Wednesday, February 15, 2012

30 years ago: A future pope becomes the Grand Inquisitor

On February 15, 1982, it was announced that Pope John Paul II had relieved Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of his pastoral duties in the Diocese of Munich and Freising, calling him to Rome as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As reported by L'Osservatore Romano, February 15, 2012:

On the previous 25 November, in fact, the Pope had appointed the 54-year-old German Cardinal as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most important dicastery of the Roman Curia. So it was that Ratzinger moved to Rome in those days of February, having remained for almost three months longer at the helm of the large Bavarian Archdiocese...

...At the first Conclave in 1978 Ratzinger became personally acquainted with Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the Metropolitan of Krakow, and at the second one he contributed to the latter's election, convinced – as he wrote in 2004 – that he would be “the right Pope for the present time”. Only a few months later, in 1979, John Paul II summoned him to propose that he assume the office of Prefect of the Curia's Dicastery for Catholic Education, but the Archbishop of Munich did not want to leave his diocese after only two years of governance. However, the Pontiff wanted Cardinal Ratzinger at his side and in February 1981, informed the Cardinal of his intention to appoint him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but only managed to overcome his resistance in the following autumn.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith certainly sounds much nicer than Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, which was the body's title from 1542 to 1904, when it was renamed the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. The body assumed the title Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on December 7, 1965, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, and dropped the word "Sacred" in 1988. "Prefect," the title of the body's leading official since 1968, sounds much more benign than "Grand Inquisitor," the title belonging to the body's leading official from 1542-1602. From 1602-1965 the leading official's title was "Secretary," and then "Pro-Prefect" from 1965-1968.
HT: Dracul Van Helsing

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