Jojo Rabbit, Papal Edition
If you have not seen Jojo Rabbit, I suggest that you find a way to do it. I don’t give any guarantee of 100% Catholic content; but what I guarantee, is that you will see a nice, funny, deep, even tender movie about a boy of the Hitlerjugend, towards the end of WW II, who discovers love just as life kicks him brutally in the balls, forcing him to grow out of his childish fantasies towards, hopefully, the life of a balanced, sensible adult.
Jojo, the young protagonist, is a bright young boy of (if memory serves) ten, who has an “imaginary friend” in the person of his number one hero, Adolf Hitler.
The imaginary friend is not, however, the real Hitler. It is the Hitler seen, imagined, willed by the young Jojo. Jojo really, really likes Hitler, and he builds for himself a Hitler who is his best friend and confidant; who is childish and at times funny, but tries to help the child as best as .. a child can.
Life and love, and the pain both bring, will help young Jojo to grow out of his imaginary friend, and start on his way to manhood, with all the scars it entails.
Why do I mention Jojo Rabbit? Because I think that, just as Jojo had his imaginary Hitler, many a (good intentioned) Catholic has his own imaginary Benedict.
Like Jojo’s Adolf, Benedict is pretty much the best friend of the faithful traumatised from a scandalous Francis. Therefore, they take refuge in this imaginary friend and attribute to him all the virtues that are necessary to make them sleep at night.
Jojo’s Benedict, like Jojo’s Adolf, can do no wrong. If he talks rubbish, it’s evil Gaenswein who makes him talk that way. If he repeats with all the energy of his many years that there is only one Pope, it’s the Corriere that created a wrong story out of nothing. If Benedict defends Francis, it must have been, I don’t know, the Russians?
I suggest to those faithful that they abandon their imaginary friend or, better said, that they – like Jojo – grow out of it. Same as for Jojo, this growing will not be without pain, as it will require the sober acknowledgment that Benedict always was a lousy Pope, and always was an even lousier Emeritus. It also entails the very painful admission that Francis is Pope, and a scoundrel at the same time. Yes, it can happen. Yes, it has happened many times before. Yes, this time is worse. Yes, V II is also without precedent, and it therefore makes sense – and I think it conforms to Divine Justice – that a rebellion without precedent should lead to a mess without precedent. This is the only way the generations past ours, when all this madness has finished, recognise both the madness and the punishment, and keep memory of the unspeakable arrogance of their ancestors, never to be repeated again.
Like Jojo’s Hitler, Jojo’s Benedict is a very improbable imaginary friend.
He is, clearly, non existent.
Embrace reality with all its suffering, like Jojo did.
You are all too old for an imaginary friend.