Apr 052011

Darien Clark’s Latest Papabili List, March 03, 2011.

by Darien Clark

John Paul had over 200 Apostolic Letters during his first six years as Pontiff.

2/ Many of Benedict’s Apostolic Letters double (at least according to the Vatican Webpage) as Motu Proprio.

The above numbers in graphical form:

  5 Responses to “Popes John Paul II & Benedict XVI: Comparison of Literary Output — First 6 Years”

  1. I think this comparison is interesting as far as it goes. When Benedict XVI became Pope he said that he did not plan to issue a great many documents. He wanted to see those produced under John Paul II more widely read and digested. Many of us felt that there were far too many documents coming from Rome. They were not all of equal value or significance. They were often not read, and have since gathered dust.

    This highlights a bigger problem in that there seems to be a growing gap between the statements and decisions of the Holy See and the reality of Church life as experienced around the world. There was an article published recently in an Italian newspaper arguing that the current Vatican structures are no longer “fit for purpose”. The various “gaffes” that have been reported, are not simply the result of bad communication, but they reflect a curia that is increasingly out of touch.

    In this view there is an urgent need for serious change in the structures that seem to belong to another age.
    Benedict is going to be 84 years old on April 16th. His strength is his theological acumen and his ability as a teacher. He is not really a man cut out to govern. The next conclave ought to address this issue of a Vatican structure that no longer works properly. Whether it will do so or not depends on how many Cardinals see this as crucial question. I am not sure what proportion of the existing college would share this analysis.

  2. Thank YOU father. This statement of yours requires reflection: ‘He is not really a man cut out to govern.’ That is quite a statement — especially since he might be around, WITHOUT retiring, for a long time yet! Lot to think about.
    That HE continues to pump out books in his own name, WITH HIS views … e.g., condoms, infallibility … make ME somewhat CYNICAL of his claim that he wants John Paul II’s work to be better assimilated.
    Time will tell. Right now, this pope, as far as I can tell, will, in time, only be remembered for one and only one thing.
    All the best, father.

  3. A religion–any religion–has the purpose of being an antidote,not a reflection,of a changing world in its implacable repetition of eternal verities.

  4. Wow. Sounds real good BUT what is it all about? Please elucidate. Is Buddhism a religion in your Web browser?
    Please send ME some stuff. I need to get back to Eris and Makemake (a name I love).
    Also starting, as of TODAY, a new (hopefully) daily feature. Any and all that contribute will be given credit. This should be right up your mouse.
    Actually, IF you want, and can supply me with the data, 7 days at a time, it can be an ENTIRE Louis Epstein production — each day.
    So stay TUNED.
    Is is it 70F in NY yet. Damn hot here.

  5. I think there’s an apples-to-oranges problem with the “Apostolic Letters.” According to the Vatican, John Paul II only wrote 45 Apostolic Letters total in his 26-year reign. I see where Darien got his idea from, but there’s a whole category of item (read: the 200+ number of letters that were only published in Latin, don’t make the main page for John Paul II’s “Apostolic Letters,” and concern things like raising Churches to Minor Basilica status) that he was counting that just isn’t to be found among what the Vatican is currently displaying for the current Pontificate. I don’t know where the similar documents from the current Pontificate are to be found on the Vatican website.

    But I think the apples-to-apples comparison would show 7 Apostolic Letters for John Paul II during the relevant time period (Dominicae Cenae, A Concilio Constantinopolitano I, Aperite portas Redemptori, Salvifici Doloris, Quoniam in celeri, Le sollecitudini crescenti, & Redemptionis Anno) and 10 for Benedict XVI (9 letters Motu Proprio and one to Cardinal Meisner).

    Keep in mind, that as a general rule, almost none of these “Apostolic Letters,” no matter which standard you go by for inclusion, are items of general interest. By my count, Pope Benedict XVI has produced maybe one Apostolic Letter of something approaching general interest (Summorum Pontificum) and John Paul II had at this point produced perhaps four (Dominicae Cenae, A Concilio Constantinopolitano I, Salvifici Doloris, and Redemptionis Anno). Some large portion (most?) of the “Apostolic Letters” have to do with modifying Church governance, updating canon law, congratulating priests/bishops/cardinals on their longevity, promoting the causes of saints, etc. Which incidentally probably also means that most of the “Apostolic Letters” are not (at least not primarily) written by the Holy Father himself.

    The stuff you really want to be looking at are the Encyclicals and the Apostolic Exhortations, which are the real “literary output.” No one reviews Apostolic Letters creating new Pontifical Councils as “literary output” or reads them to gain insight into a Pope’s thought. It is really only the Encyclicals and the Apostolic Exhortations that can be consistently considered “literary output” and they are the main writings of general interest (and the ones that will most often involve the Holy Father exercising his teaching office in some way). The 6 to 5 comparison on that front (Encyclicals+Apostolic Exhortations) seems unremarkable, although if you add outside writings (essentially the current Pope’s two Jesus of Nazareth books and maybe Light of the World), I think we can flip it to a 6 to 7 comparison. I don’t believe John Paul II produced any new outside writings during his first 6 years as Pope (cf. Crossing the Threshold of Hope in 1994). Of course, if you throw back in John Paul II’s few early reasonably substantive Apostolic Letters, he can pull ahead again, but it starts to become very subjective at that point.

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