Tag Archives: Avignon

The Pope has Left the Building: Benedict XVI Gracefully Departs Amid Cloud of Scandal and Speculation

ITALY-VATICAN-POPE-HELICOPTER

Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger of Bavaria, the first German Pope since Victor who died in 1057 left office in a less than customary manner today. Unlike every one of his predecessors dating back to Celestine V who resigned in 1294 Gregory XII who resigned in 1414 to help end the Avignon schism he did not die in office.

Pope Benedict announced his resignation on February 11th and it stunned the Church and the world. Such an event had not occurred in nearly 600 years, over 700 years for one that resigned that was not under duress. Popes do not resign every day, it is not “normal” for those of us in the modern era. Benedict in his resignation letter cited his “lack of strength of mind and body” as his reason for resigning. After the lengthly suffering of his predecessor Pope John Paul II, who spent the last years of his papacy crushed under the weight of Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses leaving much of the day to day operations of the Church to the Curia led by Ratzinger, his friend and the head of the Office of the Congregation for the Faith, one could understand.

Benedict, now 85 years old, battling health concerns and under the increasing weight of scandals involving sexual abuse by clergy including Cardinal Roger Mahoney and Cardinal Michael Patrick O’Brien of the United Kingdom, the Vatican bank corruption and the “Vatileaks” scandal involving his butler resigned.

We probably know all of the factors that went into the resignation of Benedict. He is both lionized by Roman Catholic conservatives and vilified by those who resented his approach to the Church and its relation to the world. He seemed like a man out of his element as Pope, a contemplative theologian thrust by his office and relationship to his predecessor into the most high profile position in Christendom and for that matter in the religious world.

His legacy and impact will be debated and not really known for years because though no longer Pope he lives and his life story is not yet complete. The verdict of history and faith in the case of Pope Benedict XVI is not complete and it is foolhardy for one to attempt to access his Papacy until that life on this earth is ended. Likewise, it is unlikely baring the release of all information concerning Benedict as well as the various scandals in the church and his relationship to them and actions concerning them that we can know the full story.

I hope that Pope Benedict is able to continue his ministry as a former Pope in a manner that helps the Church heal and also be transparent. In this capacity it is possible that Benedict will have the chance to be a force for good that no Pope has ever had the chance, being the first to resign in so long.

Italy Vatican Pope

A Final Blessing at Castel Gandolfo 

Perhaps his resignation will be an inspiration to his successors as well as his fellow bishops not to simply remain in office because they can but instead attempt to listen to the Holy Spirit and the the people of God have to say. That being said there is the possibility that Benedict will become a “shadow Pope” influencing and dictating the course of the church remaining in a covent in Vatican City. I hope that will not happen. His words on his departure today and arrival at Castel Gandolfo if taken at face value indicate that he will be content to remain on the sidelines, but only time will tell. His story is not yet complete. As of now it appears that his departure is one of graceful humility and I pray that will be his legacy.

That being said it is up to the men that lead the Roman Catholic Church to be honest in dealing with the seemingly unending waves of scandal and corruption that seem to plague the Church. The time for cover ups has to end and the time for new beginnings, starting with repentance and renewal to begin.

Though I am not a Roman Catholic I will pray for Benedict and whoever his successor may be. I do hope that whoever that man is will be able to lead the church through the coming difficult days in an open and transparent manner and help lead the church to the renewal promised by the Gospel and opened again in Vatican II. There are far too many crisis in the Church and the world not to pray for this.

I hope that the next Pope, like Father Andrew Greeley’s fictional contender for the Papacy Luis Emilio Cardinal Menendez y Garcia says in the novel White Smoke: a Novel About the Next Papal Conclave (New York: Tom Doherty, 1996; pp. 140-143)

“It must be admitted honestly that many of our people have a negative impression of our institution, as of course do many who know us only from outside the Church. They view us as harsh and unbending, as narrow and uninformed, as arrogant and unsympathetic. Are we prepared to say that there are no reasons to justify that view of us? Are we prepared to say that there is nothing in our manner, our style, our institutional organization, our narrowness of vision which has given them that impression?

I for one am not ready to say those things. I candidly believe that we are our own worst enemies because we have often seem to worship not the Father in heaven but our own institutional being. We should not, my fellow Catholics, worship the Church, we should not make the Church an end in itself. The Church clearly is only a means. When the means gets in the way of the end it has become the object of idolatry. When we seem to want to impose that idolatry on others, we appear to many to be religious imperialists. Are we so sure that we never act like idolaters and religious imperialists?”

I think that the new Pope needs to be able to admit this and in doing so liberate the Church to do the work of the Gospel.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Mixed Nuts: Apocalypse Soon, Conspiracy Theories and Other Nuttiness

Who did the Dye Job?

It was an interesting week and I took a couple of days off of writing to spend some time with Judy and it was interesting just to talk with her and others about some of the nutty things that are going one. Of course the big news was that Osama Bin Laden dyed his beard and had a fetish for watching himself on his Direct TV.  I wonder what he used to dye the beard with Grecian Formula, Clairol, Loreal, Herbal Essences or Manic Panic. If he hadn’t been on the lam so long he might have been their spokesman in the Middle East pitching hair beard dyes for men.  But he died undyed. I guess had he known that the SEALS were coming that he would have ensured that his beard was black.  I think the conspiracy theories inside Al Qaeda’s web were more about how he fooled them into thinking that the beard was its natural color and wondering where they can get the same brand than how the SEALS got him.

Of course in the West we could care less about the hair color we just wonder if the United States faked killing him and sent him to run the Donut shop in Buenos Aries that we had Hitler running after we faked his death at the end of the Second World War.  Rumor has it is that Elvis is still down there doing Elvis impersonations and has coffee there every morning along with the surviving aliens from Area 51.  People are demanding that President Obama produce a death certificate but the coroner’s office in Karachi Pakistan won’t issue the long form and thus conspiracy theories will abound so Jerome Corsi can write another book.

Harold Camping…The Rapture on May 21st?

Of course if you haven’t noticed only 13 shopping days left until the Rapture, at least by the calculations of a certified California nut named Harold Camping.  Evidently the 89 year old Camping believes that he alone has cracked the code about when Jesus is coming.  According to him the “Great Tribulation” began on May 21st 1988 when Fat by Weird Al Yankovic hit #99 on the Billboard Pop Chart and the Chicago Cubs defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a score of 11-6. The score is important because 11+6 equals 17 which according to Camping equals heaven. This proves my point that the Cubs are the key to understanding the Second Coming of the Lord. See Discerning the Second Coming: The Cubs are the Key and on the 21st of May 2011 the Cubs will be at Fenway to play the Red Sox in what could be the last inter-league game before Jesus comes back to whack and shwack the unraptured for 5 months until Friday October 21st 2011 which will be two days after the World Series begins.  Since there is no way to get the World Series in there is no way that the Cubs can win it and thus Camping has to be wrong.  Of course he was wrong in when he predicted the Rapture to occur in September of 1994 during the regular season but attributed this to a mathematical error.  Nonetheless there is no mathematical error on the donation link on his ministry website which he does take credit cards, so you can spend madly buying his stuff without having to pay for it…not.  See you the 22nd Harold unless you have absconded to Turkmenistan with your loot.

Speaking of “Nuts” evidently Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad is being accused of “sorcery” by his political opponents on the Council of Ayatollahs headed by Ayatollah Khamenei.  Evidently he was caught with the entire DVD collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed.  He bowed to Khamenei’s order to reinstate the former Intelligence Minister who Mahmoud had fired after that man discovered the collection and sold both sets on Ebay with the proceeds going to the Old Ayatollah Home in the Holy City of Qom.  Ahamadinejad who has been on the lecture circuit tour proclaiming the return of the 12th Mahdi and doing all that he can to ensure the long absent Mahdi returns but he has not been so bold as to predict the date.

Los Angeles Apocalypse?

Of course the citizens of Los Angeles are pretty sure that the Apocalypse is coming soon after the Dallas Mavericks swept the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers. Adding to their apocalyptic misery the Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly unable to afford the end of May payroll and Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming back to Hollywood for a number of projects to include a Terminator story and a movie appropriately called Last Stand.

Mona Lisa: Where is her body?

Meanwhile in Italy an attempt is being made to find the remains of the real Mona Lisa using some kind of advanced riding lawn mower system.  Lisa who disappeared under mysterious circumstances after a photo shoot with Leonardo Da Vinci has been the source of constant speculation since her disappearance.  Elsewhere people are less concerned with finding Lisa and more concerned with their own apocalypse a massive earthquake predicted to shake Rome on May 21st.  The long dead pseudo scientist Raffaele Bendandi made the prediction that the earthquake would be so bad that the entire city of Rome would be shaved off the map to make way for a new Disney World campus.  Bad news for the Pope he will have to move back to Avignon. At least the Germans and French are getting along better.

In the United States people in the Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana are building high tech Arks to survive the real flooding that is predicted to occur about around the 21st of May….coincidence?  I think so.

Have a great week

Peace

Padre Steve+

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