Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ratzinger and Kamphaus

We at Call Me Jorge... thought this a very interesting article.



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Church in Crisis: Diaspora Germany
The following article, published on December 29, 2014 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest and most reputable newspapers in Germany, is causing something of a stir in the German Catholic community. The author, one Markus Günther, pulls no punches in his stark portrayal of the current situation of the Church in Germany - one which is found in many places in the western world. Though the article is somewhat long, I highly recommend it - so much so, that I gladly took the time to translate it from the original German. I present it below, in its entirely and without comment. -RC

***

Church in Crisis: Diaspora Germany
by
Markus Günther

On the night of December 13, almost exactly 50 years ago to the day, a student named Franz wandered through the streets of Münster. He could not sleep. He was too upset by the homily he had heard in the cathedral earlier that evening, delivered by a young priest and professor only a few years older than himself, which interpreted Advent and Christmas in an entirely different, even revolutionary way: the old doctrine, according to which human history falls into a time of darkness and a time of salvation - namely, into the time before and the time after the birth of Christ - is one which no one today can take seriously, said the young theologian. Who, after the World Wars, after Auschwitz and Hiroshima, could still speak of the 'Time of Grace' which began 2000 years ago in Bethlehem? No, the dividing line between the darkness and the light, between captivity and salvation, does not divide history, but rather our own soul. Advent is not an event which takes place in the calendar, but rather in our hearts - or it founders there fruitlessly. That's strong stuff, and one can easily understand why the young student had trouble finding sleep after this homily, and instead wanted to be alone to think it all through.
Today, both the student and the priest of this memorable evening in Münster are old men: Franz Kamphaus, who suffered that sleepless night, and Joseph Ratzinger, the 37-year-old academic rising star who was shaking up students of theology. It is remarkable how the lives of these two men crossed paths for the first time. In retrospect, these two names - Ratzinger and Kamphaus - stand for two paths in Germany which, though they need not be labelled as 'right' and 'left,' were nonetheless quite divergent. Both attempted to preach Christianity under a different set of circumstances and to somehow translate it safely into the modern world - and they fought bitterly over the true and false compromises being made in the relationship between Christ and the World. And now, at the end of life and despite the distances separating them, the two men remain connected through a shared result of failure: Christianity in Germany is ideologically bankrupt.
Neither the humble, charming manner of Kamphaus nor the clever theology of Ratzinger, who helped to govern Germany from Rome, could change that fact. Not even a German Pope - who then, less than 20 years after the war, would have even considered such a thing possible? - could reanimate Christendom in Germany. Other than a bit of national pride and a few pleasant snapshots, nothing remains of the German pontificate. Kamphaus and Ratzinger, Modernists and Traditionalists, eager reformers and stolid conservatives: all stand before a common shambles in Germany.
Of course, one could deny it all. One could say that Germany is still a Christian country, because nearly two thirds of all Germans belong to one of the two major churches; because German children, even those on public schools, are instructed in religion; because there are crosses hanging in our courts and classrooms; because the Church does valuable work in kindergartens and hospitals. Even in the Preamble of the Constitution, there is still a reference to God, and the Chancellor called upon the aid of God while she swore her oath. And Germany is not a Christian country?
Yes, the historic backdrop is still there, and it is surprisingly well conserved. In many respects, however, the Church in Germany today is comparable to the German Democratic Republic [GDR; Communist East Germany (1949-1990)] in its later days: it looks stable, but it stands on the verge of collapse. And, like in the last days of the GDR, many officials are fooling themselves. Pastors and bishops, as well as many active parishioners, see blooming landscapes where there is nothing but desert. Love, as they say, is blind. And where existential threats are concerned, a calculated optimism often clouds a sober view of reality.
Shiny new facades and robust structures assist the work of self-deception: there are ca. 45,000 churches in the country and most of them - structurally speaking - are sound. This year, the Catholic Church and the Evangelical church in Germany has taken in more money than ever before. German church music is the best in the world. There are still 44,000 Catholic weddings and 225,000 Evangelical confirmations every year. What crisis? All that's missing is the argument that the churches are the second largest employer in Germany, offering more than a million people secure jobs - and the Church has finally arrived at a level of legitimization equaled only by the local garbage dump.
Only a Church which is a community of faith, and not merely an employer or a pillar of the social system, can be taken seriously. And precisely that - the common faith - has largely vanished into thin air. That only a third of all German believe in the Resurrection of Christ should be a cause for concern in the Church, especially given that, according to the files, two thirds are Christian. But it's much worse: even among the faithful, core elements of the Christian message are widely rejected. 60 percent do not believe in a life after death. At the same time, one in four Germans believes that black cats bring bad luck. More people between Flensburg [in the extreme north] and Oberammergau [in the extreme south] believe in UFO's than in the Last Judgement. Welcome to Diaspora Germany.
Just how little confessional affiliation still has to do with faith was revealed by a survey conducted by the Allensbach Institute for the Catholic Church. The results were so devastating, however, that they were never published. To the question, 'Why are you Catholic?' 68 percent gave the answer: "Because it allows one to celebrate the important events of life in the church, such as weddings and baptisms." The refreshing honesty of the second most common answer is no less admirable: "It's just what you do; it's a family tradition." Its is obvious that these cannot be considered religious, but merely cultural, social reasons. Most pastors on location can confirm the findings: the Church works best when it promises a fabulous celebration. A wedding in white, often in a strange but imposing church, is still very much in vogue, as are pictures of children in white for their First Communion or young adults in dark suits for Confirmation. One in three of those receiving Confirmation, however, doesn't even believe in God. The comparison with the GDR rears its head again: even after socialism had gone bankrupt, Youth Consecration [a secular coming of age ceremony practiced by all 14-year-olds in the GDR] remained in high demand. It even survived the demise of the GDR and, while emptied of its overtly socialist content, is still celebrated. Many worship services, too, are today such exclusively cultural events (e.g.: weekly meeting place, annual folklore, family reunion) that even after a conclusive proof for the non-existence of God they could continue to be celebrated.
The autumn of Christendom in Germany has begun. The Church Tax will either be eliminated as a result of political pressure or ultimately run dry by 2030; the last socialized and actively Christian generation will soon be exiting the workforce, and dead within three decades. Then the facade of the Church, too, will crumble. Behind it, a minority will become visible - a minority not much larger than the community of Jehova's Witnesses.
At the same time, a veritable renaissance of religion is proclaimed by the media every few years - preferably at Christmas time. Journalists and sociologists convince themselves that they have discovered a trend: a harking back to Christian roots, a new generation's search for meaning, a 'Benedict' - and, most recently, a 'Francis'- Effect. Truth be told, there is no data to support such a trend. The numbers are moving steadily in one direction: down. In 2013 alone, Mass attendance in the Catholic Church dropped by 10 percent.
There is no harking back to religion. Interestingly, however, the number of atheists has hardly budged. One might, after all, be tempted to think that the drop-off in Church attendance would correlate with a significant uptick in atheism. There is no such correlation. Even those who are at ends with traditional religions are not satisfied with the explanation that there was once nothing which exploded in a Big Bang, bringing the universe into existence; that mankind - and each and every person - was brought about through evolutionary chance; that the world consists of nothing other than what we can see, measure and understand; that everything ends with death. The question of whence and whither, the question of God is part and parcel of man. In decisive moments - such as those touched by illness and death, by the inscrutable in one's own life, by guilt and failure, hope and mourning, and, not least of all, by the experience of love - the question of God poses itself to the human consciousness. Karl Rahner once said: "Even if, one day, every religion were to disappear and even the word 'God' were to be completely eradicated, then someone would simply invent the word anew to describe the nameless mystery of our existence."
For the vast majority of people, whether in or outside the Church, the question of God remains a life-long issue with which they never really come to terms. The vicissitudes of life are also reflected in the biography of faith. Resolute atheism is the exception; a vague, often diffuse faith is the norm today. One could also say: they still exist in large numbers - the seekers and doubters who are asking about God and who are looking for answers - but the churches are reaching them less and less.
But why are the seekers no longer finding guidance? Why are the supply and demand no longer jibing? The most popular answer to this question is: because the Church is no longer relevant to the times. She must conform more closely to the realities of the lives of modern people. Initially, that sounds plausible, but under closer scrutiny reveals itself to be idiocy. For the Evangelical church in Germany has done nearly everything which is being demanded from the Catholic Church in order to become more relevant to the times: women priests, the elimination of celibacy, liberality in moral theology, the complete acceptance of homosexuals and the divorced. If these were the real reasons for the malaise of Christendom, the Protestants should be far better off than the Catholics. But that simply isn't the case. A second error in thinking is introduced by the popular buzzword "relevant to the times" [German: zeitgemäß, which can mean "modern," "suitable," or even "appropriate," and often carries all of these shades when applied to the Church]: Wherever the Church does not base herself upon timeless, incontrovertible truth, she reveals herself to be purely man-made. Political programs should be "relevant to the times," entertainment programming, too; but a religion must take command of absolute truths - or it is no religion at all.
On the contrary, both churches in Germany - not always officially, but de facto, in practical life - have already long ago abandoned central doctrines of the faith. In the attempt to avoid offending people and make access to the faith as easy as possible, a good deal has been laundered as if with fabric softener: Jesus, Son of God, has been reduced to Jesus, an exemplary man, like Buddha and Gandhi. The Resurrection of Christ has been reduced to a legend which is not to be taken literally, but rather in the sense of "who has love in his heart never dies." The lowest common denominator of the preaching often consists of nothing more than feel-good prose which should be acceptable to as many people as possible and for precisely that reason comes off as arbitrary. Peace on earth, more justice for all, being less egotistical - every group of halfway decent people can agree on that. Besides, an appeal from UNESCO or Greenpeace doesn't sound much different. Why should God be any different?
When the churches are all full - at Christmas, that is - everything is quite festive, but the spark of faith rarely catches fire. Many visitors wonder - both at the church and themselves. What were they actually looking for? And why didn't they find it? Of sacred acts there is very little to notice. And if the spiritual nomad finds himself at a more tradition-oriented liturgy, the result is no better, for the stranger is all the more strange here, and turns away all the more baffled. Liturgy assumes a good deal of knowledge; otherwise, one sees nothing more than ballyhoo and mumbo-jumbo.
Perhaps the person of today, with all his enlightened cleverness, occasionally stands in his own way. Faith requires a pinch of naivete, the readiness to give up control and open oneself to the Incomprehensible. Groping and hoping. No wonder that many find this increasingly difficult in a world which is set upon industrially reorganizing the last untouched domains of being: sexuality, love, birth, death. Total control, complete autocracy over one's own life is in trend. A more inhospitable breeding ground for faith is barely conceivable.
And yet, the churches themselves have done their fair share to destroy piety and the naivete of faith - or better: the immediacy of religious imagery. The storm against traditional forms was born in many minds. Perhaps this is the most calamitous development of modern theology: the desire to loose the content from its images, to abstract the faith and thereby to trust that modern man can accomplish more with a concept than with an image. A delusion. A faith without images is an ideology, and an ideology is judged in the mind of the individual and by the spirit of the times. An image remains an image: it challenges, fascinates, irritates, is accepted or rejected - but it proclaims itself. He who destroys images leaves nothing of the content. He who no longer wants to conceive of God as a Person, but rather as an abstract Being, as an Energy or Force, such a one will also thereby lose his faith. Every human relationship - and faith is precisely that - requires as its counterpart a living person.
(Original: German)
source: The Radical Catholic

13 comments:

  1. "Kamphaus and Ratzinger, Modernists and Traditionalists, eager reformers and stolid conservatives.....'
    Ratzinger a traditionalist and conservative? this is how silly people are beguiled. He was, is and will die a liberal modernist. They are all wreckers of Roman Catholicism. The only difference between them is in their degree of radicalism and the subtlty of expression they exploit in their verbiage. Ratzinger was always mellifluous sounding, so much so he fooled Bishop Fellay for a while almost drawing him into a wholesale destruction of The SSPX.
    Ratzinger cannot be trusted - read the wording craftily devised to delude superficial conservatives into believing they were getting a deal on The Latin Mass when all along he was scheming a finalising hybridisation of the protestant NO which he said and the true liturgical gem of the Western Latin Rite Church. He is to be seen at ecumenical gatherings and interconfessional events standing alongside bishopesses and women priests from the Anglican sect.
    In many respects Ratzinger was more lethal a liberal modernist than this dangerous buffoon we have in The Vatican today. Indeed, a well-educated, nuanced character with honey on his tongue stirring in with his ambiguous conceptual theology blended skilfully with equivocal pronouncements. Least ways, he never befuddled Archbishop Lefebvre who discerned his theologically and pastorally defective character from afar - definitely a man never to be trusted; and when all is said and done, no traditionalist and no conservative.

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    1. Archbishop Lefebvre summed Ratzinger up in one hit. Un catholic.

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  2. I am sorry to tell you LeonG that you were equally beguiled by Dom Lefebvre. In 'A Letter to Confused Catholics' Dom Lefebvre wrote that , Protestants, Muslims and Buddhists can be saved through the Church by the desire to do God's will.
    1) That is contrary to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ , GOD INCARNATE, who specfically said that baptism with water and the spirit and faith are needed for salvation and commanded the apostles to go to all nations and baptise and preach the gospel.
    2) The infallible dogmas of the Catholic faith state that to be saved you need to be baptised with water, to hold explicit faith in the dogmas of the Catholic Church, and to belong to the Catholic Church.
    3) The infallible creed of Saint Athanasius states that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.
    4) Buddhists and Muslims are idolators. Dom Lefebvre not only denied the dogmas of the Catholic Church but the Ist COMMANDMENT, thou shalt not have other Gods before me. Protestants don't even believe that Muslims and Buddhists can be saved.
    Dom Lefebvre, the FSSPX, the CMRI, the SSPV are just as heretical as all the post Vatican II Popes and Church.
    In my opinion Dom Lefebvre was more treacherous because by distracting people with the theatre of defending the traditional Mass he hid the fact that he was destroying the Catholic Faith . It is the faith that is necessay for salvation not the Mass.

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    1. I agree with you that once the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus was thrown out the window (Mother Angelica was heard on EWTN to have called it post Vatican II "a heresy the Church used to teach"!!!!), it became easy for the flock to embrace masonic ecumenism and universal salvation. Was this the fault of infiltration of the Jesuits? It seems like my parents in pre V2 "Catholic" universities/colleges were more or less taught this 'revision' of that dogma, and accordingly, most of their classmates heartily went along with the revolution in mitre and cope, though my parents balked at the obvious other dogmatic changes that were occurring. As you also correctly point out, now even the protestants hold more of the apostolic Faith in correctly stating that you have to accept Christ as the Messiah to be saved, which even the early 1900s Catholic Encyclopaedia began to waffle on, from excerpts I have read. This is why so many of them, anti Catholic as they may have been before, are totally and utterly scandalized, perhaps even more so than many 'traditionalist' Catholics because they are more clearly able to recognize the gross sins against the First Commandment by the rejection of Christ as the Messiah by unbelievers, and they still believe in the necessity of missionary work to save souls (though they mostly don't hold to losing that "salvation" once they have someone recite their "saved" prayer to Jesus). The novus ordo gave up that job long ago, and most of the 'mission' groups are steeped in marxism. I think even Fr. Feeney told Rome when he began to be condemned that once they gave up the dogma of Extra Ecclesiam the rest would implode, as we see the final touches of that even happening under Bergoglio.

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    2. http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Archbishop-Lefebvre/OpenLetterToConfusedCatholics/Chapter-10.htm

      Your analysis is incorrect. Archbishop Lefebvre never implied false religions could save souls - how do you know a Buddhist dying does not accept God's final act of mercy to repenet accept Christ as his Saviour and be saved, is not possible - as Jesus Himself said what is impossible to man is possible to God.
      You have a very restricted view of the theological parameters of salvation. Who are you? What do you understand of the interior life of a non-Catholic before they die? I had an atheistic uncle who converted on his death bed just before death. Fortunately, a priest was at hand. What happens to a Muslim who desires Christ just prior to death but has never seen a priest?

      You put words into people's mouths that they never actually said: like those who don'y place the mercy, justice and omnipotence of Almighty God. Put all of them in their proper context.

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    3. Dom Lefebvre WROTE in his book 'A Letter to Confused Catholics ' that protestants , Buddhist and Muslims could be saved through the Church by the 'desire to do God's will'. That is total and complete heresy!
      Our Lord , Jesus Christ, GOD INCARNATE , stated specifically and clearly that we need to be baptised with water and the spirit and to have faith to be saved. Why did he command the Apostles to go to all nations baptise and prach the gospel, ( a commandment that the Church took seriously until Vatican II) if people could be saved by the desire to God's will or by invincible ignorance.
      Our Lord never uttered the words 'salvation by desire or invincible ignorance ' and from St. Paul's epistle to the Galations it is obvious that the dogmas of the faith were already defined and St. Paul anathematised anybody who taught a different gospel to that which had already been preached by him and the apostles.
      The dogmas of the Catholic faith ( which Catholics don't seem to have heard of these days) are Divine Truths that were taught to the Apostles by Jesus Christ and carefully passed on by the Church from generation to generation as the tradition of the Church. Each dogma was carefully refined by holy men as each heresy appeared to ensure that the original meaning of the teaching remained incorrupt.
      The dogmas of the Catholic faith are that to be saved you need to be baptised with water, have explicit faith in the Church dogmas and belong to the Catholic Church.
      The infallible creed of St.Athanasius confirms the doctrine of Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus.
      The INFALLIBLE bull Cantate Domino of 1492 anathematizes beliefs in baptism of Desire and Blood . The INFALLIBLE bull Unum Sanctum states that you have to belong to the Church to be saved.
      Pope Gregory XVI in Mirai vos condemned the belief that anyone could be saved outside the Catholic Church. Pope Pius IX in the syllabus of Errors, condemned the expectation that anyone who did not belong to the Catholic Church could be saved.
      No catechism published before Vatican II, except the heretical Baltimore Catechism , taught salvation by desire. Lefebvrists prefer to claim that Our Lord , God Incarnate, the Apostles, St Athanadius and all the Popes before Vatican II were in error rather than admit that Dom Lefebvre was justvas much a heretic as any post Vatican II.
      And if you knew the dogmas of the Faith you would also know that the exclusive pharasaical, puritanical behaviour of the so-called traditional
      sects is also heretical. Puritanism is a gnostic or manichean heresy in it's
      .belief that the material world (alcohol and tobacco) is a source of evil and
      denies the DOGMA of the faith that the material world created by God is
      intrinsically good, and it is man's disordered will that uses what is essentially good for evil.

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    4. Many "Traditional Catholics" fall over themselves to defend "Baptism of Desire" and "Baptism of Blood". So why the critique of the Conciliar Church, its popes, clergy and faithful who have the desire to be Catholics and invincibly believe that they are?

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    5. They believe, erroneously, that because they celebrate the Latin Mass, they are true Catholics. They do not know or understand that it is the Faith that is essential to be saved as a Catholic and not the Mass. Japanese Catholics were without priests , the Mass and the sacraments (except baptism ) for 200 years but they didn't lose the faith. Irish Catholics were deprived of the Mass, priests and sacraments during the 400 year protestant persecutions but they kept the faith. They also believe that their superior , exclusive , puritanical behavior is Catholic, which it isn't. I have said it before that Dom Lefebvre was an agent for confusion , a devouring wolf in sheep's clothing. He made a huge fuss about the Mass so that people would not perceive that he like all his Vatican II colleagues was destroying the faith.

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    6. If the desire to do God's will can save unbaptised idolators such as Muslims and Buddhists then all the baptised NO Catholics and clergy who also, I'm sure, desire to do God's will, then they are well on their way to salvation and are not as heretical as the 'traditional' catholics because they don't subscribe to the gnostic puritan heresy.
      Than you anon.you have given me more ammunition in my war with the sanctimonious, vainglorious , traditional Catholics. I despise them more than the simple NO Catholics who generally don't have the education or the ability to understand that the Vatican II Church is not the true Church.

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    7. I'm sorry for sounding bitter and twisted but I have been villified, insulted, and excoriated so many times by Lefebvrists when I have tried to defend the Catholic faith. I really should try and be more humble and charitable because I was blessed to be catechised before Vatican II.

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  3. 'for as the heavens are exalted above the earth, even so my ways are exalted above your ways, and my thoughts are above you thoughts' Is.lv 8,9.
    I think one of the problems is that due to light pollution we don't see the heavens any more and no longer marvel at God's creation. Once we had an extensive blackout in the region where I live and I gasped in wonder at the millions of stars that were visible and that normally I didn't see.
    Because of capitalism and mechanised agriculture we have become divorced from God's created world.Young chlidren nowadays don't know that milk comes from cows, and most cows nowadays never see a field.
    All we see are the products of so-called human intelligence even though scientists really don't understand the processes behind them. Nobody understands electricity
    and magnetism; they just know how to use them. Nobody really understands the
    process by which a seed becomes a tree or how photosynthesis works. But this lack of understanding does not make us humble.
    Nobody starves any more, or is without a roof over their heads. I think that both the lack of contact with the wonders of God's created world and the absence of physical necessity has lead to the arrogant presumption that a belief in God is no longer necessary. We have ceased to marvel and to pray.

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  4. I didn't mean to imply that starvation was a good thing. I just meant that before when Europe was more agricultural , life was more precarious and what one had to eat was subject to the vagaries of harvests, climates etc. Obtaining food to eat was hard work and people must have felt humble and grateful when they sat down to a full table. The reason, I suppose that Catholics said grace before and after meals.

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