Guest blogger Fr Andrew Grabber SJNW is a priest in The New Catholic Church. A former Jesuit, he is the founder of the Society of Jesus of the New Way. He is the well known author of Building A Rainbow Bridge –A New Way Forward. He once appeared on The Muppet Show with actor Robert De Niro and he has many friends in New York City, Washington DC and Rome, Italy.
Today as many Catholics mourn the passing of Pope Benedict I would like to share my own personal reflections on his life. In many ways Joseph Ratzinger was an amazingly gifted man and certainly he was good at bringing back various traditional forms of papal regalia. I am thinking of his red shoes. Every friend of Dorothy likes to see ruby slippers! However, for many of our LGBTQ+ friends Pope Benedict can only be seen as an oppressor–one who continued to refer to our LGBTQ+ friends as “disordered.”
My own encounter with “God’s Rottweiler” was soon after he became the head of the feared Office of the Inquisition. At the time I was working on my book Building A Rainbow Bridge (with illustrations by my friend Fr Rupnik SJ) and was fully supporting the compassionate and forward looking New Waves Ministry. (This was before we formed the Society of Jesus of the New Way) Mr. Ratzinger forced me out of the Jesuit order and ordered me to stop writing my book.
Being a priest in good standing, I obeyed the orders and for some time felt hurt and humiliated by the draconian decree. However, I have forgiven Pope Benedict completely. On further reflection it seems to me that when he was elected Pope the cardinals thought they were electing the smartest man in the room. They would have done better to have elected the best listener in the room–someone who is able to engage in dialogue, someone who is able to accompany those who are not part of the church–someone who is able to adjust the church’s teachings to the modern age in a truly pastoral and realistic sense.
I am so glad I forgave Pope Benedict and I hope others will learn from my example of what it means to let go all bitterness and to accept with joy the correction and discipline of those who are in a superior position. I know from experience that learning humility is difficult, but in the end it is liberating. May you all have a joyous and welcoming new year!