Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A wily Pope Francis takes on a conservative rearguard

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael commane
On Tuesday October 18 Italian journalist and Vatican watcher Marco Politi gave a talk at the Loyola Institute, Trinity College, Dublin. 

Politi is Vatican correspondent for the prestigious Italian newspaper 'La Republica'. He is also the author of 'Pope Francis Among The Wolves: the Inside Story of a Revolution'

In an interview on RTE Radio I he said the 'wolves' in his book referred to the conservatives who don't want to see any change happening in the church.

Politi has been observing Vatican politics for many decades. He is greatly impressed with Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

He pointed out how John Paul II was the first 'global pope' in that he travelled the world. He was succeeded by Pope Benedict, "who was able to hold the rudder". He feels that it is significant that Francis comes from a large metropolis, which  has a strong anti-clerical tradition. 

The Italian journalist acknowledges that Pope Francis wants to end all semblances of an imperial papacy and that he places great stress on collegiality. For Politi, Pope Francis believes that the Catholic Church can learn from the Orthodox Church when it comes to making the church a less imperial organisation.

He listed a number of areas where Pope Francis is clearly attempting to open a new page in the church. He spoke about his efforts in reforming the curia, his desire to give women roles that will place them in positions where they can make decisions. And to back up this point he noted how Francis is allowing free discussion  on the issue of women deacons.

Pope Francis is setting about examining all 18,000 accounts at the Vatican Bank and the Vatican has now signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Politi gave a number of examples how Francis has shown his mettle when it comes to dealing with clerical child sex abuse and he believes Francis also wants to rid the church of sexual obsession.

He sees it as something of a revolution that Pope Francis is going to Sweden to celebrate the Reformation against the advice of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Politi concentrated much of his talk on some of the interesting appointments that Pope Francis has made and how in the latest list of new cardinals, archdioceses which would normally expect to have cardinals at the help, did not receive red hats.

During the question and answer session he was asked if he was aware of what life is like in the Irish church. It was pointed out to him that there are those who will say that Pope Francis is all talk and no action.

And the reason given was that the newly appointed bishops in Ireland don't seem to bear any signs of the progressive thinking of Pope Francis. The comment made was that there is no significant inspirational figure among any of the recent episcopal appointments.

Politi acknowledged that the pope is involved in an uphill battle and gave an example of how a senior Opus Dei cleric recorded secret talks at the Vatican. "Could you ever imagine that happening in a Barack Obama or Angela Merkel cabinet? It would be unthinkable. But it happened in the church," he said.

Politics is often a nasty game and listening to Marco Politi in Trinity College, one got the impression that politics is alive and well in the church and the former archbishop of Buenos Aires is a wily old Jesuit, who is willing to fight his corner and take on a conservative brigade, who is scared of change. 

2 comments:

Póló said...

This talk in Haddington Road over two years ago may add a further perspective to how Pope Francis is going about his business.

Link

Deirdre Duff said...

An interesting article Michael. Thanks for sharing Poloti’s insights. Good to get an insight into the opposition the pope is up against – because I certainly was starting to think that his talk sounds far, far better than his action. I just wish he would speak out against what is happening to the native Americans at Standing Rock in Dakota though. He was so strong on the need to protect indigenous people in ‘Laudato Si’ - and to protect their land which is so sacred to them. He even said in a video in July that ‘I want to be a spokesman for the deepest longings of indigenous peoples.’ But now, as these peaceful, loving, prayerful people are being subjected to horrific, modern day colonialism, he isn’t saying a word. They have begged world leaders to speak up for them and put out numerous calls for global solidarity. Yet, as far as I’m aware (but would love to be proved wrong) Pope Francis hasn’t said a word in their defence. Not even a tweet. I do like the pope – but what kind of a spokesman is this? His silence is deafening. Inexcusable. Especially given the dire track record of Christians regarding the treatment of indigenous peoples down through the centuries. Leaders of multiple other Christian churches have expressed regret at this- and backed their words up with action by travelling to Standing Rock to help and show solidarity. But where oh where are the Catholics? Beyond embarrassing.