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Pope Benedict Resigns

February 11, 2013

Early today, in a move that surprised even his closest aides in the Vatican,  Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, effective February 28.   A consistory to elect a new pope follows immediately.

Here is the full text of his resignation letter, courtesy of Sandro Magister at Il Espresso:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

Immediate reactions and some background information are being provided by the Guardian in London.   They provided a nice summary of previous papal resignations.  The last was 600 years ago, when Pope Gregory XII resigned to end the great Western Schism:

The best known example involved Pope Celestine V in 1294. After only five months as the Bishop of Rome, he issued a solemn decree declaring it possible that a pope can resign and then promptly did so…..

Before Celestine, the only other two pontiffs to resign were the current Pope’s namesake Benedict IX in 1045 and his successor Gregory VI the year after….

The last time a pope resigned was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. He stood down to end the “Western Schism”, which threatened to shatter Roman Catholicism. Two rival claimants had declared themselves pope in Avignon and Pisa and, with the help of the wily Italian politician Malatesta, Gregory’s resignation helped unite the church at the Council of Constance in 1415.

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49 Comments
  1. February 11, 2013 11:18 am

    As a Christian who identifies primarily with the Mennonite stream of thought, I give a summary of what I’ve seen/heard as reactions and my own thoughts. I hope they do justice…

    http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/when-the-captain-releases-the-helm/

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      February 11, 2013 11:58 am

      Thank you for sharing this thoughtful first reaction.

    • February 11, 2013 12:16 pm

      That was an excellent discussion, Robert.

  2. Julia Smucker permalink*
    February 11, 2013 12:25 pm

    I just saw the news a few minutes ago, and I’m completely flabbergasted. Just because he’s aging? Doesn’t every pope get old? And won’t this make things awkward for his successor?

    Those were my first thoughts. My next thought was to get annoyed by the Reuters article highlighting his “conservative doctrine” in a rather superficial way. “Benedict stepped up the Church’s opposition to gay marriage, underscored the Church’s resistance to a female priesthood and to embryonic stem cell research.” Yeah, and he also stepped up the church’s commitment to environmental conservationism and opposition to unbridled laissez-faire capitalism, but that doesn’t fit the nice little caricature, does it? (Come to think of it, those things could fit fine within a more robust, classic, maybe European kind of conservatism, but this is lost on American politics.)

    Well, anyway, I suppose the thing to do after the initial shock wears off is to pray for a good shepherd. Seriously. I have my hopes for who it will or won’t be, like probably many other Catholics, but ultimately I hope we’ll all be praying not for a pope that fits any preferred ideological mold (a la “Vatican Wars”), but for one who can best help to heal the wounds and divisions in our church.

    Oh, and God bless Pope Benedict. I’ll be praying for that too.

  3. February 11, 2013 1:41 pm

    God be with Pope Benedict!

  4. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    February 11, 2013 3:06 pm

    I think it is a sign of rationality, plain and simple. It is a huge role to play, and there is rational reason that man of his age should have to do it past his ability to do so. It is also a recognition that the Vatican is beginning to move past the “monarch” tendency for the Pope, which even someone like George Weigel connects with the “Babylonian Captivity” of the Papacy, and more towards a mature, humane view of what humans can do, and what can be expected from them. I think it is a sign of maturity for the organization as whole. Plus it leaves him more time for Mozart, his favorite reportedly, and a very Catholic one. A life that is too busy for regular doses of Mozart is a very undesirable one is some ways, for such a refined musical sort as the Pope.

    Speaking rationality, I am hoping it will be Cardinal Wuerl. My rational vote comes because, even though he was stubborn on gay marriage in town here, and annoyed me therefore, he is more moderate than some (most) that they could elect from the Third World (so called). And in a life like mine, which has had so much interesting coincidences related to the RC Church and its destinies, I would then be able to say : “I once had pasta with the Pope in Rome, sitting right next to me.”

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      February 11, 2013 3:23 pm

      British bookies are already touting odds on various candidates. No American is listed at better than 25 to 1, and that is Cardinal Burke. Of course, these are about as reliable as fortune cookies. Years ago, Fr. Andrew Greeley claimed to have developed a sociological model for predicting elections, but I have not heard of it since.

      • Julia Smucker permalink*
        February 11, 2013 4:22 pm

        The site I saw has Dolan at 25/1 and Burke at 33/1. The last thing this world needs is an American pope in any case.

        They give the best odds to Cardinal Turkson of Ghana, who heads the Vatican Office of Justice and Peace. He seems an exciting prospect, as does the Filipino Cardinal Tagle, who also has risen quickly as is being said of the Canadian favorite Ouellet. It’s all speculative of course, but it’s kind of fun.

      • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
        February 11, 2013 5:00 pm

        What I find interesting is that in contrast to the last election, when there was a great deal of early touting of Latin American cardinals, this time the focus has shifted to Africa. But you are right, it is fun touting the papabile. As Walter Miller had a character remark in his book “The Vicar of Christ”, the cognoscenti begin this process even as the white smoke is rising and the cry “Habemus Papum” echoes across St. Peter’s square.

        • February 12, 2013 11:37 pm

          Not to be pedantic, but The Vicar of Christ was written by Walter F. Murphy; Walter Miller wrote the magnificent Canticle for Leibowitz. I’d recommend both; but Canticle was indirectly a stepping stone on the way to my entering the Church. That, however, is a story for another day!

        • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
          February 13, 2013 6:36 am

          Thank you for the correction: I responded very quickly. And by all means, your story involving Walter Miller would be welcome.

  5. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    February 11, 2013 3:33 pm

    David,

    That is hilarious about the bookies!! I believe Burke is out because they will surely want someone with no taint whatsoever with the recent scandals, and Burke had a bit, though less than others, it is true.

    I believe that they never have gotten around to changing the canon law, so conceivably ANY bishop could be elected. Though only Cardinals can vote. That makes me want to endorse Joe Tyson of Yakima. And then I can saw, I had Gyros with the Pope. And then truly, I will never shut up! :) Pobresito Jose!

    • February 11, 2013 8:53 pm

      Any baptized Catholic male can be elected actually, and they can’t “change canon law” to make it more restrictive. By Divine Law, any Catholic male is a valid subject of election to any See (including Rome), assuming proper electoral procedures are followed. Any limiting of the pool of candidates is ruled-out (as is a Pope appointing his successor).

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        February 13, 2013 3:33 pm

        A Sinner,

        You have raised a larger issue I am bit unsure of, and don’t have the time to research ’cause I am writing a paper lately. To wit, I know at some point they did change the requirement that Popes had to be priests. Previoiusly quite a few Popes were only ordained right before becoming Pope. At some point that changed, but I remember reading it many times. Please check it out and let me know. I don’t have the time right now, though am interested

    • Ronald King permalink
      February 13, 2013 9:35 am

      Wait a minute Peter about endorsing Joe Tyson! Even in jest it makes me pucker.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        February 13, 2013 3:30 pm

        Ronald,

        I won’t rehearse my critiques of my long-ago friend. But on the positive side, I am absolutely positive side, I am very sure of his concern for the downtrodden. You can’t fake that. Of course it is all mixed up with a mountain of other nonsense. Too bad. I guess the best way to put it then, is they could sure do a lot worse.

        • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
          February 13, 2013 3:44 pm

          I thought of one other thing to say about this. You see the logic I have given why I would endorse him, in fact always seems to elude the RC Church. To wit, one of the funniest things I learned when I started paying attention to what they were doing — after having ignored their activities for neanearly twenty years entirely — was that my former rector, Bob Lynch, now Bishop of St. Pete FL, was actually made the head of the USDCCB’s International Aid program. LOL, of all people. He was the most sybaritic type, always taking fancy trips, and eating at fancy steakhouses that were out of reach for others. And that is who they chose to run their “Aid” to poor people program. That’s why I say, they could do a lot worse.

        • Ronald King permalink
          February 14, 2013 8:04 am

          Peter, I see your point

        • Jordan permalink
          February 13, 2013 8:20 pm

          re: PPF [February 13, 2013 3:44 pm]: “USDCCB”? Is this your neologism? Make it public domain?

  6. elizabeth00 permalink
    February 11, 2013 4:18 pm

    My reaction to anything is to try to spot patterns in it. Here’s one that makes me very happy: the overall theme of the papacy seen from the internal perspective of the Pope has been the theological virtues. He started with Spe Salvi and continued with Deus Caritas Est. He’s good – very good – at teaching through the written word, but the point that most of his writing and teaching circulates is that of the Word made flesh. So now on the subject of faith he teaches and challenges not by writing but with his person.

    Why does it make me happy? Primarily because I know lots of conservatives in the Church who were thrilled by his election and have strongly supported his efforts to deal with political problems in the Church. They’ll be sorry to see him go. Why? They liked what he did. He represents a certain safety, a comfortable agenda. If he stayed on in frailty, he would be a form of protection, hierarchical authority used as prophylactic. This resignation (put into this pattern) means he’s not having any of that and refuses to play that game. The object of his papacy isn’t a political agenda, nor even the Church, but God, and the life of God.

    I also think that by making this act of faith he challenges his aforementioned supporters to a similar act of faith, not, perhaps, because he thinks they can do it, but because he thinks the Holy Spirit can do it.

    They’re dredging up the history of previous abdications as if they were somehow comparable. It isn’t. History doesn’t work like that. This is something that speaks exactly to this moment in time. We’re dominated by images. Well, here’s the Church laid bare at the end of the camera lens: every last one of us, including Joseph Ratzinger himself, who could have held on and didn’t, all of us equal, turned toward God together, praying for his successor. I wonder, though, how many camera shots there will be of him, once he’s no longer Pope? I expect they’ll drop off quickly. The world likes its own version of power. Nonetheless, there will be a moment, a time, when the underlying unity of the Church is made visible. I hope that, of all things, will help the Church to perceive it and act on it.

    That’s one pattern. There are others. That’s the one I like best.

  7. February 11, 2013 8:14 pm

    Prediction: the cardinals will not want to toy with the Malachy prophecy and elect a man named “Peter”–not after the disastrous papacy of Benedict XVI Ratzinger.

  8. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    February 11, 2013 11:14 pm

    The only thing I have heard that makes me, on the face of it, think there might be more to this story is this. Apparently plans have been in the works for a while to build his little monastery haven on Vatican grounds for him. Thus, it was likely not surprise for many, and Cardinal Dolan’s expressing great surprise is well, yet another example of the sort of basically harmless little secrets organizations keep. More conspiratorial types will wonder if the need to stay on Vatican grounds has something to do with immunity. More likely, as Raymond Arroyo said tonight — surprisingly off script for a moment– it is because he wants to be close enough to still be a heavy influence. Arroyo was quickly brought back “on script” by his guest Robert Royal who opined helpfully that he just wants a life of quiet contemplation. In the end, one can’t help but feel that this may be the single smartest thing the Pope has done, since becoming Pope. Catholics always did love T.S. Eliot….my end is my beginning…..

    • Cindy permalink
      February 12, 2013 11:16 am

      Do you honestly just think staying on Vatican grounds and having immunity is only for conspiratorial types? That amazes me that you can suggest that only conspiratorial types would think this. It isn’t as if the law suits filed against the church were not filed. It isn’t as if they do want this Pope to be convicted. Do you think they are wrong? Laughable.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        February 12, 2013 2:33 pm

        Cindy,

        I am not sure you are aware that you are interlocuting with someone that would hardly be taken by anyone as a defender of the RC Church. But as a cultural historian one of the things I know must be avoided like a medieval plague is the paranoid style in conceptual deductions. Use Ockham’s Razor instead. First negatively, so to speak. If the point were to avoid being extradited and also to avoid the scandal for the RC Church that such would bring, would you make the Vatican the nexus of the whole affair? Extremely unlikely. Just put on your thinking cap. I find “mass quantities” (as the Coneheads aid) of green tea helps with that.

        Indeed, the much more likely and unvarnished truth is that the wily old guy wants to control things from behind the throne. This is why Arroyo, who is nothing if not a regurgitator of things he has heard somewhere, probably spake the truth, a bit incautiously. In a more recent Realpolitik sense, then, Benedict’s action is more legible as kinda like Putin’s in relation to Medvedev, when the latter was head of Russia, but still held the reigns. The more telling historical precedent is not the last abdicating Pope, but in fact Emperor Charles V who abdicated in favor of his son, and lived in a monastery (!), and continued to have his vision rule while he was alive, with Phillip in charge.

        Robert Royal, in the aforementioned interview, said that we will be losing “Europe’s foremost humanities intellectual” or something like that. Well, nobody seriously believes anything like that in reference to his intellectual activities. But I do believe he is a supremely clever old fellow. I recognize the look of a fellow student of human nature’s frailties. That goes a long way in life.

        • Cindy permalink
          February 14, 2013 10:35 pm

          http://itccs.org/

          Did you happen to catch this yet Peter? I was just waiting for this to start.

        • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
          February 17, 2013 1:08 am

          Cindy,

          Interesting…..but I have have to say it all sounds a bit peremptory to me. It is all too neatly conspiratorial-sounding, and nothing in life ever works out that way. That is what I have learned from reading lots of history. Look, Ratzinger really needed to evade prosecution, there would be about 5 or 6 African governments that would be delighted to take him and build fabulous monasteries for him to live in. The idea that the RC Church would choose to relive its “prisoner of the Vatican” 19th Century nightmare again, with a former Pope, is really hard to credit. More like a Papal version of “Out of Africa” . Out of sight and out of mind, so to speak.

          Also, I am not here to defend him. Far from it. But looking at this case dispassionately, it first of all does not seem like it will come to that, And second, that if it did, they would find that this man was far removed from the real direct crimes that went on in the various dioceses where criminals were shuttled around. Those bishops are the ones who should have been prosecuted.

          If something does happen it will have one good effect, even if it probably goes nowhere. It remove the sense of smug invincibility that much of the RC clergy functions with in my experience. It is not that they feel all-powerful. Far from it. But they feel that a complex mixture of identity -needs in the laity
          and confusions outside the Church as to what all the details of Canon Law mean, basically gives them a sort of teflon. And it is amazing how well it has worked.

          This is why, also, if you notice, that the #1 complaint they have about the media is that “they don’t understand the Catholic church’ OOOOH AHHHH, it is all so complex and mysterious. Those of us who do understand those complexities intimately from close experience and graduate educations know that that complaint about being understood is not what it appears to be. It is not a plea for understanding, but a de facto hope that people will please-please remain ignorant and thus cowed by their feeling of lack-of-knwoledge. For once they are understood, they know the jig is up.

          And the jig is truly up for them. But in a real way, not a “everything-is-connected” paranoid way. The jig is up because even their adherents do not believe them, though they continue to “love them”. And Catholic journalists are not ashamed to write things like “How I came to love Pope Benedict.” The point is you may need to love him on safari in the future.

    • Kurt permalink
      February 12, 2013 1:48 pm

      I am surprised he is not going to a monastery far from Rome, maybe Germany. I also read he is actually going to a community of women, which I find odd.

      • Kimberley permalink
        February 14, 2013 2:44 pm

        This is my vote for most ridiculous comment of the month.

        • Kurt permalink
          February 14, 2013 6:35 pm

          How so?

  9. dominic1955 permalink
    February 12, 2013 2:09 am

    Like the last time, I think all the media touting of who they think are “Papabile” will prove incorrect. The Church will get a new Pope, and he’ll be Catholic. He won’t change moral law, he won’t do anything the World will expect of him. Those who are imobile in their Cargo Cult expectation of the next “Good Pope John (Frum)” will be sorely disappointed. The gates of hell will never prevail against the Church, he won’t do what the editorial board of the New York Times wants him to do.

    Will the next Pope be from the 3rd World? Who cares. Will he be black, brown or yellow? Again, who cares. Will he be another Italian-same deal, who cares! Whomever he will be, he will be the Vicar of Christ. He will preach One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism.

    • dominic1955 permalink
      February 12, 2013 2:13 am

      P.S. Truth be told, I hope (unrealistically, I freely admit) that Cardinal Burke is chosen. Talk whatever BS you want, I knew him as an ordinary and superior and he is truly a humble man of God and someone who does not bend to the whims of the day.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      February 12, 2013 7:35 am

      “Will the next Pope be from the 3rd World? Who cares. Will he be black, brown or yellow? Again, who cares. Will he be another Italian-same deal, who cares! Whomever he will be, he will be the Vicar of Christ. He will preach One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism.”

      I will care. To claim that it will not matter is to assert that a white, Western European understanding of Catholicism is normative, and that Catholics from Asia, Latin America and Africa should conform their religious understanding and expression to those norms. It is disingenuous to say that any pope will “preach One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism” since it ignores the the fact that grace is mediated through human instruments. A man born and raised amid the crushing poverty and class divisions of Latin America, or an Asian raised in a part of the world where Catholics are a small minority will have different experiences and a different understanding of what it means to be a Catholic in the world today. Having a Pope with such perspectives will bring a new perspective to the Church, one I think the Church needs to listen to more closely.

      • Julia Smucker permalink*
        February 12, 2013 11:02 am

        This speaks to what I was getting at in my previous post. A pope whose life experiences have taught him not to take for granted that the Church runs the show could bring a new depth of humility to the office.

        In a different way, Benedict has already done the same. I imagine it will go down in history that the most radical act of his papacy was leaving it.

      • Ronald King permalink
        February 13, 2013 9:47 am

        A most excellent comment.

    • Kurt permalink
      February 13, 2013 11:41 am

      The Church will get a new Pope, and he’ll be Catholic. He won’t change moral law, he won’t …

      And like Benedict XVI and John Paul II, the next pope will continue to give communion to pro-choice politicans.

  10. Jordan permalink
    February 12, 2013 1:23 pm

    My take is this: Cdl. Ratzinger performed as “shadow pope” during the end-stage phases of John Paul II’s struggle with Parkinson’s. Maybe Pope Benedict merely wishes to spare his secretary of state or another cardinal from having to be his shadow pope during his decline in health. If this is the case, I find Pope Benedict’s decision to be eminently reasonable and even charitable.

    Peter Paul Fuchs’ [February 11, 2013 3:06 pm] aptly observes that Pope Benedict’s resignation is perhaps a sign of the disintegration or even conclusion of the monarchical papacy. If cardinals cease to be electors past age 80, then perhaps popes should resign at 80 or older. I doubt that canon law would be changed to force popes to retire at any time. Still, canon law could be revised so that a clear procedure for retirement and the transition of power exists for popes who wish to retire due to advanced age or failing health.

  11. dismasdolben permalink
    February 12, 2013 7:50 pm

    Sorry, but Pope Ratzinger is no sicker now than he was when he was elected. There is a reason beyond the ones he has given for his “retirement.” The one that is the most innocent is that he wishes to influence the direction of the Church AWAY from “the Spirit of Vatican II” by writing theological tomes that are even more reactionary than what he has previously penned. And then there are other possible reasons–some of them stretching all the way back to his tenure as Cardinal-Archbishop in Munich…

    • Jordan permalink
      February 13, 2013 8:37 am

      dismasdolben [February 12, 2013 7:50 pm]: We need to chill a bit. Let’s give Pope Benedict the benefit of the doubt and presume that his intentions are honest. It’s helpful not to fall into a left-wing version of the bizarro conspiracy theories of the radical traditionalists with regard to the reform of the Mass (i.e.the KGB/CIA/Masons/Elders of Zion/The Blob destroyed the Mass!)

      Even if it turns out post-conclave that now Joseph Cdl. Ratzinger committed a crime, would the Church continue to function? Of course. Catholicism’s survived the Avignon papacy, the Borgias, Napoleon, and the Risorgimento, just to name a few characters and events. non prevalebunt.

      • February 13, 2013 7:18 pm

        You do realize, right, that, at the time that all of the phenomena you are describing took place, very few people in the world actually knew about them? That is why the current paedophile scandals are of far greater gravity than, say, the “Ball of the Chestnuts” in the Borgia Vatican or the sybaratic luxuriousness of the papal household at Avignon.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        February 13, 2013 11:42 pm

        Jordan,

        I keep saying it, and people think I am kidding. The only verifiable conspiracy that has transpired is that of the St. Louis Jesuits and their music. Did you know they have done studies and singing “Eagle Wings” and “Here I am Lord” have led to healthful brain chemicals and sped the onset of Alzheimer’s. No wonder so many elderly priests ordained since the 70’s are in bad mental shape!

      • Jordan permalink
        February 14, 2013 1:51 pm

        re: dismasdolben [February 13, 2013 7:18 pm]: It’s true that the fantastic availability of media (overdose on media?) in these days greatly rivals any other period of recorded history. Certainly, 14th and 15th century Europe was to some extent purposefully designed so that the vast proportion of the illiterate population was essentially sealed off from any political or social information.

        Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Pope Benedict resigned because he actively thwarted the indictment of a notorious abuser. Will this dissolve the essential mission and nature of the papal institution? Greater fundamental changes to the nature of the papacy have taken place in the past 50 years, and the Church has retained its characteristic mission. The Church survived Paul VI’s abdication of the temporal monarchy in 1964 and JP I’s abolition of the coronation in 1978. Now, papal resignations might become more common as more and more people live into their 80s.

        We know now that JPII did not actively persue laicization for Maciel and an investigation of the wrongdoings of the Legion of Christ; Pope Benedict was to deliver justice. If Pope Benedict has acted similarly to John Paul, then his successor will unfortunately be left to deliver justice in turn. Is this distressing to the laity? Certainly. Will malfeasance destroy the institution? I’m doubtful.

  12. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    February 18, 2013 6:46 pm

    I re-read my comment above, and want to clarify, because it sounds a bit like a blanket defense of the Pope. Strange, coming from me, so let me me focus on what I mean. The real problem with all those scandals is the failure to acknowledge the very long-standing de facto tradition of the sybaritic priest, pastor and bishop in his little fiefdom. I am not saying that all clerics high or low were such, or even most. But there were historically a lot of them , and I knew enough personally to be sure of this in personal confirmation as well. And they became very influential in the USCCB.The highest good is not to have anything rock the boat in the fiefdom, and a scandal is a big rocking wave. Now I am not a fan of a lot of things Benedict XVI did. But I think it is really hard or impossible to look at his life and career and see him as one of the sybarites. The previous Pope likely chose him because they were alike that way, except that Benedict was the more internal and bookish. Whether or not Benedict was or is a “great intellectual” is not the issue (and I vote that he was not such). But he certainly does not seem like one of the sybarites. There’s the point.

    So it is NOT that it is inconceivable that he could have been guilty of trying to cover the whole matter. But that is not the same thing as wanting it to continue. And by continue, I mean the whole set of of sybarite types where they have a scene where they can both be “respectable” and get away with a lot of weird stuff. Those of us who have experienced that weird stuff know that the laity does not want to believe it. They want to see these guys as people who have made sacrifices for the Church. They always point to how little priests make, etc, etc. What I always want to say is– well, if you add it all up it is a pretty cushy life– simple. They can’t believe it is that simple– I can. In the real world, it takes a lot to get a life half as cushy as that, realistically. That’s the real world. To get more than that you have to be pretty clever or brilliant, and I can tell you that most people I knew in the seminary were nether. Look at something close to home for this blog. Go online and look as I did recently at the C.V. for David Cruz Uribe. Look what it takes to have a secure job at a nice Catholic college, you have got to be producing a zillion articles and be brilliant enough to do it. I am not trying to flatter David, but trying to make a realistic point. Most priests and bishops are not half as smart, and yet they hold nice cushy lives and societal positions utterly incommensurate with what it would take ANYPLACE else in society, ironically even in non-clerical Catholic positions. So THIS is the real backstory of the abuse scandal.

    And I am not saying this to be holier-than-thou either. I am a bit of a luxury -lover myself, though I have a strong monkish side too. But I would never recommend myself for certain positions.’ Not by a long shot. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, and that starts with knowing that you do not possess every virtue. But such commonsense has been an epic fail for the RC Church for millenia now.

    Anyways, Benedict does not to fit in with that. And that is the point. It would seem a great shame to condemn the very sort of person who is not the problematic sort to begin with in the organization. And it is not inconceivable to me that, given the almost anarchic pressures of authoritarian globalism, that some people see this old-world Mozart lover as just the sort of person who is in their way. I am not saying that they conspired, or even could, to trump up charges in a judicial setting. Just that they would be happy not to let rationality ultimately intervene and coherence rule. They may not care one bit really about the terrible abuse matter at hand, as the prosecutors surely do in their honorable investigation. But they will not do anything to avert what seems like a big forest for the trees misalignment of judicial purposes. That the Catholic Church stands for something more than consumerist globalism is a giant inconvenience. Joseph Ratzinger is perhaps a symbol of what is in their way, in their way to a braver, newer world. . I say none of this to applaud him personally, just remember I was there for the Curran debacle. But this seems a strange way to pursue the real interests of justice in this case, and it smells wrong to me.

    • David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
      February 18, 2013 8:15 pm

      Not flattered, but rather a bit embarrassed. I sometimes wish the College did not post my CV online.

      Two points, one large and one small:

      Small point: Trinity is historically an Episcopalian school, not Catholic. Catholics are either a plurality or a majority of the student body, but our chaplain (a very nice woman) is Episcopalian.

      Large point: academics, in my opinion, have achieved a relatively cushy position as well. Yes, we labored mightily for our PhDs, but no harder than for many other credentials. Heck, my uncle probably worked harder to get his union card. And while the pay is abysmal compared to other similar professions, we get a lot of nice perks—in my case, lots of foreign travel. I add this point not to detract from your fundamental point, but to put things into some context.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        February 19, 2013 12:13 am

        David,

        I think the best way I could answer your observation is this. First, it is good to have accomplished a lot. Second, context matters. My husband sat on a hiring committee a little while ago for two lawyer jobs, and there were over 400 applications, most with more than a JD, meaning an additional Masters in Taxation. The world is harsh, that is the point I am making. But, tellingly, the jobs in DC are not the most desirable jobs. The jobs in less frenzied, and less expensive places than DC, but ones that are still PAYED the same are most hotly desired. It is all relative. We live in house we could never afford now.and will move on to our retirement destination to a market, that I hope will be less hot than here. Please God. It is all a big game of relativity. What matters is to do something that one cares about, and accomplish something, whatever it is. I like that you don’t put on airs about it, but congrats anyways. I could barely get through Algebra II in high school. But people are different. That is what makes the world go round :)

  13. March 5, 2013 6:34 pm

    Hey there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

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