Now that the New York Times has laid down the baton after their orchestrated Holy Week festival of pope-pounding, my feelings toward Benedict XVI are more conflicted than ever; his lifetime track record on clergy abuse ranges from all-too-typical avoidance and denial to unprecedented engagement, repentance, and reform. Sadly charisma-impaired, he's no rock star like John Paul II, yet he has dealt with the crisis more directly than JPII ever did.
Sick of getting my pontiff in cartoon form from the likes of Maureen Dowd, I've started reading some of his own stuff, and "complex" doesn't begin to describe it. He thinks, and writes, like a dark Time Lord plagued with bad dreams and tormented by human tenderness. Enough with the crap about "God's Rottweiler" already. The next time I'm almost beguiled by the kittenish Ms. Dowd's pop-snark take on matters Catholic, I'll let Benedict speak for himself:
"God is dead and we killed him: are we really aware that this phrase is taken almost literally from Christian tradition and that often in our viae crucis we have made something similar resound without realizing the tremendous gravity of what we said? We killed him, by enclosing him in the stale shell of routine thinking, by exiling him in a form of pity with no content of reality, lost in the gyre of devotional phrases, or of archaeological treasuries; we killed him through the ambiguity of our lives which also laid a veil of darkness over him: in fact, what else would have been able to make God more problematical in this world than the problematical nature of the faith and of the love of his faithful?"
Text: 'The Anguish of an Absence: Three Meditations on Holy Saturday,' from 30 Days, March 2006
Image: Detail, Fra Angelico, Deposition from the Cross, Museo San Marco, Florence