At a minimum, it's time to face up to the glaring fact that the Roman communion is being led by a heedless, imprudent exhibitionist. The chattiest possible, it seems.
Which is, frankly, hard to square with any previous understanding of humility, but we live in an era where black is white, up is down, Maroon 5 is Metallica, etc.
In short, we have a Pope who insists upon himself. As much as we (read: I) want to be able to ignore him, that has proven to be impossible.
In an ideal world, I could view the papacy as Catholics did for centuries during the age of sail: pray for and with him during the Mass, get the occasional report of a new writing or comment when the mail arrived from the triple-master, and hear about the white smoke a couple/three times during my adult lifetime.
But, no. This is the cursed Age of Twitter and 24/7 "news" networks. He's everywhere. He knows it, and is perfectly fine with that. And make no mistake, he's the headline act. He's Natalie Merchant to the rest of Catholicism's 10,000 Maniacs. The Puppet Show to the Church's Spinal Tap.
Which brings us to this latest stunt: cold-calling a correspondent to tell her she can indeed receive communion despite the fact her husband is a divorcee without an annulment.
Whoa, whoa, whoa--that's just her side of the story!
And? The Vatican's official statement is not a denial. It's a Glomar non-admission/non-denial.
And isn't it just like the Holy Spirit to neither admit nor deny, eh, no?
Add in the fact that it's a time-tested rule of evidence that people under emotional excitement don't tend to make crap up. And it sure sounds like how he speaks, right down to the request for prayer and a shot at priests who are "more papist than the pope."
"We don't have all the facts"? Well, no, we don't. But we almost never do. In this case, we have plenty of credible facts and a non-denial from Rome's end. Really, what we don't have are any exculpatory facts that make this look good for the defense of Christ's teaching.
And why should we have expected any such thing? That's not "serene theology."
Anyway, if you need me.