Prescient!

March 18th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Rennie blogged in June 2010:

If doesn’t get a good priest-offender communication strategy underway pretty soon, he’ll be resigning. Preposterous, you might say – it’s unthinkable a Pope could resign. 

When popes Pontian (230-235), Marcellinus (296 – 304), John XVIII (1003 – 1009) Benedict IX (no exact dates due to confusion), Celestine V (1294) and Gregory XII (1406 – 1417) put on their funny hats for the first time probably the last thing on their mind would have been the prospect of resigning. 

But resign they all did and rather messily. So Pope Boniface VIII who succeeded Celestine thought he’d better tidy up the resignation process and put it into Church Law. 

What we don’t know is whether the resignation will now be seen as a precedent for future Popes.

Talking of Popes, I have to say that so far the new Pope seems to be making a pretty good impression. His strengths (for me) are:

  • Excellent inter-faith relations in Argentina
  • His name – I like St Francis of Assisi
  • Appears relatively down to earth
  • A focus on helping poor people, and that the Church should be poorer
  • Not from the Curia, so may help clean up the corruption
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35 Responses to “Prescient!”

  1. anonymouse (716 comments) says:

    I suspect that this Pope is going to end up seriously banging heads with some of the senior “civil servants” in the Curia and he better be careful with what he tries to do, he will only have the power to do so much…..

    He may be the leader of the church, but I suspect like all good bureaucracies there is some significantly entrenched power bases that will have been around long before this Pope arrived and will probably remain for the next one….

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  2. XavierG (34 comments) says:

    If only he wasn’t implicated in providing support for Argentine war criminals during his tenure in that country…

    [DPF: Except he wasn't. The story has been retracted]

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  3. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    Under a military dictatorship some degree of collaboration is required for sheer survival. When the rule of law is not operating people either collaborate or they are carted away and shot. So the Pope who was a senior cleric at the time kept his head down like most people and he survived and helped out where he could. Outspoken Priests were dealt to. Fine for them. In NZ we have no idea what it is like to be under a regime that does not respect the rule of law.

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  4. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    The new Pope is quoted as saying he wants a poor church for poor people.

    Pope and comedian.

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  5. peterwn (3,272 comments) says:

    XavierG – This was discussed on Whaleoil. I suspect he had a choice between trying to save / preserve as many lives as possible or facing martyrdom of himself, all his priests and others. Not a nice choice to have to make. Much more background information would be needed to ‘judge’ this one. I would become very suspicious if he tried to transfer the Catholic Parish in the Falklands from the British to the Argentinian arm of the Church. The Falklands priest has invited the new Pope to visit the Falklands – that would be a world first!

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  6. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    If only he wasn’t implicated in providing support for Argentine war criminals during his tenure in that country…

    But he hasn’t. One journalist has accused him of not being vocal enough about human rights abuses during the Dirty War. The truth is that he saved quite a few people’s lives during that time, people who, had he “spoken up”, probably would have been dead because he wouldn’t have been in a position to protect them.

    People also ignore that the Dirty War was an actual war, and the communists started it. The reaction of the Peronists was, it goes without saying, massive overkill, but the commies weren’t just marching down the street, they were blowing shit up and assassinating people, much like the RAF in Germany. It seems like people are complaining that Francis did not take sides, when frankly that would be the equivalent of choosing between Hitler and Stalin. I wouldn’t have taken sides either!

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  7. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    tvb,

    What an inspirational story.

    Faced with the alternative of the eternal paradise they promise to their ignorant, paying followers what priest wouldn’t rather rat out their colleagues?

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  8. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I think he’ll get to making a pretty bad impression on you soon enough, DPF. He might have a simpler style and a nice smile but he seems as unbending on matters of doctrine and belief as any Pope. He’s not to my taste liturgically maybe, but his track record shows he doesn’t intend to take his cue from secular journalists about what the Church should teach.

    A bit like St Francis of Assisi, really. It’s very easy for a secular person raised in a culture of softness to like the idea of a Saint who talked to animals but he was a tough hombre. I don’t think he’d have much truck with the therapuetic sentimentalism that passes for ‘relevant’ theology today.

    As for XavierG – where was he implicated for ‘supporting’ war criminals? What he has been accused of is ‘not speaking out enough’ which is the easiest thing in the world to accuse someone of after the fact. Never mind that he did speak out against the junta – he is just accused of not speaking out ‘enough’. Tell me, how much would you have spoken out if you were living under the junta?

    [DPF: I'm not going to agree with any Pope on some issues. I don't expect to. But I think there are bigger issues for the church than just doctrine]

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  9. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    Benedict IX is one of my favourite popes since I used to live in the Castelli and that was Benedict’s stomping ground. He was pope for three stretches, starting when he was 20 or younger. He sold the papacy once. Wikipedia has the following to say about him:

    “According to the Catholic Encyclopedia and other sources, Benedict IX was around 18 to 20 years old when made pontiff, although some sources claim 11 or 12. He reportedly led an extremely dissolute life and allegedly had few qualifications for the papacy other than connections with a socially powerful family. In terms of theology and the ordinary activities of the Church he was entirely orthodox. St. Peter Damian is alleged to have described him as “feasting on immorality”; the anti-papal historian Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote that in Benedict, “a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest… occupied the chair of Peter and profaned the sacred mysteries of religion by his insolent courses.” The Catholic Encyclopedia calls him “a disgrace to the Chair of Peter.” The first pope said to have been primarily homosexual, he was said to have held orgies in the Lateran palace. He was also accused by Bishop Benno of Piacenza of “many vile adulteries and murders”. Pope Victor III, in his third book of Dialogues, referred to “his rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a pope was so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.” ”

    That is quite a record to live up to. He was probably trying to outdo his great uncle Pope John XII:

    “Then, rising up, the cardinal priest Peter testified that he himself had seen John XII celebrate Mass without taking communion. John, bishop of Narni, and John, a cardinal deacon, professed that they themselves saw that a deacon had been ordained in a horse stable, but were unsure of the time. Benedict, cardinal deacon, with other co-deacons and priests, said they knew that he had been paid for ordaining bishops, specifically that he had ordained a ten-year-old bishop in the city of Todi… They testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father’s concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse. They said that he had gone hunting publicly; that he had blinded his confessor Benedict, and thereafter Benedict had died; that he had killed John, cardinal subdeacon, after castrating him; and that he had set fires, girded on a sword, and put on a helmet and cuirass. All, clerics as well as laymen, declared that he had toasted to the devil with wine. They said when playing at dice, he invoked Jupiter, Venus and other demons. They even said he did not celebrate Matins at the canonical hours nor did he make the sign of the cross.”

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  10. cha (4,017 comments) says:

    Looks like Bergoglio has a few skeletons that wont go away..

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/345612

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/full-statement-from-jesuit-kidnapped-by-argentine-junta-on-new-pope/

    http://www.salon.com/2013/03/16/is_pope_francis_a_fraud/

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  11. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    The criticism is based on this sort of thing.

    http://www.scoopit.co.nz/story.php?title=pope-francis-junta-past

    The logic behind the behaviour was presumably that it was better that the Jesuits who wanted to be activist in their opposition to the junta should remain offshore.

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  12. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    “I cannot comment on the role of Fr. Bergoglio in these events.

    After we were freed I left Argentina. Only years later did we have the chance to discuss what had happened with Fr. Bergoglio, who in the meantime had been named archbishop of Buenos Aires. Afterwards we together celebrated a public mass and solemnly embraced. I am reconciled to the events and view them from my side as concluded.

    I wish Pope Francis God’s rich blessing for his office.”

    Go away troll.

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  13. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Part of the criticism of the Pope over his past is of the political division within the church, especially in South America.

    The church has been on crusade against the political left since John Paul 11’s time. The church abandoned the politics of the church on the side of the poor during the later part of the Cold War.

    The Pope is a member of “Communion and Liberation, a conservative Catholic organization that insists on total fidelity and communion with the church leadership and is devoted, among other things, to battling European socialism and Latin American liberation theology.”

    Thus do not expect anything political in his church’s support for the poor, it will be religious charity work based and totally inoffensive to the political right.

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  14. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Shoot – I must not know as much about Church history as SPC. I had thought that there were only two Popes who took the name John Paul – number I and II.

    Never realised there were 11 of them.

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  15. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Cato, its either attack or ridicule with you when you go on the defensive – to evade the issue raised, not to inform on it.

    I recall when someone referred to the Catholic position on the real blood and body being present in communion – and you accused them of inferring cannibalism.

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  16. Longknives (4,746 comments) says:

    Had an leftie Atheist friend over for drinks on the weekend. Heard every conspiracy theory imaginable about Pope Francis (and Pope Benedict before him)
    Apparently they are ALL Paedophiles, War Criminals, Organised Crime etc etc
    Then just for balance I threw back some interesting facts about his beloved hero Obama…got called a “Conspiracy Theorist”. Go figure…

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  17. Michael (909 comments) says:

    It sounds like the same sort of slurs made against Pius XII which contradicted the proven events and contemporary attestations by religious groups who believe the Pope is the anti-Christ. The same groups claimed that Benedict was a Nazi because he was forced to join the Hitler Youth (and quietly dropped out) then conscripted in the Wehrmacht at the end of WW2 (and then deserted).

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  18. Raging Glory (45 comments) says:

    Agree this will be a great papacy. And he is stridently opposed to abortion, homosexuality and basically all DPF’s sacred cows which are abominations.

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  19. cha (4,017 comments) says:

    I wish Pope Francis God’s rich blessing for his office.”

    How quaint, a bromance with the criminal.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/17/pope-francis-first-sunday-prayer

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  20. Fletch (6,389 comments) says:

    20 things you didn’t know about the new Pope (check out No 7 :)

    1. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born Dec 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, one of five children born to an Italian railway worker and his wife.

    2. His father, Mario Jorge, emigrated to Argentina from the Piedmont region of Italy.

    3. He speaks Italian, German and Spanish fluently, in addition to a smattering of English, French and Portuguese. He can also speak a bit of the Piedmontaise dialect too.

    4. He lost part of his lung to infection as a youth.

    5. He is a fan of the tango. “I love tango and I used to dance when I was young,” he told Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin, the authors of his 2010 biography El Jesuita.

    6. He had a girlfriend. “She was one of a group of friends I went dancing with. But then I discovered my religious vocation,” he said to Ambrogetti and Rubin.

    7. He worked as a bouncer in a Buenos Aires bar to earn money as a student.

    8. He is a passionate fan of San Lorenzo Football Club, his local team. They were the first Argentine team to win the domestic double, in 1972.

    9. His favourite painting is The White Crucifixion, painted by Marc Chagall in 1938. The painting shows Jesus being crucified on the cross, wearing a prayer shawl as a symbol that he is Jewish. The painting originally showed a soldier with a swastika on his armband burning down a synagogue.

    10. His favourite film is Babette’s Feast, a 1987 Danish drama directed by Gabriel Axel.

    11. He studied philosophy at the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and also has a master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires.

    12. He was a teacher of literature, psychology, philosophy and theology before becoming the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

    13. He is the co-author of “Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra (On Heaven and Earth)”, which can be purchased for Kindle.

    14. He was previously Archbishop of Buenos Aires, from 1998 to 2013. He was known during this time to try and set an example for others, eschewing the extravagant robes of his position for the humble robes of a simple priest.

    15. He used public transport rather than taxis or a chauffeured car to get around and lived in a small flat with an older priest and made all his own meals, despite having access to the Archbishop’s quarters and a chef.

    16. He was made a Cardinal by John Paul II in 2001.

    17. During the 2005 conclave in which he was runner up, he was reportedly the victim of a smear campaign by other, more liberal members of the Jesuit order, who claimed that he never smiled.

    18. He travelled to the conclave in Rome on an economy flight.

    19. Francis is the first non-European pope since Gregory III, who was born in modern-day Syria and elected in 731.

    20. He is apparently not Francis I but Pope Francis. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi explains: “It will become Francis I after we have a Francis II.” Pope John Paul I, the last pope to affix a ‘I’, decided to attach it himself.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/the-pope/9931413/Pope-Francis-20-things-you-didnt-know.html

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  21. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    In NZ we have no idea what it is like to be under a regime that does not respect the rule of law.

    How about I correct that for you:

    In NZ we have no idea.

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  22. Fletch (6,389 comments) says:

    As far as the reasons that Benedict resigned – I don’t think the blog post mentioned is prescient at all.
    He resigned because of health and age. The abuse in the Church was cleaned up years ago, and anything you hear in the media about abuse now is historical; largely from the 1960s – 1980s.

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  23. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    He resigned because of health and age.

    That would be a first for the papacy.

    The RCC has an extensive history of involvement in politics, and they say that in politics there’s never smoke without fire.

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  24. Dexter (303 comments) says:

    The abuse in the Church was hushed up years ago

    Fixed that for you.

    Only a tiny percentage of the priests committing the abuse ever faced any sanction, given the ‘retirement’ age, many of those same abusers will still be in the church. The cyclical nature of abuse would also indicate that new abusers would pop up, the only difference is now they actually have to make at least a basic attempt to hide the fact they are sexually abusing children.

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  25. KevinH (1,227 comments) says:

    First impressions of Pope Francis are he is genuinely a nice man, modest, humble, perhaps not so much a politician but nevertheless a diplomat who will reignite the Christian faith. Pope Francis will be a “Peoples Pope” a man representing the core values of the RCC and will help to restore confidence and trust in the church.
    During the conclave the Cardinals no doubt considered the allegations made against Pope Francis however decided they were of no consequence or obstacle in appointing him to the highest office in the Christian Faith.

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  26. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    So that was the problem with Papa Herr Benedict, Chris. He didn’t have a PR plan.

    Bullshit Uber Alles!

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  27. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    SPC – incorrect, David Garrett compared the Real Prescence to cannibalism and I pointed out that was a trollish characterisation.

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  28. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Cato, not so – it was as I recalled it.

    1. David Garrett (3,361) Says:
    March 5th, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    but you keep trotting along to mass, ritually eating the actual (by means of transubstantiation) body and blood of your founder, and obtaining absolution before you go off and do the same things again;

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/03/priestly_sexual_conduct.html

    1. Cato (497) Says:
    March 5th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Comparing Communion to cannibalism

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/03/priestly_sexual_conduct.html

    And criticism of the Catholic Church, when topic relevant, is not trollish behaviour.

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  29. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    SPC – what? So we agree? Or do you think DG wasn’t mocking the sacrament of the Eucharist or comparing it to cannibalism?

    And if he wasn’t – why on earth would I be mocking it?

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  30. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    No he did not equate it to cannibalism, you claimed he did.

    You seem to be embarrassed by transubstantiation and infer, from what a lapsed Catholic says, much more than they do say.

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  31. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    I’m not embarassed by transubstantiation. I believe it is true. I know that it’s not the same thing as ritual cannibalism.

    As for David’s spcific comments – well, I may have misinterpreted them. The canon of ejusdem generis probably informed my reaction. In any event, it was a while ago and I’m not really keen on rehashing that particular thread. It is just off that you seem fixated on it.

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  32. SPC (5,619 comments) says:

    Cato, no I just raised it as an example of a defensive reaction.

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  33. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    People also ignore that the Dirty War was an actual war, and the communists started it.

    As far as I know, the primary cause of developing resistance was the original coup that removed Peron from power in 55. The communists and others were reacting to that, and were not responsible for it. Get your facts straight.

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  34. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    Sure Tom, and World War Two happened because the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh. I don’t care. My point was that there were two sides and both were killing innocent people.

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  35. Seán (397 comments) says:

    I’m not so sure the Church _should_ be poorer….note this rather interesting TED talk:
    Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong

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