From Phil Lawler at CWN:
The Pope’s aching joints; the Vatican’s odd silence
By Phil Lawler | November 09, 2011
Today CWN passes along the report that Pope Benedict suffers from a degenerative joint condition in his legs. Although I am sorry for his suffering, I must say that I’m relieved. The news might have been much worse.
But if the report is accurate — [That’s an IF!] and the journalist who made the “scoop,” Andrea Tornielli, has rarely been wrong—I wonder why the Vatican did not make a full disclosure.
In October, the news that the Pope was towed into St. Peter’s basilica on a rolling platform was alarming. The memories of Blessed John Paul II riding the same platform were still too vivid. It was only natural to ask: Was Pope Benedict now entering his own final decline?
The official announcement from the Vatican press office, saying that the platform was introduce “to alleviate the efforts of the Holy Father,” was not at all reassuring. Such vague words do not quell suspicions. Why did the Pope suddenly need such assistance? We remember how the Vatican press office refused to confirm that John Paul II had Parkinson’s disease, even long after the symptoms became obvious to casual observers. So we worried: Were Vatican officials again covering up some serious papal illness?
A degenerative joint condition can be quite painful. But it is not a life-threatening condition. Nor is there any shame involved. We all know that age is taking its toll on the Pope’s physical condition, and aching joints are a common complaint among men of his years. So why not tell the truth?
If the Vatican announced tomorrow that Pope Benedict suffered from arthrosis, no one would be scandalized, no one would be frightened, no one would even be surprised. Many people, I feel certain, would be relieved. Many more—including the millions who have suffered with their own aching joints—would be prompted to offer another quick prayer for the Holy Father.
And the down side would be….The down side would be….Could someone help me out here? I can’t see the down side.