It is against the background I have tried to sketch out that I find myself wondering about the attitude of the present pope towards the Curia. Of course, like every institution insecurely placed in Time, it needs to be reformed from time to time. The question that worries me is whether the present pope is drawing the Curia closer in fidelity to its true ecclesial calling; or pushing it further away.
Commentators have not been slow to remark that, to the outside observer, it looks as if the current pope is attempting to prevent or eliminate the existence of strong foci within the Curia. He seems to be incapable of working with any Head of Dicastery who is not a yes-man. It is a sign, not of the Holy Father's strength, but of his weakness, that he cannot collaborate with as gentle yet principled a man as Robert Sarah, without deeming it necessary to humiliate him before the world. And Sarah was one of his own appointments.
And he aso appointed Raymond Burke to be Patron of the Order of Malta. But as soon as a problem arose in the Order, he humiliated and sidelined him. When you appoint people, you should either back them up when the going gets rough, or confess that you yourself erred in making the appointment.
Gerhard Mueller was inherited, not appointed, by Papa Bergoglio. But he confirmed him in office, and the position is a highly significant one. The current pope is neither learned nor intelligent. To run the CDF he needed someone who was each of these things. Mueller was and is. First he humiliated him by sending Schoenborn to front the Amoris laetitia news conference; then by sacking three of his collaborators without even telling him; lastly, he has humiliated him yet again by dumping him with a minute's notice and invoking a principle he had not mentioned either to Mueller or the World before: that Heads of Dicasteries will not be continued in post beyond their first quinquennium.
(Incidentally, it will be interesting to see whether this principle really does get applied as all the Cardinals come to the ends of their terms. The Franciscans of the Immaculate must be puzzled to find that their tormenter Bras de Aviz is still around. Cardinal Parolin must be starting to get demob-happy. There are going to be quite a lot of underemployed 'young' cardinals swilling around, with the Vatican Press Corps hovering hungrily above them like seagulls round a trawler.)
If the Curia really is in want of radical reform, what it needs is more strong and principled and able workers and fewer unprincipled yes-men. The Press reports suggest that this is not the way our Holy Father appears to see things. But his idiosyncrasies have been obvious since his election. For the first few years he made a daily exhibition of himself by that constant stream of obscure abuse ... butterflies, pelagians ... which seemed to be directed at clergy. He is the pope who considers that a most natural Christmas present to give his curial collaborators is a torrent of invective. He sneers at grandmothers for their infertility and describes off-message journalists as shit-eaters. Given a world so sadly unappreciative of eccentricity, in most other organisations this side of North Korea the Men in White Coats would have been sent in to hustle such a CEO out of public view.
The commentators seem to think that Archbishop Ladaria, in his new chair at the CDF, is unlikely to put up much resistance to Bergoglian tantrums. They may very well be very wrong. I pray they are; because the Archbishop has some very precious institutions under his protection: the Ordinariates and Ecclesia Dei.
But we can be sure of one thing: if Ladaria does turn out to have both principles and guts, Pope Francis, if this pontificate continues along its established lines, will either humiliate him or sack him or both.
13 July 2019
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It is becoming more and more apparent to observers that Papa Bergoglio is a bit "goofy" to be blunt. Of course, I listen, reserve judgment, give him the benefit of a doubt and INTERPRET HIM IS A catholic sense and ALSO WAIT FOR THE SECOND SHOE TO DROP that shows the unmentioned before other side to appear, which does not come quickly at times. But I also think that he has been VERY INFLUENCED BY HIS JESUIT FORMATION.
It has to be remembered that from St Ignatius down to the beginning of Vat II, THE JESUITS HAVE NEVER HAD COMMON DAILY LITURGICAL PRAYER OR CONVENTUAL MASSS!(they would meet only on Saturday evening for the Litany of the Blessed Mother) That's because the Saint chose the MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND as the model for his Order, having all those in solemn vows add a personal vow of obedience to the pope and in which efficiency for the individual's apostolate was NOT TO BE SLOWED DOWN BY TIMECONSUMING COMMON LITURGY. So the Provincial is "top dog", the boss, and OBEDIENCE TO HIM IS JUST LIKE a soldier to his superior officer -- the proverbial "mine is not to question why; mine is to do or die" or as the US Jesuit Fr. Pacwa frequently seen on EWTN says now and then when directly asked about the Pope's confusing statements "that's a management question; I'm in sales".
So there is a Black pope over all the provincials and the Order is subject by solemn vows to the pope himself. Military chain of command to be sure. The superior does not have to justify himself to the rank and file. That accounts for how Papa Bergoglio treated the German CDF cardinal.
The problem is that the rest of the Church DOES NOT TAKE JESUIT VOWS! and has a right to reasons for his actions or words (like everyone who has reached the second age of reason)with the usual exceptions for the common good.
So I disagree that he makes the pope less significant; rather for the WESTERN Church he is making the Pope to be JUST LIKE A BLACK POPE OVER ALL JESUITS, so that HE ALONE is running the Church and NOT anyone else (note his appointment of bishops et alia).
He is "goofy" as we say in the US, IN HIS STUBBORN AMBIGUITY, his sudden expressions of frustration, even anger, and his impulses that do not seem to be controlled by reason (when early on he rushed toward the statue of the Madonna at pubic Mass and nearly tripped.
I also recall that before he decided to enter the Jebbies, he studied I believe Chemistry in college, THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OF DOUBTING AS THE FIRST STAGE OF INQUIERY! Not the intellectual virtue needed for the Tradition and Patrology
I recall a Dominican saying that, in his tradition informed as it is by St Thomas, blind obedience makes as much sense as blind learning. To elaborate, if your superiors make what you think is a bad decision, St Thomas says thay you should offer it up as a penance but don't have to pretend that 'black is white'.
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