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WSJ: What to look for in a new pope

Now online at the Wall Street Journal, six views on what sort of leader the next pope should be. One wants a culture warrior, another a "new Gorbachev."Commonweal editor Paul Baumann, who is also featured, wants a Californian. Read Paul's whole piece here, along with pieces from Peggy Noonan, George Weigel, and others.

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Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.



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George Weigel in WSJ:"Can democracy "long endure" if democracies lack a critical mass of citizens who cherish the common good as well as individual freedom, who complement self-reliance with voluntary charitable service to others, and who understand that they have obligations to future generations, not just to me, myself and I? A pope who calls the West out of the sandbox of self-absorption and into a nobler vision of human possibility could do wonders for the democratic project."The next pope should be, in short, a charismatic, missionary culture warrior, challenging the world's democracies to rebuild their moral foundations and offering Catholic social doctrine as one tool for that urgent task."Really??? That's the best you can do, Weigel? So in other words, according to Weigel, what the Catholic Church needs in the next pope is more of the same, as in another B16???My sainted sixth-grade teacher, Sister Mary Adelaide, always warned us: "If you stick your head in the sand like an ostrich, remember what part of your anatomy is most exposed."Does it ever occur to Weigel that B16's rant about the "the dictatorship [of moral] relativism" of Western democracies was exposed as the most rank hypocrisy when you consider that Joseph Ratzinger was the single greatest cog in the Vatican's corruption and complicity in the rape and sodomy of children?Weigel may be right about this cadre of cardinals looking for a younger version of B16. If so, the Catholic Church is much bigger trouble than any of us could imagine.

Paul's piece was great.

Paul seems to appreciate that California does not have, thank God, an elite that runs the place and gets it's elitism from tradition, daddy and old family ties. In California it's needs to be earned and continually nourished or it fades as quick as the sunset here..

"Jesus, and the Church that Catholics believe he founded, valued solidarity more than competition. He characterized his ministry as bringing good news to the poor. Benedict XVI was not shy about criticizing capitalism in his writings. We need a pope who will critique it by his actions."Michael Sean Winters understands that the mission of Jesus is to set the "Captives free." This is as foreign to Rome as it is to Ethics and Public Policy Center, which has two entries. Weigel wants a cultural warrior since the war on Iraq didn't work. Mary Eberstadt also represents that Institute/Empire and trumpets for othodoxy like maybe change the CDF back to the HOLY OFFICE or just call it like it is, The Inqusition? Why she presumes that progressives in the church oppose family values is beyond me. James Carroll makes the great point that the new Bishop of Rome should dismantle the Vatican just the way Gorbachev did the Soviet Union. Good Idea. And while he is at it he should completely dissolve the College of Cardinals, which is only a thousand years old. Isn't it time for the "Princes of the Church" nonsense to stop.

I'm updating the Commonweal Drinking Game to include the following:"Captives": chug beer"Set the captives free.": do a shot

Agenda pro Papa, first month:1. Make 100 women cardinals2. Send half of clergy in Vatican, by random choice, back to their dioceses to staff parishes.3. Replace half of them with women.4. Announce a synod in 180 days for 10% of world's diocesan bishops and for every 180 days after that.5. Prohibit the Curia from preparing anything but the physical arrangements at the synod and from direct participation.6. Eliminate all papal or curial limits on topics for discussion by bishops.7. Require the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith to sponsor the publication of a book in response to any theologian they find questionable and take no further action until the original author has responded in print.8. Allow the CDF to only restrict theology texts from use in Pontifical Institutions.

I found something to like in every piece (maybe I'm feeling more charitable than usual today, because the sun's out -- a rarity this winter) except Mary Eberstadt. She falls back on the tired old cliches that what the reformers really want is sexual liberation, rampant feminism, Catholic doctrinal changes to match liberal doctrinal demands, etc. etc. A lot of the people I've been reading in the press (Weigel included) are honing on on changes in governance, especially cleaning up the Curia. It's hard for me to see how reforming the Curia, or for that matter reforming the culture of clericalism (presumably by better seminary education), or even seeking an end to the grandeur of episcopal plumage, would immediately lead to the choice of a lesbian pope married to her Wiccan partner.I rather like much about Tom's suggested agenda above. To it I would add only a grand Bonfire of the Vanities, centered on the episcopal plumage, and scaling back titles like Sua Eminenza.

Agenda pro Papam, second month:1. Eliminate all clerical garb.2. Limit liturgical garb to alb and: stoles for deacons and presbyters, pectoral cross for bishops, with solid color chasubles over these for Eucharist.3. Set aside Latin Vulgate as of historical interest and appoint a commission to select version of original language texts of Scripture to be used for translations into the vernaculars under the control of the national conferences of bishops.4. Re-authorize national episcopal conferences to make policy statements with 75% majorities.5. Restrict curial control over liturgical translations to questioning decisions with limited response times.6. Set a commission to specify the few elements of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which are "de fide definit" and make clear that all other teachings are the work of fallible humans.7. ??8. ??

Lame pieces in the WSJ, imho. Great ideas, Tom. I'd like to see a pope who would not be afraid of media, but would embrace it and use it. Put up a 24/7 t.v. channel with shows presented by real scholars: Church history, including the Christianization of the tribes of Europe, etc.; American Catholic history; histories of all other religions; services from different religions' churches, temples, mosques, groves, each week;liturgical history, including re-enactments of the Mass in all its various forms down the centuries; music, including popular hymns of pre-Vatican II days; art; literature, starting with Catholic Authors by Matthew Hoehn; scripture studies; theology; saints; daily Mass each day from a different church in the world with no talking over the readings, singing, etc.; Liturgy of the Hours from a different monastery or cathedral each day with no talking over the chants, readings, etc.; private devotions; religious orders; third orders;religion news;sacraments explained and shown live; etc., etc., etc.

When Weigel speaketh, the Holy Spirith listeneth.Just ask George ....An addition to Tom's agenda: appoint Mary McAleese to Raymond Burke's job and send him to a monastery, without his finery and puffery.

I really enjoyed the article. Thanks for the heads up on it. I actually found Noonan's piece refreshing in its bluntness on the Scandal. I have been reading John Travis' book Vatican Diaries and was deeply moved/disturbed by his chapter on Fr. Macieal and the Vatican. He put the story out there in a way I hadn't yet seen and it really spoke to the need for what Noonan speaks of.

Very nice. All good thoughts. Thanks for the pointer.Interesting that it begins and ends with joy. So little of that these days, in the midst of all the pleasure.

I found something to like in every piece (maybe Im feeling more charitable than usual today, because the suns out a rarity this winter) except Mary Eberstadt.

Maybe, but what a writer!

7. Set up procedures so that the priests of a diocese choose their bishop and the people of a parish choose their pastor8. Set up procedures so that every three years, the priests of each diocese can express a "no confidence" vote on their bishop and the people of each parish on their pastor, in which case the appointment would be terminated

9. Declare the first friday of Lent as a day of remembrance of all the victims of crimes done in the name of the Church, and open a memorial museum for them in Rome.10. Concrete goal for ecumenism: Make the resolution of petty conflicts between Christians in the Holy Land a priority.

Regarding the WSJ's guest-columnist collection: is there a point to these exercises beyond riling people up?

Good article about Dolan on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning by their great religion writer, Tim Townsend: shame the WSJ didn't ask Appleby for his opinion.)From that:Dolan is a legitimate contender for the papacy because hes Roman enough, he gets the internal workings of the Vatican, said R. Scott Appleby, a history professor who specializes in religion at the University of Notre Dame. As an American hes seen as efficient. He has an approachable personality and hes conservative.Dolans candidacy was being championed even among the skeptical, Vatican-obsessed, Italian press. Famed Vatican journalist Sandro Magister wrote last week in the Italian magazine Lespresso that although Dolan is a dyed-in-the-wool Ratzingerian, for the cardinals who are part of the Vaticans entrenched central administration the mere hypothesis of the election of Dolan is fraught with terror.

6. Eliminate all papal or curial limits on topics for discussion by bishops.That, for me, is the most important suggestion - "by bishops" or by others. Do not put the lid on new ideas. Leave space for discussion so that the people can express their faith as they are living it now in the modern world. Trust that the truth will prevail.Some people are so worried that the church might be disfigured by the influence of the contemporary world that they prefer to stick to old ways that are no longer in sync with who we are. To borrow the image of the storm-tossed church in the other thread, it's like putting the rudder and sails in a fixed position and blindly staying with it even when the wind and waves are changing direction. They are afraid. They don't really believe that if we let some old ways die, renewal will happen, even if we don't exactly see how. They try to control things because they don't believe that freedom of thought leaves room not just for evil but also for the Holy Spirit. They lack faith.

" They are afraid. They dont really believe that if we let some old ways die, renewal will happen, even if we dont exactly see how. They try to control things because they dont believe that freedom of thought leaves room not just for evil but also for the Holy Spirit. They lack faith."Claire: what you are describiing is a form of despair and is not that a sin against the Holy Spirit?

Jim, I agree.

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