Posts Tagged “pope”

Francis washed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. / AP photo, via (NY) Daily NewsAmong the various elements of Holy Week pageantry in the Roman Catholic Church, is the Pope washing people’s feet on Maundy Thursday. This rite, which began in the Middle Ages, emulates the tale of Jesus washing his apostles’ feet as related in John 13:1-17. Naturally, owing to Catholicism’s hangups about women, the Popes have washed only men’s feet. Newly-installed Pope Francis performed this medieval rite, but in the process, broke the “men-only” tradition; as the AP reports via the Washington Post, this has a lot of conservative Catholics up in arms over it (WebCite cached article):

Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.

Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls — a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic — during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.

One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, “Rorate Caeli,” reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict’s eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s modernizing reforms.

“The official end of the reform of the reform — by example,” “Rorate Caeli” lamented in its report on Francis’ Holy Thursday ritual.…

Virtually everything he has done since being elected pope, every gesture, every decision, has rankled traditionalists in one way or another.

The article goes on to relate several outrages that have erupted as a result of various minor departures from papal tradition that Francis has done since taking office. That all of these alterations are cosmetic in nature, and quite trivial, doesn’t seem to make any difference to these sanctimoniously-outraged traditionalist Catholics. They truly are alarmed and angry that Pope Francis may well abort the efforts of his predecessors to roll back the Second Vatican Council reforms — even though those reforms weren’t nearly as drastic as is often thought. When you’re a fervent, perpetually-outraged religionist, little things like “facts” don’t really seem to matter very much.

Photo credit: AP via (NY) Daily News.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York TimesBy now most of my readers will already have heard the news: the College of Cardinals has elected a new pope. The New York Times reports on the cardinals’ choice (WebCite cached article):

With a puff of white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of thousands of rain-soaked faithful, a gathering of Catholic cardinals picked a new pope from among their midst on Wednesday — choosing the cardinal from Argentina, the first South American to lead the church.

The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years and the first member of the Jesuit order to lead the church.

A lot of folks will speculate as to what it means that a non-European was elected Pope, and that the new Pope named himself for St Francis of Assisi. It’s true that Francis is the first “New World” pope, and it’s also true that St Francis had — like Jesus himself — preached the virtue of poverty. But don’t be deceived. The Roman Catholic Church is a colossal juggernaut that works in its own way, moves at its own pace, and in many ways governs itself. It almost doesn’t matter who heads the Holy See. It’s the bishops who, collectively, run the Church, and they’ll continue to do so just as they always have. Even if he’d wanted to — and I’m positive he doesn’t — Pope Francis can’t “change” the Church in any meaningful way … because it can’t be changed.

Photo credit: Vincenzo Pinto/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, via the New York Times.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Pope Benedict XVI BlessingWith today being his last day in office as Pope, I thought I’d recap some of Benedict’s “greatest hits” since I’ve been blogging here. These are categorized and listed in blog order:

That about covers it, I think.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Pope Benedict XVI blessing members of the Order of the Knights of Malta at the Vatican on Saturday. Samantha Zucchi Insidefoto/European Pressphoto Agency, via the New York Times.The big religious news this morning is that Pope Benedict XVI plans to resign at the end of this month. The New York Times reports on this news which has taken a lot of people by surprise (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in six centuries.

Regarded as a doctrinal conservative, the pope, 85, said that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s Roman Catholics.

The announcement is certain to plunge the Roman Catholic world into frenzied speculation about his likely successor and to evaluations of a papacy that was seen as both conservative and contentious.

In a statement in several languages, the pope said his “strength of mind and body” had “deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

Elected on April 19, 2005, Pope Benedict said his papacy would end on Feb. 28.

The reason this is a surprise, is that previously, spokesmen for the Church — and “experts” on the Vatican and Catholicism — had claimed it was impossible for popes to resign. That had been their response a few years ago when the Pope’s involvement in the case of a pedophilic priest in the 1980s had been revealed, as the Times explains:

Vatican officials and experts who follow the papacy closely dismissed the idea of stepping down at the time. “There is no objective motive to think in terms of resignation, absolutely no motive,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. “It’s a completely unfounded idea.”

I said, back then, that this was not true; the Pope can, indeed, resign. There are precedents for it (Pope Celestine V had established the ability of popes to resign, then did so himself a few months later in 1294; and Gregory XII also resigned, in 1415, in order to end the decades-long Great Western Schism). Thanks to Celestine V, in fact, a provision for papal abdication is provided explicitly in canon law:

Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone. (Canon 332 §2)

So all those presumed “experts” who had insisted differently, are clearly wrong. I find it difficult to believe that most of them — if not all — didn’t know better.

Photo credit: Samantha Zucchi Insidefoto/European Pressphoto Agency, via the New York Times.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Second Vatican Council by Lothar Wolleh 001Last Thursday was the 50th anniversary of II Vatican, the council that changed how the Catholic Church related both to its own laity and the rest of the world. This Council opened with a lot of pomp and circumstance; its deliberations were thorough, taking a few years to complete; and in the end a lot of things about Catholicism changed utterly. But what, really, has been changed within the Church? The Religion News Service (via HartfordFAVS) reports on the Council’s anniversary and its results (WebCite cached article):

Fifty years ago on Thursday (Oct. 11), hundreds of elaborately robed leaders strode into St. Peter’s Basilica in a massive display of solemn ecclesiastical pomp. It signaled the start of a historic three-year assembly that would change the way members of the world’s largest Christian denomination viewed themselves, their church and the rest of the world.

It was the first day of the Second Vatican Council, more popularly known as Vatican II, which was designed to assess the church’s role in a rapidly changing world. …

As a result of Vatican II, priests started celebrating Mass in the language of the countries in which they lived, and they faced the congregation, not only to be heard and seen but also to signal to worshippers that they were being included because they were a vital component of the service.

The Second Vatican Council made some other visible changes, including how Catholics related to other Christian denominations and with Judaism. It meant that, for example, Catholics now could attend weddings and funerals of friends and family which happened to be held in other churches. And it led to some other changes, such as many orders of nuns allowing their members to go without their traditional habits. Ultimately, II Vatican meant that the R.C. Church became more generally “open” to the rest of the world, even if no doctrinal changes were made.

But really, how far did that effort go? How truly “open” did the Church become, now that 47 years have passed since the Council completed its work? Unfortunately the answer to that question is a resounding “Not nearly enough.” Multiple investigations — in multiple locations — into the worldwide Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal over the last decade or so revealed the Church’s princes worked diligently to maintain the secrecy of their operations, going so far as to willingly allow children to be preyed upon in order not to let outsiders know what was going on. Dioceses and the Vatican itself have actively resisted every effort to hold them accountable for their behavior. And when they’re faced with incontrovertible evidence of both the abusers’ crimes and their own complicity in them, the Church repeatedly and reflexively blames everyone but itself and its own personnel for the abuse (the abusers themselves were innocent victims of the Forces of Darkness or of the children themselves, you see).

One consequence of II Vatican is that it caused something of a schism within Catholicism. A number of Catholics — including some of the bishops — viewed the Council’s work horrific and detrimental. They consider Pius XII — predecessor of John XXIII who convened II Vatican — to have been the last legitimate Pope. They count every Pope after Pius … and by extension everything the Vatican has done since his time … to be invalid. Granted these sedevacantist groups are in the minority and they don’t all agree with each other aside from their dissatisfaction with the Second Vatican reforms. But they persist nevertheless, in spite of excommunications and other sanctions the Church has brought to bear against them.

What’s ironic, though, is that over his reign, the current Pope has been working to gather these sedevacantist groups back into the Catholic fold. One of the ways he’s done that is to steer Catholicism back toward the way it had operated prior to II Vatican. For instance, he’s made the (Latin) Tridentine Mass a valid option for celebrants once again (cached).* This effort has worked; for instance, as I’ve blogged already, the Society of St Pius X has agreed to rejoin its mother Church. This is in spite of the fact that this order remains backward and decidedly medieval in its dogma, and one of its prelates is an unrepentant Holocaust-denier.

Yes, folks, these are the sorts of people the Vatican is catering to. Somehow I don’t see that as the sort of behavior that John XXIII had been thinking about when he convened II Vatican … but then again, what can I possibly know about such sacred considerations?

In the end, not only has II Vatican failed to make the Church fundamentally different — except in some noticeable yet cosmetic ways — it’s currently trying to roll back even those minuscule reforms and is according itself with people who once had vehemently opposed those changes. If things continue this way, in a couple decades one will see nuns back in their habits and Mass being said in Latin once again with the priests’ backs to the congregation. And II Vatican would effectively never have been held at all.

Photo credit: Lothar Wolleh, via Wikimedia Commons.

* Note within this letter Benedict’s customary plaintive whine about media coverage:

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion.

Everything bad that’s ever said about the R.C. Church, you see, is all the media’s fault. They make up stuff in order to attack the poor, innocent Church. What a fucking crybaby.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Pope Benedict XVI, holding a tall, lit, white candle, enters a hushed and darkened St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican Saturday, April 7, 2012, to begin the Vatican's Easter vigil service. Except for the twinkle of camera flashes, the basilica was almost pitch-black as the thousands of faithful in pews awaited Benedict's arrival through the rear entrance Saturday night. Christians on Easter joyously mark their belief that Christ rose from the dead after his crucifixion. Praying at the start of the service, Benedict said Easter brings hope to the faithful. On Sunday morning, he will lead Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)I continue to be amazed at the audacity of the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI who rules it. I suppose by now that nothing that comes out of that vipers’ den should surprise me any more, but it does nonetheless. This past Easter, the Pope used his Easter vigil service — unintentionally, I assume — to issue a moral indictment of his own Roman Catholic Church. The AP reports via Yahoo News (WebCite cached article):

Pope Benedict XVI, carrying a tall, lit candle, ushered in Christianity’s most joyous celebration with an Easter vigil service Saturday night, but voiced fears that mankind is groping in darkness, unable to distinguish good from evil. …

Benedict worried in his homily: “The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil.”

“The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general,” the pope said.

“If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other ‘lights,’ that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk,” Benedict added.

Over the past several years I have blogged about the staggering amorality of the R.C. Church; its unwillingness to permit itself to be held accountable for its actions; its long history of keeping abusive clergy on, despite knowing they have abused children; its frequent attempts to shelter abusive priests from prosecution, and to silence those who would report them; its consistent claims to have done nothing wrong, that it’s more a victim than the abuse victims are; spewing nothing but excuses — some ridiculous or even insulting — over its worldwide clerical child-abuse scandal; and its staunch refusal to do any more about it than issue vapid non-apology apologies (along the lines of, “Bad things happened, we’re sorry they did, now stop complaining about it!”).

As for not knowing the difference between right and wrong, let’s talk about the R.C. hierarchy’s record in the matter of moral discernment. Former archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland admitted he’d been unaware that child abuse was wrong. While he’d been bishop of Bridgeport, retired Cardinal Edward Egan was indifferent to abuse allegations, to the point where he asserted no such cases had been reported in his time there, which is demonstrably untrue, and further claimed he had no legal mandate to report it, when in fact he did.

So we have child abuse worldwide, going on under the noses of the Catholic hierarchy. The Church was negligently indifferent to it, sometimes covered it up, to the point of thwarting attempts to investigate it. We have hierarchs who openly admit they did not give a fuck about children being abused. We have a steady stream of excuses being made — both for the abuse itself, and the concerted efforts to cover it up — along with a persistent, continuous refusal to accept responsibility for any of this behavior. We have, furthermore, the claim that the scandal itself is a complete fiction, cooked up as an attack on a totally-innocent Church.

All of this — and more — clearly demonstrate that the R.C. Church, as an institution, is every bit as morally blind as the Pope claims “the World” is becoming. Benedict sure has a helluva lot of nerve, whining and bellyaching about moral blindness in others, while he himself is as morally blind as anyone ever was.

Yes, folks, this is the very same kind of hypocrisy that Jesus himself clearly and unambiguously forbid his own followers ever to engage in. Maybe someday the Pope will actually try to live up to the standards of the religion he claims to follow and to speak for … but that day, apparently, is not today.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Pier Paolo Chito, via Yahoo News (cached).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Benedict XVI in FatimaThe wizened, robed denizens of the Vatican continue to evade responsibility for how their own institution handled clergy who abused children in their care for decades in various countries. They continue to act as though they’ve done nothing wrong and are being unfairly maligned by insidious, vile forces who are out to destroy them. CNN reports on the latest example of this head-in-the-sand thinking, mouthed this time by the Catholic Church’s doctrinal enforcer (WebCite cached article):

A top Roman Catholic official opened a conference on protecting children from sexual abuse Monday by defending Pope Benedict XVI, arguing that he deserved thanks for his efforts.

Cardinal William Levada said Benedict, before becoming pope, enacted many of the reforms that followed the eruption of the church’s sex-abuse scandal a decade ago.

“But the pope has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world, when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the church and outside it,” Levada said in his opening address to the conference.

All I can say to this is, boo fucking hoo, Cardinal. I call bullshit on this claim. Prior to becoming Pope, Benedict had been the doctrinal enforcer, and in that capacity had, in fact, ordered bishops not to cooperate with local authorities’ investigations of child abuse, and to continue the longstanding policy of silence and cover-up. He personally intervened to keep a known predator priest in active service. When Irish authorities discovered that this hideous policy of obfuscation and interference was still being followed as recently as 2009 — even after Irish bishops had promised to stop — the Pope was offended, and recalled the Vatican’s nuncio to that country.

No, Cardinal Levada. Pope Benedict is by no means innocent in this scandal, and is not being “unfairly” maligned by a vicious and evil “media.” Moreover, the Pope has most certainly not been “attacked” by anyone in the media. A punch in the face is an “attack.” Being called to account for conduct he engaged in and which was documented, is no “attack.”

Cardinal Levada’s lie about the Pope’s innocence places him in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Clearly the Cardinal is adhering to the notion — prevailing within the halls of the Vatican and in diocesan chanceries around the world — that the Roman Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal is a spiritual attack by the Forces of Darkness upon a totally-innocent and forever-saintly Church that has done nothing wrong. They’re convinced that it’s not the abusive clergy who are guilty of anything, but instead, the Devil within the child-victims who — somehow — forced those poor, virtuous souls into abusing them. Alternatively, it’s all society’s fault; the “sexual revolution” forced clergy to abuse kids in their care. The Church hierarchs continue to point the finger of blame everywhere but toward themselves.

Enough is enough. When does the Pope — or Cardinal Levada — or any other hierarch plan to finally “man up” and take responsibility for this horrific worldwide scandal? They won’t. They’re all a bunch of sniveling crybaby cowards.

Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales).

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments 1 Comment »