12 February 2013

Bidding a sad farewell

The Holy Father of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, announced earlier today that he would be resigning from the See of St Peter, for reasons of waning health. A sad day for us, even non-Roman Catholics like me, who found in his writings and sermons a strident and powerful voice for engaging the culture with both humane social teaching and a strong foundation in the traditions of the Church - in witness both against soulless, consumeristic and alienating late capitalism; and against soulless, consumeristic and alienating anti-cultures of death. I believe Holy Father Benedict XVI shall continue to serve God and his Church with the faithfulness he always has even in his retirement, and I pray that he may recover his health and be at peace in his retirement years.

Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.


  1. Hello Matt.

    This was indeed a surprising news for me. I would just like to ask you, what can you say about the so-called 'conservative' and 'progressive' tussle for influence in the Catholic Church - which Benedict's resignation will eventually or has eventually cause up again that issue - and by extension the entire Christian world?


  2. Hi Idrian!

    There are people far better qualified to remark upon such issues than I am, but my primary impression was that the political angle was more of a tempest in a teakettle than anything else. The problem with Catholic 'progressives' and 'conservatives', at least where I come from, is that both sides are right about a number of issues, are wrong about a number of issues, and are equally infected by the bandwagoning of American secular politics.

    Pope Benedict XVI has generally been viewed with hostility by the Anglo-American Catholic left, and with obsequious defence by the Anglo-American Catholic right. What I have tried to do on occasion here on my blog is to show that Benedict leans solidly left-of-centre on a number of issues that matter: the crisis of late capitalism and the need for social justice for labour being foremost among them. At the same time, though, these are inextricably tied into a socially-conservative, pro-life ethic which (on its better days) the Anglo-American Catholic right does its best to espouse.

    I think the same applies here. Both sides are trying to make hay of the decision, and both sides are to a significant degree missing the point. 'Progressives' see a Pope stepping down voluntarily and hail it as a sign that further changes are imminent - even though there is no independent reason for believin so, and even though the 'changes' they claim to want are detrimental to the basic cause of justice for society's most vulnerable. 'Conservatives' seem to be all over the place in regards to this - many want a Pope 'like Benedict' to replace him, but for what I see as all the wrong reasons.

    The entire point of having a unified, doctrinally assertive and socially-conservative Church is to make it more credible and authoritative when speaking on issues of justice, yet a number of Anglo-American Catholic conservatives seem hell-bent on denying that the Pope has any authority outside cheerleading individual piety, and ignoring his stances on what constitutes just war and what constitutes just economic distribution. I sometimes look at the Anglo-American Catholic right and am reminded of the second coming of Protestantism, this time as farce.

  3. Matt:

    Thanks for the answer.