Wednesday, September 17, 2014
So according to rumours Cardinal Burke is off to become Cardinal-Patron of the Order of Malta. It is hardly surprising considering his opposition to the new orthodoxies. If anyone has presented himself as the 'loyal opposition' it is Burke. Magister points out that he unlike many other Curial Cardinals has maintained his integrity and that is what I have heard from Rome. He is a Nathanael, 'an Israelite without guile'. Others might jockey for position, like renaissance princes, playing the Machiavellian games that are as much part of the Roman scene today as they were five hundred or a thousand years ago.
Ratzinger might well have appointed his enemies to key positions, so long as they could hold an intellectual position together but things are different now, broken corpses are now on display in the city squares. It is not necessary for the Prince to say anything, or even to know his policies, it is actions that are important and being part of his party. It is not the law but the style of interpreting it that matters. The signs of the times are more important than spoken words, the nuance than what is actually said. The straight bat of Burke was hardly going to survive for long in that environment.
Machiavelli, some clerics bedside reading, calls for examples to made, for occasional acts of cruelty, for signs of the Princes ruthless power.
What seems to be being said is that the age of dogma and doctrine is dead, everything is pastoral, focus groups replace creeds, there is more concern with how we are conceived by public opinion than any teaching. Contemporary theologians, Kung or Martini are obvious examples, have like those American religious 'moved beyond' Jesus, the Church, archaic formulas, archaic documents, statements or examples of dead men. What we are now concerned with is the 'lived experience'. In the New Pentecost, the age of the Spirit, that has superseded the age of the articulated Incarnate Word, it is the experience of women and men. The pneumatic, blow where it will Spirit is all that matters. Traddies might understand the 'Spirit of Vatican II' as wild and irrational, 'do what you like' but it is far from that. In is about synchreticisn, dialogue, moderation, compromise, ambiguity, recognition of ignorance, the preference for the via negativa, the rejection of the via positiva. Christ and the Apostles might be unambiguous about judgement, heaven and hell, about Him being the only Way, Truth and Life, about the necessity of Baptism and the Eucharist, about objective realities but in fact 'we have moved beyond' all of that. That is no longer the default position of the Catholic Church.
In that sense Burke and I suppose Ratzinger are the unwelcome voices of the past, increasingly it appears there is no place for them or the followers. Like the old Pope in isolation they await their demise!
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