QUOTE TO NOTE: Assuming Responsibility for a Vatican II Ecclesiology
With Pope Benedict XVI now formally resigned, this act is viewed by many as an act of personal humility that broke with a centuries-old tradition of popes dying in office and overcame a stigma against stepping down. Fr. Joseph Komonchak writing in Commonweal shifts attention from papal politics to the failings of every other Catholic since Vatican II to implement a more positive ecclesiology. In conclusion, he writes instructive words for the coming days:
“A certain paradox is visible in the events now unfolding. The very act that humanizes the papacy also produces the hullabaloo over the upcoming conclave, which tends to reconfirm the inflated notion of the Petrine office that has developed over the past two hundred and fifty years, and the impression is given, once again, that the future of the church hinges on the choice of a successor to the See of Peter. One can hear it from both sides: from traditionalists who want still-tighter disciplinary control over doctrine, worship, and practice; and from progressives who want a pope who will loosen things up in all those areas. They both want something from Rome; they want the new pope to do something about what they each perceive as critical points. But the church is not the pope, and the pope is not the church, and perhaps what we most need is a pope who will encourage and allow the laity, the religious, the clergy, and the hierarchy to assume their responsibilities for the difference the church is supposed to make in the world. Benedict’s resignation was a self-denying act of personal humility. What we need now in Rome are acts of institutional humility and self-denial.”
Recent discussions on Catholic LGBT issues sometimes hinge reform on the election of a more inclusive pope, and while this certainly aids the cause, Fr. Komonchak reminds us that we are church and responsibility for progress exists within each layperson, as well as the bishops and clergy.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
I have already commented on my classmate’s (Joseph Komonchak – ’60-64 in Rome, Vat. II et) article in Commonweal. Might as well repeat the gist of my view here. My take on Brother Ratzinger’s resignation is that he is not being humble, but calculating and conservative as ever. Before becoming senile and pitiful he has retired to watch his–and Brother Wojtala’s–well entrenched agenda move smoothly to the next generation of the traditional Catholic church–a conservative hierarchy and legions of faithful who want it this way.
Yeah, people like me–married priest, and now activist LGBT– were no match for the conservatives who took over Vat. II. But we are to a great extent to blame ourselves because we either left the church or allowed the medieval church tactics–threats of, and actual excommunications–to sideline us into groups we call “Catholic” but in reality are not. We haven’t been able to populate the seminaries to get our people into the hierarchy.
Today on Amy Goodman Matthew Fox gave another–more valid in my opinion–view of Brother Ratzinger’s retirement. His book “The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved”. It’s true just as any conservative method calls for that in the last 50 years and two popes–the adulation of Brother Wojtala, the admiration of the intellectual Brother Ratzinger–there is the very clear, unfailing, hardline “war”. Brother Fox talks about what these folks have done is effectively create a schism with their banning of the likes of Fox and 70+ others and the silencing orders about any dissent.
Yeah, the church shouldn’t be the Pope. But it is and will continue to be. Collegiality is no more than an empty formality down to the parish councils. The billion member, largest church in the world will be very active (150,000 people in St. Peter’s Square!!!) under this model for a long time to come. I’m getting no takers for my proposal for a new way to deal with dissent, a Galileo Reconciliation Commission, that would keep the likes of me and Brother Fox in the church, take away the penalties and pain of the hard nose opposition, and come around to the Truth more quickly with less persecution. But this will require hard, direct-action pressure, not the wonderful, but outsider, work that has won the day for LGBT people without the Catholics. We need numbers/public pressure in person to bring moral persuasion to convince the opposition to give us our proper space.