By this post, Dear Reader, intend no commentary on the identity of the pope. I am firmly convinced that one of these men is the reigning Successor of Peter–the Vicar of Christ on earth. Not a doubt in my mind.

I do not intend to shake your opinion on which one he is. Truly. You do you. Let’s all work out our salvation in fear and trembling, OK?

My point in calling your attention to this little piece by Sandro Magister concerning the notes written by Benedict XVI on the causes of the abuse crisis is to highlight the absolute enormity of this unprecedented, and unprecedentedly horrible, state of affairs.

The Asterisk * Papacy.

These gentlemen are not in lockstep with one agenda. Magister points out the curiosity of the timing of the writing of Benedict’s letter, the timing of its release, and the official handling of it and reaction to it. Excerpts from the full article, which is well worth reading in its entirety:

In the week that followed the explosive publication of Joseph Ratzinger’s “notes” on the scandal of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, there are at least seven essential elements that have come into the open, which are to be kept in mind in view of future developments.

The first concerns the genesis of the publication of the “notes.” In the introductory paragraphs, Ratzinger says that he wrote them “in the hiatus between the announcement of the meeting of the presidents of the episcopal conferences and its real and proper beginning,” or between September 12 2018, the day of the announcement, and February 21 2019, the opening day of the summit.

But Ratzinger also says that he wrote them to “contribute one or two remarks to assist in this difficult hour.”

From which one deduces that he wrote them in order to offer them, first of all, to the leaders of the Church gathered at the Vatican by Pope Francis to discuss the question.

This was confirmed on April 13 by “Corriere della Sera,” the most widely read secular Italian newspaper, one of the press outlets that two days before had published the full text of the “notes”:

“Benedict sent the eighteen-and-a-half pages on pedophilia ‘to the gracious attention’ of the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, before the global meeting of the episcopal conferences, to make them known also to Francis.”

What happened however is that none of the participants at the summit received Ratzinger’s text. Francis thought it better to keep it to himself, locked away in a drawer.

And no one would have known anything about it if Ratzinger himself, about forty days later, had not decided to make it public, formally in a little-known Bavarian magazine, “Klerusblatt,” but practically in a dozen major publications, Catholic and not, all over the world and in several languages, after alerting the highest Vatican authorities to this, as he himself has revealed:

“Having contacted the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the Holy Father himself, it seemed appropriate to publish this text in the Klerusblatt.”


It is useful to recall that Bergoglio’s first telephone call after his election as pope, on the very evening of March 13 2013, was to none other than Stefania Falasca. And a good two times, in the days that preceded that conclave, the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires had been to dinner at her house, where Tornielli was also present.

So then, with two tweets shortly after the publication of Ratzinger’s “notes” Falasca accused the pope emeritus of having violated two requirements that the 2004 directory “Apostolorum Successores” imposed on all bishops emeritus: “not to interfere in any way” with the reigning bishop, and not to “even hint at some kind of parallel authority.”

The first of the two articles by Agasso on “Vatican Insider” cited above takes its cue from here to maintain that the publication of the “notes” has broken an equilibrium between the two popes, and that this has even come to “a fracture.” And therefore “a ‘constitutional’ question is raised on the role of the pope emeritus.” A role that in effect is an unresolved tangle, but that Bergoglio’s apologists are now taking advantage of to order Ratzinger to remain silent and “hidden from the world.”

And the second article reiterates the same concept, in an interview with Massimo Faggioli, a disciple of what is called the “school of Bologna” and a professor at Villanova University in Philadelphia, he too convinced that “the problem is raised of regulating the figure of the [pope] emeritus for the future” and that in the meantime, at present, it is necessary that Benedict XVI “remain invisible.”


Finally, the seventh but not last element of the story: Francis’s visit to Benedict, on the afternoon of April 15, for Easter and birthday greetings, as shown in the photo released by the Vatican press office.

During those same hours there came out on the front page of “L’Osservatore Romano” an editorial by Tornielli entitled “That ‘penitential way’ which unites the two pontificates,” which insists on the harmonious appeal of the two popes – in the major documents of the respective pontificates and most recently also in the “notes” – to prayer, penance, and the conversion of hearts as the master path for overcoming the scandal of abuse.

The two things together sound like a signal of truce, at the beginning of Holy Week.

But once again, not a single word from Francis and his spokesman on the contents of Ratzinger’s “notes” concerning the ultimate root of the scandal.

On this the divergence between Francis and Benedict remains intact. And unpredictable in its developments.