The Pope’s War: Pope Benedict’s Crusade


Matthew Fox, former Roman Catholic and now Episcopalian, has written more than thirty books. An early and impressive proponent of Creation Spirituality, he first caught my attention when he completed his doctorate, summa cum laude, at the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Fox’s most recent book, THE POPE’S WAR: WHY RATZINGER’S SECRET CRUSADE HAS IMPERILED THE CHURCH AND HOW IT CAN BE SAVED, is a powerfully incisive critique of Pope Benedict XVI’s reform strategy to shift the Catholic Church back to the nineteenth century.

As Matthew Fox outlines it, the current Ratzingerian reform relies on three powerful and secretive pillar organizations: Opus Dei, the Legionaires of Christ, and Communion and Liberation. No surprises here; but as Fox tells it, it becomes all the more unsettling. Power. Absolute power. And corruption. So very far from the humble man of God from Nazareth.

The most moving and upsetting part of Fox’s book is its “martyrology” of the great “inquisitor’s” enemies. The inquisitor of course: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fox lists 91 men and women whose careers were either derailed or dead-ended because, in the judgment of Joseph Ratzinger’s Inquisition, they said the wrong thing. Martyrs indeed, like the venerable German theologian, Bernhard Häring, who was the first theologian to be attacked by Ratzinger.

Häring, presented a dialogic approach to Catholic moral theology in Free and Faithful in Christ and The Law of Christ. Morality, he said, follows the pattern of faith i.e. a dialogue. It rests not on obedience to the church but on the freedom of a person’s conscience that acknowledges listening to God as the basis of value. “God speaks in many ways to awaken, deepen and strengthen faith, hope, love and the spirit of adoration. We are believers to the extent that, in all of reality and in all events that touch us, we perceive a gift and a call from God.”

Häring, who experiencd a Nazi inquisition, said his inquisition under Cardinal Ratzinger’s CDF was far more scary.

Put it on your spiritual reading list: The Pope’s War by Matthew Fox

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One thought on “The Pope’s War: Pope Benedict’s Crusade

  1. Your comment makes sense of what I’ve been concerned about since Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope. As a Catholic woman, I have outgrown the Church of my childhood and am not willing to be pushed BACKWARDS by an authoritarian, patriarchal hierarchy. When I gave birth to my seventh daughter, I began to look at the way the patriarchal hierarchy has denied women full ministry simply because they don’t ‘image Jesus’. I’ve been seeing and hearing the phrase ‘the new catechesis’ and what is that? I agree that the changes in the Liturgy are but a harbinger of things to come. Every Sunday is an exercise in futility!

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