Pope Francis Entertains
Term Limits on Papacy
the Children … twice
The title Pope
is from the Latin papa, which, in turn, is derived from
the Greek pappas, or Papa — specifically
(and significantly) a child's name for the
more formal “father”. The Pope has always been understood as the
Father to all Catholics.
This is especially significant to me (and
countless others in America and elsewhere), for my father abandoned
me and my brothers in our infancy. We have never seen him. We have never
heard from him. Ever.
We grew up wondering what it was like
to have a father, unclear of what a father did or was supposed to do.
We had, in a word, no example. The only men we ever called
“Father” were priests, and among them was one exalted, the priest of
priests, called “the Holy Father”. All other fathers left
… but, surely, the Holy Father would never leave.
And then, in February 2013, the unimaginable
happened: Pope Benedict XVI became the first pontiff to “resign”
his sacred office in 600 years. This Father left … too …
While still reeling from the significance
of what Benedict had done, the next blow to the children came quickly
on 4 July (Independence Day! … from who? The children?) 2015
when our present Pope Francis stunningly told Catholics that,
“There are no
life-time leaders in the Church” and what is more, that,
“There should be a time limit to positions in the Church,
which in reality are positions of service.”
Furthermore, in speaking with the Mexican
television station Televisa in March 2014 Francis ominously
suggests, that what Pope "Emeritus" Benedict did,
"should not be considered an
exception, but an institution".
This would clearly be a rupture in the historical continuity of the
Church, and open the papacy itself to the sort of machinations that,
according to disgraced Cardinal Danneels of Belgian, the leader of
the notorious St. Gallen “Mafia-Club” — which sought to undermine
Pope Benedict's election and subsequently force him from the seat of
Peter in order to elect "their man" (Bergoglio, now
Pope Francis) — resulted in the nomination of the same Bergoglio to further
their own disgraceful agenda in the Church.
And Francis repaid
the favor — by respectively inviting the two top members of
the St. Gallen Club, Walter Kasper — a vociferous dissident — as
number one, and Danneels — retired — as number two,
to the Synod on the Family! Remember that Danneels openly
boasted of accomplishing his end by subterfuge via
what had been referred to as "Team Bergolglio" in the St.
This is openly at odds with what Francis proclaims:
"Let's be clear. The only one who
cannot be substituted in the Church is the Holy Spirit."
This is true — despite the types of
conspiracies that presume to put in place those whom the Holy Ghost
Himself ultimately chooses, to ends known only to God.
However, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity has certainly been
given short shrift in light of the backroom dealings of disaffected
cardinals who presume to steer the Church themselves,
apart from any divine influence. It is, after all,
apparently a matter of "service" ... to a flagrantly dissident agenda
contrary to established Church teaching and the Gospel itself.
"Service" ... not Holy Example
Is that a father’s sole, or even
preeminent role: to be “of service” to his children
… and that, only for a period of time … of his own choosing?
Are there “term limits” for fatherhood? Is that even a conceivable notion?
Not to me, a father of four. I had already learned the consequences
of “term-limits” to fatherhood first-hand … and they were not pretty.
This is understanding fatherhood as a “policy” and not a “person”. I
am not a policy to my children. Politicians have policies. Bureaucracies
have policies. Corporations have policies. And policies change. But
Moreover, does this, then, apply to
all fathers? Does it apply to priests? To Religious? Of course their
vows (in the case of Religious) and promises (in the case
of diocesan priests), are binding. Priesthood confers an eternal character
on the soul of the priest. This cannot be eradicated, no matter what
the priest does. And the Pope is a priest and will always remain one,
even if he chooses to “resign” as the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth.
But even the simplest priest is called “Father”.
Politicians are supposed to be “of service”
to their constituents. Police, firefighters, the military (servicemen)…
even the numerous Fraternal Organizations, the Rotary, the Elks, etc.
are supposed to be “of service” to the nation or the community. Is that
the level of the spiritual leadership and episcopal dignity to which
the Church is reduced: simply that of “service” to the people. Do not
even prostitutes provide a “service”?
What cuts most is that it applies to two
presently living popes who many children, and even adults
see —or for the past 2000 years had seen — as surrogate fathers:
we find Pope Francis’s recent openness to stepping down as a father
and imposing term limits on it, and most sadly, Pope Benedict’s having
done so. Pope Benedict in a stunning and incomprehensible move, simply
resigned his fatherhood — and now, following suit, his successor holds
this sword of Damocles over the head of the same children whose spiritual
father had just left them. Remarkably, for Francis it is, apparently,
a commendable precedent: “I may stay or I, too, may go.”
What does this tell children in their
littleness who depend on the father for guidance … and most importantly
for example? That the children are not important
in this relationship. “I am.” And in a twist of
Jesus words (“exemplum enim dedi vobis” — “I have given you an example.”
St. John 13.15) it implies to the children, “As I have done, you may,
too.” When the going gets tough or the vocation inconvenient, just leave
It is not worthy of a father
Can a father of children simply resign
his fatherhood or become a “father-emeritus” — the equivalent of an
absentee father — and leave his children to the care of another?
Whatever his shortcomings, Pope John Paul
II stayed ... refused to walk out the door
… even while excruciatingly debilitated. Who can forget the photographs
of Pope John Paul II in his final weeks and days? Yet he did not jump
ship. He did not leave the children because he was overwhelmed, or ill,
or because the pressure was too great ... or because it would have been
convenient. Why? Because no father does!
Abandoning the children — for whatever
claimed reason — is never right. Let me repeat
that: Never. A father does not abandon his children
… no matter what … he does not (as so many fatherless children in America
have come to realize) simply “resign” his responsibility as father.
He cannot! Must not! He is their father! He cannot
at will relegate or simply pass on that responsibility to another.
They were given to him! Not to some other to come.
How many must come to the sad conclusion
that their Father in Heaven is the only Father Who will never leave
them — for every other father-figure has proven false …
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Boston Catholic Journal