Among the many names circulating in the press concerning the future Pope (it would be, in fact, interesting to know whether there are Cardinals to whom no newspaper has attributed any chance; even the old heretic Meisner got his mention, which now practically leaves only Hans Kueng out) one who offers some interesting reflection is Cardinal Piacenza.
Piacenza is clearly in favour of Summorum Pontificum, though he appears not to have celebrated the Traditional Mass after it. He has scandalised the Italian journalists with his “interpretations” of Vatican II, apparently consisting – or so they say – in keeping the name and killing the rest. He appears to have the forma mentis of a “doer” rather than of a dreamer, a writer, or a traveler.
It is no more possible for me than for everyone else – including the 5,000 Journalists now enjoying the incipient Roman spring – to gauge the real chances of the man. What I would like to point out is that even if we do not get him, we should certainly hope in one like him.
Our dream – and certainly mine – of a Pope in Sixtus V-style, who starts an extremely vigorous politics of reform as soon as he has finished with the Te Deum and walks away from the Sistine Chapel at the sound of Star Wars' “Imperial March” is simply not going to happen. There would never be a two-thirds majority for such a man. Such a man is, probably, not there in the first place.
What is, with God's help, feasible, is a Pope able and willing to lead the Church out of the Vatican II quagmire without causing the Church or the Cardinals – most of them compromised with that rubbish anyway – to lose face.
The “hawks” have certainly understood Vatican II must die, and the “doves” will never vote for one like Piacenza anyway; but if there is a big enough number of “mainstream” Cardinals able to quietly accept that Vatican II is beyond healing and should be put to sleep we might get such a Pope. The counter-Aggiornamento would then happen in a face-saving, but still effective way, with – just to make an example – a counter-Syllabus of errors like the one proposed by the great Athanasius Schneider – Cardinale subito! – and other measures effectively killing the aggiornamento at its very root without too much noise.
I do not know how many Piacenzas will be sitting in the Sistine Chapel tomorrow afternoon, nor how much support they can gather; but my suspicion is that there are many more of those than the liberal leaning Press would want us to believe; Cardinals, I mean, who have realised Vatican II is an unmitigated disaster, but do not want to be made responsible for its failure, and would gladly welcome a Pope able to remove the cancer without causing too much suffering for the patient.
I doubt Ouellet can be this kind of man, as he is consistently portrayed as a timid and gentle man in the mould of the Pontiff Emeritus, and therefore in all likelihood without the energy necessary for such a work of quiet but effective demolition. I think it more probable that people like Scola would be right for the job, as he is never depicted as “shy” and is a man not compromised from a strong connection with the Curia, a circumstance which would offer the Cardinals more guarantees concerning the other big issue of governance.
We will know, possibly, as early as tomorrow evening. After days of sudden alarm every time I read of impresentabili touted as possible Cardinals, I have now come to the more tranquil conclusion that Cardinals tend to be, by all their shortcomings, prudent people, very unlikely to pick a Meisner or Schoenborn or other shameful candidates for whom the two-third hurdle should well prove insuperable.
We will, I think, rather have one of these two: a gentle, kind, timid Pope, inoffensive for the Cardinals and local hierarchy and continuing with the collegial leading style, or a more assertive, muscular, decisive Pope able to tackle problems rather than merely look at them. In the first case they will have a business as usual scenario, with the bill coming in form of continued erosion of Christianity in the West. In the second they will have a reform scenario, but with all the dangers a strong Pope represents for the local hierarchies, particularly when they are inefficient, corrupt, or both.
We will soon know.
O Lord, please give us a strong Pope.
The Conclave is now upon us, and yours truly is becoming increasingly more aware of the historic days we are living.
With Christianity under a massive attack all over the West, the next days can decide the fate of a generation of Western Catholics. The choice of a (relatively) young but ineffective Pontiff can seal the fate of Catholicism as we know it in the once civilised West, with the continued deterioration of Catholic presence (old people die, and young people don't care) and Catholics, in time, requested to accept the unacceptable (say, “marry” homos in Catholic Churches) or face church closures, marginalisation and, in time, persecution.
A “young” but strong Pope could, in turn, be a game-changer for Christians (not only Catholics) the world over. A long and strong Papacy would not only change the public perception of the Pope from good uncle to real shepherd (with the rod and the staff; and using both, even when it hurts), but he would have the time to completely change the Church landscape at the front, with the proper cardinals, bishops, and teachers in charge everywhere.
Today,the grip of the Church on Catholics is strong enough to be a huge factor in every Western democracy, if adequately employed. Still it's not too late. But this will not go on forever, and in twenty or twenty-five years' time the leverage could have reduced almost to insignificance.
If we look at Europe, we can easily say the Church is the last Christian man standing. Whilst in the United States a robust Evangelical movement will take care Christians continue to be feared by most secular politicians, no Western European Country could see the erosion of Catholic power without the almost annihilation of its Christian heritage and culture. Look at Germany, The Netherlands, Britain to see how often Christianity has become an empty word, with no content other than a vague sense of inclusiveness and acceptance of every abomination. Look at Spain and France to see how fast the decline can be. Look at Italy to see how the unthinkable can become part of of the electoral platform of the biggest coalition in half a generation.
These are decisive days, then for us Western Europeans this might be the last chance. One day we might, with persecution clearly approaching, remember these as the last days of real hope before the fatal election of just another week Pope, happy to look on whilst Rome burns. Or, if our prayers are answered, we might remember them as the last day of uncertainty and apprehension before the turning of the tide.
I am old enough to remember the days leading to, and following the election of, Ronald Reagan. The contrast between Jimmy Carter and him could not have been greater. You knew, you felt a true epochal change was upon us, and the dance about to begin would be remembered for a long time to come.
More than thirty years later, a new Jimmy Carter – certainly far preferable in his thinking, but just as impotent in his actions – has thankfully decided to step aside. We need another Ronald Reagan, or someone as similar to him as The Lord might decide to give us.
Among the Papabili, I cannot see one Ronald Reagan around (with the possible exception of Cardinal Burke, whose chances I consider very slim), and our best shot would be one who has profiled himself as moderate and acceptable to the JPII/BXVI Cardinals, but ready to put on the armour when called to be at the top. I must say that the more I read about the papabili, the more I realise there is only one with the best blend of knowledge of the Curia, pugnacious character, and ability to win allies and be considered acceptable by two thirds of the Cardinals.
You know who he is.
O Lord, please give us a strong Pope.
This beggars belief, but is apparently true. Some of the American Cardinals in Rome had already started to organise daily briefings with the US press.
So, before the election of a Pope the Cardinals take a short rest from their daily activities to have a chat with their buddies, the journalists, and keep in touch with the folks at home.
Cool, man. Or, as Cardinal Dolan would say, “that's a biggie, dude”.
One cannot escape the suspicion the Cardinals are talents stolen to the stage. I'd have thought better of Wuerl, but not after the matter with Father Guarnizo after all.
The impression remains of people interested mainly in a stage, and unable to resist the temptation of the media circus of the year.
The Daily Telegraph (you will remember, this is the newspaper which calls itself “conservative” but calls homosexuals and sodomites “gay” and puts obscene photos of homos kissing on their internet page, for every child to see) gives us just another example of how not to be a journalist.
As you can see in the link, there are several anti-Catholic messages in this article:
1) the reference to the Nazi-built stadium. Now, not even the “Telegraph”‘s most astonishingly leftist journalist would, I hope, suggest that all public buildings and structures erected by the Nazis (and an awful lot of them there were; if you ask me, mostly extremely beautiful; many survived the war) be destroyed because hey, “they were built by the Nazis”. If this is a logical statement (which it is), it follows that the Olympic Stadium is simply… the Olympic stadium and the fact that it was built by Hitler is, subsequently, neither here nor there. Clearly, though, the desire to put the Pope in contact with whatever smell of Nazism could be found was clearly irresistible.
2) The journalist is good enough to mention the fact that Pope Benedict’s membership of the Hitlerjugend was compulsory, but one wonders what relevance the Pope being drafted (that’s just what it was: you got drafted and you became a member of the Hitlerjugend, there was no other organisation where you could have landed) as millions of Germans of his age has to his travelling to Germany. Once again, the desire to put the Pope in contact with whatever smell of Nazism could be found was clearly irresistible.
3) Just in case you didn’t get the message, among the hundreds of articles about Pope Benedict the “Telegraph” could have linked to, what do our pink heroes choose? But of course! They choose an article with the following title: “Vatican: don’t mention the Pope’s Hitler Youth past”. Think of this, this is a historical papacy which gave us Summorum Pontificum; a visit to England is not many months old, which visit stunned the country for its success and the amount of public participation; also directly related to the British Isles, Anglicanorum Coetibus is another historical step with potentially vast long-term repercussions on the future of Anglicanism. But what do you think the “Daily Homograph” considers worthy of being “related” to the papal visit? Ah, the fact that the Vatican tries to influence journalists about the Pope’s past, of course! Once again, the desire to put the Pope in contact with whatever smell of Nazism could be found was clearly irresistible. , and here a dab of “oppressive and manipulative Vatican” is added for good measure.
4) Then there’s the matter of the Catholics “leaving the Church” in record numbers, which is clearly bollocks. What all these people do is very clearly not stop going to Mass – at least, not because they stop paying – but simply stop paying the “Kirchensteuer”, the infamous “church tax” in place in Germany and in a couple of other countries. This is a typical Protestant construct, a (voluntary but in the past, more or less socially expected) tithe paid directly from one’s wage which leaves the faithful with no control whatsoever as to how much he wants to give, and to whom. This is Castrism, not Christian charity. The result is that Germany has a clergy both extremely well off, and extremely tepidly Catholic. Why should they care? They can abandon themselves to every sort of circus and liberal tomfoolery and the money is there, guaranteed and aplenty….
The system of the “Kirchensteuer” is now clearly going down in flames, as it should. But this doesn’t mean that interest in Catholicism is diminishing, let alone that people are leaving the Church in record numbers. It just means that they are fed up with having to pay a “church tax”, which can only be good for the local church and might, who knows, force some of their priests to convert to Catholicism.
5) Dulcis in fundo, the entire article is, actually, wrong. The news here is that a big venue had been booked for the Papal visit, but this venue had to be abandoned because…. it is not big enough. This means that the attraction of the Pope is beyond the previsions, even considering that this is the travel of a German Pope to his own country.
What about, then, a headline like: “Success of Papal Visit forces change in venue”, or: “Crowds wanting to see Pope Benedict force use of Olympic Stadium”, or: “Papal visit: 40,000 places not enough for Berlin”. Note here that Berlin is historically Protestant and nowadays largely atheist, which makes the news even more noteworthy.
Well, it wasn’t to be. Something had to be found to smear the Holy Father with a dash of Nazism, and downplay the success his visit is very clearly heading to. You can’t tell your readers that this Pope awakens great sympathy even in uber-Liberal Germany so that a big stadium must be used, can you now? No, let us build the article on the “crisis of Catholicism” in Germany and let us paint the Pope with a broad Nazi brush. Let me see, what headline could we use? hmm, yes: “Pope’s Berlin Mass moved to Nazi Olympic Site” will do…
The “Daily Telegraph” is a nest of anti-Catholic hacks, in part motivated by the clear homosexuality to be found among their ranks. It is just that the newspaper being officially “conservative” doesn’t allow them to make an overt anti-Catholic and pro-homo propaganda, and more subtle messages must be sent.
Please don’t buy this rag.
Beautiful initiative from Father Z, inviting the faithful to a Spiritual Bouquet for Pope Benedict in the month leading to the feast of St. Joseph.
I gladly follow his invitation to other Catholic bloggers to direct my readers to his site and to give some contribution to this beautiful initiative.
I particularly like the fact that Father Z is obviously aware and obviously not pleased with the proposed structure of the Instruction about Summorum Pontificum. Still, his reaction is a prayerful one.