Bob Betterton of Saving the Catholic Church newsletter compares two pontiffs in his latest missive
The Irony of Two Popes: Benedict and Francis
One would have to say that Benedict XVI is a highly conservative theologian, a traditionalist, a fundamentalist and a cleric’s cleric. He is also a severe critic of Vatican II, a bit of a misogynist, an absolutist, an enemy of change and an opportunist.
Francis on the other hand seems to be the antithesis of most, if not all of those attributes. This is best illustrated in the way he has approached the changes he considers essential. It is logical, deliberate and collegial. It is Vatican II-like.
The incredible irony lies in the reality that we are all sub-consciously wishing that he would be more Benedict XVI-like. For example:
• Under Benedict there would not be any advisory group of Cardinals to consult and there certainly would never been a questionnaire circulated on any subject.
• He absolutely would not convene a synod to discuss anything of consequence. The only opinions he has ever found relevant were his own.
• Finally, he would not be considering increasing the size of the College of Cardinals.
Benedict would issue a few encyclicals describing the way things are going to be from here on. He would summarily get rid of anyone who disagreed with him and he would “pack the College of Cardinals” to assure that the new way of doing things could not be changed for a century.
I am coming to believe that Benedict XVI did not decide to retire. It was the work of the Holy Spirit, inflicting a deserved Penance for the disaster imposed on the Church through his systematic dismantling of the vision of Vatican II.
I agree with most of this. The previous two popes formed one papacy, that of reaction.It was to be expected.They drove too many thinking Catholics away with their absolute refusal to hear the Spirit rising in the faithful.They were almost totally tone deaf in this regard.Any institution hates to give up power as Frederick Douglass reminded us:“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Betterton goes on to describe elements of the Church Francis can’t fix.
A smart theological friend of mine is pessimistic about the Francis reform, says it will die with him because of the reactionary bishops the last 2 popes named, men who acted as stenographers for everything that came out of Rome.These men, Betterton maintains “for the most part, the archbishops and bishops are opposed to change of any kind and they can delay those changes by obfuscation and inaction.” this is largely true.There may be some conversions but don’t hold your breath.
This is substantially true. Simply look at the stunning inaction around climate change.This is a grave scandal which I highlighted when the Archbishop of NYC looked like a goof by doing nothing when 250,000 marched a few months ago for climate justice. Wasn’t even on his radar. And there’s nothing happening in parishes here,no leadership from the top and generally inadequate pastoring everywhere. The few Vatican ll guys are departing and they are running out a 38 year old priest north of the city, wildly popular because of some pathetic liturgical aberration.
What will save the Church from this is a massive uprising of the faithful. The first part has already happened —massive defections in the best educated parts of the church. This will probably continue on account of the very poor quality of priests being ordained. The laity have gone way past “pay, pray and obey” and are much more theologically in tune and will not tolerate the ”my way or the highway” approach of the insecure new ordinands.