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Munich vicar general reportedly says he was forced to take the fall for Cardinal Ratzinger


Updated April 23: NCR obtains correspondence: retired vicar general denies pressure in Munich pedophile case

The cleric who last month took responsibility for moving a known pedophile priest into ministry in the Munich archdiocese in 1980 after the priest was allowed into the archdiocese by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, is now reportedly saying he was pressured into taking the blame for that decision.

Vicar General Gerhard Gruber last month referred to the decision as a “serious mistake” and said he was solely responsible for the decision. After speaking once about his "mistake" to the Associated Press, Gruber disappeared from public view. I was in Munich at the time and tried to reach him several times, but always unsuccessfully.

But today we find Gruber in the news once again.

It is being reported that Gruber has said he took the fall only after coming under huge pressure from unnamed Catholic Church sources to take responsibility in order to “take the pope out of the firing line”.

K¸ng writes to world's bishops


Theologian Fr. Hans Küng has written a letter to the world's bishops. (I found it on the web site of the Irish Times, but it carries a New York Times Syndicate tag line.) He begins: "On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you [the world's bishops] in an open letter. In doing so, I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. ... "

"I want only to lay before you six proposals that I am convinced are supported by millions of Catholics who have no voice in the current situation.

1. Do not keep silent ...

2. Set about reform ...

3. Act in a collegial way ...

4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone ...

5. Work for regional solutions ...

6. Call for a council ...

April 19, Pope St. Leo IX


Today is the feast of Pope St. Leo IX, and the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, another German.

Bruno von Egisheim-Dagsburg was born in 1002 to Count Hugo, a cousin of the emperor, and his wife, Heilewide. He was educated by Berthold, Bishop of Toul, and, after his ordination, became a canon of St. Stephen's at Toul. Bruno was consecrated bishop in 1027 and administered the Diocese of Toul for twenty years. When the German Pope Damasus II died in 1048, Bishop Bruno was selected by the emperor, Henry III, to succeed him.

Benedict's strategy on crisis: 'Pastoral not Political'


Valletta, Malta -- By meeting privately with sex abuse victims here, but avoiding any public apologies or defense of his record on handling sex abuse cases, Pope Benedict XVI seems to have confirmed his strategy for engaging the fallout from the crisis, one that might be summarized in a sound-bite: “Pastoral, not Political.”

tIn other words, Benedict is willing to do the behind-the-scenes pastoral outreach he believes the suffering of victims demands, but he is otherwise largely opting out of the wider public debate over the church’s policies on sexual abuse, as well as the critical examination of his past.

The Catholics -- and church - we know and love


I bet a good number of people who read NCR Today will resonate with this column, written by Nicholas D. Kristof, and appearing in The New York Times today. Kristof writes about the Vatican, as it "wrestles with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set," going on to describe another Catholic church he has gotten to know over the years.

The following is how he describes that church and, in a few paragraphs, casts light on some of the ingredients of Catholicism that inspire so many of us. I know that every regular NCR reader personally knows some of the priests, nuns and lay persons he refers to in his column.

You might add their names, as comments, when you think of them.

Pope delivers strong plea to resist secularism


Valletta, Malta

tPope Benedict XVI this morning delivered a strong appeal to Malta to resist secularizing currents during his homily at a large open-air Mass, staged in a public square called “the Granaries” because it was once used to protect Malta’s food supply.

tIn effect, Benedict urged Malta to make its cultural exchange with Europe a two-way street, evangelizing the secular world rather than being evangelized by it.

“Not everything that today’s world proposes is worthy of acceptance by the people of Malta,” Benedict insisted.

“Many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and his Church, and to choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live,” the pope said. “They tell us we have no need of God or the Church.”

Instead, the pope urged the Maltese to hold onto this conviction: “At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in whom we live and move and have our being.”

In the first place Benedict was making a spiritual point, but the argument also had clear cultural, social and even political resonance in terms of defending Christian principles.


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July 18-31, 2014


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