I came across a Catholic poster on facebook recently who posted an article celebrating the present Pope in combatting the Mafia. The Pope was brave in doing so, so it was claimed on this thread.
And that is probably right, given the previous from the Mafia.
But this hit on a nerve, which has been playing on me for some time. I stated:
A good move. He is definitely making all the right sounds. I suppose the corollary is this: does this mean previous Popes were weak? By omission, were they doing the wrong things? Are Catholics willing to admit necessarily that previous Popes, by celebrating the actions of this Pope, were not up to scratch? Indeed, Catholics should be more critical of their Pope of the moment. I guess what I am trying to say is this: Catholics are very good at proclaiming the good things about a present Pope, but not about crriticising the bad things, or the lack of those good things, in a present Pope. I didn’t hear many Catholics saying of previous Popes that they should be doing what the PRESENT Pope is doing and saying. This is what I am now terming “fairweather evaluation”.
which was replied to by the author of the thread, a Daniel Vecchio (Catholic philosopher) with:
Well, Johno, Pope John Paul II spoke against the Mafia in 1993 and they ended up bombing several churches and the Uffizi in Florence as a response. But yes, not all popes have an equal measure of virtue. And some popes have more courage than others.
To which I stated:
“But yes, not all popes have an equal measure of virtue. And some popes have more courage than others.” – which is also to say, some Popes have less courage than others. And some Popes lack doing and saying the right things when they should. I don’t just mean about the Mafia, but about sexual abuse, corporate culture, environment, other worldviews etc etc.
The more people celebrate THIS Pope, the more they are implicitly criticising previous Popes. But they lacked the critical vigour to do that contemporaneously.
Someone else chipped in with:
A man was nice to his neighbor. Therefore all other human beings on the planet now and throughout history are jerks. I see how this works.
Vecchio chimed in with:
Benedict was a superior theologian. People have natural talents and virtues that vary. That doesn’t change when you become pope. Also, people have different priorities given finite time, etc. I think Tom Tozer is right… Praising Pope Francis doesn’t condemn Pope Benedict… It’s not a zero sum game where we have to take away praise from x to give praise to y. And yes, some popes are greater than others… Not surprising. There may be popes in hell.
I post a positive article about something the Pope has done and the atheists and anti-Catholics are feverishly looking for an angle to criticize the Pope. Can’t you just say, “Good job, Pope”?
I retaliated with:
No, this has been something that has been plaguing me for some time. Because Catholics were strangely mute about the shortcomings of Joey Ratz and his predecessors, in the main. And as soon as a Pope who comes along and ACTUALLY starts saying things that a man in his position SHOULD say as a fairly standard matter of course given the theological background and role model in Jesus, Catholics are all over bigging him up. But that raises huge questions about why the shortcomings of the previous Popes were not raised. And, Tom Tozer, if you think the actions of the previous Pope wrt sexxual abuse in which he was part of the cover up is should not be seen in the context of the present Pope and the moves he is making in the RIGHT direction, then you are blinded by your own bias.
Daniel Vecchio – I am not really making a point about some Popes being better than others. As mere humans, that will always be the case. My point is about Catholics’ reactions.on very comparable subjects (ie sexual abuse etc). What celebration MEANS is “well done, that is the good and right thing to do”. Which means that, say, Joey Ratz not doing it was him not doing the right thing to have done. But at the time, Catholics were strangely mute, often, on him not doing the right thing.
And I think this is fairly important to note. There is a double standard involved in such celebrating, and yet not being willing to own up to the poorer papal actions, speeches and decisions, to criticise them for what they are.
Of course, there are liberal and critical Catholics who do do this. But there are a huge, huge silent majority. Too big.