"I will destroy the Church."This conversation has been attributed to various people, my personal preference is Napoleon and the great Cardinal Consalvi.
"But the clergy have been doing that for the last two thousand years, and still they haven't succeeded".
Anyone who wants to reform the Church has to start with the clergy, and with the senior clergy at that. The absence of O'Brien and the presence of Daneels and Mahony, to name but two, must have introduced into the Conclave itself a certain stench of at least one element of the filth that both Benedict and now Francis have spoken about.
In the pre-Conclave intervention which was revealed yesterday, Cardinal Bergoglio said this:
When the Church is self-referential, inadvertently, she believes she has her own light; she ceases to be the mysterium lunae and gives way to that very serious evil, spiritual worldliness (which according to De Lubac, is the worst evil that can befall the Church). It lives to give glory only to one another.Even Kung in his more orthodox days had said, "When the Church preaches the Church it ceases to be the Church". The worst aspects of the scandals that have hit the Church are the self serving cover-ups of so many bishops, the Pope has already warned about the dangers of the Church becoming NGO. There is a serious risk that we can become an organisation that is associated with the rich and powerful rather than the poor and powerless.
The reception of Tony Blair with no repudiation of some of his more blatantly anti-Catholic policies scandalised many of us, as did the former Director of the CES. Oona Stannards relationship with Ed Balls and Labours anti-Catholic education policies. In the US the same could be said about the relationship of the chuckly Cardinal Dolan and the Obama government. Both CMOC and Dolan and hundreds of other bishops might well say they are being compassionate. Even the rich and powerful deserve compassion, Here Pope Francis' motto is interesting: “By showing compassion and by choosing”, compassion alone can be dangerous, there is a necissity "to choose".
"Choosing" or discerning seems to have been lacking in the Church and where choices have been made they have often left people confused. At the heart of St Ignatius Spiritual Excerccises is the choice between the Two Standards or Banners, one belongs to Christ, the other to the Prince of this World. Those doing the excercise must make the choice. The Church itself and its leaders, as must all Christians must make the choice which ultimately is Christ or the Devil. Now what was it Francis has said about prayer: Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil!
In his meditation of the second week of the Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatius of Loyola presents to us "On the Two Standards" telling us we are faced with making a choice: "The one of Christ, our Commander-in-chief and Lord; the other Lucifer, mortal enemy of our human nature." Loyola places in front of us the choice of how we are going to live our lives, either for Christ or against Christ, either for good, or for evil. Why sell our soul for money, power and fame when the Lord offers us a life that's attractive and beautiful through the virtues of spiritual --and possibly in actual poverty, contempt for worldly honor and humility against pride? Poverty, whether spiritual and/or actual, obedience and humility are virtues that lead to all other virtue and everlasting life in Jesus Christ.
At their heart was the choice that they had made to stand under the standard of Christ. They had a "stripped down" attitude to life summed up in Fr Hugh's battered old car, or Fr John's simple hitting between the eyses preaching. Both were men who were hungry for souls, who could distill the faith into a few short words, both lived it uncomprisingly themselves, both desired it to be contagious, and both were men of profound devotion (and to be honest both were devout but ghastly liturgists, Jesuits, for the most part, don't understand liturgy). But most importantly they expected those they came in contact with to make the choice for Christ, they would encourage, speak about the sweetness and the joy of the Cross. There was nothing flabby or efete about their spirituality, it was the same spirituality that had led Campion and Sherwin to Tyburn and Francis Xavier to the ends of the world. It also led them to be despised by many of their own brethren, and to be regarded as saints by the poor they gave their lives to serve.