Monday, February 11, 2013

BYE-BYE, POPE BENEDICT

 
Pope Benedict XVI's abrupt resignation on Monday heralds the end of a sad and storm-tossed seven-year papacy.

The former Joseph Ratzinger came to the highest office in the Roman Catholic church with a reputation as a challenging, conservative intellectual. But the messages he sought to convey were all but drowned out, first by a string of controversies that were largely of his making, and subsequently by the outcry – particularly in Europe – over sexual abuse of young people by Catholic clerics.
So far as I can remember, child abuse and cover-up in the Roman Catholic Church were first revealed in south Louisiana even earlier than the exposure in the Archdiocese of Boston, but the national media gave the story little attention. I suppose the newspeople thought the abuse was confined to the backward crazies in the Dioceses of Lafayette and Houma/Thibodaux in Louisiana. I left the church, not only due to the many instances of child abuse, but especially because of the cover-up. If the matter of child abuse had been handled properly from the beginning, the RCC would have saved itself a load of grief.  The Diocese of Houma/Thibodaux is small, and I knew too much about the cover-up and paying victims to keep silent be able to stay in the church in good conscience.  Since then, I have not looked back, for if I had not left in 1996, the more recent actions and words of the leadership of the RCC would have caused me to make my departure many times over.

Having said that, I am shocked at the resignation. John Paul II carried on long past the time he should have stepped down, and I thought Benedict would do the same.  Popes don't resign; it's been a long, long time - 600 years - since a pope did so.

One of Benedict's goals was to re-evangelize Europe.  We see how well that worked out.  Since the two popes, John Paul II and Benedict, served respectively for 27 and 7 years, each had many opportunities to appoint cardinals of the conservative persuasion, therefore I do not expect the next pope will be a flaming liberal.  In fact, if the successor turns out to be a moderate, I will be greatly surprised.  But then, God often surprises us, so we shall see.

Update from MuckRack: The journalist who scooped all the reporters on the story, Giovanna Chirri, a reporter for Italy's ANSA news agency, heard the pope's announcement of his resignation in Latin and understood what he said, which shows that Latin is not a completely dead language.

35 comments:

  1. I saw speculation on FB today that the sudden departure was down to some huge scandal brewing. That cheered me up but it's possibly not true - he is getting on, after all. Even so, he never struck me as the sort of personality who would step down, and it's odd there has been absolutely no hint of it whatsoever. Or was it? Maybe I just overestimate the likelihood of leaks from the Vatican.

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    1. Cathy, I hate to say it, but I would not be surprised if a scandal came to light. I've seen the speculation, too, but I thought I should not write about it until I know more.

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    2. While a scandal is nothing new, the Vatican's acknowledgment of one would be entirely novel, so v much doubt it.

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    3. Or it may be incipient dementia, or he may just be tired and want to get out of the game, having accomplished what he wanted to (stack the College of Cardinals to continue to undo Vatican II).

      He claims he no longer has the physical and mental strength to carry on the office, but I never knew those to be qualifications.

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    4. Maybe the scandal is the one we already know about...child abuse and cover-up. I can understand Benedict being tired at the age of 85.

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  2. Why don't they make Gorgeous George Pope, anyway? ... I know he's probably not qualified but he is good-looking.

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    1. Do I think he's good-looking? I thought there were few arguments about that? ... Tastes vary, of course.

      I see on Facebook that others have been making the same point :)

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    2. No Cathy, I spoke of making Georg pope. To me, Georg is a pleasant-looking man, but not exceptionally good-looking.

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  3. Perhaps Pope Benedict has been caught with his hand in the jar, as it were, trying to steal the cookies? ... Ahem. :)

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  4. Enjoyed a post on Doug's facebook "I bet they found that missing page of his resume. From the '30's". Seriously though, in departing he has set a good, much-needed precedent for papal abdication. Modern medicine - particularly modern medicine for the rich and famous - can keep the near-vegetative alive, if not particularly kicking, way longer that would have been the case even fifty or sixty years ago. Whoever his successor is to be, you know that he will be charismatic, energetic and reactionary.

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    1. Lapin, I agree that Benedict sets a good precedent by his resignation. As a Facebook friend pointed out, the man is not the office, and the resignation makes this point explicit. John Paul II seemed to glory in the personality cult which surrounded him; to his credit, Benedict has not.

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  5. I agree that this sets a good precedent. I think JP2 should have stepped down about 10 years before he died. I don't think this papal transition will change much of anything else.

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    1. JPII was a pathetic figure as he tried to continue with his duties beyond his capacity. I don't see huge change coming with a new pope. I'm hearing that the next choice may be from Africa, which is hardly a breeding ground for liberal cardinals.

      Any baptized person can be elected pope, but none but a cardinal has been elected since the 14th century. The Guardian has a list of possible candidates.

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  6. Okay, questions: what do we call him after the retirement? His Holiness Emeritas? The news said he would be staying at the Vatican (now that's a bizarre choice - imagine the new Pope trying to be the new guy in charge with that shadow looming over tea and toast), so becoming crazy Uncle Joe wandering about the back halls muttering about disobedient nuns? Surely the RCC can find a spot for him in one of their better communities for exhausted priests. Then, what's next, term limits? Good that he recognizes that mental and physical health are both necessary to lead a challenging and vibrant church, not just a delusion of infallibility, but if the job is again no longer for life (short of some actual crime or coup de mitre), how are the blindly faithful to be blindly led? Well, I guess we'll just have to wait for the next intriguing installment of the story.

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    1. Marthe, I only ever call the pope His Holiness in irony. Not that it's for me to say who's holy and who's not. Personally, I could not keep a straight face if someone addressed me in that manner, but to the relief of everyone, including me, I am not the pope. It will be interesting to see how this drama plays out.

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    2. I don't imagine Benedict CAN leave the Vatican without being subject to criminal and civil processes can he? Once he's no longer head of state he's not immune anymore. Isn't that why Cardinal Lawless is holed up there?

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    3. Wade, I don't know about the legalities of travel involved once Benedict steps down. I've not heard of Cardinal Law traveling outside the Vatican, but it's possible he has.

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    4. Okay, here's a plan everybody: from now on we address our gracious hostess as Your Miminess ... because there simply can't be too much laughter in her day ... just sayin' ... and I bet there wouldn't be any lightning strikes on her house.

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    5. Marthe, I'd have to think about that and work out the essence of Miminess. :-)

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  7. Benedict does have one endearing quality. He is very fond of cats. This proves there is something good in everyone.

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    1. whiteycat, that surely speaks well of the pope.

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  8. Maybe he and Rowan are going to settle down and open a nice b and b somewhere?

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    1. Great idea, Mark. The two seemed to get on well despite the ordinariate.

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    2. The pope may find it difficult to adapt to family life after all these years. Of course, they could have separate apartments.

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    3. Not sure Mrs Rowan would like that arrangement.

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    4. Nor am I, Cathy. And the children?

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    5. Maybe, like Trollope's Mrs Proudie, she has chafed for many years from the harsh fact that a bishop's wife, unlike the wives of all other peers, has no title of her own. Though now, of course - finally - she's Lady Mumbles, if I'm not mistooken.

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    6. Would she be Lady Williams of Oystermouth?

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    1. I took a guess. You're the one who knows English titles. I'm proud if I got it right.

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