Friday, September 26, 2014


The arrest of former nuncio Józef Wesolowski in the Vatican three days ago (Wesolowski had already resigned from the clerical state after being accused of sexually abusing minors) and the replacement of Paraguayan bishop Rogelio Livieres (who was sacked for causing division in the Church after he accused other Paraguayan bishops of not nurturing doctrinal orthodoxy) gave the impression that things are speeding up ahead of the Synod on the Family in the coming weeks. The severity – as per the code of law – shown towards the former Polish archbishop sent out a strong message: that the days where impunity and cover-ups were the norm, have now come to an end. Wesolowski’s arrest is the final step on a path courageously begun by Benedict XVI, who sacked hundreds of priests and quite a number of bishops during his pontificate.

“Francis is a leader and is able to take difficult decisions,” Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica told Italian daily La Stampa. “But,” he added, “Pope Francis knows when it is important to do justice and act according to the law in cases such as that of Santo Domingo’s former nuncio.”

Straight after his election, having taken on board all that was said during the general congregations held prior to the conclave, Francis immediately set to reforming the Curia. Because of the inquiries that were being carried out by the Italian magistrates, he was forced to start with the Vatican’s finances. The process was slow and cumbersome and the aim was to make it harder for certain past scenarios to be repeated. But more than the structural reforms he has planned or already begun, it is his personal testimony as pastor and the words he pronounces every day that are calling into question certain dynamics within the clergy which are disfiguring the Church. Like an illness that manifests itself in the games played by cliques that form within the Church, in careerism, in the not-always-so-transparent relations with politics, in excessive bureaucracy and structures which transform into clots of self-referential power, losing sight of the real purpose of their existence: serving the people of God.

The powerful effects of the outcome of the 2013 Conclave are clear for everyone to see: Masses of people around the world fondly and carefully listen to the word and message of a Pope who has reignited people’s hopes after the years of scandals and court-like intrigues, which Benedict XVI went through. There are currents of opposition in the Church, some are more prominent or more structured than others. They use their alliances with certain media circles to try to discredit anything the Pope says or does, throwing the stone and then hiding their hands in their tunic pockets so to speak. This opposition does not accept Francis’ election and seeks to squeeze him into the comfortable framework of polarization between liberals and conservatives, an ideology-oriented framework which has helped many build prestigious ecclesiastical careers and is wrong. There have been numerous attempts to impose this way of thinking. The recent nomination of the new Archbishop of Chicago, Blasé Joseph Cupich, an outsider, is a case in point. Cupich is a pastor who cares a lot about social issues, he is a man of dialogue who does not focus only on speaking out against same-sex marriages and has the capacity to speak without barking.

“Francis does not have a rigid and abstract plan to implement in the Church,” Fr. Spadaro said. “The upcoming Synod illustrates this: he wants people to walk together and freely exchange different experiences and sensitivities in the appropriate place, which is the Synodal Assembly. It is wrong to interpret Francis’ words and decisions according to the old framework of division between liberals and conservatives. If there is one message he does not tire of stressing, it is that which he pronounced in his homily at St. Martha’s House the other day: all you need to do is listen to the Word of God and put it into practice. Of course doing this for real can be destabilizing…” Francis’ is not presenting us with a pre-engineered plan. His outlook is based on intimacy with the mystery of the Church, with the Gospel and with the most authentic tradition. In this outlook, there is certainly no room for bureaucrat bishops who are out of touch with the people, attached to their privileged lifestyles, obsessed with certain specific issues and incapable of being close to men and women just as they are and not as they would like them to be.


JusadBellum said...

There was organized opposition to John Paul II and Benedict XVI too.

Have we all forgotten of the "American Catholic Church" that was much ballyhooed back in the 1980s? Or the 'parallel magisterium' populated by theologians who regarded Rome as just another school among many?

What was the opposition to Humane Vitae if not an organized, global, vociferously disobedient opposition to Paul VI?

People in the West have known that the Church has been in near schism for 40 odd years as many prelates and orders simply started teaching a new gospel, a new moral ethic, a new 'pastoral' theology at odds with classic Catholic praxis. They didn't argue, they just did it. They didn't bother with permissions, they just did it.

Who of us haven't gone to confession only to have a priest tell us that some classic mortal sin "isn't really mortal"? Where does such advice come from if not from some sort of organized opposition?

The LCWR is organized and it opposes the Bishops. The social-justice/peace/seamless garment branch was organized as was their orthodox/rightwing counterparts. The two sides were (and are) real and they tend to not like each other or play well together.

So of course the Pope is facing opposition! Popes have always faced opposition. What in the world would you call "Americanism" or Gallicism if not 'opposition' bordering on schism? The Old Catholic Church that broke away after Vatican I didn't spring into existence out of wholecloth... there's always been countries or schools of thought at odds with whomever has sat in the chair of Peter.

Tevye said...

Where it says "there is certainly no room for bureaucrat bishops", I would add "priests and laymen" (with emphasis on "men").

Tevye said...

"They use their alliances with certain media circles to try to discredit anything the Pope says or does, throwing the stone and then hiding their hands in their tunic pockets so to speak." "This opposition does not accept Francis' election...."...WOW!

This what President Obama is up against with the far right..Teaparty...and "Foxnews" (That's the way most of my friends refer to their only news source.) There's a sense of "Him" not being one of "us" adversarial, knee jerk negativity...a determination to make him fail.

Maybe one, or both of them are not Caucasoid or Europid enough...

"Typical liberal...always playing the 'race card'."

Gene said...

He is not "one of us." He is a Muslim Communist who hates this country, Judaism, and the Catholic Church. You must be one of his ilk.

Anonymous said...

Gene, Do you mean the President...the Pope...both? Right wing folks seem to love the word "ilk".

Jusadbellum said...

Funny, I don't recall the Democrats of Tip O'neil's time doing anything to support Reagan's tenure in office. In fact, if memory serves, the entire media (pre-Rush Limbaugh, pre-Fox news) was hostile to him the entire time. Sam Donaldson was always nasty, always asking "yes or no, have you stopped beating your wife" questions. The coverage was regularly hostile and negative for 8 years running.

As for hostility towards Popes, I'm old enough to remember American theologians and others of prominence calling John Paul II some pretty choice names that weren't at all pleasant. But it seems as though ages ago.

When this happened, it was taken as 'obvious' or non-controversial. Make a movie 'exploring the assassination of Bush'? meh. No outrage. It was par for course and reported with no fire of outrage by the same media hungry to report on racism against Obama.

I vividly recall the first weeks of the Tea Party revolt in 2010 and how a protest of 1,000 people would have a single guy holding a fringe sign and he'd get all the camera's attention. But an entire crowd of Wall Street protesters holding communist flags would get not a single photo.

I vividly recall the cropped photo of the 'racist' tea party militia-man open carrying a slung and unloaded AR-15 rifle at some Tea Party protest miles from Obama's entourage... MSNBC reported him as a racist. The fuller photo revealed him to be African American.

So please, the "opposition" to Francis is neither new nor, compared with past opposition to Presidents and Popes, even at the same level.

My fear is that people have teams, an tribes who come first and they use Presidents and Popes as totems or mascots to reinforce their own agendas and opinions. Few who hated Reagan could detail specifics why he was supposedly stupid (nor for that matter can they detail specifics why Hillary or Obama are supposed to be brilliant).

Like it or not, people tend to be low information about alot of our opinions.

Joseph Johnson said...

"Maybe one, or both of them are not Caucasoid or Europid enough."

As to the Pope:
'Last time I checked, it seems he is of Italian heritage-'sounds pretty Europid to me.

A second point:
Many people of a more traditionalist "ilk" would like to see Cardinal Malcom Ranjith as Pope one day--hardly Europid or Caucasoid by heritage but a clear favorite of traditionalist Catholics. This would seem to cast doubt on the hypothesis that conservatives/traditionalists don't want non-Europid/Caucasoids for Pope or for any other leadership role.

Anonymous said...

Jusad. it seems as if the thrust of your comments is that "It's payback time.".

Anonymous said...

I do hope Fr. McD. didn't know what you just said before he posted it. There seems to be a huge gap between your contrived, pretend religiosity and your true coarse, vulgar self.

George said...

I don't know if Jusad's thrust in his comments is that "It's payback time." It seems to me he was bringing up hypocrisy, and the lack of fairness and objectivity on the part of some, even to the point of using deception and misinformation to promote their point of view. This is done by those in the media from whom it would be nice to get (as much as can be realistically expected) the full and unbiased truth.

Gene said...

Anonymous, "Religion is what happens to a man when he falls from grace." There is nothing contrived or pretend about me…what you see is what you get. I have never denied that I am a sinner. How about you?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. McDonald, you do know that when Gene says "HNIC" he means "Head N----r In Charge" don't you?

Anonymous said...

Gene...EVERYTHING about you is contrived and/or pretend...all of it. It's not surprising at all that you don't recognize it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No I did not; it is gone.

Jdj said...

How on God's earth would any of us know what HNIC means??!!! We are Catholics here!
Pater, how did you know?
Father, it really may be time to disable the "comments" for awhile for your own mental health--You have put up with a lot from all sides here!

Anonymous said...

N o offense Jdj...We are also southern Americans here...who pay attention to what goes on around us.

JusadBellum said...

Anonymous, no it's not "payback time". It's a question of historical accuracy in our assessments of reality.

There are a lot of things being affirmed by a lot of different people with respect to Francis and previous Popes that simply aren't true.

As I've written elsewhere the Pope has become a totem or mascot for each tribe to use for their own ends without much evidence of the people using the Pope this way really knowing much about him or his imputed teachings that they like/dislike.

We've all seen this: F1 is treated as a rock star who is "the peoples' pope" as though B16 wasn't? The narrative is that conservatives are mean and disliked (and dislikable) whereas those who could be 'liberal' are loved and loveable. It's a trope not really based on fact or verifiable, quantifiable data.

Now I don't buy the trope that Francis is a "liberal" just as I didn't buy the critique that Benedict was an arch-conservative. Those labels don't grasp the reality of the Church and we use them as short hand at our peril.

The US is politically divided into groups of 30/40/30 (GOP, Independents, DNC). In terms of actual voting, we're a 52/48 country. And yet what's mirrored back to us on TV, sitcoms, movies, pop culture, Internet, cable, print is that "most" people are wonderfully liberal. In sitcoms the 'liberal' world view is assumed as the default, sane one, whereas any conservative idea is held up to scorn and ridicule as an 'extreme fringe' position only losers would hold.

It's flat out not true, but that's the general air we breath.

In the Church a similar phenomenon exists. In the Church, 75% of registered Catholics don't go to Mass. They get 99% of their information about the Church, Pope and faith from NON-CATHOLIC with F1 being praised as a feel good, "people's Pope", they get positive, warm feelings towards him. But ask any specific question and they have nothing.

Francis hasn't really done anything different than his predecessors that affects people who actually go to Mass. For all the hype and wish-casting about 'changes' he supposedly is going to usher in, there's precious little actionable data to point to. It's all hype and spin and hand waving.

Conservatives/traditionalists run the risk of taking this spin as Gospel, accurate reporting rather than self-serving spin.

Now it suits some groups to claim Francis is a victim of some sort of conspiracy of evil conservatives when nothing has been done! If the Synod proves to be no revolutionary rejection of Catholic dogma, then they'll have laid the groundwork for the Low Information People to accept a new black legend about "those evil conservatives whose opposition to heroic Liberal Francis alone stopped the great outpouring of love that would have ushered in Utopia".

It's a win win: in the ramp up to the Synod, tell everyone that Francis "is on our side" while we trumpet the sexual revolution as God's final revelation to humanity...then, when the Synod does not produce the wished for results, blame the same old boogie man (right wing) for why Utopia can't come...yet.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jdj - I'm 56 years old, I don't live under a rock or in a cave, and I am a sentient being. That's how I know.

Jdj said...

Well...I'm a 68 y.o. "Southern American" who does not live under a rock or in a cave. Apparently, though, Neither Father MacD nor I are "sentient" enough, and that's how we DON'T know. And I thank God for that lack--wish I hadn't had to learn it here. May God in His great mercy forgive us all, as we are all the poorer for this kind discourse.

Anonymous said...

Jdj...I would like to suggest that not knowing things is not really better than knowing things.

Jusad...I have suggested before that you should get an editor. I'm afraid I dozed off at about the 30/40/30 line. Sorry...

Jusadbellum said...

anon, believe it or not, I'm not writing posts for your consumption. I'm writing for the dozen or so regular adults who seem capable of holding a thought in their heads that is longer than a single sentence and for the hundred or so lurkers out there who read this blog faithfully.

If you can't sustain interest for an entire paragraph.....squirrel!

Anonymous said...

Jusad...that lengthy comment was in fact addressed to......ME....not the rest of the world...

rcg said...

Sorta back to the original topic, I think it is good that Pope Francis is holding the bishops to the civil law as well as desire to have an open dialog in the Synod. These are both concrete and abstract, so I don't know quite what the reporter means when she denies such. What I think Pope Francis will hopefully discover is the link between solid formation and orthodoxy and the corruption that appears to pervade the hierarchy, if not the entire Church. And what a tiger these bishops have mounted! They are supporting all sorts of political agenda, openly or obliquely, and now are challenged by the people they are helping to move out of their homes.