Thursday, April 21, 2005

Who's the hardliner? In the past week, we've been bombarded with stories about Cardinal Ratzinger the "hardliner" and the Panzerkardinal and so on. Meanwhile, in Connecticut a true hardliner is operating and it's getting almost no coverage.

What's the case against +Ratzinger? He wouldn't let "moral" theologians teach as Roman Catholic teachers? Well they weren't. Did they suffer any hardship as a result? Via Jonah Goldberg, consider this:

As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith (the Holy Office) since 1981, Ratzinger has been treated as a kind of grand inquisitor by the media. This is based on the “persecution” of a handful of theologians, most famously Hans Küng. In reality, this persecution amounted to a change of job title: Küng could no longer call himself a professor of Catholic theology, but continued to teach exactly the same things at the same university.

Similarly, in 1986 Catholic Priest Charles E. Curran was informed that he would no longer be allowed to teach Catholic moral theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Nevertheless, a tenured professor, he remained on at CU until 1991, when he was hired by SMU, where he still teaches. (It is surprising the number of news stories out there which claim he was fired. See for example, Newsday ["...Charles Curran was fired from his job at Catholic University..."]. In fact, as I stated, he remained on staff. He did bring a lawsuit against CU because he wanted to be a Pontifical scholar, but he lost at the lower court level and did not appeal.) He has never been defrocked.

[If you think about it, CU actually needed to take this action -- having Curran teach there, being held out as teaching Roman Catholic theology is a deceptive trade practice.]

On the other hand, in Connecticut, there is a real hard liner operating. Episcopal Bishop Andrew D. Smith has threatened six Connecticut pastors with "inhibition" a process which could lead to their removal from holy orders -- a defrocking -- if they don't submit to his total authority. The six are in agreement that they need to be under the authority of a bishop and have asked Smith for Episcopal oversight from an orthodox bishop. This is the rub. You see, Smith not only voted to elevate a non-celibate homosexual to a bishopric, he actually was one of the consecrators. Accordingly, Smith has turned his back on his own vows as a bishop. Smith's notion of a compromise is to delegate his "authority" over these six pastors to another heretical bishop. For Smith, it's his way or the highway...

So why is the media silent on this? Well, actually they are not. The NY Times has reported this story as a conspiracy by the six to trap Smith (Headline: "Dissident Episcopal Priests Are Called Part of a Strategy").

Ask yourself, would you rather be working for Ratzinger or Smith? Would you rather be in Curran's shoes or the shoes of the six pastors?

More on the six here (and at TitusOneNine, as always).
Good Sign


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Books. That didn't take long -- nine of the top 21 best sellers at Amazon are authored by Joseph Ratzinger.
Papal Names. My kids have been interested by the fact that the new pope gets a new name. I point out that there's a biblical tradition for that, which Sarai and Abram becoming Sarah and Abraham, Saul becoming Paul, Jacob becoming Israel and so on.

My mother doesn't like the name Benedict, I'm not sure why. All my life, the pope has either had the name of John or Paul or both. This is the case for anyone born after October 28, 1958. Interestingly, for anyone born between February 6, 1922 and October 28, 1958, only one name is added, that of Pius. (Pius XI and XII). The prior pope, who's reign was from 3 Sepember 1914 to 22 January 1922, was . . . Benedict. Stretch back to August 4, 1903 and you find another Pius.

Therefore, there are just four names for popes for the past century: Pius, Benedict, John and Paul.

Leo XIII reigned prior to this from 20 February 1878 to 20 July 1903. (And preceding him, another Pius).

The best name never picked for a Pope? Francis. (Read the Vicar of Christ, one of the greatest novels ever written for an explanation...)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Benedict Sextus Decimus. Happy (belated) birthday to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the new Pope. I had the pleasure of watching the announcement, via webcam, in my office with my boss, who is a cousin of Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B. My boss was able to give me the translations and we were both thrilled to be watching history in the making.

I am pleased with this choice. My own first choice would've been Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, but, between these two it's clearly win-win.

There are some good articles out there on the new Pope Benedict XVI -- unfortunately the New Republic article by Erica Waters is not one of them. Here's a clip (via NRO's the Corner):

It's his humility, indeed his lack of desire for the job, that I find most compelling. Anyone who has seen him up close (as I have) knows the reality of the man confounds his image as an enforcer. Shy and soft-spoken, he possesses a scholar's temperament and in his youth was considered a theological innovator. He often wins over the wary after personal meetings. Many Protestant theologians in Germany and America, for example, speak warmly of him after engaging in scholarly give and take. Far from being power mad, he has for years pleaded to be allowed to resign from his office and return to teaching, but John Paul wouldn't consent.

Here's John Allen on what a Ratzinger papacy would look like. Michael Novak on the most journalist friendly cardinal.

And don't forget to check out the Ratzinger fan club.

Last, I'm sad to say, this (i.e., the name Benedict*) fits into the prophecies of St. Malachy, mentioned earlier. Specifically, the line for this Pope is "Gloria olivæ," which ties into St. Benedict and the Benedictine order.


Kendall Harmon recalls Cardinal Ratzinger's greeting to the Confessing Episcopalians in Plano last year. I remember I wept with joy when I heard this news.

* I seem to recall reading some speculation in the past week that if it was Ratzinger, he would choose the name Benedict as there was a tie between St. Benedict (or one of the Pope Benedicts) and Germany.

[This post has been updated and slightly modified since initial posting]

Monday, April 18, 2005

Sad Day. According to Kendall Harmon, a great saint, Diane Knippers, has left us. At the parish meeting yesterday, Martin indicated she wasn't doing well and was in ICU. Still I thought we had more time. Pray for Ed Knippers and her extended family....


Over the years, she has spoken a number of times from the pulpit at Truro (especially during the Seven Last Words) and these have been treasured times. Her heart has always showed a deep devotion to God, with humility and love for Him and for His creation. She will be deeply missed.

Here's a sample of her writing that I believes showcases Diane's heart. This is from her report to the 207th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia on the Bishop’s Dialogue Group on Human Sexuality (via the Virginia Integrity website):

You see, we dialogue partners have become friends. The dialogue group is a collection of disparate individuals – clergy and lay, male and female, young and old, parents and childless, with various racial, theological, vocational and other backgrounds. I am certain that we would not all have freely chosen each other as friends. But now, the bond is there. By now we’ve gone through so much together—births and deaths, divorces and marriages, illness and healing, job changes, promotions, travel. We’ve shared the seasons of the year, good food, quiet walks, a funny joke, a hug of condolence, and evening prayers.

Melinda, with whom I so strongly disagree, is a friend. Our disagreement is the more painful for that friendship, just as a fight in the intimacy of a family is more painful than one with a stranger. It would be an easy thing, a tempting thing, to show my love by saying “It’s OK. I will agree with you. I will accept your understanding, your vision, of what is true and right.” It is a more difficult, a more costly thing to say, “I love you, but no. You are wrong.”

Sometimes I think our sexuality group is bound together by this fierce, agonizing difference. And sometimes, I think or hope or pray, that we are bound together, in spite of our imperfections, our errors, or misunderstandings and mistakes, by Jesus Christ.

Still More

This is from an e-mail forwarded by a friend, active in the renewal of the Presbyterian Church (with a correction):

Our dear friend and colleague in renewal, Diane Knippers, died this afternoon a little before 2 p.m. She had been failing for the last several weeks and was in the midst of chemo treatments, but had weakened enough that they could not continue them. Late this morning her kidneys began to shut down and several planned procedures were canceled. Her husband, Ed, was with her, as well as her Mother and Father, Vera and Clancey LeMasters, and her brother Doug.

Diane was a dear friend and colleague and a giant among those in renewal ministry. How we will miss her and her clear, mature voice. Many of you would not be aware that Diane was on the staff here at Good News in 1981, when I came to be Executive Secretary. She helped me get settled in for that first year, helped me learn to write, and was such a wonderful help in so many ways. After a year, she and her husband, Ed, moved to Washington, D.C. He is a Christian artist and wanted to pursue his career there in the nation’s capitol. So, Diane has been a long-time friend and has remained close to the work of Good News and our RENEW Network, under the leadership of Faye Short in Georgia. She was United Methodist for many years, having been reared in a home in which her father was a UM clergyman. Some 15 or so years ago, she became Episcopalian, and was a member and a leader at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, VA. She also served on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) for a number of years. She was so widely respected across many different communions of Christ’s Church. I know we rejoice and give thanks to the Father for her faithful and fruitful life.

We will let you know about arrangements as soon as we learn what they are. Let’s continue to pray for Ed and all the family. Richest blessings on all of you.

Your friend and colleague in renewal,

Jim Heidinger
Still More

Michael Novak, writing for National Review's Corner observes:

Under her gentle but always brave leadership, IRD was very often the mouse that roared, terrifying the great grey elephants of national church bureaucracies into frantic panic. Calmly, Diane told the truth, and those who had been disguising suspect politics under cloaks of outward piety had to defend themselves in public, and often couldn't. Her sweetness of disposition was a gift of God. She now returns with it intact, enhanced by her consistent acts of courage, to restore it to her Maker and Redeemer.
And TitusOneNine has a letter from Mary Ailes to Diane, here.