Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Holy Father, State Power, and Hope

Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Journey to the United States
WHAT CHESTERTON SAYS about Saint Thomas of Canterbury and Henry II seems apropos to the reason why Benedict is coming with his message of hope to America.
It is always the first fact that escapes notice; and the first fact about the Church was that it created a machinery of pardon, where the State could only work with a machinery of punishment. It claimed to be a divine detective who helped the criminal to escape by a plea of guilty ... Our world, then, cannot understand St. Thomas, any more than St. Francis, without accepting very simply a flaming and even fantastic charity, by which the great Archbishop undoubtedly stands for the victims of this world, where the wheel of fortune grinds the faces of the poor. He may well have been too idealistic; he wished to protect the Church as a sort of earthly paradise, of which the rules might seem to him as paternal as those of heaven, but might well seem to the King as capricious as those of fairyland. But if the priest was too idealistic, the King was really too practical; it is intrinsically true to say he was too practical to succeed in practice ... He became lawless out of sheer love of law.
-- Short History of England
Benedict comes to America to remind us of exactly the same charity, mercy, forgiveness, and hope of God manifested in Jesus Christ our Lord -- a "fantastic charity" that states and even certain Scimitarists find ungodlike and unacceptable.

The Holy Spirit (Gr. Paraklete) is etymologically the "divine detective who helped the criminal to escape by a plea of guilty" and Benedict is coming to remind us of this extravagant hope of the Gospel. Sadly, states and governments and some religions only know how to punish by following the satanic (Gr. ha satan), accusatory principle "out of sheer love of law."

Though not able to thematize it this way, millions will feel and imbibe this message of hope that the Holy Father brings. God be with him and with us all.

No comments: