Thursday, February 08, 2018

Papal dilemma

Ratzinger has expressed muted concern over the direction that his successor is taking the church. His diplomatic understatement no doubt reflects a much deeper dismay or panic. His life's work is unraveling. 

Why doesn't he intervene more forcibly? Of course, at his age, he doesn't have the stamina for a knockdown drag out fight. But this is just a question of making public statements.

My guess is that he's be reticent because Francis presents an intractable papal dilemma. It's exceedingly rare to have two living popes. Suppose they have a very public disagreement over the fundamental direction of the church. Suppose Ratzinger says he's the voice of authentic Catholicism while Francis says he's the voice of authentic Catholicism? Which pope are faithful Catholics suppose to follow? Flip a coin?  

I suspect Ratzinger doesn't say more because that would expose the Catholic conundrum. So long as this is a hypothetical scenario about contradictory popes, it's easier for Catholic apologists to paper over the divergence. But if you have two living popes at loggerheads, the system self-implodes. 

It's a game of chicken: blink or head-on collision. Ratzinger can only oppose Francis by causing a track wreck that destroys the papacy. Mutual annihilation. 

So there is no solution. At best, Catholicism was an idealistic theory. But things have come to a head. If you have two leaders at the top of the pyramid, and they give the faithful contradictory directions, there is no referee. 

The pope was supposed to be the referee. When popes disagree, the practical incongruity of the system is exposed. 

In one sense this is nothing new. There's plenty of diachronic contradiction between a former pontificate and a later pontificate. But when it's simultaneous, that brings the dilemma from the background to the foreground. 

1 comment:

  1. ISTM that it's a train wreck either way, with either Ratzinger or Bergoglio pulling the switch. The status quo is untenable with Bergoglio & Co contradicting "infallible" decrees; on the other hand, if Ratzinger were to speak out, would he be pulling the switch or merely holding up a mirror?