“2 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. 3 For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: 4 And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.”
“The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, … the parish [must prove] capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity…. The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open…. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. … The Eucharist … is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse [NB: this is an Eastern Orthodox term, of which more shortly]; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.”
— Evangelii Gaudium §§ 28, 47
“Time initiates processes, and space crystallises them. God is in history, in the processes. We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting.“
On December 5, Abp. Georg Gänswein, secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, was reported as saying the following in a Kath.net piece:
Curial archbishop Georg Gänswein, personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, considers the resignation of the German pope an “ache”. He said this in an interview that appeared Thursday in the Hamburger weekly, Die Zeit. He experienced the resignation as an “amputation”. … Gänswein still speaks of Benedict XVI as “Holy Father”, which does nothing to change a basic fact: “There is only one pope.”
He feels torn hither and thither between two worlds on account of his two tasks. For a year he’s been the Prefect of the Papal House in the service of the new pope. At the same time, though, he carries on as the secretary to Benedict XVI, who lives in solitude in the Mater Ecclesiae cloister. … Vis-à-vis the reforms of Pope Francis, Gänswein says: “I begin each day wondering anew what will be different today.”
Pope Francis’s decision not to reside in the papal quarters in the Apostolic Palace, but rather in the guesthouse of Santa Marta in the Vatican, struck Gänswein as an “affront” to Benedict XVI. This is especially so since the pope from Argentina said that the residence which prior popes had occupied made him feel “gloomy” and above all he wanted to live “among people”. At the same time, though, the new pope and the Prefect of the Papal House could tease each other about this, Gänswein confided to Die Zeit.
Then on December 8 Kath.net reported the following about Gänswein:
“It’s nonsense that I’d be against the pope, otherwise he wouldn’t have confirmed me [in my position].” Thus did [Gänswein] judge a report in Die Zeit about his supposed difficulties with Pope Francis. “I did not read the article. This morning I received a few emails that criticized me. I don’t know (anymore) what I said. I spoke to a journalist a few months ago, but it was no interview.”
Did somebody say, “This isn’t Denzinger”? Just more of the same from the Barrel Roll Boys. He may miss Benedict XVI, but clearly Gänswein is getting the hang of things. Indeed, on December 18, Kath.net reported the following concerning Abp. “Goosewine”, indicating once more how quick a learner he is:
[He] sharply criticized “certain powers” which want to claim Pope Francis for their own interests. “I scarcely believe that the pope is going to let himself be pressured in his pontificate by known German initiatives,” clarified [Gänswein] in the magazine Cicero (January edition). The joy of some now enthusiastic about Francis will remain stuck in their throats, prophesied Gänswein.
A prominent curial cardinal, and favourite of Pope Francis, has defied the Vatican’s doctrinal office, saying that he expects a change. …
In an interview with the German language paper Die Zeit, which was later picked up by Vatican Radio, Cardinal Kasper (who is himself a member of the CDF) said, “Christians who want to live by faith [alone?] with the Church [as an equal, as opposed to under or through Her qua Mater et Magistra], who acknowledge that
mistakes were madethey have made mistakes by the breaking of the first [Ahem.] marriage, which they also regret – for them it should be a way back fully to participate in Christian and ecclesial life.”
“What is possible with God, namely, forgiveness, should help to achieve this even in the Church,” he said. [The implication, of course, is that the Church needs to catch up with God’s deeper and more progressive mercy, or, to paraphrase a leading figure in Francis’s papacy, that the Body of Christ must catch up with its Head.]
In November, during a talk at the University of Munster, Kasper followed up on the theme, saying, “Turning someone away from the communion rail – one doesn’t do that.” …
The controversy was rekindled in October this year when the Archdiocese of Freiburg released a document laying out plans to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion if they promised to enter “a new moral responsibility” with their new spouse.
In response, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the CDF, published an article in the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano saying that the practice of withholding Communion from those in a state of mortal sin would remain in place. This was followed by a letter to the German bishops ordering them to revisit their draft document.
The German bishops responded to this with more defiance, with Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Stuttgart saying in November they had voted to adopt the guidelines and expected them to be approved at their next plenary meeting in March 2014.
While Müller’s article, and a strongly worded letter to the German bishops, made it clear that such persons were objectively in a state of mortal sin that precludes them from receiving Communion, Kasper said the change in practice is imminent.
What does Kasper know that we don’t? Whence his confidence? We may have to wait until next year’s Synod on the Family to see if Kasper’s Teutonic confidence will be borne out. For now, two other data are worth keeping in mind as the crisis in Germany comes to a head. First, Pope Francis himself, along with clerics very close to him (viz. Baldisseri), has already expressed a distinct sympathy for the Eastern “oikonomia” approach to remarriage.
Second, the recent shake-up of the Congregation of Bishops is suggestive of the same trend, and certainly does nothing to undermine Kasper’s optimism. Cdl. Donald Wuerl is notorious for being almost willfully lax about restrictions to Eucharistic communion (in one case going so far as to reprimand a priest for denying the Host to a woman openly defiant of Church teaching), yet he was recently elevated to the Congregation, while his apparent nemesis on the matter of canons 915-916, Cdl. Raymond Burke, was removed from the Congregation. Likewise, the same Baldisseri who seems so willing to “discuss” the “options” for the remarried “without taboo” was elevated to the Congregation (along with, note well, yet another decidedly squishy prelate, Abp. Nichols of Westminster). In a similar vein, according to the L.A. Times, Abp. Chaput’s predecessor, Cdl. Rigali, was removed from the Congregation, which sends a sort of proxy message that Chaput’s starchy conservatism is not so welcome under this open-collar papacy. Moreover, and not insignificantly, for the first time in a century, the Prefect of the CDF will not be on the Congregation for Bishops, and apparently the only member of the CDF will be none other than–wait for it–Cdl. Wuerl.
These adjustments are all of a piece with the clearly centrist-to-lefist realignment which Pope Francis recently effected in the Congregation. Despite their differing ideological dispositions, both John Allen, Jr. and Matteo Matzuzzi agree: heads are rolling in one direction while being elevated in the other.
By the way, to make a small detour, I have seen the objection more than once that Wuerl can’t be so bad, since, after all, Pope Benedict XVI made him an archbishop and a member of the CDF, and elevated him to the cardinalate. Unfortunately, though, the cardinalate is the most overtly political dimension of the Church, so in response to the claim that a man’s orthopraxis is directly proportional to his rank on the totem pole, I’ve got six words: Cardinal Mahony, Cardinal Martini, Cardinal Kasper.
Likewise, I’ve heard the defense that, hey, Cdl. Burke is still a busy man, and, most important, he’s still the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Howeber, something–or perhaps someone–tells me that Burke’s adjustments are not over yet. As for his clout in matters canonical, Pope Francis showed us from the very start that he gives a flip about canonical order, so, it’s very likely that Burke’s forte (canon law) is an impediment to the constant adaptivity of evangelism in the pope’s eyes. Time will tell where Burke ends up.
Let me close with one of Michael Voris’s most recent videos, in which he analyzes the grim implications of the new geometry of the Congregation for Bishops. As we’ve seen before, Voris, for reasons known only to himself, seems constitutionally unwilling, or perhaps even cognitively unable, to admit any culpability for or likeness to the Church of Nice on the part of Pope Francis. This latest video has got to be the most painful display of his struggle not to admit the obvious: Pope Francis is galvanizing all the wrong people (including Masons?!) by using all the typical buzzwords and policy shifts. This “seismic shift in Rome”, as Voris calls it, much like the ongoing, draconian suppression of the FFI, comes from Pope Francis himself.
“To pass this off as, well, ‘no big deal’ demonstrates either a head-in-the-sand reaction, or a massive immaturity when it comes to matters ecclesiastical. … That self-described ‘conservative’ Catholics would jam their heads in the sand, and pretend this [is] nothing–that’s pitiful!–and yet another demonstration of their inability to clearly see where things are headed. … The point isn’t whether Pope Francis agrees with [the progressives]; the point is that they think he agrees with them.”
Now, where on earth would they get that impression?