December 31, 2022


The torment of Pope Benedict (Damian Thompson, Dec. 31st, 2022, UnHerd)

Having been obliged to play the role of doctrinal enforcer by Pope John Paul, he decided to govern as a pastor and scholar. Indeed, there's no doubt that his passion for writing interfered with his effectiveness as pope. He retreated into his study to write a biography of Jesus of Nazareth while senior curial officials swanned around the Vatican like elderly playboys in Dubai, using the contents of the world's collection plates to buy sex and launder money. He did not attempt to conceal the activities of sex abusers in the Vatican, but his disciplinary actions were ineffective. When he discovered that the retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington was a serial abuser of seminarians, he told him to retreat to a life of prayer and then did nothing when "Uncle Ted" ignored him.

The lapidary beauty of Benedict's encyclicals, in which he sought to capture the purifying essence of Christian love, was hard to reconcile with the debauchery of some of the world's most influential cardinals, described in a torrent of leaks to the media.

At some point in 2012 Benedict decided that he did not have the physical strength to reform the Vatican. On 11 February 2013, he gathered together his cardinals and told them -- characteristically in Latin -- that he was resigning the See of Peter. He was the first pope to resign since Celestine XVI in 1294. [...]

He seems to have hoped that the See of Peter would be occupied by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, a moderate conservative committed to dialogue with other faiths but firmly opposed to changes to Catholic teachings on sexual morality. Instead, the cardinals -- sickened by revelations of cocaine-fuelled orgies and Mafioso bribery inside the Vatican -- voted for the Jesuit Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who promised (but never delivered) fundamental changes to the Church's government.

The new Pope Francis ostentatiously dispensed with some of the papal trimmings that Benedict loved; there would be no more red shoes, and he swiftly withdrew his hand from anyone who tried to kiss the ring on his finger. He cultivated Left-wing journalists who obligingly portrayed him as a humble yet charismatic reformer.

Meanwhile, Benedict shut himself away in a monastery in the grounds of the Vatican, no longer pope but still wearing a modified version of his white cassock and adopting the deeply confusing title of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. On rare occasions he would write an essay or book introduction that appeared to criticise some innovation, such as the abolition of compulsory celibacy for Latin-rite priests, that Francis was encouraging the world's bishops to debate.

But for the most part he kept his promise of silence, and there is not a single recorded instance of Benedict criticising Francis. 

While we can sympathize with how painful it must have been to realize how badly corrupted the Chuch is, he had a moral obligation to reform it.
Posted by at December 31, 2022 12:00 AM