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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Repeat after me:

"SuperPope does not exist. SuperPope does not exist...."

I've done some surfing among fellow parishoners, and I'd like to toss a bucket of cold water on the ecstasy, if I may.

Yes, I'm very, very pleased with the selection of Cdl. Ratzinger to the papacy. Even though I was more of an Arinze man (and the Church is going to have to select a Pope from the areas where it is growing explosively sooner rather than later), I am by no means disappointed with the outcome. Ad multos annos, papa!

[Impending Qualifier Alert.]


Let's tamp down our expectations a little, shall we?

We'd all like to see Pope Benedict XVI come swooping in on a jet liner to visit every rotten diocese in the English-speaking world, opening the six-pack of theological whoop-ass on free-lancing bishops, bizarro Jesuits/Dominicans/Paulists/Etc., feminista religious (male and female), whack job liturgists/liturgies and so forth. Yes, I would love to see him visit L.A., soak a copy of Gather Faithfully Together in lighter fluid and burn it in public in front of a sackcloth-clad Cdl. Mahony who had just announced his retirement from office and watch the Pope announce that the retired archbishop's penance would be to run a gauntlet between rows of the families of the victims of his pervert priests. And then watch him announce his visit to the Diocese of Dallas, then Manchester, then...

We would all enjoy the announcement of an interdict on every Catholic education institution that failed to publicly adhere to a much more fearsome version of Ex Corde Ecclesia.

I, too, would delight in an announcement that failure to adhere to the last jot of Redemptionis Sacramentum--and the rubrics in general--would result in the appointment of a co-adjutor just promoted from faculty work at a FSSP seminary.

Indeed, we can all construct scenarios in which the wicked are given their just reward by a stern Pope bent on rooting out every last problem in the Church.

But it's not going to happen like that. He's Benedict XVI, not Kickass Micromanager I. Will he take a firmer hand? Almost certainly. Will he more forcefully confront the centrifugal forces of dissent within the Church? Yep (and that will be interesting to watch, too). Will, at the end of the day, he have a collection of heads mounted over the windows of St. Peter's? No. Collegiality, folks.

Bishops, religious, theologians and chancery personnel who didn't listen to Pope John Paul II for 26 years aren't going to start listening to his successor, now, are they? If you were frustrated before, don't magically expect things to get all better. You will be disappointed. Modernism didn't just emerge like Athena from the brow of Zeus, and it won't be cured by SuperPope fiat, either. If St. Pius X and Pius XII couldn't do it, what makes you think Benedict XVI can?

But--and this is a happy qualifier--Benedict XVI is going to make it much harder for them to manuever, and since they aren't exactly replicating themselves, that will probably be sufficient.

Things will get better. But far more slowly than any of us want them to. Patience, people.

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