Easter Message

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On this, the day when we celebrate magic baby Jesus miraculously sharing a handful of chocolate eggs amongst 5000 people before getting crucified and then coming back from the dead for a brief comeback tour, it seems appropriate to reflect upon matters of spirituality.

Pope Celestine V (c.1209 – 1296) retired because he couldn’t handle the papal pressure. Having lived for decades as a hermit, he had originally tried to run away when the bishops decided to make him pope (presumably there was a lack of decent alternative candidates back in 1294). After just five months in the job he quit as he wanted to return to his hermit cave.

But although he abdicated his position Celestine wasn’t allowed to enjoy his retirement. His papal successor had him put in prison and was probably responsible for bumping him off in 1296. Poor old Celestine.

The point of this story is that there is a precedent for retiring popes. Ergo, if Benedict XVI feels very bad for allowing as Archbishop of Munich a known paedophile priest to be assigned to pastoral duties where he continued to abuse children, he could always consider calling it a day.

“The buck has to start somewhere”, the Pope could declare, “and to demonstrate that we are serious about making amends for the many years of covering-up these criminal activities it is obvious that all those tainted by the scandals need to go and new leadership brought in”.

However, having the preacher to the papal household compare the current criticism of the Catholic Church to the “most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism” (a bit of an odd thing to say considering the controversy around Pope Pius’s conduct during WW2) suggests that the Pope and his team won’t contemplate the Celestine strategy.

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