There are some select key words that one can write or say if one wishes to awaken the drooling trolls and ignorant hoards. Like a bad horror movie, utter these syllables and brain dead zombies will crash into your conversation and begin to devour its constructive potential. The news today centers around a few of these phrases and so, predictably, the internet is convulsing in glee at the opportunity to witlessly heap hatred and bigotry on important things that it doesn’t understand. Of course the most potent of these magical words are: “Christian,” “the Church”, and “Pope”. Sometimes I lament the fact that my job requires me to basically live on the internet. Especially on days like today. As soon as the Pope announced his resignation I knew what would follow. And follow it did. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, “news” reports, media commentary, all filled with lies, hatred, death wishes and bigotry.
All directed at Catholics in general but specifically at an elderly man who happens to be incredibly brilliant, honest and humble. He’s a man of courage and character — so what else is a modern person to do but spit on him and wish for his demise? Benedict never wanted to be Pope — which I think ought to be a prerequisite for the job. But after accepting the power he never wished to have, he went on to immensely frustrate pop culture and its “progressive” disciples by never bending to their ridiculous whims. This ought to earn the respect and admiration of any person who believes in the existence of an objective truth which endures eternally outside of the fleeting fads and trends of the modern age. Much of modern philosophy is cooked up and perpetuated by fools who don’t read or think. Yet they get their way because they are loud and vicious and they stick strictly to their strategy of never engaging intellectually; only shouting slogans and catch phrases over and over until the sheer force and repetition begins to wear on weaker people.
They also lie. Of course none of the media reports I’ve seen on Benedict have offered an honest biography of his fascinating life, but they have made sure to insinuate that he was a “Nazi”. One article I read offered only this one sentence as background on the man: “As a young man he spent time with the Hitler Youth”. Of course the claim that he was a Nazi is absurd and easily addressed, but the people who make the claim are not worried about its accuracy. I’m sure they know that saying Benedict “spent time with the Hitler Youth” would be like if I was kidnapped by white supremacists and you later described that episode of my life by simply stating that I “briefly lived with the KKK”. Technically true but the intentional omission of essential context still makes you a filthy liar.
Benedict was forcibly conscripted into the Hitler Youth at the age of 14. Every young boy in Germany at that time was automatically a “member” of the organization, no matter what. I’ll admit that Benedict did commit the awful sin of having no control over where he was born, but other than that he bears no responsibility. Now here comes the really important part of this tale: When he was compulsorily drafted into the Nazi army he responded by deserting, and in doing so he risked his own life. If a dictator forced you to join his military would you have the guts to resist, knowing full well that you will be immediately shot for it? Benedict did have the guts. He’s a hero. He should be applauded. He actually faced the evil and stood up to it. Which is more than I can say for the imbecilic peanut gallery.
I admire this Pope so I’m sad that he’s stepping down. But I admire him all the more for making this decision. It can’t be easy for a man to give up that level of power and prestige; he’s only able to do it because he possesses a humility uncommon to man. He is humble enough to relinquish his post and humble enough to recognize his own limitations. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Benedict was always willing but his body is failing him — understandable for an 85 year old guy who probably hasn’t had a relaxing day since the early 1940’s.
But this good man will continue to be attacked. And then a new Pope will be selected and he’ll receive even harsher treatment, no matter who he is. I hope that all Christians of all denominations can come together to resist this force that seeks to tear down people of faith. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ and we share a common enemy.