Friday, August 28, 2009

Rumors, Resginations And The Reform Of The Reform

Does the 'reform of the reform' really mean all the decision making about everything starts and stops here?

Pope has no plans to reverse Vatican II reforms, says Cardinal Bertone
Vatican City, Aug 28, 2009 / 10:06 am (CNA).-

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said this week that the reports of supposed plans to roll back changes to the Church’s liturgy that began with the Second Vatican Council “are pure fabrication.”

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal was asked about the “reservations” or “fears” of some who think the Holy Father is going “against” Vatican II, when the reality is actually the opposite. (This is a CNA article so editorial opinion passes for news.)

In order to understand Benedict XVI’s manner of governing the Church, Cardinal Bertone explained, one has to consider his own personal history as a protagonist in the conciliar and post-conciliar Church. Other items to note are: his inaugural speech as Pope, his speech to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005 and the changes he has personally called for, enacted and patiently explained. (Actually, I think his funeral homily for JPII is far more indicative of his true leanings. Interesting that Cardinal Bertone left that one out.)

Cardinal Bertone noted several key points of the Council that the Pope has constantly promoted, including fostering “a more understanding relationship with the Orthodox and Eastern Churches” and entering into dialogue with Judaism and Islam. These efforts, the cardinal said, have been met with responses unseen up to now. (I can agree with this for the most part, while noting some of the progress came because of incredible PR screw ups. But it's also of note that Bertone doesn't mention any emphasis on collegiality or decentralization of power, which were critical aspects of Vatican II.)

After noting the positive relationship the Pope has with the bishops, Cardinal Bertone said that when it comes to the reform of the Church, “Benedict XVI has called us back to the source of the Word of God, to the evangelical law and the heart of the Church’s life: Jesus, who we know, love, adore and imitate.” (He mentions Peter a whole lot as well.)

The Vatican's Secretary of State also pointed out that the Pope has given the Church a great gift with his book “Jesus of Nazareth,” in which he reminded us that his desire is “to make Christ the heart of the world.” (Since Christ (in many forms, but especially love) is already the heart of the world, the issue is to open people up to that knowledge, not make Christ into that which He already is.)

Cardinal Bertone noted the tendency in the secular media to ascribe to the Pope, or to the Vatican, the responsibility for everything that happens in the Church or that is said by any member of the local Churches, institutions or ecclesial groups, “and this is not right.” (Maybe not, but it is the fruit of the papacies of JPII and B16, whose major reform of the reform is to reemphasise the central authority of the Papacy and Vatican curia.)

It would be more accurate, he said, to attribute to each person responsibility for his or her own actions or words, “especially when they patently contradict the teachings and example of the Pope.”

The way that the media covers such cases depends on reporters and media professionals having good intentions and a love for the truth, Bertone observed. (Are you listening CNA? The operative word is truth, not opinion. I on the other hand, do not claim to be a journalist and can have all the opinions I want.)


Here's another interesting CNA piece:

Bishop of Scranton to step down next week
Scranton, Pa., Aug 28, 2009 / 11:12 am (CNA).-

Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino, Bishop of Scranton, will resign as head of the Diocese of Scranton next week, sources within the diocese confirmed to the local press today.

The sources did not explain the reason for the 62-year-old bishop’s decision. The sources also did not specify if the Bishop’s resignation was going to be presented or if it had been already submitted and accepted by the Vatican.

When asked by CNA to confirm Bishop Martino's resignation, diocesan spokesman William Genello said that the diocese will hold a press conference next Monday for media members only.
According to Canon law, a Bishop can present his resignation to the Holy Father for reasons other than the age limit (75), but he remains the head of the diocese until his resignation is accepted.

Speculation about the bishop's future began earlier this week when the local press in Scranton reported that his belongings were being moved from the rectory of St. Peter's Cathedral, to a retreat house in Dalton, Pa.

Joseph Martino was installed as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Scranton in October, 2003, and rapidly became one of the stronger pro-life voices in the U.S. episcopate.
In a pastoral letter issued last year before the presidential election, Bishop Martino wrote, “To begin, laws that protect abortion constitute injustice of the worst kind. They rest on several false claims including that there is no certainty regarding when life begins, that there is no certainty about when a fetus becomes a person, and that some human beings may be killed to advance the interests or convenience of others.”

On February this year, he wrote to Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey concerning his vote against the Mexico City Policy, expressing his “deep concern” that the senator’s staff was misrepresenting the vote as "pro-life."


The NCR take on this resignation is somewhat different from the CNA take. Bishop Martino was not big on pastoral compassion, and real big on his own authority as a bishop. To say his style was confrontational is an understatement. See Senator Casey, the USCCB, various colleges and theology departments, Scranton voters, the organizers of the St Patrick's day parade and Notre Dame-- that's just the last 9 months.

Like Roberto Duran, there didn't seem to be a fight Bishop Martino wanted to miss. Is he also, like Duran, saying 'no mas'? Speculation is rampant as to the reasons for this sudden resignation. Did that silent majority of USCCB bishops petition the Vatican to remove him? Did his diocese revolt against him? Did Casey use his influence with the Vatican? Is the Vatican recognizing a pastoral mistake? Is there some sort of major scandal in the offing? While I think there may be some truth in all of the above, I wouldn't be surprised if all the fighting and all the attendant stress finally did him in, and the official reasons will be health related.

For some reason, I think it's curious that just as Archbishop Sheehan is proposing a completely different model of authority, one based in collaboration, the next day the one bishop who most modeled the opposite approach suddenly resigns.

I find it just as curious that as the Catholic world is rife with rumors of a unilateral Curial decision to change the rubrics of the Mass, the next day Cardinal Bertone is saying no, no, no, it's all rumor and isn't going to happen. Pope Benedict isn't going to do that. Which still implies that Pope Benedict believes he has the authority to completely over ride anything an individual bishop might decide to do in his own diocese. Since Martino believed very strongly in his authority to do what ever he wanted in his own diocese it would have been very interesting to see the outcome of these two butting authoritarian heads. Maybe they did, and Bishop Martino found out just how far his authority extended.

In the meantime I guess Cardinal Bertone wants us to see Pope Benedict as the good guy who isn't going to force the Church back into the rubrics of the pre Vatican II Mass. Maybe this rumor mongering was all a big PR strategy designed to make it appear that Benedict is listening to the more progressive wing of the Church. When the reality is, all he has done is maintain the status quo while deflecting from the fact he still retains all the meaningful authority in himself.

If that's true, than the Martino resignation may be just one more example of flexing the muscle of the central authority of the Vatican. That in reality, neither of these situations represents anything more, and that's the central message of the 'reform of the reform'. At it's core it's about re centralizing all ecclesiastical power and has nothing to do with the wishes of progressives or conservatives---much less the Holy Spirit.


  1. Well, I am happy the bishop of Scranton will be gone. I really hope all of these guys, the bishops, grow up. And Bishop Martino is just one example. There are more issues than abortion out there especially in this economy.

    Now I am seeing reports that the US bishops plan to oppose Obama's health care plan. Well the whole lot of US bishops are sorry.

    When will the US bishops stop walking in lock step to JPII and start doing some real thinking? When will they get in touch with their people and their problems?

    I do not have time to post on Obama's health care bill. It just seems to me that the US bishops are just as brain dead as the Republicans. And I think that is reason to withhold money from the chruch.

  2. There are many suggestion one could make for 'where Bp Martino should go', most of which are unprintable....:)

    No, his diocese did not 'revolt against him'. Certainly not the laity, who are largely bewildered & obedient (and largely unthinking....) sheep. From what I have oberserved & been told:

    Those who still go to mass in the Scranton diocese are either doing so out of mindless habit, for social convention, or as it furthers their status in the community. Generally, very few attendees there actually have a genuine, living faith in God.

    Those who do have mostly voted with their feet - increasingly so since Martino took over in 2003. His coverup of sex abuse, the misdeeds of the Society of St. John (inexorably linked with the FSSP!!!), and his rage in mandating church/school closings & forced mergers.

    There is no dearth of Catholics in the region; only a dearth of those who will put up with the autocratic, fanatical, & un-Christian mindset of one like Martino. He made it eminently clear from the outset that he was all about two things:

    2. $$$$

    He is the very model of an Opus Dei prelate, regardless of actually membership. Many more clerics are covert associates or collaborators then are care carrying members. He is cut from that cloth.

    One perceived none of the love for others of which Jesus taught; nor of the mercy for our enemies - which is the "contract' in the Lord's Prayer.

    Judgment of a soul is not so much on 'piety' nor strict observance of The Law. Rather, we will be judged with the measure with which we judge others; and mercy applied to us in like manner.

    As Jesus taught: the soul which is 'oh so pious' but has not mercy, will be the Law.

    Et tu, Opus Dei?

  3. Good riddance to Martino. Unfortunately, there are other bishops in the same model who haven't quit their dioceses.

  4. The actions of the US Bishops should not be surprising. They vociferously opposed Obama during the election, resorted to every conceivable method to blackmail and strongarm catholics to vote republican. Why does it surprise anyone that they would oppose this.

    The bishops seem to have NO concern for pastoral care of anyone in any form, only in maintaining and exercising their authority, exerting their power and protecting their prestige.

  5. anonymous. I too wonder just how connected Bishops like Martino actually are to groups like Opus Dei and the Legion. I suspect if the typical Catholic really understood the extent and nature of the influence of these groups and their financial backers, they might be less sanguine and apathetic about the direction this church is taking.

    wild hair, JPII had a strategy in which the Catholic Church would be an effective spiritual and political force behind the throne of the first world government. The puppet master that pulled the strings so to speak. Or the theocracy behind the democracy.

    The first task in this vision was the destruction of communism. JPII saw three potentials for a true world government, the Catholic Church, Communism, and Global corporate captitalism operating from democratic countries.

    He felt he could influence global corporate capitalism and their democracies, but had no hope with communism. Hence communism had to go. Kudos to him, he certainly accomplished that.

    Once communism was out of the way, the strategy for co opting corporate capitalism needed the 'charisms' of groups like Opus Dei, Neo Catechumens, and the Legion. For the most part these groups specifically target wealthy corporate members, government officials, and the media. He protected them like crazy because they were so damn successful, loyal, and heavily leaned towards fascism.

    However, JPII couldn't accomplish this goal without putting into place, in as many dioceses as he could, men who would tow the Vatican line. You can't covertly wield real power without a loyal cadre of subordinates who will not question your motives nor those of your major supporters. It looks to me like JPII was willing to use some pretty shitty means to acheive his desired end--a real and powerful place for Catholicism in the secular global world.

    Archbishop Chaput is a classic JPII bishop, and that's why I find his selection to the Legion visitation team so fascinating.

    Should a really negative verdict come from this visitation, it would be devastating to the Legion, expose groups like Blackwater, and shine a whole new understanding on the papacy of JPII and what he was up to.

    Archbishop Chaput will have to demonstrate a great deal of courage and integrity if he is going to conduct a valid investigation. I firmly believe he was stationed in Colorado for a reason. He was JPII's point man for the Colorado Springs bunch. This is also a group working to conquer the world for Jesus and causing Catholicism real problems in Latin America and Africa.

    To credibly investigate the Legion he will have to stomp on their toes as well. We'll see if he's a real Jesus priest or a JPII operative.

    As for Martino, he appears to have failed at both. And as for Benedict, I don't think he has the necessary steely resolve to tolerate the same kinds of sick things that JPII did in order to establish the Church as a meaningful global power player.

    The problem is, Jesus doesn't need this world, or at least the old definition of it, He needs us to understand the greater reality and how it operates. All of this global power broking nonsense is incredibly counter productive and no spiritual system has any business engaging in it.

  6. Upon reading of his resignation, The Wizard of Oz popped into my mind:

    Ding dong, the witch is dead.

    Jim McCrea

  7. "Jesus priest Vs JPII operative"

    Interesting terms...and while I disagree with your choice of words, I completely understand & agree with your point.

    But first, let's clarify "JP2 operative". I would refine that as "Opus Dei operative", regardless of actual membership Vs 'friendly & knowing cooperation'. Many, many clergy fall into that latter category; mostly covertly. Far more then most suspect.

    Some are Liberals.....who are playing games 'on command', as it were. All may not be as it seems....

    They would not do so if there were not come career reward in it for them. Obviously, this eliminates them from the construct of a 'Jesus priest' as their object of loyalty & veneration is the human wearer of an Episcopal ring......

    It must be clearly understood that JP2 was NOT intrinsically evil, as a man. Stupid, perhaps. It must also be understood that he was literally surrounded by Opus Dei ppl from his seminary days (though he was never a member). Yet, non membership aside, his first official act as pope was to visit & venerate the grave of "The Father": Jose-Maria Escriva.

    That is telling. And clearly indicates in whose pocket he was, as pope. His papacy was run by the Opus; and his inner Vatican circle was populated by both literal members AND very loyal collaborators of the Opus. As time went by, it became very clear that his papacy was controlled, stage managed. As JPII aged, he himself was increasingly manipulated & controlled.

    To the extent that he was mind altered. He was not willingly Opus Dei's man; he became its prisoner & puppet. Ditto for his (scripted) words & policies.

    It should be clearly noted that many of the writings & Encyclicals 'he wrote'....were NOT written by him. This is crucial.

    While the Opus & its many tentacles presented a sanctified & people friendly image for him, what came from his mouth & pen was sometimes anything BUT of the mind of Christ. Or the mind of JPII.....the love & concern for the poor & common man was buried by the contradictory support for overtly fascist regimes & agendas.

    Back now to Bp Martino.....he was a 'JPII operative'. He was sent to Scranton as a hatchet man & did that job to a 'T'. It is also odd that Dougherty the Auxiliary, now 77 (2 years past retirement age) would choose to retire NOW. Something is clearly in the works.

    Martino hints of 'health issues', yet the man I saw speak these words on TV seemed as vigorous as ever. Unless his liver falls out on the sidewalk.....I simply do not believe him. If my intuition is correct, and he continues to breathe, we will see him take up either some other more prominent diocese. Or some Curial position in Rome, as a reward for a 'job well done'.

  8. Addendum -

    Agreed with your comments about the apparant deeds/misdeeds of JPII in re Church management, & geopolitics. True!

    I would add that some would see the things you wrote & make the mistake of attributing this managerial/politcal acumen solely to JPII.

    Wrong. He was no more a geopolitical genius then he was a good public speaker. In re the latter, you would think that his scripts were all written phonetically & he was 'cold reading' them for the first time! And I am referring to English & the Romance languages which he was supposed to be fluent in!!!

    He was a useful idiot. A puppet. What ideas were his own were the result of association with persons & ideals of Opus Dei members/agendas. They seemed to suit his mindset, coming from the backwaters of Poland. This man was NOT worldly, one experienced in diplomacy, politics, or the Vatican Curia. He had never held a diplomatic post. Except for the sessions of Vatican II, he had never worked outside Poland.

    Communism was 'the enemy' in his personal experience in Poland. This dovetails neatly with the rabid Anti-Communist mindset of Opus Dei, whose drones would have been all around him in Poland, post WWII.

    But as a man, he was a relative ignorant innocent - who was blindsided & used, in the extreme. I am convinced by a variety of factors that he did finally, by the Grace of God come to realize this on some level. But by that time it was...too late.

  9. According to the now disgraced Irish Bishop Magee, who was a personal secretary of both, JPI knew he would be replaced by JPII.

    Interesting the replacement came right before JPI could revamp the Vatican bank. One of JPII's first acts also included putting the control of the Vatican bank soley in his hands and making an Opus Dei member day to day operations officer.

    It's all so oh innocent looking.