Saturday, December 16, 2017
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY OF THE CURRENT SITUATION OF THE CHURCH OF POPE FRANCIS
When Pope Benedict was elected pope, the progressive wing of the Church was not pleased and many of the aging voices then (still with us, my age and much, much older, like Cardinal Kasper) sounded the alarm that the CDF watchdog would cause great polarization in the Church.
That did not happen, although the secular world was definitely against Pope Benedict, but more like howling dogs and screaming cats rather than a groundswell. When Pope Benedict visited England, everyone said His Holiness would be shunned and embarrassed, but the opposite occurred and by all standards, the English pilgrimage was a triumph.
To be sure there were scandals at the Vatican under Pope Benedict and Pope Benedict's closest advisors did not serve His Holiness well and Pope Benedict was too reticent to do anything about it which many believe led to his downfall.
Fast forward to today. We see in the current papacy the same polarization that occurred following Vatican II although not to the same level. Progressiveness in the Church in the last 50 years is the culprit that has divided and weakened the Church causing great polarization. Younger Catholics were unaware of this but now they know full well.
But it isn't all bad news.
This may seem mean spirited, but what we see in the papacy of Pope Francis the last hurrah of His Holiness' age bracket of progressive thinkers who elevated Vatican II and its progressive spirit to a dogma when in reality Vatican II isn't a dogmatic council and no dogmas were promulgated as it concerns the Mass, the sacraments, Christology or ecclesiology.
And certainly dialogue "with the world, with our separated brethren and with non Christian faiths" is far from a theology or doctrine and weaker than limbo!
So the mixed blessing of Pope Francis' papacy may ultimately be a great blessing only:
1. We are seeing, once again as in the 1960's, what progressive ideologies do to the Catholic Church and her faithful and it isn't good for Catholic identity, morale or growth.
2. We are seeing the difference between authentic dialogue and consultation and what is manipulation and smoke screen on the synodal level which has been practiced on the diocesan and parish level which make Church life more political and divisive.
3. We are seeing that the loss of Catholic culture and European sensibilities lead to a loss of majesty and respect for institutional aspects of the Church. The majestic trappings of the Church pointing to the other worldliness of Catholic piety and theology makes the Church a place of the glimpse of heaven whereas its loss points to the depressingly mundane.
4. Pope Francis emphasis on popular devotions will serve the Church well in the future, especially coming from a progressive person.
5. The same is true of the recovery of speaking about the devil and that he prowls the world seeking the ruin of souls
6. Pope Francis' emphasis on pastoral theology and making the ministry of the Church more sensitive to the lives of Catholics is laudable although at times misdirected and enabling of mortal sin, but ultimately will serve the Church well with future refinement and the truth that pristine Catholic teaching is liberating rather than repressive.
7. Pope Francis has halted future hopes (for the immediate present) of a refinement of the Ordinary Form of the Mass but only in terms of the return of more Latin prescribed for the Mass, kneeling for Holy Communion and the trend toward ad orientem. But other than that, Pope Francis has maintained the status quo of the manner in which Pope Benedict celebrated the Mass.
Overall, my sense of things is that Pope Benedict was more appreciated by rank and file parishioners than Pope Francis is, although Pope Francis is a populist and the appreciation shown for him is more personality driven and thus very superficial. Appreciation for Pope Benedict was deeper.
What do you think rank and file attitudes towards both popes are in general?