One of the biggest mistakes thus far of the current pontificate is those idiotic questionnaires which were ordered in preparation for the synod on the family in October, at least, judging from what Sandro Magister at Chiesa is reporting, that might well be the private assessment of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri:
Finally, on Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th of February there will be a meeting of the council of the general secretariat of the synod of bishops, coordinated by the new cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.
That assembly will begin to evaluate the responses to the questionnaire concerning the upcoming extraordinary synod in October, also dedicated to the pastoral care of the family.
The episcopal conferences of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have already seen to spreading all over the world, through detailed press releases, the responses that have come to them, tipped very much out of balance toward the progressive side.
But this diffusion has been judged as a “unilateral initiative” and “not correct” by Baldisseri, who reiterated in an interview how the publication of these materials, which were supposed to have been sent “confidentially” to the Vatican, were by no means authorized.
Not only that. The new cardinal – also in the same interview published in the “Quotidiano Nazionale” on February 11 – also defined as “a possible interpretation” that which sees the release of the data as a form of pressure for influencing the work of the synod. Continue reading
Sandro Magister at Chiesa draws attention to the enlistment by Pope Francis of some rather expensive firms in his efforts to revamp Vatican operations:
It may be “poor and for the poor,” the Church dreamed of by Pope Francis. Meanwhile, however, the Vatican is becoming the cash cow of the most exclusive and expensive firms in the world of management and financial systems.
Another big name recruited by the Vatican is Promontory Financial Group, based in Washington. Since May, a dozen of its analysts have been set up in the offices of the IOR sifting through the accounts of the institute one by one, hunting for illicit operations. And they are doing the same with the accounts of the APSA, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.
Not only that. Top-level managers of Promontory have become part of the permanent leadership of the IOR. One former Promontory officer is Rodolfo Marranci, the new director general of the Vatican “bank.” And the senior advisers of the IOR include Elizabeth McCaul and Raffaele Cosimo, who at Promontory were respectively the heads of the New York and European branches. Also coming from across the Atlantic is Antonio Montaresi, called in to manage the risk office, a role that did not exist at the IOR before.
A similar multiplication of roles and personnel at the Vatican also concerns the Financial Information Authority, created at the end of 2010 by Benedict XVI, today directed by the Swiss René Brülhart, an expensive international star in this area who will soon be doubling his staff.
The balance sheets of the IOR are certified by Ernst & Young, to which the Vatican has also entrusted the verification and modernization of the finance and management practices of the governorate of the tiny state.
And another renowned multinational, KPMG, has been called to bring up to international standards the accounting practices of all the institutes and offices based in Vatican City.
In spite of the boasts of transparency, no information is coming out about the costs of this recourse to external contractors, costs that are presumed to be enormous, particularly those charged to the IOR.
As if this were not enough, the Vatican “bank” has had to spend 3.6 million euro to cover part of the debt of 28.3 million, calculated by Ernst & Young, for the world youth day in Rio de Janeiro.
And it has had to use roughly ten million euro to cover half of the chasm left in the diocese of Terni by its former bishop Vincenzo Paglia, the current president of the pontifical council for the family. Continue reading
Sandro Magister is noting that Pope Francis seems to be correcting three errors:
ROME, November 22, 2013 – In the span of a few days Pope Francis has corrected or brought about the correction of a few significant features of his public image. At least three of them.
The first concerns the conversation that he had with Eugenio Scalfari, set down in writing by this champion of atheistic thought in “la Repubblica” of October 1.
The transcript of the conversation had in effect generated widespread dismay, because of some of the statements from the mouth of Francis that sounded more congenial to the dominant secular thinking than to Catholic doctrine. Like the following:
“Each one has his idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight the evil as he understands them.”
At the same time, however, the interview was immediately confirmed by Fr. Federico Lombardi as “faithful to the thought“ of the pope and “reliable in its general sense.”
Not only that. A few hours after it was published in “la Repubblica,” the interview was reproduced in its entirety both in “L’Osservatore Romano” and on the official website of the Holy See, on a par with the other discourses and documents of the Pope.
This gave birth to the idea that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had intentionally chosen the conversational form of expression, on this as on other occasions, as a new form of his magisterium, capable of reaching the general public more effectively.
But in the following weeks the pope must also have become aware of the risk that this form entails. The risk that the magisterium of the Church might fall to the level of a mere opinion contributed to the free exchange of ideas.
This in fact led to the decision, on November 15, to remove from the website of the Holy See the text of the conversation with Scalfari.
“It was removed,” Fr. Lombardi explained, “to clarify the nature of that text. There were some misunderstandings and disagreements about its value.”
On November 21, interviewed at the Roman headquarters of the foreign press, Scalfari nonetheless revealed more details of the matter.
He said that the pope, at the end of the conversation, had consented that it should be made public. And to Scalfari’s proposal that he send him the text beforehand, he had replied: “It seems like a waste of time to me, I trust you.”
In effect, the founder of “la Repubblica” sent the text to the pope, accompanied by a letter in which he wrote among other things:
“Keep in mind that I did not include some of the things that you said to me. And that some of the things that I attribute to you you did not say. But I put them there so that the reader may understand who you are.”
Two days later – again according to what Scalfari claims – the pope’s secretary, Alfred Xuereb, telephoned to give the go-ahead for publication. Which took place the following day.
Scalfari commented: “I am perfectly willing to think that some of the things that I wrote and attributed to him are not shared by the pope, but I also believe that he maintains that, said by a nonbeliever, they are important for him and for the activity he is carrying out.”
But even the calibrated and thoroughly studied interview with Pope Francis in “La Civiltà Cattolica” – published on September 19 by sixteen magazines of the Society of Jesus in eleven languages – has in recent days been taken into the shop of things to be corrected.
On a key point: the interpretation of Vatican Council II.
This has been made clear by a passage of the letter written by Francis himself to Archbishop Agostino Marchetto on the occasion of the presentation on November 12 of a volume in his honor, against the solemn background of the Campidoglio. A letter that the pope wanted to be read in public.
The passage is the following:
“You have demonstrated this love [of the Church] in many ways, including by correcting an error or imprecision on my part – and for this I thank you from my heart – but above all it has been manifested in all its purity in your studies of Vatican Council II. I have said this to you once, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and I want to repeat it today, that I consider you the best hermeneut of Vatican Council II.”
The definition of Marchetto as “the best hermeneut” of the Council is striking in itself. Marchetto has in fact always been the most implacable critic of that “school of Bologna” – founded by Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo and today directed by Professor Alberto Melloni – which has the worldwide monopoly on the interpretation of Vatican II, in a progressive vein.
The hermeneutic of the Council upheld by Marchetto is the same as that of Benedict XVI: not of “rupture” and “new beginning,” but of “reform in the continuity of the one subject Church.” And it is this hermeneutic that Pope Francis has wanted to signify that he shares, in bestowing such high appreciation on Marchetto.
But if one rereads the succinct passage that Francis dedicates to Vatican II in the interview with “La Civiltà Cattolica,” one gets a different impression. “Yes, there are hermeneutical lines of continuity and of discontinuity,” the pope concedes. “Nonetheless,” he adds, “one thing is clear”: Vatican II was “a service to the people” consisting in “a reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture.”
In the few lines of the interview dedicated to the Council, Bergoglio defines its essence this way three times, also applying it to the reform of the liturgy.
Such a judgment of the grandiose conciliar event immediately appeared so summary to many that even the pope’s interviewer, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” Antonio Spadaro, confessed his amazement in transcribing it from the pope’s spoken words.
Meanwhile, however, this judgment has continued to garner widespread consensus.
For example, in receiving Pope Francis at the Quirinale on a visit on November 4, the president of the Italian republic, Giorgio Napolitano, thanked him precisely for making “resonate the spirit of Vatican Council II as a ‘reinterpretation of the Gospel in the light of contemporary culture,’” citing his exact words.
And praise for these same words of the pope has come – for example – from the foremost of the Italian liturgists, Andrea Grillo, a professor at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, according to whom Francis has finally inaugurated the true and definitive “hermeneutic” of the Council, after having “immediately put in second place that diatribe over ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’ which had long prejudiced – and often completely paralyzed – any effective hermeneutic of Vatican II.”
In effect, it is no mystery that “service to the people” and a reinterpretation of the Gospel “brought up to date” are concepts dear to the progressive interpretations of the Council and in particular to the “school of Bologna,” which has repeatedly declared itself to be an enthusiast of this pope.
But evidently there is someone who has personally pointed out to pope Bergoglio that reducing the Council to such concepts is at the least “imprecise,” if not “mistaken.”
And it was precisely Marchetto who took this step. There has always been great trust between him and Bergoglio, with mutual esteem. Marchetto lives in Rome at the residence for clergy on Via della Scrofa, in room 204, next to room 203 where the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires stayed during his trips to Rome.
Pope Francis not only listened to the criticisms of his friend, he welcomed them. To the point of thanking him, in the letter he had read on November 12, for having helped him in “correcting an error or imprecision on my part.”
It is to be presumed that in the future Francis will express himself on the Council in a way different from that of the interview in “La Civiltà Cattolica.” More in line with the hermeneutic of Benedict XVI. And to the great disappointment of the “school of Bologna.”
The third correction is consistent with the two previous ones. It concerns the “progressive” tone that Pope Francis has seen stamped upon the the first three months of his pontificate.
One month ago, on October 17, Bergoglio seemed to have confirmed this profile of his once again when in the morning homily at Santa Marta he directed stinging words against Christians who turn the faith into a “moralistic ideology,” entirely made up of “prescriptions without goodness.”
But one month later, on November 18, in another morning homily the pope played a completely different tune.
He used the revolt of the Maccabees against the dominant powers of the age as the point of departure for a tremendous tongue-lashing of that “adolescent progressivism,” Catholic as well, which is disposed to submit to the “hegemonic uniformity” of the “one form of thought that is the fruit of worldliness.”
It is not true, Francis said, that “in the face of any choice whatsoever it is right to move forward regardless, rather than remain faithful to one’s traditions.” The result of negotiating over everything is that values are so emptied of meaning as to end up merely “nominal values, not real.” Even more, one ends up negotiating precisely over “the thing essential to one’s very being, fidelity to the Lord.” Continue reading
PopeWatch has noticed that the closer one pays attention to the day to day operations of the Vatican the more one becomes convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the True Faith. Why? Well for the same reason that a Jewish merchant converted to Catholicism in the Renaissance. He had expressed an interest in converting to a Catholic merchant friend of his. He announced to his friend that he was going to Rome to see the operation of the curia up close. His friend who knew the corruption at Rome was aghast and assumed that his friend would lose all interest in converting. Instead his friend came back and announced that he was being baptized in a month. His friend was happy, but asked him why. “At Rome I saw how the curia operates. If I operated that way I would be bankrupt in a week. The Church however has been going strong in spite of this for sixteen centuries. It must be from God!”
An example of the loopiness that one often sees in close observation of the Vatican may be summed up in Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui.
Sandro Magister on his blog Chiesa notes that Pope Francis has a special devotion to Mary, Untier of Knots:
In it Mary is depicted untying the knots of a ribbon held out to her by an angel, which another angel is receiving from her with no more knots. The meaning is clear. The knots are all that complicates life, difficulties, sins. And Mary is the one who helps to untie them.
His doctoral thesis was abandoned at its birth, and even the thought of Romano Guardini did not leave a lasting imprint upon Bergoglio. In the interview with Pope Francis in “La Civiltà Cattolica,” in which he dedicates ample space to his authors of reference, Guardini is not there.
On display in the church, the image of Mary “desatanudos” attracted a growing number of devotees, converted sinners, and marked an unexpected growth of religious practice. To such an extent that after a few years there was a well-established tradition of a pilgrimage to the image, from all over Buenos Aires and from even farther away, on the 8th day of every month.
“I never felt myself so much an instrument in the hands of God,” Bergoglio confided to a Jesuit confrere who was his disciple, Fr. Fernando Albistur, now a professor of biblical studies at the Colegio Máximo di San Miguel in Buenos Aires.
And he is not the only one. In the same book, Fr. Juan Carlo Scannone, the most authoritative of the Argentine theologians and a former professor of the young Jesuit Bergoglio, also relates the same episode.
In Scannone’s judgment, the instance of the Blessed Mother “untier of knots” helps us to understand more deeply the “pastoral” profile of Pope Francis and his accentuated attention to the “people.” Continue reading
Father Z, here, links to an interesting story at The Eponymous Flower blog:
Finally, Sandro Magister gave his contribution as a lecture on which Katholisches.info already reported (see separate report Pope Francis and the Liturgy – “Pure Functional Access” Reservations to Tradition, weakness in the knees before the Lord ). Master analyzed in a critical manner, the previous decisions of Pope Francis in the Liturgy: The ban for celebration in the old rite by the Franciscans of the Immaculate, the dismissal of all five consultants for the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, who were close to the liturgical understanding of Benedict XVI., the refusal to genuflect in the Holy Mass at the words of consecration, although from papal Mass to papal Mass always newly master of ceremonies Guido Marini always included the two relevant points and finally the halting by CDF, that they no longer check the bizarre special forms in the Mass of the Neocatechumenal Way, as Benedict XVI. had ordered. Magister has also expressed the opinion that the Pope is “friendly” to everyone, “except with the traditionalists.”
The lecture finally came to a scandal. Magister so openly expressed his criticism of Pope Francis, that Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Pozzo had to leave the room. “The response of Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Pozzo is indicative of the currently prevailing climate in Rome,” the website Chiesa e Postconcilio (Church and Post-Conciliar). “Was it because of the time for both of them or was it simply a precaution, because of the polite but harsh criticism by Magister of Pope Francis? The withdrawal of a Cardinal during a major event is something glaring. All interpretations are allowed, “said the Spanish Catholic blogger Francisco de la Cigoña. Continue reading
On Sandro Magister’s website, Chiesa, he has a post by Professor Pietro De Marco who analyzes the messages being communicated by the Pope:
Pope Francis shows himself to be the typical religious of the Society of Jesus in its recent phase, converted by the Council in the years of formation, especially by what I call the “external Council,” the Vatican II of militant expectations and interpretations, created by some episcopates, by their theologians, and by the most influential Catholic media outlets. One of those churchmen who, in their conciliatory and pliable tone, in their undisputed values, are also the most rigid “conciliars,” convinced after half a century that the Council is yet to be realized and that things should be done as if we were still in the 1970′s, in a hand-to-hand with the “pacellian” church, neoscholastic theology, under the influence of the secular or Marxist paradigm of modernity.
On the contrary: that which the “conciliar spirit” wanted and was able to activate has been said or tried over the decades and today it is a question in the first place of making a critical assessment of the results, sometimes disastrous. Even the tenacious proclamation in Pope Francis of the divine mercy corresponds to a pastoral attitude now widespread among the clergy, to the point of that laxity which the pope moreover censures. Not only that. The theme of sin has almost disappeared from catechesis, thereby liquidating the very need of mercy. Rather than promoting generally merciful behaviors, this is a matter today of reconstructing a moral theology less made up of words and again capable of guiding clergy and faithful in concrete cases. Also in moral theology the road to the true implementation of the Council has been reopened by the magisterial work of Karol Wojtyla and Joseph Ratzinger.
Some maintain that Francis could be, as a postmodern pope, the man of the future of the Church, beyond traditionalism and modernism. But the postmodern that most thrives in him – as liquidation of forms, spontaneity of public appearance, attention to the global village – is superficial. With its pliability and aestheticism, the postmodern is hardly plausible in a bishop of Latin America, where until recently the intelligentsia was dominated by the Marxist Modern. Bergoglio’s solid core is and remains “conciliar.” On the road undertaken by this pope, if confirmed, I see first of all the crystallization of the dominant pastoral conciliarism in the clergy and in the active laity.
Of course, if Bergoglio is not postmodern, his worldwide reception is. The pope pleases right and left, practicing and nonbelievers, without discernment. His prevalent message is “liquid.” On this success, however, nothing can be built, there can only be remixed something already existing, and that not of the best.
a) the concession to set popular phrases like “everyone is free to do…” “who says that things must be this way…” “who am I to…” allowed to slip out in the conviction that they are dialogical and up-to-date. Presenting himself as a simple bishop to justify hardly formal behaviors, do not cover up and cannot cover up the different weight and different responsibility that instead belong to his words, any word, since the bishop of Rome and the pope are one and the same;
c) a certain authoritarian inclination (“I will do everything to…”) in singular contrast with the frequent pluralistic propositions, but typical of the democratic “revolutionaries,” with the risk of imprudent collisions with tradition and the “sensus fidelium”;
d) moreover, there remains incongruous in Pope Francis this constant taking of individual public communication initiatives and this wanting to be without filters (the symptomatic image of the papal apartment as a bottleneck), which reveal the unwillingness to feel himself a man of governance (something more difficult than being a reformer) in an eminent and “sui generis” institution like the Catholic Church.
His is, at times, the conduct of a modern and informal manager, one of those who concede a great deal to the press. But this clinging to persons and things on the outside – collaborators, friends, press, public opinion, even the apartment in Santa Marta is “outside” – as if the man Bergoglio were afraid he would not know what to do once he were left alone, as pope, in the apartment of the popes, is not positive. And the thing could not last. Even the media will get tired of supporting a pope who needs them too much. Continue reading
My go to guy when it comes to analysis of what is going on at the Vatican has always been Italian journalist Sandro Magister. In a column today he explains the great gap between Pope Francis and his two immediate predecessors on the Chair of Peter:
There is nothing in this program of the pontificate that could turn out to be unacceptable to the dominant secular opinion. Even the judgment that John Paul II and Benedict XVI did “very little” in opening to the modern spirit is in line with this opinion. The secret of the popularity of Francis is in the generosity with which he concedes to the expectations of “modern culture” and in the shrewdness with which he dodges that which could become a sign of contradiction.
In this he decisively separates himself from his predecessors, including Paul VI. There is a passage in the homily that then-archbishop of Munich Ratzinger pronounced at the death of Pope Giovanni Battista Montini, on August 10, 1978, that is extraordinarily illuminating, in part on account of its reference to conscience “that is measured by the truth”:
“A pope who today would not undergo criticism would be failing in his task in the face of these times. Paul VI resisted telecracy and demoscopy, the two dictatorial powers of the present. He was able to do so because he did not take success and approval as the parameter, but rather conscience, which is measured by the truth, by the faith. This is why on many occasions he sought compromise: the faith leaves very much open, it offers a wide spectrum of decisions, it imposes as the parameter love, which feels obligated toward everything and therefore imposes great respect. This is why he was able to be inflexible and decisive when what was at stake was the essential tradition of the Church. In him this toughness did not derive from the insensitivity of one whose journey is dictated by the pleasure of power and by disdain for persons, but from the profundity of the faith, which made him capable of bearing the opposition.”
In confirmation of that which distances Pope Francis from his predecessors has come precisely the letter with which Ratzinger-Benedict XVI – breaking his silence after his resignation – responded to the book “Dear pope, I write to you” published in 2011 by the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi.
Both of the past two popes have dialogued willingly with professed atheists and secular opinion leaders, but they have done so in very different forms. If Francis dodges the stumbling blocks, Ratzinger instead emphasizes them.
It should be enough to read this passage of his letter to Odifreddi: Continue reading
As we enter into the Holy Triduum, I’d like to invite a reading of Pope Benedict’s catechesis given during yesterday’s general audience, appropriately deemed by Sandro Magister “A Handbook for Holy Week”:
Dear brothers and sisters, Holy Week, which for us Christians is the most important week of the year, offers us the opportunity to be immersed in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great mystery of the faith. Beginning tomorrow afternoon, with the Mass “In Coena Domini,” the solemn liturgical rites will help us to meditate in a more lively manner on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord in the days of the Holy Paschal Triduum, fulcrum of the entire liturgical year. May divine grace open our hearts to comprehend the inestimable gift that salvation is, obtained for us by Christ’s sacrifice. [Read the rest]
(The homilies of Pope Benedict XVI for Holy Week 2009 will be made available here, on the Vatican website).