Fri. May 17th, 2024

The Mysterious Sin of Pope Benedict XVI

– A Perspective from a Former Pastor” 

As a former pastor, I can personally attest to the fact that arriving in a new “congregation” and shaking things up is a bad career move. No one wants to rock the boat. No one wants to play the bad guy, break up the status quo, and “fire” a bunch of people who are guilty of slacking off, breaking policy, or doing something less than their absolute best.

Rock the boat much?

When you’re the boss, if you have an iota of human compassion, you would find delivering bad news very difficult, especially in regards to a faith-based work. Yes, there are a few bad eggs here and there, but the majority of the people that you work with are hard-working, imperfect, occasionally air-headed and of course, extremely arrogant—as all human beings tend to be.

So that side of Pope Benedict XVI I understand. In my opinion it is likely he resigned because he couldn’t handle the bureaucracy of trying to change flawed policies of the Catholic Church, as relates to punishing child molesters. I do not believe that he was a pedophile. I do believe it’s possible he probably saw some evidence of wrongdoing within his church hierarchy, and weakly, humanly, chose to ignore it. In hopes of not rocking the boat. Hoping that God would forgive, that the victims would move on and that the perpetrators would have to live with the guilt of their wrongdoing.

However, as I learned many years ago, some things in life are not so easy. There cannot be repentance without humiliation, growth without criticism. And just because some actions are inconvenient, perhaps even rude to other people, does not excuse failing to expose and punish injustice. I can imagine a dozen situations behind close doors, inside the temple of God, in which it is not wise to rock the boat. Matters of ego, competition, misunderstanding and a clash of opinions. Indeed, a man who recklessly causes divisions amongst church leaders, shepherds of a huge flock, could be perceived as breaking Paul’s counsel at Romans 16:17.

Child abuse, however, is not one of these matters that can be left in God’s hands. As a Christian, a man in the position of authority, has the obligation to investigate matters of gross sexual exploitation, because not doing so would be tantamount to supporting the wrongdoing, allowing it to exist within God’s sanctuary. To ignore your obligation, in weakness, in hopes of keeping working men satisfied and employed, would be to ignore God’s sense of justice calling out to you—which could very well be working through you. After all, if God does work within religious institutions, one has to accept that he uses people to bring about divine will, perhaps even divine revelations, new commandments, changes to the hierarchy that bring positive results.

I speak of this as a man from the outside looking in, if you get my drift, not implying anything about God or morality, since both are obviously open to debate. I speak only as a sinner who can point to God’s law, the actions and the words of God’s approved clergy, and attest to the same scriptures that were once shared with me.

Pope Benedict XVI was correct to step down, if he covered up evidence in a moment of weakness. Anyone who acts in weakness is not deserving of such a high-ranking position. A man of leadership should be a paragon of internal strength and “blameless” in the sense that he near perfectly represents the ideals of a collective faith.

That said, I do feel that the hate-mongering coming from religion-haters (of course, the militant atheist community who feel so obliged to share their haw-haw! cheer leading, suggesting that religion is the sole reason any war was raged, any boy was molested—totally oblivious of the fact that man himself is a vicious creature) is disrespectful, and frankly thick-headed. What we are observing in the continual hatred surrounding the pope is total and unapologetic judgment, without evidence, without facts, based on hearsay, rumor, and worse yet, prejudice against people who have faith. (Or an unfortunate likeness to Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars)

What kind of animals are we that we should character-assassinate a man for a crime he may not have committed? People who really hate the pope don’t merely hate a man or his crime—they hate the Church, they hate religion.

And I might ask, do we really want to start hating the pedophile population with such fervor? How does one begin to classify pedophiles anyway? How does one compare a child murderer and a child rapist (a sin of power, exploitation and abuse) with a lesser sin of pedophiliac desires? The weakness in a man or a woman, someone who flirts with danger, and who wages a constant war against mental illness?

A man with unnatural pedophiliac urges may even be unaware of his illness, and forever and always unresponsive to them, which is—by all logic—a good thing. Such a man is usually the victim of some form of trauma, some cycle of abuse; whether he is oblivious to his inappropriate inclinations or outright fighting them, such a man is worthy of our support. By not acting, he is doing the right thing. The suggestion of total extermination of the mentally ill, as in “let’s kill all pedophiles!” is certainly not a viable or moral solution.

Of course, we as a society wouldn’t make the mistake of leaving such a weak man alone with children. Neither would we presume a man is guilty of such mental illness if we lacked sufficient proof to accuse him of an unspeakable crime. Neither would we fail to appreciate a man’s brilliant body of work, superb intelligence, and artistic flare, just because others mindlessly accused him of doing something unconscionable.

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3 thoughts on “The Mysterious Sin of Pope Benedict XVI – A Perspective from a Former Pastor”
  1. So one religious leader/head-of-state resigns and another one is slated to take his place – wake me up when this obsolete institution known as the Vatican becomes as lively as a tomb…

  2. I keep toying around with the symbolism involved if I was inclined to hold a high religious position. The matter of the peace doves that flew back into the windows of the Vatican after being released, and the ones that were attacked by the pigeons. It’s peculiar that the press made this somehow a reflection of negative messages concerning the Catholic Church, yet I think if I was the Pope, I would begin to question, “does this mean there is no hope for peace?” Then the lightening strike on the night the Pope resigned. It’s almost like saying, “hey, maybe we should talk things over”.

    The non-religious would dismiss it as co-incidence, although the religious look for symbols. It’s odd to me that even the non-religious see these strange incidences as a reflection of wrong-doing; pointing at the Catholic Church in the process; but that seems to me, hypocrisy. You can’t have it both ways. If they are symbols, they are a global message of unresolved conflict, of the crumbling structure of religion that points fingers while ignoring their own faults.

    Sorry, this all seems a bit off-topic, but in a sense, it isn’t really. Religion is slacking. It offers nothing but pretentions, double standards; each one saying it’s better than the others; and when symbols present themselves, they laugh like the illiterate peasants of Shakespearean days, throwing cabbages at the players, but they don’t ask, “what does this mean?” If I was the Pope; if I was a member of what I swore was a living religion, I think I would find a lot of meaning.

  3. To an extent I agree with the author. We know nothing about what exactly the ex-Pope was or wasn’t guilty of. He really didn’t make many changes (other than the order of Heaven-when he got rid of Purgatory) but Earthside, it’s meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    The Holy Roman Church is a buisiness, that used to be a Political power. If we are fairly rating any other religion we understand they are all buisinesses to one extent or another. So yes, when things are going badly, it was the morally correct thing for him to do to step down.

    We all have people we have come in contact with, friends, relatives, co-workers who have less than exemplary records. I am guessing there are plenty of things we could tattle on them about, it doesn’t make us necessarily guilty.

    What I find strange is the media coverage of this “unprecidented event” which is in fact very precidented. It was only stopped to supposedly keep corruption out of the progressive process in the form of payola to have someone step down. This is not the case here that we can tell so let’s get on with our lives, especially all of us heathens who aren’t Papists anyway. What should it matter?

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