Reflection for the Start of Lent 2011
Hierarchical Governance : Hierarchical Smokescreens
Cardinal Rigali Incenses
On Ash Wednesday, March 9th 2011, Michael Sean Winters wrote in NCR:
The announcement yesterday that 21 priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were being placed on administrative leave demonstrates conclusively that the Dallas norms have failed….Last Sunday, those 21 priests presided at Mass in their parishes. Last Sunday, those 21 priests were in active ministry. The charges against them had been examined before and…what? They were either wrongly exonerated or diocesan officials decided to look the other way….And this is no ordinary diocese. It is led by a cardinal, indeed, by one of the most powerful cardinals in America given his active responsibilities as a member of the Congregation for Bishops. Over the past few years, the fastest way to become a bishop was to be a successful monsignor in Philadelphia….But we now know the man at the helm was not only derelict in his duties, he completely misunderstood the nature and import of the promises made to the faithful at Dallas….To be clear, the entire reputation of the entire American hierarchy, and that of the officials in the Vatican, is being weighed in the balance. There is nothing that has been done or said by SNAP, or by victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson, or by any of the Church’s critics that comes even close to the damage to the Church’s reputation inflicted by Cardinal Justin Rigali.
The New Evangelization? Forget about it. Pro-life activities? Not a chance. Advocacy for the poor? It rings hollow. If the leaders of the Church cannot be trusted to keep their most solemn pledge to protect children, they cannot be trusted at all. If they fail to see this, their moral sensibility is not merely skewed, it is dead. It is not only that they cannot be trusted, it is that they should not be trusted.
Michael Sean sees reality as it is. Frankly I wonder why it has taken him so long!
And then today (the second day of Lent 2011) we read that Pope Benedict has released another book about Jesus (convenient…just in time for Lent and all that…) and he rejects the idea that Jesus was a political revolutionary (e. g. a slap in the face for any remaining liberation theology people) and insists that violent uprisings must never be carried out in God’s name.
Maybe Pope Benedict is growing restless within his own authoritarian regime?
Vatican II (It is starting to seem so very long ago!) filled many of us with hopeful excitement about the future of the church. We seemed to be moving AWAY from an authoritarian and hierarchical church into communities of faith characterized by the radical freedom of Jesus and the Christian Gospels.
Thanks to Benedict-Ratzinger and John Paul-Wojtyla, almost all the Roman Catholic structural gains of the Second Vatican Council are being slowly but surely undermined and reversed.
For people who understand what the church is REALLY about, the Ratzinger/Wojtyla reform of the reform is a formula for demoralization and despair.
Nevertheless…..Christians don’t despair. Events in the Near East are more a stimulus than a warning.
Pope Benedict can publish as many books as he likes. The old gentleman just doesn’t get it: In our postmodern world people are looking for authenticity rather than authority.
Jesus exemplified the values people are seeking today: the values of sharing, solidarity, justice, dignity and service.
On this second day of Lent 2011, we should all set aside Pope Benedict’s new book and turn instead to the Gospel According to Mark:
“You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you! No! Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant……..”
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