I have so far refrained from comment on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, preferring to leave that to the Gadarene rush of experts. But there is one observation to make that I have not seen made elsewhere. Why did the Pope allow himself to be elected at the age of 78? He must have known it wouldn't be many years before age caught up with him and he'd either die or have to retire, or like his predecessor do neither and get too old and sick to be an effective ruler.

Could it have been that Benedict saw himself as the only man for the job at that point in the history of the Church? That a relatively few years of him as Pope would be better than none? Everyone now knows that he had an agenda - a "vision" - that he had begun to pursue as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Did he fear that a Pope other than himself might not continue it? Not that it was an ignoble agenda - quite the opposite: the herculean task of trying to put the Church back on an even keel after half a century of destructive distraction in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Is it fanciful to suppose that the then Cardinal Ratzinger thought other papal candidates might not give this policy the priority he would give it, as indeed Pope John Paul II had not done?

God moves in a mysterious way and noble ends are not always pursued by the noblest of methods. For all his virtues there is something about Benedict XVI that suggests the wily old schemer. As dean of the College of Cardinals since 2002 did he somehow work the Vatican system, perhaps with the help of our own dear Cardinal Pell, reputedly no slouch as a numbers man, to ensure his own election?

Even if this is a gross calumny and Benedict's election was the unalloyed inspiration of the Holy Spirit there is another aspect to the matter. There was much talk in the latter years of John Paul II about the likelihood and desirability of a Pope from the Third World. One of the cardinals thought most likely to succeed John Paul was the Nigerian Cardinal Arinze. If he had been elected we would still have a Pope. (He is eighty now, but though only two years older than Benedict was, is too old to succeed this time.)

Yet a Third World Pope is more desirable than ever, and for reasons that have nothing to do with modish notions of racial "justice". The world is not Europe, and a worldwide Church could do with a non-European perspective at the top for a change. But a non-European Pope is also needed for the sake of Europe. Europe is a continent in decline and the Church there is in even swifter decline. Imaginative as is Benedict's strategy of restoring Catholic identity through liturgical recovery, more direct, popular methods are needed as well. Any revival of Catholicism in Europe is likely to owe at least something to "reverse evangelisation", that is, to old-fashioned missionary activity, with the missionaries coming from places once considered mission fields where the Church is now strong and growing. Africa is one such place, and an African Pope would understand this and, with luck, do something about it. Eight years ago that Pope could have been Cardinal Arinze. Did the election of Pope Benedict deprive the Church in Europe of a man who could have got the ball rolling again?

If so, there is another candidate waiting in the wings, the young (in papal terms - he is 54) Ghanaian cardinal Peter Turkson. Though the political machines of the Vatican are even now grinding away, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility, as it never is at papal elections, that the Italians will try to snatch back the papacy for themselves, if I were a cardinal, even an Italian one, I'd want to give Turkson a try.

18 February 2013

1 comment:

  1. Here is a radical Truth Telling assessment of the "catholic" church.

    At last, and inevitably, the ancient power-and-control exoteric rulerships have failed, and "official" exoteric Christian-ISM (along with all the other "great-world-religions" of merely exoteric "religion"-power) is now reduced to all the impenetrable illusions and decadent exercises that everywhere characterize previously privileged aristocracies in their decline from worldly power.

    Now, except a Spiritual Revolution renews the esoteric Spirit of Truth (which of course will not and can not come from within the church itself), exoteric power-and-control-seeking Christian-ISM is reduced to a chaos of market-share-seeking corporate cults and BARNUMESQUE propagandists that rule nothing more than chaotic herds of self-deluded consumerist religionists in the market place of whats-in-it-for-me consumerist religion.

    Therefore, the myth (LIE) of the "cultural superiority" of "official" Christian-ISM has now come full circle. The religious mythologies of the "great-world-religions" are not only now waging global wars with one another ( like so many psychotic inmates of asylums for the mad, each confronting the other with exclusive claims of personal absolutelness, and with murderously reasonable intentions), but the public masses of "religion"-bound people - who, all over the world, for even thousands of years, have beeb controlled in body and mind by ancient institutions of "religiously" propagandized worldly-power - are now in a globalized state of grossly ego- bound "religious" and social PSYCHOSIS.

    Such PSYCHOTIC "religion" and "culture" is of course exactly and precisely what you subscribe to and promote - as indeed to ALL of those on the right-wing or so called "conservative" side/divide of the culture wars.