I’m sometimes asked by artless, though usually fairly harmless, people, “Are there some Church teachings you don’t believe?” I resist the urge to respond with equal tactlessness, “Are there things about your wife you don’t love?” The question itself reveals just how much political paradigms have distorted our ways of thinking and speaking about the Church, as if the deposit of faith were somehow equivalent to a party platform.
And yet—here you have it, Mr. Artless Questioner—this week I find myself ready to dissent publicly—for all the web to see—from an official act of the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff, the Successor of the Apostle Peter.
Benedict XVI, do you have to go so soon?
I agree, to be sure, with all the generous things that have been said about the pope’s decision—that it’s a selfless and humble act, the fruit of great prayer and faith, born out of a profound love of the Church. Of course, it is. And of course Pope Benedict is a better judge of his own limits and abilities than anyone else and is also in a better position to judge the needs of the Church than some two-bit blogger from South Dakota.
But still, I can’t help but thinking, Benedict at 75% is still better than most of us at 100%. Who else combines Benedict’s spiritual and intellectual breadth and depth, his combination of scholarly incisiveness and gentleness of spirit? Who else has better seen through the pomps and empty promises of secularism or proposed so insistently, so clearly their remedy—friendship with Jesus Christ? Who else has Benedict’s sense of the liturgy, sense of history, sense of prayer? Couldn’t he just stay on for another year or two? Couldn’t he at least have waited until after finishing that encyclical on faith? Read the rest of this entry »