by Ramesh Ponnuru

Will Saletan has some fun with Catholics who praise Pope John Paul II for continuing to serve as Pope while dying (“showing us an example of holy suffering”) and also praise Pope Benedict XVI for resigning (“what amazing humility”). Yet there isn’t really a contradiction. On many occasions people have multiple options that are incompatible with one another and serve as an opportunity to illustrate different virtues. Pope John Paul II showed the world how to bear a cross. He could not simultaneously teach that lesson and bear witness to the fact that nobody is indispensable, that the allegiance of all Catholics must be to Christ and not the Pope, that the Church endures as the Popes come and go.

It is certainly possible for a faithful Catholic to believe that John Paul II should have handed over the papacy when his health was failing, or that Benedict XVI should not be leaving it now. But there are surely virtues involved in each choice, which should be praised accordingly.

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