I am an ex-Catholic. I left over 3 decades ago; when the church’s reputation was untarnished from pedophilic priests or Watergate style coverups. But when Jeff Brumley, religion correspondent for the Times-Union asked, “Should the Pope resign?”, I felt I should weigh in; especially since the Catholics comprise about half of what is called Christianity. The crisis in the Catholic Church is very similar to the Jim and Tammy Faye fiasco with the PTL club, or Jimmy Swaggart. The flesh was weak. Weak, but the spirit was blinded by the self importance of the ministry being performed. “I” did this, and “I” did that, and “I” cannot admit failure because all these people depend on me. Those of you who are well versed in the Old Testament may recall a passage from Isaiah,
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” Is. 14:13-14 NIV
The passage was addressed to the king of Babylon, but students of the Bible recognize the symbolic recipient of the message: Satan.
Am I equating the Pope with Satan? Definitely not, (I know some pastors do though), but there is a lesson to be learned. Any man or woman of God who looks at their ministry and gets the notion that it is ‘too big to fail’ had better fall on their knees and remind themselves that it was God who gave the increase, and they were just blessed to be a part of it. That is what brings us back to the question at hand.
If the Pope resigns, he will be destroying an integral part of the Catholic faith: the infallibility of the papal office. If he admits to wrongdoing, ditto. The Catholic clergy have exercised a great deal of power in the last 15 or so centuries and as Lord Acton noted, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” This combined with the darkness that the church has cloaked the men it should have exposed to the light, has created a stinking, festering sore on the body of Christ.
Yes, you read that correctly. Whatever dispute Evangelicals may have with the organization known as the Catholic Church, or vice versa, there are dear brothers and sisters, beloved of God, who have made Jesus and not the Pope, Lord of their lives. If God has called them to remain there for the time being, I am not going to judge. Lately, wherever I speak, or wherever I write, the Catholics as a representative of Christianity are pointed out to me by those who are not people of faith as a reason for not considering Jesus. This ought not to be.
What should happen is for the Pope to make a clean break with the actions of the past and let God’s light expose those who have done this terrible thing; to tear the veil that has covered and allowed sin to flourish. Then the healing and restoration can begin. So Ezekiel’s charge is not laid at our feet,
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. Ez.36:22 NIV
God works through the ministry, not the other way around.