I hear that some people are upset at Pope Benedict for allegedly welcoming with open arms one Bishop Williamson who denies that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. I hear that some smart alecks have even called for the Holy Father to resign.
And I hear that some of our own allegedly-Catholic congresspeople have issued a letter telling him that he needs to clarify his position on the Holocaust. If they’d taken a minute to look up what the pope has said about the Holocaust, they would know his position; he spoke of it last week at a General Audience. He always communicates with great clarity. But I wonder, does it even really matter how clear he is? I mean, he and the rest of the Church have been explicitly clear on the teachings against abortion… and yet most of the congresspeople who signed the letter are “pro-choice”! Talk about people who need to remove the planks from their own eyes…
I was pretty upset about all of this for a while. But not so much any more. By his own example, Pope Benedict is constantly teaching us to remain calm, remain charitable, and remain confident and secure in our faith. I’ve never seen him with ruffled feathers. I’ve never seen him angry. He is a deeply thoughtful, deeply prayerful person–and all of us should strive to be the same.
At the same time, he is not a push-over. He stands firm, no matter how unpopular it may make him. He’s not going to let Bishop Williamson be fully reconciled with the Church until he recants what he said about the Holocaust–of course, Williamson and the other three SSPX bishops have much more serious doctrinal issues to work through if they’re going to fully reconcile with the Church.
Pope Benedict, like the good father he is, has merely made a gesture toward them showing that he is willing to accept them back into full communion and good standing. That doesn’t mean he’s just going to overlook all their errors or let them off the hook easily. It definitely doesn’t mean he agrees with or approves of their errors! It only means he loves them and wants them to come home. They are his prodigal sons, and even though they are still a long way off, he has apparently seen them taking steps to return. And that’s what he wants. That is why he lifted the excommunications.
This all makes perfect sense to me, as I was once a prodigal daughter to a very good father (and mother). But then, I think it’s true that our society has largely lost its understanding of, and respect for, fatherhood. And Holy Father is not just a title. Not for Pope Benedict.
I love him so much! We absolutely have to pray for him every day, and do our best to follow his teachings and his example. That is so important for living an authentic Catholic life. We have to love and pray for our Holy Father. His responsibilities and difficulties are beyond our imagining, and he bears them all for us, as a true disciple of our Lord.
As true disciples ourselves, we also need to pray for the Holy Father’s, and our, enemies.