Monday, February 18, 2013

The suspicious nature of Benedict's resignation.

I know we're not supposed to "go there," but for the sake of those 'mature' Catholics I think we should not be caught off guard if dirty details emerge down the road surrounding Pope Benedict's resignation. The act of a Pope abdicating does not have precedent in the sense most people think (see this post on the excellent blog Unam Sanctam Catholicam), since mere old age has never ever been the conditions for a Pope stepping down. Rather, something more was (likely) involved. I'm not talking about conspiracy, but rather about seeing the bigger picture. Benedict often speaks in subtle ways, which isn't always helpful, when he's trying to get a bigger message across. For example, some astute individuals have recalled that when Benedict was first elected, he made some 'cryptic' references in his speech to the effect of, "pray brethren that I may not flee for fear of the wolves." It would be naive to suggest he was speaking of the Devil and demons in a generic sense. Most likely, this was speaking about bishops will ill motives who are in the Vatican who wish to undermine the Faith and attack anyone who stands up for the Truth. 

Just recall some of the dirty laundry that was made public the last few years, and from that just imagine how much more dirty laundry there is that the Pope must keep bottled up. Over the last few years, we've seen the effects of the sex abuse scandal rocking the church's credibility, message, and finances. This is no small thing, especially when the HomoHeresy is still in full force (see this post on the excellent blog Rorate Caeli), with many confused and corrupt theologians, priests, and bishops trying to normalize homosexuality and undermine all Catholic morality. Once a priest or bishop is enslaved by sexual sins, particularly homosexuality, all loyalty to the Faith pretty much disappears, as we saw in the case of the Milwaukee Wisconsin bishop a few years ago who was exposed for having and paying off a gay lover. This coincided with this bishop doing everything he could to undermine Church teaching. Imagine what even a few bishops and cardinals who are enslaved by greed and sexual vice could do to undermine and ruin the health of a Pope. To make matters even worse, imagine the Pope having to be involved in some way in these problems. I talked to one guy who said when Benedict was Cardinal Ratzinger, he was at the highest level of dealing with the abuse cases such that all sex abuse cases came to his desk. This means that, in some way, Ratzinger has had to make tough decisions, including possible pay outs and possible reassignments of abusers. Now with Cardinal Mahoney being exposed just last week for sex abuse cover ups, we clearly are not finished with this mess until at least until the end of this decade when the rest of those bishops retire. The guy I talked to said Benedict could be stepping down to get out of the spotlight should any further dirty laundry come out.

Also recall the VatiLeaks scandal where the Pope's butler was stealing and publishing the Pope's personal thoughts. Or what about the Pope's Motu Proprio 'freeing' the Traditional Latin Mass being effectively ignored and attack by most bishops? Even today, despite the Pope's express teachings that any priest can say the Latin Mass without having to ask their bishop, most bishops will persecute any priest in their diocese who dares to offer the Traditional Latin Mass. Some bishops, especially in France and Germany, openly refused to follow the Pope's orders. And don't forget the scandals that rocked the SSPX talks, which always came about at just the right time to throw a wrench in the talks. 

On a somewhat different note, there are the mixed messages given by His Holiness. For example, since when does a Pope write books while he's supposed to be Shepherding the flock? Maybe other Pope's have done so, but I doubt it, and I don't see any good reason for it. What this does is send mixed messages by the Pope acting as a "private theologian" which he makes clear is just his personal opinions in his Jesus of Nazareth trilogy while simultaneously being Pope. And what about Assisi III, where the Pope was present in a scandalous mixed-prayer ceremony of pagan religions that even scandalized many mainstream Catholic bloggers who never dared criticize the Pope. That absolutely should not have happened. Or what about all his repeated claims that we must remain firm in implementing the teachings the Second Vatican Council while as Cardinal Ratzinger he admitted candidly in his writings the state of the Church and the Mass are in shambles? Interestingly, we're now in the age where more and more Catholics are admitting that the Second Vatican Council did more harm than good. Just last week the Pope came out publicly with comments that swept the blogosphere saying that the Council has been misrepresented this whole time and that the secular media driven "Spirit of Vatican II" has been causing havoc worse than ever seen in history. But the problem with the "Spirit of Vatican II" answer is that the Council itself got the ball rolling on various fronts, so it's inaccurate and even flat out erroneous to say it was the "Spirit of VII" and not the Council itself. Even the mainstream and well respected Catholic News Service had an excellent interview last month with an orthodox Bishop talk about how the Second Vatican Council's document on religious liberty was more of a pipe-dream and not a viable document. And Ignatius Insight, another respected mainstream news outlet, recently came out with an article showing that Vatican II never mentioned nor condemned Communism, which was one of the most evil threats to Christianity of the time. That's quite astonishing of an "omission," considering Communism was the leading cause of atheism and caused more harm than anything else that century.

Don't get me wrong, Pope Benedict has done a lot of good, most notably the Motu Proprio 'freeing' the Traditional Latin Mass, the Motu Proprio removing the 'option' to formally renounce your faith and thus reaffirming "once Catholic, always Catholic," the Compendium of the Catechism, removing the SSPX excommunications, and sacking various bad guys (e.g. Piero Marini, who made the Papal Masses a joke and criticized the Pope for stopping him). He also restored traditional vestments, made the Mass somewhat more traditional, and gave talks like the Regensburg Address in which he criticized Islam for being anti-intellectual (fideist) and violent in it's very essence. Lastly, he created the Anglican Ordinariate, which opened the door for orthodox Christian Anglicans to come home and thus help speed up the complete ruin of the Anglican Church. But overall there has also been a lot of mixed messages, so it's hard to make a solid evaluation.

So the question is, was Pope Benedict resigning in light of too much stress related to the sin in the Vatican, or is this a mixed message of sorts, stepping down despite the fact every other Pope has died in office? I'd personally lean towards the former. The only other 'suspicious' event in recent history was the sudden death of John Paul I, only 30 days after his election. Though I suppose it could be said that JPII was there longer than expected, reigning longer than all but two Popes, which was an 'anomaly' in itself. So Benedict is simply the 3rd or 4th Pope in a succession of Popes who have had an interesting 'term' in the Papacy of recent history. I have good hopes that the next Pope will be a good one, especially since the last generation of candidates had a lot of unfortunate baggage that the next batch of candidates doesn't have. The last century was a heartbreaking mess both inside and outside the Church. With the Council now being 50 years old, this means that any bishop present at it was at least 30 at the time, meaning that they're all at least 80 years old now (most are older or dead). By 2020, that generation should have died off completely, with a new 'crop' of good, faithful Catholics rising, without that prior generation's baggage even on their mind. This will allow the Second Vatican Council and all related Papal actions to be evaluated without a 'conflict of interests' so to speak.

(End Note: The Second Vatican Council was a legitimate Council and the New Mass is valid. However, there is a growing consensus that it was also wrapped up with an ideology that contained a lot of false optimism and ill agendas. I refuse to deify the Council as the be-all of the Catholic Faith, which has been an unfortunate tendency with a lot of Catholic teachers, theologians, and clergy, all of whom virtually ignore or are oblivious to the teachings of the prior Councils and Papal encyclicals. As for what is effectively tampering with the Ancient Liturgy, even if the New Mass is valid, such is never a good idea. Messing around with the liturgy, both officially and unofficially, sends the wrong messages and it has caused a lot of spiritual harm. 50 years later we're seeing the negative effects, with things just recently starting to turn around and get better.)


Nick said...

This essay that came out today from the mainstream Catholic World Report is somewhat of a toned-down version of my post:

Anonymous said...

Communism is more than an omission from the council. There was already a schema with a formal condemnation written up as part of a blueprint several bishops were asked to prepare before as a preparation for the council, but all of these schemas were then rejected and this one specifically was replaced by the text on religious liberty.

Nick said...

I don't consider it an accidental omission. From a logical perspective, there really are only three remaining options why it wasn't mentioned.

(1) The Council Fathers thought that formally condemning Communism would cause more Christian persecution in Soviet territories, especially areas with many Catholics such as Poland and Ukraine. Similarly, it could be said they had a false optimism.

(2) The Council Fathers were comprised of a significant presence of Communists or sympathizers, and thus refused to stop an evil they supported.

(3) The Council Fathers didn't see ideology as within the scope of the Council's purpose.

Taking these points into consideration, it seems that as disturbing as it might sound, #2 seems to have some merit, BUT not necessarily tells the whole story.

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