Volume > Issue > Do the Pope & Cardinal Ratzinger "Have Their Backs to the Wall"?

Do the Pope & Cardinal Ratzinger “Have Their Backs to the Wall”?

EDITORIAL

By Dale Vree | May 2000

Yes, according to Pierre Cardinal Eyt of Bordeaux. Cardinal Eyt’s assessment is stunning, not only because cardinals are not supposed to say things like that in public, but because Eyt is in the running to be the next pope, he is a member of Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he issued his verdict in the context of a public attack on Cardinal Ratzinger in the pages of the French newspaper La Croix (Dec. 9, 1999 [printed in English in the March 2 Origins]).

Regarding controversial issues in the Church, Eyt says that “the time to draw institutional conclusions…has come,” that decisions “cannot suffer further delay or equivocation” and “must be taken promptly!”

What decisions are being “delayed”? Eyt cites certain “disciplinary and doctrinal knots” that Cardinal Martini of Milan (another papabile) identified at the 1999 Synod of Bishops for Europe — e.g., sexuality, marriage, and the role of women in the Church. As for the last item, right after the Holy See announced in 1995 that the Church’s position on women’s ordination is infallible, Martini said that a Third Vatican Council could — and presumably should — “rethink the whole question” of women’s ordination.

Many orthodox Catholics are under the impression that decisions about sexuality, marriage, and the role of women in the Church have already been authoritatively made, that there are no “knots” that need untying. But that’s not the way Cardinal Eyt sees it. He’s spooked by the fact that “only rarely do our [magisterial] conclusions satisfy our partners [in dialogue],” he frets because “our partners do not see the ‘rationality’…of our conclusions,” and he’s rattled because the Holy See “brutally” closes off discussion of controverted issues (or at least attempts to).

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