Monday, October 20, 2014
Was that why he was elected?
I must admit I still don't understand Francis. Is he the greatest thing since unsliced bread, a cunning old Jesuit, a conservative, a trad, a prophet, a fool or even the anti-Christ; a breath of fresh-air or the stench from the tomb of those rather detestable men who surrounded the Blessed Paul VI and added to his suffering?
I have never done the Benedict through Francis thing at least, but neither am I convinced of the Francis against Benedict thing entirely. I am still perplexed and confused by him. Perhaps it is in Francis who rather than being an Emperor who is wearing no clothes we actually have clothes with no Emperor. I mean those morning homilies that come out of the marble halls of Sta Martha that are full of barbs but actually teach nothing. Perhaps we should expect nothing!
It is worth remembering that what many of the Cardinals were calling for before the Conclave was a de-centralised Church and greater Collegiality. The BBC, foolish people, have been talking about progressive Francis against the conservative Synod and how he failed to move the Church forward, as if the Synod was solely about the divorced and remarried, or practicing homosexuals. What seems to go under the radar is that for the first time in modern times Cardinals and Bishops have stood up to the Pope and very publicly defied him, some like the Raymond Lion of the Synod Burke have even dared to demand he do his job and defend the faith, like Paul rebuking Peter.
What has happened is that in Synod those of us who would hope that the successor of the Apostle Peter should defend the faith from other Bishops, have turned our gaze from the successor of Peter to the successors of other the Apostles. This I think was the defining action of the Synod, for the first time most Catholics looked to Bishops not the Pope to defend the Faith.
A priest friend of mine said, 'I have no problem with collegiality only with those who might exercise it'. For many Catholics the really problem in the Church has not been Rome but their local bishops, in England we complain about the 'magic circle' nut actually compared to France or Germany or Ireland or the US until the the last decade or so our bishops on the whole have been paradigms of Apostolic zeal and faithful bearers of the Tradition. French bishops until recently have done their best to empty their Churches and seem to have more in common with deconstructionalists and existentialist than Christ, German's are really concerned with nothing but holding on to their Church tax (anything goes providing you pay), the Irish exemplify total failure and America has brought forth such luminaries as Bernardin, Weakland and Mahoney, and one coulde come up with at least a score of other names who ruled the Church like some Wild West bandit chieftain.
The failure of the Church has been a failure of leadership at least on a local level. It is worth remembering that we are in Communion with Rome because we are in Communion first of all with our local Bishop who is Communion with Rome and the entire Church. In England and elsewhere we have looked to Rome to protect us from our Bishops. The problem is most Catholics simply do not trust their own Bishop, and look at him as being of little importance, as if between them and the Pope there is no intermediary, especially if one doesn't like one's Parish Priest or simply doesn't want to be involved with him and his community. In a way the internet has exacerbated this to the point where the 'e-church' is more real than the actual Church, everyone looks to the Pope but no-one to their Bishop.
The great concern of Francis has been that so many Bishops are actually of poor quality, if there is one thing that is clear in Francis' confusing teaching, it is that many Bishops are simply not up to their role defined in the documents of VII. At the Synod it was the Bishops who shone not the Pope. Does the Pope intend this? I don't know, but was that why he was elected?
Maybe I'm clinging at straws.
Britain's best source of Catholic commentary has a good summary of some the most exciting things some of the Bishops came up with.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake