In the lines that follow, it is not a question of defending or accusing the Pope Emeritus, but, in reporting the words of Archbishop Gänswein, of noting the simultaneity of the attacks made against the figure of Josef Ratzinger and the attacks against Catholic dogma, discipline, and morals by the German Synodal Path movement, a simultaneity which is disturbing to say the least.
The best defense is a good offense: an adage that the private secretary of the former Roman pontiff made his own, during an exclusive interview with EWTN on February 14, 2022.
The channel founded by Mother Angelica – an iconic figure of American conservative Catholicism – decided to give the floor to Archbishop Georg Gänswein at the very moment when Benedict XVI was coming under attack by numerous Western media denouncing the mismanagement of abuses in the Church under his pontificate.
For the prelate from Baden-Württemberg, the negative judgments on the actions of Josef Ratzinger as archbishop or pope, stem from “ignorance or bias that have nothing to do with honest coverage of the facts.”
On the contrary, the pope emeritus is the “father of transparency” in matters of abuse in the Church, and if his action has not had all the expected effects, it is because of “internal resistance,” says Msgr. Gänswein.
And the latter notes with a touch of irony the coincidence of the violent attacks against the Bavarian former pope and a crucial vote within the sadly famous “Synodal Path,” a veritable quagmire in which the Catholic Church of Germany is caught up to its neck.
Indeed, at the height of the storm, between last February 3 and 5, the German prelates indiscriminately approved draft texts going in all directions of a breathless progressivism, calling for: the abolition of priestly celibacy, the ordination of women priests, same-sex blessings, and changes to Christian teaching on homosexuality, etc.
“We can speculate about the extent to which this is connected temporally or causally with what you have mentioned, that is — to name it clearly — the Synodal Way in Germany and other movements. But one thing is clear: Certain goals that the Synodal Way is aiming at are something for which the person and the work of Benedict stand in the way,” estimates the secretary of Josef Ratzinger, who does not hesitate to mention a “manipulation” of the bishops on the banks of the Rhine.
Beyond a certain “pleasure of some to go after the pope emeritus,” the Synodal Way “is using the crisis of abuses to reshape the Church as it pleases,” warns Msgr. Gänswein. “There is also the concept of the ‘abuse of abuse.’ And that is precisely the danger that lies herein.”
And the secretary of the former Roman pontiff recalled that his master had received a telephone call from the Holy Father, as well as a “beautiful letter, in which he assured him once again, and with really touching words of his support, his solidarity and his support, telling him that he had his back,” adding “that he cannot understand why they come down so hard on him.”
“Of course, it’s one thing to resist pressure and quite another to withstand pressure internally,” he added. “But, thank God, he has managed to do so: He is calm, and, above all, he has never lost his sense of humor,” concludes Archbishop Gänswein.
A few days after the Pope Emeritus’s letter responding to the report on the management of abuses committed in the Archdiocese of Münich and Freising between 1945 and 2019, Benedict XVI’s private secretary intervened in the American media to denounce an enterprise of destabilization coming from the German Synodal Way.