Fr Hunwicke asks what went wrong with the Ratzinger Papacy?
I am sure we are too close to tell but I would suggest there are two basic reasons:
- That he was John Paul's 'minister', in the sense of the Pope can do no wrong therefore it must be his minister(s) who are at fault. The press had long seen Ratzinger as JPII's "rottweiler" as the "panzer-cardinal", as "the Enforcer", as the "Inquisitor". Ratzinger was happy as a loyal servant to be JPII's Aunt Sally. As internationally he was the most well known Cardinal the media were unable and unwilling to change their narrative. As the child abuse scandal was in the forefront of the media's thought about the Church, it was natural for Ratzinger to be attacked over it, especially as he was so shocked by it personally, and rather than delegating it a committee as Francis has, he himself kept apologising for it, as if he was indeed responsible.
- That John Paul was ill for a very long time and factions had developed, chief among them the divide between the CDF under Ratzinger and the Secretariate of State under Sodano. We saw that particularly in the tussle over resolving the child abuse crisis. Sodano refused to admit there was a problem well into Benedict's papacy, he dismissed it as a press fabrication. In a way he was right, the number of priest abusers is proportionately much lower than teachers or social workers. He was also one of the great defenders Maciel Marciel. I personally believe Benedict resigned to avoid the build up of factions in his declining years and it is perhaps significant that one of the first moves of Pope Francis was to reform, weaken and cast doubt over the future of the Secretariate of State and also to make it his personal secretariat.
It is worth remembering it took almost a year and lots of concessions to get Bertone into and Sodano out of the Secretary of States Appartments. Here it might be worth understanding the geography of the Apostolic Palace, it is laid out as palace, it is necessary to go through the Secretary of State's Appartments to get to the Papal Appartments. He who controls the rooms controls access to the Pope. I am sure it was Ratzinger who urged Francis not to occupy the Apostolic Appartments.
Although Bertone has come in for lots of criticism, it will be interest to read his autobiography due out later this year, his ineffectuallity came about because the Sodanites, many of whom are now restored to power, simply refused to co-operate with him and briefed against him and against the Pope Benedict; remember Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui who actually twitter he was dying of cancer! What Fr Hunwicke suggests which was certainly part of the constant drip of certain European news outlets and the subject of certain Vatican Monsignori's sordid speculation was an significant part media poisoning of the media by certain influential Vatican lobbies. Perhaps by keeping one of its members close and indebted to him Francis has perhaps silenced other members of a rather complex and ruthless web.