| by Bud Malby | February 14, 2013 | CCMT |

Because of my pessimism I’m hesitant to weigh in on the resignation of PB-16, and his possible successor. I admit that it is nice not having to look forward to a person dying to get them out of office. On the other hand, anticipating weeks of election speculation and trivia is not a pleasing thought. Someone has already asked; will they use a different color of smoke if one of the black cardinals is elected? The worrisome part of that question is it was asked seriously.

Elected? How am I supposed to know if it’s all above board with no exit polls? The secrecy, along with the electors’ fallback position bothers me. All they have to say is, “If you don’t like our choice, blame it on the Holy Ghost.” I’m hoping that Benedict’s ex-butler rises to the occasion and manages to smuggle out some precious secrets.

Seriously, though, the danger is great for those of us struggling to bring about reform in the Church. That threat is the time lag before learning we may have been duped again.

My first thought when any recent pope is mentioned is, guess what? Bravo! You’re right, it’s the popemobile. It reminds me of an oversized golf cart with a glassed in outhouse attached. With that image in mind, think back to the first ride the newly elected Benedict XVI took in the popemobile. At that time most of us, thanks to the good spin used by the Vatican press office, and probably our own naïveté, had been lulled into thinking, “He might not be so bad after all.”

It was much worse with the election of John Paul II. Poland, his home country, was the epitome of conservative Catholicism. Why we thought John Paul would be any different puzzles me to this day. It took us a half dozen years before it dawned on us that he was reversing course. Six lost years on our part – and since then all of our conventions, new alliances, or grassroots organizing haven’t been able to stem the tide.

Don’t be shocked if the new pope doesn’t come from the top ten list of the religious pundits. My guess is we will get a pope who has some charm. But even Bishop Morlino could turn that on. Worse might be if we get a pope with a nice, warm smile. I’d welcome a smiling pope, but a smile does not necessarily a friend to dissidents make.

My fear is that no matter who is elected, we will be lulled to sleep once again, wasting time we don’t have. Think about that. How old will you be if that wait, before we wake up and spring into action again, is another half dozen years? Since there aren’t many of those younger than us who even know what Vatican II was about, chances are good it will be game over.

Personally, I’m not worried. If we get one more pope in a long line of medieval potentates, so be it. I still believe in the Sermon on the Mount, and the one who spoke those words. Much is known about Jesus, in fact, the Roman Curia will even make it infallible if you desire. I like to think I believe in him, which if far different that any belief about him.

Jesus was just a young lad when he stayed behind in the temple one day, (see Luke 2: 41-50) while his parents went blissfully on their way, and then were shocked to learn he was no where to be found. Frankly, if I had been that lackadaisical keeping track of my five children someone would have reported me. It reminds me of the Home Alone movies; only in the Hollywood version the kid didn’t get the blame. However, there is a good message here that certainly applies to us. Jesus wasn’t even a teenager yet but offered this bit of rebellion. “Sorry, Mum and Dad, but even you should know I can’t wait around until I figure out which way the wind is going to blow. I have to be about the Father’s business – now.”

That’s the same business we’re about, and it matters little if there is a puppet-master in Rome trying to get all of us to dance to a tune we’re not in sync with.

Probably the best writer I know on the subject of forming the Body of Christ is a little known Protestant. George MacDonald impacted the lives of countless people, including my own. G. K. Chesterton, no slouch of a Catholic himself, calls MacDonald, “One of the three greatest men the nineteenth century produced.”

In one of his novels, MacDonald presents a scene where two of his characters discuss a situation much like our own. The topic is, The Church of England, and is it right to squabble over allegiance to her if that impedes getting about the work Jesus has lain before them/us. Just substitute “catholic” for Church of England and you’ll get MacDonald’s message from these words he puts in the mouths of his characters:

“But you must have some rules,” I insisted.

“None whatever. They would only cause us trouble and take us from our work.”

“Do you belong to the Church of England?”

“Yes, some of us. She has preserved records and traditions and we owe her a great deal. And to leave her would inevitably start a quarrel, for which life is too serious in my eyes. I have no time for that.

MacDonald’s character, just as Jesus, had no time for quarrels over religion if that would postpone the Father’s work. Nor should we. After all, Jesus lives! And we’re energized by his resurrected presence, here today, all across this great state from Yaak to Ekalaka. Our mission is building, if not the church, a church of the Body of Christ. We have nothing to fear, and events in Rome should not slow our intent for a moment.

Many years ago, Bill Gaither wrote some verse and set it to music. The soon-to-be, ex-Pope Benedict, would probably not find the music suitable for his smaller, purer version of Catholicism, but for me it is quite powerful. Bear the words in mind in the coming weeks.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone,
Because He lives I know the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives.


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