Sunday, April 21, 2013

Things Are Changing And They Won't Stay The Same

This Photo from the NY Daily News demonstrates cell phone photography at Benedict's and Francis' papal elections.  This photo strikes me as potentially prophetic about how much lay participation each will have engendered.

Here's a couple of stories that have the rad trads going this Sunday morning.  The Sunday Times article is behind a pay wall and I have been unable to find a free copy.  NCR has just begun their annual donation drive so that link will begin with a video appeal.

Pope’s strongman blasts old guard aside

The pontiff is to give more women top jobs and break the grip of Italian cardinals, his key aide tells John Follain in Vatican City

 John Follain - The Sunday TimesUK - 4/21/2013
POPE FRANCIS plans to appoint lay women to top jobs in the Vatican and to dilute the power of Italian cardinals in a radical shake-up of the Catholic Church’s government following a series of scandals.
In a move branded as “revolutionary” by Vatican watchers, the Pope last weekend appointed eight cardinals to advise him on the governance and reform of the Curia, the church’s bureaucracy which has been tainted by controversies over child sex abuse by priests, leaks of papal files and allegations of corruption.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, whom Francis named to head the panel and who is now seen as a “power behind the papal throne”, predicted a difficult fight ahead for the Argentine pontiff.

Another Vatican voice backs civil unions for same-sex couples

John Allen - National Catholic Reporter - 4/21/2013
Another veteran Vatican figure has signaled openness to civil recognition of same-sex unions, in the wake of similar comments in early February from the Vatican’s top official on the family. It’s a position also once reportedly seen with favor by the future pope while he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The latest expression of support for civil recognition as an alternative to gay marriage comes from Archbishop Piero Marini, who served for 18 years as Pope John Paul II’s liturgical Master of Ceremonies.

“There are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren’t recognized,” Marini said.


This is going to be one interesting papacy.  I have to agree with Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, Pope Francis may have some hard sailing ahead.  John Allen remarks later in his article that the comments of Archbishop Marini and the earlier comments of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family appear to be undercutting French and US Bishops.  I would agree, and that's because both archbishops framed their statements as a matter of civil rights and the French and US bishops have consistently stated in one form or another that gays have no rights to a legalized form of partnership.  I'm sure the same right wing argument will be leveled against women holding meaningful positions in the hierarchy--women have no rights to any leadership position in the Roman Catholic Church which would make male clerics subordinate to them.  Rough sailing ahead indeed.

I don't know where all this will eventually finish.  I don't think Pope Francis does either which is why hope and trust are recurring themes for him.  His multiple references to the Holy Spirit at large in the Church is another indication to me that he is willing to tip a few dominoes without having to know how many will then go down.  I don't know if that's a John XXIII kind of Pope or something new altogether.  I do know it takes a lot of faith and a lot of courage to make major decisions, even with the best of information, not knowing precisely how it will all come out.  I think that's called leadership.

I have no doubt Francis knows his main opposition will come from the right and it will come hard, strong, and not particularly Christ like.  He experienced that himself over the civil union question in Argentina.  This was the only issue he lost as president of the Argentine Bishops Conference. I will keep that in mind when it seems he is keeping progressives on something of a roller coaster ride.  

I also think Francis is a very strategic pope.  If the Rodriguez Maradiaga interview turns out to be correct, last weeks affirmation concerning the investigation of the LCWR makes some sense.  If Francis intends to appoint lay women to high positions in the curia he gave the right wing a sop.  Since lay women includes all sisters and nuns I will be curious to see how many religious women are included in these appointments. Personally,  I would really hope one of them is Leslie Anne Knight.  I have reason for my hope.

Just to review, Leslie Anne Knight was the president of Caritas Internationalis until 2011 when she was refused the necessary nihil obstat to run for another four year term.  This nihil obstat was under the purview of the Secretary of State's Office and not to grant her this Vatican seal of approval was a decision of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.  The Cardinal who led the Board of Directors for Caritas and was sandbagged by this decision,  taken completely behind his back,  was none other than Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga.  The following is taken from the Tablet's coverage:

"Cardinal Rodríguez wrote to all directors of the 165-member international confederation on 5 February to inform them of the Vatican’s decision. The letter, which was seen by The Tablet, notes that Secretariat of State officials met a CI delegation on that same day and gave only a verbal account of why the Vatican refused to approve Dr Knight’s candidacy. The cardinal does not mention those reasons in his letter, but does say that the CI bureau, in an extraordinary meeting, “expressed their incomprehension at the reasons provided” and “reaffirmed their positive view of Lesley-Anne Knight’s work for Caritas and the Church”.

Anyway, I will be very interested in Pope Francis' appointments because there's a new dealer at the table and he is not going to use the old stacked deck.  Amen.


  1. How will this work out?

    Those who oppose greater involvement of women in matters of faith should apologize to their mothers before they say a word or do anything.

    Let's use the form of the Catechism: Who stayed with Jesus at the Crucifixion when the men ran away? The women. Who was the first witness to the Resurrection? A woman! Mary Magdelene, the APOSTLE, to the apostles. (Incidentally I am anticipating your participation here Mr. Trad, the Resurrection, not the Passion is the greatest item of our faith.) Where do you learn your first prayers? At your mother's knee. Who continues to attend mass and contribute to the spirituality of the church out of proportion to their opposite gender? The women. Who is going to clean up this mess? Ok, now this sounds sexist, but it will be the women.

    Inviting the previously excluded half of humanity, to bring their energy and talents to make the Church is an absolute no-brainer. It will be the greatest thing that has happened to the church in about 1,000 years.

    How will it turn out? Better than anyone ever expected, that's the mysterious thing about faith. In a few years people will look back and say how did we ever believe otherwise? Women were never intended to simply draw water, cook food and raise babies. They are complete human beings. A woman is a person.

    In response to an earlier post (14 April 2013) I noted that just removing barriers improved women's participation rates in sport from 3% to 30%. Look back to see a male race official attempt to tackle a woman and remove her from the Boston Marathon in 1967.
    Try this if the previous link did not work:

    I see this as a a visual representation of what has happened to women in the past. Just substitute Lesley-Anne Knight for Kathrine Switzer and Cardinal Bertone for Jock Semple.

  2. Off topic:

    I like the new message system but the links open within the column here. That means some linked sites are difficult to read and/or navigate because of the smaller column width. In my earlier comment I attempted to html formatting to have the link open in a new tab but it didn't work. This what I wanted to use: a href="link" target="_blank" a. Incidentally the Deus ex Machina is still operating but I couldn't copy the captcha image on my old mac. It was itstnf reservoir What do you think? Could it be: its the new female reservoir?

  3. I remember that incident from '67. Back in those days it was a major battle to get women's athletics in any field up and running. I think this is the same year my mother went in front of the school board and threatened to refuse to pay ranch property taxes if they didn't start some form of competitive team athletics for junior high and high school girls. The old boys did approve track and basketball right pronto. I think they were afraid my mom would run for the school board and shedding their 'chivalrous concern' for the fairer sex was the more prudent choice.

    And as I look back at the period it's amazing how quickly competitive women's athletics became an accepted norm. To be honest I am utterly shocked at how today's female athletes have no concept as to just how recently their opportunities opened up and how much of a battle this was initially. There really was a lot of demeaning trash talk and a lot of bullying at first.

    Having lived through all that, I doubt the trash talk from the trads is going to effect very much, and before we know it, women running dicasteries in the Vatican will be a seldom remarked on no brainer--unless a given individual is utterly incompetent. But, I do hope Francis is aware that the first women better have very thick skins.

  4. Paul, you do get the most interesting catchas. I'll check and see if I can get disqus to open links in a new tab. By the way, if you are a disqus member you should not have to use a captcha. In your case though, maybe you want to keep getting catchas since they seem to hold messages or something. LOL

  5. You're absolutely right that "Things Are Changing And They Won't Stay The Same". Archbishop Marini is the fourth senior prelate to have said things of this sort in less than 30 days (Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Rubén Salazar, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn and now Archbishop Marini). Earlier this. year, bishops expressing support included the French Bishops’ Conference’s Family and Society Committee, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. There’s a clear trend here: supportive voices are increasing in numbers, but also in importance. When I reported a few years ago on a handful of bishops who repeated Cardinal Schonborn’s earlier and more cautious words on respect for the quality of same-sex relationships rather customary obsession with genital acts, it was notable that those expressing support were retired, preparing to retire, or otherwise outside the direct firing line of Vatican censure. Those who have spoken up over the past year, are of substantially greater significance. They include some whose responsibilities are specifically in the field of marriage and family, in the Vatican and for the French Bishops’ Conference, the head of an unrelated department of the Curia, a prominent papabile and two further diocesan cardinal archbishops who participated in last month’s conclave, and several more currently serving diocesan bishops,

    In addition of course, and most important of all, is the support from then Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, back in 2010. There’s good reason to be optimistic that with the changed atmosphere in the Vatican, many more will follow. At some stage, this will become the mainstream view

  6. That's a good point Terence, those speaking now are not retired but active members of the curia or leaders of significant Archdioceses. Certainly goes to show how much 'silence, to be taken as assent' was in play under JPII and EPBXVI. Now that the muzzles are coming off, we're starting to get some honest clarity that the silence actually covered dissent. I wondered about that and I now I'm beginning to get my answer.

    I still think Schonborn will play a big role in what happens in the future, and in the States it will be O'Malley and not Dolan. Things are definitely changing, at least in so far as the prevailing atmosphere, if not the doctrine/dogma end of things. I also firmly believe without a change in atmosphere there could never be any changes in discipline or doctrine.

  7. I absolutely agree that "the muzzles are coming off". I'm convinced that the most strident voices of the recent past have not been representative, but have been able to make the most noise only because they believed that they had papal support on their side,

    Now, not only do we have mounting evidence that the pope's own thinking on many issues is rather different, but that he is not one to simply shut out the voices that disagree with him. On the priesthood , one of the most encouraging features of the past six weeks, has been the number of reports I've seen of church leaders saying things like "I don't agree with ending celibacy (or women's ordination), but at least we can talk about it". Under JPII and B16, that was one thing that the bishops simply could not do.

    Already reform of the Curia has begun, just by downgrading it's importance, and the appointment of what amounts to an internationally diverse "cabinet" (including O'Malley, and led by a man who is no friend of the curia bureucracy). It will be fascinating to see how the appointments to the new curia unfold: I would not be surprised to see more lay men and women making it at least to the middle ranks, or to find Schonborn heading a major department.

    Time will tell - but I don't think we'll get back to the same old, same old mixture, as before

  8. My parish is small, somewhat out of the way and unlikely to be a bellwether community, but it is. Our current parish priest was once a top salesman who had quite successfully pursued the corporate life before ordination. When the Legion of Christ was in ascent two of those young cassock-ed priests with precisely slicked back hair appeared in our parish. They were banished not much later when the Legion fell out of favor with the Vatican.

    We had a visiting priest here when the new liturgy was introduced. He was the sort who was all in favor of a smaller purer church, just like the boss B16. In no time there were sermons on how we were not God's children, but only by the grace of God were we poor wretches adopted by God. I was in despair. If it wasn't for this website and others linked over on the right ---> like Bilgrimage etc. I might have given up completely.

    Well let the bells ring out and the banners fly we had a Jesuit priest visit today. He gave the best sermon I have heard in years. Before he began he reflected on the fact that tomorrow's "Earth Day" might not be in the liturgical calendar but it might be because we have a religious duty to be stewards of the earth. After six days of creation the Lord said of his work that "It was good."

    He chose the Apostles Creed, without the new Nicene creed's problematic referral to "... us men, and our salvation". The theme of the homily was on vocations. Instead of despairing of why there were so few men joining the priesthood he reflected on his experience of growing up in a post-war Polish society. The difference between then and now is the education of the people. 99.9% of the church is the laity. We are all called to contribute. All called to witness. Even "Martyr" means witness. And so the future of the church will be one where we all will be called to witness more than ever. He even made reference to an expanded deaconate. That's quite a different message from asking for ever more prayers for priests.

    Afterward on the steps of the church I hugged him and thanked him.

    PS captcha forever! Why correspond with a mystic if I'm not looking for signs?

  9. Hockey maybe? I shall have to start serious meditation on behalf of my Wings. It's getting dicey.

    I get a very real feeling that Francis is starting to open some windows and a few mouths along with the windows. I don't think he's going to be able to close those windows even he wanted to and that's a good thing.

    He has to let women achieve a real voice, and that means letting them in the decision making loop. The other thing he has to do is get more people to take conservation as a serious moral obligation. The Earth's eco system is resilient, but not if we keep turning critical areas in the resiliency equation into farm land and open pit mining operations. That's not too mention the more than little problem with nuclear and petroleum waste products.

  10. I've noticed that about them too. Lord knows what vision inspired Maciel to make that rule! On the other hand, considering what I have read what Maciel was like, I don't think that I want to know.

  11. The slicked back hair is sort of tonsure thing--unless they are talking heads on TV. LOL I've only really been around one Legion priest and he was something. I took a couple of classes from him and they were as far apart theologically as one could get. The first was "Women in the Church", and he was really good with this course--almost a true progressive. He said there was no real reason for women not to be ordained, and laid out a whole semester's worth of reading proving that very point. And then he maintained it would never happen in Catholicism because Jesus chose only men. Sigghh. I maintained if Catholicism didn't open those doors it would be a real big stumbling block in ecumenism and Catholicism would have to make a choice: ecumenism or the all male clergy. I still think that's true, but am sad to say the last two popes are willing to lose the entire church rather than change priestly discipline in any way.

    The second class I took from him was 'demonology', and he had a psychotic break in the middle of the semester and that was the last we saw of him.

  12. The whole psychotic break thing doesn't surprise me.

  13. It doesn't surprise me now, but back then it shook up a lot of people--especially the seminary bound. I'm pretty sure that was probably the last class ever offered on demonology. I did find it an interesting class because he did have the clinical psych piece in it, but wow, he surely did lose it.