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February 11, 2005


Mark Shea

For a smart guy, Buckley can sure be dumb sometimes. He veers very close to saying, "Old people need to die and get out of the way so that the work they used to do can be done more efficiently by a younger replacement unit."

He seems not to have gotten the point of Noonan's piece yesterday at all, nor the point of why the Pope is determined to carry his cross to the end.

Michael Tinkler

You'd think that someone as old as WFB would realize that there are people who love him but wish HE would get on with eternity.

Eutychus Fell

Like the scene in the Last of the Mohicans when Daniel Day Lewis' Hawkeye grabs a rifle and puts Steven Waddington's Duncan out of his misery at the stake, William Buckley seeks the quick demise of John Paul II.

I disagree.

Zhou De-Ming

Hmmm...Mr. Buckley turns 80 this November. What shall we pray for him?

How about people praying for an organ donor to die so that their loved one can live?

How about praying for suffering people everywhere to just get with it and die so that they don't have to suffer any more, and we don't have to watch (or care for them).

Is Buckley Catholic?


>>>"So, what is wrong with praying for his death?"

The same thing that would be wrong with praying for Christ to die in the middle of his scourging at his pillar. They both have a redemptive cross to carry, and come hell or high water (or bearers of death wishes, like Buckley), they are going to see it through.


Mater Si, Papa No!

What a bit of foolishness! Buckley should put himself out to pasture!

John Heavrin

If it is possible to pray that a loved one, enduring excruciating suffering, be gathered unto God, **if if be the will of God**, is it not possible to pray for the same for another?

I think reading Buckley to say "I wish he'd die already and get out of the way," is a misreading.

Jason --- Christ carried the only redemptive Cross, didn't he? The Holy Father suffers, as we all suffer, but redemption was the work of Christ alone.


Buckley to the Pope: Communism is gone, so you have outlived your usefulness to neoconservatives. Drop dead.



No, we are all "co-redeemers" with Christ. As the Holy Father so frequently reminds the aged and suffering, they have a special vocation in this life. Suffering is very precious to the Lord. It snatches souls from hell.

Rich Leonardi

I think I liked it better when Buckley was stringing together supposedly Thomistic non sequiturs in the 90's.


To clarify what I said, another example is St. Paul calling Christ the "only" mediator between God and man. That doesn't mean we don't mediate on behalf of humanity, but that in doing so, we are sharing in Christ's office as mediator, not acting opposite it. In the same way, we redeem the world with Christ. Not apart from him, but with him.

Rich Leonardi

"Co-mediators", perhaps, Jason, but not "co-redeemers" (unless I'm missing something). And about the former we should remember that in the sense it's used, "co" more or less means "sub".



I think "Co" comes from the Latin "Cum", meaning "With".

"Co-Redeemer" is a title traditionally held for our Lord (Co-Redemptrix, more specifically). She holds the title, because she shared in the work of redemption in a special way. But we are all, in reality, co-redeemers. The Lord doesn't accomplish the work of salvation by himself. He could come down and preach the Gospel to men. He could offer Mass for men. He could offer sacramental absolution. He could pray for man's salvation. But he chooses use us to accomplish those tasks.

John Heavrin

Jason, I think our suffering is "reparative" with regard to our souls and the souls of others, rather than "redemptive," as was the Redeemer's.

And who knew there was such venom abounding for old Bill Buckley...I still can't help but think his wishes with regard to the Holy Father's destiny aren't the same as, say, Mehmet Ali Acga's were back in '81.


*That should be "Title traditionally held for our Lady"

Zhou De-Ming

For Jason, John and Rich, from CCC:

Our participation in Christ's sacrifice

618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God and men".(1 Tim 2:5)
But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men. (GS 22)
He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and follow (him)", (Mt 16:24) for "Christ also suffered for (us), leaving (us) an example so that (we) should follow in his steps." (1 Pet 2:21)
In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. (Mk 10:39 et al)
This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering. (Lk 2:25)
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. (St. Rose of Lima)


>>>"I think our suffering is "reparative" with regard to our souls and the souls of others, rather than "redemptive," as was the Redeemer's."

I disagree. The Holy Father makes salvation for some people contingent upon the penance of others. If such and such a person sacrifices for someone, then the Holy Father deigns to grant them more graces for salvation. This grace was made possible by Christ's death and ressurecttion. But it is distributed for many reasons, including our own work in the cause of redemption.


*That should read "The Father makes".

Sorry for all the typos.


Last Saturday, I led our women's group in prayer, and asked that the Holy Father either be strenghtened for his work in this life, or welcomed into his reward in eternal life, "according to Thy will."

From the looks on faces after I said "Amen," I think it was a faux pas. But I do think it's all right to pray for the release of someone from suffering, as long as we are open to all the ways that may happen (immediately through healing, immediately through death; eventually through either.)


From the diary of St. Faustina:

"I desire that you make an offering of yourself for sinners and especially for those souls who have lost hope in God's mercy...I am giving you a share in the redemption of mankind. You are solace in My dying hour". (Our Lord to St. Faustina)


Naomi, I agree that underlying all of our prayers is the premise: "Thy will be done.."
I disagree with Buckley, however, and will continue to pray for the Pope's heath.


...make that "health."

Eutychus Fell

"Your suffering is never useless, dear sick people. Moreover, it's a precious thing," the speech said. "If you bring together your suffering and pain, you can be his (God's) privileged helpers in the salvation of souls".

from JP II just today.

thomas tucker

As a long time Buckley fan, i'm flabbergasted at these remarks. Reading the full text does nothing to make me less flabbergasted- it's hard to put a charitable spin on this when he suggests that it would be better to just get on with a new papacy and get rid of the guy who has diffulty with his speech and ambulation. In other words, it doesn't read to me as if he's just wishing that the Pope no longer had to suffer.
The ironic thing is- after years of greatly admiring Buckley, I'm supposed to be meeting him at a dinner at his Manhattan home in two weeks. After reading this, I'm not so sure I want to.
I honestly can't believe what he has written.

John Heavrin

If I suffer, I offer my suffering to God, and unite by intention my suffering with Jesus' suffering and death, to make reparation for the damage caused by my sins, and to "work off" temporal punishment due to them. In essence, by doing so, I'm petitioning God to allow me to serve purgatory "time" during my natural life instead of in the next life. Or, I petition God to allow the reparation I make to be applied to a Poor Soul, of my choosing or His choosing.

But that's all subordinate to Christ's suffering and death, which redeemed the world. We co-operate with the graces offered, or not, but I don't see our actions in life as "redemptive."

Sherry Weddell

The Church makes an important distinction between objective redemption (which Christ accomplished for us through his incarnation, life, death, and resurrection) and subjective redemption (how the grace of Christ's redemptive work is received and cooperated with by human beings in human history ending in salvation).

Subjective redemption is the work of the Church and that includes all of us. Not just the suffering of the baptized, but our work, vocations, charisms, loves, prayer and worship are real, if completely dependent, instruments of subjective redemption for ourselves and for others - if we are faithful.

"Salvation, which always remains a gift of the Holy Spirit, requires man's cooperation, both to save himself and to save others. This is God's will, and this is why he established the Church and made her a part of his plan of salvation."
- Mission of the Redeemer, 9

We have been raised to the dignity of being causes (to quote Pascal).

One of the big Marian debates is whether and to what extent Our Lady participates in objective redemption as well as subjective redemption.

Mike Petrik

Well, I kind of get the impression from some of these posts that we should all be praying for more suffering. That seems goofy to me.

thomas tucker

Mike- can you see a difference between praying for more suffering and praying for someone's death because they are a hindrance and won't convienently die? Wouldn't it be possible even to pray that someone recover, even if they are not restored to perfection (who among us can meet that ideal?)

Frank Sales

I don't think it is sinful to pray for someone's death as long as your motives are holy. Buckley wishes that the Pope would die so that his sufferings will cease and so that the Church will benefit from more vital leadership. We me must assume that his prayer, as all prayers, includes "... but Thy will be done."


I believe he attends a Parish in my town.

John Heavrin

If Bill Gates hands me a million dollars, my putting out my hand to accept it does not constitute co-operation in my becoming rich? If Gates gave me stock options back in the day for going to work at Microsoft, and they turned into multimillions, that would co-operation in my becoming rich...the notion of "co-redemption" sounds like "earning" salvation, in a way that "co-operation" or "reparative suffering" do not.

Much deeper minds than mine around here, though, so maybe I just don't understand it. Or it's a semantic argument. But I still think Christ redeemed me, and my fighting the good fight is to accept His redemption of me, not to "co-redeem" myself, or anyone else.

thomas tucker

Hmmm....what was that about means and ends?
I think one can wish for the cessation of suffering and vital leadership without wishing that it be accomplished thru John Paul's death.
Frnak- some good might come to someone thru your death as well (who's your beneficiary) but I still hope that person isn't wishing for your death.

Rich Leonardi

Buckley wishes that the Pope would die so that his sufferings will cease and so that the Church will benefit from more vital leadership.

Should we call that last bit the Euthanasian Prayer? In all seriousness, I don't think praying for a man's death "so that the Church will benefit" is much different than praying for the death of a handicapped person "so that society will benefit".

thomas tucker

Euthanasian prayer? That's "Rich!"

Hunk Hondo

I'm stunned. I can only suppose that he's been out on his yacht past the 12-mile limit smoking dope again.


All I can think is that Mr Buckley hangs around too much with a not-always-consciously materialist (in the philosophical sense) crowd, and that has a great effect on how one views suffering -- the subtle distortion of the intellect distorts the emotions, which in term reinforce the tendency of the intellect.

They shoot horses, don't they?

That's not to say each of us should go around trying to storm a spiritual Via Appia studded with crosses for us to be crucified on; it is spritually presumptuous to try to seize suffering that way, and sometimes intentional mortification can devolve into that, which is why a spiritual director is necesssary to prevent things.

I see no evidence that the Pope's approach has devolved in that manner. Rather, he is offering our suffering-fearing culture an exemplum to move through and beyond our fear.


Is it possible that Buckley's thoughts wouldn't be so bad if he hadn't framed them in a way that sounds like "Let him die so the Church can stop being crippled and move on". Maybe if he had expressed sentiments of sorrow over having to see our Holy Father in all this suffering, and wanting him to be relieved, kind of like the prayers of desperation in the Psalms, but with the dominant theme that God knows what's best, and will act accordingly?

Sherry Weddell

John Heavrin:

The term "co-redeemer" has, I understand from impeccably orthodox sources, actually been used of ordinary Catholics by the Holy Father. Like the term "Co-redemptix" used of Mary, it scares many of us to death because we think it means that it minimizes the work of Christ.

That's why the distinction between objective redemption (which is worked by Christ alone and in which none of us participate) and sujective redemption (the drama of our cooperation with grace working itself out in history) is so important. Objective redemptive roughly corresponds to justification; subjective redemption to santification. Both are necessary parts of salvation in Catholic understansing.

Your question "If Bill Gates hands me a million dollars, my putting out my hand to accept it does not constitute co-operation in my becoming rich?"

In Catholic understanding, that is pretty much what is involved in "subjective redemption" - our assent is an act of subjective redemption because it allows the grace God desires to give you to enter our life and change us - making us capable of participating in God's own life. Through our lives of discipleship, we also can be channels through which God's grace, truth, healing, and provision is made available to others.

Note: we do not "save" others, we cannot confer sanctifying grace, and we cannot coerce another's free will. Saving others is entirely God's purview but we can be instruments of redemption (which is different) a instrument through which obstacles to recognition of the truth are removed and God's beauty and love are presented to others in compelling ways.


Seems to me those praying that the Pope continue to live are as wrong as those who pray that he die. Not to sound overly pious, but pray that God's will be done.


"The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world's Redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and infinite. No man can add anything to it. But at the same time, in the mystery of the Church as His Body, Christ has in a sense opened His own redemptive suffering to all human suffering. Insofar as man becomes a sharer in Christ's sufferings—in any part of the world and at any time in history—to that extent he in his own way completes the suffering through which Christ accomplished the Redemption of the world.

"Does this mean that the Redemption achieved by Christ is not complete? No. It only means that the Redemption, accomplished through satisfactory love, remains always open to all love expressed in human suffering. In this dimension—the dimension of love—the Redemption which has already been completely accomplished is, in a certain sense, constantly being accomplished. Christ achieved the Redemption completely and to the very limit; but at the same time He did not bring it to a close. In this redemptive suffering, through which the Redemption of the world was accomplished, Christ opened himself from the beginning to every human suffering and constantly does so. Yes, it seems to be part of the very essence of Christ's redemptive suffering that this suffering requires to be unceasingly completed." (Pope John Paul II, "Salvici Doloris")

Steve Skojec

"Does this mean that the Redemption achieved by Christ is not complete? No. It only means that the Redemption, accomplished through satisfactory love, remains always open to all love expressed in human suffering.

I find this to be JPII at his most confusing. If something is complete, it is closed; finished; accomplished. How can something that is complete remain open?

While I understand the nature of our participation in redemption, it is a matter of volitional, rather than actual, participation - at least the way I understand it.

This is why there has been such uproar over the erroneous translation of the prayer of concecration from "pro multis" (for the many) to "pro nobis" (for all). "Pro multis" implies a question of accepting the salvation on an individual level, whereas "pro nobis" takes it as a given for all men.

I do not believe that co-redemptive, strictly speaking, could be considered to be "with" in this instance, but rather, as Rich pointed out, of a subordinate participatory nature.

As for Buckley's comments, I agree that they are rather jarringly blunt, and most likely somewhat short of "thy will be done"; but I too believe in praying for what is best for the Church, not for what we are emotionally attached to. For many in my generation, this Pope represents much more than a distant ecclesiastical figurehead - he is a grandfather, a personal hero, even a beloved sort of celebrity.

Now I've often been vocal, though hopefully respectful, in my criticisms of the Holy Father. This being said, personally, I believe that his witness in suffering is significant in a world that reviles weakness and infirmity. I also believe that he, as head of the Church, signifies in a metaphysical sense that the Church herself is suffering and incapacitated, as has been demonstrated by so much that has happened of late, from the Sex Abuse Crisis to the Episcopal Spinelessness on Abortion.

I do not pray for his death, but for his soul as he nears death. I do, however, feel a surge of hope for the future of the Church upon her return to able governance. I pray for a Pope who can resist the political machinations of the upper echelons of the clergy and reform through piety, firmness and example. It is both a sad time and an exciting time, because with the loss of this Pope, the Holy Spirit will move again, and help the Church to find a new vicar. We are on the verge of a new Ecclesial reign, and I hope it's not morbid to find something to look forward to in that.


>>>"f something is complete, it is closed; finished; accomplished. How can something that is complete remain open?"

The difference is that Christ obtained the grace of redemption for every man in his paschal mystery. Only he could do that. He obtained everything for man. However, how he applies that grace to man is another question. He chooses to make his application of the grace he won dependent upon man, upon our own will, but also upon the sufferings/offerings of others on our behalf. Redemption is both a one time thing (when Christ obtained the grace), but also an ongoing thing (Christ applying the grace). I think that is what the Holy Father is getting at.

Jonathan Carpenter

February 11, 2005


William F. Buckley Jr., the founder of National Review, has written a column for Universal Press Syndicate titled, “Death for the Pope.” He begins his piece as follows: “At church on Sunday the congregation was asked to pray for the recovery of the pope. I have abstained from doing so. I hope that he will not recover.” The article is dated February 9.

Catholic League president William Donohue remarked as follows:

“The kindest thing that can be said of Bill Buckley’s vile column is that he’s gone off the deep end. It matters not a whit that he calls the pope ‘a major historical figure,’ because even the most inveterate anti-Catholic must acknowledge as much. Indeed, even the biggest Catholic basher in the world is not likely to write, ‘So, what is wrong with praying for his death?’ If you have to ask, sir, then you are beyond hope.

“This is so tragic. Having lived a life of distinction, Bill Buckley will now be remembered as the guy who had a death wish for the pope.”


Steve Skojec,



actually "pro nobis" means "for us"

For all is "pro omnia"



"How can something that is complete remain open?"

Well, there is an issue of the two natures of the Second Person of the Trinity. One is eternal, not bound by time and space in any way, in the eternal Now. The other was incarnate in time and space, and is now glorified. While we participate in a re-presentation of the Paschal Mystery in every Mass within the bounds of time and space, in metaphysical reality there is but one divine liturgy of which those Masses are but a part.

So, because of the two natures of Christ, we can explain the Now and Not Yetness of the reality we believe and the reality we experience.

Rod Dreher

I read all the comments on this thread before reading Buckley's column, and I have to admit, I think y'all are overreacting. I would not pray for the death of the Pope, or of anyone, unless they were in excruciating pain and death would be a mercy. The Pope is not in that condition, yet, and I hope he will never be. But if Buckley is saying that he won't pray for the Pope to recover because this Holy Father has done all he can, and the Church needs someone strong and able to govern it in the present moment, I fail to see why that is scandalous. I can see disagreeing with this point of view, and I'm not sure that I myself agree with it. But I don't think it is as horrible as many of you do. And I don't think Buckley is at all advocating euthanasia.

When I worked for Bill, he did not share my hardline view of the episcopacy and the scandal, and I don't know where he stands on the matter now. But it is the most obvious thing in the world that the Church desperately, desperately needs a Pope who is strong and vigorous to get its house in order. I have been praying for the Pope's recovery, but I will think it a mercy both for him and for the Church when the Father calls him home to his reward.

Steve Skojec

Stephen - I stand corrected. I suppose it would be more properly states as "pro omnibus". This is why I need to learn Latin - so I catch my own mistakes.

Not that the Latin version of the Novus Ordo employs "pro omnibus". It actually uses "pro multis". We just don't like accurate translations in English-speaking countries.

Steve Skojec

Liam -

What you're speaking of is the transcendent nature of the divine, but I do not believe this applies to the singular event of redemption as it took place in time and space. Christ died once. The Mass makes this accessible to us across the distance of temporal existence, but the redemptive act was accomplished one single time.

This is why participatory redemption seems ludicrous to me. While it is true that we too have works to do, the act of redemption is already accomplished. It's like a five-year-old who breaks a window in the neighbor's house. His dad pays for it, but tells the little tyke he has to work it off. So he rakes leaves, cleans his room, whatever he does is in that sense redemptive, but a five-year-old could never pay for the window by his own labors, so he's not on a par (or "co-redemptive") with what Dad did for him.

Anwyay, that's how I see it.



That is assuming the father offers to forgive the child.

When man has exhausted the offers of the grace of salvation from God, he is out of luck. God determines how much grace he will offer each individual. That amount takes into account what he will offer because of what other people do for the person.

For example, God will determine he will forgive such and such a person 50 times, after which, he will abandon him to his sin. However, in that eternal determination, God cosniders that the person's mother will sacrifice for the person, and so God offers 51 times.

If the son repents on the 51th time, it is because of what his mother did for him. Without her sacrifices, he would have been damned.

It is in this way we share in the redemptive work of God.

James Kabala

The Spanish and Italian translations also use the equivalent of "for all" (Sp. is "per todos," It. is "per tutti."), so this is not a problem unique to the English-speaking world.
I thought that Buckley's column was cring-inducing. It is worth noting that Cardinal Newman said (in reference to Pius IX) that it was bad for a Pope to live too long. However, this was in a private letter, not a public column, and as great as Newman was, I think that he, too, was in poor taste.


Thanks, Jonathan. I should have guessed--Bill Donahue unleashes another overwrought attack, this time on William F. Buckley Jr.

Would it be all right to pray for a new head of the Catholic League?

Jonathan Carpenter

Whitcomb The attack is overwrought and we should pray for a new head of the Catholic League. Though he is right about people praying for the Pope's death and a bigger problem of so-called Conservatives who in the name of promoting reform cause the church more problems then we need. Such as certain newspaper writers who rather than try to promote a more Orthodox paper in place of the Texas Catholic, preach with near Papal infallibility from suspects perchs. For instance, how many Orthodox Catholics do effective work from newspapers that mock every Catholic belief? Also how many Catholic conservatives effectively work from magazines that read more like Cosmo instead of Our Sunday Visitor?


Buckley said the Pope is "clinging to the papacy as a full-time cripple" and that the "medicine, which arrested death by only 10 minutes" (as if that matters!)can't stop the "progressive deterioration in the pope's health" which leaves the Pope without "the physical strength to coordinate and to use his voice intelligibly."
So, "full-time cripple"s shouldn't hold responsible positions; if you were saved by "10 minutes" you should just consider yourself as good as dead;it's really a bother to try to understand your speech; you are just "clinging", man, give it up.
Unfortunately, Buckley has been a fun house version of himself for many, many years. As a sell out himself, he can't possibly credit the Pope's sense of fidelity.

Mark Shea

"How can something that is complete remain open?"

Ever see a wedding ring? My wife and I were completely married on December 16, 1983. Our marriage grows to this day.

Mark Shea

This is why participatory redemption seems ludicrous to me.

What do you make of Colossians 1:24?: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church". Sounds like a participatory redemption to me.

chris K

One of the big Marian debates is whether and to what extent Our Lady participates in objective redemption as well as subjective redemption.

Well, in the plan of God for the redemption, objectively the act needed both the Son and also the Mother's fiat to take place, be completed. The theology of the two Hearts is currently taking on stronger meaning beyond just the image - it is a progression in the thought of the Church about this complete Union in act.

In Mr. Buckley's own waning years, it appears that his usual habit of playing pragmatic provocateur isn't as nuanced as before.

Rod: I have been praying for the Pope's recovery, but I will think it a mercy both for him and for the Church when the Father calls him home to his reward.

Isn't that rather condescending to the merciful motivations of the Loving God of Mercy Himself? Rather, I would call His permitting such a gift as this selected father to continue living on earth, even in his weakness, as His way to demonstrate to us His lesson to Paul; the greatest lesson about His strength showing forth best in our weakness - that graces in abundance flow to us in this way. Who are we to measure the graces intended by the Father especially when they're seen through our limited and sinful viewpoints? Apparently His plan is not yet finished and I for one don't intend to second guess Him. If it were God's will that JPII would come on home I'm certain that our prayers to oppose that will would be directed elsewhere, but as long as he remains, I get His point and I'll pray for the lessening of his burden of suffering through others taking some of it on themselves. Mother Theresa had such a corps of "victim souls" willing to offer their sufferings for her work.


"Buckley wishes that the Pope would die so that his sufferings will cease and so that the Church will benefit from more vital leadership."

I'm no fan of the old arch-conservative, but he only expressed the first aim, you are libeling him by accusing hi of the second.

It is fine for you to hope your own suffering is part of God's plan and will continue, but to hope it is God's plan for someone else to suffer, whether it's the Pope or your aging cancer-wracked grandmother sounds like a sin to me.
God forgive you.

Adolfo Rodriguez

God bless you, Mr. Shea. We have never met, yet you are one of my favorite people on the planet! :)

thomas tucker

Marge- no one said that they were hopeful the Pope would suffer. Rod- Buckley is suggesting that it is alright to wish the Pope were dead- does that really seem reasonable to you?

Kevin Miller

"But it is the most obvious thing in the world that the Church desperately, desperately needs a Pope who is strong and vigorous to get its house in order. I have been praying for the Pope's recovery, but I will think it a mercy both for him and for the Church when the Father calls him home to his reward."


I'm going to gratuitiously deny what Rod gratuitiously asserts: It's not at all obvious.

We need better bishops than many of those we now have.

Whether it's "obvious" that the way to make that happen is to have a different kind of pope is at best questionable.

I think it's more likely that the things the pope has been doing to form the Church - the laity and the clergy alike - in a clearer and deeper understanding of the meaning of holiness, and of the role of the hierarchy in the holy Church, are the most important things.

I think it's more likely that no amount of "toughness" will help much if at all except insofar as it presupposes what JPII has been doing. And I think it's more likely that the fruit that JPII's efforts can and will bear will make more "toughness" from Rome largely superfluous.

Rod Dreher

Good grief, Jonathan Carpenter takes his demented e-mail stalking of me even to the comment thread at Open Book. Well, at least the rest of you will now get a gander at the deranged rants I used to get regularly from the poor old fellow, until I finally consigned his eccentric epistles automatically to my spam bucket.

Kevin, repeat after me: if John Paul says it's raining outside, and you check and find that it really isn't raining, it is not the case that it's raining in a spiritual sense, but you're too sinful to see it.

Steve Skojec

"How can something that is complete remain open?"

Ever see a wedding ring? My wife and I were completely married on December 16, 1983. Our marriage grows to this day.

I don't see how this is analagous to the singular redemptive sacrifice of Calvary. While it is true that the consummation of redemption on the cross continues to benefit the human race, it is a participation in that single act which allows this to be so.

This is why I can't see "co-redemption" as being anything other than a subordinate relationship to the redemption Christ accomplished. It is participatory insofar as we take up our cross and follow him; accept grace and follow the commandments and live a sacramental life.

But no matter our work, we cannot accomplish our own redemption. This is obvious, and I know you wouldn't take issue with this. And that's what I was trying to assert - the subordinate nature of our participation in redemption. I strongly dislike the implication of "co-redemption" unless given the proper context.

As for Saint Paul's quote, at face value it presents a difficulty: Christ's sacrifice was perfect, so what was it lacking? The only thing it could possibly lack is the voluntary suffering of the members of his body, the Church. Were these sufferings essential to the nature of the redemptive act? Obviously not, or the sacrifice of the cross was insufficient.

So of course I believe that our suffering is efficacious, but I find it very difficult to believe that it is redemptive in nature. Perhaps I'm splitting semantic hairs, but I have a hard time not wanting to make a distinction between the nature of my suffering and that of Christ.

Kevin Miller

Rod: if John Paul says it's raining outside, and you check and find that it really isn't raining, it is not the case that it's raining in a spiritual sense, but you're too sinful to see it.

Except that doesn't have anything to do with my argument.

We need better bishops. I disagree with your assertions about what the pope ought to do to bring that about most effectively. And I'd add that we now have - overall - a better US episcopate than we did in '78. I think that means something about the pope's approach. One doesn't simply have to take his word for it. One can see the logic. One can at least begin to see the - gradual - results.

And I vehemently disagree that we can ever presume to know that the world would be better off if a given person died - not least in the case of the pope, whose career can hardly be reduced to what he allegedly has neglected to do with US bishops.


I think Marge has posted the most sensible comment in this entire discussion.
My goodness. Reading this thread you would think Mr. Buckley wants to throw all the old, infirm and crippled under a bus, right after he stops payment on their Social Security checks.

Just so you know, I do not share WFB's politics. But this idea that he is Dr. Kevorkian when it comes to the pope is ludicrous. The pope inspires (and humbles) us with his courage and, yes, his suffering. But none of us should pray that his suffering continue. Why on earth would anyone wish that the Holy Father suffer more? He may have to do just that for another week, year, decade--but it's nothing to hope for.

And if it is redemptive suffering that we seek, I think there is no shortage of that in the world. The examples abound.

chris K

"But it is the most obvious thing in the world that the Church desperately, desperately needs a Popeye who is strong and vigorous to get its house in order."

Oops! You said pope didn't you. I was just wondering how all that spinach would go on top of polish sausage. Because, gee, that's what's it's gonna take.


I cannot fathom it ever being appropriate or decent to pray explicitly for another person's death, regardless of whether they suffer physically or not. How is praying for the pope to die any different from Michael Schiavo wanting (and doing pretty well at trying) to have his own wife die because she's in the way of his moving on to his "productive" (as in procreation) relationship to the woman with whom he's now shacked up?

How dare Buckley presume to know whether it is God's intention for the pope to die today or 10 years from now! How dare he (Buckley) know what is best for God's church--a suffering pope giving witness to the gospel of life or a younger (relatively), on-the-ball vigorous active pope to take things to the next level (whatever that might be). It can only be selfishness on the part of Buckley as well as arrogance at presuming he knows best what the Church needs.

God's ways and timing are not our own. I cannot count the times I've been smacked up-side the head with that message, myself. We can only rightly pray that God's will be done, though we certainly can pray for less suffering. It is God's choice as to whether that suffering is relieved through healing or death, not ours.

"O Lord, Jesus Christ, who for the accomplishment of Your greatest works, have chosen the weak things of the world, that no flesh may glory in your sight..." [from a prayer in the Perpetual Novena in Honor of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.]


Buckley's article was not well expressed, no matter his intention, either that the Pope needs to move on, or that he has sufferred enough.

I'm trying to consider all possible sides of this. It's hard for me to believe BB is wishing the Pope on for the sake of a different kind of Pope. I don't know anything about BB but I do know that his magazine is one that allows the Catholic voice to be expressed without constraint amongst people who work there who are Catholic or not. That to me is refreshing in that I have to bite my tougue in my workplace (i.e. saying I'm taking Friday off instead off taking Good Friday off).

The only thing I could really think of as an explanation for his article is the praying for a holy death. My SD always talks about our society and how no one is aware of their own end in daily life. He explains how our ancestors would always end each night's prayer with a prayer for a holy death, or warning encough to be prepared. They didn't live all that long by comparison to our life expectancy so death was all the more real to them.

Was BB trying to express a wish for a holy death for the Pope? I don't know. I'm a skeptic and don't see that it in his words.

I'm also not convinced that praying for the passing of the crown is such a good idea. i'm very skeptical in my own thoughts of who the next Pope might be. I think it may be someone radically different from JPII which would be a disaster. There are such big struggles within the heirarchy that I'm not sure we will be pleased with the results. So I'm not sure we should wish JPII away with the idea that we are certain of another active, holy Pope.


>>>"Perhaps I'm splitting semantic hairs, but I have a hard time not wanting to make a distinction between the nature of my suffering and that of Christ."

I understand your caution at calling our suffering "redemptive", but it in no way detracts from the Redeemer of the World to say our suffering is redemptive, anymore than it detracts from the High Priest to call your pastor a priest, or it detracts from the Divine Intercessor to say we ourselves are intercessors. Pius XII explains that Christ left us a "treasury" of the redemption, which is eternal and infinite. But the Church recognizes that the WORK of redemption is not compoosed of the treasury only, but the application of the treasury. If the grace Christ won were not applied to man, the work of redemption would be incomplete, because Christ didn't die for nothing. The completion of this work is left to Christ's disciples, who help redeem the world by doing the will of God in the world, including offering their own sacrifices for the application of the treasury:

"In carrying out the work of redemption Christ wishes to be helped by the members of His Body. This is not because He is indigent or weak, but rather because He so willed it for the greater glory of His spotless Spouse. Dying on the Cross, He left to the Church the immense treasury of the Redemption. Towards this she (the Church) contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this task of sanctification with His Church, but he wants it, in a way, to be due to her action. What a deep mystery . . . that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body offer for that intention, and on the assistance of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially fathers and mothers of families, which they must offer to our divine Savior as though they were His associates." (Pope Pius XII)


Peggy, let's bring it closer to home for a minute. I prayed both that my father would not die and that he would die, contradictory as that sounds.

--Not to die, because he was my father.

This was pure selfish desire. I prayed not to lose a part of my own life.

--To die, because he was my father.

I prayed that the sickness and pain that ravaged his body for more than a decade, that robbed him even of the ability to speak for the last three years of his life, would simply cease. I prayed that the suffering accumulated over 75 years would end, that he would at long last be at peace.

So in this sense, I prayed that he would die--not only for his pain to end but that one day he would be greeted by God in heaven.

But you're quite right on one point--"God's ways and timing are not our own."

Donald R. McClarey

I have always enjoyed Buckley, his wit, erudition and his politics. That being said, the man seemed to go hay-wire a bit in the 70s when he came out for drug legalization and began writing those embarrassing spy novels with soft core porn scenes. I think Buckley should perhaps be praying a bit more about the outcome of his forthcoming face-to-face with God, and less about when God should call His Vicar to his permanent duty station.


Fair enough, I understand, Whitcomb, your point. But you were praying for your father's death as a means of relieving his suffering--and you prayed for both good health (that was your prayer wanting your own will, if I may say so, based on your own comment) and death (death would be Buckley's and Schiavo's (if he prayed) prayer for their own will), it appears. Indeed, physical suffering may be such that only death can relieve it. Sure , you probably explicitly pray for relief of suffering, knowing it may really mean death. [But, do you really pray explicitly FOR death, or just pray noting that death may be God's will or the means to relieve the suffering about which you pray?] I would not imagine that Buckley has near the understanding of the pope's suffering that you had of your father's. It seems inappropriate for Buckley to pray for the pope's death from such a distance and lack of real knowledge of the situation.

Buckley's not a medical expert, he's a policy guy. I think the pope's wellbeing is a secondary issue to him. He mentions it to be decent about his real concerns. While Buckley does make the point that he thinks death would be the way to relieve the pope's suffering (how can he know from his posh digs in NYC or wherever?), his next comments reveal that his underlying thoughts are about what he thinks is the suffering of the Church by not having as healthy a pope as he would like. If he really just thought that death would be the relief to the pope's suffering, he would not need to say anything else. I think his concern for the pope's suffering is secondary to his primary points in the article. Yes, I am basing my judgment on what he wrote, not knowing anything more. That's how it reads to me.

Jonathan Carpenter

Mr. Dreher said
Good grief, Jonathan Carpenter takes his demented e-mail stalking of me even to the comment thread at Open Book. "

So because I look at the same blog and post something I am stalking you! What arrogance to think it is always about you. By the way the statement was from Dr. Donohue of the Catholic League. I also send stuff to him because as a Journalist they are generally supposed to be accessable to all of their readers. Real Caring Journalists do not "consigned his eccentric epistles automatically to my spam bucket." This is the marking of an Elitist phony. It is also what he does to people who do not adhere to his own brand of malcontence. Also, I was born on October 23, 1967 so this makes me younger than other certain "poor old fellows."

Also, if more people defended our church the way he defends William Buckley we would be better off.

Jonathan Carpenter

Mr. Dreher said:

Good grief, Jonathan Carpenter takes his demented e-mail stalking of me even to the comment thread at Open Book. Well, at least the rest of you will now get a gander at the deranged rants I used to get regularly from the poor old fellow, until I finally consigned his eccentric epistles automatically to my spam bucket.

When you hear something like this after serving your country for 10 years, it kind of shows you who the real military supporters are and who just gives lip service. This is quite a nice way to be treated after serving my country for so long and missing so many holidays and chances for friendship. Then again I did not hide away in college complaining from afar.

Jonathan Carpenter USN, (ret)
Arlington TX

Earl E. Appleby, Jr.

I would not call a man who supports the legalization of marijuana, campaigned to free a convicted murderer, published an apologist for euthanasia, and prays for the Holy Father to die, an "arch-conservative." Indeed, Mr. Buckley is even less conservative than most of his neo-con friends.

Resignation to God's will, even acceptance of it, is a far cry for praying from praying for someone to die, an incantation out of the Culture of Death as Buckley's hateful language of utilitarianism makes only too evident. Then again, one would not expect spirituality rather than materialism from Buckley's once self-aggrandizing, now self-parodying pen, would one?

Cheeky Lawyer

"But it is the most obvious thing in the world that the Church desperately, desperately needs a Pope who is strong and vigorous to get its house in order. I have been praying for the Pope's recovery, but I will think it a mercy both for him and for the Church when the Father calls him home to his reward."

I confess that like Kevin Miller I don't see the obviousness of this. I think we perhaps need the Pope we currently have showing us the meaning of suffering and of giving everything, to the very last breath, to Christ. But I certainly do not know it is obvious. I will let Holy Spirit make those calls.

Frankly, I thought this column just incredibly, incredibly creepy.. I find it hard to put the benign spins on it that some here have.


To say we need a strong and vigorous pope is somewhat obvious, isn't it? Sure, we can have a sick, suffering one, but really only for a little while. It's unrealistic to think that this should be the norm. Does anyone think that a frail, ill cardinal would ever stand a chance of being elected pope? Of course, of course if it were God's will, but who believes that? Pope John Paul II will not get better and if there's anyone else out there in the medical field, tell me what you think. He can no longer walk - and that right there is one of the biggest indicators that death is not far. Complications are so much more likely to hurt him when he is immobile. He labors to breathe. He is either in Depends or needs a two-man transfer to sit him on the toilet and someone else has to clean him. He certianly could be in pain, every day. This will not change. He will not get better. We can pray that he will, but it doesn't seem like that's God's will either, or the pope wouldn't have gotten Parkinson's. I see nothing wrong with praying for a holy death, and I even do see something wrong with asking that his life, knowing his health will not improve, should last....what, another five years? Ten? Well, why not twenty? Hey, let's hope the poor suffering man lasts as long as possible because that's what makes us feel good? Because we're aghast at the thought that someone might, in this culture of death, misconstrue this as euthanistic? (Is that a word?) Obviously God allows every single one of us to die, or else we wouldn't. To do so with decreased suffering is what we should all want.

Rod Dreher

Look, I don't think Buckley should have written what he did, because it does sound creepy. But I understand his sentiment, and I don't think there's anything wrong with having a mixed motive in hoping for the Pope's deliverance: relief of his physical agony, and relief of the Church's agonies from its leaderless state.

Look at Saudi Arabia, which has been presided over for the last decade by King Fahd, who has been physically incapacitated. There has been a power struggle brewing there all that time. That country faces terrific challenges, but its government cannot move effectively to meet them until there is a clear leader atop the monarchy. So there is a lot of intrigue, and right-hand-not-knowing-what-the-left-hand-is-doing -- exactly what you would expect. It seems to me not an uncharitable thing to hope for God to end the suffering of King Fahd and his country through death -- but always, of course, wrong to do anything to hasten that death.

Similarly with our church. You may disagree that we are in crisis, but I think the crisis is undeniable, and I think it is plain, and has been plain for some time, that the crisis is not going to be dealt with under this pontificate, and now that John Paul is so old and sick, it's not going to be dealt with. Meanwhile, we drift.

I think of my late grandfather, who suffered greatly, and in a drawn-out way, from cancer. I'll not go into the circumstances here, but caring for him was so hard on my father, his son, and for some particularly excruciating reasons, that when I finally got the call that Grandfather had died, my two thoughts were: 1) thank God he has been set free from his pain, and 2) thank God he was called home before this ordeal gave my dad a heart attack. I don't think there's a thing in the world wrong with being grateful for my elderly and incapacitated grandfather's passing, not only for his own deliverance, but for the deliverance of those who loved him but who suffered greatly from his terminal illness. If we had lost our father because of all the extraordinary stress Grandfather's drawn-out death and all the complications surrounding it caused ... well, I can't imagine where we would be, given all the responsibilities our dad had, and has. My father was faithful till the very last second to his father, and wouldn't have done anything differently. Nor would the rest of us had wanted him to. Nevertheless, the toll Grandfather's illness took on my father was undeniable, and like I said, my sister and I really did fear that he would precede Grandfather into the grave.

I feel the same way about the Pope's situation.

Dina Swift

Wow, this thread has gotten wierd -- now would it be unpatriotic to say that my brother is kind of a jerk (albeit a lovable one,) and an alcholic besides, so sometimes I just can't take a call from him because HE was a career military man and was in combat and missed holidays with the family?
Get a grip man.

I diasgree with 90% of what I've read Dreher to say around the internet, but he obviously has a point with you.

Cheeky Lawyer

Rod I believe that the Church is in crisis. What I disagree with is that crisis means that we obviously need right now new and vigorous leadership.


"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand."ETC. Isaiah 53.

No one wants the Pope to suffer. The Pope wants to live. To broadcast that "I hope that he will not recover" is despicable and typical Buckley grandstanding. Frankly, I'm surprised to read Buckley's claim that he goes to church.


I agree, Rod, with everything you said.

However, God is in charge here, and apparently, so far, He doesn't agree with either one of us about what the Church needs right now.

I think, both as to the Pope as an individual, and as to the crisis in the Church, we're at the "Your will be done" stage. Many of the things that are going to happen to the Church in the next years will not be in accord with my will, will not be what I want. But God understands what we really need, and we trust in the promise of Christ that he will not abandon us.

chris K

With the Holy Father's strong intention and desire for his own will to be united with God's being made known to us by his statements and actions, it would seem that the ones who are causing a greater suffering and burden for him now are those who refuse to help him live this out. I fear more those "well intentioned" faithful whose desire to move him on before his time than those willing to pray he accomplishes God's will to the end. They are initiating division even before he leaves us. And this is a good sign of just how events will unfold when his final sacrifice is made.

All of this modern day concern about this pope in particular, kind of amazes me when there never seemed to be too much worry about his predecessors - definitely not to this degree - when much more was hidden than what is speculated today. Just what is it about this particular man of God, in these times, that moves men of various motivations to plan for another to take his place? Something to reflect upon - esp. when in our own country's news we have now established "euthanasia court systems" rushing to eliminate the innocent.

relief of his physical agony, and relief of the Church's agonies from its leaderless state.

Leaderless state? Never before have I felt looked over more by such a one still leading us - and it's not due to some ability to ski down mountains or project clearly through speech his thoughts (never mattered much before to the BBs types when he could), but by the Holy Spirit working strongly in this man beyond human defining.

Victor Morton


I agree with most everything you write in your last note, and the analogy with King Fahd is spot-on.

But, to continue with your personal example, it would still have been in horrible taste for your father (still less any member of your family, and far less an outsider like myself, say) to have said *while your grandfather was alive* and *while in the presence of other family members* "I sometimes wish him dead," or any other Providence-wrapped words to that effect.

It's common parlance at funerals or wakes to say stuff like "he was suffering so greatly that death was a relief, he lived a great and productive life, and he's in a better place now." There's something to all of that obviously -- it can help put death in perspective and comfort the survivors. But that's talking about an already-dead person in the past tense.

If Buckley were to have published this identical column with a few verb tenses changed on the day after John Paul had died, nobody would bat an eyelid. But the circumstance defines the morality here -- what Buckley did is the former, not the latter. And it's ... icky.

Victor Morton

One other consideration, Rod.

There is a quite fundamental difference between private thoughts and public actions. No doubt many of us at one time or another have seen a horribly suffering person and muttered to oneself that death would be merciful. But saying it aloud, or as Buckley did, in the very public forum of a widely syndicated newspaper column -- that also crosses a line.

Rod Dreher

Yes, Victor, and let me say again on this thread: Buckley's column was imprudent. But only that.

thomas tucker

No, it's far beyond imprudent to suggest that it's okay to wish for the Pope's death so that we can get on with finding a successor, and to suggest that he holds on to the papacy out of vanity, and to imply that his disabilities have made him more worthy and valuable dead than alive. I can think of many words to describe this but imprudent is not one of them.


Has John Paul II given any indication that he wants to die? Any indication that he wants to be relieved of his suffering? Of course he wants to be with the Lord. But he carries his cross willingly, without doubt. Does his own will not trump our own selfish desires to see him dead, EVEN if it were to relieve his sufferings?


When you've been writing as long as Buckley has, you're bound to say something stupid once in a while. I think he was saying he thinks the pope has suffered enough and it would be better if the church had vigorous leadership, which is a reasonable thing to say but he didn't say it very well. I personally hope the Pope lives just as long as God has work for him to do and not one minute more, because he has served faithfully if not perfectly and he should be able to see the Lord he has served so long. As far as Tom not being sure if he wants to meet Buckley at a dinner party at his home; can I take your place???? Seriously, Buckley has a lot going for him and no one is perfect; maybe you can get him aside and ask him what was he thinking when he wrote the column? Not as much of a big deal as people are making.


God gives the Church the pope it needs. Like it or not, JP2 serves at His [God's] will, not ours. So, I'll just leave it up to the Lord of Life. It will happen at precisely the right moment.

It always seems to me like these "We need a pope that . . ." are just people who operate from the fundamental point of view that man is the measure of all things.

Rod Dreher

God gives the Church the pope it needs.

Don't blame God for Alexander VI Borgia, unless you think the Church needed the Reformation. I think it's more accurate to say God sometimes gives the Church the Pope it needs, and sometimes gives it the Pope it deserves.

stuart chessman

I think Bill Buckley has stated -in a somewhat startling formulation - a truth that needs to be acknowledged. Not so much about John Paul II, but about the Vatican, the Church, and the regime that has been supported and enforced by this Pope during his reign.

"Things cannot continue this way. There must be a change - now! Ottherwise the Church faces the stark prospect of extinction."

Pope Clement VII similarly presided over an era of ecclesiastical and political reversals at the hands of Protestants, Turks and secular lords. Yet, although largely free of vice himself, the pope to his death in 1534 remained absolutely committed to the policies and practices fo the Renaissance Papacy that largely contributed to the growing disaster. Only in 1534 did the Vatican ( or at least some of its leadership) first recognize that things could not continue along this path any longer, that the choice lay between reform and annihilation. That's when the turnaround at the center started.

We are indeeed at such a time.


I think Buckley went way over the line. Not just a matter of imprudence. Death is an evil, not in the sense of committed evil but in the sense of an evil suffered, like physical hunger or thirst. To wish it for anybody or to pray for it anybody is sick, sick, sick, sick.

I would qualify that immediately. Rod talked about having it in the back of one's mind that if this person died there would be relief for the person and for those attached to him. Nothing wrong with that. It would not only be wrong to publicly announce that--which would be imprudent. But even to entertain it willfully--Gee, I really hope this person dies so that we can all get some sleep--is sick. To undergo such a thing is not in itself a sign of twisted maldevelopment. (A good thing to keep in mind in this season of Lent with its focus on temptations suffered). But it is no less maldeveloped to announce than to proclaim other sins.

Mr. Buckley has made his compromises on condoms and marijuana. The first is an intrinsic evil, the latter a more indirect one, evil because of its illegality. His compromises seem to have detoriated his character and conscience, as evidenced by this column.

I will pray for his recovery from this but not, pace his column, his demise.

Daniel H. Conway

"Give the Church the Pope it needs."

Kind of like prayers two thousand years ago: "Give Israel the Messiah it needs."

And its Messiah died humiliated as a criminal on a Cross.

Maybe we should pay attention.

Maybe we have the Pope we need. God may have answered our prayers.

Can't Stand WFB

ROD DREHER:"Don't blame God for Alexander VI Borgia, unless you think the Church needed the Reformation."
Actually, the Church did need reforming and maybe God gave us Alexander VI Borgia, to support Stephen, for other reasons:
"Alexander earned the enmity of Spain, the obloquy of many narrow minded contemporaries, and the gratitude of posterity, by his tolerant policy towards the Jews, whom he could not be coerced into banishing or molesting. The concourse of pilgrims to Rome in the Jubilee year, 1500, was a magnificent demonstration of the depth and universality of the popular faith." Catholic Encyclopedia


We are not all co-redeemers with Christ, Jason. The cruxifixion happened once and for all in 33 AD to Jesus Christ. The pope is not redeeming you, my friend. He may well be giving a brave example of what older people with a terminal illness should do instead of giving up, but he's not redeeming you. He's a man.


Jason, your interpretation of (Pope John Paul II, "Salvici Doloris") defies Catholic teaching. The church has taught that the redemptive event was accomplished by Christ alone. Moreover, it was a discrete event in time which we celebrate every year, without repeating it.

Yes, we may identify with it; we may take it as a model; but we do not repeat it. Rather, our sufferings help us to cooperate with it.


Just sitting back and reading this whole thread--the thing that sticks out is not so much that WFB is a dork. I knew that. No, what is really noticeable are all the suppositions about what this time means. When this really happens and we are forced to change hands, this is going to be very hard on a lot of people. Many people fear this time, that's clear.

Leo is right about it all being in the hands of God. He is our redeemer.


>>>"The church has taught that the redemptive event was accomplished by Christ alone."

I think I said just that. I distinguished, however, as the Church always had, between the grace WON by Christ, and the grace APPLIED by Christ. If Christ does not apply the grace he won on the cross, has he accomplished the work of redemption? No. He makes the application of that grace dependent upon many things, INCLUDING our own offerings. Thus, we are sharers in work of redemption.

I'm honestly surprised that the phrase "redemptive suffering" is foreign to so many in St. Blogs. It is the traditional Catholic view of suffering.

thomas tucker

Having thought about this overnight, I think I should be more charitable to WFB. I think he is announcing purely natural feelings, and I think we can all empathize with those feelings to some extent. However, those feelings of the natural man are beneath what Christians should truly aspire to, and this is where WFB has failed I think. The Pope continues on, and there is a lot for us as individuals and for society as a whole to learn by way of his example. It appears as folly to "the Greeks", but as something else when viewed throught the lens of faith.

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