A moral theologian at Marquette University who claims to be a Christian, but doesn’t hold the very basic Christian beliefs, recounts an encounter with then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986. Daniel Maguire was in Rome with his young son, encountered the cardinal in St. Peter’s Square and took a photo.

Maguire loves telling the story about meeting Ratzinger. He and Tom - who is now 29 and a Muslim who is raising a family and studying in Cairo - had just seen the pope in the square. Suddenly there was Ratzinger.

Maguire asked if he could snap a photo of him with Tom. “But of course,” Ratzinger replied in English. Then he asked Maguire if he was enjoying his pilgrimage to Rome.

“Oh, yes,” Maguire responded, “especially because I’m a Catholic theologian.”

The smile ran from Ratzinger’s face. Considering this layperson in front of him, he asked, “A theologian?”

“Yes, my name is Daniel Maguire.”

“What?!” Ratzinger sputtered. “You are Daniel Maguire?” He glared at Maguire, possibly recalling the name from the high-profile effort Maguire led with another priest to get Catholics to ignore the 1968 encyclical from Pope Paul VI condemning the use of birth control.

I’m skeptical that it took place like this. Did the cardinal really know Maguire by name? Did he frown at the thought of a lay theologian?

Notice the relevant point about Maguire’s son. Larry, who sent the link to this to me, comments: “Itcastic sneer at the new Pope:

Rock-solid truth as professed by religious conservatives is overrated, he believes. It’s grounded in fear, especially the fear that liberalism will lead to society’s disintegration.

“The truth is always something we’re working toward. Our grasp on it can be improved,” Maguire said.

Try telling that to the holy man in the photo.