Monday, February 16, 2015
I am pleased the Pope has gone out the peripheries to gather Cardinals, I am pleased that the Catholic Church is loosing its European edge. We have to admit it but the Church in Europe is ineffectual and therefore dying.
However, I take pleasure in being a little uppity when Anglican friends speak of the 'Roman' or 'Roman Catholic Church' because for us 'Roman' means the fons et locus of unity. For them it is a word that signifies a certainly national identity, a denominationalism, like the use of 'England' in the 'Church of England'. I love to point out that even in Italy there are Ambrosian Catholics and Greek Catholics, and in the world at large there are a dozen different types of Catholics, all sharing Catholic doctrine and all in communion with the Roman Pontiff but not of the Roman Rite and that the Universal Church is a communion of local Churches. If I am feeling particularly mischievous I will even point out that not all Popes have actually been 'Roman' Catholics, one or two have actually been Greek Catholics and a few Ambrosian Catholics.
I have been rather intrigued by Fr Hunwicke's posts on the Roman Curia; his point being that patristic identification of Church and Bishop; that power rests in the Bishop of Rome precisely because he is the Bishop of Rome, his subsidiary point is the Cardinals and Curia are significant because they are, or stand in the place of, the clergy of the Church of Rome.
In his Regensburg address Benedict XVI said that Greek thought was a significant part of Christian revelation, that we cannot, without harm, separate Christianity from the thought of Plato or Aristotle. With a third non-Italian Pope in a row can we forever suggest that the Pope should not be an Roman or even an Italian without in some sense damaging the authenticity of the Roman Church? Is Roman-ness important to the Church? When the Cardinals take on their most important role as the bishops, priests and deacons of the diocese of the Church of Rome are they looking for a Bishop of that city who would or should be elected by the Roman Church or are they looking someone to govern the entire Catholic Church
Reading the accounts of the somewhat eccentric machinations of the President Kirchner, and revelations about the prosecution of Fr Volpi for libeling the family of the founder of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, there seems to be cultural connection, a rather heavy handed uncompromising politicking. I am left wondering how much cultural baggage the Papacy can actually take.
A couple of our mothers were talking about the Pope's words on disciplining children, they were rather horrified at the idea of anyone, let alone the Pope, suggesting slapping a child, I couldn't help wondering what their reaction might be to an African or Asian Pope's attitude to juvenile correction. The thing is that an Argentinian Pope brings an Argentinian culture to the office, in the same way a Pole or a Bavarian brings his own culture to the office. I presume the next Pope will be African or Asian, in theory this good but in practice it separates the Bishop from the culture of the Church.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake