The Pope’s Abandonment is a Catastrophe

“No more nice words: The resignation is a catastrophe” via Rorate Caeli
24 February 2013

St. Michael

“No more nice words: The resignation is a catastrophe”
“Benedict XVI: why have you abandoned us?”
In the semi-official daily of the French Church, La Croix, two conservative Catholic thinkers express their dismay (note: the authors, as it can be noticed, are not Traditional Catholics; the declaration, “we are all Sedevacantists”, is a mere statement of fact regarding the upcoming period of vacant see.)

La Croix

The Pope’s abandonment is a catastrophe
OP-ED Pierre Dulau & Martin Steffens, philosophy professors

In view of death, John Paul II addressed the world and told it: “Be not afraid”. Reaching what seems to be the same position [in life], Benedict XVI resigns. One could see in these so diametrically opposed attitudes two complementary aspects of man: one, by which a supernatural courage pushes, to the very heart of unspeakable sufferings, to continue to fulfill his responsibility; the other, by which a very human weakness (in this sense a true inheritor to Saint Peter) leads to resignation.

Nevertheless, whatever may be the justifications we may give to this decision, the fact is there: this resignation by the pope is a catastrophe. It is an event that is rarely found in History, a fact that, in its symbolic violence, is a portrait of our time.

The Papacy is, in the West, the very last function of which it is commonly accepted by all that it engages the one who entered it “up until death”. This “till death” means at least two things. First, that human life is not its own goal: our life has no meaning if not linked to a greater Life to which we may, in justice, sacrifice everything – exactly as the love of the spouses, “till death” as well, takes its meaning from beyond itself, in a promise that does not cease existing.

This “till death” recalls consequently that the pope, a “pontiff”, is the arch that links Earth to Heaven, that is, by the threshold of death, finite life to infinite Life. A pope who resigns is a bridge that decides not to reach the other side where promise lies, [a destination] of which it is the assurance, and that leads there all those who left the point of departure.

To rupture this arch by way of a unilateral decision means as well to join hands with the global movement of non-commitment that strikes the entire Western symbolic order (and of which the mounting moral barbarity is the necessary flip side). Parenthood? Yes, but if we are in the mood for it, as long as we are in the mood for it. Marriage? Yes, if I can get divorced. To be in charge? Why not, if that does not deprive me of my right to happiness… There where a word is given that opens the door of life to something greater than itself, there also that word is broken, mocked, relegated as old oddities. And even a pope should resign? A CEO or a president may resign. A pope is fired by death.

We hear everywhere, amidst the usual mockery and vulgar comments, that this decision by the pope is eminently respectable, that it shows great humility, a great interior freedom. That same individual freedom that the Pope himself never ceased denouncing, viewing it in the more generous perspective of rendered service? As for humility, does it not consist rather of accepting a responsibility that bothers our own immediate nature? The weight that he must carry is, undoubtedly, too heavy for him. But, if it were not, he would not be the pope.

What is the point, therefore, in order to justify this historic rupture, of alluding to changes that affect the world, the inhuman speed of a reality made technical even in its most intimate recesses? Christians are capable of following a sick, infirm, wounded leader, drained of his forces: they proved it in the past by following a guilty man according to the law. They proved that gentleness is invincible, and that pain is not eternal for the Just. They proved it, precisely because, at regular intervals, someone as frail as them would tell them: “Be not afraid”.

What is the point of speaking of the need of having at the helm of the Church one who is in full possession of his powers? A person who can say this demonstrates by this very fact that he is in full possession of his own means and that, unless he takes medical predictions as oracles, he still enjoys full use of his own self.

Let us then brutally affirm, in other to render justice to the confusion that is that of a not small number of Catholics: today, in fact, we are all Sedevacantists. We say it in an unreasonable fashion in order to express this dismay that the polite comments of those who wish to keep up appearances wish to shut down: after February 11, the seat of the papacy is vacant, as if to give reason to those who are most extreme in the field occupied by the Society of Saint Pius X.

Of course, Christianity has never been more needed than at those times of its own impossibility. This religion welcomes crisis as Christ welcomed the Cross. Without a Pope, as incredible as it may seem, it is in frailty that Catholicism will have to reveal its strength. But it is still necessary that this ordeal be named and recognized by those affected by it. Hope cannot ignore this cry that, today, calls out for it strongly: our pope, why have you abandoned us?

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3 comments on “The Pope’s Abandonment is a Catastrophe

  1. Benedict XVI: “But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. ”

    St Paul the Apostle: “And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful. ”

    The difference between a Saint and a Quitter.

  2. Aurea Domus

    The title of the commentary leaves no room for doubt:

    “Why pope Ratzinger-Benedict XVI should withdraw his resignation. It is not yet the time for a new pope, because it would be that of an antipope.”

    Radaelli moves from the words of the risen Jesus to the apostle Peter, in chapter 21 of the gospel of John. He gathers from this that “the cross is the status of every Christian” and therefore “rebelling against one’s status, rejecting a grace received, would appear to be for a Christian a grave offense against the virtue of hope, against the grace and the supernatural value of accepting one’s human condition, all the more grave if the condition involves roles ‘in sacris,’ as is the condition, of all the most eminent, of pope.”

    As the Peter of the “Quo vadis” who while fleeing from Rome runs into Jesus who is going to die in his place, so “it happens when the pope (but also the least of the faithful) flees from the place where Christ has driven him to endure, to suffer, perhaps to die: it happens that Christ goes to endure, to suffer, perhaps even to die, yes, in his place.”

    It is true – Radaelli acknowledges – that canon 333 of the code of canon law establishes that a pope has the power to resign, “but I say that not even the pope has such power, because it would be the exercise of an absolute power that contrasts with being one’s very self.” And “it is impossible even for God” not to be what he is.

    The resignation of a pope – he continues – even if permitted legally, “is not permitted metaphysically and mystically, because in metaphysics it is bound up with the kernel of being, which does not permit something at the same time both to be and not to be, and in mysticism is bound up with the kernel of the mystical Body which is the Church, through which the office of vicar taken on [by the successor of Peter] with the oath of election places the being of the elect on an ontological plane substantially different from the one left behind: on the metaphysically and spiritually highest plane of Vicar of Christ.”

    And again:

    “Not considering these facts is in my view a murderous blow to dogma. Resigning means losing the universal name of Peter and going back to the private being of Simon, but this cannot be, because the name of Peter, of Cephas, of Rock, is given on a divine plane to a man who, in receiving it, no longer makes only himself, but ‘makes Church.’ Without counting the fact that since the self-removed pope cannot in reality resign, the incoming pope, despite himself, will be nothing but an antipope. And reigning will be he, the antipope, not the true pope.”

    Radaelli concludes:

    “The final consideration is therefore this: pope Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI should not resign, but should draw back from such a supreme decision, recognizing its character as metaphysically and mystically impracticable, and thus also legally unfounded. Not the resignation, but its withdrawal becomes an act of supernatural courage, and God only knows how much the Church needs a pope who is supernaturally, and not humanly, courageous. A pope lauded not by the ‘liberals’ of all the earth, but by the angels of all of heaven. A martyr pope moreover, a young lion of the Lord, brings more souls to heaven than a hundred resigned popes.”

  3. “But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength.”

    ECS220, you picked the sweet quote. This says it all about the Vatican II collegial pope. He’s not the monarch, the Rock, the Supreme Pontiff. He is just a hired hand, one among many, who can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love. He thinks he can become professor emeritus, have another chair at the table, just not first chair. Bovine Scatology, to quote Rush.

    Yes, Fr. Joe, old boy, the dirty Triumphalist Church has been razed. No King, no Cathedra, no tiara. von Balthasar would be proud, if he could see through the flames.

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