Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A REFORM PONTIFICATE?
Now that the new pope is in place, both the Catholic and secular press are all caught up in the hub-bub of what kind of pope Francis will be. We are hearing a lot about his "style" and a lot of talk about "reform."
If it's really reform that they want, here are some suggestions for a papacy of reform that would actually be effective:
1) STOP THE "PASTORAL" VISITS
First and foremost, we need a pope who is going to govern the Church. The last thing we need is to exhaust this man by parading him around all over the world through different time zones and endless "welcome" ceremonies. Francis is now the Bishop of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff. Christ's Church has been in a state of chaos for nearly 50 years now and we need some stabilizing. Benedict certainly started on that path, but he ran out of steam and support. Which brings us to the next step for reform in this papacy:
2) CLEAN OUT THE CURIA
It is no secret that Pope Benedict's servants "served" him poorly. It's no accident that he pardoned the butler who leaked the documents in the "Vatileaks" scandal. He may have been the only faithful Catholic on the premises. He saw what the Curia was doing to undermine the pope and he probably knew about the filth that Benedict seemed powerless to cleanse. This is no time for cronies or the status-quo. The Vatican needs the leaders and members of its various congregations to be men with proven records of orthodoxy and moral purity. It would also help if they were not men of ambition willing to destroy any perceived "competition". No doubt there are some good Cardinals who should stay (Burke and Oullet come to mind), but many others deserve a good, hard look before re-confirming. No man is irreplaceable.
3) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POPE BENEDICT WHILE YOU CAN
How many popes had a predecessor they could turn to for advice? How many popes sat and wondered what their predecessor would do? Pope Francis is in a unique position. He is the only pope in history who can pick up the phone and find out for himself what his predecessor would do. Pope Benedict/Ratzinger has one of the greatest minds of modern times and he also "knows where the bodies are buried" in terms of who can be trusted and who cannot. In spite of all the talk of his alleged "stern" view of the Church, Benedict is a gentle man who displayed great sensitivity and intelligence in dealing with his enemies. He's the best advisor any bishop or pope could ask for. To ignore him would be foolish.
4) DON'T WARN & CORRECT HIGH PROFILE CATHOLICS WITHOUT CLEAR CONSEQUENCES.
This pope may not be the theologian his predecessor was, but he is not stupid. Pope Benedict said plainly before he took the Chair of Peter that public figures who persistently defy the teaching authority of the Church, particularly in supporting abortion (and now homosexual marriage) should be denied Communion. Excommunications and interdicts are not mere punishments. They are corrective measures designed to bring the wayward sheep back into the fold. Failure to enforce Church law is the same as failure to enforce civil law: People who obey the law are subject to the whims of the criminals who flaunt the lack of enforcement. Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden (to name just two) are high-profile "Catholics" who support everything this pope has spoken out against as a Cardinal. If they are permitted to receive Communion over and over again, the same old message will be sent to the rest of us: "Yeah, that's the Church's law, but we don't REALLY mean it."
Four steps for reform. There IS a fifth step, but it's not for the pope, it's for us: Pray for this man. He's got the worst job on earth.