New pope must pledge to serve until death?

The cardinals don’t seem to approve of Pope Benedict’s resignation and reportedly will ask the next pope to promise not to pull that again. British journalist John Follain reports:

CARDINALS plan to ask the next pope to pledge in his inaugural address that he will serve until his death, unlike Benedict XVI, whose resignation, they believe, has destabilised the Catholic Church.

Doubts have emerged about the impact of Benedict’s decision as the cardinals begin a series of meetings, known as general congregations, to discuss the church’s future.

Italian reports suggest some church leaders believe Benedict’s departure has undermined the sacredness of the office. An unnamed cardinal told the Corriere della Sera newspaper it was impossible to abolish the rule that a pope had the right to resign of his own freewill. “But for the future we need to safeguard the freedom of the church from external influences,” he said, amid fears that a pope could be pressured into stepping down.

On Friday, Benedict said he was “not abandoning the Cross, I am staying in a new way”. This was seen as a response to Polish cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, a former personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, who said of his resignation: “One doesn’t step down from the Cross.”

The cardinals are expected to focus on the spiritual mission many see as the priority for the next pope, bringing Christ’s message to the secular West and developing countries where the number of Catholics is growing.

Other issues include reform of the Vatican bureaucracy that has been hit by a scandal over leaks from Benedict’s office.

Benedict agreed that three cardinals who investigated the “Vatileaks” scandal would give their peers details of their secret report. The Vatican has denied allegations that it reveals a gay network of blackmailers.

via New pope ‘to pledge to serve until death’ | The Australian.

What about that criticism of “stepping down from the Cross”?  Could that be said of other vocations?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    Yet another way for Rome to bind (a) man’s conscience.

  • Random Lutheran

    Could it be that the hierarchy prefers an old & helpless “leader” who won’t get in their way?

  • Carl Vehse

    What about that criticism of “stepping down from the Cross”? Could that be said of other vocations?

    Gene, you’re the expert on the subject of God-given vocations, but it’s difficult for me to see how being the Antichrist (or a traitor or murderer or Satan’s hellspawn) is such a vocation or can be compared to God-given vocations.

    Although, if it were considered a vocation, Polish cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’s reference to the Antichrist “stepping down from the Cross” would seem to confirm the understanding in the Lutheran Confessions of the pope exalting himself above Christ.

  • Cincinnatus

    I don’t see how Benedict’s surprise abdication is any more destabilizing than any other pope’s surprise death. Heck, at least Benedict gave the Vatican advance notice!

  • helen

    The Cardinals can ask; the new Pope can tell them.

    [The Roman Catholic church is not the Missouri Synod.]

  • Carl Vehse

    “[The Roman Catholic church is not the Missouri Synod.]“
    And vice versa.

  • Jon

    Was it Benedict’s resignation that caused the destabilization, or the other way ’round?

    It seems to me with reports of moles and leaks, etc., that the destabilization was already there.

    What good does a doddering old man at the helm to stem that tide?

  • Jack

    Oh, but that we, in the LC-MS, would be so vigilant in seeing that all of our shepherds would be so faithful in tending the sheep and lambs of the flocks to which they have been called!!

  • Grace

    No one knows all the circumstances, perhaps some, a glimpse into others – but some proof, which has been made public.

    Having a pastor for my father, I have witnessed on a much, much smaller scale, some of the problems of the pastorate – there are many different facets, facts that very few people understand, or should know about. Often times pastors are ‘used by others to sway and divide the flock.

    If a pastor is honest and trustworthy, he is much more likely to be used as a pawn. Pastors are often threatened when they have found misconduct among those in their charge, or congregations. It doesn’t take long for people to see those who are truly honest, upright. For those who’s deeds are evil, and sinful, it’s a tough road for a pastor as the leader to deal which such individuals. Their ways are deceitful, which might take a very long time to see, or prove.

    There is in-fighting, men who should be humble and serving the LORD, scrambling for the top. There are wolves in the flock, that includes those who are pastors.

    I don’t know Pope Benedict, nor do I pretend to know his heart, but I do believe he did the right thing- no matter what the reason, his conscience, or his health could not allow him to go on. You nor I will ever know the reasons, it is not for anyone to know or question. God knows!

    A man of strong conviction, integrity in the pastorate, will often step down, knowing that God will settle the score.

    God help us all, and have mercy on those who love and worship HIM.

  • sg

    Those Italian cardinals must be kicking themselves for ever having elected a lazy German. Hundreds of years of Italian popes who toiled to the end. Even a tough ol’Pole. Now you have this bum who goes out to pasture now that he can’t see or hear.

  • Grace

    ” Now you have this bum who goes out to pasture now that he can’t see or hear.”

    God have mercy on you.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    In related news, the College of Cardinals declared that David’s abdication to place Solomon on the throne was of no effect because David had not yet died, and that Adonijah was the rightful king. Questions on what this does for the geneologies of Christ in Matthew and Luke were not answered.

    Seriously, while the engineer in me wonders what the problem is with an ordinary transition, Biblically speaking, and the amateur theologian in me cringes to see another layer of rules laid upon those who would serve God.

    Or, if the Lutheran view is correct, upon those who would serve someone else most decidedly not God. But you get the picture.

  • Grace

    “CARDINALS plan to ask the next pope to pledge in his inaugural address that he will serve until his death, unlike Benedict XVI, whose resignation, they believe, has destabilised the Catholic Church.”

    Very strange!

    The Cardinals may wish to reacess their own vows, and those who serve under their tutelage. Vows are very serious. Give thought to our marriage vows, as Believers in Jesus Christ.

    You might remember, Martin Luther had taken vows to be celibate. He left the priesthood, and then married, violating his promise to God. All the excuses in the world cannot change the promise, and then the deliberate choosing to marry.

    4 When thou vows a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.

    5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not Ecclesiastes Ecclesiastes 5

    Before you start throwing stones, look at your own, and the man to whom you follow as your church Reformer.

    I have no allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. It saddens me to know, and see many of their practices and beliefs, but lets be careful not to accuse another leader, until you take note of your own.

  • Grace

    Verse 5 in post 13, should read:

    5. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
    Ecclesiastes 5:5

  • sg

    @11

    Does that mean you missed the sarcasm?

  • Grace

     ‏

    Remarks stated at 10 aren’t chalked up to “sarcasm” – it’s a common excuse on this blog, to say/write whatever you want, then back it up LATER, with “sarcasm” -

     ‏

  • tODD

    (SG, I think she missed the sarcasm.)

  • Grace

     ‏

    …………(0 0)
    .—oOO– (_)—–.
    ╔═════════════════╗
    ║ …………..tODD……………║
    ╚═════════════════╝
    ‘———————-oOO
    ……..|__|__|
    ………. || ||
    ……. ooO Ooo

     ‏

  • Grace

     ‏

    tODD, I made the picture just for you. I wanted to cheer you up!

     ‏

  • tODD

    Grace (@19), is English your first language? I’m serious.

  • Grace

     ‏

    “Serious tODD”

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, I will have to give that some thought, I’m not sure. I’ll let you know as soon as I sort it all out.

     ‏

  • Pingback: Leaving a vocation

  • Grace

    Reading over some of this blog, I notice the “antichrist” is mentioned. Here are a few passages that might shed light on this subject.

    Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
    1 John 2:22

    And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    1 John 4:3

    For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
    2 John 1:7

  • Joel Kluender

    By placing himself in the stead of Christ as vicar (substitute) of Christ on earth, the pope (papacy, really) has effectively denied Christ. By denying that one is saved by grace through faith alone (Council of Trent), the pope has denied the saving effect of Christ’s incarnation, that God took on human flesh to take our place on the cross. By denying the Son, he has also denied the Father who sent him (Christ’s own words). The Antichrist was already in the move in the early church and must remain until Christ destroys him by the breath of his mouth (2 Thess. 2). The Lutheran Confessions have it right… the pope is the very endtimes Antichrist.

  • Hanni

    Why oh why would you want a leader in the mid 80′s with many health problems to stay in office making possibly bad decisions or not. Give the man a break. I am sure he prayed about this muchly. I know, I know, his prayers mean nothing since Carl said he is a “hellspawn.” You have a way with words, Carl. You should write political speeches! Also, Gracie, I appreciate the way you speak up in the midst of all the men, keep it up!

  • Grace

    Regarding the Pope praying about his decision:

    It would depend upon who he prayed to. Was it the LORD God, or was it Mary? If it was Mary, she cannot hear prayers, she cannot answer prayers. The Roman Church of course believes that she does.

    Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself ‘in the middle,’ that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother.”

    Pope John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church),
    Encyclical promulgated on March 25, 1987, #21.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031987_redemptoris-mater_en.html

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    1 Timothy 2:5


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