The Pope has come and gone. His six day visit to the United States last month garnered the expected press coverage and sycophantic obsequiousness we have come to expect whenever his white-robed figure condescends to make a stopover. President Bush lavishly welcomed his papal guest. Right wing radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, gushed about how moving the White House ceremony was. As he was about to play the Army choir singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Limbaugh said in hushed tones, "God in Washington." Now, he may have meant that with an overtly religious ceremony, God was being recognized in Washington despite all the efforts to ban religion, especially Christianity, from the public square. Or he may have been echoing the Roman Catholic view that the pope is the personal representative of God on earth-a man who actually takes the name that in Scripture is given solely to the First Person of the Trinity, the title "Holy Father," and who claims the office that is unique to the Holy Spirit, "The Vicar of Christ." I don't know what Rush Limbaugh had in mind; I simply report what I heard him say and I found it disgusting. It was interesting that after the White House welcome, Limbaugh's web site eulogized the pope for his "God bless America" statement-he was so happy that somebody came to say something nice about America. I can understand that feeling but what I can't understand is Limbaugh's total silence the next day when the pope used his visit to this country to berate and chastise America. The Vatican, with a history so sordid that hardly a government in the whole western world can compete with it for corruption, displays enormous gall in setting itself up at the moral conscience of the world.
The pope met with victims of clergy abuse during his visit. He reportedly has decreed that such abuse will be no more. Some hope. Coincidentally, just as his visit ended a news report from Alaska said that you cannot find a town without some victims of Roman Catholic clergy abuse. That's not something confined to the remote areas of Alaska. It's a worldwide epidemic and no sweet talking by the pope will change it. It is the product of a system that defies the plain teaching of Scripture on the matter of sexual purity. Papally legislated celibacy is not the way to purity. Nor is accepting homosexuals into the priesthood.
But back to the papal visit. President Bush was effusive and the pope was deceptive. Benedict said that he had come to preach the gospel. That was his claim. Now Benedict proved when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, that he is a brilliant theological scholar. About that there is no argument. But to claim that he preaches the gospel is ridiculous. What is Benedict's gospel? Read what he has written. Listen to what he has said. Do not take my word for it, take his own word. If you do, you will find that Benedict's idea of the gospel is the same old jumbled mixture of works and grace-which destroys grace. And more clearly than ever he is pushing the blasphemy of the Mass as a real sacrifice in which Christ is offered to expiate the sins of the living and the dead.