|Pictured: Staff writers of the Aleteia website.|
Most of us in Tradistan are content to get the dismay out of our systems with a bit of occasional sarcasm and delight at the thought of the pope's eventual resignation. I do not think highly of the thesis that P. Benedict's resignation was invalid, and generally consider the thesis of sedevacantism to be a cheap form of escapism that absolves the believer of the burdensome responsibility of piety towards an unworthy leader.
But the problem of a bad pope is merely the extension of the problem of bad bishops and bad priests. Rare is the layman who does not have horror stories of parish priests and pastors, whether of clearly unorthodox preaching, two-facedness, or outright perversion. Rare, too, is the Catholic who can boast a bishop worthy of imitation or admiration. Why do lower-level Catholics who have found ways to mentally and emotionally survive under bad clerics find it impossible to tolerate a bad pope?
Until Francis, the "JP2, We Love You" crowd could at least pretend that the papacy was mostly fine. They had to do a little see-no-evil, hear-no-evil to accomplish that end, but it was possible. Everyone has his breaking point, and Francis is proving to be the breaking point of many. Some of the usual ultramontanist suspects are wondering when the pope will answer the dubia (likely never), in the hopes that they can get back to their comfortable papal adoration.
One of the few Youtube videographers I follow regularly is Hans Feine, M.Div. of the Illinois-based Lutheran Satire account. His "Frank the Hippie Pope" character neatly summarizes the difficulty of working constant damage control on an out-of-control pontiff. But even the "Hippie Pope" is a whitewash of the real man, appearing in the cartoon merely as a doped up halfwit instead of a sly intellect. In reality he is a bull in the china shop, a snake in the grass, a fox in the henhouse.
But again, so what? We will always have to learn how to live with weak or evil rulers. We will always have to learn how to not simply survive but thrive under their burdensome scandal. When one reads the chronicles of the ancient kings of Israel and Judah, rare was the monarch who did not do evil in the sight of the Lord; should we expect it to be any different today? Let us file our formal complaints and move on to the hard work of perfecting ourselves and our societies, and the harder work of converting the lost to the true Church. Innocent as doves, yet clever as serpents—how else will we keep the foxes from devouring us whole?
|Where's a good bear when you need one?|