Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pope John Humanized the Priesthood

Other variants of this statement is that he humanized the papacy by stepping down from all the trappings and pomp that went along with it.

Or not.

Granted, you maybe could say something along these lines if you talked about the Pope’s famous visits to the children’s hospital or the prison, but this idea of eschewing pomp is usually provided by people who want to de-sacralize the ceremonies of the Church (ie- The Mass) and like to say that Pope John was big into doing this.

Strangely enough, this man so averse to ritual and ceremony was the last pope to have the full-blown papal coronation ceremony and wear the traditional papal tiara. Frankly, I think that if a pope is going to confront the modern world, he should do so with all the symbols of his authority in clear view. Humility is a good thing, but humility doesn’t require denying objective reality, which is that the Pope has authority that exceeds the merely secular. Maybe Benedict will dust one off for old times sake in the near future.

The other thing you hear about Pope John’s “humanizing” of the priesthood was that he wanted to abolish the distinctions between priests and laity. This is another myth conjured up by heretics that want to abuse the man’s memory. Nowhere can they point to anything he ever did that gives credence to this idea, except to point to “his” revision of the Mass, making it a Mass of the people, rather than the priesthood. I’ll deal more with this in the last point, but suffice to say, there is nothing in his personal work that suggests anything of the sort. To the contrary, ever hear of the worker-priest movement? One reason you probably haven’t is because John XXIII helped squash it. This was another case of erasing the line between priests and laity by having priests work regular jobs on top of their clerical duties. Pius XII took steps to get rid of it, but its death knell was rung by John XXIII. Despite this, you have guys like Garry Wills excoriating Pius XII for his work in this area, while turning a blind eye to the involvement of John XXIII. But hey, when you’re arrogant enough to write a book called What Jesus Meant, why should you let facts get in the way?

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