|Back in the early 80's group photos of Soviet Leadership let us all know who was in and who was out. The 'out' were literally photo-shopped out of photos.|
I see where our fearless leadership has put another LCWR theologian under notice a day after our fearless leader threw a plum to Philadelphia's Archbishop Chaput. I can't help but see this as another theologian sent to Siberia and another ladder climbing papal syncophant given a pat on the back. In the meantime we are not supposed to notice the Vatican continues to implode or that the jury in the Philadelphia abuse case is now in deliberation or that Cardinal Dolan has taken the gloves off and is in full bully mode concerning his bribes to predators to leave the priesthood.
Yesterday I read this article and the author, Richard Cottrell, makes a very interesting comparison:
"Joseph Ratzinger, alias Pope Benedict XVI, reminds me strongly of Brezhnev in his final decline. Then the corridors and chambers of the Kremlin hummed with plots, horrific acts of political treachery occurred behind closed doors as the general secretary quietly faded away, like the smile on the face of the Cheshire Cat.
The communist system effectively died with Brezhnev.
That story is being repeated right now within the sacred precincts of the Holy See.
One Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, was moved to describe the commotion inside the Vatican as the “penultimate act of a medieval battle moved to the 21st century.”
This is slightly an understatement. The Vatican is gripped by a civil war of such bitterness and furious intensity it may never fully recover.
The issue, as with Leonid Brezhnev, is largely but not fully connected to the toxic issue of the succession."
I remember well those times of the Soviet Union under Brezhnev. It seemed there was endless speculation about who would replace him, just how sick he was, whether the KGB would rig his succession and on and on and on. The score could be kept by literally paying attention to who was and was not seen on the parade platform with Brezhnev. The infighting got so toxic for so long that by the time Brezhnev finally met his Maker in 1982, the Communist party resorted to old guard old men, (Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, who both died after short terms in office) as place holders until the fighting in the Politburo resulted in some sort of truce. This led in 1985 to Mikhial Gorbachev who essentially presided over the death of the Soviet system.
There really are some striking parallels between the current Vatican situation and the Soviet situation in the early 80's. The memberships in the college of cardinals and the bent of most of the curia has been carefully managed to be conservative and traditional. The infighting in the Vatican is not amongst progressives and conservatives, it's strictly between conservatives. It is truly a one party system fighting over who gets to replace the old leader of that one party system. The CDF under Levada continues to act like the KGB, ferreting out dissent and those who question the party line. These investigations are too often the result of self appointed secret police who the CDF seems only too happy to have in their system. Benedict may fancy himself a sort of fatherly benevolent monarch, but that's only true in his imagination. What is happening under Benedict, and what he himself used so effectively to rise to his current position, is not very much different from the Communist system under Kruschev, a system of patronage and corruption that Brezhnev used in exactly the same way to achieve his own ascendancy.
I can certainly see where a similar scenario could play out in Catholicism where the current internecine fighting leads to the election of another old pope of the old guard that very shortly leads to another old pope of the old guard that very shortly ends, making it obvious to even the old guard that change can no longer be avoided. I can also hope that someone in the Vatican or the college of cardinals can take a look at Soviet history and just bite the bullet and skip the intervening papacies.
I also think it's pretty ironic that the Pope who was instrumental in bringing down the Soviet system fostered pretty much the same thing in his own Vatican. God does seem to have a sense of humor.