Fr Ray Blake on Pope Benedict XVI’s view of the papacy

As 2013 draws to a close,  Fr. Ray Blake reflects on Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI’s view of the papacy.  Here’s an excerpt:

This was the motif behind his papacy, the search for Truth and the desire to demythologise. This is what lay behind his search for the ‘authentic’ Vatican II, and interestingly here, he was brave enough to use the SSPX as ‘co-workers’, recognising in them something authentically Catholic but rejecting the the mythology that had  built up in the rest of the Church over the Council, which after all purported to teach nothing new. With the Ordinariates there was a similar recognition of ‘co-workers with the Truth’ within the Anglican Communion.
As a young theologian at Vatican II he was instrumental in drafting the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, perhaps the most important document of all. It really is a work of sheer genius, carefully avoiding, the excesses of biblical scholarship without neglecting its verity, it is a synthesis of tradition and modernity, maintaining ancient Truth in the light of what many at the time would have regarded as a denial of that Truth. His subsequent work, the Jesus of Nazareth trilogy, was nothing other than a continuation of Dei Verbum.
For Ratzinger as we saw most clearly in his 2000 document Dominus Jesus, Jesus is Truth and is to be found within the Catholic Church.
Many people have expressed surprise at Pope Francis’ restyling of Papacy, and fail to recognise the radical changes Benedict introduced, possibly with more gentleness. He abandoned not only the tri-regno on his coat of arms but also the theologically ambiguous title of ‘Patriarch of the West’. His Papacy was a careful balancing of being a bishop with bishops but also being a bishop for bishops, the Papacy had a distinctive Christ given role within the Church. A reader asked me to explain what I meant by the phrase ‘new Ultramontanism’. Leading up to Vatican One there were various factions, mainly French and Italian Jesuits, trying to present an almost deified model of the Papacy, the position that Council took was actually a very moderate balanced doctrine, entirely in agreement with ancient doctrines. The leaven however of Ultramontanism was still at work in popular piety, and as reaction to Modernism, and also as a response to modern media radio and film by the time we come to Pius XII we have a maximalist Papacy, which results in a Papam vultattitude to Vatican II, where 20th centuries Popes can make changes to the life of the universal Church which their 19th century predecessors could not even imagine possible.

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2 Responses to Fr Ray Blake on Pope Benedict XVI’s view of the papacy

  1. Pingback: Fr Ray Blake on Pope Benedict XVI’s view of the papacy | Catholic Canada

  2. Rev22:17 says:


    You wrote: As 2013 draws to a close, Fr. Ray Blake reflects on Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI’s view of the papacy. Here’s an excerpt:…

    Perhaps one of the most profound insights into the view of the papacy held by Pope Benedict XVI No. 88-99 of the encyclical Ut unam sint issued by Pope John Paul II, of which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is likely to have been the principal ghostwriter. This whole document is worth a very careful read!


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