Sunday, April 18, 2010

God Save the Pope

Tomorrow we shall mark five years since the accession of Joseph Ratzinger to the See of St. Peter as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Even had he never been elected, his stellar career in service of God, the Church, and the faithful would have proven him one of the most remarkable churchmen of the past century, from young theologian and luminary of the council to leader of the reaction against the postconciliar radicals to Cardinal-Archbishop of Munich to Prefect of the CDF, close friend and confidant of John Paul II, and seemingly at times "auxiliary pope," if such a thing existed.

Then come the events of March and April 2005: while the long-serving and much-beloved John Paul II faces his eternity, then-Cardinal Ratzinger speaks of the "filth" in the Church, so conveniently forgotten today. Then John Paul dies, and Ratzinger gives the homily at his funeral Mass to likely the largest assembly of global notables ever. After that, before the conclave that would elect him, he delivered his memorable address regarding the "dictatorship of relativism."

I recall that during those few weeks I was reading Introduction to Christianity, as part of the theological scholarship I was then undertaking. Quite impressed, I resolved to write to the author after a new pope had been elected and installed, thinking that he would likely retire to Bavaria. Then came the white smoke and the habemus papam. It was a champagne and cigar night for me.

In this day, however, the disgusting vituperation of much of the press against the Holy Father smacks of the worst of Know-Nothingism. Agitated rabble-rousers speak of a "leering old villain in a frock," painting the Vicar of Christ as an enabler of perverted priests and criminal manager-type bishops who cover their tracks. Tell that to Marcial Maciel.

Of course, all the critics of the Pope and the Church have to offer is the tyranny of hopelessness, lies, materialism, and utilitarianism. Facts don't seem to matter in their new moral panic, their secular inquisition, more vindictive and prejudiced than any tribunal ever convened under ecclesiastical auspices. Thus, against the bitter screeds of these malcontents, I raise my voice, solitary though it may be, in defence of Pope Benedict XVI, a truly humane and thoughtful man, against today's answer to Bastille-stormers.

Therefore, happy anniversary, Holy Father. Run not for fear of the wolves, for upon the Rock whose see you hold, the Lord established His Church, and promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I, for one, shall stand with you, even if it may mean my death. Accept today the gift that I offer within this spiritual bouquet.

I exhort you all, dear readers, offer your gift of prayer to the Pontiff here.

Dieu le Roy!
Viva il Papa!


  1. Question- do you think that his service to God (and here I admit that though I lack faith, it is important to this debate to accept the existence of the Catholic deity as a given) excuses the allegations made against him? I understand that they are only allegations as yet, but if it were true that Ratzinger covered up sexual abuse, how does that reconcile with your flattering portrait?
    Awaiting your reply.

  2. I'm not sure what you are precisely asking, Eoin; allegations have been made against the pope, and an analysis of the facts at hand exonerate him from any wilful wrongdoing. Would that were so for all our bishops and curialists! However, are you asking what I would think if they were true?

    Well, I'll answer that question anyway. If I had any reason to believe that the Pope was in any way abetting or was in any way part of the systemic corruption that exists in so many parts of the Church, I'd not have published what you call this "flattering portrait." Nor would I have published anything defamatory. If anything, I'd have published a call to pray for the Pope. But likely I'd not even have published that.

    I wrote and posted this because it is clear to me that not only did His Holiness do no wrong, but indeed he has been the foremost advocate against the corrupt and worldly culture among Catholic clergy and faithful alike that led to this problem in the first place. Had he been part of the problem, and not part of the solution, I'd not have dedicated one of my very occasional posts to this fact.

  3. I think my question was exactly that, what you would think. I disagree as to whether he did wrong, but we can accept diverging on this as there is no proof either way. That being said, the sex abuse is a major problem for the Catholic Church, and needs to be aggressively addressed by the church.

  4. Although he did just take responsibility for the abuse as the head of the Church, so that's one thing.