Those who… know it all

The Pope and Merlo. La Repubblica (an Italian daily), October 8th. A long article witnesses the “intellectual disgust” of the secularist writer Francesco Merlo at “that man who suffers in public.” That man is the Pope. The argument is a captivating one, and at times it seems to hold: Karol Wojtyla is now an old grandpa whom we pity; he should be living surrounded by the comfort and care of his family. Why make him trundle around in a wheelchair to Pompeii and across the world? But what Merlo is really getting at is this: “Here is only a suffering man, and the suffering man is one of us,” he writes. Then he gets to his point: “God won over the polytheists in the past (and some atheists today) only when He became man, when men put Him on the cross.” “So he has our pity, this Pope, who is no longer Pope, but just Karol Wojtyla, suffocated by his role, crushed by his Church, a poor, lonely man, with his Parkinson’s disease.” In a word, the Vicar of Christ has already gone….
Gentle death. The press is full of dramatic stories of people who decide, or think they decide, to cut the wire of pain by cutting away its meaning. In the political arena, the debate over euthanasia has no longer been taboo for several years now. On Tuesday, October 14th, in Il Giornale (an Italian daily), Rita Levi Montalcini spoke of herself and her illness: “I ask for a dignified death.” This Nobel Prize Winner is an intelligent and sensible woman; she was not speaking ideologically–on the contrary, she was posing the serious problem of “over-zealous” treatment. But you could sense the only true question underlying all the rest: what is the use of this “mixing” of God with the human? What use is the human?
Christ Without the Church
“The second consequence: Christ without the Church. If the first aspect can be identified with fideism, the second aspect that is its immediate consequence can be called gnosis, or gnosticism, in any of its versions.
If you eliminate from Christ the fact of being man, real, historical man, then you also eliminate the possibility of a Christian experience. A Christian experience is a human experience, so it is made of time and space just like every other material reality. Without this aspect of the materiality, then the experience that man has of Christ lacks a way of verifying Him in the present, of finding out whether what He said of Himself is true.
The elimination of the carnality implied in every human experience, even in Jesus Christ’s own experience, draws Christ and the Church back into an abstraction, reducing Him to just one among the many religious models.
The modern world’s incapacity to accept Christianity is identified with this denial” (cf.   The Miracle of a Change, pp. 32-33).