Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Pope Benedict XVI’

UN Panel Says Vatican Enables Sex Predators to Repeat Crimes.


A United Nations committee decried the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse of children by its clergy, saying the Holy See has allowed alleged predators to strike again because it was more concerned about itself than the victims.

“In dealing with child victims of different forms of abuse, the Holy See has systematically placed preservation of the reputation of the church and the alleged offender over the protection of child victims,” the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said in a report released today. The Vatican in response reiterated “its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child” according to church teaching.

The committee’s report increases expectations on Pope Francis, who has won praise in his first 11 months in office for encouraging dialogue on social issues. The Roman Catholic leader was urged to break what the panel characterized as church practice of harboring sex offenders, retaliating against witnesses and condoning ritualized beatings.

“The committee notes as positive the willingness expressed by the delegation of the Holy See to change attitudes and practices,” the panel said. It “looks forward to the adoption of prompt and firm measures for the concrete implementation of its commitments.”

Benedict XVI

The findings take into account a Vatican report presented to the panel in January 2013, when the church was led by Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Francis, 77, has been hailed as a potential reformer after the final years of Benedict’s reign, which ended a year ago with his resignation. The Argentine pontiff has taken on money laundering at the Vatican bank, signaled an easing of the church’s traditional stance against homosexuality and repeatedly spoken up about the injustice of income inequality.

The church’s decades-long struggle with child molestation, which the UN panel said has claimed tens of thousands of victims worldwide, may be the biggest problem inherited by Francis. The Vatican, while saying it would submit the UN panel’s report to “thorough study,” signaled it will contest at least some of the findings.

‘Gravely Concerned’

“The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed,” the UN panel said. The church “has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators,” it said.

A “code of silence” has been imposed on clergy in cases of child sex abuse, and nuns and priests have been demoted and let go for stepping out of line, the committee said. It called for transparency and cooperation with law enforcement and victims organizations.

The UN panel called for the Holy See to provide family planning information to minors and make HIV and AIDS a mandatory part of Catholic school curriculum, the panel said. Corporal punishment, which it said has “reached endemic levels in certain countries,” must be banned.

Vatican Response

The Holy See does “regret to see in some points of the concluding observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human person and in the exercise of religious freedom,” the Vatican said in its e- mailed response. It didn’t specify which points it objected to.

Mothers who bear the children of priests should no longer be required to sign confidentiality agreements in exchange for financial support, the UN panel said.

The church may be moving in the right direction as it reviews withdrawing references to “illegitimate children” from its law, the panel said. Francis was also recognized for his “progressive statement” in July, when the pontiff addressed the issue of homosexuality.

Still, the committee said past church comments on homosexuality contribute to stigmatization and violence against gay, bisexual and transgender adolescents.

The panel recommended the Vatican “promptly abolish the discriminatory classification of children born out of wedlock as illegitimate children,” it said. “The committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation.”

Catholic Voices

Catholic Voices, a U.K.-based blog that comments on media coverage of the church, criticized the report and said dozens of incarcerated priests and millions of dollars in compensation paid to victims undermine the findings. It also argued that the decentralized nature of the church renders the systematic training recommended by the committee impracticable.

“The committee has shown itself to be a kangaroo court,” according to the blog. The findings were produced “by adopting the mythical framework peddled by victims’ advocacy groups and lawyers, and ignoring the evidence put to it by the Holy See.”

 

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

 

Novak: Conservatives Overreact to Pope on Economy.


The political right is overreacting in its criticism of Pope Francis, said a prominent Catholic theologian who predicted the pontiff’s economic views would become more friendly toward capitalism.

“I’m very enthusiastic” about the Pope, author Michael Novak said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “He’s concentrated on the basics. Love, care for the poor, humility, kindness. And those are what matter, really. The rest is housekeeping.”

Novak, whose latest book is called “Writing from Left to Right: My Journey from Liberal to Conservative,” questioned some conservatives’ criticism that has been directed at Pope Francis. Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, who isn’t Catholic, called the Pope’s comments about economic inequality and the need for regulation “just pure Marxism.”

“Rush doesn’t understand the Catholic part of it and he’s taking it seriously,” Novak said. “Give the guy a chance to get his feet on the ground, get his arms around the questions of globalization, get his arms around the fact that capitalism is mostly ideas.”

While reiterating church teaching on social issues like abortion, Pope Francis has elevated economic issues to prominence since succeeding Pope Benedict XVI in March. In November, he urged governments to stand up to the wealthy and criticized the theory that policies favoring the rich will eventually “trickle down” to help the poor.

“Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless,” Francis said Nov. 26. “Such an economy kills.”

President Barack Obama invoked Pope Francis in his Dec. 4 speech, calling economic inequality the “defining challenge of our time.”

Novak said he didn’t agree with all of the Pope’s economic pronouncements and said that he wished the Pope wouldn’t say “some of the too simple things he says” in his speeches. “Priests, bishops are not trained to do economic analysis,” Novak said.

He suggested that Pope Francis’s views were shaped by his upbringing in Latin America, where social mobility isn’t as fluid as it is in the U.S. The pope was born in Argentina.

“I think he will begin to see the different economies of the world in a different light,” Novak said.

Novak also broke with others from his side of the political spectrum in calling on Congress to pass an immigration bill that addresses the status of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the U.S.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, won’t allow his chamber to vote on a Senate-passed bipartisan measure that offers a path to citizenship along with stronger border control measures.

“My family got here as immigrants, the wretched refuse of the Earth,” Novak said. “And so I’m grateful for that.”

Decades ago, Novak worked for such prominent Democrats as Robert F. Kennedy and Sargent Shriver. By the 1980s, he was backing Republicans Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.

Novak said his ideological shift, as chronicled in his book, was influenced by his view that government programs intended to help the poor turned out to be largely counterproductive.

“What I’ve come to think is that poverty programs ironically fed the wrong incentives,” Novak said. “And for the first time in our history, we have a body of people who are generations on welfare.”

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Ho Ho Holy: 2 Popes Exchange Christmas Greetings.


Pope Francis has visited his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, to exchange Christmas greetings.

Photos released by the Vatican newspaper show the two men, dressed in identical white robes save for Francis’ cape, chatting in a sitting room inside Benedict’s retirement home during the visit Monday. They also prayed together in the adjoining chapel. Benedict was looking well, using a cane for support while they stood in prayer.

It is the first time the interior of Benedict’s home has been shown publicly: The sitting room and furniture were all white. An Advent wreath decorated the coffee table.

Since Benedict’s retirement in February, the two men have met only once publicly, for an official Vatican ceremony in July. They also have met privately and occasionally have spoken by telephone.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Pope Skips Rules to Declare 16th Century Jesuit a Saint.


VATICAN CITYPope Francis, who is a Jesuit, Tuesday skipped the Vatican’s customary procedures and bestowed sainthood by decree on Father Pierre Favre, a 16th century priest who was one of the first Jesuits.

Favre, who is sometimes known in the English-speaking world as Peter Faber, was a close companion of St. Ignatius Loyola, the Spaniard who founded the religious order.

Francis, the first Jesuit Pope in history, applied a little-used procedure called “equivalent canonization.”

This meant Favre was proclaimed a saint by decree without a formal ceremony and without the need for a miracle to have been performed through his intercession.

Francis, who has often spoken of his devotion to Favre and his admiration for the early Jesuit’s spirituality, signed a decree that added Favre’s name to the universal calendar of Roman Catholic saints.

Favre, who was born in France in 1506 and died in Rome in 1546, was beatified, or declared a blessed of the Church, in 1872.

He spent much of his adult life preaching to Protestants in Germany during the Reformation.

The “equivalent canonization” procedure has been used by Popes to bestow sainthood on a person who died long ago and who the Church has revered as holy for centuries.

Pope Benedict used it three times, Pope John Paul used it once, and Francis himself used the procedure in October to canonize an Italian nun, Angela of Foligno, who died in 1309.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax,com

Rev. Gahl: Pope Francis Not Leftist or Conservative.


The Rev. Robert A. Gahl Jr.’s perspective: Pope Francis has ascended and rapidly bypassed his German predecessor, now ranking the fourth most powerful person in the world, according to one recent study.

Crowds continue to grow at his audiences in Rome. In the first eight months of his Pontificate alone, he has already drawn more people to his audiences and feast day Angelus addresses than Benedict did in eight years.

The political left cheers Francis, while claiming that he is a progressive man of the people ready to break with years of Vatican traditions, including such touchy subjects as sexual morality.

The political right has also applauded the Pope, but has begun to complain, usually in hushed tones, which are constantly growing more public.

Pope Francis is revolutionary.

No one can sit easy while listening to such shepherds of the spirit who prophetically challenge the self-righteous pharisee in us all. Like Jesus, the Pope speaks of a Kingdom that is much bigger than impending inflation rates, growing national debt, and strife between political parties.

Loved for his short, pithy statements that show sensitive compassion and deep understanding of timeless truths, Francis is followed by more than 10 million Twitter and holds records for the most re-tweets.

But his longer statements, two extensive interviews with journalists and his exhortation on the new evangelization, have provoked contrasting interpretations and confusion, stoked of course by talk radio, like Rush Limbaugh‘s initial discussion of “The Joy of the Gospel.”

In fact, it should be no surprise that the Pope debate has intensified in reaction to the publication of “The Joy of the Gospel,” Francis’ first programmatic personal statement on the Church and evangelization of the world. From the left, Hans Küng, the dissident Catholic theologian and priest, celebrates what he calls Francis’ intensifying “critique of capitalism”.

From the right, Kishore Jayabalan and Sam Gregg, Catholic proponents of free market economics at the ecumenical Acton Institute, complain about Francis’ “tirades against the market economy” and “facile and plainly false accusations” against global capitalism.

Should proponents of a free market fear Francis, the first Pope to have worked under a Marxist woman, when, prior to entering priestly formation, Jorge Mario Bergoglio worked in a chemical lab in Buenos Aires?

Francis has expressed his deep respect and fondness for his former boss — even how much he learned from her.

But the key to understanding Francis is now in black and white. The apparent ambiguities should be easily resolved, unless the reader is so rushed that he takes a few lines out of context. Francis is well aware of the temptation to read Church teaching in the facile framework of economics and politics, the dominant themes of the twenty-four hour news cycle.

In “The Joy of the Gospel,” while introducing the section that deals most extensively with the poor and economic structures, Francis clarifies that his task is one of evangelical discernment for the missionary disciple not one of “detailed and complete analysis of contemporary reality.”

So, look to “The Joy of the Gospel” to learn how to evangelize, not for economic theory.

Moreover, Pope Francis wants to reassure his reader that he writes in continuity with the Popes who preceded him, John Paul II, with his Centesimus Annus and its defense of the human freedom expressed in a regulated market economy, and Benedict XVI, with his Charity in Truth, the most recent full account of the Church’s social doctrine.

Francis builds upon John Paul II’s defense of economic liberty and Benedict XVI’s development of the doctrine that the freedom to seek profit within a market economy must be embedded within the context of love and truth: love for one’s neighbor and the truth regarding development in accord with authentic human dignity.

Francis succinctly recapitulates his papal predecessors: “I take for granted the different analyses which other documents of the universal magisterium have offered.” Regarding his own political theory and its application to papal governance of the universal Church, he states “I am conscious of the need to promote a sound ‘decentralization'”.

Francis then proceeds to focus on the core of the new evangelization: conversion of the human heart and the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, especially in the poor. Francis’s compassion for the poor is revolutionary, not utilitarian.

His compassion is radical but not infected by communism. Francis defends private property while clarifying that the rich have a responsibility to care for the poor. Francis follows Jesus’s proclamation of salvation in heaven, not in an earthly utopia achieved through the destruction of capitalism and forced redistribution.

In fact, despite the leftist applause lines and the conservative critics’ claims that the Pope needs to learn more about economics before he criticizes capitalism, those who actually read “The Joy of the Gospel” will discover that Francis nowhere uses the word “capital” or “capitalism”.

Like all of his predecessors, he criticizes consumerism and idolatry, especially the idolatry of money, finance, and the market for its own sake. “In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace.”

Indeed, when man serves money he succumbs to the slavery of idolatry. Money must serve man, because the children of God, all men and all women, are to be loved for their own sake.

To address the scandalous inequalities like those he saw up close in the slums of Buenos Aires, Francis challenges the wealthy to compassion. As an Argentine archbishop, Bergoglio once railed against corruption, especially the rackets of drug and human trafficking and abusive government power.

Now as Pope he prays for politicians capable of promoting the common good, rather than usurping it. To address inequality and marginalization, Francis doesn’t propose socialist redistribution, but mercy, compassion, and individual responsibility.

To define himself, Francis simply said: “I’m a sinner.” He publicly states that the papacy itself is in need of conversion.

The first Pope from the Americas is not from the left or from the right. He is a revolutionary, and his aim is reform of the most radical kind.

The Rev. Robert A. Gahl, Jr. is Associate Professor of Ethics at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By The Rev. Robert A. Gahl Jr.

Pope Slams ‘Throwaway Culture’ That Discards Unemployed Youth.


Image: Pope Slams 'Throwaway Culture' That Discards Unemployed Youth

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Pope Francis took on the issue of high youth unemployment in his first interview aired exclusively in his home country of Argentina on Wednesday, warning that today’s “throwaway culture” had discarded a generation of young Europeans.

A day after issuing an 84-page platform for his eight-month-old papacy that blasted unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny,” the pontiff used the interview aired on the TN TV channel to link high European unemployment to its twin problem of neglecting older people who are past their earning prime.

Special: The ObamaCare Survival Guide – Just $4.95. Save $15! 
“Today we are living in unjust international system in which ‘King Money’ is at the center,” he said in the interview.

“It’s a throwaway culture that discards young people as well as its older people. In some European countries, without mentioning names, there is youth unemployment of 40 percent and higher,” he added. “A whole generation of young people does not have the dignity that is brought by work.”

European leaders pledged earlier this month to make fighting youth unemployment a priority but came up with no new ideas to tackle a problem that risks fueling social unrest.

Nearly 6 million people under the age of 25 are without work in the European Union, with jobless rates among the young at close to 60 percent in Spain and Greece.

Francis’ skepticism of free markets and concern about the lack of ethics in finance were shared by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. But Francis’ unassuming style and rejection of the traditional trappings of office lend his words particular weight.

“A people that cares neither for its youth nor for its older people has no future,” the Pope said. “Young people take society into the future, while the older generation gives society its memory, its wisdom.”

Previously archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis in March became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years. He is the first South American Pope.

Francis has called for a more austere Church that sides with the poor, and has promised to clean up the murky finances of the Vatican bank.

Special: The ObamaCare Survival Guide – Just $4.95. Save $15! 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Pope Francis Bids Farewell to Problematic Second in Command.


Image: Pope Francis Bids Farewell to Problematic Second in Command

Pope Francis bids farewell to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone during a ceremony at the Vatican on Oct. 15.

VATICAN CITY — The changing of the guard is underway at the Vatican. Pope Francis bid farewell Tuesday to the Vatican’s No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was blamed for many of the gaffes and problems of the papacy of Benedict XVI.

And at a ceremony inside the Apostolic Palace, Francis welcomed his new chief collaborator, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, a career diplomat who was sent from the Holy See to Venezuela during Bertone‘s tenure.

The handover represented a tangible sign of change for the Vatican following Bertone’s scandal-marred term, which climaxed with the 2012 theft of Benedict’s papers by his butler.

But many other problems of Benedict’s reign — from his rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying bishop to the Vatican’s response to the 2010 sex abuse scandal — have been pinned on Bertone.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Ex-Pope Benedict Denies Covering up Sexual Abuse.


Former Pope Benedict has denied that covered up any sexual abuse of minors by priests.
Former Pope Benedict has denied that covered up any sexual abuse of minors by priests. (Reuters file photo)

Former Pope Benedict has denied that he tried to cover up sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, in his first direct published comments since he stepped down.

The comments—which a victims’ group rejected—were made in an 11-page letter to Italian author and mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi, who had written a book about the problems facing the Roman Catholic Church before the pope resigned in February.

“As far as you mentioning the moral abuse of minors by priests, I can only, as you know, acknowledge it with profound consternation. But I never tried to cover up these things,” said Benedict, who now has the title Emeritus Pope.

Excerpts of the letter were published in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday with the former pope’s permission.

It was believed to be the first time Benedict has responded to the sexual abuse accusations in the first person, although the Vatican has always said he did much to put an end to sexual abuse of minors by priests and never tried to cover it up.

It was also the first time since Benedict resigned on Feb. 28 that anything precise that he has written or said was published, although some people who have visited him in the Vatican house where he is living in retirement have indirectly reported to outsiders some of his comments to them.

Victims groups have accused Benedict of not doing enough to stop the abuse of children by priests while he was pope and before when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), rejected his assertion.

“In the Church’s entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict,” SNAP said in statement.

“As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover up,” the SNAP statement said.

Victims’ groups say there is much still to be discovered about how the Church behaved in the past and want more bishops who were aware of abuse to be held responsible.

The Catholic Church’s crisis came to light in Boston in 2002 when media began reporting how cases of abuse were systematically covered up and abusive priests were shuttled from parish to parish instead of being defrocked and handed over to civil authorities.

Since then, the Catholic Church in many countries has set up new guidelines to deal with cases of past abuse, prevent new cases, report abuse to police, and stop potential abusers from entering the priesthood in the first place.

The rest of the letter from Benedict to Odifreddi referred to other aspects of the author’s book, called “Dear Pope, I Am Writing You”, such as the conflict between good and evil.

(Editing by Alison Williams and Angus MacSwan)

 © 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

PHILIP PULLELLA/REUTERS

Catholic Apprehension Abounds Over Pope Interview.


Prominent Catholics around the world have mostly lauded Pope Francis’ landmark interview with the Jesuit publication La Civilta Cattolica, but some remain perplexed, deeply apprehensive and quietly upset by his remarks.

Catholic commentators have generally argued that much of the mainstream media has misinterpreted the 12,000-word interview by viewing it as a radical departure from previous pontiffs, one more ‘in tune’ with secular mores.

The truth, these commentators insist, is that nothing has changed except for a shift in emphasis.

Special reference has been made to Pope Francis’ comments that the Church “cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.”

Such issues need to be spoken of in context, Francis said, and it is not necessary to address them “all the time.”

The Church’s pastoral ministry, he added, “cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently” but should focus on the essentials and “find a new balance.” Otherwise, the Pope warned, “even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

Related Articles:

In short, Church commentators argue, Francis was calling for the Church’s moral teachings to be discussed within the context of a lived encounter with Jesus Christ and to derive from the gospel, rather than be addressed in the abstract, or in the context merely of the natural law. Benedict XVI, they point out, said something similar in 2006.

Various priests contacted by Newsmax have also viewed the interview in the same way, though not without fault. The Rev. Conor Donnelly, a medical doctor and theologian of the Opus Dei prelature, described it as “beautiful, simple, and profound.”

He said the Pope talks “with heart, reflecting a Christlike humanity,” and that although academically not a John Paul II or Benedict XVI, Francis “is not short on intellectual qualities.” But he noted that that “only people who pray can grasp what the Pope talks about.”

The Rev. Richard Cipolla, a traditionalist priest from Fairfield Conn., said he values greatly the Pope’s insistence that the mercy of God lies at the heart of the gospel message. But he wondered how it was possible for the Church to imitate Jesus in saying “go and sin no more” when society today has “abolished or relegated to a dark past” the very idea of sin.

“If the Church only preaches mercy without preaching the deadly nature of sin, then she is not true to the mission given to her by Christ,” he said.

Another priest, known to be from the orthodox wing of the Church but who preferred not to be identified, said Francis is a “wonderfully attractive figure in so many ways, and he’s effective.” But like many, he felt the Pope needed to realise that no matter what he says, the media will twist his words. “We have to give him time,” he said. “He’s still learning the ropes on how to deal with the media.”

Others are significantly more critical. The American theologian Michael Novak said the Pope’s use of words like ‘obsession’ “hurts the faithful who have even risked their lives” to protect life. He said the “tone” of the interview is “likely to be harmful.”

“It puts many Christians on the defensive, just when they are attacked,” Novak told the Italian newspaper La Stampa. “At the same time, it encourages criticism against the Church by her declared adversaries.”

Roger McCaffrey, president of the publishing house Roman Catholic Books, believes that “the Catholic left, and the entire political left, are beside themselves with glee” after this interview.

“Now they have a Jesuit who is, to them, beginning to sound like the late Cardinal Martini of Milan,” he said, referring to the Italian Jesuit cardinal, renowned for his liberal leanings, who died last year.

“He appears to refer to two of the most evil developments in human history — the mass organized killing of the unborn, half a billion in number, and the juggernaut of political victories since Obama took office in 2008 that attempt to normalize and mainstream abnormal sexual behaviour — as ‘issues’ that can be over-stressed,” McCaffrey told Newsmax.

“What that means to the Catholic left is that their issues may now be stressed,” he continued. “What it means to the rest of the left is that the Church is in disarray, and that Rome does not ‘have the bishops’ backs.’”

Those who would rather not criticise the Pope publicly have been similarly forthright in their criticisms of the interview in private. “We all knew he was a liberal, but I had no idea he was so partisan,” one prominent Catholic in Rome told Newsmax.

He believes that Francis is the “apotheosis of everything that was wrong about the Second Vatican Council.” The council reforms of the 1960s tried to remove barriers between the Church and the secular world, but critics say the council teachings were hijacked by liberals, leading to a sharp decline in Church attendance and vocations in much of the West.

“What priests are telling me privately is that they are ‘very disturbed’ or ‘wish the Pope would stop talking,'” a source with close connections to three cardinals told Newsmax, adding that some others are perplexed. They argue that even prior to the interview, abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage were hardly ever mentioned in homilies. “I have not talked to a single priest who is cheering the interview,” he said. “They will never allow themselves to be quoted on the record, but they are out there, all over the U.S.

“To deny that this interview has wounded the flock is to dissemble,” he said. “I think the Holy Father should consider issuing clarifications.”

Vatican officials have been reluctant to comment on the interview, including American Cardinal Raymond Burke. Well known for his firm defense of life, Burke, who heads the Church’s highest court at the Vatican, said he is not giving interviews at this time.

Others speaking on background fear that if the pontificate continues for long, the Church will suffer greatly with a further decline in vocations to the priesthood, both in quality and number.

Whether that happens or not, this interview has exposed some significant fault-lines in the Church — ones that Pope Francis will have to work hard at to heal.

Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek, and The Sunday Times.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Edward Pentin

ANALYSIS: Pope Francis Stuns the Church. But Will It Have a Lasting Effect?.


Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sept. 11, 2013. (Paul Haring/Catholic News Service)

Pope Francis on Thursday rocked the Catholic Church and surprised the wider world with a free-ranging interview that charted a course away from an institution that’s “obsessed” with a few sexual and moral issues and toward one that is more pastoral, less clerical and less doctrinaire.

But amid the widespread praise for his remarks—“Catholic is the new cool,” tweeted National Journal’s Ron Fournier—and some pointed criticism from the pontiff’s right flank, there lurks a critical, unanswered question: Can Francis make his vision for the church a reality?

More than detailing a list of reforms or policy change he hopes to make—which may yet happen, after time and extensive deliberations—the pope was sketching out a pastoral vision for the church, and modeling a way for clergy to speak and relate to their flocks.

In order to replicate that model, Francis needs enough time to appoint bishops who share his views and who can in turn encourage and promote like-minded priests and seminarians. In many ways, the type of change Francis envisions will take a generation or more.

Already, some in this current, more conservative-minded generation of bishops have signaled their unhappiness with the pope.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion,” Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin said this month in an interview that reflected comments made earlier by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and others.

Francis’ latest remarks seemed clearly directed at those internal critics; he said flatly that “I have never been a right-winger” and noted he has been “reprimanded” for his new direction. A major challenge is that those conservative bishops will continue to have influence if they are not replaced or sidelined, or if the 76-year-old pope has a relatively short reign.

The cautionary tale that many progressive Catholics point to is that of Pope John Paul I, the “smiling pope” whose election in 1978 seemed to herald a new era of a pastoral papacy—and a church molded in the same spirit.

But John Paul I died after just 33 days in office, opening the way to the election of John Paul II, an enormously popular figure yet one who began a sharp tack back toward doctrinal orthodoxy and conservatism.

That’s not to say the odds are against Francis. He turns 77 in December but seems to be in good health and appears at peace with the role that has been thrust upon him, in part by being pope the way he was a bishop and priest—as a pastor.

Moreover, his predecessor, Benedict XVI, was 78 when he was elected and within eight years managed to name more than 60 percent of the American hierarchy before retiring last February.  Since bishops must submit their resignations to the pope at age 75, and the hierarchy skews older, a pope can name a relatively large number of bishops in a fairly short time.

In addition, Francis’ remarks on Thursday may embolden more progressive clergy who have had to keep their opinions to themselves.

“I think that there are a fair number of bishops here in the U.S. who have quietly gone along with the more trenchant, culture warrior approach … because they thought that going along was what was expected of them,” said Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for National Catholic Reporter.

“I suspect there are some bishops in the U.S. who will respond with great vigor to his call even while there are some bishops, like Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Thomas Tobin, who will continue to gripe that the pope is not talking enough about abortion,” he added.

The power of the papacy, however, goes beyond just moving bishops around like pieces on a chessboard.

Churchmen raised in a hierarchical culture are especially attentive to a change in command at the top and can adjust their style accordingly. And as pastors they can also be sensitive to what the church would call the shifting winds of the Holy Spirit. Both of those instincts can prompt a change of heart—and leadership style—that does not necessitate a change in jobs.

Francis seems to be betting that he can have as much of an effect with his words as he can with his appointment power. Just look at other remarks he made on Thursday, in an address to newly consecrated bishops that drew little notice but may prove just as important.

In his brief talk, Francis blasted the “cancer” of “careerism” within the hierarchy, and he warned the prelates to “avoid the scandal of being ‘airport bishops’” who fly around to one high-profile event or another and fail to stay close to their flock.

“What’s clear is that Pope Francis is consciously, not accidentally, but consciously taking the church in a different direction. He is trying to change the culture of the church hierarchy,” said the Rev. James Bretzke, a Jesuit theologian at Boston College.

Cultures rarely change quickly, and whether Francis will be able to do what he wants may not be evident for some time. Even the pontiff, in the interview published this week, seemed to recognize that.

“I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision,” the pope said. “This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Tag Cloud

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,695 other followers