|Paul VI never made the cover of Rolling Stone, but he made Time's cover more than once. This is the one for when he issued Humanae Vitae.|
I didn't intend to go two weeks without posting, but it looks like I certainly managed to do so. For some reason time just seems to be going ultra fast for me lately. I keep track of dates and appointments on a 5 week white board and today marks the end of five weeks. It seems like maybe two weeks since I last changed all the dates. Maybe this is God's way of packing more life in a short amount of time. I would hope I'm experiencing aging at the same rate. If I age two weeks for every five, I could be around a lot longer than I think. It's a miracle.
Speaking of miracles, the Vatican has just announced one for Paul VI. It involves the cure of an unspecified problem with a fetus who upon birth did not exhibit the expected birth defect. The Vatican makes no bones about this miracle validating Paul VI's issuance of Humanae Vitae: "The Postulator of the Pope Paul VI’s cause said this was an extraordinary and supernatural event which took place through the intercession of the late Pope. It was in line with his magisterium and the contents of the “Humanae Vitae” encyclical, i.e. the defence of life, “but also the defence of the family, because that document discusses married love, not just unborn life. This healing is in harmony with Montini’s teaching.”" I certainly hope this blatant politicizing of a miracle and the canonization process of a pope doesn't portend miracles for every contentious issue promulgated by any pope in the last two hundred years. I anxiously await the next PVI miracle. If there is any justice or honesty, it will be the full cure of AIDS in a gay man.
Pope Francis has aslo been on my radar these past two weeks. I was hoping the latest meeting of the C8 would end with the announcement of the names on the commission on clerical abuse, and maybe more information concerning it's mandate. There was no such announcement. This commission is still a matter of one sound bite from Cardinal O'Malley and absolutely no walk. The voices for justice, like Betty Clermont's, in this area are now getting louder and their arguments harder to refute the longer Francis fails to act. It's been almost a full year and Francis has yet to act in any meaningful way on clerical abuse. He is repeating the sad pattern he had with this issue in Buenos Aires. As Gerry Slevin also points out, so far the priority has been all about putting the Vatican's money in order rather than giving the victims of the Catholic priesthood some justice.
Today Pope Francis installed 19 more Cardinals in the presence of his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict. To my knowledge this is the first major Vatican ceremony for which both popes have been present. Kudos to Benedict for not making himself a visible lightening rod for his flock of Vatican II reformers. However, in many ways Benedict really hasn't had to be very visible because Francis has gone to some length to assure us all he is in continuity with Benedicts' thinking and policies. Francis has not broken with Benedict at all. He has chosen to maintain his distance by emphasizing points of Benedict's writings which Benedict's vatican did not emphasize and by symbolic changes rather than disagreeing with the over all reform of the reform. For all the hand wringing on the uber right, Francis has not so far been some ogre out to target the Traditional Latin Mass crowd. He just hasn't emphasized it in his own practice.
As his first year anniversary approaches, I have to admit I find Pope Francis something of an enigma. I was much more on board the first three or four months of his papacy and now find myself wondering more and more if he really knows where he wants to take the Church. Consultation is great, but action is better. He does things that I find confusing. First he is spending millions and millions on all kinds of outside big name consulting firms while simultaneously laying off Vatican staff and freezing their wages to save money. This is the behavior of a vulture capitalist, not a follower of Saint Francis.
I'm also not understanding how the Vatican can release a statement stating this: The Catholic Church, on her part, in condemning every form of violence perpetrated in the name of religious belief, will not cease in her commitment to peace and reconciliation, through interreligious dialogue and the many charitable works which provide daily assistance and comfort to the suffering throughout the world.”" and yet not say anything to Nigerian and Ugandan bishops who are all on board with directing the exact kind of language at gays that was used against Jews in Nazi Germany. It's head scratching to me because I'm of the opinion that when one says they 'condemn every form of violence perpetrated in the name of religious belief' they actually mean it. Apparently not in the case of gays and lesbians, at least not in the Vatican under Pope Francis.
Then finally, I have been frustrated with the Synod on the Family. This just doesn't include the multitude of ways various national bishops groups have interpreted the Vatican's request for information from a survey the Vatican designed--very poorly I might add--it also includes frustration with how many different groups of cardinals are getting their fingers in the pot before the bishops synod actually convenes. The reason I find this frustrating is this seems to be a circling of the big wagons in response to the fact what data has been released shows the laity is not on board with Catholic teaching, and most especially not on board with Humanae Vitae. And this brings me back to the new miracle attributed to Paul VI. Our powers that be can not seriously think this kind of appeal to piety is going to prompt 78% of global Catholics to stop using artificial contraception.
Given this kind of dissent, maybe it is a good idea to circle the red hatted wagons before the purple ones have a say or bring with them evidence of a global rejection of a doctrine that neither the folksy talk of this Pope or the erudite defense of the retired Pope or the miracle of a dead pope is going to persuade laity to accept.