Where Benedict Failed




Not everyone is born to be a leader. Some are born to be generals, some are born to be soldiers, some are born to be thinkers, some are born to be, well, idiots.

Pope Benedict never had the stuff of the doer. He had even less the stuff of the leader. A man inclined to reflection and theoretical elaboration, he never showed that kind of energy that leads men to be relentlessly driven toward a goal, and completely focused on the practical task at hand. He also never had that kind of charisma, the quiet but solid authority that leads poets to say “oh captain! my captain!” to him. Benedict never was much of a captain, and Whitman would not have been terribly impressed.

His activity as Pontiff clearly shows the poor practical record. A man of words rather than actions, Benedict never had the will or energy to give his papacy the required bite. He gave us Summorum Pontificum, and then watched as it was ignored in the Third World and actively boycotted in much of the West. His episcopal appointments show a high degree of naïveté, weakness, or simply lack of interest in the extremely delicate task of appointing the men who run the Church. But he was happy with writing books, even as he was appointing almost half the Cardinals that would give us Bergoglio as his successor.

The lack of authority reached disquieting proportions when the world discovered that even his butler thought that Benedict had to be, in some way, protected from the people around him. No, this is not the stuff of a leader, and the request that the faithful pray for him, that he may not flee before the wolves, showed in time to be a tad more concrete than the somewhat coquettish remark of an old man faced with a great responsibility. Benedict was simply not born a wolf fighter.

The apex of both this naïveté and this lack of leadership was shown in the most dramatic way – though it became apparent only later – on the 11 February 2013. A weak and undecisive man, not endowed with the stuff of leaders in his strongest days, Benedict possibly felt overwhelmed by the 300 pages report about homosexuality within the Church; a report which very obviously sent him the message that it was now time to wear the armor, and go to war. This is when Benedict’s mistakes catch up with him, and they will now plague his existence for the rest of his days.

Benedict felt – rightly, I think – that he was not up to the task. It is difficult to wage war against the homo Mafia when not even your butler has any esteem in your qualities as leader. One cannot, as the Germans say, jump over his shadow, and  very few are the men who experience a dramatic change in character and attitude at 83. His decision to resign is, in my eyes, fully understandable in a man who saw a task in front of him for which he had neither the attitude nor the energy, and for which he felt – or so it seems to me – that the Church he loves needed a far more suitable man than himself.

But the bigger mistake was not that. If Benedict had done his job properly in the appointment of Cardinals and Bishops he could have resigned with the knowledge – as opposed to the naive illusion – that his successor would have had the orthodoxy for the good fight, and the cojones to fight it. Then it would all have made sense. But nothing went as he was certainly planning.

Benedict’s biggest mistake was to think that he had prepared a Conclave fit for electing someone who would continue his work; and that he could therefore retire in good conscience, after almost eight years at the helm, because now simply too weak and too old to be a good helmsman.

Benedict’s failure of judgment in his appointments unluckily combined in a huge failure of judgment concerning his Cardinals and, as a result, his successor. Never a lion, the man was evidently also rather easily duped. Not a good quality in a Pope, however many books he can write.

I do not believe for a second that he was forced to resign, as lack of leadership quality does not a coward make. I truly believe that the man believes in God, and would die rather than cave in to the Church’s enemies. I find the idea that he would simply allow to be bullied aside extremely insulting to the man.

But that this gentle soul was not fit to look at men in the proper light, and was ultimately unable to understand where he was steering the Church, this seems blatantly obvious to me.

Soon it will be two years from that fateful day, the day that plunged the Church from the frying pan of rampant neo-Modernism and sexual perversion into the fire of open, shameless heresy and celebration  of the very perversion this papacy was supposed to fight against.

The gentle, undecisive, naive man is still alive. He is far too loyal to say it, but he must now feel that his survival is his punishment. I doubt he thought, when he resigned, that he had another two years to live. But the man must be stunned, and horrified, at thinking what his pontificate has resulted to in the end: an attempt at hostile takeover from Satan himself.

Pray for Benedict; a kind, gentle man of thought and prayer who did not have the stuff of which effective Popes are made.



Posted on February 10, 2015, in Traditional Catholicism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Before the conclave cardinals were being approached by newsmen and several of them, including Cardinal Burke re-assured the public that all of them were competent to assume the Papacy…Cardinal Burke even said that this was so because all of the electors were put there by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI. The Cardinals do not seem to know each other very well..and if this is the case, it is likely to be even more so as their numbers increase.

    • Yeah. I seriously doubt they knew what they were getting when they chose Bergoglio.

      I can understand them for not suspecting anyone could be such an ignorant peasant, and a Cardinal.


  2. This post really brings a number of puzzle pieces into clearer focus. I think it’s a convincing analysis. Personally I thought, judging his physical appearance leading up to his resignation compared to after, that now, they’ve stopped lacing the potato ravioli with anti-freeze.

    • Ha!

      Or rather, the weight of the papacy has fallen from him, and he has regained the strenght the papacy was draining away.

      If you look at his photos before the abdication and now, you’ll see he is in much better shape now.

  3. “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
    He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;”
    Isaiah 53:2-3
    Certainly no “Captain,my captain”, going on here…
    Perhaps BenedictXVI discerned His will, His permissive will, and all eternity will allow us to see what good He brought out of what appear to be desperate circumstances

    • It would be very sinful for a Pope who sees tragedy coming to say “oh well, God will turn this to good, too”.

      The job of the Pope is to protect the Church.

      I think he felt safe. Naive, and rather complacent. But then again this is a man of studies, not a strategist.


  4. If I may be so bold as to contradict Mundabor, I say that Cardinal Ratzinger has the same neo-Modernist thinking as almost all prelates from Pius XII on. They all revere de Lubac, Rahner, Teilhard de Chardin, and further forward to Bonhoffer, Barth, and the rest of the heretics from the not too distant past. Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings past and present are replete with the same old buzzwords used by heretics.
    So, hard to believe he doesn’t think Vatican II results were a nasty surprise, but all we need to do is twist ourselves into pretzels and make the past fit the present – only harder. That’s what he wasn’t able to do – push harder because he could see the filth mixed in with the heresy he himself espoused.

  5. I beg your pardon. My last post was inadvertently sent with so many typos.
    So what I was saying, is that they tried to poison him, then they stopped after the abdication, and he remove red.

  6. Mundabor, this 2012 Remnant article by Chris Ferrara has a very similar thesis to yours, but from the pre-resignation side of history. Ferrara details several ways in which John Paul II and Benedict XVI became captives of what he calls “the Legislating Church”, an outgrowth of the post-Vatican II bureaucratization of the curia. Along the way, he paints a picture of Benedict as well-meaning, but far too reluctant to exercise his sovereign authority against stubborn curial bureaucrats and bishops.

    The two articles help me make sense of something that’s always puzzled me: Benedict’s infamous 2005 meeting with Bishop Fellay, in which the Holy Father admitted that “My authority ends at that door.” It seems he was just too shy!

    Ironically, Francis may succeed in breaking the grip of the Legislative Church and in restoring power to the Petrine Office, but in the service of Kasperism. Great.

  7. Bergoglio himself seemed to presage the lament some Cardinals now have. I recall that he, very soon after the election, said something to the effect that they might regret their choice.

  8. Who made Marx a Cardinal? Benedict XVI. The sad reality is that the recent Popes (JP 2 & B XVI) were massively imprudent in their appointments and governance of the Church, and we are now seeing the fruit of their reckless decisions. Often times theological and pastoral “creativity” was rewarded instead of orthodoxy and adherence to traditional practices and discipline. This is hard to say, but this is reality. Later generations will wonder why they appointed such awful prelates. Can anyone really argue that all of Benedict’s appointments were firm believers of the alleged “hermeneutic of continuity?” Of course not. (See e.g. Cardinal Marx).

    Benedict drifted closed to tradition towards the end, but he was unable to shake his progressive tendencies. Any one who has read “Theological Highlights of Vatican II” knows we are dealing dealing with a very different person now than in 1964. Yet Benedict remained fascinated with novelty, as can be seen by the “Benedictine” altar arrangement and his continuance to play in theological graveyard of “ecumenism.” He was formed in an age where theological experimentation was avant garde, and he saturated himself in it. I feel so sorry for the poor old man, who must surely see the error of his ways. I agree, his prolonged life is almost a punishment for someone who can so clearly see the catastrophic outcome of his decisions.

    • Benedict made many disgraceful appointments. But the very Marx had a different profile when Benedict was Pope. I have followed them since 2010, the worst was Woelki (another appointment of his, I think), but nothing comparable to what we read today.

      It is only now that we see such aggressive, open propaganda rather than the covert innuendos and impious wishes of the past.

  9. On the subject of appointments, an interesting thought occurred to me, which I would like your opinion as an Italian. As you know, prior to Paul VI, Popes rarely traveled outside of Italy. It seems to me that this would be of great advantage when making appointments, particularly Cardinals. That is, the Pope was able to know potential appointments on a very personal level because it would simply be easier to meet with them and do so more often. Perhaps this explains why there were so many Italian cardinals in the past? The pope may have know them very well because of close proximity. Contrast that with Benedict- one wonders whether he even bothered to ask his appointments what they thought of his supposed “hermeneutic of continuity.” Granted the are other factors that explain the terrible appointments of the last 50 years, but I think part of it is that they never really got to know how awful some of these people really were. What are your thoughts?

    • I do not think it was the reason. The Church was long dominated by French Cardinals, or had a lot of Spaniards.

      It was, I think, felt that Italians are the most apt to run the Church. A matter of nuances, mentality, diplomacy. Doing things “the Italian way”, capisci? 😉


  10. Mundabor, I commend you on your honesty and directness. It’s badly needed in the mediocrity that passes for Catholic “journalism” and “blogging” these days. Naivete is all too common within Catholicism, whether among the laity or clergy. I think an excessively academic approach causes it (just look at secular academics who are just as naive about human nature).

    BTW, most of what you say about Benedict could apply to JPII, especially regarding Islam.

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