Powerful words from Pope Benedict XVI on Power
[ by Charles Cameron — the Pope and power, from his new book ]
A few days ago I posted a piece on the Church of England, with a bit of a squib in its tail. I quoted an MP asking the Church Commissioners‘ MP representative in parliament —
Does he agree that when the decision-making body of the established Church deliberately sets itself against the general principles of the society that it represents, its position as the established Church must be called into question?
and a response from scripture [Romans 12:2] —
It is written: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.’
One would have thought that after the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the hands of the Nazis for his unwillingness to go along with “decision-making body of the established Church” — in his case, the Lutheran Church in Germany at the time — a little more thought might need to be given before such a question was raised…
I’m now happy to announce that Pope Benedict XVI has some powerful words on the topic in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, as presented by National Catholic Reporter Senior Correspondent John L. Allen Jr. in a piece titled A vaticanista reads the pope’s book:
In the context of discussing the kind of kingdom which the birth of Christ promised, Benedict writes: “Jesus’ words to Pilate remain perennially true: ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ In the course of history, the mighty of this world have sometimes tried to align it with their own [kingdoms], and that’s when it is put at risk. They seek to link their power with Jesus’ power, and in the process they disfigure his kingdom and endanger it.”
Benedict adds, “Or else it is subjected to constant persecution by rulers who will tolerate no other kingdom than their own, and would like to destroy this powerless king, whose mysterious power they fear.”
Christ saw it, St Paul could see it, the Pope sees it, common sense can probably see it. It’s a bit late for me to recommend the idea to Constantine — but could contemporary American Christianity perhaps come to see it, too?
But oh, the Pope goes much farther. In John Allen’s words again:
There you have it: According to Benedict XVI, humility and joy are core tests for Christian authenticity. Let the conversation begin about whether those two qualities are actually characteristic of Catholic life in the early 21st century.