by Anura Guruge
I just became aware of this 1997 interview, though I have to confess that it would appear that I read a transcript of it a few years ago in John L. Allen Jr’s 2002 ‘Conclave‘ book and obviously didn’t give it much import — maybe because I, subliminally, agreed with the Cardinal, then as the Prefect of the Doctrine of Faith (as of November 1981) was the supreme authority on these matters.
So, if Cardinal Ratzinger was willing to say that the age old wisdom that the Holy Spirit has a hand in electing the pope may be overstated, I was not going to disagree with him — though it appears many were dismayed when the cardinals interview was publicized in 2005 after he was elected pope. [Here is a April 23, 2005 New York Times article.]
It is, however, interesting that 13 months earlier, on February 22, 1996 Pope John Paul II (#265) had published Universi Dominici Gregis, the Apostolic Constitution that specified the Special Laws for subsequent sede vacantes and conclaves. One has to assume that Cardinal Ratzinger, even if he did not have a hand in writing the Constitution (which does have some inconsistencies), may have read it when it was published. The the pope does not say that the Holy Spirit ‘determines’ the next pope, but he does mention the Holy Spirit, by name, three times in Universi Dominici Gregis, with this memorable line in paragraph 10 of the Preamble: ‘… the electors can more easily dispose themselves to accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit, …’
It is as if the cardinal had a prescience of his destiny — which would be extremely apropos given that in eight years he was to become the new Vicarius Christi.
In May of this year, with Cardinal Ratzinger’s involvement in the Clergy Sex Abuse cover-up very much in the news, I wrote a post entitled: ‘The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Election of Pope Benedict XVI‘.
My hypothesis, as most of mine invariably, are was very simple. IF the Holy Spirit HAD a hand in electing Cardinal Ratzinger, THEN the Holy Spirit must have been ‘OK’ with Cardinal Ratzinger’s alleged actions re. the cover-up. [CNN documentary ‘What the Pope Knew‘.]
Now, with this 1997 statement, the Holy Spirit, thank God, is off the hook!
That is a relief, at least, to me. So, the Holy Spirit MAY NOT have been happy with all that took place re. Clergy Sex Abuse but didn’t prevent Cardinal Ratzinger being elected because … as the Cardinal’s statement concludes, because he was unlikely to ruin everything. I am wondering how many of the cardinal electors were au fait with their Dean’s views on the role of the Holy Spirit prior to the conclave. Was it even possible that Cardinal Ratzinger, mentioned his interview during one of the 11 pre-conclave general congregations so that the electors would not feel that they would in any way be implicating the Holy Spirit if they elect him?
It is best if you read the extracts from the original interview. You can do that in John Allen’s book, using Amazon’s LookInside feature. The interview is on pages 137 – 138. Do a search on ‘April 15, 1997’ interview. This link will get you to John’s book at Amazon.
To be fair to John, PLEASE buy a copy of the book too. There are used copies for $4.00 including shipping … which should within the budgets of most of you.