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When Pope Francis comes of age


Pope Francis turns eighty-five this week. His pontificate has seen him emerge from obscurity in Argentine Church politics to become, late in life, a global cultural icon and one of the most popular popes in living memory. Over the past nine years he has invigorated the Church and, according to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, has made the papacy ‘much more human, much more accessible, much less remote’.

Francis has garnered global admiration for his denial of the luxuries associated with the papal office: for living in the simple Casa Santa Marta rather than the apostolic palace, for his hands-on work with homeless communities, and for his participation in the annual tradition of washing prisoners’ feet on Holy Thursday.

And yet now that Francis is eighty-five a particular question must be present in the minds of his advisors and his ecclesiastical adversaries. Eighty-five is the age at which his predecessor, Benedict XVI, announced his resignation on that dramatic day in February 2013.

Francis is far less frail than his predecessor was at the same age and no one doubts the acuity of his mental faculties. And despite having his share of critics, opinion polls suggest he is one of the most popular world leaders. At present, during one of the more difficult times in Church history, he enjoys the support of the vast majority of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. As it is, very few would want Francis to ever resign. But Benedict’s resignation laid down a marker for future bishops of Rome.

Seventy-five for bishops, eighty for cardinals, eighty-five for the pontiff: there is a certain logic to this scheme of superannuation which Benedict and his predecessors have precipitated.

So what will Francis do? Will he follow Benedict in resigning and thus set a yet more powerful precedent for his successor and his successor’s successors? Or will he continue on, as is his right as pope to do so, leaving ultimate responsibility for closing out his pontificate in the hands of God? 

Benedict XVI’s resignation came as a shock because papal resignations are rare. As Paul VI said, ‘paternity cannot be resigned’. Only a handful of other popes in history have resigned and in few of those cases has their renunciation of power been entirely voluntary.


'Francis has already hinted that he may also take on ‘emeritus’ in the future, which means he is certainly considering the issues at stake for his, and the Church’s, future.'


Take the previous ‘last pope to resign’, Gregory XII, who gave up the role in 1415. Gregory was one of three contemporaneous popes at the time of the Western Schism. Had he not resigned, the Council of Constance (1414-18), convened to resolve the Schism, would likely have deposed him anyway. His renunciation and Benedict’s are thus not analogous.

Or take Benedict’s eponymous predecessor, Benedict IX, who may have resigned the papacy three times in the 1040s alone as part of manoeuvres amongst Rome’s noble factions to share out the proceeds of ecclesiastical office. That is hardly a precedent for what happened in 2013, or what may eventuate in coming years either. Neither of these cases, nor the case of any of other historical papal resignation, provides more than an adumbral basis for what could happen next.

The canon law on renouncing the papacy was for many centuries quite nebulous, in part because of the theological implications of each possible legal position. Indeed, the 1917 Code of Canon Law was perhaps the first papal document to anticipate unambiguously that the pope could indeed resign. Before that, the canonists would sometimes concede must be able to do anything, including renounce his pontifical authority, because he exercises a ‘plenitude of power’.

Yet at other times canonists would say that a pope who renounced his office erroneously repudiated God’s decision to choose him. By what authority could he, a mere mortal, claim the right to set aside the divine judgement his election embodied? ‘Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called’, as Paul writes in in 1 Corinthians (7:20).

Benedict’s resignation, activating provisions in the 1917 Code’s 1983 successor, has clearly changed all that in the minds of senior Catholics. No one in the Church hierarchy doubts the legitimacy of Benedict’s act (at least not openly). And despite the tremors felt throughout the Church, the advantages of Benedict’s resignation are, in hindsight, clear. His resignation allowed for the cardinals to be convened at a moment of relative tranquillity when they were well placed to engage in mature and sober reflection about the Church’s challenges. It also avoided that long ‘winter’ of stasis and inertia within the Vatican bureaucracy which became a hallmark of John Paul II’s declining years.

And yet, unquestionably, another papal resignation would change the Church at a fundamental level, which not all Catholics will find desirable. Benedict XVI’s decision can always be explained as an anomaly, so long as it remains one-off. But two resignations begins to look like a pattern. And such a pattern matters because a pope who serves a de facto ‘term’ would no longer look like a regal monarch in whom a personal covenant with God is made manifest.

If the pope picks the timing of his own departure — or if he lets Benedict XVI pick it for him through the precedent of his example — then he could be seen to be admitting, implicitly, the human, not divine, ordering of ecclesiastical governance. It is a potentially more momentous admission of change than when Paul VI symbolically set the papal tiara aside after 1963.

If Francis ever did resign, it would have implications for concepts like papal infallibility, and also for practical issues arising from papal teachings and judgments. Tensions have already arisen between Francis and Benedict. What if a pope regnant finds himself at odds with more than just one pope emeritus? Can he still project unity when faced with that occurrence?

Francis has already hinted that he may also take on ‘emeritus’ in the future, which means he is certainly considering the issues at stake for his, and the Church’s, future.

Facing the issue of failing health, Popes John Paul II and Benedict discerned different answers as to what might be best for the Church. At present, Francis’ health would not compel him towards those same deliberations. But it is hard to see how he will be able to maintain his vigorous schedule, or to exercise the same level of oversight over his subordinates indefinitely.

Any decision by Francis to resign would cause shockwaves in the Church. On the one hand, the sooner he starts planning for a transition the more control he ought to be able to exercise over its future. A planned vacancy could be an opportunity to set out a vision for the successor he would like to see and to shape the electorate of cardinals through new promotions. Yet even considering these things is likely to be difficult, soul-searching, and perhaps lonely for the man who is the Church’s most visible symbol and figure of Christian Unity.

Whatever happens, a resignation from Pope Francis would leave a leaderless, divided Church facing innumerable challenges within and without. The move would have a destabilizing effect on the papacy, on the wider community of global Catholics, and on the faith of many. But it would also likely shift the focus of the faithful away from the person of the pope and on to the Church, which may be exactly as Pope Francis wants it.



Dr Miles Pattenden is Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Australian Catholic University. His books include Electing the Pope in Early Modern Italy, 1450-1700 (Oxford University Press, 2017) and he is and Co-Editor of The Journal of Religious History (2022–).

Main image: Pope Francis. (Lisa Maree Williams / Stringer)

Topic tags: Andrew Hamilton, nostalgia, culture wars, values, history



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Long Live Pope Francis!

Like our Lord Jesus Christ revealed, first-hand, God's intense love for us, so you rightly say: Francis is seen as ‘much more human, much more accessible, much less remote’. I'd also add: "Much more of a Christlike servant."

A real miracle to have the Light of Christ shine from the top into the awful darkness of our current, conflicted Church situation. See Philippians 2:15.

Let's pray for many to follow Francis' global witness to the love of God.

Blessings on all who love & obey Jesus Christ.

Dr Martin James Rice | 16 December 2021  

The pope doesn’t complain, he’s been known not to explain, so why should he resign? Anyway, like the Queen, he should die in office, unless God has some plan hiding in the wings.

roy chen yee | 17 December 2021  

Are we blessed to have 2 Popes at present? I wonder?

Translated by Peter Nicholas Dale from Guiseppe Belli
Born: 7 September 1791, Rome, Italy
Died: 21 December 1863, Rome, Italy

The Pope’s larfter (Le risate der Papa)

Him larf? The Pope? Bad news, pal! It’s a sign rather
Thad’is flock’ull be weepen, ut there’s trubble in store.
The giggles a that good feller, our stepfather,
Always turn out the same f’rus sons-in-law.

Them ugly mugs ut wear the triple crown, they sure
Are the spitten images a chestnuts, I tell ya mate:
They look good on the outside, but, Christ, jus wait
Till yer open’em. They’re moldy an rotten ta the core.

The Pope’s got that sneeren grin? Trubble’s in the air:
All the more so since his larfen at times like this
Dudn’t strike me as sumthen that’s needed, or fair.

So me dear boys, careful, or yu’ll all cum ta grief.
Happy rulers are bad examples. In the final analysis
Wot’s a bloke do when he larfs? He shows his teeth.

The sonnet is translated into "Strine", the dialect spoken in Australia down to the 1960s.

Francis Armstrong | 17 December 2021  
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Dear Francis Armstrong,

Firstly: we don't have 2 popes. Benedict strongly affirmed (like all true Catholics) that there is one pope and it is Pope Francis.

Secondly: what morass of demonic deception inspired that scurrilous ditty and then claimed it was a 'sonnet'; and, still worse, smeared our national character?

Francis: do you want to abolish human smiles . . ?

Really surprised to see you wrote all that.

Anyways, enjoy yer Christmas, mate; blessings from Marty

Dr Marty Rice | 20 December 2021  

Marty, I want to blow away the smoke of Vatican window dressing and uncritical hero worship. There's a lot more he can and should do before he shuffles off this mortal coil. For instance he could sack the entire coterie of Australian Bishops like he did in Argentina.

Since you seem to have taken offence to Peter Dale's "diabolical" translation then here's another to reminisce on:

278 Popess Joan (La papessa Ggiuvanna)
Translated by Peter Nicholas Dale

There wunce was a sheila alrite. First uv all
She chucked ’a dress n’ job n’ got hired as a soljar;
She got ordained as a priest, then prelate n’ sumwot olda,
Was appoin’ed bishop, n’then at last a card’nal.

An when the male Pope got real crook n’ there
An then jus carked it, from poison sum folks say,
She was elected Pope an was carried away
Ta St. John’s, on han’s’t wove a papal chair.

But here the plot wen’ askew, an ended in a joke:
’Cos abrupchuredly, she had these labour pains,
An rite in that chair pooped out a liddle bloke.

From that day on, a chair was made so they c’d assess,
By touchen the parts where our human urges drain,
Whether the new Pondiff's a Pope, or a Popess.

The sonnet is translated into "Strine", the dialect spoken in Australia down to the 1960s.

Francis Armstrong | 20 December 2021  

I think I take one of the points you're making, Miles and that is, in a human institution like the Church, there needs to be an orderly transition of leadership. It is the administrative setup which is human, the purpose is Divine. I am wondering, whether in Canon Law, it would be possible for a new Pope to be elected whilst the current one is in power and for there to be a handover period? This Pope is the most Vatican 2 Pope of the recent lot. The majority of Catholics are in countries like Brazil, the largest Catholic country in the world. They are neither Anglophone in speech nor Irish in residual culture, like Australia's Church is. The Pope is at home with them. The genius of the Catholic Church is Latin. We need someone from that background. At a pinch, a Frenchman would squeeze in. We need to ensure the conclave is not filled with hyperconservatives like the appalling Raymond Burke, who looks perpetually constipated and also looks like he might enjoy a good witch burning. God save us from his like!

Edward Fido | 17 December 2021  
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Dear Edward,

Your prejudiced slander of a fellow Catholic Christian falls well outside the behaviour we are instructed in by King Jesus Christ and His apostles:

". . the appalling Raymond Burke, who looks perpetually constipated and also looks like he might enjoy a good witch burning. God save us from his like!"

Normally, your comments are measured & charitable. This sort of ad hominem invective is out of place.

Rather, explain logically what you perceive as the deficiencies in this person's words & actions.

Have a merry Christmastide; blessings from Marty

Dr Marty Rice | 20 December 2021  

Still no "zero tolerance" policy in the Catholic Church towards child sexual abuse. It puts everything else in the shade when abolishing the rape of children, in your own house, is not the priority.

Patricia Hamilton | 17 December 2021  
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Dear Patricia, fair goes - Pope Francis is doing far more than any other pope has:

e.g. Pope Francis promulgated an entirely new version of the Church’s universal penal law — the norms establishing canonical crimes, and aiming to create a robust “criminal justice system” in the life of the Church.

Those new norms, which encourage bishops to more seriously and stridently apply canonical solutions to clerical misconduct of all kind, take effect tomorrow. And in fact Pope Francis tossed in today a few final laws, just for good measure, which are designed to clarify some procedural aspects of handling 'graviora delicta' — more grave delicts, or serious canonical crimes, in the life of the Church.

The Church’s new penal laws are meant to address an issue that both Pope Francis and his predecessors have seen in the administrative life of the Church - an aversion on the part of the many bishops to using the Church’s penal provisions to help priests nip small problems in the bud before they fester into major problems.

There is, or can be, a kind of underlying antinomianism in the Church that actually reflects an anthropological problem. It’s reflected in a tendency to treat incidents of clerical misconduct first as psychological problems, as evidence of being wounded, rather than as the deliberate and disordered sinful choices of people with human agency and the capacity to commit sin. Anyone who has worked in the area of “priest personnel” has seen this — a kind of reflexive inclination to send a man struggling with sin for a psychological evaluation and a period of treatment.

Psychology is a useful tool, and therapy is a useful and often important aspect of human formation and personal development. The danger comes when it is a substitute, rather than a complement, to a worldview which sees misconduct in the context of the Christian narrative: Sin, contrition, repentance, reconciliation.

Traditionally, the Church has regarded her own penal law as a means of reforming offenders, restoring justice, and repairing scandal. Pope Francis has said he wants those goals to be at forefront for ecclesial leaders again — and said he wants to ensure that bishops are confident that actually making use of the Church’s penal law will achieve its intended effects.

The burden is on young bishops, who are charged with leading a kind of paradigm shift in ecclesial governance — moving away from the predominantly clinical approach that became pervasive in the Church in the 1970s, and moving towards an approach to discipline which sees punishment as an expression of love, rather than as: "Like a drag, mate".

The diocesan bishop is both brother and father. Fatherhood means often holding the line — providing the freedom that is borne of boundaries and clear expectations. The new provisions of penal law, those which take effect tomorrow, are a call for diocesan bishops to express that fatherhood.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that our new penal laws take effect on the final day of the Church’s Year of St. Joseph . . . (as provided by J. D. Flynn).

A lovely Christmastide to all; blessings from Marty

Dr Marty Rice | 20 December 2021  

I think, Patricia, 'Our glorious (or far from) ecclesiastical leaders' abject failure to deal with the paedophilia issue in any decent and credible way is a sign of what total washouts as human beings they are in the main. As G K Chesterton's Father Brown said at the end of that wonderful short story 'The Purple Wig', it will stay the same 'Till God gives us better men.'

Edward Fido | 20 December 2021  

Thank you, Miles, in spite of what follows your fine article. Not to be unkind, but even Francis Armstrong's valiant attempt at Horstrayanising the question seems enforced and belongs perhaps a tad higher up the evolutionary poetic ladder than the doggerel of William McGonagall. In a sense I blame you for this. I hope +Francis doesn't resign. His Jesuit vow of obedience, interpreted until now by his predecessors as 'no more than keeping fings the way they are', has enormous ramifications for global Catholicism, especially in advancing the Kingdom of Justice & Peace, in the absence of which, your stylish article regrettably lends itself to no more than the parody that responds to it.

Michael Furtado | 20 December 2021  
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MF I'll have to look the fellow up:

At the Grotto of Lourdes. 

To the grotto of Lourdes -
I went for a feed,
Invited by papa Francesco;
When I got there ;
Guest tables were bare;
A Cardnal intoned the prayer-
I'm hungry I said -
And I want more,
Prayer don't take hunger away.
He quaffed a Brunella-
Pollino n’ cabernet-
Vin de blanc n’ shiraz;
Gave me bottled water-
Which were I sweet Jesus,
Would of turned into wine.
At a separate white table,
The cardnal hogged into,
Wild duck, red snapper divine.
He offered cold pasta-
With vinegar n’ tomata-
I was enjoined not to whine.
Waved his jewelled hand-
Said he’d lived off the land,
Asked if I knew my place?
Certainly not, I drooled,
fork poked at his table-
Ise wants what youse got yer grace!
That protein vinomofo,
Barolo from Brescia ;
Bendictine n’ cognac.
Abruptly a Swiss Guard-
Seized my neck (oh Signore!),
Get out (he said), of harm’s way-
As he roughly frog marched me,
My lips parched and longing-
Cardnal quaffed a quart-
Of Santa Cristina n’ said;
“Ya must be dreaming” me lad.
I whinged at my treatment,
Was given small pastry;
Apple n’ rosary instead;
Tossed out on the cobbles-
I thanked God small mercies-
Wearily laid down my head.
Francis Armstrong © 21/05/2021

Francis Armstrong | 30 December 2021  

I luvvit, Francis. I wish I had your gift for irreverent Aussie verse. It has impeccable Irish provenance (which is absolutely my 'first love' of any culture on the globe with its ability to turn the world upside-down but always sweetly).

In my first job in Australia when, introducing me to my form class, Fr Rector invited Robert Hudson to recite it for me. It brought the house down and I shall never forget him or it!

I hope you keep up with your irreverence throughout 2022, even if at times I try to deflect it towards becoming the important torpedo that our tired old bishops currently need to waken them from their joint stupor.

Keep sharpening your quills, Francis, but lay off the cyanide ;)

Michael Furtado | 10 January 2022  

MF, I shouldn't recommend that Francis should go that far.

A holy thought! (song title).
From pulpit’s soporific drone,
Tense il papa on the throne,
Their confessionals empty-
Altar boys all fled home.
There may be a second coming,
Should George return alone-
With his lofty arrogance;
Yet God surveys his shepherds,
And eyes them all askance.

Was Tom another pilgrim?
Did God take him home?
Despite his drug addiction-
To one of many mansions,
To heaven and his throne?

God called “ George, where’s Tom?
But Cain kept mum, - incognito!
Knew Tom couldn’t testify,
And he knew the reason why,
No tear dropped from his eye,
Nor did his loss cause a sigh-
As for that Messiah blighter,
Shrugged six foot three shoulders.

And Tom became disruptive,
Coughed through practice Handel,
Said had to leave Saint Kev’s,
Damn the scholarship mum!
No one knew why the sudden ire!
His mate copped the same fate,
Forced to swallow a pink oboe,
nabbed redhand scoffing altar wine,
In the sacristy of all places-
Serves ya right! yer little snots!

George with his pointy hat thought,
Bugger all happens to my sort,
A parent’s wrath aint worth a snort!
His gig a public rort and taught-
Good riddance, n’ swine get caught!

God cried, was that a holy thought?
Hey George? Was that a holy thought?

Francis Armstrong © 14/5/2021

Francis Armstrong | 15 January 2022  

“A world (& Church) that’s morally (and physically) collapsing is in dire need of returning to the Gospel Truth. Pope Francis often reminds us of this”

Yes! but without that Truth been enacted upon within the heart His Word will remain sterile within the Gospel as presently mere words without action are just a distraction.

Our first Pope Peter is a badly flawed but honest individual as his ongoing awareness/ fluidity before the serving (Judgement) of the Truth in all circumstances, is startling, even unto death, as, in humility, he still perceives and manifests his unworthiness before mankind and God.

Peter's chosen way of death (Martyrdom), as in to be crucified upside down, is a manifestation of an ‘on-going’ humble self-reflecting heart, before His living Word (Will) teaching us by his example to serve the Truth in humility, when and wherever we may encounter that which opposes It. We see his humility in action with his confrontation with Paul (Circumcision) to the serving of the Truth, rather than clinging to his sincerer ‘ingrained’ beliefs (Precepts).

The Church is in turmoil as many within the leadership have forgotten that they should via the Holy Spirit be the ‘living water’ that creates fluidity for the mortar (Serving of the Truth) to bind and hold His house together, humility is the ‘Key’ but like Peter can they also bend their knee.

Without a fundamental shift of direction by the leadership of the church, the Church will continue to dissipate, because its proclamation of Love of God and love of neighbor, without the serving of the Truth, is to blind oneself to the ongoing reality of the present sinful situations within the church, from Priests cohabitating, others compromised (Homosexual activities), the teachings within Humanae vitae ignored and undermined, etc.

A recent statement by Pope Francis in regards to the present ongoing abuse crisis.
“The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case,” he said to the officials of the Vatican. “It is undeniable that some in the past, out of irresponsibility, disbelief, lack of training, inexperience — we need to judge the past with a hermeneutics of the past — or spiritual and human myopia, treated many cases without the seriousness and promptness that was due. That must never happen again. This is the choice and the decision of the whole Church.”

Credibility has been lost, so why should anyone accept this statement, as the root of the problem is one of authoritarianism and elitism, that is embedded within Clericalism. This situation has to be tackled before any new structures (Wineskins) are put in place, as words without action are just a distraction.

Only a true seen manifest transformation of the Priesthood will bring about a fundamental shift of culture and for this to happen the leadership of the Church will have to be led by the Holy Spirit, to embrace humility. Because without a true reflection of the moral/humble/martyred leader-ship of Peter, by Pope Francis and others, its credibility will continue to be incredible. Someone has to lead in humility and restore credibility and like Peter, it falls upon him to do so.

Initially, Pope Francis could have dealt with the McCarrick and abuse crisis situation transparently, if he had done so, he would have shown his own vulnerability/failings (as all, to some degree, have been compromised within Clericalism), at whatever the personal cost to himself, in doing so he would have led the church into a new era, one of the ‘Servant leader’ One who follows the teachings/dictates of Jesus Christ, setting an example before the leadership (Bishops), in been Peter rather than trying to maintain the status quo of an ‘old boys club’ which is compromising ‘all’ within the leadership.

Our Lord Himself via the true divine Mercy Message/Image one of Broken Man has exposed the reality of a self-serving elitism embedded in Clericalism, emanating from arrogance before God and mankind an arrogance which took and belittled God’s Holy name. This exposer of hubris by divine intervention, demands a counter-response by those who would be faithful before His inviolate Will (Word). And this can only be done in humility, as a humble heart (Church) will never cover its tracks or hide its shortcomings, and in doing so confers authenticity, as it walks in its own vulnerability/weakness/brokenness in trust/faith before God and mankind. It is a heart (Church) to be trusted, as it ‘dispels’ darkness within its own ego/self, in serving God (Truth) first, before any other.

So Yes “A world (& Church) that’s morally (and physically) collapsing is in dire need of returning to the Gospel Truth But where is the leader to lead us?

kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 20 December 2021  

GET REAL all you knee-jerk, nay-sayers: in Pope Francis we have what every Catholic should have - ears that hear & legs that follow Jesus Christ, the Eternal King of Kings (please read John 10:27-30).

What other recent pope has shown forth God's love as Francis does - even the popular press recognise it:

"Pope Francis has said that men who commit violence engage in something that is 'almost satanic'.

He made the comment, some of the strongest language he has used to condemn such violence, during a TV program broadcast on Sunday night on Italy’s TG5 network in which he conversed with three women and a man, all with difficult backgrounds.

'The number of women who are beaten and abused in their homes, even by their husbands, is very, very high,' Francis said in answer to a question by a woman named Giovanna, a victim of domestic violence.

'The problem is that, for me, it is almost satanic because it is taking advantage of a person who cannot defend herself, who can only [try to] block the blows,' he said.

'It is humiliating. Very humiliating.'

Giovanna said that she had four children to care for after they escaped from a violent home.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly two years ago, Francis has several times spoken out against domestic violence, which has increased in many countries since lockdowns left many women trapped with their abusers.

Police figures released last month showed there are about 90 episodes of violence against women in Italy every day and that 62 per cent were cases of domestic violence.

Turning to other examples of human misery, Pope Francis listened to a homeless woman speak of life on the street and a man trying to get back on his feet after 25 years in jail.

Francis has set up services in the area around the Vatican to give Rome’s homeless healthcare, bathing, and hair-cutting facilities.

In 2020, when a palazzo just off St Peter’s Square that was once a convent became vacant he ordered it to be turned into a homeless shelter, overruling suggestions it be converted into a luxury hotel."

PLEASE, my brothers & sisters, let's all thank God for this Christlike leader, lest we be given something far, far less for our sins.

Merry Christmas to all who love God; from marty

Dr Marty Rice | 21 December 2021  
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If mystery didn’t exist, God would have to invent it because mystery is the difference between his ways and ours, or why a day is like a thousand years, or a thousand years like a day, to God (presumably in some but not all circumstances because logic is only a province of sovereignty and the rationality of a sovereignty which is pure creates its own logic for why things are so).

Certainly, the circumstances of this papacy are unusual, to have:

a sitting pope overseen to some extent by a living but silent predecessor

a pope who chooses in his absolute authority over the institution not to respond to a dubium which is crafted by technically distinguished minds versed in interrogating for truth, within the reasonable supposition that the enquiry is approved by the magisterium’s definition of conscience

a not altogether unreasonable reflection by Cardinal Burke that an absolute power by definition exists to protect the object of its responsibility so even though you can’t describe the power in any circumscribing detail you at least know that it can’t be used to betray the object of its responsibility

the assurance that at least some in the Church Militant will be alive on earth to see the returned Christ

the assumption that if God can raise stones to be children of Abraham, the lineage of the Church is assured to the extent that even from stones, God can remain true to Scripture that a Church Militant will see the returned Christ.

Given that mystery is an element of this papacy, it would be appropriate most times for a carnalised intelligence like humans to do what their lesser carnals do when something new comes to the forest, turn down the sound, watch and wait.

Blessings of the season and thanks for your voice, Marty!

roy chen yee | 24 December 2021  

Roy there's nothing silent about Benedict as he currently posts half a dozen posts a day on Twitter and yes! still calls himself Pope Benedict.

Francis Armstrong | 22 January 2022  


308 tweets, none of which are controversial, in 15 months.

Perhaps you mean this site which seems to have lasted a year, running at about 90 tweets a month: https://twitter.com/pontifexemerita?lang=en

I'm not familiar with Twitter. I don't know if these are really his sites or a site someone else has set up. 'Emerita'? Shouldn't it be 'Emeritus'?

Apparently, this is a 'Parody/Fictional Portrayal)' although it looks pretty straightforward: https://twitter.com/elizabethukrpg?lang=en

But, to return to the point of the article, Benedict is silent about the succeeding papacy.

roy chen yee | 23 January 2022  

Wake up Marty.
I went to the Marists. A weekly caning for 6 years was the norm. Plenty of school friends went to the CBs, Vincentians, Salesians and De La Salles.
Some were raped, molested, bashed and badly knocked about. I know one individual who at age 13 was pack raped by school staff and a deputy head in the chapel. The chapel?
Some of the offenders were the religious in charge of the entire province.
Now the hierarchy wring their hands and hire expensive law firms to protect church property.
Offer towards healing (a front for catholic insurance).
Haven't you read about Ridsdale, Bertinus, Cyril, Searson, Kiss, Best, Farrell, Joseph, Dowlan, Spillane, O'Dempsey, McCarrick amongst hundreds of others? Violence and ruthless sexual gratification were par for the course. Boys and girls. Though the former outnumbered the latter 4 to 1.
The hierarchy of the church (even in Germany) thought it was a joke. The pontifical secret.
Why would the victims ever want to enter a church or confessional again? One third of the grade 4 class at St Alipius committed suicide. Why are you so blissfully unaware?
And you a doctor with rose coloured glasses?
The two worst countries were Italy and Argentina. Francis could do a damn sight more than hand out a few meals, chastisements, blessings, rosaries, apples and haircuts in Rome.
The only people I know who offer uncritical adulation are small boys waving at tattooed motorcycle riders.
Don't let the smoke of the church incense blind your eyes. We need to hire a dozen Sydney ferries, load plenty of millstones and rope, round up the pretenders and sail out into deep water.

Francis Armstrong | 15 January 2022  

How many critics of our Pope think carefully about the motives and intentions of those whose propaganda they so UNCRITICALLY absorb and propagate ?

Some Catholic commentators appear to laze on their lounges, whilst soaking-up destructive Masonic propaganda 'news' stories aired on EWTN TV.

But - praise God - not all: Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has defended Pope Francis against criticisms from EWTN, saying the Catholic media empire's attacks on Pope Francis are not representative of how most Catholics view him. Scandalously, some of the biggest stars of Fox News were proven to be dishonest about one of the biggest stories of the year, and EWTN, the Catholic Church's largest media outlet (!), is in bed with that frequently deceptive network.

In contrast, Wisdom is proven true by her works:

Pope Francis marked his 85th birthday on Dec. 17 by meeting with 10 refugees who arrived in Italy from Cyprus. The migrants, who hailed from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Somalia, and Syria, will be supported directly by Francis.

Let us study our Pope and learn, dear friends.

Dr Marty Rice | 21 December 2021  

I think Christianity is not dead, but was somewhat somnolent, Kevin. Pope Francis gently awakened it. He lived under the Junta in Argentina and the Church there has been under violent, sometimes physical, attack by extremists who call themselves 'feminists'. You can see YouTube clips of that. He knows how bad the real world can be, but he also knows Christ triumphed over evil once and for all. Christianity is about victory. The Resurrection was God's answer to those who thought they'd got rid of Jesus. Whether Francis retires or not, he needs to ensure that his God-given and God-directed legacy is not lost. There are deluded fools like Raymond Burke and his ilk, who are sailing close to heresy and schism by claiming the Pope is going against the Magisterium. That is codswallop. Sadly, I think most Australian hierarchs are potential Vicars of Bray. If a hyperconservative like John Paul II is next elected, they will fall in behind him. We need to be sober and vigilant. God bless you all and have a Happy Christmas.

Edward Fido | 21 December 2021  
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‘he needs to ensure that his God-given and God-directed legacy is not lost’ ‘most Australian hierarchs are potential Vicars of Bray. If a hyperconservative like John Paul II is next elected, they will fall in behind him. We need to be sober and vigilant.’’

Sober and vigilant against the God-given and God-directed legacy of a ‘hyperconservative’, unless that West Country tail end of a line of Anglican clerics has a donkey’s nose to sniff out which duly elected pope has a God-given and God-directed legacy and which duly elected pope doesn’t? How does this brayer’s nose work, pray … tell?

roy chen yee | 22 December 2021  

Thank you, Edward, for your comment.
“He lived under the Junta in Argentina and the Church there has been under violent, sometimes physical, attack by extremists who call themselves 'feminists'

Yes, that is true but that is not just true of Argentina as throughout the West 'true' Christians have to face the Body of Frankenstein ..V.. with all of its manipulative powers of persuasion as that body serves/represents the Evil One and is in direct opposition to the body of Christ. See the Link for further comprehension


Yes, it is true that Pope Francis has put the cat amongst the pigeons so to say.
And yes “He knows how bad the real world can be but he also knows Christ triumphed over evil once and for all”….. Yes, ‘He did, while giving us the means through Holy Spirit to do likewise by carrying our cross while serving the full spectrum of Truth in humility.
kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 22 December 2021  

I love the thought of +Francis being derailed by 'feminists'. Knowing Buenos Aires, the only truck Francis would have had with women as a young man would have been turning a nifty ankle while doing the tango or milonga, which somehow I can see him as enjoying and being very good at. That apart, the women who mattered in Argentina were the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who were the first major group to organize against the Argentina regime's human rights violations. These women organized protests to learn what happened to their adult children during the 1970s and 80s. This was in public defiance of the government's law against mass assemblies. Wearing white headscarves to symbolize the nappies of their lost children, the mothers marched in solidarity to protest the denials of their children's existence or their mistreatment by the military regime. Despite personal risks, they wanted to hold the government accountable for the human rights violations which were committed in the Dirty War. I'd like to think that they humanised and conscientised the largely compliant Francis of his early years. Let's not deify or even canonise Francis before he's had a chance to live life to the fullest.

Michael Furtado | 06 January 2022  

Magisterium Edward. Shouldn't that be the magic sternum? But you're dead right about the vicars of Bray. The head of the ACBC returned letters reporting proven child abuse unopened for 20 years before he was forced to confront the issue by the RC.
So he quickly donned the cloak of empathy like a leopard. But forgiveness reigned supreme and retribution swept under the plenary council rug.

And the raven landed at boot hill,
And sang his echoing song..
Some priests prayed for his soul.
And both didn’t last long!

Francis Armstrong | 22 January 2022  

The vicars of Bray.
The Vicars of Bray oft purport to say,
That leopards may change their spots-
Now whether its true, whether its not,
They struggle in waters white hot.

Course when in doubt, they change their tune,
And swing with the tide in and out.
Lifestyle’s the thing- for a Bishop of Bling,
Complain at yer peril, hands you may wring.

The vicars of Bray don robes of the day,
Silk, chasuble, stole and the mitre..
Dare snort? You’ll be labelled a blighter,
Vast carpets to sweep , sins of their members,

Under the plenary table! But of course,
A horse is a horse, so I’m at a loss,
To decide if the vicars remain stable…
Misguided shepherds, under their care,

Are chess pieced to parishes new,
The vicars laugh snidely, rudely-
Claim ark of the covenant is theirs,
(Palms of their hands thick with hairs).

What shall we do with the vicars of Bray?
Rope ‘em with millstones, drown ‘em you say?
In salt water where sharks go to feed,
Would anyone care, enjoy watch em bleed?

No, or even pray one tiny prayer?
The Vicars you see, claim heaven’s table,
But me (should you ask), I’d just as soon-
Eat straw from the Vatican stable.

Francis Armstrong | 22 January 2022  

Jesus answered, (Satan) “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”…….. ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The serving of the Truth should define our actions as the essence of Love is Truth, and those who serve the Truth on the spiritual plain feed the hungry “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” Clothes (Protects) the naked “How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me”. Visit those hearts ensnared ..V.. (Imprisoned) by evil, in setting the captive free.

The serving of the Truth overlaps on to the worldly plain as it protects the weak and vulnerable from exploitation in opposing oppression, misery, and inhumanity, to serve the Truth is to love one’s neighbor as oneself, it cannot be faked (Manipulated) as it always involves carrying one’s cross. A church for the poor is not enough (although good in itself) as it SIDESTEPS the full spectrum of Truth which confronts evil on both the spiritual plain and worldly plain.
See my Post on the 26th November on this site under
Is democracy going down the drain? (eurekastreet.com.au)

We need to see true Christian leadership one that servers the Truth in humility in all situations as
“ Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12.

kevin your brother
In Christ

Kevin Walters | 21 December 2021  

I think Pope Francis wants everyone in the world to grow up and come of spiritual and mental age to continue his legacy. Christ woke people up to reality. He speaks to us down the Ages: "Grow up! Be real!"

Edward Fido | 07 January 2022  

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