It doesn’t do to make – nor to not question one’s own – assumptions.
A few days back as the news of the announcement of the Pope’s resignation hit the streams, I contributed to this thread the following comment:
‘So, does he relinquish the cloak of infallibility? So he may now be asked the awkward questions that those sycophantically offering up (unwarranted) plaudits wouldn’t dream of asking him? Or does he remain untouchable?
I know… silly questions.’
I am always happy to be corrected – not that any Benedict fan has put me right. Rather, I discover myself that I was wrong in assuming, not that the pope is infallible (because I’ve never believed any of them are/is), but that he is declared infallible by virtue of his position (and thus assumed such by his sub-legion of unquestioning acolytes).
So, I was happy, upon checking this detail, to find that it is (kind of) nonsense. A pope is only infallible if he himself, err, says he is. Benedict has never made such an ex cathedra (‘from the chair’) statement, so he should not be considered infallible… by anybody. (Although the confusion is kind of understandable…)
Which is actually good news, isn’t it? Because nobody has any grounds whatsoever to believe that he has never done anything wrong. And, as Geoffrey Robertson pointed out on Newsnight… the ‘state immunity’, conferred upon him by virtue of the ridiculous statehood accorded the Holy See, no longer applies after he steps down as ‘Head of State’.
Also on Newsnight, Fiona O’Reilly of Catholic Voices said,
“I don’t think it’s fair to say he covered it up.”
Well, there’s nothing to stop him being asked the questions now, is there? Unless, that is, his … strength of mind and body… has deteriorated… to the extent that… he is incapable of adequately answering them. So permitting him to just quietly walk away…