Saturday, March 2, 2013

Heart Burn And Hope Lead To Zero TV

I strongly suspect this time around the old men are in for a long drawn out Conclave.

I have such mixed feeling about this current period in Catholicism.  So mixed in fact, that I have not watched one second of television coverage at all, zero, zilch. My TV has not been on in three weeks.  I'm not really sure I can articulate all these jumbled up feelings.  

I can identify a few,  one in particular.  Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger has given me heart burn on more than one occasion.  I don't mean heart burn in the TUMS sense.  I mean heart burn in the painful sense. The one that triggers burning anger in my heart.  Benedict managed to do it again with the Georg Ganswein situation.  I don't particularly care what the specifics of Ratzinger's and Ganswein's relationship are, I care about the impunity with which Benedict has promoted Ganswein's career and furthered their relationship.  I get that Benedict is hugely conflicted about his own sexuality, but he has not given a particularly worthy witness as to how one deals with such conflict. It is not done by promoting the object of your heart and creating positions for that object to stay in your presence.  The fact that Ganswein is still to be the Prefect of the Papal Household absolutely undermines any statement of Benedict's that he will be 'obedient' to the next Pope.  Right..  I can't name one other retiring head of a government who took his personal secretary into his household and also had that same secretary slotted to be the gatekeeper for his replacement.  Maybe somewhere in some totally nepotistic company such a thing has occurred.  That it will occur in Roman Catholicism is a huge statement about clerical nepotism and political infighting and just exactly why Benedict's ideas of loyalty are an insane way to run a global entity like the Church.  Benedict's successor should assign Ganswein to a diocese right after he chooses his papal name.  We would then see how far Benedict's vow of 'obedience' really goes.

On the other hand, I do truly believe that Pope Benedict has done a very necessary and culture changing thing.  Resigning the papacy returns it to what it was intended to be, an office as first among equals, not another ontological magic step in which one personally receives the charism of infallibility. It's not true and never has been that the papacy is a personal coronation of one man to divine rule.  I would hope the next Pope could further this truth by involving more of the People of God in his pronouncements and not acting as if he and he alone has the authority to make sweeping statements about topics for which Scripture has no answer nor any advice.  No more JPII statements like Ordinatio Sarcedotalis which was purposely intended to tie the hands of any future Pope who might see the need to increase the priestly ranks by adding women. 
So in the end I think Pope Benedict has done a very revolutionary thing by resigning, but I also think he has done a very retrogressive self absorbed silly thing with Georg Ganswein.

I do have some advice for the Cardinals about to go into Conclave and elect Benedict's successor.  End Catholicism as the 'show me the money' religion.  The younger generations are not swayed by the pomp and ceremony the 'show me the money' church has historically substituted for the real works of Faith.  They want a 'show me the spiritual works" kind of church in which the personal discipline the Church teaches make some sense to the ears of twenty first century humanity.  This is the core message of Jesus, love makes things happen, starting with love of God and love of self and extending that kind of healthy love out to others to change their circumstances.  That kind of love sees others as we see ourselves.  It does not condemn.  It does not judge.  It shows the Way by example.  That example must transcend the usual ways we separate ourselves from each other.  Sometimes that kind of love really does bend reality for the better.  If our Cardinals continue to insist that traditional ritual practices buttressed with all the accoutrements money can buy is going to convert people, they do not have their fingers on the pulse of post modern consciousness.

I have no idea who the next Pope will be.  Like everyone else I have my favorites, but I also know I am not the Author of the story of Catholicism.  I'm only another of a billion+ of bit players.  I do however believe that this is an interactive story and that the Author listens to his characters.  I trust that this time around the Author will write some change into how the main characters conduct their roles in the plot line and at minimum the next Pope will work to end the corruption and put some accountability in the hierarchy.  It is possible for a leader to set completely different expectations for collective behavior and that these expectations will stick.  It does take time and a firm will, but in the end it is doable.  

My feeling is that this Conclave is going to be longer than the talking heads think it will be and when all is said and done there are going to be some bruised feelings and more than one derailed career.  Much of the needed battle between the old guard and the reformers will happen inside the Conclave and really, that's where it should play out. After all these guys all agreed this is the way the system should work.  They need to play the game by the rules they all agreed to and not whine to badly if they come out on the losing side.  I strongly suspect there will be major whining if the Sodano curia group or the Bertone curia group both wind up on the outside looking in.  That would potentially be a spiritual work of epic proportions.  Let the games begin.

I also want to send congratulations to Bill Lyndsey for his excellent blog Bilgrimage which has been selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in it's internet archive on this period of transition between Pope Benedict and his successor.  This is a well earned accolade.  Congratulations Bill.


  1. Good observations. I gave up watching TV in general some time ago as I find it rather dumbed down and inane, and that specifically includes the nonstop 24 hour news cycle. The media do not address the real probleme we have in the nation or world, but distract us with manufactured crises, get themselves played by the wingnuts, and distract viewers and readers with inane celebrity gossip. I found the long drawn out coverage of John Paul II's illness and death irritating in the extreme. I have no hope of any reform, as this may only happen once the institution expels reformers or places them in schism. It's interesting that you mention Bertone and Sodano and their respective claques, as one of the problems contributing to the Vatican decay is the strong rivalry and hatred that exists between Bertone and Sodano.

  2. Your summary and analysis, for me, seem spot on.

    I agree that one significant piece is that Benedict has returned the papacy to an office and not a person.

    This is a big "What if." What if those old men in conclave select someone, not quite known to them, like John XXIII? We have Benedict who left on the helicopter, but not into the sunset and will return and live within the walls of the vatican. Now this new pope begins to unravel all the theological knot tying of JP II reinforced by Cardinal Ratzinger and the people he silenced. The new pope begins to reinstate many or all of them.

    Then...all the neocats, as you say, would have heart burn which would be well deserved. There would be two popes. The vatican crumbles. The voices of God's people are finally heard.

  3. I do not believe that the new pope will keep Georg around any long than it takes to show the new guy where the bathroom is. Do I think Georg will continue to stay with Benedict? Probably. If that is what Georg wants to do. Maybe he knows that his career is over and staying around Rome is the best he can hope for. It probably beats being bishop of Mongolia. Maybe he does not know he is bordering on being a laughing stock around the world. Maybe he knows every boy toy has to keep his eyes open to what happens when the sugar papa dies or gets bored. And don't forget, a new pope could impose a vow of silence as obedience on Benedict. But I doubt that will happen. I swing between hope and fear of a bad choice for pope. But then I remember that my prayer for a new pope IS being answered so maybe my prayer for a pope who will ordained married women and men to the priesthood, focus on the Gospel and protect children will also come true.

  4. To take the edge off the pre conclave jitters, and to make everyone's day I strongly suggest you read this brilliant piece.

    The last day that should've been at the Vatican! :-D

  5. I think Kathy one of the reasons I haven't watched any TV is I couldn't stand the idea of interviews of media gurus by other media gurus. I've read enough John Allen in the last three weeks, I didn't see him on TV.

    My only real reason to hope for reform is that the African Cardinals know damn well the Church in Africa needs a more vibrant Church in the first world. African Catholicism needs that financial help and it needs one first world player who can help stem the tide of political and corporate corruption while giving Islam pause to reconsider conversion by the AK47.

  6. That's an interesting scenario Wild. Anonymous Vatican players have already stated one reason to keep Benedict on site was to prevent his access to conservatives who would try to use him as a rallying point for their ire should the next Pope do something slightly left of center right.

    I actually was quite surprised the Vatican admitted it was truly afraid of the damage the right wingnuts could cause. I found that somewhat ironic given that they have caved in almost across the board to every little whine that came from that side of Church.

  7. I hope the new Pope sends his first message to the Bertone boys by sending Georg packing. Even Dizwicz knew better than to think he could hang around Benedict after JPII died. Well I have to think by then Dizwicz had more money stashed away than he actually needed. I will give Georg this much credit, there is no sniff of any similar corruption around him.

    The only really two bad popes I can say would honestly send me round the twist would be Bertone or Sodano. I wouldn't be happy with some others either, but those two would do me in. Thank God I don't think either one has a hope in hell.

  8. That is really funny Kallisti, thanks for posting the link.

  9. One minor thing to be happy about is that Sodano is too old to vote in the conclave, and too old to run for Pope. There is also the matter of all that cash he got from Maciel. Unfortunately, Bertone is young enough to do both.

  10. thanks for yet another insightful posting. i love your site and i visit all the time. i probably come here so often because i think i'll find something that will never be mine again.

    i'm glad there are still some folks who have faith. i have no faith at all any more. no faith in the church and no faith in god, at least not in the way this deity is popularly understood.

    i continue to be interested by the spectacle, however. and i confess to having a morbid facination in what's gonna happen next. mostly i have a concern for all those people around the world who will be impacted by the desision these old men will make. and i fear the decision won't do much to lighten the load of those already heavily burdened.

  11. Please find an introduction to a unique cultural historian that runs rings around all of the usual horse-manure that passes for religious and cultural babble/babel in this time and place.
    The first sentence sums up the situation in succinct no nonsense terms.
    Check out the essays on his blog at his personal website too

  12. William Thompson is really really good. I was mesmerized, first because I have experienced much of what he describes, and secondly because he write what I do not. He is correct, the next phase is not about religion but about individual spiritual knowing and individual gifts. If we choose to bring these together in community, it will still not be a religion as we have known it in the past.

    One other thing I found, well, simply mind blowing. He speaks about old religious paradigms becoming caricatures. He even mentions the over the top sexual issues exhibited by clergy of all persuasions in all part of the globe. Old energy dies hard and stupidly I might add. Catholicism is now in the throes of such a time. It is not at all surprising that stupid sexuality from immaturely developed clergy is taking center stage.

    Thank you very much for this link. I will be closely following this blog.

  13. Gänswein is an Opus boy, see the article about him in wikipedia. He war a professor en Canon Law at the university of the Holy Cross. Canon Lay is the beloved subject for OD, a priest not Opus never teaches canon law at your university. They have a feet in the POntifical Household. They dont give up easyly.

  14. Ganswein started in an SSPX seminary so I am not shocked he switched to OD. I've often wondered if he wasn't more of an OD operative than a real friend of Benedict. I especially thought that when his testimony about the butler was a well thought out hatchet job which essentially served to present himself as blameless. Ganswein has got to go. If he stays as Prefect of the Papal Household we will know just who runs the Vatican.

  15. We know who rules the Vatican right now. Remember, Who is the cardinal who has the "Vatileaks report" and who has decided not to show it? they are the master...The problem is, even if a Pope not friend with them arrives, Could he do his work without them? They must be expelled and they arent...that is the real problem.