Pope Pius XIII?

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.

Pope Pius XII speaks to a crowd in Rome following an American air attack on the city, August 1943.

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.

– Urbanus


One thought on “Pope Pius XIII?

  1. The new pope should be named Cornelius II, maybe Fabian II. Cornelius is a martyr, showing the new pope’s seriousness about the faith, something lacking in many places, but remembered for his moderation and compassion towards sinners, something needed today as well. Both would date back to a time of importance for East and West, showing unity rather than division among the Orthodox. It is both traditional and novel- Cornelius I would date back to pre-Constantine days but obviously from the “II” no one has chosen his name before. This would symbolize an important aspect of what the new pope would need to do. He needs to breathe air into ancient tradition but thoughtfully engage the modern world. The Church cannot be static nor overly dynamic- too much of one would bring about its decline. Being too sedentary the Church would become akin to a problem in the Orthodox Church, having preserved Tradition at the expense of action. Too much fluidity would bring about its ultimate uselessness, as mentioned in the post, it would have “engaged the modern world” into nothingness. The Church must go back to Tradition, but at the same time it can’t. Going back to the “old ways” will answer some things but leave other questions open-ended.

    A complete reversion to traditional ways would also negate chances at further heavenly progression. To explain further: if we really did accomplish what was set out, and we successfully went back to the traditional ways with the end of moving back to the traditional ways truly being achieved on a large scale, then the same problems that have now occurred are likely to occur again. Modern Enlightenment and post-modern movements are likely to occur again, liberal (tacitly nihilistic) elements within the Church are bound to come up again, and we will ultimately be put in a new, but similar situation as we are today. This is not an abstraction that I created to fit my argument, this is an educated guess on what would happen given concrete experience of human nature, possibly influenced by St. Augustine. Why do I say this? Because we would have never completely solved the issues the Church faces today, we would have simply put them off until a later date.

    What would this look like practically? It is too long to dicuss here, but suffice it to say it would involve strong movements towards tradition. But it would have to creatively embrace dialogue with the world. And it would do well to remember Aristotle’s discussion of rewarding new innovation in Book II of the Politics. He asks whether it is good to implement a new law if the new law is better-he even gives arguments in support of new implementation. Ultimately, however, he sides against it, since support for the ruler, support for custom, and even support for law in general can be jeopardized by quick changes. You undermine that which you are trying to protect. And just as this could easily be applied to the Church in her changes following Vatican II, it can be applied to any possible changes in solving the current situation.

    So in the end I’d pass on Pius XIII. Chesterton describes romance and suprise as something new coupled with something familiar; this could be a good model for the pope and the Church. So maybe Cornelius, or Fabian, who knows. And who knows, maybe what the world needs is a little romance and surprise to supplant its impregnable boredom.

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