The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


February 16, 2013

Tom Sabo | In Pope Benedict’s resignation, God has spoken

— Roman Catholics, both clergy and laypeople, generally seem shocked that their spiritual leader,  Pope Benedict XVI, has announced he will resign Feb. 28, and that resigning is his decision.

This shock is a sign of a thinking/believing problem. After all, it is not within the power of a pope to resign.

By the dictums of the church’s theology, the pope is God’s spokesperson for his people. The pope should be saying, and the church understanding, that God has spoken. God himself, through the medium of silent, solitary prayer, has asked Benedict to step aside; to be like John the Baptist, to make way for the one to follow.

The power of decision-making does not begin within the mind of the pope; he receives and does the will of God.

When you think about it, it would be more shocking, considering the tenuous condition of the church, if the pope didn’t resign.

But, as end-of-time addicts enthusiastically hop aboard a new bandwagon, will the 111th pope’s resignation make way for the fulfillment of the prophesy of St. Malachy?

Malachy had visions 870 years ago that, among others, prophesied that during the reign of the 112th pope, this would happen:

“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations: and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people.”

In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul observed that humans trying to discern the will of God “see through a mirror darkly.” Was Malachy a 12th-century lunatic? Or could he see through the mirror more clearly than most?

If a series of men who know the law may take the floor, let us see how they might make a case for tribulations, persecutions and resignations.

Mr. Clarence Darrow: “Western Pennsylvanians, in particular, if they think about it, should see a connection between the Roman Catholic Church and Penn State University. They have in common sex abuse scandals and a core issue: Did the institution as controlled by its most powerful leaders, allow truth and transparency to be the guiding principle to make themselves free, or did they, in an attempt to protect the image of the institution, fall into a sinful position of betraying the ‘children’ they were entrusted to protect?

“In the case of Penn State, the NCAA made itself the god of universities. It gave itself the power to pass judgment and to punish, causing for Penn State a time of tribulation, and for those who don’t accept the punishment, a sense of persecution.

“For those who permitted the cover-ups, the institution itself forced resignations.

“What about the church? Christ said ‘let the children come unto me.’ What a central, demoralizing mockery for there to be a growing litany of wayward priests, who have said, ‘Yes, let the children come unto me.’

“For the church in a time of tribulation, who is the equivalent of the NCAA?

“None other than God himself.”

What about this argument from Mr. Perry Mason?

“Pope Benedict can be seen as the equivalent to Gene Kranz, and the church can be compared to the Apollo program, both on a mission to take mankind to places it has dreamed to reach. And both were being successful, until, for the Apollo program, there was mission No. 13. A mechanical failure threatened not only the lives of three men in space, but support and enthusiasm for the entire program if they were to die.

“Gene Kranz, the White Team mission flight director, had the task of saving the men and the program. As he later said, ‘Failure was not an option.’

“Pope Benedict is Mr. Kranz’s equivalent. The sex abuse scandal-riddled Roman Catholic Church is flying into impending disaster, and the frail, aging pope is cognizant that he does not have the stamina necessary to save the mission. It should not come as a surprise that his boss should ask him to step aside.”

But step aside to what? How should Malachy’s prophesy be interpreted? Is this the Mayan calendar thing again? Is the prophesy being bent into a prediction of the end of the world?

The prophesy ends with two parts: “The city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people.”

“The city of seven hills” will be interpreted as Rome. But is it the city of Rome Malachy was thinking of, or a part of the city, the Vatican? It could be that if the terrible judge is God, “his people” are the priests, bishops, cardinals and pope who constitute the Catholic church and have participated in or covered up a sex-abuse scandal.

If God feels they have betrayed him to a patience-ending extent, his sanctions would make Penn State pale in comparison.

Pope Benedict, in acquiescence with God, has foreseen that it is for his successor, not him, to attempt to abort the church’s version of Apollo 13.

Catholics whose mirror isn’t too dim shouldn’t be shocked.


Thomas A. Sabo of Johnstown is a former newsman and former English teacher in the Westmont Hilltop district. 

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