Ratzinger Personally Consecrates Neo-Modernist Bishop


“Our only friend in the Vatican” Update

Christopher A. Ferrara


With Pope John Paul II in Stage 5 Parkinson’s disease -- that is, the last stage -- the perception that things are falling apart at the Vatican continues to impress itself upon attentive observers.

As just one of many examples of things unraveling at the top, we have the report in the Guardian Unlimited last week (February 1, 2005) that the theologian of the papal household, Cardinal Georges Cottier, has just said that while “condoms should not be used as contraceptives, could encourage immoral sexual conduct and were not the best way to stop the spread of HIV… ‘the use of condoms in some situations can be considered morally legitimate.’” According to Cottier, “The virus is transmitted during a sexual act; so at the same time as [bringing] life there is also a risk of transmitting death…And that is where the commandment ‘thou shalt not kill’ is valid.”

So it is Cottier’s opinion that violators of the Sixth Commandment can use condoms to avoid possible violation of the Fifth Commandment while deliberately committing adultery. That is like arguing it is “morally legitimate” for bank robbers to use rubber truncheons instead of guns so as to avoid the possible commission of homicide in the act of stealing¾and this from the official “theologian” of the papal household.

Naturally, the press is delighted by this moral advice, as well as the encouraging signs of moral defection among the upper hierarchy as the Pope approaches death. The Guardian enthuses that “Cardinal Cottier’s comments signal a growing swell of realism within the church, with more and more prominent figures supporting the use of condoms to save lives, despite misgivings. Growing numbers, including Cardinal Godfried Daneels, tipped as a possible future pope, have taken this stance publicly in recent years…” Meanwhile, John Paul II, who can barely utter a word at this point, has said nothing to put a stop to the breaking of ranks.

The Guardian frets that “experts say the Vatican is unlikely to change its line under the current pope.” But the current Pope is in the final stage of Parkinson’s disease, and, as the Guardian notes, he “cancelled all his private audiences yesterday [January 31] after going down with flu.” As of this writing (February 9) the Pope is still in Gemelli Hospital after suffering life-threatening laryngeal spasms that cut off his breathing. Two days ago, the Vatican announced that the Pope will be kept in hospital for several more days as “a precaution,” even though we were assured upon his admission that there was no cause for alarm. It would not be any great surprise to me if the Pope never left Gemelli Hospital alive.

Whatever happens, it is undeniable that the Pope no longer has effective control over the governance of the Church. Various essentially autarchic eminences are now conducting Vatican business according to the Pope’s “indications,” which they will interpret for us until the Pope is finally dead. Another example of this alarming situation, which threatens to make the Pope’s disciplinary laxity seem strictly conservative by comparison, is the little-noticed story of how Bruno Forte, a priest of the Archdiocese of Naples, was suddenly made a bishop five months ago.

Forte, who last year was brought to the Vatican to preach a Lenten retreat to an already incapacitated Pope, is rumored to be Cardinal Ratzinger’s replacement as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. How this happened is anybody’s guess. The rumor has caused a great deal of consternation for one simple reason: Forte is a flaming neo-modernist. As noted in the Winter 2005 issue of The Latin Mass in a report by its Italian correspondent, Alessandro Zangrando, Forte was a pupil of none other than the infamous Cardinal Walter Kasper. (In yet another sign of things falling apart at the top, immediately after Kasper’s own elevation to the rank of cardinal he publicly declared to the press that the Old Covenant remains in force and is salvific for the Jews, and that Protestants are under no obligation to convert and become Catholics.)

Worse still, Zangrando, a respected journalist not given to reckless claims, relates that Forte’s 1994 essay Gesu di Nazaret, storia di Dio, Dio della storia (Jesus of Nazareth, history of God, God of history) reveals Forte as nothing less than “the standard-bearer of theories so radical as to the point of putting in doubt even the historicity of the resurrection of Christ. The empty tomb, he argues, is a legend tied into the Jewish-Christian ritual performed at the place of Jesus’ burial. It is a myth inherited by the Christians from Jesus’ early disciples. Therefore, the empty tomb, along with other details surrounding the resurrection, is nothing but a ‘proof’ made up by the community. In other words, Forte is trying to change the resurrection of Christ into a myth, into a kind of fairy tale that cannot be proven.”

Forte’s elevation to bishop was rather mysterious. Zangrando notes that Forte’s name did not appear in any list of possible candidates submitted to the Italian Nunciature, and even his ordinary, Cardinal Michele Giordano, Archbishop of Naples, “was reportedly against that appointment.” But, “in an apparent attempt at putting to rest a growing controversy” over Forte’s candidacy, he was personally consecrated a bishop by none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger¾the very man Forte will succeed as head of the CDF, according to the rumors. Yes, “our only friend in the Vatican” has struck again. More and more it becomes apparent that this man is perhaps the most industrious ecclesial termite of the post-conciliar epoch, tearing down even as he makes busy with the appearance of building up. The longer Ratzinger “guards” Catholic doctrine, the more porous the barriers that protect it become.

Indeed, as I have pointed out more than once on these pages, it was Ratzinger who wrote in 1987 (in the second edition of his Principles of Catholic Theology) that the “demolition of bastions” in the Church is “a long-overdue task.” The Church, he declared, “must relinquish many of the things that have hitherto spelled security for her and that she has taken for granted. She must demolish longstanding bastions and trust solely the shield of faith.” Now it seems that with the bastions all but demolished, even the shield of faith is about to clatter to the ground.

There is no doubt the Holy Ghost will save the Church from extinction and bring about her restoration. In the end, no other result is possible. Before this happens, however, the difference between extinction and non-extinction may come to be far smaller than even traditionalists might have supposed. On the other hand, the very next Pope could be another Saint Pius X, who will finally take arms against our enemies and impose immediate restorative measures we could scarcely have imagined. Who knows which way it will go? All we can do is continue our loyal opposition, pray for the advent of a kingly, militant pope, and hope that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will soon be upon us.