Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Too many words. . .
The best Presidents are not those who know everything. Gadfry, some of our smartest occupants of that esteemed office have been, shall we say, less than successful. But the ones who know who is smart and whose judgment is good and who act with integrity even when it is not popular -- well, they prove generally quite successful in hindsight (I think here of Bush 41).
In the same way, the best Popes are not those who know everything but those who know the one thing needful. Those who know when not to dilute their influence by having something to say on every topic are the ones who have learned the secret of real wisdom. Popes have no guarantee of infallibility for everything they say. They say funny stuff (not humorous). They say stupid stuff. They forget that the papacy has become a cult of personality and people are hanging on every word from the mouth of the Pope (and not in a good way, either).
Remember when we found out that Wilson's stroke left him unable to govern and his wife had hidden him away and pretty much run the country in his absence from the public stage? Remember how long it took before the world learned it was at war after the assassination of the Archduke? Yeah, maybe this was not so good but neither is it good to have a President who has something to say on everything and Pope who does not know when to keep quiet.
There was no real opportunity in centuries past for his private ruminations to be aired. Now it's non-stop. Catholics have gone from never hearing from their popes to hearing too much. A distinction needs to be made between Joseph Ratzinger and Pope Benedict. A distinction has to be made between Jorge Bergoglio and Pope Francis. Men in the office of Pope can be wrong. That shouldn't be a headline to Catholics — but it is. Popes can be wrong; not every word that falls from the lips of a Pope is full of grace. It's not Catholic to hang on every utterance of the Pope as though it is divinely inspired.
I have a lot of opinions. You should know. You are reading them. But don't hang on my words. Read them if you want, argue with me if you disagree, laugh if they are funny, and consider them if they are wise... but there is only One whose Word is always worth our attention. Presidents come and go. Popes, too. And Pastors. But the Word of the Lord endures forever. A President may not need to know this. Popes and Pastors ought never to forget it.