Monday, March 11, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2375, March 11th, 2013

Three possible contenders for the Papacy. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, of Quebec. Blogger Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Italian prelate Angelo Scolo of Milan. (Photo: LuLac archives). 


If you think politics in LuLac land is cutthroat, read some of the history regarding Papal Elections in the past. The Conclave is tomorrow but the intrigue has already been in place since Pope Benedict stepped off the world stage at the end of February. I’m sure there was jockeying before hand but after Benedict retreated to the confines of the Summer residence, the discussions became more intense. The Vatican has already had challenges with dueling press conferences from the European Cardinals and those of the West. 
One of the major issues facing the Conclave is the report about various investigations and fact finding reports that Benedict read but left for his successor to act upon. Cardinal George of Chicago has been adamant about having the Cardinals read the report before they meet. As of this writing, it appears that the request by the Chicago prelate has not been met. Whoever the new Pope is, he will have to deal with a lot of unfinished business. The new Pope will have to in short order:
1. Clean up the glacial bureaucracy of the Curia. The Vatican is the smallest nation in the world. A city-state, the small nation has layers and layers of established and ingrained inefficiencies that have become institutionalized. The new Pope will have to be a good manager with a big mean broom. 
2. The lingering effects of the Sexual abuse scandal is still front and center. There will have to be complete transparency regarding these past sins. Even though Benedict made the first steps in offering apologies, the new Pope, in order to restore faith in the Church is going to have to adopt policies of both crime and punishment, not crime and reward as has been the case with former priests. Moving them out of one parish to another is a reward. 
3. There will have to be a new Vatican III to bring the church into the 21st century. Attendance in the West has declined (more out of laziness than lack of faith in my opinion) and the Church has to figure out a way to move away from its past theological doctrines on Birth Control. How does an institution repudiate an Encyclical of a former Pope? The Church has made movements in more mundane matters like meatless Fridays and moving an altar around but this is going to be a monumental task in saying to the West. “We hear your concerns but after we reach out, are we sure you’ll show up?” A fine line. 
Another issue is the role of servants in the church. Shall Priests be allowed to marry and if they can, do you just isolate that to opposite sex or go all the way and endorse same sex unions? And what about the role of women in the church? Can a devout woman be any less a spiritual leader than a devout man? 
Plus, the new Pope is going to have to deal with right wingers in the Church, the Society of Pope Pius X who have ordained their own Bishops and want to repudiate Vatican II. During his tenure, Benedict has made overtures to them but has been rebuked. How on earth are they going to “get” Vatican III when they have been fighting Vatican II the last half century? 
So the new Pope is going to have to be up to the task to attacking the aforementioned three issues and implementing those changes. If the new Pope even comes close to implementing any of the thoughts I have brought up here, you can be sure he won’t have to quietly retire like Benedict did. He might be chased out of Rome! Will the Church go this far? No, but the discussion must be held because the Roman Catholic Church is at a crossroads. 


I have three candidates that I think might have a chance. They are: 
Marc Ouellet, of Quebec. He speaks English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German. He is also known for his missionary work in South America. While a South American Cardinal may not be a possibility, that voting bloc may go for the Quebec Cardinal because of his work there. Appointed by Benedict in 2010 to head the Pontifical Commission on Latin America, Oulett has been in touch with leaders of the Latin American Churches on every issue from counseling to Church architecture. Plus, it is a Department of the Curia giving him at least an insight into the workings of the Church’s governmental mechanisms. The Conclave will move to him if it can’t settle on either a Cardinal from Rome or some other nation. 
Sean O’Malley of Boston:  Can there be an American Pope? While the press speculation has been about Timothy Dolan out of New York, O’Malley just might be the sleeper. O’Malley is a Capuchin Franciscan. The Franciscans are the closest thing to the “real people” of the church. O’Malley has not displayed the love of the top trappings of Rome like other Cardinals. Plus he has been active  as the Episcopal vicar for the Portuguese, Hispanic, and Haitian communities, taking a hard line against rebel infiltrators that were using the Church as a sanctuary from their criminal activity. In the age of sexual abuse, O’Malley called out Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, for once calling the criticisms voiced by victims of abuse “petty gossip. Unlike Dolan who can’t speak any language other than English, O’Malley is fluent in languages and has caught the imagination of the Italian press. Plus, O’Malley has a blog that he has been maintaining for a number of years giving his thoughts on life and the Catholic Church. Not because he’s a blogger…..but I’d put him way ahead of Cardinal Dolan in being taken seriously as a candidate. Dolan is a gregarious man who can tell a good story but the Curia needs more than an American spinning good yarns. O'Malley's management skills and demeanor makes him more appealing to the traditionalists in the College of  Cardinals than Dolan. 
Angelo Scolo of MilanAs the Archbishop of Milan, Scolo has the experience as well as the career pedigree to be a Pontiff. Pope Paul VIth was the Archbishop of Milan before assuming the Papacy. Scolo is said to have been a confidant of Pope Benedict and has much visibility as a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture by Pope Benedict. In January 2011 he was appointed among the first members of the newly created Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation. Scolo might also be a favorite of the Western Popes, ie North America because of his stint in the mid 90s as President of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome. He spent  a term spent as visiting professor at the counterpart Institute in Washington, D.C.. If the church’s stances on social issues need a reformer, he might be that person. Scolo’s problem is that the Italian Cardinals are divided and reluctant to coalesce behind him. It has been reported that he has 40 of the 57 votes needed to become Pope but that is pure speculation. But if he can peel off enough Italian and European votes as well as getting some support from the west, he might emerge as a contender too. 
Papal conclaves are odd though. Sometimes a favorite front runner stays that way like Cardinal Montini as Pope Paul VIth did in 1963. Then there are others like Pope John Paul II who was virtually unknown to the world until he was selected in 1978. 
The last two Popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVIth have been theologic pastors who reflected on the spiritual doctrines of the Church. While reflection and study is good, the time for thinking is over. The next Pope is going to have to be a manager first and foremost who is going to fix the way the church is run. All of the problems facing the church, the Sexual Abuse Scandal as well as the banking problems have accelerated because of benign managerial neglect. Priority one will be to fix that in a transparent manner. After that, then gradual change might be the order of the day.


At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well thought out measured opinion. I agree with your assessment that the most passable American candidate would be O'Malley and not Dolan. It's like the difference between the "quiet man" and the "story teller of the blarney stone".
It will be interesting though.

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an Episcopalian, I am interested in the pomp and circumstance of the papal election; the pageantry of it all. It's history in the making and I want to be able to say that I watched it happen. It doesn't affect me in any practical or spiritual way. The pope isn't the voice of God. He's a prince of an earthly state that people look to for symbolic guidance. The Presiding Bishop of our Church, Katharine Schori, is elected to be our Church's leader in the United States of America. She is a great teacher and philosopher of God and spirituality, but is she the physical embodiment of God on earth? Of course she isn't. No human being is or was, pardon for Jesus Christ himself.

I mean no disrespect to the RCC, I just merely seek to have a vigorous religious and philosophical debate.

At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard several opinions on TV that Rome is looking for a new and kind face, more of a pastor than an administrator. Not being a linguist does hurt Timothy Cardinal Dolan, there are plenty of those who can act as his interpreter. I see the advantage of speaking 5 or 6 languages but there are a hell of a lot more than 6 languages under the dome of Rome. Dolan is more than capable of getting along with everyone and putting a new and positive face on our Church. He is most certainly a very long shot but when it comes to Godly matters, who knows what the Good Lord has in mind. Dolan would make a tremendous difference and his goal would be to rebuild the church and not just rebuild the treasury after all these law suits have drained it. Maybe I'm just being overly pessimistic but I am pulling very hard for Dolan and hope that his ability to rebuild confidence in the Church. And YES, I really do understand all the reason why this can't happen except that I do believe that divine intervention is a possibility. Night out with the girls in the near future?


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