And worried observers are already asking whether Pope Emeritus Ratzinger is in fact operating as a kind of "shadow Pope" behind the scenes through Müller and Georg Gänswein, [Benedict's] secretary and Prefect of the Papal Household, whom he also promoted to archbishop.
Kung reminded of us the possibility that Joseph Ratzinger who continues to reside in the Vatican, may still, to some extent. run things. This is not a preposterous notion. Ratzinger's was one of the strong voices of the Second Vatican Council. He has been in the College of Cardinals since 1977 and is one of the world's most accomplished Roman Catholic theologians. The Emeritus Pope, who has wielded immense influence in the Vatican for half-a-century, could still be calling a few of its shots.
While it is true Ratzinger wore more bling and fancier shoes than does the current Holy Father, Ratzinger steadfastly characterized greed and warfare as sinful. Under Ratzinger, cardinals in dioceses that desired it were invited to minister to LGBT Catholics in their parishes. Under John Paul II and Ratzinger, at the parish level, movement in the direction of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments was made. Under John Paul II and Ratzinger, we saw more and more women in pastoral ministry and working on altars, and the College of Cardinals was discussing an exemption to the prohibition of artificial contraception to arrest the spread of HIV/AIDS. Ratzinger made many horrendous remarks about "homosexuality" but when he did so he cited the very same doctrine (Roman Catholic Catechism) Pope Francis has yet to challenge, revise or update explicitly. (Francis has aimed to reframe some teaching in an implicit way.) Ratzinger did classify being homosexual as a "disorder," but--not nearly so often or strenuously as he ought to have--he also condemned homophobic abuse.
The church says no. That door is closed.
Pope Francis extolls the importance of dialogue ("words which set hearts on fire") throughout In his recent (November 2013) encyclical Evangelii Gaudium<, yet reinforces his hierarchy's misogynistic ordination policy thus:
...The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion...
The implication therein is that Catholics should discuss everything but ordaining women. I find this disgraceful.
bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined...
By elevating Jorge Bergoglio to the throne of Peter, the cardinals may have prevented an all out schism. The novel pope-love at hand, the likes of which the church has not seen since John XXIII, foreclosed on a schism and now seems substantive and powerful enough to keep the pews and Vatican coffers full. Who but an ultra-charismatic leader determined to preach on the divine character of humility could have pulled this off?