Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lasting Impact of Pope Benedict's Visit

~I started reading this article from The New York Times and then decided for the sake of my equilibrium to see if Fr. Z had his comments up. Thankfully, he had. Here's an excerpt with Fr Z's comments in red.
Of course, Benedict came to the United States knowing that the God crisis is hardly as acute here as it is in Europe and that what has been troubling American Roman Catholicism is the church crisis. [As a result he had to so something about those structures or people in the Church who are dysfunctional.] And just as the God crisis has both a personal dimension and an intellectual one, the church crisis has both a personal dimension and a structural one.

The pope certainly addressed the personal dimension. He exhorted the bishops to be “engaging and imaginative.” [for example, it is entirely possible that many bishops today, so pressured by matters of administration, have come to see themselves more as senators or CEO’s than bishops.] He worried out loud about the state of the liturgy [Because liturgy is the tip of the spear.] and whether preaching had “lost its salt.” He underlined the need for more priests. He urged the healing of divisions in Catholic ranks. [A main division is that which now exists in many places between priests and their bishop.] He called on all Catholics to take their beliefs into public life. [This is a key point, which needs more attention: in order to give something useful in the public square, we must have a clear identity!] Most of all, in meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests, he offered a model of pastoral sensitivity.

About the structural dimension of the church crisis, however, he said nothing. Does the American church need new or refurbished structures of transparency, accountability and consultation in a wide range of matters, including finances, parish closings and the appointment and assignment of bishops and pastors? [It sounds like the writer is advocating for this, disguising advocacy as a question.]

Should new roles for the laity in parish leadership be more formally recognized? ["Formally"? How? Only clerics can exercise certain levels of jurisdiction.] Are changes beyond prayer and exhortation needed to combat the growing shortage of priests? What about the ordination of married men or women or the reintroduction of female deacons? [What about them? This is advocacy, not the mere raising of questions. And notice the word "reintroduction"? There never were female deacons, at least not as clerics or in holy orders. So, this is deceptive in some ways.]

Such structural changes are favored by many moderate-to-liberal Catholics. [I dispute the premise. I do not believe that any Catholic who is truly moderate, or anywhere near moderate, will advocate the "reintroduction" of female deacons (who never existed).] There are less publicized ones favored by some conservatives, including tight episcopal control over Catholic higher education, ["Tight" control? I wish more bishops exercised "some" control! According to the document Ex corde Ecclesiae!] restoration of traditional forms of seminary training and broad resort to oaths of fidelity. ["Broad resort" ... what to make of that phrase. It smacks of desperation, no? I think what the writer is doing is presenting "positive" solutions from the liberals and "desperate" crackdowns from conservatives. Or am I getting this wrong?]
New roles for laity? Ordination of married men or women...blah, blah...and hey, presto! "re-introduction of female deacons"...what?..where?...when?

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