Cardinal Ratzinger himself could indulge in public lies to hide the meanness of the procedure the CDF followed

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Belgian Theologian Jesuit Jacques Dupuis: Cardinal Ratzinger himself could indulge in public lies to hide the meanness of the procedure the CDF followed.

We need to be convinced that we share at once in the Church’s holiness and sinfulness, and that we are all responsible for improving through reform and renewal the witness which it bears to the world in its structures as well as through its members. Yet the sinfulness of some Church structures needs to be denounced and corrected for its message to be credible.

One is surprised at the assurance with which Cardinal Ratzinger defends the total fairness of these norms against every criticism from authorities in the philosophy of law. The norms are established by the CDF for its own convenience and protection, and are not likely to be repudiated without the Pope’s approval. Even more than the injustice of these norms I would mention their impersonal and inhuman, and therefore un-Christian, character.

I had lived in Rome for 15 years without any suspicion in a matter of doctrine, when out of the blue it hit me that I had been under investigation for who knows how long and that a Contestation of my work had been launched by the CDF after a consultation with consultors chosen for the purpose, and all of this under top secrecy. I began to wonder for how long I had had a file at the CDF.

When I was informed about the case, I was not allowed to know who were my detractors, much less anything about what appeared like a parody of a defence, the consultor who would speak pro auctore – Karl Becker, it would seem – being chosen by the cardinal prefect of the CDF without any reference to the accused. The roles of prosecution, defence and the court that would pronounce judgment were all combined in the same hands.

The members of the CDF who decided on the Contestation of the book had already formally judged it to contain grievous errors, even before the case had been heard. And so on. All personal contact was excluded till such time as I was called for the tragic meeting of 4 September 2000. Where my signature on a Notification against my book was to be extorted from me under duress.

It was dishonest to add restrictions and threats to the second version of the Notification, which I had signed under pressure, thus creating the myth that I had agreed to a drastic curtailing of my freedom in speech and writing. To call all the procedures a long and friendly dialogue between the authorities of the CDF and the author under trial was as trivial as it was dishonest, and it was hard to believe that high officials at the Roman Curia – in particular Cardinal Ratzinger himself – could indulge in public lies to hide the meanness of the procedure they followed.

“Do Not Stifle the Spirit: Conversations with Jacques Dupuis SJ" by Gerard O’Connell is published by Orbis Books.

[As reported in The Tablet, 12 August 2017]