The role of the pope is much different, ecclesiologically and strategically, from the role of a local bishop. Pope John Paul II is most definitely effecting positive long-term change by forcefully teaching truth, promulgating the Catechism and various reforms, of schools, of architecture, of moral teaching, etc. The damage of liberalism has been so profound that one must look at cures in terms of decades and generations, not "right now" (as in a certain perfectionist and utopian mindset). A major reason (if not the sole one) for this strategy, I firmly believe, is to avoid schism, because schism is generally longer-lasting (and arguably, even more damaging) than even heresy.
I think John Paul II's and the Church's primary concern is for souls. There is no easy choice. If one acts with principle but excludes a corresponding prudence or foresight as to result (as Luther and Calvin did), then one barges ahead and slashes away at all the heretics and de facto schismatics. The pope wants the same result that people who ask this question do: how to have an orthodox Church and how to retain as many souls in the Church (and for ultimate salvation) as possible. He thinks it will take a long time. His critics (or those who are simply bewildered) often think the solution is instant and simple: slash and burn!
Thursday, March 20, 2003
"Why doesn't the Pope do something"?
That's a question that's posed to the RFC on numerous occasions. I think that some traditionalists would very much like to see a mass-excommunication of American Catholics and perhaps would even celebrate a return to the days of burning heretics at the stake. In my search for an answer to this question, I came across an essay by Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong, who provides a reason for the more cautious and diplomatic response on the part of the Vatican: