Monday, March 11, 2013

Crucifixion of Benedict XVI


One of the things that having both a Pope Emeritus and Pope Regnat does is to make us develope a more contemporary understanding of the role of the Petrine "ministry" within the Church. Perhaps also having to admit that the model of the Papacy developed in the younger fitter days of JPII, when perhaps it reached its Spirit of Vatican One zenith is not a realistic model for any future Pope. Chiesa has a very worthwhile article that touches on the future of the Papacy.
To have a Pope retiring because of exhaustion would seem to indicate that the job is just too much for most man.
I have priest friend in Munich, where Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop, he wrote to me sometime ago, saying he thought seeing Pope Benedict enthroned in the Popemobile being trundled around foreign cities struck him as being a crucifixion for the gentle, shy, introverted, scholarly, Joseph Ratzinger, so too having to discipline let alone sack anyone. He suggested that as Archbishop he was much more comfortable sharing ideas, preaching and teaching than governing or administering his diocese. These things he said Archbishop Ratzinger did out of obedience and duty, rather than deriving "any satisfaction at all from them". From those who work in the Roman dicasteries this seems to be pretty much their impression of Pope Benedict, who preferred being solitary rather than being a team player.

The Pope is not a super bishop, the "universal ordinary jurisdiction" of Vat One is to be used in exceptional circumstances, the role of the Pope is to "strengthen the brethren" and to act as the centre of Catholic communion.
There seems to be a serious need to re-examine the relationship between the Pope and bishops
One thing that seems unnecessary, and possibly even theologically unhealthy, is for the Bishop of Rome to do, is the almost continuous foreign travel. Though it might be nice for the youth of the world  to see the Pope in Sydney or Rio is it necessary for him to go himself, and if he does what is it saying about the local bishops. Would a Legate not suffice, as it did in the past? Even foreign heads of State could manage without a Papal visit.
One the real problems highlighted by the scandals in Ireland and in Scotland, the O'Brien and Roddy Wright affairs is the lack of supervision in the Church. Episcopal Conferences every five years go to Rome, that is really the total of supervision of our Bishops and in some cases the totality of their expression of unity I wonder whether that is sufficient to maintain unity. Although Episcopal Conferences might well have no theological significance, local Synods have an honourable history. In a Church which is now complex and huge, is it not time to devolve some of the Petrine ministry. In his diocese each bishop if he is orthodox should be able to act infallibly, simply by identifying Catholic Tradition, indeed one could say that the ancient Patriarchates acted infallibly for those who were within their jurisdiction, Rome acted only as the final court of appeal. Now Rome actually seems to have to deal with dissident nuns in London or priests in Bogatta because the local bishops are either heretical or ineffective.

The criticism of the Roman Curia, I am sure is a justified but one of the problems is the break down in the proper structures of the Church on a local level in many places bishops are simply not Catholic. Benedict has planted so many seeds such as obedience to the Church's liturgical norms, obedience to the Church's theological tradition and obedience to the Church's law. He has given the tools to mesh liturgy, theology and law together, it is up to his successor to use them but frankly without having effective bishops everything else will be window dressing.

19 comments:

ORA PRO NOBIS said...

Fr. Ray do you mind if I put an alternate reading of events when you say:

"Though it might be nice for the youth of the world to see the Pope in Sydney or Rio is it necessary for him to go himself, and if he does what is it saying about the local bishops. Would a Legate not suffice, as it did in the past?"

The last time this happened in this country the Catholic Church had to put up with the protestantised disaster known as the Flame Congress organised by CYMFED and supported and attended by our bishops. It was so bad that they didn't even bother organising a Mass during the event. However, if you were a fan of the TV show 'Glee' then you were well catered for.

The only reason that WYD is of any catechetal value what-so-ever is because when the Pope attends the local Bishops have to be 'on best behavior'.

One telling point for me that WYD is not just a foreign liberal jamboree was when a prominent UK Catholic Youth Worker publicly complained that there was no modern Christian music events available, in the evening for his group at Madrid to attend. It was then that I thought that maybe that WYD was not so bad after all.

I have to say that if it were not for the Pope personally attending WYD then these events would 'go to the wall'.

Fr Ray Blake said...

OPN,
My point is really that the Pope has to do so much because the local Church is so ineffective.
But that is because of poor, often very poor local bishops. That is of course Romes fault, that is the first thing that must be revised.

Supertradmum said...

Fr. Blake, finally someone is brave enough to write of poor choices for bishops.

Two points--WYD has not given youth a picture of what the Church really is...an institution created by Christ to impart grace through the sacraments and through Revelation and Tradition.

Second point, as an introvert (INTJ), I cannot imagine a worse life than travelling constantly and enduring most NOs set up by other bishops. Crucifixion, indeed.

George said...

I think you've identified a core issue: weak bishops.

I wonder if the new pope should try something radically different with appointing new bishops. Perhaps, identify strong candidates from anywhere in the world, regardless of location, and send them to their new dioceses. Send an African to England, send an Indian to Brazil, send a Korean to America, etc. Perhaps this induced cultural estrangement would focus the bishops on being "Catholic" first and foremost, while at the same time providing emotional distancing needed to make tough decisions. "I'm not here to be loved, I'm here to govern. For the sake of your souls and as well as mine."

romishgraffiti said...

The last time this happened in this country the Catholic Church had to put up with the protestantised disaster known as the Flame Congress organised by CYMFED and supported and attended by our bishops

Is that the one where a Brazilian band called "Rescate" was on the bill? They said some anti-Catholic things in an interview, Catholics raised a stink, and the band issued one of those "We're sorry if anyone was offended" non-apologies, and still did the gig iirc.

Steve Calovich said...

Weak Bishops is but another symptom. The problem is that real, everyday devotion to Our Lady was put into a closet at Vatican II never to be seen again. And this is very bad timing, as Our Lady of the Rosary announced the Age of Mary with a fantastic miracle on October 13, 1917. Only Our Lady can help the Church and the Church, except for some lip service, is ignoring Our Lady.

justin said...

But one could argue that 90% of bishops around the world are weak..not all of them are retiring anytime soon. What do you propose is done in the meantime? Is this not, what the SSPX would call an emergency situation? And is it not therefore one of these situations where precisely the Pope exercising universal ordinary jurisdiction is warranted?

If you think the episcopal situation in Western Europe is bad, the Churches in Asia, particularly in the Indian Sub-continent is even worse. There syncretism is rife, among nearly every Bishop. There are no 'outstanding' bishops that one can think of, no equal of +Egan or +Davies, let alone someone of the intellectual capacity of Pope Ratzinger or Card. Scola.

What do can be done in the meantime - before these men retire and another generation is lost in the process?


Fr Ray Blake said...

Justin,
The imaginative solution would be to appoint Card Ranjith Patriarch (or in the interest of ecumenism: Legate) to S. Asia and let him sort it out.

But yes, in India many Catholic seem to be Hindus, including the clergy.

Peter said...

Father
A historian may correct me but I believe that a problem identified at the time of the reformation was the poor training of clergy. Seminaries became the norm as the response to this. Now I gather that bishops have no training. I think that a college in Rome for potential senior clerics would be a start. The curriculum would cover many practical matters like employment law and practice, financial management, media presentation and more. It would also provide a chance to examine the person and perhaps reduce the number of duffers appointed.

Annie said...

If I were Pope I'd order all bishops to show up for Sunday Masses at a different parish in their dioceses EVERY WEEK! I have seen Archbishop Meyers of my diocese exactly ONCE since he became ++ in 2001. That ONE time was when they asked everyone to sit down at the end of Mass, rolled out a screen, and showed a video of him asking us for money for one of his causes. I truly wonder what the man does with his time. Surely he could delegate much of the paperwork and get out and perform his job description, which is to evangelize.

epsilon said...

" in India many Catholic seem to be Hindus, including the clergy"
When I went to a church here in the south of England to spread the word about 40DFL I received more than a frosty reception from the laity and the covering priest from the Emerald Isle was extolling the virtues of greetings like Namaste... and talking about 'our' sexual relationships - as if we all had/were entitled to them! Bishop Egan is having his work cut out for him. He needs a lot of prayers to support him.

Deacon Augustine said...

"but one of the problems is the break down in the proper structures of the Church on a local level in many places bishops are simply not Catholic."

Unfortunately that is quite true. If all the bishops were Catholic and governed their dioceses properly, the CDF and the Congregation for Clergy would be practically redundant.

A bishop is supposed to be the Vicar of Christ in his own diocese. He should never need Rome's intervention or permission to do what is right. Apparently many of them, even the majority, just don't seem to have much clue about what is right.

Independent said...

May I congratulate you on such an incredibly attractive view of the Petrine Ministry? It is different from the 19th century ultramontanist view and much more true to history. Am I right in regarding it as that of Bl Hohn Henry Newman and Pope Emeritus Benedict?

Frank O'L. said...

Papal globe-trotting and World Youth Days do not always lead to the local bishops being put on 'best behaviour.' Sometimes the local organizers have put the pope in very awkward situations.

Further, the visit of the pope sometimes provides 'cover' for bad local bishops, conferring on them the illusion of respectability. They bask in the reflected glow of the papacy, and use the occasion to 'prove' that they are indeed in communion with Rome.

What's more, when the Church tries to stage a 'media event,' for purposes of evangelization, it sometimes forgets that it is playing in the Devil's stadium.

How often have we seen the media use the occasion of a papal visit NOT to assist the Church in spreading its message, but as an excuse to trot out all the shop-worn hobby-horses and pet peeves the MEDIA and the dissidents want to talk about?

vetusta ecclesia said...

At least in the days when bishops were "prelatical" they behaved in an authoritarian manner!

Sixupman said...

Perhaps the term "collegiality" should be banished from the vocabulary. As also Bishops' Conferences should be dismantled.

The above would restore the direct line of responsibility: clergy - bishop - Rome, with clergy having direct access to Rome in the case of an intransigent bishop. [Do not tell me that such already exists, de jure perhaps, de facto No!]

What has been created are psuedo 'National Churches', where the episcopacy has taken to itself an equivalence of status with the papacy. [See +++Murphy O'Connor's statement on the subject.]

Diocese appear to be currently run by their own 'curias' in league with modernist clergy associations, not to mention the residents of 'Ecclestone Square'in the overall.

We need bishops who are not looking over their shoulders to see what their confreres are doing.

wretchedwithhope said...

"One thing that seems unnecessary, and possibly even theologically unhealthy, is for the Bishop of Rome to do, is the almost continuous foreign travel." Once upon a time, people made pilgrimage to Rome because the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, unless forced into a brief exile, were breathing there, constantly. Now, if you wait long enough, you buy a ticket and spend a day out, however unusual. How unworldly can anyone be if their path is constantly serving them up to the satan's pr company? i.e. the world? HM Elizabeth II is the most travelled Monarch in history, and yet her empire is nominal; there is 'historical' sovereignty utterly divorced from King (Queen) ship. Let satan frustrate in his lack of access, keep the Pope in Rome and the world in its place.

RichardT said...

An excellent article, Father.

And it is not just the bishops who seem to often be of poor quality, it is also the diocesan curia.

If we had strong, Catholic bishops backed up by a competent, well-educated diocesan curia, there would be a lot less for Rome to have to do.

gemoftheocean said...

Feh to being satisfied with legates. The US was made to suffer that frog, Jean Jadot. Sometimes when a country is lumbered with some 2nd rater pond scum [I won't mention any names but Roger Mahoney are his initials] it does the country good to see that not everyone in the hierarchy has their heads up their backsides.

You euros can hop a train or plane and see the pope in a couple hours, the rest of us may have to wait a lifetime, if ever.