Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The Great Refusal
1) Yes, a Pope can resign. In the entire 1,979 year history of the Catholic Church a Papal resignation has happened only 4 other times. In percentages, this means that 0.2% of the Vicars of Christ have ended their Papacy through resignation. But it's rarer than an appearance Halley's Comet.
2) Of the 4 Popes who have previously resigned, 3 had some very good reasons. Here's a brief synopsis:
~~~Pope Benedict IX resigned in 1045. He inherited the Papal Office and viewed it as his birth right. As such, he was a terrible Pope and a disgrace to his Office. He was a scandalous man, who used his authority as political power. He openly carried on with many women and when it was learned that he was about to marry, the Cardinals insisted on his resignation. Eventually, his successor, Pope Gregory VI paid him a large sum of money in exchange for his resignation.
~~~Pope Gregory VI, after bribing his predecessor, resigned in 1046. The events surrounding this fight for the Papal Tiara was quite scandalous. Benedict immediately recanted his resignation, accusing Pope Gregory of simony. Pope Gregory refused to abdicate his authority and King Henry III was forced to intervene. Eventually, Pope Gregory VI resigned and another Pope was chosen.
~~~Pope Gregory XII was chosen Pope during the Great Western Schism. He resigned his Office in 1415. Each Cardinal, during this difficult period, took an oath declaring that, if elected Pope, he would willing abdicate the Papal Office to end the Schism. Though Gregory XII was the true Pope, two others held claim to the same. Truthful to his oath and for the sake of the Church, Pope Gregory XII resigned to prevent further rupture.
3) The 4th Pope in the History of the Church to resign was Celestine V in 1294. Before he was Pope Celestine V, Pietro di Murrone became a monk at 17 and later a priest. There is no doubt he was a pious man. He spent his life in solitude and in constant prayer and penance. He spent his entire, long life as a hermit in the wilderness. As such, those who knew him, greatly admired his piety and his holiness. In a shock to his sensibilities, Pietro found his pious life interrupted, when the Cardinals found him on his mountain after having elected him Pope in 1294. The See of Peter had been sede vacante for 2 years. Reluctantly, Pietro accepted the Office and chose the name of Celestine V. But within 5 months, it was obvious that the old man, nearly 80, was unfit and ill equipped to hold the Office of the Papacy. He made a lot of poor choices in appointing Cardinals, which eventually laid the foundation for the Great Schism that was soon to follow. He could refuse no one, and granted favors to prelates without restraint. As such, the affairs of the running the Curia fell into disarray and corruption. After recognizing such, Pope Celestine V longed only to return to his hermit life rather than mend the problems he had created. He retreated into his private apartment and contemplated that his soul was in grave danger. When he thought of resigning under these circumstances, the Cardinals agreed, and a consultation of the Canon law ensued. It was then concluded, after 5 months, that, for the preservation of the Church, a pope could resign his Papal Office. Celestine V resigned in that same year. Interestingly enough, the Cardinal who helped to formulate the decree on Papal Resignation became the next Pope, Pope Boniface VIII. He promptly rescinded all decrees issued by Pope Celestine V, save one--the decree on Papal resignations. Celestine spent the rest of his life confined to a cell in a castle. It was there he died, in solitude, the following year.
4) After Celestine V resigned his office, the Catholic world was in shock. He was considered by most Cardinals and faithful alike to have been a very weak man. Most viewed him as a coward. It is to this Pope Celestine V than Dante's Inferno refers. Dante places the cowardly Pope Celestine V at the vestibule of Hell, where their punishment is the continued pursuit of self-interest, chased by wasps and hornets who constantly sting them, and where maggots drink their blood and their tears. (Canto III).
This miserable mode
Maintain the melancholy souls of those
Who lived without infamy or praise.
Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.
The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair;
Nor them the nethermore abyss receives,
For glory none the damned would have from them.
These have no longer any hope of death
And this blind life of theirs is so debased
They envious are of every other fate.
No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
Let us not look at them, but speak and pass.
5) It is this Pope, the cowardly Pope, that apparently Pope Benedict has modeled his own resignation after. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited the tomb of Pope Celestine V. It was here atop the tomb of Celestine V that he left his pallium, The pallium is a woolen band worn around the neck of the Pope that symbolizes his pontifical office. In 2010, Pope Benedict found the time to pray in a cathedral near Rome where the relics of Pope Celestine V are located.
6) Since Pope Benedict XVI is a man who seems fascinated by dates and symbols, does his fascination and homage to Pope Celestine V indicate that his Pontificate is similar in more ways than just his resignation? How many of his personal friends did Pope Benedict XVI elevate to important offices? Archbishop Meuller? How many others? Does his homage to Pope Celestine indicate that the magnitude of the office of the Papacy is too much for him to bear?
7) Does the Popes "resignation" and his "retirement" indicate that he considers the role of the Papacy that akin to a CEO of a company? Is that how he views the Catholic Church, as a company run by a board of officials who make decisions regarding how many "offices" they have or how many "stores" they have? With all the church closings and restructuring, it might seem so. Does he also want to have some sort of say-so over who his "replacement" will be?
8) Why would a Pope, any Pope, resign his office during Lent, the Holiest Season of the year? If his health is really bad, why wouldn't he just do what all the other Popes in history have done and wait for his death?
9) Does he want to "retire" so he can write another book and show us his intellectual abilities?
10) Is there something about to happen or some news about to come out that might bring scandal upon the whole Catholic Church regarding more of his responsibility and knowledge of the pederasty and sodomy in the clergy?
While all of the above observations and questions are important, the biggest curiosity I have is why in the world the Catholic faithful are being so kind and gracious to this Pope under these circumstances. Michael Voris is even giving an excuse for this Pope--that he couldn't fight off the wolves in the Vatican. All the news media is reporting about the "Pope's humble resignation." And while Cardinal Dolan was saddened by the news, he issued a statement of admiration of this Pontiff and his humility. Some people are even suggesting that the Pope is so humble that he simply admitted his own unworthiness to be the Pope!
I find this all rather disconcerting but not surprising. We live in an age where modern Catholics love the Popes more than they love the Church. They love the Popes so much, that they hold onto every word they say as the Gospel Truth. They view every action of the Pope as the Divine Will of God. They are so blind to the PERSON in the Papacy that they can't grasp what the Papacy even is or what it's purpose is. It is a sad day for Catholics and for the Church.
The most profound statement regarding Pope Benedict's resignation came from Cardinal Dziwisz of Poland when he said "Wojytla (Pope John Paul II) stayed to the end because one does not come down from the cross." This is absolutely correct. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He serves as the agent of Our Lord. He is chosen, not by mere men, but by the Holy Ghost. It is God himself who gives us our Pope to guard and protect the faith. Just as Christ did not come down from His Cross, the Supreme Pontiff cannot relinquish his responsibilities unless the life of the Church is at stake. To say that the Pontiff could no longer fight off the wolves is the ultimate act of betrayal and cowardice. If the Supreme Pontiff cannot fight off the wolves then how can we, the faithful, who depend on the Pontiff to guide us????
Our Lord suffered extreme humiliation, extreme pain, extreme agony, extreme abandonment, extreme loss of those He loved and yet HE STAYED! He stayed because without Him, we cannot ever hope to obtain salvation. Ever. What does this say about the Pope if he cannot stay and defend the Church against Satan?
As more news comes out regarding Pope Benedict XVI's resignation, the more questions I have. Although I do not personally hold the view of my sede vacantist friends, I am walking closer towards that line. These are indeed very dark times.
Regardless of this news, in March we will have a new Pope. What kind of Pope will he be and what will happen to the Barque of Peter?
Lent begins tomorrow. I intend to spend this time in prayer and penance that the Church is restored and the Holy Ghost chooses for us a Pope to lead us out of this modernist cesspool.
Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!
St. Peter, ora pro nobis!