Saturday, June 21, 2014

Why Popes Resigning Should Be Rare

Over at Patheos there is is a post  Popes Should Resign More Often  that is worth a read . One Priest from South Carolina has registered some agreement with it .

This argument has some merit . There is no doubt in my mind a combination of ill heath and the Vatican natural machinery to slow down when a Pope is in his final years contributed to John Paul the II not being able to deal with the sexual abuse crisis. However a crisis of that magnitude I think is the exception not the norm. Unless we are dealing with that situation or case where old age has caused mental problems with a Pope resignations should be rare.

Here are my reasons.

There is a numerous dangers and problems with the treating  the Pope as it he was akin to a secular CEO of the Catholic Church. From the Catechism :

895 "The power which they exercise personally in the name of Christ, is proper, ordinary, and immediate, although its exercise is ultimately controlled by the supreme authority of the Church."427 But the bishops should not be thought of as vicars of the Pope. His ordinary and immediate authority over the whole Church does not annul, but on the contrary confirms and defends that of the bishops. Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the Pope.

There are benefits to the " Lame Duck " time of a Papacy when a Pope is in his declining years. First I do think it allows the important relationship between a Catholic and his Bishop to come more into focus. A Papacy full of news , and  new grand plans and marching orders works against this I think. While I am for a strong Papacy in governing the Church I do have concerns about a dynamic of ROME ALL THE TIME . That Rome all the time dynamic I think also gives a wrong impression to non Catholic about what the Catholic Faith is all about .

Further in this media environment we really must consider what the effect of retiring Popes would have . Already the media throws out absurd notions of what a Pope might do. For example will the next Pope make abortion ok etc . It does not give a helpful  impression of stability and truth of the Catholic faith. . That is a media reality that has to be realized. Dealing with that every 6 to 7 years just exhaust me to think about .

Last but not least  in a world of   4 or 5 retired Popes there is no guarantee  they will all act like President Ford and to a large degree the Bushes. That is out of site out of mind or at the very least not commenting on essential affairs of governing and doctrine.

We very well could have ex Popes like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton that are not shy about popping up here and there and giving opinions.  When you add a spiritual dynamic to this it becomes even more dangerous. As we have seen in the Catholic Church there are many retired Bishops that are not shy about giving their two cents.

I have other reasons why I think a trend of retiring Popes has more negative than positives but these are my reasons that top the list .


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