I have never been to Bavaria but I have an image in my my mind of geraniums, summer sunshine, a certain tweeness, perhaps even an umpa band in the distance, even the occasional pair of lederhosen but my general impression is one of quiet ordered efficiency, of social cohesion but with a deep respect for history, perhaps because there is memory of how truly ghastly things can be if history is forgotten.
I have never been to Buenos Aires either but my imagination it is one of a dynamic forward looking city, full of bustle and noise,but with a sense of the need for motion, and even if the traffic stops in chaos the noise gives the impression that something is happening. I imagine there is a real contrast in Buenos Aires of a real contrast between rich and poor. There is little sense of the past, in part because it was so horrible. It is a society that need strong men because there is a sense that without them disorder and lawlessness will reign. This is a direct contrast to my image of Bavaria, where strong men are feared because they bring about disaster.
These images are behind my understanding of contrast in the Ratzinger and Bergoglio papacies.
Perhaps it is best illustrated by the different responses to LCWR and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, the former initiated under Benedict and the latter under Francis.
The action against the LCWR has been one of ongoing dialogue, a clear statement of the problems, a firm but patient determination on the part of the Vatican to draw the American religious back into the life of the Church, even if the sisters flail around refusing to dialogue the Holy See still continues making its requests, gently increasing pressure on them, whilst ast the same time leaving them, the Leadership Conference free to do what it wants, whilst the vast majority of American women religious are completely unaffected.
The way in which the Franciscans of the Immaculate are being dealt with is in complete contrast, the Vatican Commissar has taken complete control over every aspect of the lives of individuals from novices to the founder. No one actually seems to know quite what the problem is, there are no clear complaints, except for 'tendencies' which frankly could mean anything. Their problems after all these months seem to be 'thought crimes'. In contrast to Fr Volpi's declining Capuchins or the LCWR the FFI's were growing, were young, were faithful. Now the same terror is being applied to their female branch, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate.
The LCWR have 'moved beyond Jesus', the FFI seem just be marginally a little too trad , yet the velvet Benedictine glove is applied to the former and the iron fist of Francis to the latter. The way in which the LCWR is being dealt with promotes growth and inclusion whereas the way Fr Volpi is dealing with the FFIs seems destructive and violent. Whilst Francis continues to grow in popularity in the secular media I detect growing fears amongst many that the hand on the tiller of the bark of Peter is just too firm, too South American, with too much determination for change for the sake of change. Far from a papacy that is small poor and humble Francis' is as big as any of the past.
There seem to be too many of those qualities of the renaissance prince popes who tore down so much of the Rome of their predecessors to rebuild it in their own image and according to what they considered something new and up to date. But Francis is not seeking to rebuild in stone but something which goes much deeper and rather than merely touching on his own diocese will affect how every Catholic understands their faith. Few people would think that Cardinal Kasper's speech to the Consistory and what he has said subsequently, - he was the lone speaker chosen by the Pope - expressed anything other than Pope Francis' personal thought, nor that the invitation to discuss without 'taboos' marriage, homosexual unions, the future of celibacy of his appointee as President of the Italian Bishops Conference were anything other than an expression of Pope's own thoughts.
There was a comment on Fr Hugh's blog by Macunius that has been nagging away at me.
Father, I have a distinct feeling that in these rather bitter personal attacks on characters who really don’t exist except in his imagination or memory, Papa Bergoglio is referring back to aspects of middle-class Argentina in the peronist postwar period. The rooms curtained against the summer sun, the whispered prayers, the family pressures, the overwhelming almost airless atmosphere of personal sin. Rather like scenes from a film.I think it is significant that in the Ratzinger papacy we heard a great deal about his family life and his evident delight in his brothers company in contrast Bergoglio seems to have had family life which dwelt in 'rooms curtained against the summer sun'. Benedict often spoke about the 'family' of the Apostolic Camera, whereas Francis enjoys the constantly changing community of Santa Marta and has spoken of his 'psychological need' for it.
There is some autobiography here that we can only half-glimpse, some personal complex. We’ve already seen it in his strangely mocking remarks about those who offered him a spiritual bouquet, and his rather strange view of the Traditional form of the Rite as the ‘personal taste’ of a small clique – which of course it is not.
Perhaps he needs to set up the ‘clericalist church’ bogeyman to defend the change of heart (and lurch towards the left) that he made (or felt forced to make) in the 1980s after the (according to his early friends) extremely conservative and orthodox provincial was demoted and exiled by the Jesuit order, and left to ‘reflect’ – ie to fall into line with the new revolutionary clerical politics reacting against the changing landscape of military dictatorship in Buenos Aires.
Not a coincidence, surely, that his spokesman Cardinal Maradiaga recently (April 8th, at the meeting of Franciscan provincials in Florida) asserted that Francis “feels called to construct” a church “free from all mundane spirituality” and “free from the risk of being concerned about itself, of becoming middle-class, of closing in on self, of being a clerical church.” For like Maradiaga (though perhaps not as openly) has the Holy Father perhaps rather a complex about the middle classes and their desire for social and ideological order? a complex about not being one of them, feeling snubbed and attacked by them, needing to defeat them to survive…it’s a very Latin American thing.
But if it has potential liturgical, theological and pastoral consequences for the Universal Church, then Houston, we definitely have a problem.