... otherwise you might be forced to take seriously the foolishness
that seems to dominate the internet, the airwaves, and the supposedly
serious, important newspapers of note. So, as something of a humor break
(and, no, I'm not going to reference the Grammys or the State of the
Union Address, despite the ripe material), here are some stories that
had me chucklingand also grimacingrecently.
On the day the news broke in Rome, Cliff Kinkaid of the
conservative group, Accuracy in Media, penned a rather breathless piece
titled, "Pope’s Possible Successor Promotes Marxist for Sainthood". When I first saw the headline, I thought it must be refering to some Italian or French Cardinal. Nope, not at all:
Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, reported to be in the running to
replace Pope Benedict XVI as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is
usually described as a “conservative” because he has strongly criticized
President Obama’s attacks on religious liberty and federal intrusions
into church affairs. But Dolan is also the leader of the campaign to
promote Marxist Dorothy Day for Sainthood.
One report asks,
“Could Timothy Dolan Become The First American Pope?” Dolan, president
of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB,) is
considered the voice of U.S. Catholicism.
But Carol Byrne, author of The Catholic Worker Movement (1933-1980): A Critical Analysis,
says Dolan manipulated a vote by the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops last November to move forward with the canonization of
Dorothy Day, even though The New York Times itself noted that
some of the Bishops said “she had an abortion as a young woman and at
one point flirted with joining the Communist Party.”
In other news, it was recently revealed that one of the Church's
greatest Doctors was a New Age-y gnostic who had a long-time, much
beloved mistress. But, hey, who cares about St. Augustine's life prior
to conversion when we have Dorothy Day's life prior to conversion? The
funny thing, however, was that Pope Benedict XVI, in his February 13th
Ash Wednesday general audience, said the following:
ability to oppose the ideological blandishments of her time to choose
the search for truth and open herself up to the discovery of faith is
evidenced by another woman of our time, the American Dorothy Day. In her
autobiography, she confesses openly to having given in to the
temptation that everything could be solved with politics, adhering to
the Marxist proposal: “I wanted to be with the protesters, go to jail,
write, influence others and leave my dreams to the world. How much
ambition and how much searching for myself in all this!”. The journey
towards faith in such a secularized environment was particularly
difficult, but Grace acts nonetheless, as she points out: “It is certain
that I felt the need to go to church more often, to kneel, to bow my
head in prayer. A blind instinct, one might say, because I was not
conscious of praying. But I went, I slipped into the atmosphere of
prayer … “. God guided her to a conscious adherence to the Church, in a
lifetime spent dedicated to the underprivileged.
Uh. Whoops. For more about Day and her cause, see the January 2013 CWR essay, "Dorothy Day: A Saints to Transcend Partisan Politics", by Leslie Fain.
It is deeply touching to witness the New York Times go out
of its way to give advice to the Catholic Church in the wake of
Benedict XVI's surprising resignation. And it makes perfect sense,
doesn't it? The Catholic Church was established by the Incarnate Word
and has only been around for a couple of thousand years, so it follows
that it might need some advice from a venerable, ancient institution
such as The Grey Lady. Cue up some Bill Keller and learn how the Church might be able to survive a few more years (cross your fingers and expand the marketing budget!):
to tweak its marketing, straighten out its finances, up its recruiting
game and repair its battered brand. ... One question on the agenda might
be, to borrow a Michael Useem analogy,
does the Vatican want to be Nokia or Apple? Nokia’s strategy is to sell
everyone on the planet a $20 phone. Apple’s is to market a much pricier
product to a more elite, high-income market. Does the Catholic Church
change its standards to be more inclusive, or does it hold its dogmatic
line and appeal to a smaller but loyal base? Or can it strike a balance?
Either way, it’s time for a reckoning.
Goodnesslet's hope the Holy Spirit can manage! In the meantime, the Times has helpfully gone out of its way to ask some pressing questions:
"What will he be called? Will he keep his white robes and trademark red
loafers?" Alas, some folks who should know better have been sucked into
the Vortex of Questions You Should Keep to Yourself:
Benedict stunned the world last week when he said that he would retire
on Feb. 28, a decision he said he had made “in full liberty and for the
good of the church.” Even as the Vatican has tried to play down the
confusion, saying that Canon Law provides for a clear transfer of power
if a pope resigns, the implications of Benedict’s act remain unclear.
“What is the status of an ex-pope?” asked Ken Pennington, a professor of
ecclesiastical and legal history at the Catholic University of America
in Washington. “We have no rules about that at all. What is his title?
What are his powers? Does he lose infallibility?”
Really? This has to be one of the more embarrassing quotations I've
seen this past week. Prof. Pennington apparently doesn't understand that
once the Holy Father's resignation is effective on February 28th, he is
no longer pontiff. Period. As Dr. Edward Peters states,
As of the effective time of his
resignation the pope will enjoy the same status in the Church as would
any retired cardinal over age 80 (he will not vote in the conclave to
elect his successor); he will hold no office in the Church.
The holding of office is key language, especially when it comes to papal infallibility. Here is what Lumen Gentium says about the topic:
And this infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to
be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals, extends as far as the
deposit of Revelation extends, which must be religiously guarded and faithfully
expounded. And this is the infallibility which the Roman Pontiff, the head of
the college of bishops, enjoys in virtue of his office, when, as the supreme
shepherd and teacher of all the faithful, who confirms his brethren in their
faith, by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals. (par 25; emphasis added)
A pope can exercise papal infallibility. A former pope cannot. I know
it's complicated. Think through it slowly. Then, if need be, you can
Still, many remain puzzled by the larger implications. “From a
theological point of view, how can a person be considered to be
infallible and not be infallible anymore?” Mr. Pennington asked.
Easy. Five words, Mr. Pennington, five words: "in virtue of his office". If he ain't in the office, he ain't got it.
Meanwhile, down at the Dissenter's Five & Dime Store, some fella by the name of E. J. Dionne, Jr., is getting frisky and edgy, which is likely meant to cover up for his failure to be orthodox and doctrinally learned:
giving up the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI was brave and bold. He did the
unexpected for the good of the Catholic Church. And when it selects a
new pope next month, the College of Cardinals should be equally brave
and bold. It is time to elect a nun as the next pontiff.
Now, I know this hope of mine is the longest of long shots. I have great
faith in the Holy Spirit to move papal conclaves, but I would concede
that I may be running ahead of the Spirit on this one. Women, after all,
are not yet able to become priests, and it is unlikely that
traditionalists in the church will suddenly upend the all-male, celibate
priesthood, let alone name a woman as the bishop of Rome.
that's sooo clever. Yawn. Am I only one who finds the giggling and
posing of post-modern heretics to be incredibly dull and predictable? Dionne reminds me of the "cool" kids in junior high, who think that emulating reality television characters and hip-hop "musicians" is, like, wow, so awesome, dog. At least many of the ancient heretics had the decency to actually take their beliefs seriously. Dionne is so obsessed with pleasing the "in" crowd that he's willing
to smirkingly write about "running ahead of the Spirit". There's nothing
funny, ultimately, about publicly renouncing the settled doctrine of
the Catholic Church (even while giggling), as heresy is serious
business, even if the heretics act like little more than boring