Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pope Benedict After Four Years - Bungler or Teacher?

While John Allen's well-written articles will appear in the National Catholic Reporter, which is a dissident weekly, it is ironic, that they are not chock-full-o-dissidence as we so often see with most of what is written at the NCR. Fr. Z discusses Allen's articles often, almost always introducing him as,
"My friend Mr. John L. Allen, Jr., the nearly
ubiquitous fair-minded columnist for the ultra-lefty NCR..."

Here is yet another example of a fine piece Allen has put together - Benedict the bungler or Benedict the teacher? (source link is at the bottom).

Anyone who has read the words of Pope Benedict XVI sees, in him, the great teacher that he is. Quietly beneath my own breath, I have often wondered if His Holiness would someday be looked upon as a 21st century doctor of the Church. John Allen walks a similar path, but refers to the Fathers of the Church, when he writes (emphasis mine in bold):

In that spirit, devotees of papal pronouncements – not just the high-profile examples, but the Pope’s routine teaching during his Wednesday General Audiences, his Sunday addresses, and so on – say that if you close your eyes when Benedict is on stage, and forget who’s speaking, you could easily believe you’re listening to one of the great Fathers of the Church, such as Ignatius of Antioch, John Chrysostom, or Augustine of Hippo. Benedict’s material is almost always inspiring, spiritually rich, and rhetorically well-crafted, leading some analysts to declare him one of the greatest “teaching popes” in Church history.

Very well put, and true.

In his article, John Allen explores the perception, that Pope Benedict is a bungler. I call it a perception, because that is precisely what it is. John Allen rightly points to the lack of 21st century PR on the part of the Holy See's communications department. After listing a number of recent debacles attributed to the Pope, Allen writes:

The truly stunning dimension is that in virtually every case, there was a positive way to view what Benedict said or did; and in virtually every case, the Vatican didn’t even bother trying to present things that way until after the fact. (For example, readmitting the Holocaust-denying bishop was intended to entice him to renounce his views, not to endorse them. The Vatican waited until almost a week after the announcement, however, to explain this point.)

This is all true, but now, for the rest of the story.....

We know that the Pope has not gotten a fair shake in the media. When I see this, I can't help but reflect on the Last Gospel read at the end of each Mass in the Extraordinary Form (John 1:1-14). A few verses - speaking about Christ, come to mind:

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.....He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Christ is not just yesterday. He is yesterday, today, and tomorrow and we are warned not to follow all sorts of strange teachings (Hebrews 13: 8-9). Much of the world is clouded with practices which counter the Gospel. That is why, as Christians, we are called to be counter-cultural. It was an opinion poll which put our Lord on the Cross. Is Christ not among his own today? Do they receive him? Look at the many Catholics in the media who have the same quick access to the Holy Father's words in their entirety, yet misunderstandings and distortions abound in their writings. If the world could not comprehend the light of Christ while Our Lord walked the earth, how can we expect it to be comprehended today, as it is passed on through the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI?

Some things, must be left to prayer (Ephesians 6:12)

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places

Go read John Allen's excellent article: Benedict the bungler or Benedict the teacher? in the Times Online.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!