Benedict resigns; questions arise



Exiting the TV studio the anchor asked me what kind of a Catholic I was. I replied a “Vatican ll Catholic.” She replied “I just heard that expression yesterday”. Yet she was responsible for putting together a one hour show on the pope’s resignation. I watched her cringe-inducing interview with Toronto’s Cardinal Collins.It was like a celebrity interview. Like most of these telegenic anchors  they are lousy journalists, displaying an appalling ignorance about church matters.

I was asked many times about the Papal sweepstakes—like it was an exciting horse race, odds on favourites etc.. More excitement to brighten up a slow news day, expel those winter blahs.

The fact is who “wins” here is irrelevant to most of the world and in particular youth.This is the wrong question to ask.Seldom has change ever come from the top.Though this question might be relevant: Can the man at the top make a difference to those at the base.The answer must be Yes if we look at Pope John XXlll, the greatest pope of the twentieth century. Because of his profound pastoral experience, his closeness to the living currents of history, the dynamic changes he saw coming, this man allowed that “Underground river” (God-Meister Eckhart)) to break through in the Roman Catholic Church. We must always remember that John was really reading “the signs of the times”, the same signs being read by MLK, the peace movement, the rising feminist consciousness etc.This great pope, because he was planted firmly in the world, close to the ground of human experience, he was moved by these fresh shoots of a new world coming. “The times are a changin”—and they still are.

The real tragedy of the Catholic Church is the failure to read the signs. The clerical leaders chosen by Wotyla/Ratzinger(one pontificate) seem sadly “church-centric”, hardly bearers of God’s reign. They seem to be missing signs of the inbreaking kingdom—the insistent cry of women and the cry of the earth etc. Most seem to be living in a church-bubble, disengaged from history. Does this cntinued marginalization of women come with celibacy, a lack of the feminine in their lives? Can they actually be unaware of the Holy within feminism or is it willful blindness. “Rome doesn’t like it” so I better shut my mouth.

Increasingly great clerics are putting their priesthood on the line, speaking out for gender justice.There is a tectonic shift on the ground. The lay citizens,increasingly theologically literate are assuming the fullness of their baptism, asserting their consciences and speaking up. They are  shaking the Catholic world. Millions on the other hand  have simply walked away, tired of waiting for a Church they love to enbrace an evolving ecclesia. For many the final straw was  that “institutionalists” like Benedict and so many bishops chose deadness, institution-think  over the vulnerable lives of innocent victims.The majority of the Catholic people are married. They find it hard to forgive men who failed to protect their most treasured gifts, vulnerable children.They sit in shock as great priests like Roy Bourgeois and now Tony Flannery are made to walk the plank while not one bishop is in prison.


Will the next leader “read the signs of the times” and recognize women as full members of the Church? Will he get off the pelvic bandwagon and throw all the resources of the Church into the greatest moral issue of history, climate change? Will he get off his throne and become part of a Spirit movement already active in the world or will he remain inside the Church’s walls missing the New moving outside the ramparts?

Sigh. The old adage rings true about the Church, “If we are not leading the parade we are not in the parade.”

Will there be another John XXIV inside the conclave or will these men continue to walk down the same tired path?


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Joe Schmidt Says:

    Hi Ted I’m very glad to be re-connected. Thank you for the words, thoughts and hopes. Mightily shared here May energy and insight continue to underpin your work Joe Schmidt

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