Friday, January 13, 2012

Pope Benedict feels the burdens of age and duty

The Holy Father will be 85 years old soon, and many close observers have noticed the toll that the years and the crushing responsibilities are taking on him.

I was thrilled when he was elected pope, following the passing of Blessed John Paul II. Benedict is one of the great theologians of the 20th century. He is a brilliant man, with a genius for subtle and salient explication of theology, Biblical texts, and culture. His Introduction to Christianity is one of the best overviews of the rational and spiritual basis for the faith, and as pope he has written a beautiful series of theological commentaries ordered on Jesus' life and ministry. His Salt of the Earth, which is an interview with a journalist, is one of the best commentaries on modern culture and the Church's role that I've read. The only difficulty I've had with his books is that I've marked so many pages that the bookmarks are useless. Every page has one.

His service to the Church has been exemplary. For decades he did an extraordinary job as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He is a superb administrator, and he is directly responsible for the very effective measures the Church has taken to prevent sexual abuse. The Catholic Church is now the safest institution for children in America. The secular world should learn from his example.

The Church has been blessed by the succession of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVII. John Paul strengthened and sanctified the Church with his charisma and his courage. Benedict has consolidated John Paul's achievements with his intellect and his administrative skills.

Please pray that the Holy Father's health will sustain him in the great tasks that remain before him.


  1. Michael,

    The German magazine 'dear Spiegel' isn't so rapt with Pope Benedikt. In a 15 page cover article in the 19th September, 2011 issue, they point out the legacy of the German pope. From 1980 to 2010, in Germany the number of Catholics has decreased 12.7%, churchgoers have decreasedv 42.5%, christenings have decreased 43.1%, church weddings have decreased 58.3% and candidates for priesthood have decreased 62.1%.

    Not all can be ascribed to the present pope. Some of it was the responsibility of the previous one.

    Unless you have more up to date figures, even in America the catholic church isn't prospering. Rodney Stark reports a 4% drop in Catholics from 1960 to 2007 on page 362 in 'the Triumph of Christianity' (2011).

  2. Richard Dawkins, a.k.a. DickyDawk, and his groupies wanted Pope Benedict XVI arrested and tried for crimes against humanity! It is really bewildering how far atheists are ready to go to promote their hopeless, shameless and backward agenda. DickyDawk writes a bunch of lies with marvelous prose, but they still are a bunch of lies. Maybe we should arrest and try DickyDawk and his gang for crimes against the truth!

    1. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Dawkins, in a beautiful 17th century protestant church. The talk was about evolution, but several of the screens in the church showed advertisements by the Dutch atheist society. The irony was palpable.

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  3. Ironic considering how readily many priests set off gaydar alarms

    Including Ratzinger, with his effeminate voice and strong German accent. He reminds me of nasty version of Lieutenant Gruber

  4. @Dr. Egnor: 100% agreement.
    @bach: Church attendance is waning all over Europe and waxing in Africa. How is the one more relevant than the other, or either entirely the doing of one man?
    @KW: You don't know what you're talking about.

    1. John,

      I commented, because Michael wrote a very short subjective article. I thought I'd quote some objective numbers concerning Pope Benedikt's success, the German pope, in Germany, from a mainstream German magazine ( der Spiegel is similar to Time magazine in content).

    2. @bach: I wasn't questioning the objectivity of der Spiegel's statistics; I was questioning their relevance. You seem to be drawing the conclusion that, because church attendance is dropping in Germany (which I believe, and which doesn't surprise me one bit) Benedict must be doing something wrong.

      If that is your conclusion, I disagree with it. For one thing, church attendance in Germany may be waning, but that's not the case in other parts of the world. The Catholic Church is growing faster in Africa than in any other continent. (And probably shrinking faster in Europe than in any other.) By your logic, the pope is doing a fine job in Africa and a lousy job in Europe. How can that be? Are his teachings and speeches and encyclicals not directed at the entire world?

      No, the difference is not in how the pope is leading Africa as opposed to how he's leading Europe. The difference is that Europeans (and Americans, to a lesser extent) are insulating themselves from reality and from humility, and it is very difficult to listen to or understand Christ in that state. (This is at least part of the reason for the beatitudes.) In the West, we lock away our sick and elderly relatives, pre-select the sick and the inconvenient for abortion, have all our sweaty and unpleasant labor done by foreigners and immigrants, and carry out our wars and assassinations with drones and smart bombs. Our entertainment is full of pretty pablum, and our news is cutesy and inoffensive. And when reality does start to get its nose in under the tent flap, we change the channel or crank up the volume on the iPod. We stay as comfortable and disconnected from human suffering as possible, and still find time to look down our noses at those benighted foreigners who doubtless would live like we do, if only they had our education and objectivity.

      Faith is waning in the West because we think we don't need God. We've got everything sorted out more or less on our own, thank you very much, so please spare us your teaching and your moralizing. Your version seems difficult and inconvenient, so we'll just make a better version down here on our own.

      That's why secularists resent the pope so much. He's always telling them things they don't want to hear. Things like "Don't sleep around," "Don't exploit the poor," "Don't start wars without damn good reasons," and "Don't kill your babies and grandparents." These things all mean putting the moral order and the good of others ahead of our own lust, greed, and rage. They're inconvenient, and we wish the old man would just shut up already.

    3. Faith is waning in the West because we think we don't need God.

      That doesn't make any sense. How can one stop believing something simply because one doesn't need it? "I don't need God, so from now on I will not believe in God" seems like a silly thing to say.

      It seems more likely to me that faith in the West is weaning because believers have been getting more exposure to healthy skepticism. Religious indoctrination of children is less effective when children are also exposed to criticism of religious dogma.

    4. I didn't say that faith is waning because we don't need God; I said it's waning because we think we don't need God. When we think we don't need him, we don't listen for him and we don't seek him out. Non-Christians ignore the open doors of the church, and never convert. Tepid Christians find it more convenient to not spend much time thinking about matters of faith - they're the ones who are not going to Mass, not christening their children, and not getting married in the Church. And the next generation is being raised by these tepid Christians who may believe in the existence of God, but certainly don't believe in his importance, and thus don't see any reason to pass on the faith to their children or to promote it in public.

      Living faith isn't just a matter of believing in God's existence; it's a matter of loving and trusting him enough to do his will. As St. James said: "Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble."

      If you have time, read the whole letter of St. James. It's awesome.

  5. I found this article about Pope Benedict XVI and found that it confirmed all of what Dr. Egnor wrote!

    1. Pepe,

      Written by Joe Heschmeyer. A lawyer (I won't hold that against him) and practicing Catholic. Perhaps he might be slightly biased? Your credulity is amazing. You don't seem to realize that blog authors might have ulterior motives, as shown by your mindless parroting of Monte Hieb's 'Plant Fossils of West Virginia' website.

    2. ^^ So says the guy who quotes Der Spiegel.
      Goose and gander, Bach.

    3. CrusadeRex,

      You have problems with a mainstream news magazine? And anyway, I wasn't quoting the article, I was quoting the statistics in the article. If you have a problem with the statistics, then find some other, presumably more reliable, ones.

    4. Pepe,

      There's no atheist agenda. There's just no god. I was quoting facts to contrast with Michael's sycophantic puff piece. I don't hate Christians. I count Mormons amongst my friends. I don't obfuscate with AGW. You're thinking about yourself. My ancestor was a monkey like primate 20 million years or so ago. So was yours. I usually only glance at the RDF website each morning. I find Egnorance much more entertaining. I wouldn't come across idiots like you in a month of Sundays in the real world.

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    6. Do I have a problem with you quoting a politically charged (leftist) vehicle? No. Not at all. Nor am I remotely surprised by it. Why not Pravda too?
      All sources are fair game in a blog rant.
      People quote Wiki on here, for Goodness sake!
      I just find it hypocritical for you to assert there is a problem with Pépé using a Christian author for a source, while you use a OBVIOUSLY pro secular left of centre magazine.
      Goose and gander.

      As for the 'agenda', nothing could be more naked than the pretensions of Atheism and Atheists.
      YOU personally may not have an agenda (posts? moral 'flexibility'?), but there are massive groups of Atheists that DO.
      Advertising campaigns? Law suites? GENOCIDES?
      When billboards and bus ads stating there is 'probably no God' are put out for Christian children to read at Christmas time and easter - THAT is an Agenda.
      When little girls sue their schools for having a banner that mentions God's name and are backed by LEGAL teams of Atheists - THAT is an agenda.
      When State Atheist regimes target specific religious groups and their clergy for extermination - THAT is an agenda.
      You can call this 'activist', 'progressive', or 'communist' if you like (I know you will) but it is ALL Atheism's fruit.
      But that's not enough: You assert there is 'no god' [sic] with the fanatic zeal of a Sudanese Muhammadan: 'La Shy'a Akbar!'
      There is nothing but nothing, and nothing is it's name!
      Such zeal betrays your deeply held FAITH: Atheism.
      May nothing reward and enlighten you for defending nothing so well.

    7. CrusadeRex,

      Have you ever read 'der Spiegel'. It's mainstream, not leftist, politically charged. It has the largest staff of fact checkers, so anything it publishes is reasonably reliable. No one has disputed my comment that Pope Benedikt hasn't been a boon to Catholicism in Germany, despite initial optimism.

    8. Bach,
      Yes. It is a left leaning publication. More so than most.
      Besides most MSM is left leaning.
      Everyone knows that. Who do you think your kidding?
      Probably seems centralist to you, but that is only relative. Probably seems warm out to a polar bear here today, but I will still wear my jacket thanks.

      " My ancestor was a monkey like primate 20 million years or so ago."
      Really? Do you have his will, or perhaps some photos? Just kidding of course.
      But you must have a fossil, or even a similar number of chromosomes?
      Nah. Didn't think so.
      Just FAITH in your great nothing.

  6. @bach:

    [There's no atheist agenda.]

    Then you guys will stop all of the litigation?

  7. LOL, I read the post, and I thought to myself, "There's sure to be a slew of catty, passive-aggressive atheist idiocy in response to this." I was not disappointed.

    Also, I haven't delved into the comments here a whole lot, but I have read enough to know how funny it is when the most obsessive commenter here says there's no atheist agenda. The "I have Mormon friends!" disclaimer is also pretty good unintentional comedy. Does he have black and gay friends too? A nice bit of humor to go to bed on.

    1. The Deuce,

      Well, I wrote that I have Mormon friends, because Pepe claimed I hate Christians (Mormons are unusual in Australia).


      We don't sue Christians in Australia because they don't break the law. If you don't want to be sued in America, just stop infringing on your constitution.

    2. I am a Christian and have Atheist friends, so I would not discount Bach's claim on those grounds, Duece.
      I know it sounds like a disclaimer, but it could very well be a justified one.
      As for the 'agenda' line - that is almost comical, isn't it? It literally made me chuckle on first read. Of ALL the people on here to make that statement: Bachfiend!

      You note:
      "I haven't delved into the comments here "
      Well that will have to change! LOL JK
      But, it was good getting your input.
      Hope to hear more from you, Deuce!

    3. @bach, "If you don't want to be sued in America, just stop infringing on your constitution."
      The problem is not with infringement. Nativities and prayers in school are not NEW. They are the tradition.
      What is NEW is the radical interpretation of the constitution. What would be seen as -in this country (and I suspect yours)- ABUSE of the constitution, usually in order to push an agenda. In this case an ATHEIST agenda pushed by the left fringe.

  8. Again, sorry to all for 'deletes'.
    Still adapting to the thread on my teeny-tiny tablet.

  9. @bach:

    [If you don't want to be sued in America, just stop infringing on your constitution.]

    What part of the Constitution am I 'infringing'? Cite article and section, please.

    1. Michael,

      Well, you're the American constitutional expert. You insisted that the federal court case would fail, because it wasn't nonconstitutional. When I pointed out that it would be better to wait until the judge made his decision instead of publishing several threads on the same topic, you wrote that the decision would take a long time to be issued.

      It's been issued (in remarkably short time), so why don't you write a thread explaining why the judge got it wrong.

      My understanding is that the American constitution prevents the promotion of religion within public schools. Prayers and other displays of religion within schools is never voluntary, because students are extremely susceptible to peer pressure. The safest option is to restrict public schools to education, and leave religion in the hands of the parents, either to send their children to religion based schools and to take their children to the church of their choice.

  10. @bach:

    [Well, you're the American constitutional expert.]

    Finally you're facing reality.

    [You insisted that the federal court case would fail, because it wasn't nonconstitutional.]

    I didn't think it would fail. I suspected the judge would rule for the brownshirts. I thought it should fail.

    [When I pointed out that it would be better to wait until the judge made his decision instead of publishing several threads on the same topic, you wrote that the decision would take a long time to be issued.]

    What? When did I say that?

    [It's been issued (in remarkably short time), so why don't you write a thread explaining why the judge got it wrong.]

    I have a couple of posts in the queue about it already. I like to keep you waiting a bit. I love to hear begging...

    1. Michael,

      Unfortunately, you're not capable of recognizing sarcasm.

      If you want me to go back and reread all your posts and all your comments on all your posts to find the one where you wrote that the judgement in the federal court would take some time, I will.

      On second thoughts, perhaps not. That's too painful a prospect to contemplate. Reading your blog is often like watching grass grow.

    2. As an atheist, I hope the current Pope has a long life. His incompetence and venality is doing a fantastic job eroding the membership of the Catholic church.