Friday, 16 April 2010

Sancte Pater - Ad Multos Annos


One expects, in the normal scheme of things, that at 83 years one is leading a quiet and gentle life in retirement, contributing as one is able to.
This is not to be for the Pope. Some years back he spoke of his retirement and the possibility of living with his brother Georg in his native land. The Servant of God John Paul II always delayed this, until that day five years ago when Iosef Ratzinger was asked the most difficult question of his life: "Do you accept the office of Supreme Pontiff?" Thanks be to God he did. In a world that lives on sound-bites and scarps of information we have a Pope who argues his position in great depth; in a world deeply confused we have a Pope who is loyal to Truth and thus as lucid as light.
Many people wondered why the College of Cardinals chose Ratzinger to be Pope; a scholarly, retiring bureaucrat; a stark anticlimax to his predecessor who managed to communicate with the masses even when very ill. Cardinal Ratzinger's position as head of the Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith for so many years had not endeared him overmuch to the rank and file of the Catholic world. However, Benedict XVI ascended to the Throne of St Peter without much deliberation on the part of the conclave.
Since then, Benedict XVI has been struggling with the monsters of the deep which have emerged, intent on destroying the Catholic Church. The most virulent of the monsters are the escalating paedophilia scandals and the threat of Islam and secularism to a Europe that is culturally Christian, yet, in moral disarray.
It is pretty obvious to me now that the College of Cardinals was well aware that these monsters were, sooner rather than later, going to grow apocalyptically. Who was better positioned to face them than the head of CDF who had been dealing with them for so many years? Furthermore, just imagine had they decided to elect a young reformer. Imagine the paedophile scandals reaching epic proportions when the Church was in the midst of a delicate process of self renewal? All reforms would have been dashed and the troubles of the Church infinitely magnified.
The election of Benedict XVI was no accident but part of a bigger picture (the Holy Spirit) that is only emerging now. Joseph Ratzinger accepted the position in the full knowledge that it fell to him to reap a whirlwind that very few other Pontiffs have been unlucky enough to contend with. I feel that he willingly accepted the Papacy in order to bear the brunt of decades upon decades of misguided policy both with regard to the internal rot within the Church's ranks and the alarming infiltration of secular fundamentalism in Europe, or as Cardinal Ruini has just said, “the objectively very serious sins of some priests on the one hand and the strong desire to put the entire Church and especially the Pope on the bench of the accused on the other: a profoundly unjust and unfounded thing, because Benedict XVI is exactly the opposite of that which some wish to make him appear to be.”
This is why I believe that we must seriously pray for this Pope who will be among us in September. His burden is huge. The growing atheist and agnostic choruses of disapproval are shrieking for the total annihilation of the Catholic Church. The Vatican, meanwhile, has not stopped asking to be forgiven. 
Benedict XVI has been vilified without any fault of his own in the international media like no other Pope in history but like the Lord himself.  On his frail octogenarian shoulders he is bearing the sins of so many and, like a lamb to the slaughter, he is undergoing this terrible trial with great courage and equanimity. He will, mark my words, go down in history as a witness for the Faith.
So Holy Father, on this day: Deo gratias and Happy Birthday, my prayers are with you!

1 comment:

Fr Ross Northing SSC said...

and as a truly 'Great' Pope.

Father, thank you for this post - a wonderful correective to some of the libel, bile and sheer hypocrisy that is found in 'certain elements' of the TV and Newspapers.