The arc of a pope, completed

  • Article by: E.J. Dionne , Washington Post
  • Updated: February 12, 2013 - 9:08 PM

Benedict's resignation opens up a period of soul-searching that Roman Catholicism badly needs.

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pumiceFeb. 12, 13 8:15 PM

It is true, E.J. Dionne, that "Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit inspires the papal conclaves that choose successors to St. Peter." However, does anyone expect a College of Cardinals stacked with social neoconservatives over many years to choose someone other than a social neoconservative? Does anyone expect a hierarchy which subjugates women to perpetual subservience and proclaims that gays and lesbians are denying "their nature" when they seek the right to marry the person they love to elect a successor who can seize the "occasion for pulling together a very divided church"?

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owatonnabillFeb. 13, 13 5:31 PM

"The paradoxes of Benedict...were visible in two statements he made at Christmastime. Progressives could only welcome a commentary he wrote for the Financial Times on Dec. 19 in which he declared that "Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God's image and destined for eternal life." Yet he followed this with a Christmas sermon denouncing gay marriage, insisting that that gays and lesbians were turning their backs on the "essence of the human creature" and denying "their nature."............. This is not the contradiction Dionne makes it out to be, mainly because it addresses two completely different issues. The doctrine of Papal infallibility, to summarize, is that a Pope's authority derives from Christ through the Vicar of Christ (i.e. the Pope) back to Peter. In matters of faith and morals the logic is that any teaching by a previous vicar, if countermanded by a subsequent one, means that either the first one, or the second one, was wrong, therefore the conclusion is that evil must have influenced one or the other decision. In other words for a Pope to be judged wrong by a subsequent Pope on questions of faith or morals, then any Pope could be doubted at any time on these issues, and if (as Catholics believe) the Papal authority derives from Christ in an unbroken line, then this is just not possible. Alleviating poverty addresses the human condition--no problem of faith or morals there. No Pope has ever ruled that poverty in "the flock" is a good thing. But homosexuality? The stand of the Church will never change regarding this, because the mechanism does not exist to allow for that change. If the belief is that scripture defines it as sinful, then that will be the consistent interpretation of any Pope.

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