Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Kind of Pope Will Benedict Be?

The current Pope was recently in the United States on an official visit. I had hoped to post this article before he arrived, but such is life. I want to take this opportunity to illustrate the effects of transits on a natal chart.

Fortunately, we have his birth data. He was born Joseph Ratzinger in Marktl, Germany on April 16, 1927 at 4:15 am. If you have some astrological software you can print out your own chart to follow along. Otherwise, the data yields a chart with 19 degrees Pisces rising and 25 degrees Sagittarius on the Midheaven. The first house is quite crowded with Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Sun and Chiron all occupying that sector. Venus at 29 Taurus is in the 2nd House, and Mars, North Node, and Pluto in the 4th House. Neptune in Leo is in the sixth, and the Moon in Libra is in the seventh, with Saturn high in the ninth in Sag.

The most striking thing about the chart is the Jupiter-Mercury conjunction in late Pisces, plus Uranus in the first degree of Aries. Jupiter is the natural ruler of Sag and ninth-house matters, which include publishing, higher education, religion and law. With Sag in the tenth house of career, it is interesting that Ratzinger has pursued a career that has spanned all four areas.

We will get to more about his career arc in a moment, but first let me show a couple more aspects. Another prominent item is the Mercury (with Uranus) square Mars in Gemini. This is a person who loves to argue, sometimes someone who flies off the handle over little things. But with a trained intellect, this can be channeled into a person who is skilled in the art of debate, which is really arguing but with rules. The Mars energy is energetic and vociferous in stating the rightness of his position, and is no doubt the driver behind his nickname, “God’s Rottweiler”.
His Moon at 14 Libra in the seventh House squares his Pluto at 13 Cancer. This angular placement in cardinal signs makes for a very energetic and dynamic personality. His is both intensely emotional and deeply analytical. When set to a task, he acts like a good detective in gathering his data and then breaking it down to analyze it.

As we said, Jupiter rules religion, and so it was very convenient for us astrologers that he chose to enter the priesthood and so validate that traditional assigning of that area to that planet. He was ordained in Germany on June 29, 1951. Many of these dates, by the way, were found in Wikipedia and other places on the internet, so that is always a good place to start if researching a famous person. By 1959, he also entered higher education as a career, when he became a professor in Bonn, then in Munster, then in Tubingen. In 1972 he also founded a theological journal called ‘Communio’ -- all of these activities are also Jupiter-ruled.

In March, 1977, Ratzinger was named archbishop, and in June was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II. This period is influenced by the transit of Jupiter over his natal Venus in Taurus. So his chart ruler, Jupiter -- on his ascendant at birth, in the traditional sign it ruled, Pisces, transits over the lesser benefic, Venus in the second house, bringing a type of gift and lifts him to another level of influence. We might note also, that Pope John Paul II was a native Taurus, so the Venus also points to the source of his good fortune. In the same period, Ratzinger also benefited from Mars trining natal Mars and his North Node (significant growth towards one’s destiny) AND Saturn enters his sixth house (denoting a period of greater responsibility and hard work in his job).

In late November 1981, the next click of the celestial gears is heard when Ratzinger was named by John Paul II to head the organization that he has become most identified with, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This occurred almost exactly when transiting Saturn conjuncted his natal Moon in Libra in the seventh house. This appointment brought him much greater prominence, thrust him into the public eye -- the Moon also denotes the public, and the placement above the horizon puts him in a very public life. The appointment gave full vent to his talents as a vociferous and no-nonsense ‘enforcer’ of canonical law. He muzzled those who did not toe the ‘party line’ and ventured rather too far afield in the speculative or political arenas. Among those who were affected were: some outspoken liberation theologians in Latin America (condemning liberation theology twice in, 1984 and 1986), Leonardo Boff was suspended, while others were reputedly reduced to silence. Eleven years after his death, the writings of Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello were the subject of a "notification". U.S. Father Charles Curran, who questioned church teaching against artificial birth control, was removed from his teaching position at The Catholic University of America in Washington in 1987. Recently, Pope Benedict made a similar judgment about Jesuit Father Roger Haight, who was banned from teaching Catholic theology over his book touching on the divinity and salvific mediation of Jesus.
Now you know why he was called “God’s Rottweiler”.

But we continue. Transiting Saturn continued to loop the zodiac, till it entered Cancer in June 2003. (Remember his North Node is at 0 degree Cancer and his Pluto at 13 degrees Cancer.)I believe that it was about that time that most analysts felt he was most likely to succeed John Paul II, whose health was seriously deteriorating with the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Ratzinger was not elected till April 2005, and by that time Saturn, the bestower of honors and high rank (if you have been working hard and diligently) was past an exact conjunction to those natal placements. But it was trine his natal Jupiter in Pisces -- Jupiter, again! Transiting Jupiter was also close to his natal Moon (squaring his natal Pluto also), a transiting North Node was at 22 Aries near his Sun, transiting Sun on his Mercury -- so you can see that the sentiments of the College of Cardinal were most likely to swing his way.

A chart for the date of his election, April 19, 2005, has 5 degrees Libra rising with Jupiter at 11 degrees, and Saturn high at 21 degrees Cancer, for those who want to reconstruct a chart for that event. Let me add that Pluto also figures in here as an influence when death is a necessary event for other things to happen; ie a new Pope cannot be named till the previous one dies. The same is true in cases of royal ascension, or in matters of estates and wills.

There has been much speculation over how long Pope Benedict will serve. And I regret that I cannot offer too much to resolve that point. He has a natal Sun trine Neptune which often denotes a long life, even if the person has to conserve his or her energies. But he has already reached his eighties, and has fulfilled that potential in his chart. The election chart’s ruler, Venus, is in Taurus, a fixed sign -- and this seems to point to him being in office a number of years, probably at least five, possibly seven when a progressed Venus will aspect the chart Jupiter.
Only time will tell just how many years Pope Benedict will have the opportunity to affect the Catholic Church’s direction, but I feel it is clear from the many cardinal planets, that he will be a surprisingly active. Maybe he feels the years slipping away from him, but he will not let any grass grow under his feet while in office. He feels there is so much in his in-box, and will push himself to clear as much as possible while he can.

Oh, a trivia note: the meeting between Pope Benedict and George W Bush was the 25th between a pope and president. There have been five pontiffs and 11 American leaders involved.

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