Saturday, May 07, 2005

Das Krakdown has begun

Editor of Jesuit's America magazine forced to resign under Vatican pressure

Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese, editor for the past seven years of America magazine, a premier publication of Catholic thought and opinion, has resigned at the request of his order following years of pressure for his ouster from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The resignation caps five years of tensions and exchanges among the congregation, which was headed at the time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, the Jesuits and Reese, according to sources close to the magazine who asked not to be identified.

A release from the magazine May 6, which did not mention the forced ouster, announced that the new editor is Jesuit Fr. Drew Christiansen, who has served as associate editor.

Vatican Is Said to Force Jesuit Off Magazine

An American Jesuit who is a frequent television commentator on Roman Catholic issues resigned yesterday under orders from the Vatican as editor of the Catholic magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions, several Catholic officials in the United States said.

The order to dismiss the editor, the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, was issued by the Vatican's office of doctrinal enforcement - the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - in mid-March when that office was still headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said. Soon after, Pope John Paul II died and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope, taking the name Benedict XVI.

America magazine, a weekly based in New York City, is a moderate-to-liberal journal published by the Jesuits, a religious order known for producing the scholars who run many of the church's universities and schools. The Jesuits prize their independence, but like everyone in the church, even their top official, the Jesuit superior general in Rome, ultimately answers to the pope.

Nathan also points out the disheartening continuity of the virulent gay language under this papal regime.

I'm not going to say anything silly like, I told you so . . . but I did!!! I'm not one to believe or advocate that liberals and progressives should speak with one voice, so I didn't mind that a trend "give the Pope a chance" was sweeping through liberal Catholic blogsphere. Well here you have it. The bottom line, people don't change, most especially at the age of 78.

The suppression of free speech is always an ominous sign because it is a signal of negative things to come. The one thing that progressive can hang their hat on is this. The Catholic Church is consistent very embarassed by its conservatives 200-300 years down the line and is grateful for its progressives who possess foresight. Being a progressive is a thankless circumstance, but 300 years from now, the conservatives then would be very grateful for the progressiv cover we've provide them as they persecute the progressives of their time.

Here's more juicy stuff from National Catholic Reporter:

In February 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith proposed creating a three-member commission of censors for the magazine, though the idea was never implemented. According to sources, the congregation told the Jesuits that the action was in response to concern from bishops in the United States.

Sources said no bishops were identified by name and that Reese was never directly contacted. According to a source close to the magazine, Jesuit superiors said some bishops were upset that Reese often commented on church matters for general media and that such commentary should be solely the province of bishops.

The CDF may no longer be the Inquisition, but Colonel, Comrade, Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict sure as heck seems to pine for the olden days.

Oh, and I love the part were the Bishops feel that "such commentary should be solely the province of bishops." Why? so they can lie through their teeth? Or is it because their sacramental character makes them infinitely superior to everyone else? Or could it be that the cardinal virtue in the Church should be silent obedience and subservience? All the Catholic bishops and the entire Church hierarchy cares about is power, or control, or self-preservation. "Feed my sheep?" Yeah, right!


Blogger Talmida said...

Ono, the NCR article states that it is unknown whether the Pope had anything to do with the decision.

Sounds to me like this had been brewing for a while, but that now that the former head of the CDF was Pope, the Jesuits decided to throw in the towel.

Just as a lot of North Americans are leaping to conclusions about the Pope, I'm sure a lot of the curia are too: "Listen, you remember what he said when he was head of the Congregation? You wanna toe the line or we'll remind him of this entire line of enquiry now that he's Pope!"

Maybe I'm being naive, or Pollyanna, but I just don't imagine the Pope spends that much time thinking about American Jesuit publications. Surely he has bigger things on his plate?

Wait and see still applies. This was not the Pope.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

My feeling is that it wouldn't matter whether or not a direct order came from Benedict, the key is that the process started under him and is in keeping with how he wants to run things as Pope.

Put another way, no one would dare initiate this kind of action if he frowned on it. They had to know that this was what he wanted. (I do think he has his fingers all over this. It is too highly symbolic an act to be a casual occurence.)

Another point regarding American magazing is this. I remember when I stayed with the Jesuits and was thinking about joining. We visited with the folks at America House and I think we spoke with Fr. Reese and others involved. He pointed out while circulation for America was relatively low, it was extremely influential in terms of its readership. It was read most by Bishops and powerbrokers in the Church. (80% of Bishops or so read America).

If there is a magazine that the Vatican is concerned about, it is America. No other Catholic publication is nearly as influential.

This is Benedict's mission to stamp out the "watered down" teachings advocated by liberals. Even his homily today spells it out. He is going after liberals to stomp them out.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Talmida said...

80% of Bishops in the WORLD? Or 80% of American Bishops?

And the action was initiated 5 years ago -- I thought that his Jesuit superiors had been fighting it for all those years, but when B16 was elected, they threw in the towel!

C'mon Ono, the guy is going to be around for a while. Save the anger for something he actually does!


12:10 AM  
Blogger Ambrose said...

On one of the other things you touched on (I am waiting for smoke to clear a little on the American Mag thing because there are like 6 versions of the story out there)... the Pope's rhetoric on gay folks. It confuses me because he signed off on the catechism, and like it or not conservative Catholics, the Church recognizes homosexuality, and homsexuals' rights. Nothing in there about disordered or confused or anything like that at all.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Talmida said...

Ambrose, the Catechism does say "objectively disordered" in the newer edition which is online at

"2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial."

8:58 AM  
Blogger Ono said...

Oh, I'm willing to wait to hear the Vatican's side of the story. I do trust NCR on the whole, so I'm not really basing this on the NY times or Washington Post stories.

It is interesting that JPII began his pontificate with a high profile fight with and crack down of the Jesuits. The Jesuits alwasy present an easy target for Popes because the Pope is technically the head of the Society.

But the big thing about Benedict was that all his pre-Benedict actions had to do with his role as enforcer and that he'll change now that he is universal pastor. So far, not much is changing even though things are happening.

The head of the CDF or other dicastries are not Senators and they are cabinet members of the Pope's administration. They enact his policy and nothing is done without his consent, whether direct or indirect.

What we do know in this case is that Reese was pressured out, that there has been an ongoing desire to censor America initiated by Ratzinger and his staff, that the continuity of the CDF remains unbroken, that the Vatican is behind Reese's ouster. The question is more of timing and details and perhaps a response from the Vatican.

We have to remember that Benedict is not a wild-eyed newcomer just trying to get his feet wet, his pontificate essentially began years ago and so he can and has hit the ground running here.

But, I will reserve condemnation until more facts come out. In the mean time I will classify my stance and remarks as a tentative- disapproval-pending-confirmation. You see, I can be quite reasonable and agreeable.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

Oh! 80% of US Bishops

12:38 PM  
Blogger Ambrose said...


Oops! Sorry. I was reading more closely the parts after that. Oops!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Talmida said...

Ambrose, don't feel bad, my printed copy of the CCC (1994) doesn't include those words, and I ended up being lead to the Vatican's site for the update myself. :)

12:07 AM  

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