proposed a useful idea, an interesting story, or a profitable life plan. He has proposed a Person” Life indestructible (Charlotte Was Both)

Moral and Spiritual Strength – “Pope Benedict’s expansive mind formed me in the humane habits of awareness that harmonise the intellect and the affectivity of the heart with the culture and civilisation that is our proper inheritance.” Europe’s Last Civilised Mind: A Personal Reflection on Pope Benedict XVI (European Conservative)

The Great Resignation – In spite of the profound impact Pope Benedict XVI has had on my life (or perhaps because of it), I can’t help but have mixed—and confused—feelings about the man now that he has passed. The Paradoxical Pope (Crisis Magazine)

Foundational Christian Truths – “Any Christian who desires to conserve the truth of the faith once delivered to the saints will necessarily spark controversy.” Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI: Truth and Friendship with Christ (Amac)

Allowed to Leave – “Hong Kong’s outspoken Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen was allowed to leave the southern Chinese city to pay his respects to the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Vatican City . . . ” Hong Kong allows Cardinal Zen to attend Benedict’s funeral (Times Union)

Intra-ecclesial Dispute –  “The dispute over liberalism, integralism and Catholicism’s implications for American political life was marked by a shift to institutional formation and practical politics.” Showdown Over American Catholic Political Engagement Entered New Phase in 2022 (National Catholic Register)

The Legislative Branch – “The Constitution of the United States calls for a new Congress to convene at noon on the third day of January in odd numbered years. Thus, today marks the arrival of America’s 118th Congress.” The passing of the Age of Pelosi (World)

(*The posting of any particular news item or essay is not an endorsement of the content and perspective of said news item or essay.)

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  1. After reading the first essay this sentence struck me,[Benedict] “having done more than anyone before him to turn the Vatican around on clergy sexual abuse”, as setting the bar real low. Especially considering that the 1983 Code of Canon Law significantly reduced the penalty for abusing clerics at a time when the extent of the crimes first started becoming visible. I urge every serious Catholic to compare the penalty for abusing clerics in the 1917 Code of Canon Law to the 1983 revision and it will become clear the Vatican understood the extent of the problem and wanted to protect abusing clerics from severe penalties not reverse the situation. No wonder that the 80’s became the epicenter of homosexual abuse of boys! God help us all, especially Pope Benedict XVI, who I admired as a courageous Curial official.

  2. @Europe’s Last Civilized Mind: A Personal Reflection on Pope Benedict XVI in The European Conservative.
    Unfortunate to find out the rest of us are barbarians [if the Europeans are now bereft of a great man amongst them, where then are we Americans?] . I won’t read the article because I anticipate what I’ve painfully experienced through the years, the idolatrous eulogizing of the deceased.
    Now don’t misread my words. I’m confident the essay factually states Benedict’s great intellectual, moral qualities, his theological, pastoral achievements. A humble man of integrity, a profound intellect. But not a god. Where were all these gushing praises during his pontificate?
    There’s usually that residue of guilt that the living have when someone of stature, an intimate dies, assuaged by ecstatic praise, overblown claims of sublime wisdom. Eulogy, a vicarious transcendence from one’s own mediocrity. It’s best to admit our mediocrity and imitate Christ.

    • In all due respect Father, since I always find your comments interesting and wise, there is more to it than humble regard for a wise man. Yes, we must contemplate Our Lord first. But in so doing we are reminded that Benedict was a great Christian model. He suffered responses of abhorrence from our own for his luminous defenses of the faith, and this was his greatest gift. He did not return the hatred. He laboriously and patiently revealed the errors that gave it authority from vanity. Would that Francis discovers such truth and such grace.

      • A very good point Edward on his reticence in returning evil for evil. It’s markedly Christlike to endure evil, and offer yourself for the one afflicting you. I appreciate your bringing that out.

  3. One newsworthy item not listed is that it is my understanding that Pope Benedict XVI requested that Joe Biden not attend the Pope’s funeral.

  4. Happy New Year to Carl and Editors!

    At this time of my posting, Intra-ecclesial Dispute has no link. I propose to fill the temporary void with DeVille’s CWR article from 2015, re “impending Judgment”. This way I can share with priests in particular my good impression of the insight I found here; and remind us and them at the start of 2023 of how the bright homily ought to be geared in the first place and how it enlivens the body when it actually is given!

    I hope we can still get the other link, if one is missing; or the explanation of what escapes me. All the same, CWR never fails to fascinate!

    ‘ One cannot return to “normality” or “get over” something until one has gone through it and has suffered through it. ‘

  5. @ The Great Resignation.
    A mindful perception by convert to the faith Eric Sammons deserves exposition here, “Joseph Ratzinger was perhaps the most intellectual pope the Church has seen. He fell far short of actually doing much about relativism when he had the power to do so and gave up trying. Ratzinger was good and bad, brilliance and ignorance. His resignation casts a dark pall on his life, that when the great moment came and his Lord asked him for the ultimate sacrifice, he blinked” (Sammons The Paradoxical Pope Crisis Mag 1.2.23).
    Sammons reflects well my earlier comment. Benedict seems the chess piece [king] that is checkmated by events beyond his control. Related is the advent of a pontiff who has disrupted the historic flow of Apostolic tradition, the dread possible of a divinely permitted aberration to chastise a Catholic Christianity that has distanced itself from Christ. As if Our Lord is saying to us, if this is what you wish to make of my commandments, I’ll send you a Roman pontiff who will satisfy your perfidy.
    Benedict to his credit and the good of the Church has remained faithful to Apostolic tradition, issuing during his emeritus status a series of documents that firmly uphold that doctrinal tradition. So firmly [Sammons should recognize this] that supporters of the current new paradigm morality were incensed, but were countervailed since opposition would reveal their hand.
    Despite the detriment of eulogizing the great response, affection for Benedict indicates where the revitalized many, other than the nominal stand. A good effect of the travail.

    • If anyone fancies I’m targeting His Holiness as the Antichrist here, I’m not. My resource on the matter is the great Russian philosopher [von Balthasar allegedly compared him to Aquinas], prophetic mystic, Soloviev. “The Antichrist will be a ‘convinced spiritualist’ an admirable philanthropist, a committed, active pacifist, a practicing vegetarian, a determined defender of animal rights” (Card Giacomo Biffi on Soloviev and the Antichrist).
      His Holiness doesn’t fit Soloviev’s description because his favorite dishes are Argentine empanadas, and sirloin steak. And unlike Benedict he hates cats.

  6. Great link for Intra-ecclesial Dispute! Thanks David.

    I can’t say I would arrange the material, conceptually, the same way Liedl did, it’s too complex; but he does bring together on one slate what things to watch out for and how these might seem to connect, within or via the realms of politics and philosophy. Having done this it could actually contribute to bringing the more diverse elements closer together. Some minds work that way.

    Here in the LIFESITE link Dr. Malone tries to go at new realities in from another angle. He marks out a more practical attitude and takes the situation as it is developing. He seems to be arguing for better effort in self-discipline. This can be meaningful. On the other hand, he is stressing community building as an essential task in tackling incipient autocracy driving many fronts.

    Whatever we might not agree on, Malone’s more matter-of-fact approach seems to advance on the problems a lot better, perhaps because it is scripted through with personal conviction and well-defined objects, simplified, but also is not weighed down with intellectualisms that then have to be investigated/clarified.

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