I just read a Jewish rabbi’s blog on the next pope’s potential name. The rabbi, who views John XXIII as a beacon of modernization, argues that the new pope should take the name of John XXIV. While I as a Catholic appreciate the fact that the papal conclave is so important that even rabbis feel they need to blog about their feelings on the subject, I think there is a far more suitable name for the upcoming pope: Pius XIII.
The cries of shock and protest that would quickly follow such a choice are all too predictable. “Pius?” “The last Pius was Hitler’s lackey!” “This is a clear indicator that the new pope will try to take us back to the 19th century.” Ignoring the fact that Pius XII’s fallacious legacy as a closeted Nazi is the result of Soviet directed character assassination, the last statement I hypothesized would be the most telling. Yes, a pope taking the name of Pius would be a clear indicator of his approach to the papacy, but it would symbolize the arrival of a pope that the Church sorely needs in the 21st century.
The selection of a new pope should serve as a reminder to Catholics that there is a fundamental decision that must be made: will the Church influence the world or will the world influence the Church? Take a quick glance through a list of mainstream Protestant churches and you will realize just how little relevancy those churches that have decided to let the world influence their dogma truly hold. Stripped of meaning, they serve more as meeting places for city-dwelling progressives rather than houses of God. One needs look no further than the amount of time spent covering the election of the newest Archbishop of Canterbury compared to the amount of ink and pixels that have been used on Pope Benedict’s resignation. This should serve as a reminder that the secular media cares about the Catholic Church only as long as it stands against the current Godless culture. If it were perceived to have fallen as the last redoubt of traditionalism the world would cease to care.
In a modern era where hedonism and doubt are celebrated as virtues, the world and the Catholic Church need a voice of sanity that stands up for reason and virtue. Neglecting these has led the world to a troubled place; unmoored from history and tradition, we stand vulnerable to forces that stand for evil and are unafraid of making their voices heard. Likewise, the Church has been under internal attacks by the so-called Catholic progressives over the 50 years since the closing of the Second Vatican Council. I have faith in Christ’s words that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church that he founded. But I am also aware that it takes men of strength and courage to stand up and prevent the triumph of evil. The taking of the name Pius XIII would indicate that the next pope is keenly aware of the problems facing the Church and is ready to proactively respond to them.