57 thoughts on “Pope Benedict to retire

    • Don’t despair. Eight years ago the more progressive candidates went nowhere, and I don’t think the college has moved Left since then.

      • In fact, it’s probably moved slightly right on average, but we have to be careful about extrapolating from that. Ratzinger was a bulldog, but he was also one of JPII’s closest advisers and friends, a prominent curial official, and a well-respected thinker and theologian in general, so he was a logical choice to succeed him. There’s no logical choice here, so the next Pope is likely to be closer to Cardinal Schoenborn than Cardinal Ranjith.

    • Yes, it’s fantastic. I’m happy to say that one of our Canadian clergymen seems to be on the short list… but I’m hoping for an ultra-conservative black African. That would be so awesome.

      • It is hardly a traditional position to hope for a non-European to be pope. This is not to say that a non-European could not or should not be pope; that is a separate issue. But the hope for a non-white to rule over whites is a liberal hope, the same hope that gave us Obama.

        Having said that, I do see your modifier: “ultra-conservative.” I assume that is your main goal here. If it takes a black man to save the Catholic Church from its suicidal liberalism, then that would be a very good thing indeed. It would be similar to Lutheran churches aligning with African synods in response to the apostasy in American Lutheranism.

        Disclaimer: as a Protestant, you might think I have no dog in this fight, but the pope is the most visible face of Christianity in the world. Who the pope is and what he does affects non-Christians’ perceptions of all of us, Catholic or otherwise. I wish for a wise and godly (and yes, ultra-conservative) man who will turn Catholicism away from its disastrous fling with liberalism.

      • But the hope for a non-white to rule over whites is a liberal hope, the same hope that gave us Obama.

        No, it’s not the same dynamic at all. The majority of Catholics aren’t white, and within 50 years 3/4 of Catholics will be non-white.

      • Interesting. I didn’t know that. Thank you for the correction, Vanessa. Although I knew the de-Christianization of the Western world was continuing apace (and we all suffer the ill effects), I did not know it affected the Catholic church this deeply.

        Although I am glad that the gospel is being preached to all the world, I cannot help but be saddened to see one of the pillars of our civilization—Christianity—crumble. In Europe, Christianity came and civilized the barbarians; as Christianity goes out, we revert to barbarism. With our increasingly globalized world, we are more capable than ever before of inflicting our barbarity not just on ourselves but on the rest of the world as well.

        Perhaps it will take Christian outsiders to bring us back to the flock.

      • Catholic birthrates in Europe have plunged, and many have simply left the Church. It’s a mission field now. It hasn’t been obvious from media coverage of the RCC because the pope and cardinals are overwhelmingly white, but this is generational and will soon change.

        Obviously, this is a cause of both sadness and frustration for me, especially as we’re making plans to move back to lonely Europe and away from our overflowing American parish, but there it is.

  1. I would not be surprised if it was a black or hispanic pope for the next one but I am also reminded of Saint Malachys prophecy of the last pope Petrus Romanus but I not think this man will be some helper in the tribulation but rather this might be the false prophet of Revelation so you guys might not be far off saying he will be some kind of leftist.

  2. Heard a pretty good one just now on Catholic Radio. The announcer remarked that with every election since J1P1, the liberals get all hot with excitement that *finally* we will get a progressive Pope who will get the Church moving into the modern world. Then, when the news of the election breaks, a huge collective groan arises: “Oh, NO! They’ve put another *Catholic* in there!”

    That’s what we’ll hear unless the new Pope is a 3rd World devotee of Liberation Theology, feminism and the New Age.

    • Definitely not true of JPII, though this is pretty standard ConservaCatholic spin at this point. The guy was a major contributor to Gaudium et Spes, the most regrettable of the Vatican II documents. He wrote it with his good friend Hans Kung, the uber-liberal heretic. He was, at the time of his election and for a while thereafter, a fan of what ConservaCatholics usually call liturgical abuse. At the time of his election, his anticommunism was not so obvious and widely known—he was, after all, the communists’ hand-chosen candidate to be ordinary of Krackow. And, he chose the name John Paul.

      JPII ended up being a disappointment to the lunatic fringe, but he was not greeted with groans in liberal corners. He was a compromise candidate in the conclave and acceptable to the liberals.

  3. I fear the two most likely scenarios are: 1) a wet rag like the new Archbishop of Canterbury or, 2) a representative of the third world. Either way, the Liberals are likely to be upset because the new Pope will not be a raging feminist race-baiter and we Traditionalists are sure to be disgusted because he will be another useful tool of Modernity.

    In good times we take pride in having such a renowned global representative and leader of our Church. In bad times we are seriously frustrated and disheartened. At least Protestants do not have to deal with this.

    • Look, the black guys in any real consideration are very conservative and anti-modern. I am a little sick of the meme that anyone black must needs be liberal despite all their actual not-liberal actions, beliefs and viewpoints.

      • Do you know much about the black cardinals in contention? I’ve heard it said that Peter Turkson (who I’d never heard of before today) OK’d contraception in his diocese, although I wonder if this is another instance of our incompetent media mangling some more sophisticated theological point like they did with Benedict a while ago.

        Also, whatever’s true of the African Cardinals, the ones from Asia and South America are, with few exceptions, not where we would look to for inspiration. Brazil, for instance, is a hellhole of charismatic gobbledygook, circus Masses, etc.

      • Arinze is not “very conservative.” He dislikes the Tridentine Mass. He has, in the past, said nice things without saying nice things about liturgical dance. He seems to have been reliably obedient, but that’s not the same thing at all.

      • Bill, his position is quite a bit more nuanced than that. He is an interesting figure, as are all the names tossed around for serious consideration.

      • Proph,

        I assume this is what you are referring to. Cardinal Turkson supports allowing condoms in marriages where either the wife or husband has HIV/AIDS and the other does not. That seems like an issue left to the more theologically inclined than myself to judge.

        However, he is the man that called for a central world bank and global taxation on financial transactions, read ‘Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the context of a Global Public Authority’. Cardinal Turkson is also the one who played that Islam taking over Europe video at the international meeting of bishops back in October.

      • I am a little sick of the meme that anyone black must needs be liberal despite all their actual not-liberal actions, beliefs and viewpoints.

        Completely agreed. Likewise I am getting annoyed with the view that the selection of a black pope would necessarily represent “pandering”. I think the election of a conservative African would be awesome for several reasons, including: it would cause at least a bit of cognitive dissonance amongst liberals (always a positive); it would be a manifestation of the principle that the Body of Christ is a worldwide body (always a good reminder); it would aid in combating some of the genuinely evil racism that creeps in when we spend time opposing leftist racial politics (in the vein of “When you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you…”).

      • That seems like an issue left to the more theologically inclined than myself to judge.

        Good grief. Would condoms be OK to prevent the transmission of gonorrhea, too? If this is a hard problem in moral theology, then every problem in moral theology must be hard.

        The consequentialism is so thick you can taste it.

  4. I have my usual question when the hierarchy does stuff like this. What can we infer from it? It is an almost unprecedented act. The two precedents (in two thousand years!) involve, in one case, healing the Western Schism, and, in the other case, utter and complete mismanagement by the Pope.

    The reasons given for the resignation are, while I am sure not false, not useful. Surely other Popes have gotten old. I even dimly remember this Polish dude who was old, infirm, sick, medicated, and unable to do much of anything unassisted for years and years. To a great extent, of course, we are deadened to these dramatic, unprecedented acts at this point, but still. The sheer wildness of the Popes beginning with John XXIII is an interesting phenomenon.

    I wonder also whether HH is planning to make any Cardinals in the next two weeks. Abp Mueller was thought to be in line for a red hat. Does he get one?

    • I even dimly remember this Polish dude who was old, infirm, sick, medicated, and unable to do much of anything unassisted for years and years.

      I suspect that’s exactly what he wants to avoid. A lot of things fell onto Benedict’s plate that could’ve been handled during JPII’s pontificate if not for his ill health. If I recall, Ratzinger was a vocal advocate for papal abdication prior to this, so it’s not really unanticipated.

      The question about making new cardinals is a good one. I don’t know what the etiquette here would be, but he’s still Pope, so there’s nothing stopping him from making new Cardinals. Another question: will he (please, God, please) pull Mahony’s red hat?

      • I suspect that’s exactly what he wants to avoid.

        How come he acts on such a desire, whereas not a single one of his predecessors ever has?

      • Well, we can only speculate. Maybe he wants to have a firmer say in who succeeds him while he still has the health and presence of mind to make such recommendations. These are odd and unusual times, after all, and there’s rarely ever been greater risk of the Cardinals making a truly catastrophic error in electing his successor.

      • If I recall, Ratzinger was a vocal advocate for papal abdication prior to this, so it’s not really unanticipated.

        Yes, he’s mentioned it in interviews before, but nobody took him seriously. He thinks the job is too hard, too international, and too important for an invalid. The final straw appears to be that his doctor informed him that he is no longer healthy enough for international flights.

      • How come he acts on such a desire, whereas not a single one of his predecessors ever has?

        It used to be that if you were old and sick, they’d hold a candlelight vigil and wait for you to die. Now, it can go on like that for decades. We saw that with JPII, and Benedict probably inherited a pile of work and a big mess.

  5. Look, the black guys in any real consideration are very conservative and anti-modern. I am a little sick of the meme that anyone black must needs be liberal despite all their actual not-liberal actions, beliefs and viewpoints.

    I fully agree. Since the most orthodox arms of the Church, Catholic or Protestant, tend to be not among the Europeans, but among the African church, I marvel at the line of thinking on this. I’m just a lowly Protestant, but this interests me so I appreciate your allowing my comments.

    It’s true that the liberal Western press will be foaming from the mouths at the prospect of a non-European Pope. However, in the unlikely event of such an appointment, said Pope will quickly disappoint them with his rigid, old fashioned, backwater thinking on their most precious battle fields, birth control, female ordination, and priestly celibacy. Of that I have no doubt.

    as to the issue of social justice, the Catholic Church has done a bang up job of siding with liberals more often than not on the issues of health care, welfare, etc. even with European Popes at the helm. Let’s not forget that little tidbit of truth.

    • I can easily imagine a Cardinal Arinze going nuclear on the (mostly white) social leftist forces in the church, and infallibly defining a bunch of dogmas that already are clear univocal teaching. But NPR Church-Ladies would have to speak in hushed, admiring tones about him. It would be kinda funny, but I’m not sure that sort of thing would really be best in a pope. Pope’s gotta be good cop vis-a-vis various Bishops’ bad cop routine.

      • There is certainly pleasure to be found in imagining it, Bohemund.

        A friend of mine and I volunteered to be ushers for a mass over which Cardinal Arinze was the chief celebrant. My pal was an atheist at the time (though now an ultramontanist!) and I was an agnostic, but we both wanted to support Arinze for his strong prolife convictions. There were campus protests and a nasty propaganda campaign leading up to Arinze’s arrival. My friend and I were accused of being Nazis for helping out!!! You all remember the Third Reich’s love of Negroes and papists, right?

        Anyway, it was not my first taste of leftist madness, but it impressed in my mind the foamed mouth rage of the God haters. I was not sure about Christianity, but I knew that its enemies were utterly depraved.

      • I have to admit that I take some pleasure in the thought of a non-Western pope telling the Western feminists to be silent and go make him a sandwich.

        It would finally destroy the “evil white male” rhetoric, as well.

    • Please never apologize for being a Protestant, Elspeth! If we thought our Catholic brethren were correct in doctrine and practice, we would join them, just as they would join us if they thought that about our doctrine and practice.

      Be that as it may, while the selection of a non-white/non-European pope would certainly have some benefits in the conflict with liberalism, I think that the overall effect and influence of the next pope will depend more on his views, and his will and ability to implement them, than his race.

      Or so I hope, anyway. It’s hard to imagine a race-hustler pope, but given the depravity of our wicked world, I don’t think it can be absolutely ruled out.

  6. Other Popes have gotten old, but in the past we didn’t have the medical knowledge to keep them alive for so long. Quite possibly the pope has been diagnosed with something that will severely affect his mental reasoning, and doesn’t want to risk leading like that. Would you want a Pope with Alzheimer’s leading the church for 15 years?

  7. I have felt for a long time, even longer than I’ve been Catholic, that it should be perfectly normal for Popes to resign before they deteriorate. JPII spent at least five years dying–a period during which much work that a pontiff must do just doesn’t get done. Blessed JPII was singularly incapable of dealing with the sex abuse crisis, for example.

    I think Benedict witnessed this first hand, and is unwilling to see things to that way at the end of his life, and may hope to set a precedent for future popes to do the same.

    It really should not be so rare.

    I am sad to see BXVI go, but he will be able to exercise some indirect influence over the selection of his successor, and I’m pretty certain that no cultural marxist will take the chair. How many cultural marxist Cardinals are there anyway?

  8. Why do I feel like I’m living through the final chapters of Fr. Malachi Martin’s “Windswept House?”

    I’m reminded of an old joke that made the rounds during the last conclave: “When white smoke emerges from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, we’ll know that we have a pope. When white smoke emerges from Andrew Sullivan’s ears, we’ll know our pope is Catholic.”

  9. I know this is a strange thought, but perhaps the Pope is resigning now because God made it known to him more directly than is the norm that it is time. He does do that sometimes you know.

    • I have little doubt that this could be. God even makes things known to us through common sense.

      I cannot imagine Ratzinger isn’t thinking back to the 5 or more years the Church suffered while his predecessor could neither govern nor die.

      I only hope that, because of Benedict’s brave move, papal retirements become more common.

  10. Christopher Ferrara’s response to the Pope’s “retirement” is very perceptive and helpful. Go to The Remnant newspaper online; Mr. Ferrara’s article is on the main page.

    • I had never even heard of the TLM until I moved to the States. That said, we belong to a notoriously orthodox parish and there’s no TLM here. Just Latin music sprinkled into the Novus Ordo, like the Sanctus.

      • This is a good point. There is no necessary connection between the Tridentine Mass or concern for good liturgy generally and traditionalism. The connection is a historical accident. When the anti-modernist Popes drove the Modernist theologians underground, they hid in whatever handy backwater they could find. Liturgy was such a backwater. The fact that someone likes the TLM is not a guarantee that they are traditionalist and need not even be strongly indicative (though, at the moment, it is). And vice versa.

        Still, what Proph says is right. Since TLM fandom is currently indicative of traditionalism, 11/118 is pretty bad.


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