Reaction to Pope Benedict’s “Capsizing” Church Remarks

There is a lot of disagreement in the conversations I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter about Pope Benedict’s “capsizing” Church remarks. He said of Cardinal Meisner at his funeral:

“We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.”

Some are saying that Pope Benedict has used this language even before Pope Francis’ reign.  Others point out that although he used the metaphor of the boat taking on water, he did not say that it was “capsizing” before now. Even if he were to clarify, I think there would still be disagreement.

Below, you’ll find some reaction from around the blogosphere to Pope Benedict’s remarks.


Meisner, who was 83, was one of the four cardinals who sent Pope Francis a dubia, consisting of five questions, asking if Amoris Laetitia is aligned with Catholic morality. He died still awaiting the pope’s response. Although Pope Francis hasn’t answered the dubia, he has given his approval to interpretations of the controversial exhortation that say those living in adulterous unions may receive Holy Communion.

Pope Benedict also mentioned in his statement that he had spoken to Cardinal Mesiner on the telephone the day before his death.

Canon lawyer Kurt Martens said Pope Benedict’s message was an “amazing yet diplomatic form of support for [the] dubia Cardinals.”



It’s an open secret Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis do not have much of a relationship.



When one reads the following message — particularly that moment where the Pope Emeritus speaks of how Meisner “learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing,” one cannot help but see in it a possible reflection on his own choice to step away from the papacy, and the crisis that even now engulfs the Church in his absence. This message, of course, of the Lord not abandoning His Church, cannot be read in isolation from the somewhat cryptic message the Pope Emeritus gave the five new cardinals at the ordinary public consistory last month: “The Lord wins in the end.” It would appear this is a theme very much on the mind of the former pontiff in recent days.



The Catholic Church is a massive worldwide institution. Millions of people around the globe are Catholic. For many it is a faith foundation on which to stand. But it has also had its share of scandal and problems, especially when it comes to leadership ignoring biblical doctrine. Whether or not this Church capsizes, as Benedict worried, is dependent upon the integrity and the determination of everyday Catholics to adhere to sound biblical teaching and stand for the Lord and His standards, even when it is difficult. The wheel of the ship, so to speak, is in the hands of every Catholic. Will they keep it from capsizing?



Keep in mind that Catholics think of the Church as the “barque of Peter” — a boat, captained by Peter. Benedict XVI is saying here that the Church appears to be going down, capitulating to the Zeitgeist. He is praising Cardinal Meisner for living with serenity, confident that come what may, Jesus will not abandon the Church.

I had to re-read that statement from Benedict several times to quite believe it. This is a staggering remark, one whose power is amplified by the fact that it was delivered at the requiem mass for a cardinal who challenged Pope Francis directly. I cannot read it as other than Benedict’s judgment of the state of the Catholic Church under Francis. If you have a more plausible reading, let’s hear it.

If I’m correct, contained within these few lines is Benedict’s counsel to the Catholic faithful who wish to resist this dictatorship of the Zeitgeist: you are not wrong; things really are as bad as they seem — but stand fast in the faith, and fear not.



Pope Francis too sent a message to the funeral, which was read by the papal representative in Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic. He praised Meisner for his “intrepid commitment” to the Church and the faith, and for his efforts in the reconciliation of Eastern and Western Europe.



The secrets of Fatima and Akita are unfolding before our eyes. The lack of faith in Jesus Christ and the sacraments the Lord instituted is becoming ever more apparent. Church men are trying to resolve contemporary problems in a spirit that is antichrist in nature. The ousting of Cardinal Müller from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith means that the attack is truly upon the Truth. Read “Müller Out. But the Real Attack Is Against Veritatis Splendor” here

And when you have drug fuelled orgies occurring in the Vatican (Vatican police have allegedly broken up a homosexual orgy, all hell is literally breaking loose.



The message from Pope Benedict was greeted with a standing ovation, I am told.



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