Benedict’s trip has been a surprise for me. To be honest, I was one of those (many) liberal Catholics who was disappointed by his election. (At the time, I told someone that when Pope Benedict XVI first stepped onto the Vatican balcony after his election, I felt like jumping off of one!) In his previous role as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, charged with serving as the church’s theological watchdog, it was his job to ensure doctrinal purity, especially among theologians. During his many years in that position, he disciplined many good scholars and writers, even some of my friends, who were doing their best to advance Catholic theology.
And Rosemary Radford Reuther, who strangely escaped the silencing she bemoans has been inflicted on Catholic scholars like Hans Kung and Thomas Reese--(question for Rosemary Radford Reuther...has this silencing actually silenced anyone? Has Hans Kung stopped publishing his works?--short answer--no--, so your contention is false), again from the New York Time Papal Blog:
When Pope Benedict XVI met with Catholic educators yesterday, he used the occasion to warn them of the limits of academic freedom in Catholic schools. “Any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the church would obstruct and even betray the university’s identity and mission,” he said.
These words should be put in the context of the Pope’s former job as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Inquisition). During the 25 years when he headed this office (1981-2005), Cardinal Ratzinger cracked down on progressive Catholic thought, closed down seminaries dedicated to educating priests in the context of the issues of poverty and injustice, and, again and again, progressive bishops were replaced with conservative ones.