Feb 122013
 

Catholics who eulogized Pope John Paul II for serving to the bitter end now praise Pope Benedict for quitting. Make up your minds.

I noticed this post from William Saletan at Slate that referenced my post in passing yesterday.

One thing I love about being Catholic is the both/and approach that doesn’t try to flatten all things into a decision tree with simple yes/no paths. Some try to treat prudential decisions as routes with only one path. The charge of hypocrisy assumes that in this case different people could not come to different approaches or that both paths can’t be valid. It also assumes all the variables and individual circumstances are the same in both cases.

It is easy to respect the decision of both of these popes because of our respect for them in the first place. That we realize both men took up the subject in prayer and discernment regarding first of all the good of the Church. It is certainly not hypocrisy to believe that both men choose what they perceived as the best path. Armchair poping of what people thing they would have done is their prudential assessment. It would be nice if we could load up a possible futures like we would create a virtual machine on a server. To be able to inject different decisions to see how they would turn out. Until then taking up a decision with prayerful discernment is the best we can do.

  3 Responses to “Is it hypocrisy?”

  1. They can certainly both be right. The circumstances are different.

    I recall some calling for the resignation of John Paul II during that last two years of his papacy. If he had succumbed to those calls, it would have set a bad precedent for future popes.

    In Pope Benedict’s case, no one was calling for his resignation, yet he gave it.

    I think highly enough of Pope Benedict XVI to believe that he is doing this for the good of the Church. I obviously don’t believe I know everything he knows. Let’s see what we all know in a year or two.

    One last note: I love that he taught us about discernment in his statement. Teaching to the very end.

  2. I agree with Scott. And it’s better to hold judgment for later generations, with sober lenses of historical distance. We are poor judges of ourselves and our times.

  3. “…sober lenses of historical distance…”

    fantastic!

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