I wanted to write a post comparing the two most recent popes, Benedict and Francis. I hoped it would be clear and concise and cogent. Instead it came off sounding like some pompous bullshit and was anything but concise or cogent. Really, all I wanted to say is that the similarities and contrasts between the two men are remarkable, but the important thing is the one common denominator: each is his own way occupied the same chair of Peter, as have 264 other men in the last two millennia.
That isn’t just a job, after all; it’s a continuation of the ministry Peter received directly from Jesus himself. So, one man displays humility by giving up what might seem to many to be some sort of earthly power and the other takes it up, only to exercise the office in a very different way; same office, the same divine ministry, just a different style. I also find it remarkable that both men were accused of being war criminals of one sort or another upon taking up the office. Can that just be a coincidence? Or, are the same forces that opposed Benedict the same ones, however unimaginative they are, that oppose Francis now? It’s tough to think those kinds of things are just coincidences; like they say on the cop shows, I don’t believe in coincidences.
Through it all, we have the Church, the same Church that began when the Caesar ruled Rome. Where is Caesar now? I think that’s remarkable; the same Church that began way back then still commands the world’s attention today, almost unavoidably. It’s hard not to recognize the significance of the thing.