Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 8, No. 1853 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission.
Four days ago came news from the Vatican that in a letter Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI praised his successor, Pope Francis, as a “man of profound philosophical and theological formation,” and that there is an “inner continuity” between his pontificate and that of Pope Francis.
Benedict had written the letter in thanks for having received an advance copy of a series of books on the theology of Pope Francis, released on the eve of Francis’ 5-year anniversary as pope.
The Vatican, in the person of Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication, released this photo (see below) of Benedict’s letter, next to the stacked series of 11 books on Francis’ theology. Note that only the first page of the letter is visible.
In the portion of Benedict’s letter made public by the Vatican Press Office we read the following:
“I applaud this initiative that seeks to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice according to which Pope Francis would only be a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would have been only a theoretician of theology that understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.
The little volumes rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and they help therefore to see the internal continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences of style and temperament.”
Nicole Winfield reports for the Associated Press that on March 14, 2018, the Vatican admitted that it had altered the photo of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter about Pope Francis, which changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.
Most independent news media, including The Associated Press, follow strict standards that forbid digital manipulation of photos. The AP norms, considered to be the industry standard among news agencies, states that “No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph.”
The Vatican admitted it had blurred the two final lines of the first page of Pope Benedict’s letter where he begins to explain that he had not actually read the books in question, and therefore cannot contribute a theological assessment of Francis as requested by Msgr. Vigano because he has other projects to do.
According to the AP, Msgr. Vigano read only parts of Benedict’s letter during a press conference launching the series of 11 books on Francis’ theology, including the lines that were blurred out. But Vigano didn’t read the whole letter. The Vatican didn’t respond to a request to see the full text.
Remember the sin of omission?
This is what Pope Benedict XVI, age 90, actually wrote in his letter, which is concealed by the Vatican (source: The Remnant):
“However, I don’t feel I can write a brief and dense theological passage on them because throughout my life it has always been clear that I should write and express myself only on books I had really read. Unfortunately, if only for physical reasons, I am unable to read the eleven volumes in the near future, especially as other commitments await me that I have already assumed.
[Tuttavia non mi sento di scrivere su di essi una breve e densa pagina teologica perché in tutta la mia vita è sempre stato chiaro che avrei scritto e mi sarei espresso soltanto su libri che avevo anche veramente letto. Purtroppo, anche solo per ragioni fisiche, non sono in grado di leggere gli undici volumetti nel prossimo futuro, tanto più che mi attendono altri impegni che ho già assunti.]”
In other words, Pope Benedict XVI is saying:
- He has not read the series of 11 slim volumes on Pope Francis’ theology.
- Consequently, he cannot comment on Pope Francis’ theology, as Mgsr. Vigano requested.
- Furthermore, Pope Benedict XVI has no intention to read the series because he has other things to do.
That being said, Pope Benedict XVI did send mixed messages in his letter. As Christopher A. Ferrara of The Remnant points out:
The fact remains, however, that Benedict has lent his name and signature to the fraudulent claim that Bergoglio [Pope Francis’ real name] exhibits a profound philosophical and theological formation, even though he has spent the past five years engaged in shallow mockery of “the theologians,” whom he would consign to a desert island, while shamefully misrepresenting the teaching of Saint Thomas as supportive of his campaign to admit public adulterers to Holy Communion. […]
Despite its contrary signaling, therefore, Benedict’s letter to Vigano must be seen as cooperation in a scheme to rescue Bergoglio’s imploding papacy from itself, no matter what Benedict’s subjective intention may have been in going along with the ruse. The letter’s claim of an “internal continuity” between his pontificate and Bergoglio’s is a transparent evasion of the truth. “Internal continuity” is just another way of saying “apparent lack of continuity.” Nor can the apparent lack of continuity be reduced to “differences of style and temperament.” There is not an even arguable continuity between the two Popes regarding the dominant theme of Bergoglio’s pontificate: an absolutely unparalleled attack on the Sixth Commandment and even the natural law, far more dramatic than Bergoglio merely trudging along the path of “ecumenism,” “dialogue” and “liturgical renewal” established at Vatican II. […]
Benedict would have to know in particular that Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia reduces the Sixth Commandment, an exceptionless precept of the divine and natural law, to a mere “rule” and an “ideal” that does not bind strictly in certain “complex circumstances,” thereby smuggling into the life of the Church, under the guise of “authentic Magisterium,” precisely the evil of situation ethics that John Paul II condemned. […]
The unprecedented and untenable division of the Church into traditionalist, “conservative” and liberal branches, with Bergoglio now clumsily attempting to saw off the first two branches, signals an historical turning point at which it seems only divine intervention of the most dramatic sort will be able to restore the Church [….]
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- The Illegitimate Pope: Election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis was contaminated by lobbying in violation of papal laws
- Pope Francis’ Vatican: a cesspool of pedophiles and homosexuals
- Cardinal Müller: ‘Pervading sense of fear’ in Pope Francis’ Curia
- Catholic Church under Pope Francis: Critics censored, threatened with excommunication