Saturday, October 18, 2014
I don't know what the conversation around the Apostolic breakfast table in Sta Marta was about this morning, probably relief that the Synod is more or less over and had gone more or less the Pope's way, a memo to someone to get out Edward Pentin's file, relief that Burke is off to the Knights of Malta, maybe a sense that it will be regrettable if he has too much spare time on his hands. There might even be some wondering about the best disguise for Kasper if ever he is to visit Sta Marta again, perhaps a burqa? But perhaps he has become too toxic, ever to be seen in the Pope's company again, Lord Patton and Greg Burke will have to advise.
Cardinal Burke will be contemplating what to do with all that free time and wondering who will avoid his gaze or pretend not to know him, and who greets him emphatically once the Pope has left the room. He might also be thinking about setting up 'Leo TV' or writing, or how best to develop those moribund but frightfully well connected Knights of Malta, or just gently thinking that his skill as a lawyer might have some useful focus; maybe defending the FFIs, or deposed Bishops?
Elsewhere in Rome I suppose bishops are either congratulating themselves or licking their wounds, some are presumably just glad it is over, some might even be vowing never to come to another Synod ever again, others are plotting. In fact most are probably looking to the future, to the year between the two Synods but beyond. Some will be reflecting on the Synod, on the divisions between the two factions, on who spoke well, who had courage, who captured the mood, who might be capable of uniting the two factions.
What will be very apparent is that there are definitely two factions, let's not be over dramatic, there is not a schism but there is a very visible split. And splits tend to multiply. The highly significant Kasper interview identifies it as a North South, black white split but there is also, significantly, a demographic split. Burke will be voting in the next Conclave or two after Francis is laid to rest, and possibly on his way to Beatification. There is recognition too that Francis is partisan and really against collegiality, as much as any renaissance pope. I suspect that many Cardinals who voted for him are being forced to have serious second thoughts. His high-handed approach is more reminiscent of Vatican I, than Vatican II.
I think the big hitters will be thinking long term, possibly many African bishops are indeed looking to the next Conclave, to a Pope of non-European origins, thanks to Kasper, they might well be joined by Eastern Europeans, by those living alongside Muslims in the Middle East. Some of the Eastern Rite Catholics might well be thinking that Rome is actually not as effective a centre of unity as Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch or Moscow, especially in times of persecution, especially with a Papacy that has so little sense of 'the Tradition' and that is so Eurocentric and so Liberal. I know of one Eastern Rite priest who has been thinking along these lines ever since the first 'Bona Serra'.
One of the troubles with Rome is that everyone who works in the Vatican considers themselves a 'courtier', 'leprous' or otherwise. I think it is worth remembering it was a servant, a valet, who was a prime player in bringing down Benedict, just by making public a few secret documents. There is a surprising amount of power held in the Vatican, which like any court or tiny state is a trust based society, by people who overhear, who dispose of paper, who serve lunch, who connect telephones, service computers or even do the dusting. Each one of them by now has a partisan position on the Synod, each one has allegiances to a particular party or person. The tendency is they tend to be of a conservative disposition, the Synod I suspect has given many of them a scent of blood, highlighting that internal Vatican tittle-tattle is actually global. Journalist too have shown their colours. So if I were Pope I would want to ensure I had on my side the cleaning woman, with the silicone polish spray when walking on those shiny marble floors in Sta Marta.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake