|Volumus laetum diem natalis, Papa Emerite!|
John Thavis, another Vatican blogger, published a book of extended anecdotes from his thirty years as a correspondent in Rome. His portrait of Benedict is quite different from the popular conception. Thavis lays a lot of blame all over the place, from the Pope himself and his administrators (e.g. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi and Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone) to the gullible, lazy, and shallow members of the press corps. Savvy antagonists like the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) get a heaping helping in one chapter.
|With his birthday cake at the White House (POTUS at right)|
|Blessed Pope John Paul II in his last year|
When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict, he moved quickly (by Vatican standards) to shut down that particular problem. Granted, it was a closed-door maneuver that left many victims unsatisfied. Yet Thavis has much praise for the decisiveness and force shown by the Pope in this case. And lest you think Thavis is just an admirer or apologist for Benedict, he comes in for criticism in other chapters. Yet the contrast between the inaction of JPII and the smackdown (by Vatican standards) delivered by Benedict is unpleasantly sharp.
|The quilted jacket says a lot|
If nothing else, a pope who has the wisdom, courage, and flexibility to admit that he's no longer up to the job deserves a lot of praise. Hell, I'll go so far as to say that he will merit beatification, though obviously that doesn't get declared (even here) until after one dies. And today, sincerely, I wish Pope Emeritus Benedict a very happy birthday.