I begin by recounting a magnificently horrible tale from the Church’s past: the exploits of the iniquitous Pope Stephen VI. It speaks to corruption, power, and the extent one is willing to go to “undertake” macabre vengeance.
Briefly, the notorious Stephen VI, soon after his election in 896 A.D., had the rotting corpse of his predecessor, Pope Formosus, exhumed in order to face (with what was left of his face) a trial. The body of Formosus was dressed in papal garb, and Stephen VI ranted against it with a litany of canonical, or rather personal, accusations. Formosus, unable to speak for himself, was then condemned, his three fingers of benediction cut off from his right hand, before being dressed in layman’s clothing and buried once again. However, vengeance is mine, sayeth Stephen VI, and Formosus was again exhumed and tossed into the Tiber River like a Pachamama idol. For his efforts, Stephen VI was later imprisoned and strangled to death by unhappy Romans.
I relate Stephen VI’s deed with a mind toward the current events in Rome involving another ominous figure in white. I do not speak directly of Pope Francis, however. Notwithstanding references to Pachamama idols and condemnable papal actions, it is not for this lowly layman to levy an anathema on Francis, despite my internal indignation. I do trust though that Christ will uphold the integrity of His Church, somehow, some way. Rather, I speak of Benedict, formerly titled the vicar of Christ.
Like a Formosus of sorts, Benedict is dressed up in papal attire and has been sitting mutely for some seven years. He sits accused and condemned by every action taken against him under the new regime. The ferocity with which he attacked the “dictatorship of relativism,” is destroyed by a relativist dictate of discernment and accompaniment toward mortal sin. The boldness with which he lived out perhaps his defining moment, the Regensburg Address, is replaced by a boldly non-Catholic assertion that God wills a diversity of religions. The liturgical sanity he restored in Summorum Pontificum is mocked by the insanity of bowing to a Pachamama idol.
And still, Benedict remains silent.
He is like Bram Stoker’s Un-Dead: dead to the world, yet secretly alive and well. Either Benedict’s silence demonstrates a remarkable ability to hold his tongue or his quietness is forced against his aged will. Regardless, now is the time for Benedict to muster all strength remaining and end his silence.
I think of the many things Benedict could say. This is a man who knows the inner dealings that penetrated Vatican II and the methodological “spirit” employed to raze faith and worship. He knows that the reduction of the Church into a small remnant was long in the works, and surely, he must have chilling personal accounts to share. He perhaps knows about men like Cardinal Bernardin and the stories of Satanist workings infiltrating Vatican walls. Possibly he knows secret details of the sudden death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, or of the grandest secret of them all, the much sought explanation of the Third Secret of Fatima. And what are his honest thoughts on communism and Freemasonry, particularly as they relate to the Church? What could he say of the St. Gallen Mafia, Marcial Maciel, ex-cardinal McCarrick, the Jesuits, and countless other wolves within the Church? Yes, Benedict knows where the bodies are buried — I imagine not just figuratively.
Still, Benedict remains silent.
He sits in silence, perhaps for fear of villainous attacks, while the Church and the world continue to fall into chaotic despair. And despair it surely is. Adding to the usual turmoil experienced since the 1960s, and more acutely since 2013, we are now faced with a global pandemic. COVID-19 is not merely an attack on physical health, but also a crushing assault on the mental; economic; and, most importantly, spiritual well-being of an already debilitated world. It is to be drowning in a tempest at sea, and to be handed a concrete block, while the voices of bishops declare amid our flailing, “Keep warm and well fed!” [i].
We surely deserve this trial. Plagues and pandemics are not new — not since sin entered the world, nor idolatry substituted due reverence to almighty God. Divine wrath is a possible, if not certain, cause of our pandemic. We can only wonder to what depth. What wrath did Pachamama procure? What anger does Our Lord suffer when Chinese Catholics are handed over to a communist regime? Or that the nefarious McCarrick engaged in negotiating such a betrayal? Further to the point, how was McCarrick allowed to abuse and exploit the Church for so long? Who else was, or is, involved? On and on the queries necessitate one central question: to what extent is this pandemic spiritual?
Still, Benedict remains silent.
He must speak. I call to mind two key occurrences. First, I think of August 2018, when Archbishop Viganò shook the Church with his revelations on the abuse and corruption within. It was a requisite dose of sobering reality and has incited true spiritual conversion among many in the Church — even if the hierarchy remains largely status quo. Second, I think of Benedict’s recent co-authoring of a book on priestly celibacy, just as the Church was at the precipice of permitting married men to become priests in the West. Perhaps thanks to Benedict, this danger has at least temporarily been quelled.
With these two thoughts in mind, the explosiveness of Benedict speaking out would far eclipse any testimony previously given by Viganò, both in content and influence. It would undoubtedly shake the Church’s earthly core, laying open the deepest wounds previously hidden. We would shudder in horror at the filth and spiritual desolation. Then, by the grace of God, perhaps an authentic reparation would begin, seeking cleansing from any and all spiritual roots of the current pandemic. For we would finally adhere to the cry of the angel at Fatima: “Penance, penance, penance!”
And still, I maintain that Benedict must not remain silent. He is not simply a corpse, dressed in papal attire, sitting accused while terror unravels about him. He is rather a man of faith and integrity, who must gather all available fortitude to speak the previously unspeakable.
The good of the Church and the world requires his timely voice — regardless of what macabre vengeance may follow.
[i] One must always keep in mind that God allows suffering in order to bring about a greater good — felix culpa.
Dan Millette is a husband and father of four. He teaches in Saskatchewan, Canada. Millette is a graduate from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Ontario and has a Master of Arts degree in theology from Holy Apostles College in Connecticut. His personal blog is www.bravestthing.com.