After my Easter vacation I will return to Another Voice with some important reconfigurations: technical and professional……

People keep asking me what I think about the new bishop of Rome.
Time will tell……..
My thoughts right now:

(1) Style and packaging are important but I want to see how he deals with structural reform
(2) Very significant will be whom he selects as Secretary of State
(3) There is a very real risk of his creating a new cult of the papacy…very bad news
(4) Kissing babies and washing young men and women’s feet looks good in the evening news but can also be a strong sign of the old clerical paternalism.
(5) The papacy remains an authoritarian monarchy; and I don’t see that resonating very well with the style and spirit of Jesus.
(6) Francs as a lot work to do if he will truly “rebuilt the church.”


4 thoughts on “Happy Easter Friends!

  1. Your remark on washing feet as possibly related to paternalism hit home. I washed feet in a rural village in Honduras where I help as a lay missionary.

    As I reflected on washing feet I realized that it can have various meanings. In some ways it can reflect power relations in such a way as to exalt the one washing, thus reinforcing power relations; but it can also be a way to affirm the worth and dignity of everyone, especially those at the margins of society, as Jean Vanier has written about foot washing.

    It was, though, telling how Pope Francis interpreted his act: “Washing your feet means I am at your service.”

    Another interesting point is his remark to journalists that he wants “a poor Church, a Church for the Poor.” The term that is used in much of Latin America, and that was used by Pope John XXIII, is “a Church OF the Poor.” What is the difference?

    There is much of Pope Francis that gives people hope – which is very important, not just in the West but here in Latin America. How this works out in practice will be seen – in naming of the Secretary of State, as you mention, in the naming of new bishops, and in how the Vatican treats the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and various theologians.

  2. One cannot escape the comparison of the current ecclesial hierachy to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time on earth. They had been given the task of keeping the precepts and tenets of the Torah, but had added layer after layer of impossible, nonsensical interpretations and behaviors that when Jesus arrived on the scene they did not recognize Him. There was one Pharisee, however, who had not hardened his heart or grown arrogant and impressed with his own self-importance…Nicodemus.
    If I can see this parallel (and I am but a lowly teacher in a catholic elementary school), perhaps Francis does as well.
    May the love St. Francis and Nicodemus had for Jesus open Pope Francis’ eyes to the cries of the innocent and the courage to respond and correct the egregious behavior of the men He entrusted and empowered to keep His precepts and tenets.
    Blessings to you and yours John on the eve of this great “gettin’ up” Day! Hallelujah!

  3. Happy Easter to you and yours also Jack and to all at “Another Voice”.
    I am moved by the Spirit to comment on some ( one in particular) of your thoughts, which closely resemble my own. The post before this one in which you spoke of the need for “structural transubstantiation” had me writing a few thoughts down on the difficulty of approaching such a task. Your post today, especially point 5) which speaks of your fears that the papacy is still a monarchy and how this does not resonate with the spirit of Jesus, decided me to share a few of my written thoughts, though not all at this point.
    ” How do we achieve structural transubstantiation in a Church which is run in such a hierarchical manner? The people of God, who make up the Church are psychologically ‘trained’ onto blind obedience to their clergy, for the most part, just as they are trained into blind, unquestioning, unseeking ‘faith’. If their Pope does not sanction changes and the bishops and priests do not make the effort, for whatever reason, to implement them at parish levels, the avaerage parishioner goes into default mode, because he/she knows no other way but to obey.
    Some of the answer to this dead-lock is adult education. However, you first have to convince your parishioner that this would be beneficial to him/her at a spiritual level. It is surprisingly difficult to convey to ‘cradle’ catholics, especially those beyond a certain age, that a relationship with God is far more than a schedule of rote-learned liturgy. It is even harder to convey the idea that seeking, searching and thinking are important tools in this endeavour. The idea that the human intellect is God-given and that thinking for yourself is not a sign of lack of faith or disobedience to an all-knowing God-approved clergy, is not one which sits easily on the average catholic conscience.
    This manner of doing things has been in place pretty much since Constantine sanctioned a certain section of the Church population and thus empowered them with State approval. The views and interpretations of Christs teachings of this section, which were the most rigid and organised within an early first century Church which was far from a unified body of people, were thus enforced from that point onwards and backed up by such a hierarchical structure of authority. The collegiality which was promised at Vatican 2 has been a joke, to be honest in its lack of implementation. Now, over 2000 years later, it is time to recognise the stumbling blocks to spiritual growth and evolution that this way of doing things has created. Christ gave us freedom, the Church has put peoples minds in chains of fear and dependency. It is time for the people of God to come of age and take their rightful place of dignity and responsibility as learning disciples of Christ with Whom they can and do have an independent relationship. That relationship is sacrosanct and must be seen to be respected by those who would take on the responsibility of leading us here on earth.”
    Sincerely. Mari Sutcliffe .

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