Black Smoke, White Smoke

Catholic Church

Pope Francis I

By Anonymous

As we anguish over the selection of this new Pope, please ponder the landscape of a great institution that has seriously, possibly mortally damaged it spiritual mission and goal in this century.

It is the views of reliable “insiders” that cause the greatest concern, for the loyal uninformed faithful will never confront the “evils” of greatness.  Are we not seeing expectations similar to our elections?  “All scientific, psychological, biological, cultural, developmental, pastoral and spiritual expertise must be summoned in order to sustain a calm and rational discourse vitally important for the lives of millions, billions, of men and women-and the credibility of the Catholic Church.”

The Catholic Church has a monumental task of reinventing itself in this century.  There are three major concerns.  First, the decline in membership, attendance of the spiritually faithful, this is mirrored in the expansion of radical secular progressivism in the United State and the subsequent decline of Judeo-Christian philosophy in the USA and the Catholic Church globally, this is an issue.

Second, the corruption and dysfunction in the Roman Curia is an issue.  The Pope is answerable to no human being.  The members of the Roman Curia are answerable to the Pope, but a Pope cannot possibly know every detail of all that happens in the Curia, so in most matters they answer to no one.  The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope, thus the Vatican bank scandal and the Pope butler theft of secret papers, and the religious liberal and conservative cultural orthodoxy controversies, are a fundamental management problem and are the “cause” level of the Church dysfunction.

Third, there is the global clerical and secular pedophilia scandal still raging.  Can one really assume that poverty, and immoral cultural issues do not spin around and down this sewer?  There is nothing more currently definitive than “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church”, “Reclaiming the spirit of Jesus” by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson.  There is no one, in the Church hierarchy, who can reasonably claim ignorance of this scandal.  So the questions to these “great men” are what did they know, when did they know it and what did they do about it?  Our President leads as the Pope leads and we all know how well our experiment is going.

Argentina has as yet not fully addressed this third issue.  There are over 33 million Catholics in that country compared to the 23 million Catholics in the USA.  And statistics of expected abuse are generally reliable.  These cultural problems are like the fiscal national debt in the USA, we have no excuse for not knowing, and so what is being done?  No matter whom the elected Pope would be, and now we have one, he faces a colossal task pretty much botched by his predecessors of the last century.

Have we not gotten over “hope and change” and thirst for results, even in the arena of religion?  I am moving toward a research of a religion-less spirituality.  Few, however, can do the good that organized moral charity can accomplish.  “Clergy do accomplish a tremendous amount of good.  How?  Religious ideals and spiritual integrity continue to exist while hypocrisy and duplicity thrive even in high places.”  A.W. Sipe.

The election of a Pope is mired in pomp and circumstances.  The Cardinals are the vehicle for this responsibility.  Cardinals are, however, handpicked by the Pope and so “cannot really be said” to speak in the name of the College of Bishops, created by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).  Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, “Confrontation Power and Sex in the Catholic Church”

Niccolo Machievelli

Niccolo Machievelli

Machiavelli Back in Rome? …….. The straightforward advice to lie, steal and punish that Machiavelli craftily gave a papally related Prince a half millennium ago is apparently followed today in the Vatican at times more diligently than the Gospel message.  The increasingly evident corrupt conspiracy that Joseph Ratzinger, had, intentionally or unintentionally, effectively overseen for decades in Rome has many branch offices, as we are learning daily, throughout the worldwide Church, including in the US as well as Mexico.

It is important that Catholics see some of the bigger picture so vividly encapsulated locally in Mexico in the sordid Maciel story that has been reported so well by Jason Berry.

Incidentally, Canon “L”aw, like “T”radition and”M”agisterium, is mostly whatever the pope in Rome at the time says it is, regardless of Canon Law’s (and Tradition’s and the Magisterium’s) often obvious conflict with the Gospel message and authentic church history.  Most clerical scholars appear fearful understandably of pointing out these conflicts.”  Thomas Patrick Doyle.

All of this while we are educated, if allowed, in the wisdom of

“Corruption” Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, SJ “commented on “clerical vices—even in the Roman Curia”

“Unfortunately there are priests that aim at becoming bishops, and they succeed.  There are bishops who don’t speak out because they know they will not be promoted to a higher see, or that it will block their candidacy to the cardinalate.”

This type of careerism is one of the greatest ills in the church today.  It stops priests and bishops from speaking the truth and induces them into doing and saying only what pleases their superiors—something that is a great disservice to the Pope.

I could add that there is great vanity in the Church.  Great vanity!  One sees it in the dress.  Cardinals used to have a six-yard-long silk train.  But continuously the Church strips and redresses with useless ornaments.  There is a tendency to show off.  (How appropriate this comment today)

“I need to speak out about certain things.  It’s part of the choice an elderly person makes.  There are certain things I must say to the Church.  We are called to be transparent, to speak the truth. We need a great grace to do this, but those that can are free.” (Cf. The TABLET, 14 June 2008)

Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., (15 February 1927 – 31 August 2012) was an Italian Jesuit and cardinal of the Catholic Church.  He was Archbishop of Milan from 1980 to 2002 and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1983.  (It is reported by La Stampa (an Italian newspaper), he obtained more votes than Joseph Ratzinger during the first round of the election (40 vs. 38).

“In the final interview that he (Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.) gave, shortly before his death, he urged major reforms to the Catholic Church, calling it “200 years out of date” and arguing that, “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous”  How prophetic.

And is this current cadre of Cardinals up to the challenge?  Can one judge by their handling of the global Church Sexual Abuse Scandal?

Whom and what would we accept to alter the current path that the Catholic Church is on?

If one does not embraces these views as contemporary, discounted as a faction of the “hate Catholics” universality, wisdom will be swept under the rug of meaningful reformation.  And so what does the “White Smoke” mean to a Church in decline, in disarray, the victims, and the disenfranchised?  Is it a flag of surrender or a new start?  Look to the spiritual regression of America, the decline of Judeo-Christian philosophy.  Is the challenge too big for any one man?

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