Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pope's resignation - some reflections

I must say I had mixed feelings over this huge news.

But they were at least mixed. Unlike when I heard the news of his election in 2005. Then, I was nothing but stunned. After John Paul II, we were clearly going to go in reverse.

And we did. The most egregious evidence of this was the turn to the ethos of the past which had above all the imperative to avoid scandal to the faithful. Fair enough in its original intention, but it clearly morphed over the years into hiding culprits, then hiding them again, then refusing to admit that you hid them, and refusing to release documents that would show everything. I am thinking especially of Ireland where we know all that happened, because Archbishop Martin released 60,000 documents after he was appointed. It was clear to us when we visited Ireland that the abuse was not the biggest irritant for the people, bad as it was. The cover-up sucked the life out of them. And around the world, the message now is, avoidance of scandal involves better selection of candidates for the priesthood, better nourishment of them during their priestly life. Things like that. NOT cover-ups.

The other turn back to the past was the new translation of the Mass. Made it clear that the Mass is clerical. Not for the people, just ask them. People do not talk that language, they want a language they speak every day, and with which they can make a joyful noise, or whatever. But Benedict chided the Church for that very thing in his address to the world at the end of the Eucharistic Congress in Ireland. Great opportunities have been missed to welcome people to our beautiful liturgies.

So from this vantage point it has not been great. But you know, in spite of it all I have developed a fondness for the Pope. What gets me is his deep deep love of Jesus that manages to come through even his most scholarly of scholarly writings.

That is a take-away for me, and I thank him for it.  And I have mixed feelings as he departs.

So now I nominate Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin as the new Pope. Won't happen. But please God the Cardinals listen to the Holy Spirit, and please God they are led to a really new era that begins as Benedict leaves. And if the new Pope wants to go back a bit, he can go back to Pope John XXIII who somewhere around 1962 before Vatican II said:  "I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in."

The windows have been closed for the last many years. The world is waiting for them to open again.