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The 'Little Ratzinger'

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 10, 2008

The new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, is widely known as "the little Ratzinger." How did he acquire that nickname? Vatican-watcher Paolo Rodari (as relayed by Father Z) tells us:  

The nickname "little Ratzinger" was born in the Roman Curia. From 1985 to 1992 Canizares played the same role in the Spanish bishops conference that Ratzinger played in the Vatican: he took care of the "doctrine of the faith" sector for the bishops conference. It was this role, together with the special friendship he had with Ratzinger, that prompted the men of the former Holy Office good-naturely to start nicknaming him that way.

Writing for Catholic Online, Deacon Keith Fournier offers a very similar explanation: 

The expression indicates the closeness of his theological and liturgical positions with those of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. In addition, the Cardinal served the Spanish Bishops conference as a protector and defender of orthodoxy. This was similar to what was done by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, prior to ascending to the Chair of Peter.

Well, okay; no argument. But let's not make this needlessly complicated. There's another reason why he's called the "little Ratzinger," and you don't need an expert to figure it out. Just take a look at this story-- or rather, the accompanying picture.  The Pope himself is not a big man-- I don't think there's any such thing as a "big Ratzinger"--  but he towers over the diminutive Spanish cardinal. 

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