The Celestino Issue
Rorate Caeli has an article from Prof. Roberto de Mattei about the strange situation of the “two Popes”. I invite you to visit the site and read the excellent article yourselves.
I would like to add to it my own two cents.
I do not think that Benedict confuses the papacy with the Episcopacy. The man is, if you ask me, far too smart for that. I also think that, when he abdicated, Benedict did not have in mind a Bishop Emeritus, but rather the well-known figure of the Professor Emeritus in the University system; that is, a title that indicates the persistence of the role and of the attached prestige in the relevant person, without any reference to sacraments.
Why Benedict did this is evident enough to me: a man deeply rooted in history, and extremely informed about the Italian cultural environment, Benedict wanted to eat his cake and have it, which is what he has done his entire life.
Bishop Ratzinger wanted to look progressive to “revolutionary” V II thinkers, but still appear conservative to the solid faithful when he was a theologian. As a Pope, he wanted to look like the Pope of the Latin Mass to us decent Catholics, whilst proceeding to countless progressive appointments and not only tolerating, but promoting inter faith rubbish to appease the progressive lobby.
Is it surprising that the same Pope wanted, when the time came, flee for fear of the wolves, whilst still appearing like he is doing his job?
Hence, the University-derived “emeritus” title. With it, Benedict wanted to tell us: “See? It’s not that I do not want to be Pope anymore. It’s that I simply do not have the energy to do it!”. Once again, Benedict seeks the easy way out of a conflict, whilst paying attention that he still looks good. Yes, like he did with Summorum Pontificum, which he promulgated to please us and then allowed to largely remain lettera morta to please the other side.
Ratzinger is deeply embedded in the Italian culture, and he did not want to bear the mark of the Celestino Quinto; a man who can be canonised, but is still not popular in Italy, where he is still considered (via Dante; who does not mention him explicitly, but makes sure you know whom he is talking about) the very embodiment of the cowardly Pope. This, however, does not mean that he wanted to do his job. In a word, the Benedict who abdicated was, actually, pulling another Ratzinger stunt.
I begin to think that an element of vanity crept in. Perhaps he wanted to be sure that he would be allowed to live within the confines of the Vatican, enjoying its gardens and astonishing beauty, and many of the same priivileges of before the abdication, without the hassle of actually having to have harsh confrontations with people. Perhaps the white habit was important to him, because it helped him to lie to himself and not feel like a Celestino. Perhaps he thought that the next Pope would be sound, thus allowing him to stay out of the theological fray.
Alas: as it often happens, Benedict had to discover that his plan with the cake did not really work. As his successor descended into an abyss of heresy, Benedict once again felt that he had to say something to appease sincere Catholics (eat his cake) whilst still professing great admiration for Francis (have it). Hence, the book; which, once again, he thought he could co-publish without need for any harsh confrontation.
Sadly for him, the confrontation came anyway, in the form of an extremely irate Francis and an extremely hard lobbying Gaenswein.
Trust Benedict, at this point, to do what he always did in life: cave in, and flee for fear of the wolves.
There are very simple explanations for Ratzinger’s behaviour, and they all have to do with the Celestino issue, that is: with Benedict being one, but without wanting to appear one.
This is, by the way, more and more corroborated by the facts that are emerging now. When Archbishop Vigano’ reveals that in 2011, when he was still in charge, Ratzinger candidly admitted to him that he was aware that Gaenswein kept hot issues away from him, without proceeding to instantly fire the guy, Vigano’ tells us that this man was a puppet of much stronger people than him, and unwilling to steer unpleasant confrontations, even when he was officially in charge and could have ordered whatever he wanted. Is it a surprise that this man was an object of pity and contempt even for his own butler, the one who caused “Vatileaks”?
It all seems very linear to me. Start seeing Ratzinger from the Celestino perspective, and it all becomes very logical. It becomes also more and more credible in light of the behaviour of the man whilst he was Pope, as Vigano’ has so openly exposed.
This one is a Celestino all right.
He is merely very particular that he should not appear one.