Perhaps you can relate to the following scenario.
It is often the case that families are dysfunctional, even if well-intentioned and not altogether bad. But, fallen human nature being what it is, the relationships between siblings and relatives are complex and often contentious.
Never is this dysfunction more apparent than during a crisis (which is why so many families suffered from deeper dysfunction when the cult of 2020 began). One of those times of great crisis for a family is when the patriarch of the family is set to die.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
When the patriarch is set to die, it means that a whole era of history is set to die with him, which is, of course, very sad. In addition to the sadness of losing the leader of the family, there is the added reality that, when he dies, it will be necessary to divvy up the inheritance—if there is any—and handle the affairs.
In the best of scenarios, everything is taken care of in an airtight fashion with no room for backstabbing and politicking by greedy siblings. However, when there is confusion about the role of the executor, or if there is more than one executor, then unless the dysfunctional family is suddenly imbibed with an overflow of fraternal charity, the family will likely crumble to pieces after the patriarch is gone.
That rebellious and absentee sister who magically reappeared to spend time beside Dad when he was dying—worried he would forget to leave her some cash if she didn’t—is ruthless when her inheritance is at stake. That brother who has sullied his dad’s legacy is all too eager to step into the role of leader, even though he has the spine of a mollusk. And poor mom is heartbroken and in no place to deal with her bratty, grown-up children, let alone the guilt of realizing she raised them that way.
Needless to say, after Dad passes on, what is left in his wake is a storm of epic proportions that rips the family to pieces.
This is what—I believe—will happen after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI dies.
The Church can be compared to many things, and one of those things is a family. And the fictitious family we just considered could also be called the Roman Curia.
Although Benedict is “Pope Emeritus,” he still is in many ways the patriarch of the Church.
Confusion about this era of two men dressed in white notwithstanding, Benedict is like the oldest living member of the family, a relic from another era who represents a lost generation in a time where all the sons of the family view the past as the greatest enemy.
Now, before I continue, I believe it is necessary to speak honestly about Pope Benedict; but, at the same time, there is no sense in being overly polemical, especially given the sensitive nature of the end of a man’s life.
That being said, it must be considered that Pope Benedict—no matter how well-intentioned—is more like the father of that dysfunctional family we described than not.
What I mean to say is that it is entirely possible that he is, in many respects, a good man—even a great man in some ways—while, at the same time, he was without the ability or willingness to fix the deep dysfunction in the family he inherited.
I am not saying that one man, even the pope, could single-handedly defeat the decades-old modernist onslaught in the Church. But if I were to think of a pope in a similar situation—namely Pope St. Pius X—it must be admitted that there were stricter and more effective measures that could have been implemented.
Remember, he knew all too well how bad things were. He told us, upon his election, to pray for him that he “may not flee for fear of the wolves.”
Benedict knew there were wolfish hirelings masquerading as shepherds; and ultimately, it seems, he was not able to withstand their attacks. I understand that partisans of Benedict might be uneasy to hear him spoken of as if he failed in any capacity, but it is simply a fact that he told us he was worried about fleeing, then he ultimately fled.
Benedict is a paradoxical pope, to say the least. Some of his actions and theological writings make him seem like a champion for Tradition. At the same time, some of his works—especially his earlier ones—look like they could have been ghostwritten by Teilhard de Chardin.
He is the pope who liberated the Latin Mass; but he is also the pope who didn’t do enough to ensure the Latin Mass couldn’t be supressed by his successor.
Personally, I believe that Benedict’s presence in Rome—even if passive and symbolic—has acted as a sort of stopgap against the worst onslaughts of neo-modernism set to be unleashed after his death. As long as he is alive and wearing white, he is like the dying patriarch that his progeny largely despises but to whom at least a bit of honor must be feigned for matters of decorum.
When he dies—which will likely happen very soon—all honor and decorum will be a thing of the past.
If there is any inclination in Modernist Rome to play nice a bit with Tradition and theological orthodoxy for the sake of a ceremonial hat-tip to the failed experiment of the hermeneutic of continuity, this will be gone when Benedict is gone.
When Papa Emeritus is deceased, any faint glimmer of a pre-conciliar era will be officially gone, and the dysfunction inherent in the fraternity of the Church’s hierarchy will be—I believe—on full display.
And just like in a dysfunctional family after the death of the patriarch, I imagine there will be numerous spats and splits to follow.