Andrew writes that my defense of the Pope is ‘incredibly wrong-headed and simplistic’ and then focuses entirely on the argument I made regarding the aesthetics of Benedict. My point in so arguing was that in so many ways Benedict is theologically almost identical to his predecessor and yet people treat the ascendancy of Benedict as some sort of massive departure from the course John Paul II had set for the Church, which is misleading and in error.
Furthermore, Andrew still has not yet addressed exactly how Benedict is responsible for the cases of abuse his accusers are condemning him for, and has glossed over entirely Benedict’s many contributions to the fight against sexual abuse in the Church. For a great deal more information and perspective on just how Benedict helped shape the much more vigorous approach to combating sexual abuse in today’s Church, see this excellent piece by Cardinal Levada, Benedict’s successor as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the man now in charge of overseeing cases against priests accused of sexual abuse. I would excerpt from it, but I can’t decide where to begin, so just read the entire thing. If you take away anything from the piece it should be that a rush to judgment – or a rush to call for the heads of those you disagree with – should be tempered. We all deserve a sober judgment from our critics.
Nor did Andrew explain how Benedicts resignation would actually help the Church or the victims of abuse or really anything at all for that matter, unless definitive evidence is brought to light which places the pope much closer to the scandal than he now appears to be – which was the crux of my defense of the Pope to begin with. Yes, I did say that much of the animosity toward this Pope must stem from people’s subconscious antipathy toward his physical appearance – but only because many of the same people who adored the theologically similar JPII despise Benedict, and I can see no other explanation for it. If not aesthetics then it must be style. Even in Andrew’s old writing on the subject he muses that John Paul II
balanced Ratzinger’s zeal with a more humane approach. Together, they have played a "good cop, bad cop" routine with recalcitrant faithful.
Has Andrew in the past called for the resignation of John Paul II? If it boils down merely to a difference that is not really a difference at all but rather simply a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine then I have to wonder why the world so loved John Paul II, under whose watch far less was done to combat sexual abuse in the Church than has been done under Benedict’s watch.
P.S. Andrew links yet again to this picture which makes Benedict appear to be hiding. It is at once a picture which evokes a sense of mystery and a sense that the pontiff must be concealing something sinister. And this argument isn’t at least partly about aesthetics?