Not The Usual Pope Benedict Blog Post
If you are sensitive about the Pope, stop reading now. If you continue, consider that I will, most certainly, not publish your comment.
The surprise decision of the Holy Father to step down is only a few hours old, but I am sure you have already read all the sugary stuff your liver can muster.
You are, I hope, not a reader of this blog because you want to read the sugary stuff. If you are, you will be disappointed; but frankly, you haven’t been paying much attention, either.
I have waited before starting to write this post, and have not “stopped” a blog post – and a very bitter one – written two days ago, and scheduled for this evening. I haven’t, because I do not think that simple facts of life change because of our emotional reactions to historical – and today was truly historical – events.
Again: if you are the sensitive type, stop now. If you continue, it’s your problem. Chiaro?
I am fully persuaded Pope Benedict was (allow me the past here) a deeply kind man, intentioned to do good, and sincerely loving the Church. The fact that he was not “telegenic” and “media effective” as his predecessor made it more endearing to me. He did not “kiss the earth”, did not indulge as often in populist gestures, did not spend half of his time traveling like a mad gipsy, or a candidate to the American Presidency. Even in his being less communicative, and more difficult to “sell”, he was more authentic to my eyes than his predecessor. He did not have a beautiful smile, and yet he dared to smile. He knew he wasn’t the darling of the masses, and wasn’t really bothered. He was also, as a Pope, generally more intellectually aware, and less prone to trust the wrong people blindly.
Still, he was a Pope with a deep, irreparable construction mistake: he was a product of the Second Vatican Council.
Like all his predecessors from John XXIII on, he never reigned, he merely presided. Like all of them, he made the bidding of the local Church hierarchies, not really caring of how badly they represented the ideas that he, as the Vicar of Christ, had the duty to defend. Like all of them, he was that kind of person no one in his entourage really fears or really respects. He was the equivalent of those weak teachers we all remember from school: good and well-intentioned chaps, for sure; but in the end, just unable to do their job properly.
He seemed to see his role as the man who is saddened when things go wrong, rather than the man who is responsible to care that things go right. He saw a string of his German colleagues abandon themselves to the most ludicrous heresies (yours truly has reported at times; many other times his liver did not allow him to touch the subject); he saw his Archbishops, like Vincent “Quisling” Nichols, defend “civil partnerships” without punishment. Oh wait, he did not make Nichols Cardinal! This must have been his idea of punishment.
He made people like this one bishops, and for one who comes to such dubious honors there are many who make less an ass of themselves, but aren’t really better. He made another, even more unspeakable tool of Satan like this one a Cardinal. He let this man confuse Catholics without uttering a word to rebuke him (only one of the very many examples you can find on this blog), and lastly, he let this man – an extremely fresh appointment – attempt the demolition of the Catholic culture remained in Italy on occasion of his very first speech in his new position. Again, there are extremely numerous episodes, I merely mention those who are most recent or most striking.
And how could one forget the relentless work of fostering and protection of heresy in Austria tirelessly promoted by this man? How could one forget that the Pontiff allowed his own Kumpeln to get away with simony? How can one ignore that those belonging to his personal circle of friends and proteges (not only, as mentioned, this one, but even this one) were allowed to confuse Catholics at every step without being bothered in the least?
True, this Pope was less naive than his predecessor; but as for protection of his own favourites he wasn’t shy, either. Cardinal Schoenborn, once his favourite students, allowed total freedom of heresy, from laser masses to Medjugorje to the protection of heretics. Mueller, his text editor, put on the fast lane to archbishop and fox guarding the hen-house; Gaenswein, his aide, made a bishop weeks before resigning.
Is it a surprise that he was so little respected, and so little feared, that even his own butler – a sincere and truthful man, apparently, if very naive himself - thought it necessary to defend the Pope from …. himself? Can you imagine even Paul VI treated with so little esteem?
Certainly, the Holy Father did something good. Certainly, he also made some good bishops’ appointments (I like Egan a lot, talking of a recent one who concern me from near). But really, one had the impression the man doesn’t really know what he is doing, he merely does what is told and comes back to his books.
Oh, his books. This was the first Pope I know of who not only loves theology, but keeps seeing himself as a theologian after he became Pope, and judging from his work almost a full-time one. His production since ascending to the Papacy is impressive. Did he really take his job seriously, one wonders? Was he Pope mit Leib und Seele, or did he consider the papacy an unpleasant chore, taking refuge in his beloved theology as soon as he could? But whilst he wrote his books, devoting to them consistent and precious energies – particularly at his age – that should have been employed in … being Pope (doing things like paying attention to whom you appoint as bishop, for example; or taking the time to rein in your unruly Cardinals; or purging a couple of religious orders among the very worst; or other unpleasant things like that) his own clergy devastated the body of Christ in France, in Spain, in England, recently even in Italy. He was, literally, writing whilst Rome burns.
He will, though, be remembered – hopefully for him – chiefly for Summorum Pontificum; which, really, not only defined but epitomised his papacy. Afraid of his own courage, or simply afraid of being Pope, or perhaps never wanting Summorum Pontificum to be really effective in the first place – which I suspect – he started the work and forgot to implement it, a bit like those people so intent in imagining their own future company they never start one. It is now five and a half years and the implementation of Summorum Pontificum is a joke if we want to be gentle, and stable or going backwards in the last two-three years. His own bishops weren’t impressed in the least at the measure, and started to boycott it – and him – with a zeal one wish they would put in the defense of Catholic values. This they did either because they got signals the Pope wasn’t interested in the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, or because they just didn’t care what the Pope did or wanted; see the above mentioned teacher.
If your own butler doesn’t respect or fear you, how will your own archbishops?
The archbishops knew their “client”, and profited from his weakness, indecisiveness and sheer hierarchical incompetence – you can say of Pope Benedict what you want, but he wasn’t born a leader of men – for all it was worth. When – in a rare gust of courage – the Holy Father dared to appoint Monsignor Wagner as bishop (auxiliary, if memory serves) of Linz, the Austrian church revolted. Promptly, the Pope caved in. At that point, it was clear who is (not) in power.
I will, today, renounce to describe you some less savoury aspects of the Pope’s personality; aspects about which I have written, but do not think it appropriate to write today. It has to do, mostly, with the way the SSPX was treated, but again I will not write about this today.
The kindest thing that can be said of Pope Benedict is that he is a kind, gentle man of studies, who failed – yes, failed, and failed badly; look around you, with homosexuals advancing everywhere under his watch, and nothing near the hell on earth he should be making for every elected politician – when he had to really rule people, really take decisions, and run a complex organisation like the Church. He could simply not do it, and preferred to take refuge in his books and studies instead, hoping to be an halfway functioning “Vatican II” Pope and do what he could with the character and inclination God had given him. It didn’t work out.
But I really do not think this is the whole truth. The whole truth is that Benedict has failed because he is a Pope of Vatican II, and was destined to fail like all the Popes of Vatican II were destined, are destined, and always will be destined to fail.
In the simple world I live in, a papacy is not measured by the number of books one has written; or by the increase in Kirchensteuer-money; or by the crowds waiting for one at the airport (look at the “triumphal” England visit; two years later we are talking of so-called same-sex marriage, and most Catholics just don’t give a fig). The way I see it, a papacy is measured by the number of brave priests and bishops thundering against the perversions and madness of our times; by the number of Cardinals bravely promoting the faith in the face of open dissent, hostility, hatred, or loss of income; by the number of vocations, the activity in the seminaries, the assertiveness of religious orders truly devoted to Christ, and the constant defiance of secular thinking at all levels.
Nothing of this, I am afraid to say, was to be seen during Pope Benedict’s pontificate. Like his predecessors, meowing was the order of the day, whilst rapacious bishops and cardinals continued to rape the Bride of Christ every day. All this has happened under his watch, and of all this he is responsible. Then if one is in charge, he is also responsible.
And here I come to the last aspect, in which I pay to this Pope a last compliment among the not many I have paid him from this minuscule blog.
All the Popes of Vatican II are failures – bar JP I of course; probably for lack of time – but Pope Benedict has the immense merit of being the first one who has realised it and has drawn the consequences.
Obviously, he saw the great offensive Satan is launching all over the Western world. Obviously, he saw his sheer inadequacy at being a match for such an attack. Perhaps, incidents like the one with Paglia – a man of colossal incompetence and sheer stupidity and lack of faith, appointed by him, and mocked by the entire thinking Catholic planet at his very first public utterance in his new role – has persuaded him that he really wasn’t even able to make mediocre choices anymore, and from now on he would have become worse and worse in his appointments as his ability to select the right (erm, less wrong) people weakens with age.
The decision the Pope has made public today is – with Summorum Pontificum – the most important and most beautiful of his career, and I have frankly – and again, with the exception of Summorum Pontificum – never liked him as I like him today, or prayed for the health of his soul like I did today, because it takes an awful lot of guts to have the courage to admit one can’t do the job; particularly then, when one is the kind of person who was never noticed for his guts. I so wish Paul VI had done the same, and I am sure many of my readers would today think so much more of him if he had done so.
I do not think one serves the Church by serving on your plate a ton of molasses on a day like this. If you think so you have wasted your time, and you are reading the wrong blog.
We are living our Dunkirk, and we cannot go on with the Neville Chamberlains of this world, no matter how well-intentioned or how much fond of writing they are.
We need a Churchill now, and we need it fast.
Dear Lord, please, please give us a strong Pope.
Posted on February 11, 2013, in Catholicism and tagged Archbishop Paglia, Cardinal Schoenborn, Conservative Catholic, conservative catholicism, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict's resignation. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.