|Cardinal Carlo Martini, may he rest in peace. May his vision live for ever.|
The death of Cardinal Carlo Martini hit last Friday hit close to home since I had posted the day before about one of his contemporaries, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. In that particular post I excerpted part of the summary from a doctoral dissertation written about the conflict dynamics in the situation between Archbishop Hunthausen and JPII's Vatican. AB Hunthausen had a vision of Church which was pastoral, flexible, and treated laity like adults. The Vatican had a vision of Church which was far more legal and tended to see laity like misbehaving teenagers way too focused on their genitals. Yesterday I posted an excerpt from Cardinal Burke's speech to the Kenyan Canon Law Convention in which he elevates the Code of Canon Law to the importance of the 10 commandments. Today, thanks to Commonweal, I am posting the entirety of the last interview given by Cardinal Martini. It was originally printed in the print edition of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. And once again we see this same huge divide in visions of the Church..
How do you see the situation of the Church?
The Church is tired, in prosperous Europe and in America. Our culture is out of
date; our Churches are big; our religious houses are empty, and the Churches bureaucratic
apparatus is growing, and our rites and our vestments are pompous. Do such things really
express what we are today? ... Prosperity weighs us down. We find ourselves like the rich
young man who went away sad when Jesus called him to become his disciple. I know
that it’s not easy to leave everything behind. At least could we seek people who are free
and closer to their neighbors, as Bishop Romero was and the Jesuit martyrs of El
Salvador? Where among us are heroes to inspire us? We must never limit them by
institutional bonds. (Cardinal Martini might just as well be speaking about Cardinal Burke. I hate to keep picking on Burke, but he is the poster boy for the vision of Church which is killing the Church in the West.)
Who can help the Church today?
Fr. Karl Rahner liked to use the image of embers hidden under ashes. I see in the
Church today so many ashes above the embers that I’m often assailed by a sense of
powerlessness. How can the embers be freed from the ashes in order to rekindle the flame
of love? First of all, we have to look for those embers. Where are the individuals full of
generosity, like the Good Samaritan? Who have faith like that of the Roman centurion?
Who are as enthusiastic as John the Baptist? Who dare new things, as Paul did? Who are
faithful as Mary Magdalene was? I advise the Pope and the bishops to look for twelve
people outside the lines for administrative posts [posti direzionali]–people who are close
to the poorest and who are surrounded by young people and are trying out new things.
We need that comparison with people who are burning so that the spirit can spread
everywhere. (Yes, how can the embers be freed from the ashes?)
What means do you advise against the Church’s weariness?
I have three important ones to mention. The first is conversion: the Church has to
recognize its own errors and has to travel a radical journey of change, beginning with the
Pope and the bishops. The scandals of pedophilia are driving us to undertake a journey of
conversion. Questions about sexuality and all the themes involving the body are an
example of this. They are important for everyone, at times they’re also too important. In
this area is the Church is still a point of reference or only a caricature in the media?
The second is the Word of God. Vatican II restored the Bible to Catholics. ... Only
someone who receives this Word in his heart can be among those who will help the
renewal of the Church and will know how to respond to personal questions wisely. The
Word of God is simple and seeks as its companion a heart that is listening. ... Neither the
clergy nor Church law can substitute for a person’s inwardness. All the external rules, the
laws, the dogmas were given to us in order to clarify the inner voice and to discern the
spirits. (And there in lies the difference between Burke and Martini, and Hunthausen and Ratzinger. One view is obsessed with law and intellectualization, and the other view thinks with their heart.)
For whom are the sacraments? They are the third means of healing. The
sacraments are not a disciplinary instrument, but a help for people at moments on their
journey and when life makes them weak. Are we bringing the sacraments who need a
new strength? I’m thinking of all the divorced people and couples who have remarried
and extended families. They need a special protection. The Church maintains the
indissolubility of marriage. It is a grace when a marriage and a family succeed. ... The
attitude we take toward extended families will determine whether their children come
near to the Church. A woman is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion
who is concerned for her and her three children. The second love succeeds. If this family
is discriminated against, not only the woman, but her children, too, will be cut off. If the
parents feel external to the Church and do not experience its support, the Church will lose
the future generation. Before Communion we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy...” We know
we are unworthy. ... Love is grace. Love is a gift. The question whether the divorced can
receive Communion would have to be turned upside down. How can the Church come to
the aid of complex family situations with the power of the sacraments?
What do you do personally?
The Church is two hundred years behind. Why is it not being stirred? Are we
afraid? Afraid instead of courageous? Faith is the Church’s foundation–faith, confidence,
courage. I’m old and ill and depend on the help of others. The good people around me
enable me to experience love. This love is stronger than the feeling of discouragement
that I sometimes feel in looking at the Church in Europe. Only love conquers weariness.
God is Love.
I have a question for you: “What can you do for the Church?”
Cardinal Martini asks why is the Church not being stirred? The truth is it is being stirred, it's just that his peers won't acknowledge it. I think they won't acknowledge the stirring because too many of them are experiencing the Church from the intelligence in their heads, and not from the intelligence in their hearts.
In fact I think too many of our leadership are ignorant of the reality of heart intelligence and the power of it's influence on the human brain. They still think intellectual discipline and academic training can tame human emotion and there by control human societies. Under this thinking gays can live happy celibate lives if they just develop the discipline, women can handle all the children God gives them if they just develop the right 'understanding' of their role, and the priesthood will have all the vocations it needs if parents just demonstrated good Catholic discipline in the family. The People of God will be happy when they just follow the carefully thought out rules.
The first problem with this kind of rational wishful thinking starts directly with the fact the human body reacts emotionally faster than it does cognitively. This principle explains why all the training in celibacy can go straight down the drain the instant a priest falls in love. At that point it's no longer about discipline or intellectual rationalizations because the cognitive centers of the brain are being steam rolled by powerful emotions. The center of that emotional steam roller is literally in the structure of the heart. Cardinal Burke would do himself a favor to get his head out of Canon Law books and start reading the research on the intelligent heart. This field of research has huge implications for theology, spirituality, religious systems and our understanding of ourselves as humans. It is not New Age wishful thinking.
Cardinal Martini ended his life soundly affirming God is Love and that love will conquer all weariness. Love is a tonic for sure, and one quite capable of totally upsetting the perfectly laid intellectual plans of any human or human institution. It's often called conversion. Until Cardinal Martini's peers understand just how powerful love is relative to cognition, there's very little hope the Burkes of the Catholic world will ever lose their bureaucratic influence and the Church in the West will continue to die. The Church doesn't need more laws, it needs more love. Didn't it's Founder say just that?