Thursday, May 26, 2016

Expanding Papacy: 2

Image result for popes cartoon

I am sure Archbishop Ganswein used the term 'expanding papacy' to mean simply a changing or developing papacy: de facto the Papacy has changed since the First Vatican Council. De facto Pope Benedict's resignation was the key change. Ganswein describes Benedict as homo historicus, quite what he means I don't know but Benedict has the clarity of vision to see what is likely to happen in the future. I am sure he expected the St Gall mafia's candidate to be elected. I am sure he understood the inevitable confusion that would result. I am sure he would look beyond his papacy to the next and beyond. One of the principles that seems to be at the basis of Benedict's thought is that truth will triumph, because Christ is truth.

Benedict has introduced the idea of a Pope not dying in office, he himself promising obedience retired to a Vatican monastery and has rarely broken his silence. The important question is not what Benedict will do but what would Francis do if retired or was forced from office. Presumably he would not retire to life of prayer but probably become a curate in some poor South American parish, would he remain quiet? It is highly unlikely, and probably impossible for him.

With a chatterbox former-Pope giving daily interviews with Scalfari or some other journalist of choice, or just picking up the phone and sharing his ideas with anyone in the world he wants to - well this produces a very interesting slant on an 'expanded papacy'. Not only will the Cardinals in the future be electing a Pope but also someone who might in just a few years become an ex-Pope.

John Paul set down strict rules about forbidding lobbying amongst Cardinals, human nature would suggest this unreasonable. I am sure wherever two are three Cardinals are gathered, and they have kicked their shoes off they start talking about who is likely to be the next Pope, and who is likely to vote for who. For the good of the Church it would be irresponsible not to do so. In the same way I am sure any conversation between Cardinal is a bit like a job interview - with the under-riding idea of will this man be a suitable next Pope.

I think one of the things that could well develop is a fixed term papacy, an expectation that the Pope will retire after five or six years or when he has reached 80 or 85 he will become a former-Pope. Would it be possible that with two or three pope's emeritus around they develop a particular role, as advisers to the reigning Pope? I rather like the idea of retired Popes Home with popes  in vary states decrepitude eager to advise their successor, whilst they scheme and skype friends in the media, some maybe doing an occasional television interview or 'going viral' on the net.


Patricius said...

" I rather like the idea of retired Popes Home with popes in vary states decrepitude eager to advise their successor, whilst they scheme and skype friends in the media..."

Get copyright on that idea, Father. It sounds like a very marketable television sit-com idea!

Fr Ray Blake said...

A sitcom - what fun, a sort of Craggy Island with Pope Jack!

Anil Wang said...

Personally I don't like the idea of fixed term Popes. The machinery of groups like the St Gall mafia tend to survive papacies, so it would take a Pope quite a while to fix structural issues such as this. If there are fixed terms, by the time the Pope has enough knowledge and connections to tackle the big issues, he'll be a lame duck Pope, the same as fixed term presidents.

Personally, I see four issues. The first is that conclaves rush to elect a Pope with little time to vet the candidates.
The second is that Popes need some time to build the necessary trust and knowledge of the Vatican before they can do anything substantial. The third is that groups like the St Gall mafia can use their power to elect Popes, and once elected the Pope cannot be removed. The fourth is that the Papacy was designed for a different age where a single person could occationally make doctrinal decisions and occationally meet and make accords with the Princes of this world. It was not designed to be so active and visible....that was the job of the local bishop. So papal blunders rarely reached the ears of the faithful and a single person could handle the job.

The first and second can be handled quite easily, and we have an example in the Papacy of Pope Saint John Paul II. As the former Pope declined, he delegated more and more to trusted cardinals such as Cardinal Ratzinger who later became Pope. Essentially, he was grooming and training the next Pope.

The third problem can be resolved with a tweaking of the first solution, namely after a fixed time (e.g. 10 years) a conclave is run to select the next Pope. Once selected, that Pope in waiting is groomed and trained by the current Pope. If collusion or other inpropriety is discovered the current Pope may call another conclave to pick another candidate.

The fourth problem is deep. Personally I hope the Papacy evolves into separating the role of the Pope from the role of the Patriarch of the West. The Patriarch of the West needs to be active and visible, whereas the Pope needs to focus on the Vatican and Curia, guard his words, and only be active when there are doctrinal issues within the Church. The Pope should be there to serve both the Patriarch of the West and the other Eparchies of the East and have a more universal focus rather than just focus on the West and give token interest in the East. It should also be possible for the Pope to be selected from the Eastern Catholic Churches....something the current papacy makes difficult since an Eastern Catholic doesn't want to become Latin.

Andrew Hollingsworth said...

You are probably right about retirement becoming common place.Randall Davidson was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to retire in 1928. Since when only one Archbishop of Canterbury had died in office.

JARay said...

I rather think that Jesus did not have this idea in mind when he chose St. Peter for the task. Of course he knew that St. Peter would be executed. We have had disputed Papcies in the past but that is hardly a recommendation. Perhaps a fixed term Papacy is a good idea.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Have a little look at this please:

Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Fr (or otherwise) Ray Blake seems Roman Republican

If Ray Blake was ordained according to older rite by a bishop consecrated according to older rite, the doubt about title "father" is of course going away.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Hans, very interesting!

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

Do not those entering the Conclave take a solemn vow, I think it is sworn on the Bible, or maybe something even holier ? This vow mandates silence outside the Conclave about anything which occurred during the election for a new pope. I am sure I remember it from school even.

Am I correct ?

If so, it raises some extremely difficult questions about a lot of cardinals, I’d say.

Or maybe it expires after a certain period ?

Enlightenment would be gratefully received.

ColdStanding said...

Auxiliary Pope.

John Vasc said...

I have a sudden vision of a clutch [a multi-sedia?] of retired Popes - their number steadily mounting with increased longevity - living wherever they will, acting as they choose and speaking as they please, winging their way round the world in opposite directions, from charismatic slum visit to UN conference, and all constantly tweeting away furiously on everything under the sun...
In this age of social media it would make the Avignon schism look like a brief exchange of harmless banter.
I think I might almost prefer to have just one Pope. It worked quite well up to now even for the frail and elderly - before the Holy Father was expected to keep Thomas Cook in business and talk all the time.
Actually, another thought suddenly occurs at this point - has the ever ambitious Tony Blair perhaps been tacitly in training all these years for what he understands to be the core duties of a Pope - foreign travel, hotel living, and making NGO-type speeches?

Hugh McLoughlin said...

"John Paul set down strict rules about forbidding lobbying amongst Cardinals, human nature would suggest this unreasonable." This prohibition long pre-dates John Paul II and Universi Dominici Gregis.

Martin Blackshaw said...

Dear Fr. Blake,

Once again I find myself having to take issue with you, respectfully of course.

Benedict XVI did not introduce the idea of a Pope not dying in office, as you assert. As far as I'm aware, there have already been two abdicated Popes in Church history. Therefore, Benedict XVI is merely an addition to that number.

Archbishop Ganswein's use of the term "expanded Papacy", as well as his reference to Benedict XVI as "Homo Historicus", should therefore be read as yet other examples of the kind of nonsensical statements we Catholics have become accustomed to since the Council.

Don't misunderstand me, I am grateful to Benedict XVI for the good things he did for Tradition as Pope. But I do not subscribe to the false notion that Ratzinger the theologian is fully orthodox. We have to remember that as a priest/peritus at Vatican II he was firmly in the liberal camp and did much to undermine the integrity of the Traditional Catholic Faith. While he has certainly modified many of his liberal views since then, it would be entirely mistaken to claim that he has renounced liberalism. To this day I believe he still holds to the condemned principle of separation of Church and State, for example, amongst other questionable things. And let us not forget his perpetuation of the Assisi scandal.

It should not surprise us, then, to learn that the young Fr. Ratzinger's name was once inscribed in the Holy Office list of "those supected of heresy". Perhaps this "Homo Historicus" is one that Archbishop Ganswein would not be so keen to remind us of.

The fact is that these post-Council innovators can't leave anything alone. It seems to be in them to want to alter everything, to appear before men as the most insightful of prelates blessed by God above their fellows (predecessors). Benedict's abdication was not the stuff of legend. It was an act that opened the Church up to a dangerously extreme liberal being placed on the Chair of Peter and the Papacy being forever tarred as just another executive position that may be "resigned" at will. It was actually a very great scandal.

The Papacy does not expand, retract, or otherwise develop. It is exactly what Christ Our Lord instituted and maintained for almost 2000 years up to Benedict XVI. What Benedict done undermined that divinely established office, not expand it.

I think it worth recalling here that when John Paul II was encouraged to "resign" at the height of his last illness, he said: "Christ did not come down from the Cross, nor will I come down from mine". It is a great pity that Benedict XVI took a differnet view of things.

JARay said...

May I urge you all to read the latest from Sandro Magister:-

Nicolas Bellord said...

JARay: The article by Anna Silvas via Sandro Magister to which you refer has been referenced elsewhere. It is as you say very well worth reading.

David O'Neill said...

My concern is that our present Pope tends to speak on his air travel without realising (I hope!) that in this modern age his words are recorded & that sound bites are extracted to suit the particular journalist publishing what he has 'said'. Thus 2 journalists, hearing the same words at the same time, can publish what the Pope has 'said' in 2 contradictory ways. Even when Francis speaks on terra firma his words are reported to suit what journalist believes will both sell more newspapers & cause more foment within the Church.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

@David O'Neill

That is pure blabla.

Bergoglio and his surroundings are EXTREMELY well aware of the risk and therefore recordings are made and released with transscript from Vatican media.

I have never, ever in all these affairs seen one example of two journalists claiming to have been there and quoting him in two opposite ways.

George said...

Fr Ray, this is a tough one for me to understand. Would you also encourage Protestants not to get baptized or their children, since those baptisms also would be separated from the fullness of the faith, at best attached to a partial, imperfect faith?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I would encourage all to deepen their faith - superstition is not faith.
If those presenting a child are not able to answer the questions in the Rite, I believe they should lie - do you disagree?

George said...

That's tough to think about. My parents were very nominal. We never went to church. But I am happy that I had a baptism and at least nominal Catholicity. I'm fully praticing today, married with 8 children.

But you raise a good point. Perhaps the implicit faith of just showing up and desiring baptism should be sufficient?

(I apologize for writing this on the wrong thread.)

geneticallycatholic said... say "perhaps the implicit faith of just showing and desiring baptism should be sufficient?

if you substitute"confession" or " Holy Communion" for baptism you would suggesting the same thing that tje Holy Father is you would agree with Pope Francis?

George said...

We know that holy communion cannot be denied unless with extreme circumstances and this is not a novelty in canon law.

With confession, I'd differ to Fr. Ray, but I can remember one time being very low spiritually and telling the confessor that I felt no contrition. He told me that showing up for the sacrament was enough implicit contrition.

This is a tough issue for me. I'm glad I'm a layperson. But I also would be gratefully to be under the spiritual care of Fr. Ray so I don't dismiss what he says. I just struggle with it.