Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Fighting Words in Beautiful Prose: Pope Benedict Does Not Let Up

So I'm reading Pope Benedict's homily from last week, (via HMS blog) at his ascension of the throne at St John Lateran. It was very good exegesis and rich in symbolism. And then I crashed into this part:

The Church was built by witnesses, beginning with Peter and Paul, the twelve, all men and women who, full of Christ, in the course of the centuries have rekindled and will kindle again in an ever new way the flame of faith. Every Christian, in his way, can and must be a witness of the risen Lord. When we read the names of the saints, we can see how many times they have been, above all -- and continue to be -- simple men, men from whom arose -- and arises -- a shining light capable of leading to Christ.


Okay, fine. But here's where I roll eyes:

But this symphony of witnesses is gifted with a clearly defined structure: to the successors of the apostles, namely, the bishops, corresponds the public responsibility to make this network of witnesses endure with the passing of time. In the sacrament of episcopal ordination they are conferred the necessary authority and grace to exercise this service. In this network of witnesses, a special task corresponds to the Successor of Peter. Peter expressed in the first place, in the name of the apostles, the profession of faith: "Your are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). This is the task of all the Successors of Peter: to be the leader in the profession of faith in Christ, the Son of the living God.


Got to needle in that hierarchy. If the Bible says "we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses," tradition has to correct it. Not just a cloud of witnesses, "a clearly defined structure, a network of witnesses." Okay, move on shall we?

The chair of Rome is, first of all, chair of this creed. From the loftiness of this chair, the Bishop of Rome is obliged to repeat constantly: "Dominus Iesus."


Yikes! "We are the real deal, everyone else is "deficient." That line is a clear signal.

Then there's this, which corresponds to what many of us think is his project:

The chair of Peter obliges its incumbents to say, as Peter did at a moment of crisis of the disciples, when many wished to go away:


Again, Christ against culture: city of man bad or rather, in "crisis." But he will stand firm against the world, even if "many" wish "to go away." He plans to prune and force non-conformists to put up or leave.

And . . . Mary doesn't make an appearance in this homily.

I find it amazing that in his first few homilies, instead of focusing on his task, he has begun by focusing on himself as Pope, i.e, the power and scope of his office. It is clear that he feels the papacy needs to be defined or re-defined clearly in his image. So it simply isn't a continuation of JP2, but he is put his stamp on his papacy and signaling what he will be about. Nothing wrong with that, I just observe that it is his modus operandi.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Each man is a witness and evangilst of the Christ Jesus.

Saints are a man made idea, the people cannonsied are dead witness's of God, nothing more nothing less. If they professed Jesus as Lord and Saviour then they shall be in Heaven, through Gods Grace, nothing a man do about it.

God, through Christ said no one can come to the Father except through me. Its in black and white. The Pope can say a man is a Saint, but what is a Saint, the Pope has no Authority in Heaven, only God and Jesus do.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Ono said...

"Saints are a man made idea, the people cannonsied are dead witness's of God, nothing more nothing less."

The Catholic tradition of sainthood is the Catholic equivalent of hallmark holidays, i.e., traditions that at the core make sense but then take on a life of their own.

Like all traditions, the idea of commemorating those who have gone before makes sense, but then it took on a life of its own and not for the positive in my view.

However, they are not "dead witnesses," they are living. Paul brings this out in Hebrews 12 when he says that we surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. Also in Ephesians 3, "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named . . ." There is also the Gospels where Jesus tells the Pharisees that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and there is a resurrection because God is the "God of the living and not the dead."

Traditions are clearly man made ideas and there is nothing wrong with traditions per se. However, when they ossify and become absorbed into the ethos and become mistaken for the voice of God . . . Houston, habam problam!

7:48 AM  
Blogger Talmida said...

Scary stuff, Ono, scary stuff!

I do not like this focus on the throne (and on himself). The absence of any Mary language is a nice change, though.

I wish to God they would stop using "man" as an inclusive. How hard is it to say "humans"? How hard is it to join the 21st century? Do you know that my daughters (15, 18 and 19) are constantly tripped up by "man". It is NEVER used as the inclusive in modern writing. Never. Only in classic literature and in the modern RC Church. It makes me crazy!

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, they are not "dead witnesses," they are living. Paul brings this out in Hebrews 12 when he says that we surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. Also in Ephesians 3, "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named . . ." There is also the Gospels where Jesus tells the Pharisees that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and there is a resurrection because God is the "God of the living and not the dead."

Then you are contradicting yourself, in an earlier posting you talk about pergatory? Either you are dead, alive or in purgatory?
I personlly belive, you die on earth, and then go to heaven if you are saved. Sorry not everyone is saved. You are still dead here. Hence we stick the bones in the ground or we burn the body.
I will never bow to, pray to,even talk to a dead person, it is wrong.

A Saint is nothing more than a dead person, as it says in Luke " Christ said, let the dead bury the dead" leave them alone.

Lets look after the living, they need us more.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Ono said...

Talmida

"I do not like this focus on the throne (and on himself). The absence of any Mary language is a nice change, though."

(He smiles) I am going to send you Montfort's True Devotion to Mary. It'll either make you a fervent Marian devotee or make you extremely grateful for JP2's Marian restraint.

As for the use of "man," to use anything else would be to submit to the dictatorship of relativism. We have to stand strong against the present crisis of relativity and forces of dilution in the world. After all, everyone knows that woman are really only incomletely developed men.

Anonymous,

I think you mixing and matching metaphors and symbols. You can use "dead" however it works. The point is that, as Christians, we are part of a living, vibrant community that includes those who have gone before and . . . even those who did not accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.

You seem uncomfortable talking to the dead. I assure you, it stops getting weird after a while.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You seem uncomfortable talking to the dead. I assure you, it stops getting weird after a while.

You are disobeying Christ, he said let the dead alone.
Why talk to the dead when there are plenty of alive people to talk to?

Life is far to important to waste talking to the dead

12:31 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

Do you spend every single one of your waking moments talking to the living?

2:22 PM  
Blogger Talmida said...

LMAO (at more than one thing)

Ono, draw an X and another X. That's me.

Draw an X and then a Y. That's you.

Now which one of us is is missing a piece? The incomplete one, I think.

*evil grin*

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you spend every single one of your waking moments talking to the living?

Yes I do, I talk to God, Jesus and to my family and friends, I never talk to the dead.
Why talk to the dead when you can talk to the living? You don't need to talk to teh dead, Jesus is alive NOW just talk to him, don't go via a 3rd party, you don't talk to a friend to ask your wife a question do you? You just ask your wife, yes? so if you want to pray to God, just pray to God.

He likes us to talk to him, he loves you like no other can love you, so why do you not want to talk to him? You go via a saint? a saint isn't even a God given thing? Just talk to God he will talk back, you just have to listen.

God be with Ono, get a personal relationship with him, and you won't need to talk to the dead.

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