Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Benedict XVI's resignation: my theory

Mr Gibson, the mad Scots maths teacher used to drag boys around his classroom by their ears or their hair until they fell to the floor, causing as much pain as possible or slammed their foreheads against their desks. Miss Streeter, who became Mrs Holland, the fat French teacher would make boys put their heads in their desks and then sit on the desk. Mr Shin, the lunatic Games teacher was not adverse to having a whole class bend over in the gym and hitting them on their thin cotton shorts with an old gym shoe. Mrs Barter who taught pottery and design was happy to slash boys across the hand with the edge of a steel ruler. Both the headmaster and his deputy regularly caned boys. I suppose it could be a reason I have avoided maths and French and games and pots and had difficulty with institutions.

This happened in the 1970’s, schools were places of violence, fear and humiliation. There were good teachers but I suspect they avoided even thinking about the teaching methods of their violent and bullying colleagues, but we boys never spoke of these things, certainly not to adults. I suspect this was the case with George Ratzinger at Regensburger Domspatzen, he has already admitted to using violence on boys. I would find it difficult to imagine that German schools were much better than 
English schools. My school experiences compared to those of friends who attended the better public schools like Eton or Downside and Ampleforth was pretty moderate, for the time.

My theory about Benedict XVI’s resignation is that one key factor was the threat that his brother George might be implicated not only in the physical abuse but also in the sexual abuse of school pupils. Even if it was untrue, a Pope who had made it his work to deal with the cases of sexual abuse and the dismissal of abusers from the clerical state would be placed in an untenable situation if his beloved brother was caught up sex abuse scandal. Mud would have stuck and clung more deeply to the Church, he would have become the Pope with the abusing brother.

If one adds papers and objects being removed from Benedict’s own study, his blindness in one eye and increasing lameness, the pressure from groups like St Gallen mafia and Cardinal Martini, as well as his own desire to move away from Papacy of his larger than life immediate predecessors and return it to the restrictive fences laid around it by the First Vatican Council, his resignation would seem entirely reasonable.


Jon said...

And pressured. I wouldn't call that making a decision in "complete freedom," would you, Father?

We know what that means.

Et Expecto said...

Don't you realise that it was all done for your own goood! Anyway as teachers used to say "It hurts me more than it hurts you"

M. Prodigal said...

As a little girl in the Catholic school, I had my hand smacked with a ruler, and was spanked with a ping-pong paddle (for something that, for once, I was not guilty of) and sister would also poke a finger down on the shoulder which hurt. These sorts of punishments happened at home too when my backside knew the yardstick and even had one broken on me. Spanking and the dad with the belt where common means of discipline. These day one should not even say a harsh word muchless lay a hand on a child. (however bad language, cussing, and immorality seem to be just fine). The past days were different and we cannot always judge actions of the past by our present sensibilities. That being said, so many things that happened were abuse and sinful.

Mark Docherty said...

And so, "with full freedom I declare" was a falsehood, right?

David O'Neill said...

We don't know that for sure. Fr Blake is simply making a POSSIBLE suggestion but seems to have no basis in fact.

Cosmos said...


I don't think pressure and freedom are incompatible at all. It would be almost impossible to ever make a free decisions otherwise. Was he pressured by a growing anxiety that he was letting down his flock and disappointing those who trusted in his leadership because of his physical ailments? Would that matter?

However, if the Pope were pressured, I'm not sure that you would look to the abdication letter to prove or disprove it!

Jacobi said...

My primary school in the 1940s was quite free of any form of violence, as I recall. This was confirmed to me by my older sisters.

At Senior Secondary in the late 40s/early 50s we got the belt (tawse) which I remember one teacher displaying with some admiration backed up by we pupils. The tawse was considered a good way of preparing one to accept and get used to inevitable tribulations and we took pride in not showing any reaction.

The tawse was for specific offences such as being late . It was never indiscriminate.

All of this is quite irrelevant to Benedict who should not have discriminated for family. That was his great mistake and we are stuck with it for another Pope or two

He sadly started the CEO syndrome - one reason why as he has said the Church is capsising

Otherwise Senior Secondary was positive and instructive

mark wauck said...

I've been emailing this theory around for the last several days. I think Fr Blake is owed a debt of gratitude for bringing it out in the open for honest discussion. I have to imagine Benedict knew he was risking this sort of retribution when he penned those funeral remarks.

Justin Nelson said...

I was thinking this same scenario for some time.
This doesn't mean he didn't resign with full freedom nor would it nullify his resignation.
It simply means he is a coward who abandoned the Church and the world for human respect-for him or his brother.
To lack freedom to the point of invalidating a human act- as Aquinas states- he would have had to lose his ability to reason when making the decision.
Being afraid can give mitigating circumstance as to culpability of the act but it doesn't negate the act by removing freedom.
Those are two different things.
The Angelic Doctor gives good examples of this in the Summa.

James said...

The then HF said what he said, and was very emphatic in saying it. So I believe him. To do otherwise risks opening the way to conspiracy theories, paranoia, and other bad stuff :(

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...