Posts Tagged ‘ Pope Francis ’

And the hits just keep on coming.

What’s it gonna take?

If you hoped (as I did) that things would have improved since the Boston Globe ran its expose on the priest sex scandal back in 2002, you missed the recent 884 page grand jury report by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.  For convenience (and brevity), I’ll ignore the Chilean debacle, also Zavala, Bransfield, McCarrick, Wuerl, others?

Clearly, it has been business as usual, and Pope Francis continues to fiddle while Rome burns.  The official list of participants of October’s Synod of Bishops has been published, and three cardinals who should be fired have been named: Marx (Munich), Cupich (Chicago) and Tobin (Newark).

I guess Francis will drive the Popemobile off the cliff, not even slowing down, to say nothing of stopping or reversing.  The only question is: “Who will follow him?”

Way back when, Francis gave us his signature quote: “Who am I to judge?”  When we desperately need “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” we got a dismissive non-answer.  Since then, the priest sex scandal has done the impossible: cover-ups by bishops and cardinals have been exposed.  Some have claimed that Francis is not uninformed.  He certainly chooses to do nothing.  Perhaps “Not one single word” has become his legacy?

The Urban Dictionary has defined “cupich” in a manner that I hope its namesake finds unflattering: “A remark unparalleled in its combined stupidity, arrogance and insensitivity.”  An example: “Did you really just say climate change was a bigger issue than sex abuse in the Church?”  I am tempted to get their mug with this definition on it – soon to be a collector’s piece?

I don’t know how Church hierarchy can be clueless, so the only other explanation is that it is culpable.

In 1969, if you had hoped (as I did) that Cardinal Ratzinger’s statement, “The Church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning,” was just too pessimistic to ever come true, I’m afraid it might.  He probably hopes he will not see that day; but I would hasten to add that GOD has a sense of humor (judging from my own experience).

he original transgressions (sexually active priests) are bad enough.  Abusing minors is worse – far worse.  Facilitating all this, by moving priests to other locations (sometimes), is worse still.  And, the hits just keep on coming.  But, I believe this “summer of horrors” will be the tipping point.  I believe that the Church has proven – beyond reasonable doubt – that it will do nothing to either correct or prevent these abuses.

So, it becomes the duty of the secular press and secular law enforcement to do the “pruning.”  And, I believe they will get out the scythes – bad enough that the Church won’t do that.  And the absolute glee with which Caesar will attack the Church will be discouraging (try to find some Good News in the press these days).

I don’t know how often the ancient Hebrews were referred to as GOD’s chosen people; but I do know that their magnificent temple was utterly destroyed.

His winnowing fork is in His hand….(Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17)

 

References:

Faith and Future, Joseph Ratzinger, Ignatius Press, 2009

“Church allowed abuse by priest for years,” Boston Globe Spotlight Team (Carroll, Pfeiffer, Rezendes), Boston Globe, 2002 January 6, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/special-reports/2002/01/06/church-allowed-abuse-priest-for-years/cSHfGkTIrAT25qKGvBuDNM/story.html

 “More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse,” Michelle Boorstein, Gary Gately, Washington Post, 2018 August 14, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/08/14/pennsylvania-grand-jury-report-on-sex-abuse-in-catholic-church-will-list-hundreds-of-accused-predator-priests/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8144c4cca83b

“Pope Francis taps loyalists for key roles in Synod of Bishops,” Elise Harris, Senior Correspondent, Crux, https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2018/09/15/francis-synod-appointees-reflect-papal-priorities/

Cupich Mug: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cupich

 

Summer of horrors, or opportunity?

Some dream of high office, few ever attain it.  I can only imagine that one of the first things that anyone would do is sit in that chair behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office and just…smile.  If ever there was a time to say, “I’ve arrived,” I think that would be it.  Similarly, whatever desk and whatever office the pope occupies, I would think the man would smile like a Cheshire Cat.

Finally: the opportunity to actually make a difference, to change the world.  Surely, that aspiration would go hand in glove with the pinnacle of power.

So, while the Summer of ’08 would seem to be the summer of horrors for the White House, it is no less than the summer of horrors for the papal palace.  While one occupant is probably sincere, and the other one anything but, both are blowing their opportunity.

It has been debated whether or not we have “free will” – the ability to make truly independent choices.  I won’t discuss that here.  But whether we have unlimited choices, or very limited choices, we still have choices.  Someone in the White House obviously has choices that a coal miner doesn’t.  The Bishop of Rome has choices no one else has.  Windows of opportunity come in sizes.

Next, there would be the ability to act upon the choices we make.  If we can’t act, then they really aren’t choices – at least viable ones.  Without ability, all we have are fantasies.  Again, a topic for another day.  Yes, some do win the lottery, tho for the overwhelming majority of us, the answer to the question of “what would I do if I won the lottery?” is just a fantasy.

You need both: opportunity and ability.

I just don’t understand why it is that two people in the news every day these days are squandering their opportunity.  It is said in jest that promotion requires a lobotomy; that, somehow, while we all start off the same, elevation in power is predicated on becoming more and more forgetful of our roots.  That people at the pinnacle truly forget how they got where they are, and therefore do not truly know where they are.

It is fitting that history judges most harshly those that have forgotten it.

I just finished watching an episode of NCIS where Gibbs switches some evidence.  Gibbs is usually unfailingly honest.  Integrity his highest code.  But in this episode he demonstrates that honor is more important than integrity.  There are other opportunities in the series for him to put integrity first, and he chooses another path (almost always honor).  But he “never” loses sight of the “big picture.”  He knows what he does and why he does it.

Neither Trump nor Francis seem to have a clue why they are doing what they’re doing.  I keep coming back to a book that I read years ago: The March of Folly, by Barbara Tuchman.  In it, she picks a few examples of leaders that, had they chosen to do absolutely nothing at all, events would have turned out far different, and probably in their favor.  By being out to lunch, history would have been far kinder, maybe even salutatory.  But, no, they chose to be active in the situation, and all hell broke loose.  Three examples come to mind (it has been years since I read the book): Renaissance Popes, King George and the American Revolution, Vietnam (pick either the French or the Americans, it really doesn’t matter).

Fast forward to the Summer of 2018.  Trump did whatever he could to be elected; it worked.  Since gaining the Oval Office, he has been on a death spiral.  The only question now is whether his four years will end before he’s impeached.  After he’s out, America will breathe a sigh of relief and wonder if we have survived.  Bergoglio got elected pope and has been bouncing around like a pinball.  I don’t believe there is any mechanism to remove him from office, so we are stuck with him for awhile (as long as his health holds out, I suppose; Benedict’s resignation still doesn’t feel right, Francis’ resignation doesn’t seem possible).

Is this the era of the truly stupid leader?  Are these the times for head scratching decision making.  As in, leaders make decisions that the rest of us just wonder at.

My fantasy is that Trump will hit his head on something, rearrange all those megalomaniac brain cells, and move this country forward.  While I agree with Meghan McCain (this country has always been great), we definitely need some direction from that chair in the Oval Office.  My fantasy is that Francis will take responsibility for the predatory priests, instead of facilitating their fantasies.  I don’t know that Trump “must” resign; but I am convinced Bergoglio must.

The rest of us hoi polloi  must do more than tilt at windmills.  In politics, we must become more active and participate.  In the Church, well, we have no idea who the next pope will be, but at the local level, we owe it to the bishops to keep them on track (we don’t vote for them either; but we can close our checkbooks).

Truly, the Summer of ’08 is a summer of horrors.  But, what are we going to do with the opportunity to make this a better world for our children?  As painful as these times are now, to do nothing would be worse, for eternity is a long time.

(Thanks to Georg Weigel and his essay in First Things for “summer of horrors”)

Flying the Flag

I have never actually counted, but I bet I have sent more email to the White House in the past five months than the total of any form of communication to anyone in politics in my entire life.  And, this is coming from someone who was a card-carrying Democrat, and knocked on doors for the likes of Jimmy Carter, Mo Udall and Hubert Humphrey.

It is nice (and I pat myself on the back) that I am, once-again, interested in how this country is governed.

In the last few days, there have been a flood of videos on the recent overseas trip of the President and First Lady.  (A far cry from the “news” coverage of 40 years ago.)  What has really surprised me was how well they represented the United States.  A real class act.

I really don’t want the form of media (print vice video) to become the story; but maybe it is because we can see for ourselves, and are not subject to somebody else’s interpretation – word choice, column-inches – that we are getting a much better picture (sorry for the pun).

In days past, if the Grand Poobah wanted to show a modicum of respect for Our Dear Friend in the Middle East, he/they might actually visit instead of thumbing their nose.  The President and Mrs Trump not only visited the Wailing Wall, they showed immense respect for  Israel, and also for the Jewish religion.  Gold stars.

Visiting Italy, their visit with the Pope was a model for others to follow (especially the former occupants of the White House).  Kudos.

And surprise, surprise – something that somehow never came up during the Mother of all Campaigns last year – the First Lady is a practicing Roman Catholic!  Even had a Rosary handy for the pope to bless.

Politico.com carried an AP photo showing Ivanka Trump at Sant Egidio – I’ll bet no one in the Obama White House knows, even now, where that is (I met Pope Benedict XVI there).  Ivanka’s meeting is all the more significant knowing she and Jared are practicing Jews.  Put another way, religion is a good thing in the Trump White House, while Clinton never had anything good to say about any religion (other than Islam, of course).

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Honestly, when Barak Obama was elected, I thought: finally, a president who is not a middle-aged, white male.  He was nothing but a disappointment.  Eight years of wondering why he didn’t focus on the really important stuff.  I feel like he hijacked the White House.  And, what did Michelle do in those eight years?  I don’t remember a single thing.

The Trumps, on the other hand, will make it so easy to forget their predecessors.  If, their predecessors can resist “coincidental” visits (both groups in Italy at the same time?  really?).  I will spare any comments at how refined Mrs Trump looked, especially when compared with Mrs Obama, last week.

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I will grant you that I am not tickled pink with everything Mr Trump is doing.  Yes, deportations are significantly up when compared to the past.  Which means that more bad guys are being discovered and deported; but it also means that more people who are honest, hard-working, tax-paying residents are also being deported.  This is nothing if not a waste of valuable resources.  Timothy McVey was a citizen – too bad we could not have deported him to someplace like North Korea.  Yes, Mr President: continue to use ICE to deport the bad guys; but leave the other-wise innocent alone.

A wall between us and Mexico?  Really?  How about we give those folks every reason to stay home by not buying the drugs that finance their own bad guys?

Encourage your wealthy buddies to find other sources for their megabucks than raping the environment.  Yes, West Virginia is one of those “fly-over” states; but maybe you should see what King Coal has done to the people there.  Ask Elon Musk for advice; he seems to be thinking past today, and making money.

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Gil Student, “Ivanka, Jared, and the Jewish Sabbath,” First Things, 5-24-17

Confused

Believing that there are no coincidences, I have to believe that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as pope, is part of GOD’s Plan.  But, accepting that is like I am on a bridge to nowhere: my belief, my understanding just ends.  Nevertheless, there absolutely must be a reason.

All I can come up with (so far) is that I, at the very least, was too comfortable with the leadership of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope St JohnPaul II.  Altho Pope JohnPaul II did not become a part of my daily life (daily consciousness) until after his death (to my great loss), his prolific writing (both by him and about him) has allowed me some measure of contact.  I was very aware of Pope Benedict XVI – even to the point of being able to literally reach out and touch his sleeve (and yes, I do have the photo to prove it); and again, his prolific writing has allowed me to continue the relationship.  Altho I am not hardly in the same intellectual category as JohnPaul and Benedict, at least I do feel I am on the same page.  I’m sure I don’t understand even half of their work, but their writings feel like home – this is where I want to be now, and this is what I want to grow into.

But with Pope Francis, all I am is confused.

I do enjoy Pope Francis’ “the pastor must smell like his sheep”; but, I know I do not smell at all like him.  I think most Catholics need to hear, “love the sinner, hate the sin”; instead we got that infamous, “Who am I to judge?”  I don’t know where he thinks we are, but one place we pew sitters are not is in a barque with a rudder.

“Decentralized”?  Fragmented is what we have.  I read about positions of bishops here in the USA, and I thank GOD that my archbishop seems not to have drunk very much of the “spirit of Vatican II” kool-aid.  If I was in Germany, I think I would probably stop going to Mass entirely.

“Pastoral”?  What is pastoral about “the tenderness of Jesus,” when He says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:26).  To continue, “Many of His disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it? … As a result of this, many [of] His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.” (John 6:60-66)  What should a “more pastoral” Jesus have said?  “No, I didn’t mean that, not really.  Come back.”  Exactly who had the ‘closed hearts, the hearts of stone, the hearts which do not want to be open, do not want to hear’?

I have written in these pages about opportunity.  Maybe the whole point of Francis is to give me the opportunity to test what I took for granted with JohnPaul and Benedict?  Maybe.  And for me, maybe a good thing.  But, I think of the thousands (millions) who look to the Bishop of Rome for help in navigating daily life.  They are, quite simply, adrift without a firm hand.

Yes, there are those that would point out that the “firm hand” of Rome has been entirely too firm throughout history.  And that it must loosen its grip, if not release us altogether.  And, if that happened what would make us Catholic?  Frankly, I don’t want to be like everyone else.  Would I have to stop believing in the Real Presence, just so Protestant heretics would feel more comfortable?  It seems Pope Francis is headed in that direction.  He certainly has no problem with various bishops in the US and Europe throwing open their arms and cathedral doors to those in direct violation of Canon Law.  (No, Canon Laws 912 and 915 do not “leap” to mind; but those are the ones that I am thinking of.)

I don’t think those that crucified Jesus saw Him as a good ol’ boy.  Neither was He their idea of a messiah.  Rather, I think they viewed Him as a threat to their political position.  Jesus was the most counter-cultural person ever.  He never tried to “fit in”; and He was far more pastoral than anyone living in the marble that is Vatican City.  (Not to put too fine a point on it, Jesus no doubt smelled more like His sheep than the current pope – not that anyone probably noticed.  If you’ve spent any time in the Middle East, you know what I’m saying.)

To borrow from Jeff Mirus, “it is the hallmark of our seriously confused yet politically correct culture that all those under its influence must close their hearts again the message of Christ.”  To which Pope Benedict added, “the Church will become small.”

Whatever the future holds for us, it won’t be business as usual.

 

Dr Jeff Mirus, in “Abyssus Abyssum Invocat” was the springboard for my essay

See Dr Edward Peters, “Denial of the Eucharist to pro-abortion Catholic politicians: a canonical case study,” http://www.canonlaw.info/a_denialofeucharist.htm

Joseph Ratzinger, “Faith and the Future,” Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2009.

Double Header

Thanks to NBC for that tag line. Yes, today is a big deal for Roman Catholics. Two popes canonized, two popes presiding. Can it get any better? Yes. For starters, I could have been there (but on the other hand, happily not sharing the experience with a few hundred thousand of my newest BFFs).

I understand from the secular news media that there is some controversy. Some may be conflicted, but I am not. For me, Saint John Paul II is the one person that brought me back to the Church. My mother got me started, but JP2 took me by the lapels and shook some sense back into me. And, I had the divine blessing to have been close enough to Pope Emeritus Benedict to touch his sleeve (yeah, probably a bigger deal than Midnight Mass at St Peters – can I get back to you on that?).

So, this day, for me, is a day of great rejoicing. No controversy. Only peace. Only joy.

Having built my house on rock, and not sand, I am not afraid the opinions and comments of others. For those who are believers, we are one. For those who are not, for those who can’t relate, who don’t want to relate, who scoff, who criticize, who complain; for those who can’t hear Jesus knocking at the door, who hear and do nothing but complain; for the lukewarm, well, all I can do is pray.

Go ahead and throw stones. At 2,000 years old (give or take), over a billion current followers of every stripe (uncountable over those 20 centuries), incomprehensible number of pages written by and about, the Roman Catholic Church is an easy target. You are not doing yourselves any favors.

If you want to make this world a better place. If you want to improve the lot of the overwhelming percentage of the human race, you would do better to start building than tearing down. If you are about yourself, get a life.

For me, today is huge. It is truly a watershed year.

I had something else planned for my next post; but to borrow: the very stones cry out.

A tough nut to crack

Actually, reading ALL of Pope Benedict’s “Regensburg Lecture” (2006 Sep 12), and not just the quote that Muslims chose to hear (“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” Manuel II Paliologos, 14th century), I can find no fault. Almost seven years later, observing the behavior of the Muslim world, I’d have to say that Benedict was too kind by far.

Our current pope, Francis, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, apparently thought Benedict destroyed 20 years of Pope John Paul II’s efforts in 20 seconds. I’m not sure the Muslim world paid that much attention to JP2.

Has there been a day go by when you’ve seen any kind of sign (literal or figurative) that seems to originate from any Muslim of any stripe that promotes peace with anyone? Starting with Muslims of different stripes, continuing to the secular world, and on to the Christian sphere. It goes w/o saying that Islam will never stop its unilateral war with Jews.

So, now we have the diplomatic envoy to the grand imam of Al-Azhar asking (demanding – do Muslims ever “ask”?) that Francis declare Islam a peaceful religion. What is this guy smoking? How about Islam doing something – Dear God (Allah) ANYTHING – that might be remotely construed (confused?) as peaceful? How about walking the talk?

There is no doubt that the Catholic Church wielded the sword plenty – in the past. That was then and that is to be regretted. However, Muslims still go out of their way to kill, maim, destroy. This is now. Thank God the Catholic Church has put the sword where it belongs (yeah: about time); I just don’t see Islam doing the same.

I look around me and I can only conclude that Manuel II’s words have proven timeless.