Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Resignation of the Pope - Open season on the church?

On the occasion of the resignation of the Pope, the blog-o-sphere and the news media have been vibrating with verbiage and much of it seems to be taking the opportunity to suggest that the 85 year old, sickly Pope's resignation is somehow a criticism of the Catholic church.

I get that the media does not like us but I've seen one of Benedict's old old treatises being quoted by several Catholics and this is a bit strange IMO.  That is, instead of quoting his very eloquent Encyclicals or his homilies while in the Papacy, or his scholarly 3 volume work about the life of Jesus, they appear to prefer dredging up something he wrote in the 1960's to a church in total turmoil.  And naturally, it was a bit critical of the church because back then, many Catholics, even priests and religious folks seemed to have been extremely confused and somewhat lost with the changes in the liturgy of Vatican II.  What I don't understand is why Benedict's recent and very important works are being bypassed in favor of this 40 plus year old treatise written to a church in transition (in 1969).

What Josef Ratzinger said about the church in 1969, in the middle of the turmoil of the aftermath of Vatican II (which was extremely poorly launched) is not true now.  The so called "modernizing" of the church was being done then, and because it was so poorly explained and got a lot of complaint from the pew, he likely was trying to educate the public and clergy about the changes.

In retrospect, they should have never promulgated the changes until they had a new "code of Canon law" in place.  The changes themselves were not bad but Catholics seem to lose their minds for several years as far as liturgy and we had the "Kumbaya" every Sunday mentality. Because many Catholics had not even listened to the Mass for years (they showed up and fingered their Rosaries), they knew little about what was going on, on the altar at Mass.

I remember as a Protestant, when I inquired about the Catholic Church from my Catholic friends, I found they all seemed to only know 3 things about their doctrine:  1. If you eat meat on Fridays and don't get to confession soon, and you die, you will go to h*ll, 2. Babies have to be baptized soon after birth or they go to a place called "Limbo" (no one could tell me what exactly limbo was) and 3. If you don't go to Mass on Sunday, you are in mortal sin and could go to h*ll if you don't get to confession.

So naturally, when Vatican II came along, the combination of the poorly planned promulgation of the changes and the ignorance of the average Catholic in the pew, caused the huge liturgical abuse and general turmoil we saw for several years after Vatican II.  We ignored centuries of wonderful liturgical music and sang trashy pop songs in church, priests ripped up Rosaries in the pulpit and told the people "we don't do this anymore", church members danced in skanky garb and called it "liturgical dance" and most folks seemed totally confused.

We all know horror stories from those days like the priest who told the people that the Precious Blood was just wine and poured the excess into a plant during his homily at Mass!

Many of us wondered if the church would ever stop the insanity and many left the church - not due to the changes but due to the chaos abounding after the changes.  I even tried to leave the church back then (I missed the Blessed Sacrament too much so I returned soon after I left) - as year after year, things seemed to be totally messed up with no signs of improvement.

And this was the state of the church that Josef Ratzinger was talking about in the quotes from 1969, in the article now being dredged up.  He was not talking about the church today which has greatly matured from the "sick sixties".

The hierarchal structure of the church, which is often criticized by outsiders and Catholics also, is part of what ensures that the church is "one".  Before being Catholic, I was a member of a congregationalist concept church (which Protestant denominations tend to be even if they have a central president) and thus, there was no uniformity in the churches, even within the same denomination.

Cardinal Ratzinger's resignation as Pope has everything to do with his health state and nothing to do with a criticism of the Catholic Church, despite what we are hearing from  the mass media and/or reading in blogs even from Catholics.... He's blind in one eye and going deaf and described as cadaverously thin - he's 85 years old and just unable to keep up with the vigorous life as the Holy Father.  When his last trip just about did him in (those trips are very tiring, and would be even for a younger person), his doctors told him he was not well enough to travel by plane anymore and so he knew he would not be able to go to the upcoming Youth Conference.  He makes his choices - remaining the Pope and dying in a couple of months at which time, we will still have to select another Pope or resigning now and maybe living on a few more years, focusing on prayer and contemplation. I think most of us would make the same choice he did.

As a former outsider, it has always seemed to me that Catholics trust their church less than Protestants trust us.  There are times the blog-o-sphere (and the media) should either get their facts straight or consider embracing the virtue of silence.  (the photo is of Pope Benedict XVI several years ago when he visited the USA)