Thursday, March 6, 2014

For Francis It's All About Priests----Just Like Himself

The clerical caste under Francis is not about to let go of their grasp on the Holy Spirit.  Although in this case the dove got away.  There's a message there for Francis and his limited ideas of reform.

After reading NCR's article and  a translation of yesterday's interview with Pope Francis in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera I felt like a light had dawned on a dark area and some of my confusion cleared.  I was also sick to my stomach.  Pope Francis' take on the abuse crisis could have been written by Bill Donohue. Really, if I had not gotten so excited about Francis last spring, I should have seen this coming along time ago. None of the Cardinals on his group of 8 have stellar records when it comes to the victims of the abuse crisis and that includes Cardinal O'Malley.  Cardinals Maradiaga and Pell are on record for statements that clearly indicate their concern was far more about offending priests than it was victims.  Francis' record in Argentina also shows he put priesthood before victim.  I'll get back to that point, but first the following is from the Southern Italian newspaper Gazzeta del Sul and gives yet more insight into where Francis' allegiances really lie.

Pope says he 'shares pain' of wrongly accused priests

 06/03/2014 GazzetadelSudonline 

False claims of child prostitution ring hurt many, says Francis
Vatican City, March 6 - Pope Francis told a group of Rome priests Thursday that he "shared the pain" of priests suffering "unjust wounds" caused by allegations against some of them. "Lots of people have been injured, by material problems, by scandals, including in the Church," the pope said during a meeting with priests inside the Vatican. He was referring to an incident in March 2013 when former priest Patrizio Poggi was convicted and sent to prison for five years for pedophilia, and also denounced other priests, saying they were involved in a child prostitution ring. Police later said his claims were unfounded and Poggi was charged with aggravated slander. According to police, his accusations were driven by "resentment tied to personal reasons". The pope said the case hurt many in the Church. "I shared the pain of some of you, of the entire priesthood, for the accusations made against a group of you," Francis told the meeting. "I have talked to some of you who have been accused and saw the pain of these unjust wounds, (this) madness, and I want to say publicly that I am close to (you)," he said. Francis said he also apologized on behalf of the Church because the false accusations came from within its ranks His comments come following an interview published Wednesday, in which Pope Francis defended the Church's response to a long series of scandals about child sex abuse by clergymen.

There is no longer any question in my mind that Pope Francis, like his papal predecessors of the twentieth century is a Roman Catholic priest first, last, and always and that in his mind the priesthood is the Church.  For all his talk about service to the laity, he will never allow any changes to the priesthood he has completely identified with for his entire adult life.  I suspect his cardinal electors were relying on that identification as the brakes on meaningful reform with in Catholicism.  Given this mindset Francis is not about to identify with clerical abuse victims, as he is incapable of it, and will always put the priesthood above victims.  I now find his choice of papal name more than interesting since the original Francis purposely refused ordination.  I think there is a real message here.  Until he can somehow set his priesthood aside, he can not identify with the concerns of the laity.  This is true for amost all clergy, and is why I have very little hope the upcoming synod on the family will produce meaningful results for the laity.  The best that will happen is it will produce meaningful results for the clergy.  It might allow them a little more pastoral latitude on thorny issues.

It seems to me what Francis is trying to do is to have his cake and eat it too.  He wants just enough reform to keep the all male clerical priesthood untouched while engaging in some change.  We've seen movement on financial issues, at least in terms of getting the Vatican financial interests in compliance with EU requirements, but the over all supervision is still firmly in the hands of Cardinal priests. (And more and more Opus Dei.)  We have heard multiple statements on a wider role for women in the Church and multiple statements that this wider role will not include any form of ordination which only makes that wider role more widely subordinate to male clergy.  We have heard statements about acting on the abuse crisis and seen very very little action.  Check out this pathetic statement from Fr Lombardi, who is once again called into the breach to defend Francis.  Here's a taste:
"Regarding what has been described as the Pope’s “defensive” tone, Fr. Lombardi said that it was a recognition of the fact that while the Church has been committed to repairing past failures, it has “not been recognized objectively.”

The problem for Fr Lombardi and Pope Francis is the Church's efforts have been recognized objectively and they have been found seriously deficient. Not every Catholic lives reality wrapped in a clerical bubble.

The one trait that makes Fr Tom Doyle so different from his clerical bretheren is that he got out of his clerical bubble and put his priesthood on the back burner.  He became a human being first, and this allowed him to really see the clerical abuse crisis for what it was, how much had to change to effect meaningful change, and gave him the compassionate heart to recognize this crisis is not about priests. It is about the victims of priests.  The price for this spiritual maturation was sacrificing his priesthood.  The price for cleaning things up in the Church will be sacrificing our current theological justifications for the Trentan priesthood.  This pope, like Benedict, John Paul II, and Paul VI will not be able to climb on that particular cross.  For them the price is to high.  Instead, we Catholics will see them all canonized as martyrs to secularization.  Go us.



  1. Colleen, I suppose that I should have expected this from the Pope. He is, after all, a product of the clerical culture that has existed for centuries. I also think that plenty of chit-chat was exchanged among the cardinals in the conclave that elected him. This chit-chat probably included a "quid pro quo" with Bergoglio: " If you leave the big things as they are and let us manage it , we will go along with your "love the poor and the marginalized" schtick. " "Just do not do anything to change the status quo."
    Yes, I am a cynic. Getting too old, I guess.
    Come Lord Jesus! Do we ever need you!

  2. Two big things which can not be changed because of the effect on the whole house of cards are the unique status of the priesthood and the outdated and essentially myth based sex/gender morality codes. The abuse crisis points a large finger at both of these issues.

    Sometimes I too think I have let cynicism over take my thinking, but not on this issue. For me this is crystal clear. Roman Catholicism is going to choke to death over the priesthood, and maybe it should. Seriously, these men think so much of their own special place in the Catholic scheme of things they are willing to let global Catholicism starve for sacramental service rather than change one damn thing about the priesthood and so many other problems are directly linked to the theology of the priesthood.

  3. not a cynic . . . a skeptic, perhaps . . . but i would say a realist

  4. Patriarchalism is a male narcissistic disease and it helps create the circumstances that keep the world a slave to those in powerful positions such a Putin and every other bloody dictator. Pope Francis has marked his one year anniversary as Pope to declare war on women, imho. He is a disgrace. He dishonors every woman, including the Blessed Mother. The Church is really dead. It just does not realize it yet.

  5. sylvesterpatsteffenMarch 7, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    "Until he can somehow set his priesthood aside, he can not identify with the
    concerns of the laity."
    Right to the point! It's in clerical DNA that clerics (alone AS MALES) are in direct line as conduits of grace to the (benighted) people. Goes back to the Garden of Eve myth. Why can't clerics understand that thinking of onetime based on the small worldview understanding of the time CANNOT with credibility be imposed on a time which has seen through and exposed the errors of old and misinformed understandings?
    Maybe it is less about "setting his priesthood aside" than it is about crediting the universal character of priesthood, as specifically confirmed in the baptismal rite.

  6. I think that the sacrament of holy orders should be added onto baptism so that the pope and bishops can be concerned about the well being of everyone in the church.

  7. The real fact is that Baptism and not Holy Orders is the important sacrament. Holy orders did not exist for several generations after the death of Christ. This is a Man-made sacrament. The ability to forgive sins and consecrate the Eucharist was used in the homes of many Christians by the elected of the baptized.

  8. BaptizedBabyBoomerMarch 7, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    I think that a lot of us feel as you do, Colleen, about Pope Francis, especially after his latest comments. He had the opportunity to create great change in the Church, and he is letting it slip right through his fingers, letting the Holy Spirit just fly away. He seems almost insincere now in his brotherhood with his fellow priests and overlooking the rest of us and especially the victims of sexual abuse by priests.

    I can see that others in the rank and file in the Church who prefer to parrot talk what others say who are content with the status quo are now repeating Lombardi's and Pope Francis' views that they have about supposedly doing everything possible to protect children from abuse by priests. I've noticed it in the comments at NCR. They seem to think that this clears up the matter and anyone who doesn't agree is just wrong or that the priests are being victimized.

    Pope Francis' idea of priesthood, which is in sync with Opus Dei views & keeping that very bleak backwardness and anti-Christness locked tight in its mindset, keeps the entire Church on the course of victimhood rather than on to reform and/or growth for all humanity that is left stunted, deformed into the narrow projections of a very possessive view of the priesthood.

  9. It would be nice if Francis could wrap his heart and mind around who is the real Christlike innocent victim in this mess, and it's not the priesthood. It wasn't priests who were led to a personal crucifixion for which there is rarely a resurrection. It was the priests who did the leading and the innocent followed precisely because their crucifiers were priests.

  10. BaptizedBabyBoomerMarch 7, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    Yes, it would be nice, and very Christ-like, which should be a prerequisite to hold such a high position as Pope representing the People of God.

  11. Just out of curiosity, when Saint Paul wrote to Timothy:

    "Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood"

    to what priesthood was he referring if the priesthood didn't exist for several generations after Christ?

    According to Acts, St. Paul himself ordained Timothy.

  12. I would like to see the original documents with a very good linguist at my side, to see if the term 'priest' is actually present or if it's some other religious designation that is not analogous to how we have been taught to conceive of the priesthood. Paul, for instance, was not an original Apostle but a self declared Apostle based on his word. I happen to think he demonstrated more spiritual ability than his word, but never the less, he was not an original Apostle. Now a days this kind of personal revelation is looked at with skepticism and it should be.

    Paul may have seen himself as some sort of Christ appointed temple priest, but no other Apostle, who actually experiences Jesus saw themselves the same way. They saw themselves as passing on Jesus' teachings, not passing on ritual and there is a vast difference.

  13. sylvesterpatsteffenMarch 7, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Also, the words, "ordo" and "ordination", customarily have generic meanings, such as order, instruction, arrangement, appointment, apart from the appropriated ritualistic, cultic meaning which has come to be attached to them.

  14. I believe you need a more up to date translation. Your wording is from the Douay version which indeed refers to the "hands of the priesthood". The New Revised Standard refers to the "hands of the council of elders", the New Jerusalem Bible refers to the "body of elders", and the New American translation refers to the "presbyterate", as does the original King James version.

    No matter how they are translated, the references most certainly do NOT refer to a sacerdotal priesthood as understood by Roman Catholics today.