Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI's first bite: the Jesuits

Pope Benedict XVI as God's Rotweiler is the biggest figure (like a dinosaur) in Christendom and therefore his bite is not only on one person but on a whole group of persons.

The first bite victims of Pope Benedict (were or) are the Jesuits particularly Fr. Thomas Reese, the editor of America Magazine

The Jesuits are not new to Papal Suppression. John Paul II did it to them especially in favor of the Opus Dei (see who they are

The The Suppression of the Jesuits in the 18th century was the worst suppression ever committed against a Catholic group by the Popes in Catholic Church history.

For the 21st century, the papal anarchy and the papal suppression on the Jesuits mutates on a different form and it starts with Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.

Actually as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he has been mauling the Jesuits for a long time like Jose Maria Castillo, Roger Haight and Jacques Dupuis. But this time, Benedict XVI mauls an American Jesuit to show how desperate he wants to control America and silence the American Jesuits' freedom of speech.

Jesuit Officials Say America Editor Resigned After Vatican Complaints

Jesuit officials in Rome said Fr Thomas Reese resigned as editor in chief of America magazine after repeated complaints from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who objected to the magazine's treatment of sensitive Church issues.

Jesuit Fr Jose de Vera, spokesman for the Society of Jesus in Rome, said Fr Reese decided to resign after discussing the situation with his Jesuit superiors, following Cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope. Fr de Vera denied reports that Fr Reese was forced to resign but acknowledged that pressure had been coming from the Vatican for several years.

"He tendered his resignation. It was not imposed, contrary to what was written," Fr de Vera said.

"With Cardinal Ratzinger elected pope, I think [Fr Reese] thought it would be very difficult to continue his line of openness, without creating more problems. He had been at America magazine seven years and he improved it tremendously, so I think he understood it was time to go," the Jesuit spokesman said.

Fr Reese announced May 6 that at the end of the month he would leave America; in a statement, he did not mention problems with the Vatican.

He said he would be replaced by America's associate editor Jesuit Fr Drew Christiansen, known for his work on Catholic social teaching and international justice and peace issues.

Fr de Vera said that Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had expressed concern about America's articles on several occasions to Jesuit Father General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach.

Fr de Vera said the articles that drew complaints treated a relatively small number of issues: "Dominus Iesus," the doctrinal congregation's document on Christ as the unique savior; same-sex marriage; stem cell research; and the reception of Communion by Catholic politicians who support legal abortion.

On these and other questions, America often hosted commentary that represented a broad spectrum of opinions among Catholics, including those who disagreed with some of the Vatican's positions.

"The policy of [Fr Reese] was to present both sides of the discussion. ... He wanted to present both sides within the Catholic community. But that did not sit well with Vatican authorities," Fr de Vera said.

Fr de Vera said that because the articles touched on doctrinal issues the Vatican wanted the Jesuits to write articles "defending whatever position the Church has manifested, even if it is not infallible."

Fr de Vera also said he thought some of the complaints probably came from Catholics in the United States, and that Cardinal Ratzinger's congregation was reacting to them.

More than a year ago, Fr de Vera said, the tension had reached the point that Vatican officials threatened to impose a board of censors on the magazine unless changes were made.

At that time, he said, Fr Reese and the Jesuits agreed to set up an internal board that reviewed articles prior to publication. In this way, "the threat of outside censors was dispelled," Fr de Vera said. But even under that arrangement America articles continued to provoke complaints at the Vatican.

"The board has not produced what [the Vatican] expected -- a very strict line, very, very close to whatever was expressed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," Fr de Vera said.
Some Church sources said Cardinal Ratzinger's office was believed to have sent a letter in March requesting Fr Reese's dismissal. Fr de Vera said he was unaware of such a letter and could neither confirm nor deny its existence.

Fr de Vera said that after Fr Reese discussed the situation with Fr Kolvenbach in April he voluntarily decided to resign for the good of the order.

Source: Jesuit USA News


This was the editorial of Commonweal Magazine as it protested the ousting of Fr. Thomas Reese
May 20, 2005 / Volume CXXXII, Number 10

Scandal at ’America’

The Editors

American Catholics, including most regular churchgoers, get their news about the church from the secular media, not from church spokespersons or official pronouncements. Most Catholics read about papal encyclicals in the papers; they don’t read encyclicals. It therefore behooves the hierarchy, if it wants to communicate with the faithful (or re-evangelize them), to act in a way that does not lend credence to the still-widespread impression that the Catholic Church is a backward-looking, essentially authoritarian, institution run by men who are afraid of open debate and intellectual inquiry. It is safe to say that the Vatican’s shocking dismissal of Rev. Thomas Reese as editor of the Jesuit magazine America has left precisely such an impression with millions of Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

It is hard to judge what is more appalling, the flimsy case made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF)—apparently at the instigation of some American bishops—against Reese’s orthodoxy and stewardship of America, or the senselessness of silencing perhaps the most visible, and certainly one of the most knowledgeable, fair-minded, and intelligent public voices the church has in this country. As a political scientist who has written extensively on how the church’s hierarchy works, Reese has for years been a much-relied-on source for the mass media in its coverage of Catholic issues. During the recent conclave, his visibility increased exponentially, with millions of television viewers being introduced to him on PBS, CNN, and other networks. Not surprisingly, he showed himself to be lucid, succinct, and nonideological. In a church with a more confident and magnanimous hierarchy, Reese’s prominence would be seen as a great asset, not a threat. Instead, Reese’s dismissal, following so closely his increased exposure during the conclave, has become front-page news. As a consequence, the first thing many Americans are now likely to associate with Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy will be yet another act of Vatican repression. Does this mean that the zeal with which then-Cardinal Ratzinger harried theologians while head of the CDF will continue during his papacy?

For those who had hoped that the pastoral challenges of his new office might broaden Benedict’s sympathies, this is a time of indignation, disappointment, and increased apprehension. For those who know Reese and his work, the injustice of the CDF’s action is transparent. No intellectually honest person could possibly claim that Reese’s America has been in the business of undermining church teaching. If the moderate views expressed in America, views widely shared by the vast majority of lay Catholics, are judged suspect by the CDF, how is the average Catholic to assess his or her own relationship to the church?

It is even more troubling to learn that the CDF insisted on Reese’s removal despite his compliance with the congregation’s own demands that America publish articles of a more apologetic nature defending controverted magisterial teachings. In 2003, apparently, the CDF informed Reese that he had indeed corrected whatever imbalance it had detected in the magazine’s content. According to news stories, more recent articles in America questioning the church’s position on same-sex marriage and the status of prochoice U.S. Catholic politicians precipitated the latest CDF action. Both of the articles cited, however, were in response to other pieces in America defending magisterial teaching. Evidently, the CDF insists that any church-sponsored publication aimed at the educated faithful confine its activities to catechesis.

The reaction to the CDF’s removal of Reese has been widespread and impassioned among the Jesuits and in the Catholic academic world. Certainly the church’s reputation has been badly damaged, especially among those in the secular media who knew and had every reason to respect Reese. As a consequence, it will be even harder for the church’s views to get a fair hearing. Those who love and cherish the Catholic priesthood are equally appalled, seeing how callously someone like Reese, who has devoted his life and contributed his enormous talents to the church, is treated. It is possible to ascribe the incredibly maladroit timing and handling of this decision to Vatican incompetence, arrogance, or obliviousness. More worrisome, however, is the suspicion that Reese’s dismissal was carried out in precisely this way to send an unmistakable message. If that is the case, then the self-defeating demand for unwavering docility coming from those now in charge in Rome—and increasingly from members of the American episcopate—is only exceeded by their insensitivity and recklessness.

The audience for intellectually serious Catholic publications like America, where theological, ethical, political, and aesthetic questions are explored and debated, is shockingly small: some estimate not more than 200,000 potential readers among the nation’s 65 million Catholics. Why are Catholics so incurious about the intellectual challenges and satisfactions of their faith?

Certainly one reason is that the church has historically taken a dim view of the questioning intellect, and especially of the public expression of such questions. Another reason is because the demand of bishops for editorial control deprives much of the Catholic press of credibility. Forty years after the Second Vatican Council, which did so much to enfranchise lay Catholics and to encourage their engagement with the great intellectual resources of the church, it is inexcusable that the CDF would censor a magazine as respectful and responsive to the church’s tradition as America. At a time when elites are as polarized as they are now in the American church, Reese’s dismissal will embolden those eager to purge “dissenters,” while making it nearly impossible for a reasoned critique of the agenda of church reformers to be heard by those who need most to hear it.

Those calling for the strict regulation of Catholic discourse argue that public dissent from church doctrine creates scandal, confusing or misleading the “simple faithful.” What really gives scandal to people in the pews, however, is the arbitrary and self-serving exercise of ecclesiastical authority. What the CDF has done to Thomas Reese and America is the scandal. Is it possible that not one bishop has the courage to say so? That too is a scandal.


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