Latin Catholic by birth, Byzantine Catholic by the grace of God.
Pro: Restoration of the Holy and Universal Christian Roman Empire.
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Location: Upstate, New York, United States

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

He's really not all that bad

He takes a lot of flak from liberals, for obvious reasons. More scandalous though, is the unclear thought that the holy father elicits from conservative or orthodox Catholics. What they lack is a long-term perspective.

A lot of Traditionalists (capital T) see the post-conciliar popes as giving in to the world, bowing to modernism, etcetera, to the point of their complete loss of moral authority. The other folks are nominally conservative "radical moderates" (as I've seen them called). They take every word the pontiff says and put it on par with Sts. Paul or Augustine.

Traditionalists, and I lean that way, sometimes forget that "the gates of Hell will never prevail" against the Church, as stated in the Gospels. They also don't allow the pope a personality. Frankly, to many of us, John Paul II is too easy-going, especially with schismatic, heretical, and pagan cults. But I really think that he is simply on the outer bounds of human charity; one would maybe say charitable to a fault. But who's going to fault him for that? Not me. Are you going to cast stones at the pontiff? He did kiss the Koran, which I find indefensible, but does that compare to the pope who knelt in fealty before the Holy Roman emperor? Or the popes who held court with their own illegitimate children? Popes have done and thought wacky things, and we're still here, chugging along. Our requirement as Catholics is to follow his infallible teachings on faith and morals, and seriously consider everything else he has to say.

Catholic neo-conservatism is the warped half-brother of radical Traditionalism. They see the pope as infallible in not just faith and morals, but in politics and aesthetics and probably even what wine goes better with chicken. What a short-term focus! John Paul is against capital punishment; popes of the past used to hang brigands in the Papal States. Pope Julius, the War Pope, rode to battle in front of his troops to fight the Mongols. The popes are human beings, guided by the Holy Spirit, to be sure, but flesh and blood like the rest of us. They have personalities and are not above criticism. Some of our greatest saints took exception at actions of the Vatican, notably Sts. Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena.

So, what these groups need to realize is that, as Ecclesiates says, "to every thing, there is a season." Don't get overly hung up on the failings of a pontiff, or make him the fourth part of the Trinity. Our faith is bigger than any one man, except Jesus Christ.

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