Opinion

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November 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – For many years faithful Catholics around the world have agonized over the actions of some bishops that discredit the faith and bring scandal.  And for the purposes of this analysis I’ll exclude the sexual abuse scandal.  Many of the faithful wonder why the Pope does not seem to take action and if he in fact even knows what is going on.  Well, he does.  However, if you’re not watching closely you may miss the interventions, even though they are public.

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Let’s take a couple recent examples which were rather obvious. 

Regular LifeSiteNews readers will readily remember the scandal of the German bishops being 100% owners of a $1.7 billion dollar annual sales book company which pedaled 2500 pornographic erotic novels and similar videos.  For a decade, the bishops ignored the behind-the-scenes pleas of faithful Catholics to rectify the situation.

When the mainstream media reported the scandal, the bishops’ representatives feigned ignorance and filtering errors.  The head of the book company even went to far as to suggest that since the erotic offerings didn’t meet the strict legal definition of ‘porn’, those who accused the bishops’ company of pedaling porn were guilty of slander and that the company would be suing “the slanderers.”

No word of apology or repentance was heard from the German bishops.  And many a faithful LifeSiteNews reader expressed their concerns to the Vatican.

However, a week after the scandal reached its apex there was a very interesting exchange between Pope Benedict XVI and the German ambassador to the Holy See. The Holy Father’s message centered on pornography.  “The time has come,” he said, “to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet.”

And then came the key line which told any observer who was aware of the German bishops’ porn scandal that the Pope knew the score and was taking action on the matter.  “The Holy See will ensure,” Pope Benedict stated, “that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse.”

This incredible form of communication, from the Pope directly to the faithful, bypassing the bishops and normal methods is not novel for this Pope, nor for him in his former life of Cardinal Ratzinger.

A more recent example of the phenomenon broke this week as the Vatican newspaper published a 1998 essay by then-Cardinal Ratzinger about the Church reasons for denying Holy Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics. 

The casual reader of L’Osservatore Romano would merely see a well-argued defense of Church teaching being published in the paper and not think much more about it.  However, those who know that various bishops have recently balked at the Church’s teaching on the matter would see more.

Notably, as Catholic News Agency points out today, the publication comes two months after the president of the German Bishops’ Conference publicly raised questions over the Church’s teachings on marriage in a newspaper interview.  “We are all faced with the problem of how we can help people in whose lives certain things have gone wrong and that includes a wrecked marriage,” Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said on Sept. 5, only weeks before the Pope arrived for a four-day state visit.  “This is a question of mercy and we will be discussing this problem intensively in the near future,” the archbishop told the German newspaper Die Zeit.

This mode of covert communication with faithful Catholics aware of the inside story is something seen prior to Pope Benedict’s elevation to the pontificate.

In 2004, during the US Bishops’ deliberation on the subject of communion for pro-abortion politicians, Cardinal Ratzinger, in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, intervened into the debate with a document called Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles

The letter pointed out that obstinately pro-abortion Catholic politicians, after being duly instructed and warned, “must” be denied Communion.

Of note however, the head of the US Bishops’ committee looking into the matter, then-Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick did not share Ratzinger’s intervention with his brother bishops on the committee.  In fact, when McCarrick did make mention of the Vatican position on the matter, he mischaracterized it.

McCarrick gave the impression that Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter indicated Rome was ambiguous about the matter.  While Ratzinger insisted in his letter that pro-abortion Catholic politicians “must” be denied Holy Communion, McCarrick speaking of Ratzinger’s letter in a June 15, 2004 statement to the US Bishops, Cardinal McCarrick said, “the Cardinal (Ratzinger) recognizes that there are circumstances in which Holy Communion may be denied.” 

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s speech, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the document in full.  And then came a very surprising and tell-tale move.  Cardinal Ratzinger’s office publicly confirmed the leaked document as authentic. 

At least two US bishops then spoke out publicly indicating serious concern that they not given copies of the Ratzinger letter. 

Despite the efforts of certain prelates to keep from the faithful the truth, this Pope has found a means of communications which, while it preserves the innocence of those who are peacefully unaware of the scandal, lets those affected see that he indeed knows the score and is taking steps to rectify matters.

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