The pope is finally gone and I am happier for it. He has practically no redeeming qualities and has left a trail of carnage from the moment he arrived until the moment he left. Make no mistake: he is the incarnation and personification of the worst sort of evil imaginable. And he’s worse than any pope in a long time. Shame on you if you said from your pulpit, “The pope has his problems but…”
So what are the Pope’s problems? Let me enumerate them:
First and most obviously, the pope effectively claims to be God. I choose my words carefully, because he does not announce that he is God; still, he accrues to himself more than is due even a proxy or vicar of God (which he does claim): he actually assumes attributes and prerogatives that belong only to God so routinely that there can be no other conclusion that commends itself to the rational mind. I sat in traffic last week and heard the Archbishop of Detroit call the faithful to “cast their hosannas” at the feet of “his holiness,” as the pope was on his way to a “canonization” event. This was followed by a few snippets from women like to swoon with giddy delirium over the “literal” wave of peace and holiness that had overwhelmed them in Mark 5:30 fashion as he rode past. All this in the time it took me to move fifty feet on Interstate 94. Reality Check: The pope is the greatest purveyor of idolatry alive today. He is a living, breathing affront to God in the very most rudimentary, uncomplicated, and intentional of senses. There is no room for a “yes, but…” To think in such terms is to have one’s Christian sensibilities occluded. He is an unrepentant leader in leading millions into what is, at least in God’s terms, the very first and worst of all possible sins.
But second, this particular pope doesn’t even do common grace well. In past papal administrations, hopeful evangelicals have pushed for “co-belligerence” of evangelical and Catholic churches in matters of social concern. Mercifully, these appeals were more than usually muted for the duration of his visit. And that is because the current pope is not only morally ambivalent (saying almost nothing, say, about the vices of abortion and homosexuality), he’s also naïve to the fact of human depravity and rather stupid (imagining that the Communist experiment of the twentieth century actually has a promising future). But because he speaks for God, we actually have sycophants on both sides of the aisle fawning over his divine words. Reality Check: The pope is using his self-aggrandizing power both to threaten our nation and to effectively suppress biblical ethics with his deafening silence.
Put these two problems together, and we arrive at the pope’s unique problem, viz., that he simultaneously threatens both the civic and spiritual governments of God in rather a comprehensive way. The true church is regularly threatened from within by heresy and from without by civic structures that actively assault the church or fail to restrain those who do. But the pope has the unique power to threaten the church in both ways. And, oddly, the evangelical church often stands poised to accommodate him. Of course it is true that there are incidental points of practical agreement between the Roman Catholic and Christian worldviews that can from time-to-time render individual Catholics and Christians odd but legitimate bedfellows (i.e., the kind of cooperation that can occur incidentally between believers and almost any fellow human), but there can be no formal, Christian, or ecclesiastical co-belligerence between us.
The pope simply has too many problems. Ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.