« | Home | »

Among the Flutterers


Colm Tóibín in the LRB (19 August 2010) on Ratzinger’s election and pontificate:

This idea that the Church should represent not merely the private religious beliefs of its members, but a view of how policy on public matters should be evaluated and carried out all over the world, belongs as much to the legacy of Wojtyla as any strengthening of the Church as a locus of an advanced spirituality. As Wojtyla’s health declined, it was tempting to imagine that there was a cardinal in waiting who would resemble Gorbachev or de Klerk, who would move from the ranks of conformity into a position of leadership and would dismantle Church teaching on sexuality, clerical celibacy, human reproduction and the rights of women, matters which were bringing the Church to its knees, distracting from its spiritual mission.

Even when Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope in April 2005, it was possible to imagine, as he came out onto the balcony of St Peter’s with a benign and humble look on his face and the bearing of a kind but wily old man with a deep inner life, that he was someone with the authority, the intellectual depth and the good sense to carry out these reforms. It was possible to imagine him spending his papacy restoring prayer and the spiritual life to the heart of the Catholic faith, placing much emphasis on the mystery and beauty of the Eucharist and dwelling as much as he could on ideas of redemption, responsibility, solidarity, forgiveness and love in the life of Jesus in the New Testament.

If anyone wonders why this has not happened, it is worth taking a look at Ratzinger’s views on homosexuality, which are offered in full in a number of appendices to The Pope Is Not Gay! by Angelo Quattrocchi. In 1986, as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger wrote a letter to the Catholic bishops, which was approved by the pope, on ‘the Pastoral Care of Homosexuals’. He referred to an earlier Vatican declaration on the matter in 1975, which ‘took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions’ and described the latter as ‘intrinsically disordered’. But in the discussion that followed, according to Ratzinger, ‘an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency towards an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as a moral disorder.’

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Stephen W. Smith:
    The French Intervention in Mali
    7 February 2013

    ‘Depending on what counts as military intervention, France changed the course of history by force in sub-Saharan Africa about thirty times between 1945 and 1990.’

    Bruce Whitehouse:
    What went wrong in Mali?
    30 August 2012

    ‘The Republic of Mali has long been seen as the exception to the dictatorships or civil wars that have seemed the rule in West Africa since the end of the Cold War.’

    Jeremy Harding: Algeria’s Camus
    4 December 2014

    ‘Camus liked to hector the settlers, whose behaviour reflected the structural injustices of colonialism. All the same, he felt that certain misconceptions in metropolitan France needed straightening out.’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement