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Saturday, May 29, 2010

"The Trial of Benedict XVI"

The time magazine cover and story on Pope Benedict is more than enough of a trial for our dear Holy Father. I am supremely disappointed in the unprofessional and biased journalism in it. I would like to point out a few problems with the article. I have heard others say that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice, which I agree, but I think that this article is the most blatant form of anti-Catholicism that I have experienced.

"The crisis facing the church is deeply complicated by the fact that in 1980, as Archbishop of Munich, the future Benedict XVI appears to have mismanaged the assignment of an accused pedophile priest under his charge. "

The first issue I have with this is that we are told in the first line that this is a fact. It is not. Objectively, could this be true? Sure, it could be. But is it true? From what I have heard explained, and I don't have a reference for this, it seems that at the time the accused priest was changed to another assignment, our Holy Father simply approved it as was the custom without knowing anything of the priest's problem. Could he have "managed" this issue better? Maybe, I really don't know. The point is that this "fact" is malicious and without substance.

"Can the Pope, the living embodiment of the ancient Gospel and absolute spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, publicly atone for his sins and yet preserve the theological impregnability of the papacy?"

Wow, is all I can say. Last night when I was reading this article in the community room with the sisters, they were amazed at how many noises were coming from my seat. This line got a resounding "WHAT!?" I just want to know who told Jeff Israely and Howard Chua-Eoan that the Holy Father is the "living embodiment of the ancient Gospel." I have never heard anyone refer to the Holy Father in this way. Vicar of Christ? Absolutely. But "living embodiement of the ancient Gospel" is just strange.

I also take exception to the idea that the Gospel is ancient. First, from a secular viewpoint, Dinosaurs are ancient. 2,000 years is really nothing in comparison with the whole history of our world. Second, from a faith perspective, the Gospel is alive in all of us and alive in our World.

The next issue I have here is with the "publicly atone for his sins" idea. Our Holy Father has apologized for the Church and I believe in my heart that if he had done something wrong in his handling of this crisis, he would have already asked forgiveness on a personal level. I have no proof of this except for my faith in him.

Lastly, I have a real problem with any "reporter" using the incorrect word for something, for example, calling the apostolic visitation an investigation. It is bad journalism and misleading. So that brings me to the "theological impregnability of the papacy." I think what our dear writers were trying to bring up was papal infallibility. Throughout the rest of the article they make it supremely clear that they have no idea what they are talking about and have done no research in order to understand. Papal infallibility really has nothing to do with this whole situation anyway. If our Holy Father decided to say that pedophilia wasn't a sin as a matter of morals from the Chair of Peter, then we would have an issue with papal infallibility, a BIG issue. However, we all know though that that would never happen because it is wrong!

"In the end, the test is not about doctrine or dogma, not even about the wording of mea culpas and the resignation or prosecution of prelates. It is, rather, about the voices of children finally crying out, long after their childhood."

Finally, they got something right! However, it took them a page and a half to get to it and the victims are not mentioned in the article in a profound way after this! If this is truly what it is about, why not start from there? Because this article does no justice to the victims of sexual abuse. It is a smear campaign against the Holy Father and I am extremely disappointed in Time for using these people, who have already been used for someone else's "gain", for Time's own gain. They should be ashamed.

"For years, offending clerics were, at most, banished to silence and distant monasteries or to therapy or sometimes defrocked for what in civilian cases would have earned the guilty long prison terms."

What they forget is that these men were sent to live a life of penance to atone for their sins. It is a public admittance of guilt whether anyone else understood it to be so or not. Also when many of these terrible crimes occurred, no one in the psychological community even knew how deep a problem it was. People thought they could be "fixed" or "helped".

"In the language of the church, the sacrament of penance involves confession and then a priestly absolution of the sinner. But what kind of penance would a Pope with fingerprints on the controversy have to perform? There lies an intricate theological problem."

In the sacramental sense of penance, yes it does require confession and absolution. "In the language of the Church" however, penance has a much broader meaning. They do have a point though. We as a Church should be doing some penance for what has happened, whether we personally have done anything wrong or not. We are one Body and we are responsible for one another.

However, yet again, the Pope does not have "fingerprints on the controversy." Judging by the haphazard theology Time has used throughout this article it is no wonder that we are now going to have an "intricate theological problem." I can't wait to hear it.

"As the crisis grew in March and went on into April, many in the Vatican worried about the effect it would have on the papal magisterium — the historic, cumulative and majestic authority of the Pope to teach and preach the will of God."

Okay, I have to say, these two really have a wonderful repertoire of adjectives. They are just failing in using them correctly. Historic, cumulative, and majestic authority? I'm just not exactly where they got that from. I'm not disagreeing because I really have no idea what they are trying to get at... if I knew what they were talking about I might disagree.

"Vatican officials are concerned that a mea culpa would diminish the magisterium, which has been integral to the papacy's ability to project power in the world throughout its history, from the humiliation of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV at Canossa in the 11th century to the humbling of Soviet power in Poland in the 20th."

Who are these Vatican officials?? I'm not sure I believe they exist outside of the minds of these two "journalists."

Now this is the real clincher. I had to stop reading after this last night because I was getting so riled up! Brace yourself for this one.

"It plays a key role in the doctrine of papal infallibility, which declares that the Pope is never in error when he issues teachings ex cathedra — that is, elucidating dogma from the throne of St. Peter. It is tied up in the traditional prerogatives of that Apostle, to whom was given the power "to bind and loose" in heaven and on earth — in rough terms, the church's ability to open the gates of heaven to you or damn you to hell because it will always be holier than thou."

Do you care to tell me how you really feel about the Church? From the Catechism,
"The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful—who confirms his brethren in the faith—he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed,"and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself."
Wow, isn't that interesting... nothing about damning anyone to Hell. Nothing about being holier than thou. Cliches really have no place in good journalism anyway.

"Presented with the scenario of a personal apology by the human embodiment of the church, a well-placed Vatican official sighed as he weighed the theological and historical implications. "It's dangerous," he said. "It's dangerous."

Again, who is this well-placed Vatican official? Maybe our Holy Father's cook? I don't know.

"The Catholic Church believes it is Christ's representative on earth, with all the sinlessness and omnipotent authority of its Saviour."

No one in the Church is without sin. The Church, herself, is Christ's sinless Bride. It is a matter of faith but it certainly has been twisted here.

"For some liberals, the crisis over sex abuse is a chance to argue old questions of dogma and discipline once again: for example, to address the necessity of celibacy in the priesthood and the church's vision of sex, to expand the role of women and to define the status of Catholic homosexuals. Others say the authority of the bishops — and the Pope — must now be shared with the faithful."

There are many married men and women who have committed abuse. I think we can drop the whole "celibacy is the cause of sex abuse" line. And it has nothing to do with women or the "status of homosexuals" which is the same as any other lay Catholic. We are all called to live a chaste life!

The last paragraph, in spite of all the other junk in the rest of the article, is actually quite beautiful.
"One vision for the future echoes from the past. A conservative website is circulating a prophecy uttered by a 42-year-old Catholic theologian in 1969, amid the turmoil of that year of radicalism and barricades. The priest envisioned a post-imperial papacy, shorn of wealth and pretenses of earthly power. "From today's crisis, a church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal," he said on German radio. "She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendor. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society. Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of volunteers ... As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members and she will certainly also acknowledge new forms of ministry and will raise up to the priesthood proven Christians who have other jobs ... It will make her poor and a church of the little people ... All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful." The theologian was Joseph Ratzinger. And his vision from 40 years ago may now unfold in ways he could never have imagined."

We may get smaller... but God be praised if we do! Let us suffer this persecution well. Let us pray for our Holy Father, all bishops and priests, and all who have been hurt by anyone within the Church. But most of all, let us stay close to one another and call one another closer to Jesus, the lover of all.

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