Hoje, é o dia mais triste para o cristão. Estamos sem Deus, Cristo ainda não ressuscitou. Acabo de ler também um texto bem preocupante que entristece ainda mais o dia.
é um renomado professor de religião na Universidade Georgetown. Ele escreveu um excelente artigo nesta semana sobre o
Não vou traduzir o texto de Paul Elie. É um texto longo, estou sem tempo e gripado e não quero fazer uma tradução mal feita. O texto foi
. Vou colocar aqui apenas as partes que achei mais contundentes do texto dele, sem traduzir (em azul):
It’s odd enough that there are two living popes. It’s odder still that they live in such proximity. But what’s most odd is that the two popes are these two popes, and that the one who spent a third of a century erecting a Catholic edifice of firm doctrine and strict prohibition now must look on at close range as the other cheerfully dismantles it in the service of a more open, flexible Church.
Outwardly, the arrangement works. Francis is acting freely, uninhibited by the fact that Benedict is looking over his shoulder. Benedict is doing what he said he would do: living a quiet life of prayer after 23 years as John Paul’s consigliere capped by eight difficult and divisive years as pope. For the record, he has no regrets. But he is now in a cell of his own making, committed not to travel and pledged not to speak out against his successor. In February of this year, when Francis invited him to take part in a consistory, a Mass in which new cardinals are appointed, the two popes decided together that (as Francis put it about Benedict) “it would be better if he saw people, got out and participated in the life of the Church.” He did take part in the consistory. And yet getting out is no substitute for speaking out, not for the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who corrected even John Paul.
With the press transfixed by Francis, I went to Rome to talk about Benedict. Invariably, the conversations wound up being about both of them. Priests, Church officials, and Vatican insiders told me that the differences between the two men come down to personality, not principle, and that Benedict is delighted with the goodwill the world is showing Francis. He probably is. Yet when he was the arbiter of Church doctrine, he never missed a chance to declare that the Church was founded on revealed truth rather than personality, and that the world’s goodwill isn’t worth having except on the Church’s terms. “Who am I to judge?”—Francis’s remark about gay people—was a sharp turn away from Benedict’s view that the role of the Church is to render judgment in a world in thrall to “a dictatorship of relativism.” Francis’s offhand statements and openness to new approaches make clear that he is a very different pope—and unless Benedict has lost his mind, he cannot be altogether happy about it.
“The irony,” a well-placed Jesuit at the Vatican told me, “is that this pope Francis, great agent of decentralization in the Church, is personally the most centralized pope since Pius the Ninth. Everything has to cross his desk.”
Some people at the Vatican pity Benedict, the scholar whose lot it was to fall between the rock stars John Paul and Francis. But he has never sought worldly renown. He envisions a different legacy. “He’d like to be a Doctor of the Church,” a chronicler of Benedict’s papacy told me, “with Augustine and Aquinas, Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross.” With that in mind, he spends part of the day buffing his collected writings, which will run to 16 volumes. That he has written so much works against his hope to be read in the future. “Ratzinger’s natural form is the essay, not the book,” the well-placed Jesuit said. The nearest thing to a Ratzinger classic is Introduction to Christianity, which he published in 1968, before the events of the late ’60s sent him round the neotraditionalist bend. Benedict broke his self-imposed silence last year to defend his book, and his reputation, after an Italian mathematician and outspoken atheist, Piergiorgio Odifreddi, in 2011 addressed a short book to him (Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You) and used examples from Introduction to Christianity to argue that religion is just “science fiction.” Benedict read the book and took up his pen. “Distinguished Professor,” he began, and went on for 11 pages, challenging Odifreddi’s account of theology, evolution, Richard Dawkins’s work, and much else. “My criticism of your book is, in part, tough,” he concluded. “However, frankness is part of a dialogue … You have been very frank and so you will accept that I am, too.”
John Paul and Benedict led the Church for 35 years. Decade after decade, they opposed the currents in modern life that they felt progressive Catholics were falsely identifying with the “spirit of Vatican II”: movements in favor of women’s rights, gay rights, and heterodox family arrangements, and against religious freedom and robust religion in public life. They appointed the cardinals who would elect their successors. All their striving seemed to work: By the time Benedict became pope, progressive Catholics were cowering. The truths of orthodoxy and the findings of sociology had converged; the religious bodies that espoused the firmest doctrines and made the strictest demands on their adherents were those that gained the most followers.
Carlo Maria Martini saw things differently. A Jesuit priest and a biblical scholar, Martini was an outlier, even after John Paul appointed him as the archbishop of Milan. When in Rome, he worked with the poor and celebrated Mass on the city’s outskirts. He published a dialogue with Umberto Eco (identified as an “urbane ex‑Catholic”). He sought ways to address such matters as premarital sex and divorce. At the 2005 conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as pope, Martini got nine votes on the first ballot, or scrutiny, behind Ratzinger (who got 47) and the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio (10). In the second scrutiny, after a night of politicking at the Casa Santa Marta, Martini’s votes all passed to Bergoglio.John Paul and Benedict led the Church for 35 years. Decade after decade, they opposed the currents in modern life that they felt progressive Catholics were falsely identifying with the “spirit of Vatican II”: movements in favor of women’s rights, gay rights, and heterodox family arrangements, and against religious freedom and robust religion in public life. They appointed the cardinals who would elect their successors. All their striving seemed to work: By the time Benedict became pope, progressive Catholics were cowering. The truths of orthodoxy and the findings of sociology had converged; the religious bodies that espoused the firmest doctrines and made the strictest demands on their adherents were those that gained the most followers.
At the conclave of 2013, Bergoglio was elected pope—and if his pontificate has an agenda, it is the one Martini spelled out from his deathbed. Did Benedict see this coming? Assuredly not. In 2005, Martini, at 78, was considered too old to be elected. It would follow that in 2013, Bergoglio, at 76, should have also been considered too old. But Benedict’s renunciation changed the calculus. Now no older man can be ruled out. Now an older man can be elected pope and work hard for a few years, knowing he is free to resign when his energy flags or when he reckons that he has done all he can.
That’s what Francis is doing—and Benedict knows, better than anybody, that his renunciation of the papacy is what made Francis’s freestyle, judgment-averse pontificate possible. The thought is enough to keep him awake at night. For it is his firm belief that the willingness to suspend judgment is the core of the dictatorship of relativism.
Cardinal Walter Kasper—short, sturdy, 81—lives at No. 1 Piazza della Città Leonina, a brick apartment building near the old Vatican walls, steps from the papal apartments. The building is populated by cardinals and archbishops, a celibates’ fraternity house.
Kasper is a theologian from Germany who, in Rome, led the Catholic Church’s efforts toward unity with other Christian Churches and amity with Judaism. The press calls him “Kasper the Friendly Cardinal,” and when he smiles from behind rimless glasses, you can see why. His apartment is simple but comfortable, Upper West Side bourgeois: leather furniture, framed art, a stereo, a laptop open on a side table, and two full walls of shelved books.
I asked Kasper about his old neighbor. “It’s difficult to be a retired professor,” he said, “and more difficult in his way. He cannot do the normal things. He cannot take a walk. He cannot publish a book. He must be very discreet.”
What about Benedict and Francis? Did he see Rolling Stone’s cover story about Francis, in which Benedict was caricatured as a maniac torturing young people with “knife-fingered gloves”? “Everyone wants to say how different Francis is,” Kasper said, sighing, and then went on to make the familiar point about the two men’s temperaments. But the difference between the two popes has to do with doctrine as well as temperament—especially one doctrine that Kasper, in a very visible dispute with Ratzinger, spelled out better than anybody else. It concerned what exactly the pope is. Kasper argued that the pope is chiefly the bishop of Rome: eminent, yes, but one bishop among many. Ratzinger argued that the pope is a super-bishop of sorts, whom the other bishops must follow as a sign of Church unity.
Before the conclave of 2005, Kasper, speaking at the ancient basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, called for a new pope who would not be leery of the world. People took this as a warning against Ratzinger. The next day Ratzinger gave his speech to the cardinals about the dictatorship of relativism. He was elected pope. The super-bishop had won, or so it seemed. But Pope Francis has taken Kasper’s side in the dispute. He has appointed a group of eight cardinal advisers; the bishop of Rome now consults with his fellow bishops from around the world. And by making clear that the Church—and the papacy—must change with the times, he is putting a stop to John Paul and Benedict’s long effort to make Church doctrine an adamantine bulwark against relativism. When some 200 cardinals came to Rome for the February consistory, he chose Kasper to preach the keynote homily to them.
In our interview, Kasper spoke at length about the two popes. “There are real convergences between them,” he said. “Benedict sought to reform the Curia, and now Francis seeks to reform the Curia. But certainly there is more collegiality under Francis, more emphasis on the local church. And other changes. The red slippers: ridiculous, ridiculous! Now all of the cardinals are wearing simple crosses. These changes are irreversible.” He went on: “They have different ways of reading the signs of the times. Benedict is good with ideas, but he had poor judgment of people. Francis knows people, how they think. He took the city bus in Buenos Aires. He calls people on the phone. He uses the computer. But Benedict, he doesn’t drive”—here the Friendly Cardinal grasped an imaginary steering wheel. “He doesn’t do Internet”—here he pointed at his laptop. “He is not … normal! Francis, he is normal!”
For the past 35 years, progressive Catholics have felt thwarted. Now it’s the traditionalists’ turn. “Benedict was like a father to them,” the well-placed Jesuit at the Vatican told me. “No, he was a father to them. Now they are fatherless.” Benedict’s courageous act of renunciation, they feel, wasn’t supposed to turn out this way—not when the fight for the Church had finally been won. They are vexed by the thought that the change is irreversible, that the doors John Paul and Benedict strove to push closed—on sexuality, the ordination of women, the authority of the pope—will now stay open.
A woman in Rome told me about a dinner party shortly after Francis’s election, where she was seated next to Cardinal Raymond Burke, the American archconservative who is the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court. Her husband was gravely ill, and she told Burke so, expecting consolation. She got something else. “These are difficult times for all of us in the Church right now,” he said.
Vatican insiders tell the story of an Italian vaticanista, or full-time Vatican correspondent, who is still agitated over Francis’s behavior at a papal audience with several thousand members of the international press shortly after he was elected. Acknowledging that many of the men and women at the event were not Catholics, Francis gave a blessing “respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.” The vaticanista took that to mean that what a person believes doesn’t really matter. “What kind of fucking apostolic blessing is that?” she said, according to another vaticanista, who summed up the objection this way: “If this pope gives a blessing like that, he’s not taking the papacy seriously. So we’re not going to take him seriously.”
Francis seems untroubled by this prospect. He is spurred to act boldly in part by the prospect of his own imminent demise. He knows, on the one hand, that he need not remain pope until he dies; and he knows, on the other, that the powerful people who oppose him need not wait for his death to press a counterreformation. What they know, and what he knows, is that he is not alone: the other pope remains on the hill, watching.
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