Daily Archives: August 22, 2013
A certain view of Pope Benedict’s resignation goes along the lines of the Pontiff Emeritus having resigned as a consequence of “pressures”, or even having been “forced” to resign. In this second case, his successor would not be the legitimate… bishop of Rome.
I do not think these theories have any solid fundament in reality. Allow me to explain why.
A Pope, like every powerful man, is under pressure all the time. Unavoidably, he – and they – will be surrounded by people having different ideas about the course he should take on this or that matter; some of them will be in good faith, and other won’t. It’s all par for the course.
What is not par for the course is a Pope that suddenly begins to do stupid things just because he is put under “pressure” to do so. Pope Ratzinger had a decade-long experience of positions of power; nothing, absolutely nothing of the office life of a powerful man could have been unknown to him. Powerful people know how it works. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be powerful.
The idea of a Ratzinger just deciding that the time has arrived to think with other people’s head, and do what he thinks wrong because others say so, is just untenable and, I add, disrespectful of the former Pontiff, seen as a Romulus Augustulus rather than a true Prince of the Church.
Be it as it may, it might in all cases never be denied that a man who chooses to bend to exterior pressure is himself responsible for his behaviour. Ubi honor, Ibi onus. There is no way Pope Ratzinger might have taken such a decision without bearing all its responsibility. So we are at square one.
Even more absurd is the second hypothesis: that the Pope was “forced”. How do you “force” a Pope to do something he does not want to do? Is our esteem for Benedict so low that we consider him able to bend to, say, the threat of physical violence, or blackmail? What fear of death may a man of 83 have, a Pope to boot? And who on earth would be in a position to threaten or blackmail him without being immediately arrested? Again, this theory is, when reflected upon, even more offensive for the Pontiff Emeritus, who is then seen as having fears for his life, open to blackmail, and outright cowardly. It makes the same sense as to imagine that extraterrestrials would have visited the Pope and said to him either he resigns or they will invade and destroy the Earth in order to devote it to the cultivation of their favourite mushrooms.
No, it doesn’t make sense. What also does not make sense are these equilibrist’s exercises by which every time the Pontiff does something we do not approve of, the reason for it must be looked elsewhere: typically, the culprits are chosen among the “wolves”, as if a Pope could not send all of them to Uganda at three hours’ notice, and as if there were only one of them who is allowed to exert influence on him for even thirty second without his consent.
In addition, this second theory hides a terrible menace to Catholicism: ad libitum Sedevacantism.
If every time we have a bad Pope we start to theorise that the former Pope might have been “forced” to resign (or have been poisoned, or the like) and therefore the current Pope not validly elected, or the result of murderous scheming, we will create an army of Sunday Sedevacantists who think they can decide, by every Pontificate, whether it is a legitimate one or the Sea is vacant. This in itself is a worse danger than every Papal resignation, and can cause immense damage by weakening the dignity and authority of the Papacy.
If I think that I can freely decide whether the Pope is Pope (say, because I have become persuaded the last Pope was illicitly disposed of), it is fair to say I am the last one who can call himself Catholic.
My suggestion is that we leave the conspiracy fantasies where they belong: to the old cranks, the Sunday Novelists and the Vodka Vaticanists – of whom there will never be any scarcity – and start to respect the Papacy, the Popes and common sense.
Benedict “forced” to resign? Seriously, the “extraterrestrial” theory makes more sense.
We live in terrible times for a Catholic; a time in which not only the… Bishop of Rome is very bad (this has often happened in the past, as I will never tire to point out), but the news of how bad he is goes around the world in minutes. We are, therefore, subject to challenges our ancestors did not have. One of the results of this disgraceful Papacy will be to undermine the prestige of the office, and the devil will try to use this to persuade the faithful that the Church is not the Church, or the Pope is not the Pope, or both.
We, who are good and well instructed Caholics, react to such a temptation. We stay faithful to the Only Church as we bemoan Her miserable state, and we stay faithful to the… Bishop of Rome and to the Papacy he does not even want to mention, because as good Catholics we side with the Papacy even when the Pope is an utter disgrace.
Beware the temptation of escaping the drama that is unfolding under our eyes by fleeing to a fantasy world made of non-popes, of “poping wolves”, or of outlandish theories of Vatican Fiction. The reality is bad enough. It is a Cross we are called to carry. Let’s carry it denouncing every falsehood and scandal, but staying faithful to the institutions of the Church and the Papacy.
Don’t believe the rumours. Believe the facts.
The fact is that the Pontiff Emeritus has said that he did not have the strength, both spiritual and physical, to continue his job as Pope. That’s what he said.
Now there are third-hand, unnamed rumours according to which Benedict would have had a mystical experience (actually many months long; heavy stuff, then…) at the end of which he felt inspired to live a life totally dedicated to prayer.
This already strange news – from, let us say it again, an unnamed source – is made even stranger by the other follow-up rumour, that Benedict would have recognised even more, after “witnessing the charisma” of Francis, that his stepping down was “the will of God”.
God’s will doesn’t change like the one of a sixteen year old girl, so it remains to be explained how Benedict would justify saying “my successor does all the contrary of what I do, but he has “charisma”, so it must be the will of God that he is now the Pope”. It does not make sense from a purely logical point of view, but it makes even less sense if you think Popes are elected at God’s bidding (they aren’t: the Pope is elected by those chaps in red called the Cardinals. Don’t blame God for the Cardinals’ mistakes, irreligious attitude, cowardice, corruption or outright criminal attitude).
If God positively decides who becomes Pope, than this must be a very strange God, positively imposing several dozens of appallingly secular or outright criminal people to His own flock. He would also be as fickle as the above mentioned girl, having decided in 2005 for Ratzinger against Bergoglio and now saying “on second thoughts, Joseph, that in 2005 might have been, like, kinda mistake. I’d rather have the other chap. Would you mind to step down? Please?”.
If you ask me, this is uncontrolled bollocks spread by those who want to give Francis the quality seal “officially endorsed by the Holy Ghost”.
Don’t believe the rumours.
When, and only when, Benedict says publicly that Francis is the man hand picked by the Holy Ghost to be Pope, call a doctor and don’t believe a word anymore of what he says; then in that case it would be clear the good man has clearly gone the sad way of John Paul II; gone, in fact, to the point of insulting the Holy Ghost and the Papacy at the same time. A Koran-kissing Pope, Mk II.
Heavens, can it really be that we live in such stupid times that basic Truth can be undermined by this kind of third-rate bollocks by hearsay? Can it truly be that there are people not only simple enough to think God wanted (as opposed to “allowed”) that the likes of Benedict IX and Leo X, of Liberius and John XXII, and of many others, become Pope, but even that in doing so God would not be able to let even eight years pass without radically, erm, changing His mind?
Such a hypothetical God wouldn’t be believable in a kindergarten, but it must be obviously just the ticket of the V II “revolution” crowd. If the narrative of the “hand picked by the Holy Ghost” were to swallowed by the faithful, we would have a new infallible magisterium, but endowed with a, erm, more recent and “fresher” infallibility than the original one! “Hey, Francis was the man picked by the Holy Ghost with his own hands! How can every blasphemy, heresy or stupid novelty he says not be the new will of God?”.
God is immutable. God never changes His mind, or His rules. If He did, He wouldn’t be God, because the very idea of mutation, of change, of transition is in contradiction with the idea of total, omnipotent perfection that must perforce be an essential element of God. If it is God, it does not change His mind. Whatever changes his mind, can never be God.
If anyone says or implies God “changes his mind” tell him to wash his mouth, and that he deserves to be slapped.
Don’t believe the bollocks by hearsay.