Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Papal infallibility—or, the prisoner of the Vatican"

Phil Lawler reviews Light of the World at
Reading Light of the World, the book-length interview in which Pope Benedict XVI reveals so much about himself, one is frequently reminded of the title that Pope Gregory the Great preferred: The Roman Pontiff is the servus servorum Dei: the servant of the servants of God. 
Secular commentators look upon the Pope as an absolute despot, who could change Church teachings if he wished, with just a stroke of his pen. Not so.
The Pope has considerable authority, to be sure. But he cannot use that authority to enforce his own preferences; he can only teach what the universal Church teaches—what the Church has always taught.
When a gently smiling Joseph Ratzinger walked out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s basilica on that fateful day in April 2005, to be introduced to the world at Benedict XVI, servus servorum Dei, he was accepting a task that allowed him less freedom than he had previously enjoyed, not more. Light of the World drives home that truth, in ways both big and small.

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