"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Now he will diminish

A German man receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday.

The pope is a mere man, and the Catholic faith has never and never shall teach otherwise. And when the current pope steps down and there is a new holder of the petrine office, this fact will stand in stark relief. When the key of the house of David is passed to another, and yet both men are still living, one having the keys and one having given them up, we will witness this truth of the papacy.

When I heard Benedict XVI was stepping down, I became excited. Not because he is a bad pope, on the contrary he has done a superb job. But this move shows to the world what the Church has always believed and taught: that the bishop of Rome is a bishop just like any other bishop, and a man just like any other man, and that his unique charism is all about who Christ is and the indefectability Christ promised the Church, and most pointedly it is all about the chair the man sits in, and absolutely nothing about who the man is who sits in that chair. The most powerful man on earth does not lift himself by his bootstraps and lord over the people as the kings of the earth do. He receives his power from Another, and is merely a chamberlain to the Emperor, or a Prime Minister to the king. As Isaiah 22, which Jesus himself refers to when choosing Peter as his steward says:

In that day I will call my servant Eli′akim the son of Hilki′ah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. And they will hang on him the whole weight of his father’s house...
And now, he will hand the keys to another.

He has passed the test. Now he will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Joseph Ratzinger.


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