Professor Eamon Duffy, University of Cambridge, has written a piece for The Irish Times under the headline, ‘Man of Sacristy’ walks in the shadow of John Paul II.
The eminent professor makes snide and mocking comments about the Holy Father a week before his State visit to the UK.
Ignoring the fact that Benedict has been Pope for over 5 years and has drawn millions to his audiences, visits, and World Youth Days Prof. Duffy writes: ‘Pope Benedict is an altogether smaller figure, a man of the sacristy and the lecture room’.
He goes on:
‘But the pope has repeatedly shown himself maladroit and badly advised in his attempts to promote his views. An academic to the toes of his red papal slippers, he has poor antennae for the likely public perception of his actions and utterances. That was made clear by the hostile reaction to his Regensburg remarks on Islam, and, more recently, by his disastrous though doubtless well-intentioned conciliatory gestures to the holocaust-denying Lefebvrist rebel Bishop Richard Williamson.’
‘The reign of Papa Ratzinger has not ushered in the era of ferocious reaction many feared when he was elected, but his own deep reservations about many aspects not only of the modern world but of the modern church have become increasingly plain. An ongoing Vatican campaign to downplay the novel and reformist dimensions of the second Vatican Council, and to emphasise continuities with the attitudes and ideas of the age of Pius XII , appears to have his support. His decision in 2007, in the teeth of opposition from most of the world’s bishops, to permit the free use of the old unreformed Latin Mass, seems another straw in the same wind’.
Eamon Duffy then claims that Pope Benedict’s decision to promote the beatification of Cardinal Newman is odd because Duffy claims Newman’s vision of a healthy Church is ‘the antithesis of Pope Benedict’s’
Duffy then goes on to list the things that Newman advocated that are the antithesis of Pope Benedict’s vision of the Church:
‘He [Newman] deplored clericalism, worked to create an educated and active laity, and argued for greater freedom for theology within the church’.
“Truth,” he wrote, “is wrought out by many minds, working together freely.” He detested, and himself suffered from, trigger-happy dogmatists who tried to pre-empt intellectual exploration by invoking pat formulae and ecclesiastical denunciations’
‘Structures of authority gave the church strength, he conceded, but did not give it life: “We are not born of bones and muscle.”
‘He also believed the slide into relativism would not be halted by mere denunciation. If Christian values were to survive and prevail, they must commend themselves by their intrinsic power and attractiveness. Modern materialism, he wrote, must be met “not by refutation so much as by a powerful counter-argument . . . overcoming error not by refutation so much as by an antagonist truth”.
Protect the Pope comment: Prof Eamon Duffy uses his version of Cardinal Newman as a mirror in which to reflect his negative caricature of Pope Benedict. In this distorting mirror he’s concocted Pope Benedict is against restricting clericalism, an educated laity and theological freedom.
Compared to Newman’s healthy vision of the Church Duffy obviously believes Pope Benedict is for trigger-happy dogmatists and ecclesiastical denunciations. Pope Benedict is too associated with structures of authority that don’t give life, and too keen to make denouncements and refutations instead of presenting the attractive truths of Christianity.
The Pope Benedict that Duffy has created in his distorting mirror bears no relation to the real Pope Benedict who will be visiting in a week’s time. This caricature is so removed from the reality, Protect the Pope has to ask Prof Duffy, have you actually read anything written by Pope Benedict?