Monday, March 11, 2013
Crucifixion of Benedict XVI
One of the things that having both a Pope Emeritus and Pope Regnat does is to make us develope a more contemporary understanding of the role of the Petrine "ministry" within the Church. Perhaps also having to admit that the model of the Papacy developed in the younger fitter days of JPII, when perhaps it reached its Spirit of Vatican One zenith is not a realistic model for any future Pope. Chiesa has a very worthwhile article that touches on the future of the Papacy.
To have a Pope retiring because of exhaustion would seem to indicate that the job is just too much for most man.
I have priest friend in Munich, where Joseph Ratzinger was Archbishop, he wrote to me sometime ago, saying he thought seeing Pope Benedict enthroned in the Popemobile being trundled around foreign cities struck him as being a crucifixion for the gentle, shy, introverted, scholarly, Joseph Ratzinger, so too having to discipline let alone sack anyone. He suggested that as Archbishop he was much more comfortable sharing ideas, preaching and teaching than governing or administering his diocese. These things he said Archbishop Ratzinger did out of obedience and duty, rather than deriving "any satisfaction at all from them". From those who work in the Roman dicasteries this seems to be pretty much their impression of Pope Benedict, who preferred being solitary rather than being a team player.
The Pope is not a super bishop, the "universal ordinary jurisdiction" of Vat One is to be used in exceptional circumstances, the role of the Pope is to "strengthen the brethren" and to act as the centre of Catholic communion.
There seems to be a serious need to re-examine the relationship between the Pope and bishops
One thing that seems unnecessary, and possibly even theologically unhealthy, is for the Bishop of Rome to do, is the almost continuous foreign travel. Though it might be nice for the youth of the world to see the Pope in Sydney or Rio is it necessary for him to go himself, and if he does what is it saying about the local bishops. Would a Legate not suffice, as it did in the past? Even foreign heads of State could manage without a Papal visit.
One the real problems highlighted by the scandals in Ireland and in Scotland, the O'Brien and Roddy Wright affairs is the lack of supervision in the Church. Episcopal Conferences every five years go to Rome, that is really the total of supervision of our Bishops and in some cases the totality of their expression of unity I wonder whether that is sufficient to maintain unity. Although Episcopal Conferences might well have no theological significance, local Synods have an honourable history. In a Church which is now complex and huge, is it not time to devolve some of the Petrine ministry. In his diocese each bishop if he is orthodox should be able to act infallibly, simply by identifying Catholic Tradition, indeed one could say that the ancient Patriarchates acted infallibly for those who were within their jurisdiction, Rome acted only as the final court of appeal. Now Rome actually seems to have to deal with dissident nuns in London or priests in Bogatta because the local bishops are either heretical or ineffective.
The criticism of the Roman Curia, I am sure is a justified but one of the problems is the break down in the proper structures of the Church on a local level in many places bishops are simply not Catholic. Benedict has planted so many seeds such as obedience to the Church's liturgical norms, obedience to the Church's theological tradition and obedience to the Church's law. He has given the tools to mesh liturgy, theology and law together, it is up to his successor to use them but frankly without having effective bishops everything else will be window dressing.
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