April 25, 2005
His agenda, or his orders, were always clear. During his first ten years as Prefect, the Jesuits were censured for challenging papal teachings on contraception, parts of their constitution were suspended, and their Vicar General, Vincent O’Keefe, a passionate advocate for social justice, was removed. The reactionary lay order Opus Dei was transformed into a “personal prelature” accountable directly to the Pope. The dioceses of progressive Latin-American bishops were gerrymandered out of existence, liberation theologians like Leonardo Boff were called to Rome and silenced as “Marxists” (they were, more accurately, Christian communitarian evangelists), and the priests they had trained, who were responsible for an ebullient Catholic revival in Latin America, were ordered back into the fold of tradition and obedience. The relative autonomy of the North American bishops’ conference was ended, and its most progressive members—most famously Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, of Chicago—were marginalized.
If we ever were “moving towards a dictatorship of relativism,” as then-Cardinal Ratzinger claimed a week ago, we’re sure heading in the other direction now.
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