[So-called] Catholics for Choice has issued a statement on the papal resignation. After castigating Benedict XVI and John Paul II for being, well, CATHOLIC, and lamenting the prospects that the upcoming conclave will elect another CATHOLIC pope, it includes this paragraph:
“It is, however, reassuring that the pope has taken the mature decision to resign. While Benedict has not gone against the grain during his papacy, the fact that he is the first pope in 600 years to choose to leave office is perhaps a sign of a maturing approach to governance.”
Mature. The pope is being mature. He's all grown up and making mature decisions! Who'da thunk it?
Because of course the popes of the last several centuries have been so, well, darn immature. And that darn, infantile, immature predilection for staying in office for life, in an office that is for life? Well, now we have a "sign" of a "maturing approach" to governance of the Church.
The willingness to resign is the sign of a mature approach.
Not only has Catholics for Choice been vocal in their criticism of the Catholic Faith and the defense thereof by the present and former popes, and is all set to continue in their habits with the next one, NOW they have a new weapon to bear, and they will not be the only one. Surely they wished JP-II would have resigned but that's sort of like wishing Obama would be impeached. Technically possible, procedurally infinitesimally remote.
But now, NOW.... NOW they have a precedent!
To resign. Pressure to resign. Like B-XVI did.
This is only the beginning.
You watch. It's been THREE DAYS, and already there's pressure on the next pope to resign.
Now look, I don't think of Catholics for Choice as influential in the Church, but it is in the world. But the Anchoress has said that maybe being exposed to the vitriol of the world through Twitter might have influenced B-XVI to resign. Well, Catholics for Choice is one of the more vocal sources of the kind of vitriol the Anchoress is referring to.
Lots of good Catholics, people I respect in the blogsphere, lecturers, professors, learned and devout folks from all walks of life are spinning this as a good decision.
Admittedly, it has some good dimensions and I thank those folks for pointing them out.
But it is not on the whole good.
(Don't have time right now to put in links to the catholics for choice and the Anchoress - will when I can)
UPDATE, 3.4.13: Found and editor in chief of Inside the Vatican, Robert Moynihan, PhD, has a recent post about the conclave and the various papabili. In discussing the dynamics of a conclave, he reports speculation of some of the strategies some of the cardinals may be employing.
Two surround the idea of choosing a pope who will eventually resign.
Just go to his article and search for "resign" and you'll find the pertinent passages with the second incidence of the word. (Of course the whole thing is worth reading.)
So, some cardinals may push for a very old pope who will fix certain things in the Vatican quickly, and then resign in, say, 5 years. Other cardinals may push for a relatively young pope who will fix things, and be young and vigorous enough to initiate other needed programs or whatever, and then resign in, say, 15 years.
Just imagine how the resistance and possible hostility that pope will face if he decides not to resign as he was elected to do.
Now I know just yesterday I said it was time to start praying for the cardinals in the conclave and to the eventual Successor of St Peter, and I stand by that. In fact, what I have just said makes it all the more urgent.
But if reporters who cover the Vatican are thinking these things, you can be sure that many of the cardinals are, too.
And you can bet that as soon as this guy steps out of line in anyone's eyes - oh, say the mainstream media, because the new pope will be - horrors!! - a Catholic - there will be calls for his resignation, too.
The next pope will have a very hard time maintaining control, because rampant disobedience and insubordination are very powerful incentives for a leader to resign. Even if the factions wanting his resignation be diverse and even opposed to each other, the one thing they can work together on is getting the guy to resign.
As for me, I am the pope's man, even if he doesn't know me. I accept Benedict XVI's resignation with humble obedience. I will accept the next pope's persistence until his death in the same way.
But I am bold enough to offer the new pope a bit of advice. Get rid of everyone who elected you, as soon as possible. Remove the powerful ones to the hinterlands and make sure your own picks are in key positions.