In Defense Of Pope Benedict

I have been quite troubled by the endless stream of abuse that has been directed at Pope Benedict XVI over the course of the last year.  Now it may be reaching new lows. A friend of mine sent me this link to a German news site that tells of a mock “trial” in a “virtual courtroom” to be held for Benedict over his alleged role in the deaths of millions from AIDS, as well as his alleged support for anti-Semitism. Unfortunately my friend did not include a link to the translation, which he only copied into the text of the email. Here are the highlights:

“In the second hearing, the top Dutch lawyer Gerard Spong was less fortunate. Three indictments were levied against his “client” Benedict XVI. In addition to his responsibility for the spread of AIDS, the Pope also “legitimises anti-Semitism” – because he did not immediately distance himself from the Holocaust-denier and Lefebvrist Bishop Richard Williamson distances – and finally was also charged with discrimination against women and homosexuals. The indictment was supported with pictures of the Pope in front of a swastika, as well as pictures of concentration camp prisoners and dying Africans.”

But isn’t just the secular European left that has terrible things to say about our Holy Father. There are the rad-trads at websites such as that malign the Pope in their daily coverage of Catholic events, holding him personally responsible for a worldwide conspiracy to rape and molest young boys; there are conservatives in the US who believe that he is orchestrating a conspiracy to promote illegal immigration in the US;  and there are still plenty of good-old fashion Protestant conspiracy wanks that believe Rome = Babylon, and now they have YouTube. You know you’re off the conspiracy nut radar when even Alex Jones is willing to admit that the Vatican probably isn’t at the head of the New World Order (at least he was saying that when I was listening last year), but alas, he’s only one among many who dabble in that sort of thing.

I take these attacks somewhat personally because I have read some of Benedict’s theological writings, and they have helped me come to a much greater understanding of the faith. When I read his words, I often think to myself, “this man has shared my dilemma, and somehow successfully navigated it.” Particularly the collection of sermons in God is Near Us resonated with me as I struggled with aspects of my own belief.

No Pope is perfect, many will make mistakes in the performance of their office. Benedict is not above criticism, but what he is faced with today is hatred. Not only as a the figure-head of the world’s largest religion, which still has the gall to say “no” to the ‘progressive’ paradigms of child-murder, unrestrained economic greed, and a culture of pornographic self-indulgence – any Pope would face all of that – but also as an individual human being. Criticisms of Benedict are almost always followed with, or preceded by, references to his brief stint in the Hitler Youth, as if what he says and does today is tainted because of it.

My prayers and solidarity are with him at this time, and I think he needs as much as we can offer.

9 Responses to In Defense Of Pope Benedict

  1. Donald R. McClarey says:

    My prayers too Joe. God bless our Pope!

  2. Rick Lugari says:

    Indeed. Nice post. I think he must be good and doing right because of the criticism he draws and from what crowds. Pope John Paul II faced the same sort of opposition. Those whose faith mirrors their politically left worldview despise these popes and characterize them as backwards, out of touch with Genuine Catholicism(c), reactionary, etc. The rad-trad types consider them, at worst, heretics and at best sell-outs, and out of touch with Genuine Catholicism(c), etc.

    Oddly enough, all the purveyors Genuine Catholicism(c), behave towards the pope in a manner that doesn’t resonate with the Catholicism I know from tradition and history.

  3. Rann says:

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  4. jonathanjones02 says:

    The Holy Father, like John Paul, will be remembered as one of the very greatest minds of his time. We are blessed to have him. What an extraordinary run of Pontiffs since the troubles of the 60s and 70s! The Church always needs reform, and these two have carried their burdens as an inspiration to us.

  5. jonathanjones02 says:

    I wish to add, also, that God is Love should be read and studied and mediated over as much as one can possibly stand – and I say that to myself first.

  6. I wish to add, also, that God is Love should be read and studied and mediated over as much as one can possibly stand – and I say that to myself first.

    I’d say the same with respect to Jesus of Nazareth.

  7. Anthony says:

    Here here. Pope Benedict has certainly felt the weight of the cross this past year merely by teaching that which is truly catholic.

    I have my doubts that those who publicly thrash him have read Deus Caritas Est or his (in my view superior) Spe Salvi. I’m greatly looking forward to Caritas in Varitate and the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth.

  8. Gabriel Austin says:

    Why do you give space to such nonsense? I was just reading that the best answer to trivial criticism is to ignore it.

  9. Joe Hargrave says:

    Unfortunately I don’t think we can or should ignore repeated, vicious attacks on Pope Benedict.

    These attacks reveal trends in the thinking of the secular world about the Church, which it sees increasingly as an obstacle to a narrowly-defined and often inhuman vision of ‘progress’. The Pope is under attack for refusing to sacrifice Catholic principles on the nature of man himself for the sake of this ‘progress’.

    That said, I’m no reactionary and I think the Church actually does embrace progress, but only on the condition that it is guided by conception of all human beings as having inherent dignity and value. It isn’t a question of progress versus regression, but progress on one paradigm versus progress on another.

    And so, I think it is important to highlight the differences and to defend our conception of progress, and defending Pope Benedict on these matters is a way of doing that.

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