Many years ago, I made a light-hearted joke about a pope. Our long time neighbor, Miss Sunshine, corrected me. “He’s a holy man.” She was right. I was wrong.
But holy certainly doesn’t mean perfect, despite the doctrine of infallability. And while Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation seems unquestionably the right thing to do, his papacy has left me with many questions about forgiveness and restoration.
I was deeply troubled by the eminence’s past in the Hitler Youth. And by most accounts, he spent much of his career as a bullying enforcer. Perhaps the greatest irony after surviving so much controversy is that he proved to be relatively ineffectual leader. He insulted Muslims, antagonized nuns and stumbled badly with the pedophile priest scandal. If the recently released 12,000 pages of new documents implicates him in that scandal, I have to question whether he should have been elected pope.
For me it boils down to this. There are some people whom we’ll make excuses for while we hold other folk’s feet to the fire. The only fair thing to do is to be consistent. And forgiving can’t equal forgetting, especially without reconciliation and restoration.
So the real question is, should have been named Pope at all?