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Benedict XVI & the bureaucratization of the church.

Just posted, Massimo Faggioli on the pope's decision to resign (yes, by the way, canon law calls it resignation, not abdication):

Many Catholics are temped to spiritualize Benedicts decision, but doing so avoids grappling with the unique features of the modern papacy. Catholicism has had a long, and often fraught, relationship with secular political power. The Catholic Church is, of course, heir of the Roman Empire, which emerged centuries after the turbulentbut long successfulmarriage of ecclesial and state power held by the emperors Constantine and Theodosius (between 313 and 380). More recently, the Catholic Church showed its spiritual, cultural, and political might when John Paul IIwith the help of Ronald Reaganbroke down the Berlin Wall and put an end to Communist rule in Eastern Europe.Those examples suggest a strong dynamic of attraction-repulsion between Catholicism and imperial power. But how has the global church survived as an institution, given a social and political context thats seen great upheaval over the past century? The age of colonial empires gave way to financial empires. A world dominated by Western powers is yielding to one increasingly oriented toward the South and East. The era of Catholicism as a the state church in Europe has given way to the contemporary world of religious pluralism and freedomand decreased Catholic practice. This is the long-term historical context of the papacy Benedict XVI will resign: one that became more monarchical in the nineteenth century (as a reaction against the democratization of modern political systems), and that is now more centralized than ever beforedespite Vatican II.

Read the rest right here.

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Do the editors concur with his claim that John Paul II "broke down the Berlin Wall?"A few dissenting views:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/06/who_brought_down_the_be...

Unfortunately Rome is more charlemagne than Jesus. The vatican celebrates empire more than the crucifixion. Benedict got into his empire hat when he objected to Turkey entering Europe. Even to this day the Catholic encyclopedia ascribes "moral ascendancy" to the constant wars of Charlemagne. It was in this tradition that Cardinal Spellman advised to bomb the Vietcong. The cross is really "foolishness" to Rome while the empire must be preserved notwithstanding the lip service to the gospel. Words can proliferate but actions always speak louder.

A monarch who resigns because he is no longer physically fit for the job is also saying that he has nobody to help him. And whose fault is that?Today another possible narrative comes to mind. The Curia is dysfunctional. If Pope Benedict simply let nature take its course without resigning, then, as control is gradually slipping away from him, the Vatican would be more in more at the mercy of bureaucrats, and chaos might erupt, before or after his death. Divisions and internal wars would develop; there might be some sort of breakdown. Instead, resigning is a last act of power and control on his part (for the greater good of the Church, of course): an effort, while he still can, to control the transition and prevent chaos. Yesterday in his homily he said: "I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the Church, of the divisions in the body of the Church. Living Lent in a more intense ecclesial communion, overcoming rivalry is a sign " - he's trying to preserve unity through the transition to the next pope.That narrative would be consistent with the bizarre rumors that claim that he would be willing to continue "helping" and "providing advice" - which, to me at least, seems like a singularly bad idea...

I guess Pope Benedict was resigned to the fact that his health was failing and that he could no longer be up to the job (and maybe that he could not accomplish the goals that he set our to do e.g, re-evangelize Europe and reunite the SSPX). So, he resigned.

I think that the "tipping point" in his decision was the Vatileaks. I think that we will find out that Benedict had more enemies in the Curia than we know. Can it be that he just happened to leave the documents in a place where his butler could find and leak them? And, it would not surprise me at all that the pope appointed Vigan to be the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States to protect him. (Vigano wrote Benedict on March 27, 2011: "Blessed Father, my transfer in this moment would provoke confusion and discouragement for those who thought it was possible to clean up so many situations of corruption and abuse of office".)Maybe I read too many Drew mysteries when I was young.

Grant: The pertinent canon uses the verb renuntio for which my big Latin dictionary gives: To retract, revoke, recall, refuse; to give up, break off, protest against, disclaim, renounce."

Yes, Joe. And the English translation provided on the Vatican website renders it "resign."

There is always suspicion when everyone seeks the highest place at the table.

Article published in the newspaper "Europa" on February 15, on the pope's speech on Vatican II yesterdayhttp://www.europaquotidiano.it/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2013_0215Europ... rilassatezza di Benedetto XVI che parla del concilio Vaticano II ai preti della diocesi di Roma, di cui vescovo, tipica di una persona che si tolta di dosso un peso enorme. Un papa visibilmente sollevato e apparentemente in buona salute, parlando per 50 minuti a braccio e con chiarezza ammirevole - tiene ai preti romani una appassionata e a tratti commovente lezione sul concilio Vaticano II. Nel suo discorso Joseph Ratzinger ha riproposto non solo la sua visione sul Vaticano II, ma anche aneddoti personali, come il suo rapporto con Giovanni XXIII e con il cardinale Frings durante il concilio, e accenni alla questione della responsabilit della chiesa e dei cristiani nella Shoah.Ma il centro del discorso nella contrapposizione tra il concilio dei padri del concilio, quello della fede e il concilio dei media. Il paradosso che questa lezione sulla spaccatura tra le due interpretazioni del Vaticano II viene trasmessa proprio dai mass media dal Centro Televisivo Vaticano, ma poi ripresa da moltissime altre reti e giornali. Questa contrapposizione tra concilio teologico (dei vescovi, dei teologi, dei credenti) e concilio sociologico (dei mass media e del mondo nella sua accezione metafisica) si ricollega allomelia del mercoled delle ceneri, in cui il papa dimissionario aveva puntato lindice contro i cristiani che vogliono compiacere il pubblico e non il Signore, che cercano lapplauso e non la verit: si riferiva anche alla Curia romana, proprio come fece nellomelia pre-conclave del 2005 che lo port al pontificato.Siamo qui al nocciolo del pensiero ratzingeriano: unantropologia agostiniana fondamentalmente pessimistica, una Weltanschauung che vede il mondo e la chiesa come due forze in contrapposizione e irriconciliabili se non a prezzo della eliminazione del carattere cristiano della chiesa. Il concilio Vaticano II di Ratzinger un concilio ancora valido nella sua teologia, specialmente in quella relativa allinterpretazione della Parola di Dio nella Scrittura, la teologia della costituzione Dei Verbum. Ma il concilio fu sciaguratamente traviato dallinterpretazione interessata datane dai mass media e su questo ieri Benedetto XVI stato misericordioso da quei teologi e cattolici convinti che il concilio avesse finalmente riconciliato Chiesa e Mondo. Questa spaccatura riecheggia quella del discorso pi celebre di Benedetto XVI sullinterpretazione del concilio, quello del 22 dicembre 2005, in cui il papa distingueva tra ermeneutica della continuit e della riforma e ermeneutica della discontinuit e della rottura. Quel discorso venne presto piegato dagli spin doctors del cattolicesimo tradizionalista in una netta spaccatura tra continuit e discontinuit (si veda su questo Interpretare il Vaticano II. Storia di un dibattito, EDB, 160 pagine, appena arrivato in libreria). Il pensiero ratzingeriano pi raffinato di questo: ma tra gli errori del pontificato vi anche quello di non essere riuscito a moderare gli istinti reazionari di molti ratzingeriani assai meno raffinati di Ratzinger. Il papa non parteciper al conclave, ma questo discorso e quelli delle prossime due settimane daranno segnali importanti per il posizionamento di molti cardinali che si preparano al conclave. Basti leggere la lectio magistralis del cardinale Scola al convegno romano sul concilio, tenuto nellottobre 2012: in quel discorso (ottimamente edito dalla rivista Il Regno di Bologna), Scola faceva sua la lettura ratzingeriana del concilio, ma offriva significativi scostamenti dalla vulgata officiale del ratzingerismo dei blog reazionari. I cardinali in corsa devono camminare su una linea sottile, quella tra linterpretazione del Vaticano II di Benedetto XVI e la loro propria visione del concilio: sullabilit di giocare tra il gi di Benedetto XVI e il non ancora del suo successore si decider buona parte del conclave del 2013 e del futuro della chiesa cattolica.

Google translate: "The relaxation of Benedict XVI speaks of the Second Vatican Council to the priests of the diocese of Rome, of which he is a bishop, is typical of a person who has taken a huge weight off. A pope visibly relieved - and apparently in good health, speaking for 50 minutes at arm and with admirable clarity - the Roman priests held a passionate and at times touching lesson on the Second Vatican Council. In his speech, Joseph Ratzinger has presented not only his vision of the Second Vatican Council, but also personal anecdotes, such as his relationship with John XXIII and Cardinal Frings during the Council, and references to the question of the responsibility of the church and of Christians in Holocaust .But the center of the discussion is the contrast between "the council of the fathers of the council, that of faith" and "the council of the media." The paradox is that this lesson on the rift between the two interpretations of Vatican II is transmitted just by the media - from the Vatican Television Center, but then picked up by many other networks and newspapers. This contrast between theological council (of bishops, theologians, believers) and sociological council (the media and the "world" in its metaphysical sense) relates Ash Wednesday homily, in which the pope had put the resigning 'index against Christians who want to please "the public" and not the Lord, who seek the applause and not the truth: also referred to the Roman Curia, as he did in his homily pre-conclave of 2005 that brought him to the papacy .Here we are at the core of Ratzinger's thought: basically pessimistic Augustinian anthropology, a Weltanschauung which sees the world and the church as two forces in opposition and irreconcilable at the cost of the elimination of the "Christian character" of the church. The Second Vatican Council is a council of Ratzinger still valid in its theology, especially that relating to the interpretation of the Word of God in Scripture, theology of the Constitution Dei Verbum. But the council was unfortunately misguided interpretation interested interpreted by the media and - on this yesterday, Benedict XVI was merciful - from those theologians and Catholics believe that the council had finally reconciled to the Church and the World.This split echoes that of the most famous speech of Benedict XVI on the interpretation of the Council, that of Dec. 22, 2005, in which the pope made a distinction between the "hermeneutic of continuity and reform" and "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture". That speech was soon bent by the spin doctors of traditional Catholicism in a clear split between "continuity and discontinuity" (see this Interpreting Vatican II. History of a debate, EDB, 160 pages, just arrived in the library). Ratzinger's thought is more refined than this, but among the errors of the papacy there is also that of not being able to moderate the reactionary instincts of many Ratzingerians much less refined Ratzinger.The Pope will not take part in the conclave, but this speech and those of the next two weeks will give important signals for the positioning of many cardinals who are preparing for the conclave. Just read the keynote of Cardinal Scola at the conference on the Roman council, held in October 2012: in that speech (best magazine published by The Kingdom of Bologna), Scola was Ratzinger's reading of the council, but offered significant deviations from the official Vulgate the ratzingerismo blogs reactionaries. The Cardinals running must walk a fine line, the one between the interpretation of Vatican II by Benedict XVI and their own vision of the Council: on the ability to play between the already and the not yet Benedict XVI of his successor will be decided much of the conclave of 2013 and the future of the Catholic Church."Google translate does a pretty reasonable job, overall, but there are a couple of exceptions. What's that about a "resigning index" in paragraph 2? And something about misguided interpretation and theologians in paragraph 3?

thanks Claire:- instead of "resigning" there should be "pointing finger"- at par 3: "But the council was unfortunately misguided on the basis of a popular interpretation conveyed by the media and on this, yesterday, Benedict XVI was merciful by those theologians and Catholics who believe that the council had finally made peace between the Church and modern world- the magazine that published Cardinal Scola's speech on Vatican II (very interesting, looking at the conclave) is not "The Kingdom", but "Il Regno" http://www.ilregno.it/index.php

Benedicts opposing of the hermeneutic of discontinuity with the hermeneutic of reform creates a distinction that is both false and harmful. First, its vague enough to be true -- fill in what youd like on either side and you can justify it: discontinuity, bad; reform, good. Second, his implication that the media created a bogus sociological council ignores most of what actually went on in the intervening years: feminism, the civil rights movement, the fall from grace of institutional authority, space flight, the advances that science has brought us in our understanding of ourselves and the material world, the explosion of the Internet and mobile communications, the immediacy of social media, the booming of capitalism, and the world-flattening expansion of globalization. All these things have had an enormous impact on the way in which people see themselves and the world around them, including and in particular, their faith. They can in no way be written off as a bogus sociological council. The world were talking about here is Gods creation. Third, his actions have conflated the restoration of traditional forms of worship (not a bad thing in itself in a church that draws its lifeblood from tradition) with the maintenance of a painfully strangling autocracy. Nothing says we cant have a Church that revels in mystery and tradition and also has a form of governance that reflects the progress the modern world has made in the past couple of hundred years, including practices such as fair representation, checks and balances, the rule of law, free speech, accountability, transparency, modern standards of justice, etc. etc. etc. A combination of the richness of the Catholic sacramental traditions with modern methods of governance is a combination has not yet been tried, and wont be, if we keep looping back and forth between the hermeneutic of discontinuity and the hermeneutic of reform.

Claire @ 02/14/2013 - 1:27 pm: you said chaos might erupt.Im curious about what you mean by chaos when we already have these situations:1. Wholesale abandonment of this church by people in Europe, Ireland, Australia and the U.S., with hundreds of thousands of the faithful simply walking away every year.2. Ever-increasing numbers of European and Irish priests banding together to say enough is enough about so many things.3. Rapid diminution of the ranks of the ordained priesthood with the average age of those left being somewhere in the mid 60s.4. Increasing rejection of authoritarian clericalism by the laity.5. Continued fear of women religious by an aged male episcopacy.6. General abandonment of the churchs proscriptions against birth control, abortion, divorce and same-sex marriage.7. Continued insistence on the European trappings of a church that has most of its growth outside of Europe and North America .. a failure to learn from the Chinese Rites and other similar scandals of the past.8. Massive inroads into formerly Catholic countries by sects because of a failure to understand or admit that baptism is not the same as conversion when it comes to being a Christian.9. Significant dissatisfaction with liturgical improvements that have been dictated by people who mistake uniformity for unity.10. Significant rejection by citizens of the unwarranted interference in politics by members of the episcopacy.And, if I bothered to take more time, Im sure that there are a few more examples that I could enumerate.

Chaos in the Vatican. Some foretaste was given last year during the Vatileaks episode, I believe.

Jeanne Follman, "Nothing says we cant have a Church that revels in mystery and tradition and also has a form of governance that reflects the progress the modern world has made in the past couple of hundred years, including practices such as fair representation, checks and balances, the rule of law, free speech, accountability, transparency, modern standards of justice, etc. etc. etc. A combination of the richness of the Catholic sacramental traditions with modern methods of governance is a combination has not yet been tried, ..."This is a pretty good description of the Episcopal church and Anglicanism in general - mystery, sacrament and tradition, a form of governance that provides ALL members of the church a voice in their own church, and all of the other attributes you mention.

You're right, Anne. Anglicans etc. still have Vespers AND a sane attitude toward birth control. A good start and one we could emulate. Unfortunately, neither Anglicans or Catholics have made much progress in explaining the mysteries of the faith in understandable, coherent ways to the modern world. But that's another discussion altogether!