Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, AD 2015
“Let’s not forget the pope has plenty of armed guards.” So reads the headline in response to Pope Francis saying that Christians should not be in the business of manufacturing weapons.
Now, the Pope in fact does have “plenty of armed guards,” including but not limited to a well trained, high-tech formal militia, the Swiss Guard, all members of which are, by an oath to God, ready and willing to kill on the Pope’s explicit or implicit command. The above headline and article from INFOWARS (6/22/15) is simply pointing out that the Pope uses weapons, manufactured by somebody, to secure and protect his interests and the interests of his group of people, so by what moral equation does he deny other people or groups the moral right to manufacture and/or use weapons to secure and protect their interests. The article is asserting that the Pope is morally grandstanding by way of PR moral platitudes. He is not voicing truth that he is willing to live by and to die for.
The “do as I say and not as I do” approach to moral education and leadership has little credibility in the minds of most people today, including Christians. But, if the flock has been previously blinded, say, to the truth of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, then no credibility is lost when the Pope or any Christian leader says the opposite of what Jesus says on the phenomena of violence and enmity. However, this is but a classic example, albeit a titanic one, of the tragedy of the blind leading the blind and choosing their moral leaders from those who are as blind as they are. Blind guides, blind shepherds and blind sheep, all believing and mutually supporting each other in building a Christian life and an institutional Christian Church on the shared illusion, the non-reality, the falsehood of redemptive and justified Christian violence and enmity.
A good question might be, “Why does the Pope need ‘plenty of armed guards’ to do anything he was commissioned to do by Jesus?” “Why does the Pope need ‘plenty of armed guards’ to do anything that, he is called to do as the Vicar of Christ or as the Vicar of Peter?” (Vicar is from the Latin, vicarious; English translation vicarious or substitute) Does the Petrine ministry require “plenty of armed guards?” Or, does the Petrine ministry, as created by Jesus, forbid them? “Peter, put up your sword” (Jn 18:10-11).
The ‘plenty of armed guards’ that the Pope has surrounding him are a symbol, as the Swiss Guards with halberd at Papal Masses are a symbol of an adulterated papacy. This is not to say the man exercising the Petrine ministry at any given moment is morally dishonest. As said above, because of the nurturing of the societies that formed his consciousness and conscience, he maybe as cognitively and morally blind to the truth of the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, as the blinded flock from which he was chosen. It is to say, however, that the Petrine Ministry as it exists and as it has existed for a long time is being exercised by means of a corrupt structure, that is, a structure that requires the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, to act contrary to the explicit teaching of Jesus given to Peter personally, to His disciples unequivocally and to all the human beings He came to save through His Church whose commission is to “Baptize” and to “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19).
As long as Christians, the Churches and the Churches’ leaders are taught and teach, believe and think, they need violence to do anything for which Jesus gave them the gift of existence and the gift of faith in Him, humanity’s spiral down in the cesspool of reciprocal violence and enmity, murder and mercilessness, must and will continue. Jesus, however, authorized no one to substitute violence for love (agape) in imitation of Him. The Pope and the Church do not need an iota of violence to accomplish everything Jesus wants them to accomplish. What they cannot accomplish without ‘plenty of armed guards’ the Pope and the Church have no business trying to accomplish.
So, why does the Pope need ‘plenty of armed guard?’ He and most of the rest of the Church and Churches today need ‘plenty of armed guards’ because the institutional Church and the papacy are deep into agendas that cannot be effectively executed without parting company with Jesus’ teaching by word and deed of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. But this fact self-evidently means that these agendas cannot be agendas that Jesus commissioned them to execute or that Jesus wants them to execute or that Jesus wants them to execute by the means they are being executed. The eternal salvation of each and every human being did not need Peter’s sword two thousand years ago, does not need it today, has never needed it and will never need it.
When Christ disarmed Peter He made it possible for Peter to speak authentically and with authority to each human being and to all human beings on disarming their hearts, heads and hands, as Jesus disarmed His heart, head and hands and as Peter following Jesus command disarmed his heart, head and hands. Peter and his ministry exists to proclaim, to live and if necessary to die for, the truth of the Word of God Incarnate. He and his ministry do not exists to issue moral platitudes that he himself does not live and for which he will die, only after the last dead Swiss Guard has his halberd or Uzi “pried from his cold dead hands”—for this is what having “plenty of armed guards” means and has meant in the history of the Church and the Papacy over the last 1700 years.
The Church, the Papacy and humanity, today and for as long as there is a tomorrow, are desperate for a disarmed Peter following in word and in deed, in common affairs and in crisis moments, in life and in death, his disarmed Lord, God and Savior, Jesus, whose Vicar he freely accepted to be in the Church and before the whole world.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy