"Why . . . won't . . . you . . . die??!!" (Austin Powers)
When I read pieces on the Holy Father
by lefties like John Allen, I can't help but be struck by a sense of frustration, even latent anger, surrounding three undeniable realities: the Holy Father's enduring life, his enduring hope, and his enduring popularity.
When John Paul II rose to the pontificate in the late 1970s, progressives put their hopes on him to carry out their agenda of ecclesial revolution. But, by the mid 1990s, it was clear he was doing nothing of the sort. Not only did he show no inclination to ordain women, allow contraception, or strip down Church dogma, he showed a marked determination to consolidate and theologically elucidate traditional Church teaching on these positions. Thus, the progressives gave up hope, and are now eager to move on, to try their hand with the next Pope. That's why they're simply waiting for this one to die. The same crowd has prophesied over and over that, unless the Church 'changes with the times' it will die: if we don't ordain women they will leave the Church, if we don't let priests marry we will have no priests, if we don't modernize dogma modernity won't take us seriously, etc. Yet not only does 'this Pope' fail to carry out their agenda, he won't give in to their defeatist attitude either. He continues to call himself a 'witness to hope,' in the midst of a world of suffering and pain. The nerve. And yet, the more he goes on, the more the Church thrives and prospers in the midst of this suffering. And the progressives can't imagine that a Pope so 'reactionary,' so 'conservative,' could actually be popular, especially among young people, normally the first to throw aside custom and tradition. Yet the Beatles never got the swooning teenage mobs that the Pope gets daily. Youth adore him with an affection impossible to put into words. And they don't love him because he's faddish. Hardly. They love him because he represents the ancient faith, the ageless tradition, the unchanging Church which has sustained the world for two millenia. It defies all reason. But its' true.
Why doesn't he just give up hope? Why do they love him so much? Why, oh why, won't he just die?