"Greatest Hits of Ratzinger Ideas" – John Allen on Spe Salvi

Seems I wasn’t the only person to note that Ratzinger is repeating himself (perhaps he thinks we haven’t been listening? …Perhaps some of us haven’t…).

John Allen has dubbed “Spe Salvi” a “Greatest Hits collection of core Ratzinger ideas”. See his analysis here.

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4 Responses to "Greatest Hits of Ratzinger Ideas" – John Allen on Spe Salvi

  1. Anonymous says:


    Reminded me of the article I read recently (though written in 2005 by Fr Eric Hodgens) and published on Father Bob Maguire’s site (with implicit endorsement):

    The audacity…

    “Mad as Hell: Post Vatican II
    An article of interest (reproduced with permission) from the 26 Jan 05 edition of Online Catholics: An Independent Australian eJournal:

    Last year, Melbourne priests Len Thomas and Peter Foley went public with their concerns that Church leadership is out of step.

    Too right, says Fr Eric Hodgens.

    In 20 years the Church In Melbourne will have only a quarter of the priests we need to provide adequate priestly service. My research concluding this gained some media attention in Australia in early December. Three weeks later, two Melbourne priests Frs. Peter Foley and Len Thomas, wrote an opinion piece claiming that the leadership of the Melbourne diocese and of Rome was failing to win the minds and hearts of contemporary Catholics. There is a very real link between these two issues.

    Frs. Foley and Thomas are well respected priests of the diocese, each having 40 years of very effective priestly and pastoral service. They belong to that big group of priests who were ordained between 1955 and 1975 and who are now roughly 55-75 years of age. This group will all reach retiring age over the next 20 years. These two priests’ views are representative of the majority of the big, 20-year group, whose are distressed that the church they love and have served faithfully is suffering.

    This group’s complaint is that the leadership is out of tune with the attitudes, hopes and desires of the priests and lay people whom they serve. Most of these priests were won over to the spirit of Vatican II and joyfully implemented the policies which resulted. They see the present leadership in Rome dismantling those policies and they are very disappointed. They believe that the bishops are too much under the thumb of Rome, are talking the Roman language and dismantling as Rome dictates. Some examples:

    – Clericalism and triumphalism was abandoned alter Vatican ll but is being reinstated.

    – Consultative decision making has been abandoned both by Rome and many local bishops.

    – Groups like the Legionaries of Christ, Opus Dei and the Neo-Catechumenate are being promoted as the salvation of a collapsing Church while they see these “New Movements” as narrow, clerical, sectarian and, worst of all, subverting parish life.

    Big money is being spent on promoting vocations to the full-time, life-long, male and celibate priesthood and they know that that package is not going to work. The lifestyle package needs to be re-visited.

    This is a huge problem because they believe that a church without priests is a church without the sacraments and is in grave danger. Yet the bigger issue is being deliberately ignored by the present leadership. And it is a little ironic to have a Year of the Eucharist when the present policy is resulting in it being less and less available.

    They embraced the Vatican Council emphasis on the Mass as a Thanksgiving Meal celebrated by community in memory of the dying and rising of Jesus. They resent the effort to restore a primary focus on adoration of the host. All the Big money is being spent on Papal World Youth Days. They see this as pandering to the pope and producing no lasting advantage for the Church at large.

    They do not like the strong personality cult of the pope and resent the bishops’ sycophantic style of quoting him incessantly.

    They see the pope’s devotion to Mary as excessive, pietistic and detrimental to placing Jesus Christ in the unquestioned centre of the Christian message of salvation they feel compelled to preach.

    Most of them have not believed that contraception is intrinsically immoral ever since Humanae Vitae was published in 1958. They know from their pastoral practice that they are at one with their parishioners in this view.

    They believe that Humanae Vitae was a major counterproductive error. They see the strongby Rome and the bishops as an emblem of the credibility gap.insistence on this

    Most of them are no longer committed to the old taboos on sexuality. Most do not believe that couples living together are doing something very wrong. Most are happy to have homosexual couples living lives of commitment. They find the Roman heavy insistence on these issues obsessive and wonder why.

    They see divorce as a major reality in today’s western culture and do not believe that remarried divorcees should be permanently excommunicated by being refused Holy Communion.

    They have watched the use of confession dwindle to virtual extinction but were excited by the wonderful support people gave to General Absolution rites. They saw the forbidding of General Absolution as a pastoral and theological disaster.

    They know that the greatest strength of the post Vatican ii church was the vitality and enthusiastic support of the women. They have watched with disappointment as women have been treated so out. badly that many of the most energetic have simply opted

    They now see the treatment of theologians and priests who have been anonymously accused of dissenting moral and theological opinions as abusive and a violation of basic human rights.

    Above all this, they find themselves being expected to accept and follow bishops who are chosen primarily on the basis of their readiness not to rock the boat of current Roman policy. They see them as supine. They do not want them and would never have given any support for them had they been asked. Some are so at odds with the public face of the church that they would resign from the priesthood except for their loyalty to their parishioners whom they love, and their parish which they wish to serve.

    They do their best to be loyal to the institution so as not to endanger the unity of the community. So, priests do break ranks you know there is a problem. when

    Let’s get back to the original question – is there a link between this crie de coeur and the numbers of priests? You bet there is. That twenty year cluster of priests is the last chance we have to prepare for the priestly void and they are massively disaffected. The bishops are in a tight bind. They are too scared to oppose Rome. Yet, they cannot fix the situation unless they do.

    Meanwhile they need this group of priests more than ever and they are losing them fast.

    Eric Hodgens is a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. His Opinion on the Priest crisis in Online Catholics last December received national press coverage.”

  2. Past Elder says:

    Ah yes, the spirit of Vatican II.

    The group ordained between 1955 and 1975, now 55 – 75.

    The group to which, had I followed my original intention, I would belong. Well, I would have been ordained in 1976, so I’m off a year, though I’m 57.

    Maybe, just maybe, the real reason young men aren’t flocking to the priesthood is they can see no reason or relevance (OMG, relevance!) in ending up like them — though in a completely different sense than Hodgens thinks.

    Neither the world nor the church is addressed or engaged by “the spirit of Vatican II”. Get it guys — it’s your New Coke, a product that should have been pulled from the shelves years ago. The 1960s are over. Have been for decades.

    At least the article describes the relics one encounters in most parishes pretty well — the relics at rather than in the altar. So interesting to see the generation that insisted on being different than the one they followed now insist that the one following them be the same as they are.

  3. Anonymous says:

    [sigh!] Unfortunately, Past Elder shares the beliefs of the right wing ‘control and command’ (sweep it under the mat)boys club, which has shown itself to be too scared to let go and experience the Christ-like spirit of Vatican II. Far from V II running rampant, PE, the big boys are losing us because of their ‘bovver boy’ antics. You want more of this as a maens of getting people back? Good luck!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes, the emperors of the the church don’t have the faith to relax ‘authority’ unfortunately.

    Control, rules and tollway investments remain top priority.

    – REM

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