Germany: Publication of a retrospective critique of the pontificate of John Paul II

Source: FSSPX News

Professor Heinz-Lothar Barth, who teaches Latin and Greek philology at the University of Bonn, has written a study entitled Papst Johannes Paul II:  Santo Subito? Ein kritischer Rückblick auf sein Pontifikat (Pope John Paul II:  Santo Subito? A critical review of his pontificate), which has just been published by the [German SSPX] printing house Sarto Verlag.

This book critically examines the pontificate of John Paul II by discussing several aspects of it that are less familiar to the general public.  And since the author intended to provoke a reaction in Rome, on the occasion of the process of beatification of the late pope, he translated it from German into Latin.  Both versions are available from Sarto Verlag.

Dr. Barth’s arguments are exclusively theological, without making any judgment about the virtues or personal piety of John Paul II;  the author salutes the pontiff’s fight against abortion and for marital morality, as well as his battle against Communism.  But truth obliges him to denounce the negative aspects of his pontificate, which amount to a heavy adverse mortgage for all his successors on the See of Peter.

Heinz-Lothar Barth scrupulously examines, with all the rigor of German philology, four particularly significant documents:

-       “Notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church” (May 1985)
-       “Official Common Statement [on Justification] by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church” (October 31, 1999)
-       “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (1994)
-       Balamand Declaration on Uniate Catholics (1993)

He also cited other positions taken by John Paul II, for example his theological ideas on the limbo of the non-baptized infants in Evangelium vitae (1995), no. 99, his recognition of the validity of a Mass without words of consecration:  the anaphora of Addaï and Mari (read the report at, his decision to allow “altar girls” (despite his initial judgment several years earlier that they were incompatible with Tradition), the proliferation of Communion in the hand, his “inculturated” liturgies during his travels throughout the world, and his reservations about the Traditional Mass and objections to the exclusive celebration of it (“quod valde dolendum est”, “which is very much to be deplored”, AAS 81/1989, 909).

Dr. Barth criticizes above all ecumenism and the interreligious prayer meetings that were inconceivable until Paul VI—see for example Evangelii nuntiandi (1975), no. 53.  Moreover he assembles various quotations by the young theologian Joseph Ratzinger which can serve as a lens through which to judge John Paul’s theology of religions.  This strange theology, which led to the interreligious meeting in Assisi (1986), is found already in his first Encyclical Redemptor hominis, which in paragraph 6 proposes interreligious prayers, and also in the Lenten retreat preached by Cardinal Wojtyla to Paul VI in 1976, in which we can read:  “All men are saved and justified by Christ.”  The author recalls that Cardinal Wojtyla was likewise one of the principal redactors of the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, a project that was the beginning and basis of a close friendship with Yves Congar, O.P., and Henri de Lubac, S.J., the two major representatives of the “new theology” that had been repressed until Pius XII.

For 15 years Dr. Barth and his wife have organized a summer Catholic university session for students in Schönenberg, in a school of the Society of St. Pius X in Germany.  They reside in Bonn, where they are parishioners of Christ the King Priory.

Heinz-Lothar Barth, Papst Johannes Paul II. Santo Subito? Ein kritischer Rückblick auf sein Pontifikat, 190 p., 14.90 €.  Latin translation: Papa Iohannes Paulus II sitne Sanctis sine mora ascribendus. Vel : De pontificatu Iohannis Pauli II quid nobis sentiendum sit., 131 p., 14.90 €.  Editions Sarto (Tel. 0049 711 89692929); (Source : FSSPX/Germany – DICI no. 233 dated April 16, 2011)

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