Even an untrue story can hold some truth

seewaldI can rely on my best sources in this case. I have visited Benedict XVI recently, and we also spoke about the resignation. He expressed himself in no way in this direction.”

Speaking is Peter Seewald, biographer and personal friend of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. He denies the recent news that Benedict retired because God told him too, news from an anonymous source. Anonymous source or close collaborator and friend of the retired Pope; it is not hard to see who is the more easily reliable.

And even if Benedict XVI retired because he was convinced it was God’s wish, that is not something to be surprised about. It is exceedingly normal, as Father Alexander Lucie-Smith points out. In fact, in my opinion, we could all do with a little more confidence in our personal relation with the Lord. So even if it is not true that Benedict XVI only resigned because he was convinced it was the Lord’s wish, it still holds a lesson for us: we can rely on prayer helping us reach a decision, and we can be confident that it helps us in the right direction.

Stats for February (and a bit of March) 2011

A return to the monthly stats reports, this one includes February and a tiny bit of March, a period which saw 4,154 visits to my blog, a pretty average number. In the top 10, it is striking to note a number of old posts (numbers 6, 8 and 9) as well as a very recent one at number 4. The situation around Bishop Schilder is of interest to many, it would seem.

I have noticed that a growing number of my blog posts tend to discuss hierarchical topics. In other words, the accusation leveled against me from some corners, that I am a bishop worshipper (or, in the words of a commenter here, an episcopolatrist), seems to develop some basis in fact. Of course I don’t worship bishops, but I do acknowledge their important role in the world Church. In many ways, I consider myself inspired by a blog like Whispers in the Loggia which discusses news topics about the hierarchy in the American Church. In my own small and inadequate way, I would like to offer something similar for the Church in northwestern Europe.

Anyway, on to the top 10:

1: A real church, “not one of those multifunctional things” 145
2: Another blogging bishop 80
3: Berlin is vacant, herald of things to come? 72
4: Dutch missionary bishop in the dock, Saint Valentine the Unknown 63
5: The archbishop gets his wish, Saint Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack 56
6: The Stations of the Cross 52
7: Facing a difficult situation with “good humour” – Belgium veruss the archbishop 50
8: Another timely reminder, Het probleem Medjugorje 39
9: A poignant photo 34
10: Anti-life proposals questioned by its ‘target audience’ 31

St. Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack

“The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes” [2 Tim 4:3]

Saint Paul’s writings often turn out to be strikingly prophetical, especially considering the larger developments within the Christian communities. He wrote to the small communities in the Near East, Greece and Rome, but his inspired words are equally applicable to the modern world and Church. The above quote seems fitting today, in the aftermath of a memorandum from 143 German theologians who propose far-reaching changes in the Church, essentially protestantising it. Luckily, a quick glance at the headlines at Kath.Net reveals that the suggestions meet with some serious resistance from , at least, the German laity.

Peter Seewald at the presentation of his book 'Light of the World'

One of the strongest critics is Peter Seewald, the author of ‘Light of the World’, the best-selling book of interviews with the pope released last year. In an extensive commentary, Seewald rips the initiative of the theologians to shreds, calling it a neoliberal action against the very essence of the Church:

“Here we see a concerted action from neoliberal forces who want to force an accelerated  restructuring which will deprive the Church of her essence and so her Spirit and strength. In the end there will be a worldly Church, in which not God, not the Gospel, but the autonomous member of the community will be measure of all things, directed by the high priests of the spirit of the times.”

Seewald continues by identifying the memorandum not as an uprising from the young, but a “rebellion in the nursing home”, identifying the whole general problem as a generation issue.

For those who read German (or have access to someone who can offer a proper translation), go read Seewald’s comments. They are not just applicable to this specific situation, but to so much of the current attitudes and actions of luke-warm Catholics. Just as St. Paul’s words still apply, really.

Artwork: David Myers
Photo credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images