Ash Wednesday – the Church’s shame & Lenten penance for Pope Benedict

The ash and the Cross

As we  launch today into this joyful season of lenten penance, perhaps our joy should be tempered by our sorrow at all that Pope Benedict has endured these last 8-odd years. Surely the wilful misrepresentations of his teachings, the arrogant refusal to accept his attempts to reconcile those drifting from the Church and to restore order to the life and liturgy of the Church, the scandalous opprobrium heaped on him for the abuse crisis when he was one of the few who so clearly and consistently stood against it, the bile and venom spat at him – and not just by the world but especially by Catholics: all this is an indictment of God’s people just as much as of the world. How could a man of such sensitivity be expected to withstand the torments of the world while being so maligned, so undermined, from within his own Church by the people God called him to lead?

The obedience of Christ on the Cross puts us to shame, especially those who have so wilfully disobeyed Pope Benedict. They have made their choice for “me”, not for God, or justice, or equality or any other self-serving camouflage. May God forgive them, and convert them.

This Lent let us double our penance, and take no short-cuts nor allow ourselves anything but the most truly justified breaks from our penance, and offer it up especially in reparation for the failure of the Church to support its supreme earthly Pastor as he deserved, and God demands.

And let us pray that in the Lenten conclave God will grant us the pope we should desire and not the one we have deserved by our culpable action, or inaction.

The Pope’s abdication brings shame – not to him, but on us.

Repent and believe the Gospel.