Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Quick hits: an unseemly dispute over Pope Benedict’s private thoughts

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 09, 2023 | In Quick Hits

At Crux, John Allen has a characteristically insightful analysis of the tug-of-war between Pope Francis and Archbishop Gänswein, on what the late Pope Benedict thought of Traditionis Custodes. The archbishop says that the retired Pope was broken-hearted over the document; the Pope says that he consulted Benedict about the issue, and “he agreed… he agreed.”

They can’t both be right, Allen observes—unless they are actually talking about different things:

Francis may be claiming he and Benedict had a fundamentally warm rapport, and Gänswein, without denying that, may be saying that there were nevertheless a few differences.

True enough. But isn’t there something unseemly about this public clash between leading prelates—and a clash that drags in the deceased Pontiff as well?

After his resignation, Benedict made a point of not saying anything about current Vatican affairs, and he kept his silence until his death. Now Francis and Ganswein are squabbling about what he might have said, if he had said anything. But the salient point is that he didn’t say anything, presumably because he did not want to be involved in any controversy. That was Benedict’s decision, and anyone who respects his judgment should respect his silence.

Ratzinger/Benedict wrote thousands of pages about the liturgy before his resignation—not to mention Summorum Pontificum, which speaks directly to the issue at hand. So there’s no real reason to cite what he allegedly said in private, after he chose to refrain from public statements. And there’s every reason not to drag him posthumously into the dispute.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: padre3536 - Feb. 10, 2023 9:02 AM ET USA

    Do we know if Pope Benedict wrote some works, articles, etc., for future publication, even if for after he went to the Beloved?? Blessings