Benedict XVI’s gall exceeds even the Yiddish word “Chutzpah.” The latest example ended Sunday when he retired from London to Rome’s Vatican City.
On Great Britain’s very first papal state visit, not even John Paul II rated that honor in 1982 when he unofficially called upon the queen and the people, the present pope beatified – next to Catholic sainthood – 19th century Cardinal John Henry Newman. In effect, the reigning pontiff told the state Church of England “up yours,” and all the Episcopalians in this country, specifically.
Although never clearly enunciated in news stories, the obvious reason for Benedict’s visit was the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Britain; after France’s fall Adolph Hitler attempted to pound the island empire into submission, in 1940.
The former cardinal-archbishop of Munich alluded to the war’s dark days when he was a student, in Nazi Germany; he claimed to have been forced into the Hitler Jugend. We have only his word for how he came to wear a uniform at nearly 18. Josef Ratzinger might have very well eagerly joined in hopes of saving his beloved country; many young Germans did. We’ll never know.
To commemorate the many deaths and near destruction caused by his native Deutschland took a considerable amount of chutzpah, at least. To add further insult to his hosts, at his final mass in London, the pope raised to near-sainthood the prominent Anglican priest who switched to Catholicism, awarding Rome a significant victory in their then-400-year war.
To come along over a century later, it is insufferably rude to pronounce from a London pulpit Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and adds salt to the innumerable moral and actual wounds suffered by the faith headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Particularly, after the Vatican recently tried to lure into its ranks Anglican priests, even those married with children. This rated as rank hypocrisy because Rome enforces celibacy among its clergy, claiming grounds of faith and morals. Hogwash!!
After nearly a thousand years of getting married, Christian ministers were ordered into celibacy to make them more pliable to bishops and their superiors. Wives made them more stubborn; looking for their families well being. It’s interesting that the major schism by Rome’s “iconoclasts,” who formed the substance of the Orthodox Church, slightly later, permits priests to marry; bishops may not.
In light of that flimflam, we should perhaps accept peacefully the ex-Nazi youth thrashing the country he grew up in. No one has employed stronger words for the extremity of Luftwaffe bombings that reduced much of London and all of Coventry to wreck and ruins. In the condemnations, the Bavarian Ratzinger swaddled himself in full papal regalia and still looked more than slightly ridiculous.
German poet Goethe summed up his hero’s position in “Prometheus” by saying “Here I sit, forming men to my own image…all without you, Gods.”
Over the ages, men and women of high and low degree have ventured into atheism, not rejecting God but his self-pronounced servants, like the man who awarded himself St. Peter’s keys. Benedict XVI, unconsciously or fully consciously, imitated Napoleon’s gesture of crowning himself emperor and Empress Josephine. By rigging the hierarchy electorate, Josef Ratzinger guaranteed dominion over the Vatican and the very rapidly declining Roman Catholic memberships, including mine.
In leaving the faith he perverted I do not reject God but only this pope. This was the basis of Martin Luther’s reformation, followed by England’s Henry VIII.
In Goethe’s original words: “Hier sitz’ ich…”