It has been almost a week since we first got the shocking news that Pope Benedict XVI was abdicating the Papacy. I've been mostly sitting back and watching the reactions of others. Some are struggling with grief, anger and fear as expressed in Hilary White's article on Lifesitenews :
Since Monday, I have struggled even to understand my own feelings. These have ranged, honestly, from shock to a kind of dread not only at the ominous question of what happens now, what is coming next, but at the very great strangeness of breaking of this ancient precedent. How can it be right? And why now, when the world seems to be sinking into an unimaginable darkness?Then there are the traditionalists engaging in conspiracy theories, such as Chris Ferrara writing for the far right Remnant. Ferrara printed the Pope's entire resignation message and then began to look for clues as to the Holy Father's "true motivation". The following is a partial quote from Pope Benedict XVI's statement:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.From the above statement, Ferrara manages to find yet another opportunity to condemn the Second Vatican Council and Blessed John Paul II, with the implication that Pope Benedict XVI's resignation is actually supportive of Ferrara's statements:
Consider: Benedict might have been wrestling with the propriety of raising John Paul to the altars of the universal Church and declaring Paul VI a beatus, thus placing his papal imprimatur on what he himself, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, described as a post-conciliar “process of decay”—a process only Pope Benedict has done anything to reverse since the Council. Yet, Benedict was also under tremendous pressure from “conciliarist” forces to perform both acts in order to shore up the collapsing credibility of the conciliar aggiornamento. At this very moment, the trickle of traditionalist critiques is becoming a torrent of criticism by respectable theologians of the mainstream, as the “spirit” of the Council wanes while its disastrous effects become too obvious to explain away any longer.
It stands to reason that if Benedict were at all committed to the idea of “Saint John Paul II the Great” and “Blessed Paul VI,” he would have remained in office at least long enough to perform the necessary papal acts. Yet he has left office, in a purely discretionary manner, just as those acts were slated to occur—during the ironically designated “Year of Faith” that is taking place in the midst of the “silent apostasy” that is our inheritance from the previous two pontificates.
Or perhaps, even if this was not the Pope’s conscious intent, the Holy Ghost has intervened by prompting him to abdicate rather than inflicting further damage to the Church by acceding to the Council’s canonization via improvident acts of the Magisterium.Ferrara completely condemns the Second Vatican Council and Blessed John Paul II, and claims that the real reason Pope Benedict is abdicating is to avoid "inflicting further damage to the Church" through "improvident acts of the Magesterium." Ferrara sets himself totally outside of Church authority when he makes such condemning statements. He should know as a Catholic that the Magesterium is guided by the Holy Spirit and cannot mislead the Church. No one should give any credence to Ferrara's statements or any that echo similar sentiments.
Michael Voris, who is not as radical as Chris Ferrara, but still reads his own feelings into the Pope's resignation and brings in his usual theme of the war within the Catholic Church being the cause of all the problems we face. Voris happily takes this as another opportunity to condemn the hierarchy of the Church. He is not nearly as critical of Pope Benedict XVI, but he still manages to make some absurd statements:
But during [Pope Benedict XVI's] pontificate .. one thing that caught him off guard was the hostility among many of the world’s bishops to his move toward a more traditional faith for the worldwide Church. Even so far as the restitution of the Tridentine Latin Mass .. observers report that Pope Benedict was shocked that so many bishops around the world opposed his desires and worked almost openly to thwart them.
. . .
The internal strife in the Church between the orthodox and the heterodox has had to take its toll on the Holy Father. It would be difficult for a young vigorous man to navigate these waters.Michael seems to have forgotten that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 24 years before being elected Pope. He dealt with errant bishops and priests on a regular basis. It is possible, even probable, that he was more aware of the "internal strife in the Church" than his boss, Blessed John Paul II.
But then Voris actually goes on to contradict his statement that "Benedict was shocked" at the behavior of bishops, saying that the Holy Father was actually very aware of the "turmoil in the Church":
When Joseph Ratzinger was elected the 264th successor to St. Peter back in April 2005, he said in his first homily as Pope, “pray for me that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.” He knew very well the turmoil in the Church from errant pastors and ravenous wolves in sheeps’ clothing.So which is it, Michael? Did the Pope know or didn't he?
Michael then gives us what he sees as the necessary qualifications for the next Pope, which is someone who is basically ready to go to war against the Church, or at least certain parts of Holy Mother Church:
And now .. we must turn our attention and prayers to the NEXT successor of St. Peter .. and pray earnestly that the Holy Spirit will send another in the mold of Benedict .. one familiar with the struggle [but I thought it took Pope Benedict by surprise?], who knows the intrigues and the players, who loves tradition and understands the need for the liturgy to continue to reveal the Divine Majesty and not be a mere Catholic looking protestant type service.
A Papa who understands that the bold clear truth must be spoken in a world darkened not just by evil in general, but by evil men who make evil choices who must be confronted, and defeated, both inside and outside the Church.Sigh.
|The Holy Father on a wheeled platform|
Pope Benedict stated his reasons for abdicating the papacy in a very succinct and clear statement:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.We really don't have to parse each and every word to find the "real meaning" behind his resignation. Pope Benedict XVI is bluntly telling us that he is too old and sick to be Pope.
Pope Benedict XVI was right next to Blessed John Paul II, and he saw up close how incapacitated JPII had become. It would seem that from the very time Pope Benedict was elected, he was signaling to the world that he would step aside if and when he felt he had become incapacitated. In 2010, he made this statement:
“If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign,”We live in one of the most evil times in the history of the world, and as always happens when evil is in power, the Catholic Church is in the cross hairs. Right here in my own country, the United States, the State now sees the Church as the enemy, standing opposed to abortion, same sex marriage, contraception, and a myriad of other evils promoted by the State. We need a physically strong and robust man in the Papacy who can stand up and lead the church, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through these tumultuous times.
Pope Benedict XVI, as has been pointed out by many, is showing great humility and sanctity by telling the world that he is no longer fit for the Papacy, and as a great act of love for the Church, he wants to step aside to allow the Holy Spirit to choose someone else. Pope Benedict XVI will now go into a life of intense prayer, which may be an even greater and more valuable service to the Church than he performed in his role as Pope.
One lesson that should be be apparent from the 2000 year history of the Catholic Papacy is that while the Vicar of Christ, as the visible head of the the Ark of Salvation for the world, is the most important person on the earth, he is also the most dispensable person in the world. He can and will always be replaced. The Pope is really nothing more than a kind of front man, as are all of our bishops and priests. The real Head of the church is Jesus Christ, and as he told us, He will never leave nor forsake us. And He has sent the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us from the evil one, who cannot touch us as long as we stay within the authority of the Church.
I find the words of Pope Benedict XVI very comforting:
"Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."May God bless and protect Pope Benedict XVI as he enters this final phase of his life. He has been a wonderful, loving father to the Church,