Showing posts from 2016

Of Bad Popes and Bad Presidents

For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bishops of Rome were saintly scholars and heroic pastors who inspired great devotion among Catholics because of their radiant goodness, and for the Church to have the service of such men is a great blessing. But in that blessing lies a danger. When we have so many valiant shepherds on the Chair of St Peter, one after the other, we can forget that many scoundrels and notorious sinners - to say nothing of average men of modest ability - have also served as popes, and that forgetfulness opens us to undue distress when a pope comes who doesn't measure up to his predecessors. Pope Alexander VI - Rodrigo Borgia, pictured above - reminds us that the office of the papacy can certainly survive and in some ways even flourish when occupied by a man who is manifestly unfit to be the Pastor of the Universal Church, and that knowledge should console anyone who is troubled by the character or actions of a man who sits on the Chair of St Peter but