What Is The Pope Trying to Teach? What Can a Sick Pope Do?
Here’s what I’ve been thinking on the topic: A Pope is not actually like the Commandant of the Marine Corps, there is really nothing he has to do except be. The church normally runs itself, its departments hum on. Only a few decisions await him, really. The church could go months without appointing new replacements for bishops. What a Pope does is be another Christ. What does Christ have to do, except be? And the comparative advantage of Christianity is that it roots itself in suffering, the suffering of age that each of us will undergo, of cancers and disabilitities and mental illness in the family, the inescapables of every life. Secular humanism ignores these. Professor Rawls thinks Christian emphasis on suffering is life-denying. Not so. I think that’s why so many people are touched by JPII. They know all about suffering, but nobody ever says how ennobling and transformative it can be. That it’s quite all right to be ill and suffering. That it’s a great and valuable gift. That it means a lot. That it’s at the heart of things. In a way, the Pope is teaching more powerfully about Christianity and its comparative advantage than he ever has. The most important work of his life.