Saturday, April 10, 2010

Strange Calls for Papal Resignation

Look: presidents and prime ministers resign. CEOs resign. Popes don't resign. People resign when they've been chosen by other human beings to execute some responsibility, but have abused their position. In that situation, the moral thing for the executive to do is leave that position. The moral thing for the public or shareholders to do if the executive will not leave is kick them out. This is how moral, civilized human beings behave, and it's this kind of accountability that people in the West rightfully demand of each other, and especially of those with some measure of authority over fellow human beings.

But where religious organizations are concerned, we're not talking about secular morality constrained only to this earthly plane, are we? If you believe in God, then your organizations doesn't have constitutions and by-laws that are concerned only with the mundane secular governance of an organization. It has rules for living that were written into the fabric of the universe at the moment of creation and handed down to us by an all-powerful supernatural being. There is no debate to be had if you're Catholic. God, through His representative on Earth, is the only source of true morality. Christian Scripture and almost two millennia of unbroken Church authority could not be more clear on this point. If you disagree, you are wrong. Furthermore, for doubting God, you are immoral.

God chose Pope Benedict, and for a Catholic to question God's will in this way is incredibly arrogant. Either that, or the Catholic doesn't believe in one of the central, defining dogmas of the Church. Can you really claim to be Catholic then? Hey everyone - I'm Lutheran! Except I don't go to a Lutheran church and reject most of Luther's teachings. But I'm still Lutheran. In my heart.

The vast majority of Catholics in the United States seem to have the good sense to know that what the Pope has been involved in is dreadfully wrong. But their calls for his resignation are badly conflating the transparent accountability of democratic modernity with the eternal authority of Scripture. Either God oversees the Church, or He doesn't. Which is it? No waffling here like some lawyer; there is such a thing as truth, and it's time for you to decide which it is. If you're trying to recall God from office, you must not take the whole thing very seriously.

My own prediction for how this will all come out? The Pope won't resign. Why would he? He knows God chose him. You can certainly disagree with him, but that means you're no longer a practicing Catholic.

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