More indigestion for the JP ll/Ratzinger bishops who showed little or no interest in the greatest moral issue of our time: climate change. It is just reported that Pope Francis will be speaking for climate justice in the new year. Catholics will be specifically targeted with a papal encyclical after the pontiff visits Tacloban the Philippine city devastated by the typhoon Hayan in 2012. Undoubtedly there will be a fresh call to the 1.5 billion Catholics to get moving on this issue—and put the pelvic issues aside for now.
Pope Francis will have his hands full with the world’s 5,000 bishops, most chosen for their strict adherence to everything that came out of Rome in the long pontificates of Woytyla/Ratzinger. In reality this was one reactionary pontificate a pushback against the liberal reforms of Vatican ll. iI was pure Newtonoian physics, action and reaction. The reaction eventuated in massive lay defections from the Roman Catholic church particularly in the developed world where the best educated Catholics in history resided.
The Woytyla/Ratzinger papacy was long on topdown Soviet-style diktats from Rome central to the outlying provinces. The absolute ecclesial thought control failed for two simple reasons.In the 50 years since the end of the Council lay theological education accelerated and the quality of the priesthood declined. Foreign imports came with a reactionary theology topped off too often with a misogyny. In a culture nourished on human rights and participatory democracy, North American Catholics rebelled.
Secondly there was the lay internalization of the sensus fidelium, that the Holy Spirit was given to the whole church not to a subset of clerics. When the hierarchs refused to listen to the collective wisdom of the baptized the faithful resisted the ecclesial thought control and walked. 30 million left the Catholic church in the USA.
Today a pope who shows little concern for how he is perceived by his bishops is moving ahead with celerity on the agenda of Vatican ll where social justice is an integral part of the gospel and baptism not Holy Orders is the essential sacrament.
So immovable object (the JP ll/Ratzinger bishops are meeting the irresistible force, a progressive pope and the lay people who are buying into his Vatican ll agenda.The pope in many ways is way ahead of his bishops so much so that he is almost being seen as “the enemy”. many are not happy campers.
So far in Canada the JPll/Ratzinger bishops have failed the laity. The classic example was in Toronto, the largest Catholic diocese, where nothing was done by the hierarchs to engage the laity in adding their insights to the synod on the Family. This was requested by the pope bug basically ignored and never promoted by the archbishop.There was no pastoral plan or active engagement with the faithful.
Pope Francis has correctly identified climate justice as the morel issue of the day but do not look for the weak bishops of the last two decades to get on board. They have collectively shown little or no interest in this. Their focus is inward. They have lost the next generation who intuitively understand how dire the situation is and do not look for the church for any inspiration here.
It is absolutely stunning that there has been no pastoral planning around this crucial issue.
Make no mistake. This Jesuit pope has his ear to the ground and his eye on the overwhelming “sign of our time”, the destruction of the Body of God, our earth. He has already told the Latin American and asian landless peasants “Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”
Now Pope Francis is going deeper by ratcheting up the stakes among his bishops. Watch how the Canadian bishops respond.
Exciting times for sure.