An astounding revelation recently on Cathnews. Cathnews carried a story sourced from UCANews, sourced from SperoNews, about comments which appeared in the Turkish political journal Yeni Asya by Jesuit Father Tom Michel. Fr Michel served on the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1981 to 1994, and it is said that at that time he was the Vatican’s “top expert”(?) on Islam.
Apparently, Fr Michel opined that in the old days the Pope would not have been allowed to say what what said in Regensburg. Back then, the PCID “look[ed] over the late Pope John Paul II’s speeches to Muslims to see if there was anything that might be considered offensive in them, and if there was something of that nature, to propose changes for the Pope.”
Then comes the clanger. Michel is reported to have said:
“Had the Pope’s talk been reviewed and controlled by any competent staff person, they would immediately have told the Pope that the citation of Manuel II Paleologus, which was in fact marginal to the Pope’s main point, should not be included in the speech.”
Yes, I am sure that they would have. But would Papa Benny have taken any notice? No doubt there would have been some wisdom in having someone else look over the papal ponderings. And perhaps such a “looker-overer” might suggest that such a comment may not be best in the context. But “controlled”? Does the Holy Father strike you as a person who would submit his theology and writing to be “reviewed and controlled”?
Our new Archbishop in Canberra, Mark Coleridge, has opined that every word of the Regensburg speech was Benedict’s own. And I for one believe him. It was pure Ratzinger. And if there is one thing that this man will not allow his pontificate to be, it is “controlled”. Perhaps the great sadness of JPII’s reign as supreme pontiff is that it was ultimately the Curia that reigned supreme, not the Bishop of Rome.
Great theology, like great poetry, is never written by a committee. Good leadership never comes from a committee either. Viva la Papa. I support the Pope.