One of the most eventful weeks in recent times and my computer decides to give up the ghost! My poor laptop which has served me faithfully for over five years, resisting the frustrations of Vista and XP, finally said it could go on no longer. So in the last few days I have been trying to get a replacement and save files from the hard drive. But all is almost sorted. I have two missing files, but I will be going back to the computer doctor so he can help me find them.
I think we are all still reeling after Pope Benedict's announcement, and what emotional days these have been. At least, in the midst of the sorrow, the Holy Father can see the love the faithful have for him - he was truly our holy Father and we have the opportunity to let him know.
Tributes have been pouring in, and they have been fulsome. The faithful are praising him, many of them understanding why he has decided to step down. I was impressed with what Cardinal Arinze had to say, if you have not seen the video, I am posting it below.
In these final days, Benedict has been enriching our understanding of the faith, continuing his ministry right to the end...and offering us new insights. His unscripted talk to the priests of the diocese of Rome on Vatican II was revealing. Here is the text. As a witness to what was happening in those years, Benedict is well placed to offer reflections on what was happening. In his talk he speaks of two Councils - the Council of the Church and the council of the media, the one which has triumphed over the last forty years. While the legitimate Council was taking place in the context of faith - the council of the media was nothing more than politics - a struggle between "conservatives" and "liberals", the baddies and the goodies. This is the image which has prevaled precisely because faith has been excised from the meaning of the Council.
Yet, as the Holy Father points out, there was a great sense of joy and hope: great theologians like de Lubac, Congar, Danielou were present (as he was himself - no mean theologian himself), and these great thinkers were drawing on the ancient traditions and teachings of the Church Fathers and saw in them a path for authentic renewal and the impetus for a new evangelical thrust. All of this has yet to be discovered, but thanks to his Papacy, Benedict has been opening the door to the Council for all of us. His General Audiences on the Saints, for example, have exposed the ordinary faithful to the lives and teachings of the holy ones who can teach us how to live the Gospel in our time.
I have to say I feel a great sadness for Ireland - for the Catholics of our country did not get the chance to see Benedict in the flesh and to hear him speak. For many in the Church here their only exposure is that which our media allowed, and that was deeply distorted and unjust. I was talking with a good Catholic man today and he opined over the many mistakes Benedict had made, how he ignored child abuse and frustrated the efforts of bishops dealing with it. This is the Irish media's view of Benedict and it is the exact opposite of the truth.
In a sense, many in Ireland have been kept in the dark by the media - like mushrooms and fed plenty of manure to make them mistrust the Pope and the Church. Many have been betrayed by priests - true; but I believe the Irish have been betrayed by the Irish media who destroyed a wonderful papacy and calumnied a holy man because they did not like what he had to say - because he said it so well. At the end of the day they were afraid of him - if people really listened to him they would not only be charmed by his simple holiness, but would see that what he teaches is true and beautiful: our media masters understood that all too well.
Anyway, I hope people in Ireland will eventually come to know and understand this wonderful Pontiff. There are many of us younger priests who have tried to share his teaching with them (not withouy much opposition - some have even tried to silence us), but we will continue. Why? Because in order to understand Vatican II we need to listen to what Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI has to say - he is one of those who influenced it.