US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Pope playing the victim

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

I can only express disappointment with Pope Benedict XVI's letter of explanation regarding the rehabilitation of the bishops of the SSPX. At best, it is a poor-me attempt to lay blame at the feet of others; at worst it's just whiny, with the pope claiming he's been attacked "with hostility." David Gibson's post on Beliefnet says it best I think, unlike the fawning CNS story.

It's true that the pope has been criticized--rightly--for the fiasco. What is shocking in this letter is his inability to see his own double standard. He chides his critics for being uncharitable toward the SSPX and those like them, but he himself refuses to meet those on the left and even in the center (those great defenders of the Council he refers to), even while insisting that we all reach out to those on the extreme right.

The Holy See continues to bend over backward for these most fringy elements, while refusing even to consider the pastoral catastrophe caused by the restriction of ordination to married men. Catholics the world over are deprived of the Eucharist each and every Sunday. Nor has the pope reached out in compassion to those millions of divorced Catholics who would like to fully participate in the life of the church. Nor have we advanced of late even a step toward visible unity with the churches of the Reformation. The pope shows great solicitude toward the 491 priests of the SSPX, but what of those priests who left to marry but would to this day be happy to return to active ministry among the People of God?

I'm sure I'm going to take it on the chin for continuing to criticize B16 on this one, but I think he's diminishing himself by not offering a forthright apology instead of this self-pitying and chiding missive. To my mind, the controversy surrounding this event has been good for the church; it's stirred the remaining conciliar elements in the hierarchy and hopefully reminded certain members that the reforms of Vatican II are treasured by the church as a whole.

Let us hope it is a conversation that continues, even if it stings a bit.