PopeWatch: Memento Mori


Pope Francis reminds us that the Grim Reaper is not subject to papal authority.


“Some theologians may say this is not right, but I think this way,” he said in a lighthearted exchange with reporters returning to Rome from a trip to South Korea. “Let us think about what [Benedict XVI] said, ‘I have got old, I do not have the strength.’ It was a beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage.”

He added: “But you could say to me, if you at some time felt you could not go forward, I would do the same.” Asked about his immense popularity, the 77-year-old joked that he would probably die soon so should not get too proud: “I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father.” Pope Francis also said he had some nerve problems that he treated with a South American tea-like drink called Mate, and that he had not taken a vacation away from home since 1975.

Go here to read the rest.  Being pope is an office that is quite different from any other, and it is usually filled by men nearing the end of their term of life.  Normally that fact helps focus the mind on the things of eternity, so popes usually being of an advanced age is probably a good thing overall.  The Pope seems to have a humorous attitude to his inevitable death and does not fear that grim fact of our lives.  Not a bad attitude for a pope to take.

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  1. Lately not always, advanced years can bring pacifistic errors due to lowered aggression in their hormonal systems. In 1999 we had Pope St. John Paul call the death penalty “cruel” in St. Louis despite God giving same in Romans 13:4 inter alia. In Pope Benedict’s Verbum Domini sect.42, Benedict says the herem were really sins and not from God…and he states that the ” prophets challenged…every form of violence” but Benedict, please listen..Elijah killed 552 men, Eliseus had two bears kill 42 boys, Samuel killed Agag, Jeremiah cursed the Chaldeans if they failed to kill the Moabites. And we have Pope Francis on ISIS…” stop them…I do not say bomb”. And from this milieu, we had the new death penalty ccc 2267 which is bad but is continually contradicted by papal and bishop actions to achieve abolition. The old men on the Supreme Court in 1976 stated that studies they chose found that the death penalty deters not passion murders but premeditated murders. So age can have enough testosterone to see as the Bible saw.

  2. Considering the age of most Popes throughout history, I find any explanation linking papal views on the death penalty or war to lack of testosterone to be wanting. Popes are not immune to the intellectual currents of their times, and since the Sixties being against the death penalty and being almost completely pacifist has been a given among almost all European elites, and among most elites in the rest of the West.

  3. There have been some young popes, of course.
    Innocent III, one of the greatest of the mediaeval popes was elected at 37 in 1198. He died in 1216, aged 55; younger than many popes at their election.
    His predecessor, Urban II, who launched the First Crusade, was elected at 46 in 1088 and died at 57.
    Of the Medici popes, Leo X, the rebuilder of St Peter’s and who condemned Martin Luther was elected in 1513 at the age of 38 and died at 46, whilst his cousin, Clement VII, famous for opposing Henry VIII and who ought to be more famous still for the Clementine Vulgate, was elected in 1523 at the age of 45 and died at 56. Both were most munificent patrons of the arts and learning.
    In modern times, Pio Nono was 54 when elected in 1846 and reigned for 31 years. It has been unkindly suggested that the Sacred College took fright at this and elected the 68-year old Leo XIII, who confounded their expectations by living to 93.
    St John Paul II was 58 at his election.

  4. Because the Church has taught the same message on sex and abortion since the time of the Crucifixion. Much less wiggle room there, although I would note that quite a few clerics within the Church were quite as willing to adopt the New Morality in regard to sex almost as much as most of the clerics in mainline Protestant churches. The tides of intellectual fashions and prejudices among the elites is difficult for all but the most strong minded, and/or obstinate, intellectuals to resist.

  5. Of course what is considered Old Age has developed over time. 46 in 1088 would easily be equivalent to 66 today. The most warlike of the popes, Julius II, was elected at age 59 and lived to what was a very old 69 in 1513.

  6. bill bannon: “In 1999 we had Pope St. John Paul call the death penalty “cruel” in St. Louis despite God giving same in Romans 13:4 inter alia.”
    Yes, bill bannon, the death penalty is “cruel” and unusual punishment. This why the victim, put to death, the death penalty, must be vindicated. The victim, undeserving of the death penalty, of the cruel and unusual punishment, is being deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The victim is enclosed in a three by six foot coffin, six feet underground, inflicted with rigor mortis because…why? somebody did not like her?, he was born?, she was inconvenient? he was not deserving of death, but so what?
    Vindication is the duty of the state; to bring the murderer to Justice and to deliver Justice to the victim and the whole of the people, the nation. The death penalty is the only way to vindicate the victim, who did not deserve death, but is now dead.

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