|SEDE VACANTE POSTAGE STAMP|
HIS EMINENCE BECOMES HIS HOLINESS
No matter who he is, the next Pope like every Pope before him, will face a daunting task: becoming the Vicar of Christ on Earth. Let that really sink in........ This is not a job. No, it is a Divinely appointed Cross. And the manner in which that Cross is carried will vary with the man God has chosen. The objectives to be achieved remain the same but the manner in which they will be approached will certainly change.
Nor should it be forgotten that over the last 50 years or so, there have been major evolutions in the pattern of Papal activity in order to come to grips with the rapidly changing modern world. Apostolic journeys began under Pope John XXII who began to travel around Italy, and expanded around the globe to a then surprising degree, under Pope Paul VI. John Paul I did not have time to travel. But the long Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II was outstanding for extensive, dynamic and successful apostolic journeys covering the globe. More recently his saintly and scholarly Successor Pope Benedict XVI also took up the same heavy burden and also achieved brilliant and even historic successes as in his Apostolic journey to Scotland and England. And from the time of Blessed John Paul II the spectacular success of World Youth Days deserves special mention.
So, there have come to be new ways of "being Pope".
Surely the first reaction of anyone on being elected Pope, might legitimately be to wish to go on retreat for a few weeks to sort out one's thoughts. But, the myriad tasks, and Prefects of Dicasteries, and Bishops and Bishops Conferences around the world, and the Synod of Bishops and the heads of Lay Movements, and visiting Heads of States etc., etc. will no doubt ensure that it does not happen.
What is the new Pope to do?
|STATUE OF THE FIRST POPE OUTSIDE HIS BASILICA|
He has a great advantage. His two immediate predecessors have been towering intellectual giants, and their legacy in Apostolic writings of all sorts is enormous in volume and brilliant in quality. The Church of the new Pontificate will take decades to digest them and come to terms with their import.
Surely then, he can afford to address the thoroughly considered agenda of his immediate predecessor, much of which grew out of that of Blessed John Paul II :
Recovery of Teachings of Second Vatican Council
Restoration of the Sense of the Sacred in the Liturgy
Reform of the Curia
Reform of the Clergy and Religious Orders
Restoration of Catholic Identity
Promotion of Christian Unity
Year of Faith
The Sexual Abuse Issue
Now in pursuing each of these goals the particular predispositions of the Holy Father will be critical. But each one seems unavoidable. And in varying degrees, many of them interact and are complementary.
This essential project grew out of the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, in which the need was identified and initial steps taken. Under Benedict XVI the project has been made the focus of the Synod of Bishops, which concluded its deliberations in October, 2012. In essence it relates to the loss of the Faith in countries long held to be staunchly Catholic.
The Apostolic Exhortation which is in effect the Papal response to the propositions put forward by the Bishops has yet to be delivered - in the normal course these Exhortations tend to come some considerable time after the Synod's meetings. This particular Exhortation would provide the perfect vehicle for the next Pope to put his stamp on the New Evangelisation project relatively early in his Pontificate.
RECOVERY OF THE TEACHINGS OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
|POPE BENEDICT XVI ADDRESSES ROMAN CLERGY|
In one of his final addresses, speaking to the Clergy of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that the authentic teachings of the Second Vatican Council had, in a large measure been obscured and had been supplanted by the “Council of the Media" with its companion” spirit" of the Council teachings and practices.
Already, the Holy Father had developed this theme very well over the years, and had also made the Council's Teachings a focus for study in this Year of Faith. There is no doubt, a long way to go to go before the goal can be completely achieved : one only has to look at the gap between where we are in liturgical practice and what the Council actually called for in Sacrosanctum Concilium to realize the size of the task. The situation is the same in the case of other Council documents: take for example what you hear in Sunday Homilies and consider the gap between that and the Council's teaching in Dei Verbum on Sacred Scripture.
This is an immense task - the correction of 50 years of neglect and/or error. It will not be quickly achieved, and in the writer's view is unlikely to be achieved at all, unless approached in a systematic manner.
RESTORATION OF THE SENSE OF THE SACRED IN THE LITURGY
Far better than most, Pope Benedict had understood the centrality of the Sacred Liturgy in Catholic life. He lamented the paroles condition of much liturgical celebration in the Church to-day. And he liberated the traditional pre Vatican II Mass so that it could be celebrated by any Priest without prior approval. The Holy Father expressed the hope that one result of this action would be, over time, a cross - fertilization between the Novus Ordo and the Extraordinary Form so that the former might achieve a far greater sense of the sacred in its celebration, and the Extraordinary Form might be reformed as the Council itself envisaged.
Already the corrected English translation has travelled a long way toward that goal. But in the acreage of the Ars Celebrandi a great deal needs to be done, although the efflux ion of time is removing many of the problem characters from the ranks of the Priesthood and they are being replaced by younger, generally far more devout in celebration of the sacred liturgy.
|THE SENSE OF THE SACRED - AD ORIENTEM|
The encouragement of the Extraordinary Form by Pope Benedict XVI has borne remarkable fruits with rapidly growing congregations which are characterized not by large numbers of nostalgic or-timers but to the great horror of aging dissidents by a large majority of faith-filled and devout young people and growing young families. Now, whatever the new Pope's personal inclinations in this regard - and they are unlikely to be the same as those of Pope Benedict XVI - it will be very important that he at the very least, allows the present situation to develop without hindrance. There will be very many watching for “straws in the wind" where this is concerned.
In addition, the new Pope's personal approach to the Sacred Liturgy will be very closely scrutinised. We know how very carefully Pope Benedict XVI taught by example: consider the practice he implemented of distributing Holy Communion only on the tongue and to those kneeling, as well as his replacement of the flamboyant Master of Papal Ceremonies Archbishop Piero Marini by the traditional Monsignor Guido Marini (no relation) whose great respect for traditional vestments, arrangements and sacred vessels accorded with the Holy Father's own mind in these matters. The new Pope will be closely watched to see how he proceeds in these critical matters.
THE REFORM OF THE CURIA
This is a subject that has become a Media pre-occupation in the period since Pope Benedict announced his intention to abdicate. Titillated by typically scandal-raking Italian press stories often based on nothing more than wild imagination, and on the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Scotland's Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the so- called "Vatileaks" report handed to the Holy Father in the days before his abdication has served to raise the Media speculation and invention to dizzying heights.
Of course since long before the Second Vatican Council the Roman Curia has been a source of frustration to many who have not been able to get their way in a myriad number of issues. 'Twas ever thus. In addition it has become evident that not all in the Curia had always been " singing from the same hymn sheet" as the Holy Father. And in his gentlemanly, humble and modest way, he seems to have been reluctant to quickly react to all but the most outrageous obstructions.
Time will in any case tend to cure several of these problems, many of which are said to stem from a particular Cardinal, a former Secretary of State, who is now 85 years old. Some things are inevitable.
It will be for the new Pope to judge how swiftly to move. Too much change too soon can prove counter-productive, both in creating undue confusion and in building up a rapidly formed pool of the discontented. Too slow a pace on the other hand, can allow those in place time to assess their risks and take administrative measures in an effort to ensure continuity of their policies and frustration of any efforts to effect change. Human nature can be perverse, even when confronted by the workings of Divine Grace.
REFORM OF THE CLERGY AND RELIGIOUS ORDERS
|BISHOP "CALL ME BRIAN" HEENAN OF ROCKHAMPTON|
When we speak of the Clergy we are of course including the Bishops of the Church worldwide. The process of reforming the Episcopate is not a measure of education as the experience of the last 60 years has shown. It seems to be very rare that a "problem" Bishop is turned around, rather experience has shown that they tend to become "unteachable" and end up as public disasters, or living scandals that are tolerated until they retire, resign or die. There have been notorious cases in Australia alone to illustrate this situation.
So, in the case of Bishops, reform will come, in fact has been in progress' steadily by way of better appointments over recent years. And in this it should be noted that the important thing has been the destruction of networks of influence that centred around problem individuals in the past. In the United States the adverse influence (not to use a more critical but similar term) of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Archbishop of Chicago (and darling of the dissident liberals). As the first General Secretary of the United States Bishops Conference he developed inordinate influence in episcopal appointments many of whom became very significant and scandalous problems. The United States Episcopate is only in recent years being cleansed of those appointments and the transformation is dramatic. In Australia similar patterns were in evidence, and, once again as the transformation progresses it is dramatic. We could readily point to prelates of similarly adverse influence here some still surviving in retirement, others who have gone to render their long account.
So no matter who the new Pope is, the reform of the Episcopate will be a slow process. However, a more rigorous application of disciplinary measures in a more timely fashion could have a salutary effect on some elf the surviving rogues. If they saw their fellows dealt with firmly and promptly, they might take note of the “shot across their bows" and, at least publicly if not at heart, conform to their duty.
The wider ranks of the Clergy are of course affected by the same efflux ion of time, and many of the problem post- Conciliar dissidents are now tiring and retiring at the earliest possible moment. At the same time, almost all newly- ordained clergy are solidly orthodox. Whilst their numbers do not equal those of the departing dissidents, their influence is far greater and in fact they tend to draw forth more vocations. Dissidents never did produce vocations - theirs was a self-liquidating enterprise, totally sterile - but the young devout orthodox Priest is as fruitful in vocations as he would have been in Marriage , in the fathering of children- and even more so.
|ORDINATION IN THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM|
Nevertheless problems do remain in clerical education. “Catholic" Universities , Seminaries and Institutes in many places have yet to be cleansed of the dissident lecturers and Professors who have been advanced over the years by their dissident fellows and have often artfully constructed "ecumenical" organizations to avoid being required to take the Mandatum Oath of fidelity to Catholic Teaching. The task of correcting these situations is vital but requires systematic and thoroughly disciplined work which as a prerequisite needs reform minded Bishops. We see the nature of the problem. For the new Pope this will be a major task.
The reform of the Religious Orders is a truly daunting task. It has been begun, especially in the scandal ridden female religious orders in the United States. But the patterns of obstruction, avoidance and non- compliance have been appalling. The effluxion of time will provide most of the answers as these nests of self-satisfied feminists steadily liquidate themselves. However the great practical problem that remains is that many of them are living out their defiant dissident lives in the manner to which they have become accustomed, only by liquidating the assets built up out of the pockets of the laity of generations past. Having no interest but their own comfortable retirement, they think nothing of selling up schools, hospitals even chapels to get the money those retirements will need.
The male religious orders present different problems. And of course the greatest of these is the Jesuits whose dissident majority is the greatest scandal.
The religious orders are not so much benefiting from the new wave of orthodox young Priests, mostly because of the culture of the orders being so strong that it drives out anyone with orthodox tendencies. The strange exception to this appears to be the Dominicans who have a number of thoroughly orthodox young Priests in evidence. How the new Pope might succeed in reforming the religious orders other than through the exceptional workings of prayer and the Holy Spirit, I do not know.
RESTORATION OF CATHOLIC IDENTITY
|PROCESSION IN SAINT PETER'S BASILICA|
This was a clear but unannounced intention of Pope Benedict XVI and Blessed Pope John Paul II before him. No one understood better than Blessed John Paul II - that "man from a far country" of strong as steel culture, the importance of culture in resisting a hostile environment. And Poles had historically had to resist Russians, Mohammedans, German Nazis and Russian Communists. He had experienced the last two himself.
But knowing and valuing one truth, does not mean that in pursuit of another truth, you might not damage the former. And so it has happened. In pursuit of Christian Unity by means of what was termed "Ecumenism", the sense of Catholic Identity has been seriously damaged.
Firstly the term "Ecumenism" was not self- explanatory to the Catholic in the pews. And when explained, it seemed to contradict the truth of the nature of the Catholic Church. For it was almost always explained in ways that, one way or another, suggested that one should not be looking to convert non- Catholics, merely to co-operate with them. It seemed to many Catholics not well versed in their Faith and misled by dissident Clergy and some daffy Bishops( now mostly removed, retired dead or about to retire) that the Church was saying that one religion was as good as another.
At the same time even Catholic vestments such as the Soutanes and Surplice were being replaced by the ambiguous "ecumenical alb" so-called, more like a loose dress so that that even ladies could fit in! The medium was the message for many. New hymn books had been developed groaning with Protestant hymns, many heretical, and the rest mainly banal with a few of quality. And to add insult to injury, new "worship songs" of the " We, We" variety came into use -totally devoid of Catholic content as regards, doctrine or devotion, they mostly have a country and western whine about them and use merry- go round music for their melodies.
This systematic assault on Catholic identity was further re- - inforced by the displacement of the Tabernacle from pride of place in our churches, the removal of the Altar- rails and the Priest turning away from leading the people in worship of God to engaging them "face to face" in the ultimate " We, We" gesture the medium was the message: it was all about US, not about HIM.
In addressing all of the other headings we have listed, the new Pope will already be going a long way toward recovering the sense of Catholic identity. But it really needs to be explicitly reinforced from time to time. And the scandal and ambiguity in Ecumenism also needs to be brought to an end.
THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY
Both Blessed Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI have worked assiduously, and apart from any ecumenically based activities, to promote Christian unity through the consistent pursuit of links, with the Orthodox Churches, and in addition, they have both done the same in appropriate ways with the Anglican Communion so-called, culminating in the establishment of the Ordinariate structure.
All of this has been done quite apart from, and without the taint of compromise perceived by most in the Ecumenical effort.
Both Orthodox and Anglican strands of this activity need further pursuit by the new Pope. And there are even suggestions that an Ordinariate type structure might be considered for some Lutherans who are said to be disposed to become Catholics.
YEAR OF FAITH
This initiative of Pope Benedict XVI is in full swing and has received good co-operation from many Dioceses around the world as well as from many lay individuals and organizations, especially on the Internet.
Any incoming Pope will be bound to embrace it keenly and see it through to its conclusion with marked attention.
LASTLY THE SEXUAL ABUSE ISSUE
"This filth” as Pope Benedict XVI has termed it, still hangs around, the vile stench of the " sick, sick 60s" as the old pop song termed them. The victims fastened on to by fee for success lawyers, are grist for TV and press, and the whole issue provides a stick with which to beat the Church and seek to undermine her unwelcome resistance to abortion, euthanasia, queer "marriage" and any other sort of bizarre immorality the licentious media wish to promote. It will be around for some time. But all that can be done positively seems to have been done, it is now a matter of caring for the legitimate needs of victims, mostly NOT financial, and fighting the ongoing attacks on the Church.
|FATHER GORDON MACRAE 18 YRS A PRISONER FOR AN ASSAULT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN|
LEGAL PROCESS FOR HIS RELEASE NOW UNDER WAY
Perhaps the new Pope might also turn his mind to the issue of justice for those Priests falsely accused, some imprisoned (like Father Gordon. MacRae in the USA whose legal exoneration process has begun) who have been abandoned by their Dioceses desperate to avoid any hint of taint NO MATTER WHAT THE COST TO THE INNOCENT PRIESTS.
So what is the point of this tour of the horizon of the new Pope?
Well, if it hasn't occurred to you yet, you might just think it a very good idea, no a desperate necessity to urgently begin praying for His Eminence Cardinal? Who is about to become His Holiness Pope? We can truly pray “God Help him!"