Earlier this year, the world was stunned when Pope Benedict resigned his office, the first time it had happened in over 600 years, forcing a new pope to be elected. While there was plenty of analysis at the time about the implications for the church and the world, there was almost no inquiry about implications for the underlying belief structure. Having a divinely-selected, infallible pope resign and his runner-up from the last time be elected to replace him is bad enough, but today we learn that Benedict resigned because he says God told him to. What?
The assumption at the time was that he stepped down over corruption allegations within the Vatican, which would logically undermine the infallibility argument of the papacy. But if his resignation was divinely-inspired, following only 8 years after his divinely-inspired election, shouldn’t that undermine the infallibility argument of the deity doing the inspiring?
Logically, there are only a few possible explanations:
- There is no god.
- God exists, but is not infallible.
- God exists and is infallible, but planned the whole thing.
The last option is, of course, a common refrain among atrocity apologists, that it was “God’s plan” all along. In this case, that the omniscient God knew when he selected Benedict to be pope that he would make him step down 8 years later. Presumably the subsequent questioning of the theology behind the Vatican’s sovereignty would be one of the ubiquitous “tests of faith” that serves his larger purpose. Or perhaps it was because having the widely reviled Benedict in the office would make the choice of Francis look that much better? Bollocks. If an all-powerful, benevolent, supernatural entity is essentially playing PR games with his representatives on Earth, this isn’t the place for a rational inquiry anyway.