In my younger and more tender years as a Novus Ordo conservative, I was greatly impressed with reports of the notorious Panzerkardinal named Joseph Ratzinger, who, at the time was head of the CDF. I also distinctly remember rejoicing when the same cardinal was elected Pope Benedict XVI.
However, as I took an honest look at the acts and writings of Benedict XVI, I noticed that in addition to the genuinely Catholic qualities of Benedict, there were unquestionable marks of modernism–especially in his deeds.
It is with this unpleasant confusion in mind that I picked up some interesting tidbits in John Allen’s The Rise of Benedict XVI (in which the liberal Allen defends Benedict to his largely liberal audience). Allen writes that he was told by “cardinals” that Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schonborn firmly believed that it was “God’s will that Ratzinger be pope.” Allen further explains that Ratzinger and Schonborn have would some call a “father/son” relationship, and that Schonborn would attend some of Ratzinger’s seminars at Regensburg. Ratzinger, in turn, named Schonborn as the editor of the new Catechism.
This revelation is disturbing because Cardinal Shonborn is notoriously weak on degeneracy in his diocese; his Eminence even recently allowed a “LGBT” prayer service at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral at which there was a special guest appearance by, you guessed it, Conchita Wurst.
Is it simply the case that Cardinal Schonborn is a liberal and tolerant prelate, or is there something else going on here?
Your humble author recently was told by a Catholic journalist that Vatican Communications director Joaquin Navarro Valls and thus Opus Dei basically ran the Vatican (or at least parts of it) the last 10 years of John Paul II’s life. I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical. However, I found something very interesting regarding this topic in John Allen’s 2006 The Rise of Benedict XVI.
The first thing is that John Paul had been, in Allen’s words, “dying for years.” Secondly, that there were accusations that Navarro Valls exaggerated the status of John Paul II’s health–especially at the very end of John Paul’s life–making it seem that JPII was healthier than he actually was.
Allen even tries to dispel rumors among Italians that Navarro Valls (or someone else) used a tape recording of John Paul II during a “staged” Angelus appearance during the last months of John Paul’s life–Allen admits that there is some evidence to support that a tape recording was used.
All of this material (and more) raises some interesting questions.
How much of John Paul II’s life was staged and shaped by himself and others in and out of the Vatican?
How much power did Navarro Valls really have (remember it was Navarro Valls who helped George Weigel plot Witness to Hope)?
I am at work on a feature length article on John Allen Jr. for a Catholic newspaper. I have thus been reading his 2006 book, The Rise of Benedict XVI, which is chock full of interesting details, one of which is Allen’s description of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a favorite in the 2005 papal election. Allen describes Cardinal Bergoglio as follows:
“A Jesuit, Bergoglio has a reputation as a man of great humility, deep spirituality, and unwavering commitment to rather traditional doctrinal views.”
This quote is especially interesting, for Allen has continued to defend Pope Francis (and other liberal prelates) as a moderate.
Who is John Allen fooling, and why does he go out of his way to defend liberal prelates?
I’ll readily admit that I had largely bought the narrative that John Paul II grew more sympathetic to capitalism at the end of the Cold War and projected at least some of that sympathy into Centesimus Annus (even if the neocons were wrong to augment that sympathy into endorsement of American style late capitalism).
However, while reading John Allen’s The Francis Effect, I discovered two quotes from John Paul II in which he strongly and explicitly condemns capitalism. Allen points to a quote from 1993 (two years after Centesimus!) in which John Paul II said, “Catholic social teaching is not a surrogate for capitalist ideology…[which is] responsible for grave social injustices.”
Allen further notes quotes John Paul II as saying “the bourgeois mentality and capitalism as a whole, with its materialistic spirit acutely contradict the gospel.”
These very strong words further condemn the narrative that John Paul gave his blessing to American style capitalism that has been pedaled by Catholic neocons for two decades.
Apropos of John Paul II’s opposition to the second Iraq War, which Catholic neocons have unsuccessfully attempted to hide, I have found this gem from John Allen’s The Francis Miracle. Writing of Pope Francis’s successful prevention of an Obama war in Syria in 2013, Allen writes of “…John Paul II’s vain efforts to stop the Iraq offensive in 2003, which included dispatching personal envoys to both Sadaam Hussein and President George W. Bush in February and March of that year…”
So, who is misleading? John Allen or the neocons?
It has been well established that George Weigel and other less luminaries in the neoconservative movement cloaked John Paul II in an ideological veil that presented him as the pope of American liberalism. It is also more than clear that the neocons cannot control the image of Pope Francis who clearly self identifies as a political, economic, and theological leftist.
To whom does the banner of papal biographer fall?
Enter John Allen, Jr. Identified by many Catholic conservatives as a “moderate” or even soft conservative, Allen penned, in 2015, The Francis Miracle: Insider the Transformation of the Pope and the Church. This book is very curious. In it Allen seeks to prove that despite the seemingly very left wing statements and actions of Pope Francis, the current pontiff is, in fact, a “centrist.” Allen argues that there are no real liberals in the leadership of the Church–that is, no high ranking prelate really wants to change the teaching of the Church. There are just those who want to change the application of the Church’s teaching. Here is the typical post-Marxist theological distinction between theoria and praxis or theory and practice. Of course, Catholic teaching will never really change; however, certain practices may be tolerable even though the Church defines them as evil.
The question then is: who is John Allen trying to fool? His book is not written for leftists Catholics who know Francis is on their side and who have no problem with Church teaching changing, nor is the book written for traditionalists who by 2015 had figured Francis out.
The book is clearly written to shepherd deluded conservative Catholics who “want to believe” that Francis is merely a laid back and slightly more liberal version of John Paul II.
It is difficult to believe that John Allen is dumb enough to believe that Francis is a centrist even in 2015. Allen, like Weigel before him, has clearly been brought in to shape the image of Francis and delude the masses of Catholics into following his degenerate teaching.
Also, Time Books, a US intelligence asset, published The Francis Miracle.
Who does Allen work for?