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Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Nick Milne

O'Brien suggests that the Pope learn from the psychotherapy of Carl Rogers...

Oh man, I am dying with laughter here.

Robert Miller

It strikes me that, in one respect at least, we contemporary Catholics (and the rest of the world) are most fortunate: We have 24/7 instantaneous access to the teaching office of the Holy Father.

We don't have to dig through libraries of old books and stacks of papers. We don't have to wonder how the Pope would interpret the various signs of the times. In a sense, the internet "completes" the innovation of print and broadcast media.

For centuries now, the voice of the Church has been muffled by the din and spin of publication/broadcast. Now that voice can be heard clearly, contemporaneously, anywhere and at any time.

Pope Benedict XVI seems keenly aware that his co-workers of the truth are listening. And that's what has the Commonweal -- and America, and National Catholic Reporter, etc. -- crowd worried. They have good reason to be fearful. Schroth's column is a prime signal: Catholic pundits don't have the luxury they've enjoyed most of the last five decades of "spinning" the Church's word to the world.

Ed Peters

Carl, great piece.


Please indulge this passage, written by Fr. Neuhaus and posted today on the "First Things" website:

"In night hours and in times snatched between the myriad appointments of the day, Benedict sits alone at his desk, writing and writing. He is ever the teacher, a 'scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven . . . who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old' (Matt. 13:52). Hence the first two encyclicals; hence the compellingly erudite lectures at public audiences; hence the first and promised second volume of Jesus of Nazareth. It is said that this pontificate represents a return to the basics of Christian faith and life, and there is truth in that. More strikingly, it represents an appeal for the modern world to recognize that its achievements cannot be sustained apart from the authentic humanism of Christian faith. To date, and with few exceptions, those who control the commanding heights of culture have not engaged, or even deigned to notice, his efforts. Undaunted, he returns to the task again and again, writing and speaking in most intimate communion with St. Paul and St. Augustine, proposing to the world 'a more excellent way' (1 Cor. 12:31)."


The advice that the Pope should look to psychotheraphy brings to mind a Ratzinger quote: "Psychotherapy has taught us that to repress the truth induces neurosis. Psychotheraphy cannot however teach us what the truth is."

(I'm paraphrasing from memory -- I don't have it with me -- it's somewhere in "Co-Workers of the Truth.")

Little Gidding

Carl Rogers. Fer sure. He did such wonders with the sisters of the IHM. That's just what the Church Universal needs.


Terrific article, Carl. I appreciate the references to Benedict's actual words. Watching how certain people criticise the Pope and the Church becomes so frustrating at times when it is clear that they have taken no time to actually probe the actual words and thoughts of Benedict.

Ratzinger/Benedict has published thousands of words a year in multiple languages for decades, I doubt most detractors have actually committed the time to read two of above said pages. Im continually frustrated that this sort of thing is seen as enlightened discourse.

Carl Olson

Watching how certain people criticise the Pope and the Church becomes so frustrating at times when it is clear that they have taken no time to actually probe the actual words and thoughts of Benedict.

Yes, very frustrating. Strange, isn't it, that those who prattle on and on about "listening" are the ones who exhibit the least interest in actually listening?


I find the uninformed criticism frustrating also but there is a reason for much of it, I think: it takes grace to hear and really understand the Pope. I think that without the requisite grace his words simply do not register. This is also true of the Church's teachings generally.


But my previous comment does not mean that I don't find outrageous some of things that are in the Schroth piece. This one really got me: "John Paul II and then Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, conducted a teaching papacy, not a learning papacy, as if they feared open discussion." Cardinal Ratzinger is unquestionably one of the most profound and erudite thinkers of our times, in or out of the Church. He has mastered the modern secular thought that he critiques (whereas modern secular thinkers typically have not mastered Christian thought) and I have seen no one rise to the intellectual challenge that he poses to the modern world. For Mr. Schroth to suggest he has something to teach to this Pope is just an embarrassment.

Carl Olson

For Mr. Schroth to suggest he has something to teach to this Pope is just an embarrassment.

Exactly. Or worse.

Robert Miller

Excellent article and stimulating comments.

Leaving Schroth and his ilk aside, what concerns me is how few "traditionalist" and "conservative" (and even "pro-life activist") Catholics I know have even the slightest familiarity with Ratzinger/Benedict's works. They love him as a "conservative" and pro-life figure, but they don't seem to have the time or inclination to fully engage with his thought and teaching (magisterial and non-magisterial).

Developing a "Ratzinger movement" among "ultramontanist" Catholics in the US is one of our most urgent requirements.


I believe it is rev. schroth,sj. When I lived in NJ, he was a professor at St. Peters College and a regular when the newark star ledger needed a priest to subtly undermine Church teachings. Keep him in your prayers and also the renewal of the Jesuits.

miguel alberto

J. Ratzinger's papacy: not a "learning papacy"? That simply is absurd. You're right to ask what kind of "learning papacy" is spoken of. Pope Benedict has not just been delivering homilies and catechesis. He has been actively engaging in and inviting everyone to a dialogue about the world, its prevailing ideologies. And true to his task, he has been tireless in his invitation to take a second look at Jesus of Nazareth - to recognize in Him something or Someone greater than us, than the universe itself: a God who loves. Many times he has articulated what many find hard to express in words simply because of the restrictions on reason imposed by postmodernity.

Dennis O'Brien

Dialogue first comes into being when there is not only speech but listening..To listen means to know and acknowledge another and to allow him to step into the realm of one's own "I". It is a readiness to assimilate his words, therein his being, into one's reality as well as assimilate oneself to him in corresponding fashion. Thus, after the act of listening, I am another man, my own being is enriched and deepened because it is united with the being of the other...
Joseph Ratzinger The Nature and Mission of Theology

I appreciate the deep listening of the bloggers. Thanks Carl.


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