Questions and answers.
1. Who is Joseph Ratzinger?
He was born in 1927 in Bavaria, and was ordained a priest in 1952. During Vatican II, he was the personal theologian of Cardinal Frings. Later he taught at Tübingen, the ultra-left-wing university in southern Germany. Paul VI made him the Archbishop of Munich in the 1970’s. John Paul II placed him in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a post which he held until recently.
2. Which side was he on at the Council?
Ratzinger was the right hand man of the much older Karl Rahner, who together with Hans Küng, managed to control the Council. This they did by the collusion of what was called the European Coalition, which was the well-organized and vocal group of northern European bishops who hijacked the Council. Ratzinger, therefore, together with Rahner and Küng, represented the extreme left wing of the Council.
3. Is it accurate to say, then, that Ratzinger is a conservative?
No. From the point of view of the Catholic Faith, Ratzinger is not even a Catholic. He is a public heretic just like Wojtyla. He could be styled a conservative Novus Ordite, inasmuch as he is not in favor of women priests, contraception, abortion, sodomy, etc. He also has said a few things in favor of the traditional liturgy. But in comparison to Catholic popes, such as Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI or Pius XII, he is not even a Catholic.
4. Why do you say that Ratzinger is not even a Catholic?
Because he is an ecumenical maniac, more ecumenical, I think, than even Wojtyla, if that is possible. But ecumenism is contrary to our holy Faith. It was condemned in no uncertain terms by Pope Pius XI in 1928, as being equivalent to the “abandonment of the religion revealed by God.” Ecumenism is the heart and soul of Vatican II. All of the liturgical, doctrinal, and disciplinary changes of Vatican II were made in the name of ecumenism. Ratzinger assured the cardinals in his very first speech that he would continue the reforms of Vatican II and continue to reach out to other religions through ecumenism. Our faithful must understand that ecumenism is the central problem. Ecumenism and Catholicism cannot get along. If Ratzinger is ecumenical — and he is — then he is no good, and no pope.
5. What do you think that his program will be?
I think that he will push the ecumenical agenda very vigorously. His “reign” will be short, and for this reason I think he will move swiftly toward what he has called “reconciled diversity,” a term which he has borrowed from Oscar Cullman, a Protestant minister. This means that he will strive to bring all religions together in some grand organization in which each one keeps its identity, but nevertheless considers itself to be in communion with everyone else. He will start with the schismatics and the Protestants. I would not be surprised if he makes some very bold moves in this direction. During Wojtyla’s time, he elaborated all of the theology necessary for it.
6. What theology are you referring to?
The “new ecclesiology.”
7. What is the new ecclesiology?
It is the teaching concerning the nature of the Church of Christ. The traditional ecclesiology is quite simple: the Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church, which is the unique means of salvation in the world. Any religion outside of the Roman Catholic Church, whether Greek Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, etc., despite whatever truths they may possess, or even valid sacraments, are false religions and are not means of salvation.
Obviously such an ecclesiology is incompatible with ecumenism. So already from the 1930’s an ecumenical ecclesiology has been elaborated by the Modernists in which some value can be seen in non-Catholic religions. This new ecclesiology was incorporated into the teachings of Vatican II, and it is the vehicle of ecumenism.
What is the new ecclesiology? Here it is in summary:
• The Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are not one and the same thing, since non-Catholic churches belong to the Church of Christ, but not to the Catholic Church.
• The Church of Christ “subsists in” the Roman Catholic Church, inasmuch as the Roman Catholic Church has the “fullness” of all of the elements of the Church of Christ.
• The Church of Christ, although it does not subsist in non-Catholic churches, because they lack the “fullness,” is nevertheless found in these non-Catholic churches in an imperfect way.
• Non-Catholic churches are therefore truly “particular churches” which make up, together with the Roman Catholic Church, the one Church of Christ.
• The Roman Catholic Church is in “partial communion” with these non-Catholic churches, to the extent that they have elements of the Church of Christ, such as valid sacraments and true doctrines.
• Non-Catholic churches are “means of salvation” to the extent that they preserve the genuine elements of the Church of Christ.
• In those non-Catholic churches that have a valid Eucharist (e.g., Greek Orthodox), the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church becomes present every time they offer a valid Eucharist.
• Non-Catholic churches which are not subject to the Roman Pontiff (which means all of them) are “wounded” because of this lack of subjection. Yet they continue, despite their repudiation of the Roman primacy, to be “particular Churches,” i.e., member-churches of the big Church of Christ.
8. What does all this mean?
It means the abandonment of the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the nature of the Church of Christ. It contradicts the traditional teaching, and we therefore say that Vatican II is heretical and that Ratzinger is a heretic for having promulgated this teaching. For this reason, I say that Ratzinger is not even a Catholic.
9. What other heresies does Ratzinger espouse?
He is an evolutionist with regard to truth and the Church. In a speech given at a Protestant church in Rome in 1993, he said the following: “Therefore the goal, the aim of every ecumenical effort is to attain the real unity of the Church which implies a multitude of forms which we cannot yet define.” Elsewhere he states: “For the time being I do not dare suggest any concrete, possible and imaginable realizations of this future church.” Now, I ask, what is more defined than the doctrine, worship and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church? Do you realize how alarming it is to hear him say such a thing, that we have no idea what the Church will be like in the future, owing to ecumenism? Ratzinger is a Darwinian evolutionist with regard to the Catholic religion.
10. Does Ratzinger express this evolutionist idea anywhere else?
Yes, in his book Many Religions — One Covenant, (1998) Ratzinger makes some very alarming statements:
• “What we need, however, is respect for the beliefs of others and the readiness to look for the truth in what strikes us as strange or foreign; for such truth concerns us and can correct us and lead us farther along the path.” (p. 110)
• “I shall learn my own truth better if I understand the other person and allow myself to be moved along the road to the God who is ever greater, certain that I never hold the whole truth about God in my own hands but am always a learner, on pilgrimage toward it, on a path that has no end.” (ibid.)
Now I ask you, how can someone who has the Catholic Faith say such things? Does not the Catholic Church teach all truth in the name of Christ, and with the assistance of Christ? Ratzinger does not have the faith. How could the Catholic Faith be “on a path that has no end?” How could a Catholic say, “I never hold the whole truth about God in my own hands?” Is this not dogmatic evolutionism, condemned by Saint Pius X, in its purist form?
Listen to what else Ratzinger says:
• “Religion contains the precious pearl of truth, so to speak, but it is always hiding it, and it is continually in danger of losing sight of its essence. Religion can fall sick, and become something destructive. It can and should lead us to truth, but it can also cut men off from the truth...We may find it relatively easy to criticize the religion of others, but we must be ready to accept criticism of ourselves and of our own religion.” (Ibid.)
• “Karl Barth [a Protestant theologian] distinguished in Christianity between religion and faith...[H]e was right insofar as the religion of the Christian can succumb to sickness and become superstition: the concrete religion in which faith is lived out must continually be purified on the basis of truth, that truth which shows itself, on the one hand, in faith and, on the other hand, reveals itself anew through dialogue, allowing us to acknowledge its mystery and infinity.” (p. 111)
From these quotations, it is clear that Ratzinger has the Modernist idea that faith is every man’s religious experience, and that it is distinguished from his religion, i.e., the collection of dogmas, liturgical observances, and disciplines which he holds and practices. Religion, he says, can become corrupt. So it must be subject to a constant purification which is achieved by faith, which is not religion, and dialogue, i.e., with other religions.
This distinction of religion and faith is typically Modernist. It subjects “religion” to perpetual, open-ended change. In other words, as he said above, we have no idea what the future church will be like.
The Catholic teaching, in contrast, is that the object of our faith is the infallible dogmas taught by the Roman Catholic Church, which are absolutely unchanging and irreformable. The liturgy and disciplines of the Church conform to these unchangeable dogmas and therefore are also unchangeable in their essence.
Listen to what Ratzinger says about the missionary activity of the Catholic Church:
• “Missionary activity in the future cannot proceed as if it were simply a case of communicating to someone who has no knowledge at all of God what he has to believe.” (p. 112)
• “The proclamation of the gospel must be necessarily a dialogical process. We are not telling the other person something that is entirely unknown to him; rather, we are opening up the hidden depth of something with which, in his own religion, he is already in touch.” (Ibid.)
• “The dialogue of religions should become more and more a listening to the Logos, who is pointing out to us, in the midst of our separation and our contradictory affirmations, the unity which we already share.” (Ibid.)
These affirmations of Ratzinger absolutely destroy the teaching of the Catholic Church, that it is the one true Church outside of which there is no salvation. The Catholic Church never conducted its missionary activity in such a way. It never “dialogued” with false religions. While it was careful not to insult people, and even to accept certain of their customs not incompatible with Catholicism, it never recognized value in the false religions which they encountered. Did Saint Peter or the early popes “dialogue” with the Roman idolaters, in order to find the “unity which they already shared?”
Ratzinger’s church is one which is unknown to Catholics and to the history of Catholicism. Ratzinger is asking us to adhere to an unknown church of the future, so that in actuality we will abandon the eternal and immutable Church of Christ.
11. How do you think Ratzinger will treat traditionalists?
He will totally ignore the sedevacantists, I think. Perhaps he will excommunicate one or two of us. I think that he will give something to the Indult movement and the Fraternity of Saint Peter. They accept Vatican II and have no trouble with the new ecclesiology. So Ratzinger will have no trouble, I believe, in granting them more status than Wojtyla did. Wojtyla hated the traditional movement. Ratzinger is different. On matters of pure taste, he is more conservative than Wojtyla, and will favor the preservation of the traditional Latin Mass, something like a museum piece. As long as they are on board with “reconciled diversity,” the Indult people and the FSSP will receive favor from Ratzinger.
In so doing, I think that Ratzinger will appeal to the left wing of the Society of Saint Pius X to regularize itself, i.e., come under the Vatican. He may grant them considerable concessions. If he is successful, he will split this group, as they are already split into left and right.
Unfortunately, however, I think that the remnant SSPX will blithely continue the same old line of “being with the Holy Father” — a bold-faced lie — and at the same time continue their practice of defiance by organized and universal disobedience to him. So there is not much hope there.
12. So what should our attitude be toward Ratzinger?
The same as toward Wojtyla: that he is not a Catholic because he is a heretic, and that he is imposing a false religion upon Catholics. For both of these reasons he cannot be a Catholic pope. We must continue as always, all the time praying to God that He restore to us one day a true Catholic pope. It is only through a true Catholic pope that our Catholic Church and our Catholic lives will return to normal.
• Ratzinger is a heretic principally because of his stance on ecumenism and the new ecclesiology, both of which have been condemned by the Church.
• Ratzinger is an evolutionist with regard to the very nature of the Church, which shows a heretical attitude toward the Church, as it is an object of our faith.
• Ratzinger says that Catholics do not have the whole truth about God, and must dialogue with non-Catholics in order to find it.
• We need to persevere in our resistance to Modernism by holding Ratzinger to be a false pope, and by continuing to hold fast to what we have received from our ancestors as the Catholic Faith.
(MHT Newsletter, May 2005)
Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn
Rector, Most Holy Trinity Seminary