Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Dilemma Of Papal Power

Have you ever noticed the complete hypocrisy of the secular world in its attitude regarding how the Pope should conduct himself?

When the Successor of Peter attempts to exercise his teaching office, he is scorned. What business is it of his what a married couple does in their bedroom? Why does he think he can tell a woman what to do with her body? Where does he get off proclaiming the Truth behind the Eucharistic sacrifice or the need for confession?

When he acts as a pastor, he is reviled. How dare he excommunicate Bishop Milingo? How can a genius like Hans Kung have his teaching faculties revoked?

What you see in these stories is the craving of the world for a weak pope, who sits in his room at the Vatican and does nothing that is implicated by holding the Chair of Peter. The masses want the Pope to stay out of everyone else's business and leave people to their sins and heresies.

Until, of course, they don't want him to. Then, the Pope is supposed to be right on top of every single decision made by every single bishop in the entire world. If he isn't right up in their grills every second of the day, then he's everything from an incompetent to a criminal.

I'd argue that just about every crisis in Church history has resulted from popes acting more like the image of the world than as the Vicar of Christ. When popes engage in the practical abdication of their authority, bad things happen every single time. Typically, they wind up hated anyway, with Blessed John XXIII being the only exception I can think of and only then because his history has been given a complete 1984-ish makeover into something antithetical to who he really was.

The Pope might as well just accept the Haterade the world has to offer, and act according to the best interest of the Mystical Body of Christ. For example, does anybody doubt that if Pope John Paul II had formally degraded +Weakland that he would have been blasted as a homophobe?

There is no compromise to be made with the world. We've tried that. The latest attacks on the Pope prove it. The Pope needs to act like a Servant of the Servants of God and not flinch. No matter what he does, the worldly will find fault. That being the case, best to proceed without worrying too much what they think.

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, "Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength." And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God "glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise,"--that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride,--"they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, "and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever." But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, "that God may be all in all."

St. Augustine, City of God.

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