Some years ago I was asked by the chief executive of a large company which dealt directly with the public to advise him on organic changes which might turn a successful business into a very successful business. I recommended that, although their customer relations were generally good, he should elevate the value of customer satisfaction into a major principle. I had in mind a company like the John Lewis Partnership, where this is a prime reason for commercial success.
He accepted my recommendation immediately. Who could resist the argument that a company dependent on its many customers should take their satisfaction as paramount? But then we ran into trouble. His second-in-command was a money man. And he was quick to point out that elevating customer relations was expensive. Moderating various aspects of procedures, being pro-active in putting mistakes right, and paying compensation with alacrity and without question could be expected to reduce profit margins and, certainly, the cost of the complementary publicity would be considerable.
The chief executive would not however change his mind. Improved customer service had to be the answer. But his heart was no longer in it. And, surprise, surprise, nothing – beyond a few “motherhood” statements – happened.
What would the accepted principles of effective leadership have suggested here? It was essential that the chief executive should have truly believed in the idea for its own sake. To regard it as little more than a strategic device was insufficient. His determination to make his dream a reality would have led him to demonstrate by his example in word and deed that customer satisfaction was of key importance. Through our evolved tendency to accept the influence of the leader, it would not have been long before his staff, from the executive committee to the tea lady, would have started to suggest ideas, or devise in their own work, ways of putting this vision into action. And the company would have been transformed.
I thought of this relatively trivial experience as I watched Pope Francis go about his business. The expectation, or at least the strong hope, was that he would set about some very essential re-organisation. The Curia, whose reform was mandated by Vatican II, needed radical attention, the hothouse insulation of the clerical class wanted a whirlwind rather than simply an open window. The ceremonial superbity of the establishment was remote from the simplicity of Jesus and his Apostles. The failure of the whole Church to communicate as a real family was predominant. Above all, the true holiness of the Church had been obscured by the suffocating accretion that comes with centuries of power.
So what has Pope Francis done so far? There has been little executive decision, but we have seen him presenting in his own person the soul of the Church as he believes it to be. You can list your own examples, I just note down a small selection of those that struck me. His choice to live simply, away from the papal apartments, his insistence on informal communication, Christian love extending to include terrorists, the Church’s tendency to look inwards and not outwards towards evangelisation, bishops to be holy leaders rather than administrators, his attack on hypocrisy, his warning not to take criticism from the Congregation of the Faith too seriously, the washing of feet as a symbol of service extended to women – and Muslim women at that. And certainly not least, the assurance that even atheists are redeemed by Christ and can truly do good. This statement of radical, yet orthodox, theology will sound down the generations, but could once have put him into the hands of the Inquisition.
Of course anyone can ask: “Where’s the beef?” We shall wait and see. But we do know that bringing about a radical culture change in any organisation is an uphill task – and for two main reasons. The first is that there are many fearful people who have found in the old culture precise certainties that enabled them to feel safe. Suddenly they are being asked to take personal responsibility for working out what love means in their own life, both in terms of their identification with Christ, and their display of Christ to others. No longer is the focus on good or bad actions; the focus is on love and the absence of love. Scary!
Then the Church, at all its structural levels, is populated by members who have got to where they are in the pecking order by excelling in the old culture. This is not only a question of habit, but often also a question of temperament. Many of them will be reluctant to kick down the ladders up which they have climbed, and some will find it impossible.
These factors inevitably mean that change takes time – time measured in decades, rather than years. And the ride will be bumpy; it may often appear that Francis has brought stress to the Church rather than peace. And the temptation to return to the comforts of the past will be great.
But change is not the fruit of drawing up a masterplan and imposing it on the organisation. Change is possible only through a transformation in the way an organisation thinks and feels. Then change will swell up from the grassroots. And Francis is vividly showing us what it is to be a Christian. As King Agrippa once said to Paul: “Thou dost almost persuade me to become a Christian.” Agrippa did not, as far as we know, convert, but will we?
I say we should give him a while. Simply reorganizing a company that has been around for ten years is mind-numbingly difficult, so if people can settle into routines over that amount of time, imagine how hard it would be to change an organization that hasn’t just been around longer than most of today’s civilizations, including England, but actually *built* them from the ground up.
It’s very fashionable to lampoon the church for not being perfect (any little thing will do), but that really isn’t realistic. They are a bit behind the times and have terrible PR, yes, but they are actually far, far, far better than anyone likes to admit. And I’m not just saying that.
At this present moment just one point, which I don’t think of it as written in stone, but will mention it anyway.
‘The washing of feet as a symbol of service extended to women’-I don’t exactly find that relevant or necessary.
I have often thought of it as an example of our Lord to His Apostles towards their Priesthood .It was Jesus that was telling them what He wanted them to do in reference to the Sacrament of Penance, and we ought to believe that they are acting in His place in giving us absolution.
Jesus spoke often of how we ought to forgive our neighbour as the laity-but absolution comes from God through the Sacrament administered by a priest., and we humbly receive it!
As I said ‘not my thoughts written in stone’, but I don’t see any other reason as an example for. service,
Perhaps you would extend your thinking on that.
PS. Nor did I see a ‘Cleansing after childbirth’ which is not done anymore,
I note that John relates the washing of feet in place of the inauguration of the Eucharist which occurs only in the synoptic Gospels. Yet the Eucharist nourishes all of us, not just priests and bishops.
I also note that many deacons regard the washing of feet as the basis for their call to ‘diakonia’ (service) – the function that ‘distinguishes'(1) them from the priesthood. In France, the Chuch is nearing the end of ‘Diakonia 2013’: a year in which _all_ members of the church are being encouraged to renew their commitment to service.
(1) Yes, yes, I know. priests are deacons too
St.Joseph, if you look at Chapter 13 of St John, you will find Jesus explaining the reason for washing the Apostles’ feet. He says that although he is “teacher and Lord”, he has washed their feet – so they must be ready to do likewise. This has been interpreted as his lesson that authority is not a reason for oppressing others – on the contrary, authority is a service to others. And this of course is reflected in Catholic social teaching, which we recently discussed.
May I drift slightly off topic to air a personal view?
Why did Benedict resign; I think the Holy Spirit inspired him to realise that he wasn’t coping and indeed was in danger of becoming the problem rather than the solution. Benedict appeared to be obsessed with ritual form, ancient garments and all the trappings of the mediaeval church. He seemed obsessed with mere dogmatic certainty.
Francis was elected, a mediaeval name but not a mediaeval saint, a saint for all times. Francis abandoned ritual dress, ritual ceremony, the Vatican Palace and has encouraged “thinking outside the box”.
If Benedict had died there would have been those who would canonise every aspect of his thinking. By allowing him to live the Holy Spirit has prevented this from happening.
Francis is simplifying the ritual of the church and encouraging the action of charity over mere liturgical ritual.
The central problem the church faces is “How does a change in Rome change the church?” The neo-traditionalist, so-called “hermeneutic of continuity” will continue to resist the hermeneutic of reform (in continuity). If your PP doesn’t like Communion under both kinds or Communion in the hand or likes to maintain a list of those barred from Communion, it will be a long time before you see any change. Oue seminaries are producing future priests who look back to the 1950’s rather than wanting to encounter the challenges of the 21st century. This is the change that Francis needs to address, he is doing it by giving courage to those who have found the last 20 years of church thinking debilitating. This is the Prague spring of Catholicism, there are wounds yet to bear but we have a vision of a serious alternative to the last 20 years of naval gazing.
I find it difficult to reconcile your description of Benedict as appearing to be obsessed ith ritual and dogmatic certainty, with the man who wrote ‘Dei caritats est’ or ‘Caritas un veritate’.
No one person is a traditionalist (neo- or paleo-) or modernist, but that we’re all a complex mish-mash of points of view. But this is a source of strength and diversity. I find that it’s too easy to categorize (and sometimes misleading).
I’ve just reread that last phrase which came out wrong. I mean that your article puts me in mind how I, myself, find it too easy to categorize. Sorry, didn’t mean to come across all accusatory!
You are indeed right about Benedict’s encyclicals, Despite their obvious intensity, I’ve always felt that Benedict saw love as a purely intellectual exercise. During his visit to England he visited a care home for elderly and frail people, including several priests and his obvious personal warmth came through. Perhaps the “problem” with the Benedict Papacy was the way those arround him used his power for particular causes.
In the Middle Ages the governance of the Catholic Church, with the papal curia at its centre, was far more administratively efficient than that of any European kingdom. Nowadays when we talk about the curia we are not referring to the papal court but to the central bureaucracy of the Roman Church, which is astonishingly small considering the size and geographical spread of the institution itself. Compare this with the enormously bloated bureaucracies of modern nation-states, even quite small ones. This is because the main task of administration falls on the bishops, so whatever his other qualities, a bishop needs to be a good administrator.
Pope Francis can be a good homilist – I like the way he can say what he needs to say in ten minutes – but some of his reported off-the-cuff remarks seem to lack clarity of thought and expression (I accept that some things get lost in translation). Did he really tell Latin American religious that they should ignore the CDF? For a start, things have got to be pretty serious for the CDF to get involved, and secondly, any such communication would have to be approved by the Pope, so is he telling them to pay no attention to him when he pronounces on doctrine? Telling atheists that Christ has redeemed them is one thing, but defining “classes of Christians” and castigating them as “gnostics” and “Pelagians” (neither of which labels actually matches his definitions) is not the language of charity. In all his time at the Holy Office, Joseph Ratzinger never once called anyone a heretic.
I think a “radical culture change” needs to happen at lower levels than the curia. The Irish hierarchy is a case in point. They have managed to virtually eradicate Catholicism in Ireland, something the protestant English failed to achieve in 400 years.
Quentin, has done us all proud with the excellent introduction to this topic.
I suppose the leading question for many is, are you all behind the your earthy leader, Pope Francis?
From what I can gather from the statements from Pope Francis, the trend is emerging what Pope Francis desires to see accomplished and lead the Roman Catholic Church in and through.
It is really very easy to discern – he is presenting nothing more and nothing less than the Apostolic
teaching of the early Christian Church.
To say we are the Apostolic Church, means that one follows the teachings of the Apostles. What is that and what would this mean for the Church, if it once again became its practice?
We know from Holy Scriptures of the NT what the Apostles taught; How they dealt with problems that arose; the place of the local Church; the priesthood of all believers; the gift of the Holy Spirit’
the working of the Holy Spirit; the place of a Bishop – very different from today’s view of a Bishop
by the rank and file members. The Community of believers; the place of Preachers, Teachers, Evangelists, those with gifts of prayer, of administration; of hospitality; of visiting the sick and those in prison.
The hub of activity moves you see from the from the Vatican to your local Church and Community, into your very home. The place of Worship, and the place everyone had in it… all this and other aspects are all involved in following Apostolic Teaching and practice.
I believe this is what Pope Francis is placing before, not just Roman Catholics but the whole Christian world.
Yes, we all have our special gifts from the Holy Spirit, but we all also have the Gift of Faith Hope and Charity, that when we ‘teach’ we all speak with one tongue. Particularly in schools and parents. That does not say we all practice the same, we are all guilty of not being able to follow the Truth , but we all must endeavour not to publically deny it. If one is not sure of it -read the CCC. Then we will know what sins to confess.
I does take more than one Confession to be healed-but it does give us the Grace to try.
Benedict was of a powerful and visionary intellect honed by the years. I have read a lot of his stuff and have been profoundly moved by it, few others have the capacity for an exegesis which goes so deep (only my view of course) Francis seems different and I share Nektarius’ view on him. It does seem to me that the radical culture shift John Nolan speaks of is in fact the province of the laity. It is true that a PP wields real power but it is also true that the PP can do nothing without the assent of the parish-the head cannot get from A to B unless the legs agree on the direction. I don’t think change always comes by clarity of teaching-sometimes it comes by a shift of the heart which is then only later clarified by clear insight. We have to trust that PP’s are human like us and that they are sensitive to the winds of the spirit in the same way we are….if the first one isn’t then the second one may be…Francis is an optimistic sign of our times.
Quenten & Tyke.
Thank you for your replies. I am still none the wiser as to why it s necessary The Holy Father must have thought it was.
However many years ago I was the Representative for my parish at the Diocesan Pastoral Council. There were a youth group there and the Bishop introduced the washing of hands before receiving Holy Communion. The young people as we went to receive Our Lord washed peoples hands! I felt very uncomfortable with this and did not have it done,
It seemed to me that novelties were being introduced into Holy Mass.
At one time it used to be the priests washing each others feet on Holy Thursday-fair enough the symbol of service-then on to the laity males-then on to women,.
OK if the Holy Father wishes to wash feet of males and female’s, he has the right as Pope Benedict did to give Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue so be it, but I think it refers to water more so in Baptism and spiritual cleansing in Confession.
As I said ‘not written in stone’ but a Sacrament is more important than a ritual.
I love the Holy Father, but when some compare him to Pope Benedict and make comparisons (we will have a better Church now is the thinking) perhaps more attention ought to have been paid to the wonderful books he has written.I believe he retired because of health reasons-I don’t listen to conspiracies.
A few weeks ago I attended a great-nephew’s First Holy Communion. You would not have wanted to hear the ‘songs’!!!’ Guitars- Shine Jesus Shine’ Clap Clap Clap!!! Communion Hymn ! Perhaps if they wanted that it would have been more appropriate as a recessional-but it ought to be banned-but then maybe times have changed. I am old fashioned, as the rest of my family.
I went to my grand daughters a few weeks ago- and they were acceptable.
I went to my grandsons last year and lo and behold they were so devotional and one could tell that the children loved them. Then the priest is young not trendy- and provided a kneeler for the children-which was quickly whipped away by a lady before the congregation went up to receive.(So he knows his place!!!)
I think that the hymns chosen affects the spirit.
I understand that the novelty of Pope Francis’s action was that the existing instruction said that only men’s feet should be washed — because as far as we know Jesus only washed men’s feet.
Now there’s a challenge! Not sure if I’m up to it but let’s have a go.
The ceremony of the washing of feet on Good Friday is, as you say, a ritual. However, I’m not sure if we put the same meaning behind the word ‘ritual’. According to the old rule ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’ there is a direct link between liturgy and faith. A ritual should be more than just a gesture, but a symbol of something important. The most important symbols become themselves what they symbolise. The church calls those ‘Sacraments’.
So what’s the symbolism of the washing of feet? For me, it’s the fact that Jesus undresses and puts himself at the feet of those present — taking the role not so much of a servant but of a slave. Why? To express the depth of God’s love for us. God loves us so much that he is capable of taking on the most humiliating tasks for us. Service becomes a way to express love, a synonym of love. Jesus takes this reasoning to its utmost limit in the events that follow.
So the ritual can’t be closed to a select group of people because that would indicate that God’s love for us is selective. On the contrary it must be open to representatives of all communities. And it takes on a complementary symbolism: the extent of our love for others by putting ourselves at their service, as Christ asks. Again, that’s not something that’s reserved for the clergy but open to all. There is something very sacramental about the whole thing, even though it’s not one of the seven recognized by the Catholic church today.
That’s not to say that ritual is a comfortable one. And yes, I’ve refused to take part myself. Even Peter had reservations! But we aren’t Christians for the sake of being comfortable. It’s interesting that I feel discomfort on the receiving end of the service: in letting myself be loved rather than loving.
Whoops, did I really say Good Friday? [Sound of wrist being slapped]. Thank you John Nolan!
Macaulay famously wrote: ” … the Church of Rome unites in herself all the strength of establishment, and all the strength of dissent. With the utmost pomp of a dominant hierarchy above, she has all the energy of the voluntary system below”. Paul VI divested the papacy of its monarchical trappings, leaving the Court of St James as the only European monarchy which retains them; Benedict restored none of them, not even the sedia gestatoria used by both Paul VI and John Paul I. He wanted a vestment distinctive to the pope; his personal preference was the fanon, but he allowed Piero Marini to talk him out of it in favour of a pallium of antique design (archaeologism?) which he wore for the first two years of his papacy. (Interesting contrast in attitudes, this – Benedict had the humility and courtesy to defer to the wishes of his then MC). In 2007 he and Guido Marini came up with a neat solution – a pallium with red crosses instead of black, which Francis now wears. Benedict’s decision to wear some of the older vestments in the St Peter’s treasury as well as more modern ones seems sensible on a number of levels, and many cathedrals and large churches in Italy and elsewhere do the same. Francis’s vestments, although newly-made, are actually more medieval in style.
It’s true that Francis doesn’t care for long-winded liturgies. Neither did Pius XII, who marked even solemn occasions by celebrating Low Mass (!) at the papal altar. Pruning the tedious polyglot ‘Liturgy of the Word’ in the Easter Vigil got the thumbs-up from me, although it’s hardly in the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’! Benedict had a life-long interest in Liturgy which Francis doesn’t share, so expect no dramatic changes. When some of the Italian bishops complained to the new Pope about the increasing number of EF Masses in their dioceses, he told them to “respect tradition”. Improvements in musical and liturgical standards are a grass-roots matter, and they will continue. The recent Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome is an indication of the way the wind is blowing.
Mike’s comments about the laity need some qualification. A lot of parishes seem to be run by middle-aged, middle-class mafias whose outlook is still mired in the 1970s. Younger and more orthodox PPs will not always be prepared to meekly do their bidding.
One final point. Don’t expect a seismic shift in Catholic moral teaching. For obvious reasons this is unlikely to be a long pontificate, and if institutional reform is a priority it’s going to occupy a lot of Francis’s time. I doubt he’s doctrinally unorthodox, anyway, and even if he was as a bishop, he cannot now be as a pope.
Quentin that’s what I thought.
According to a certain liberal Nun a couple of years ago, was giving a talk- and she proclaimed that ‘ Jesus would have given the ‘Bread and Wine’ to the maids who served at the table first before the Apostles. He probably would have washed their feet too -that was her thinking.! I hope that is not His Holiness’s thinking.
I think women give a wonderful service to the Church as mothers whether married or single!
Speculation on who else might have been present at the Last Supper is very dangerous. To presume nobody was would mean that it could not have been a true Passover meal, but we have to live with the Gospel accounts and presume that the Holy Spirit has guided the authors to tell us all that is necessary for us to know. St John does not imply in any way that the washing of feet was linked to the implicit priesthood of the Apostles present and most exegetes would emphasise that John is using the account to emphasise that leadership is more about service than the exercise of power. However we do know tat in the Jewish society of Jusus time there was clear differentiation between male and female roles and there is nothing in the Gopel to support any modern feminist-style reinterpretation.
I have never come accross a parish where “meek” young traditionalist PPs defer to middle aged liberals, but I know of many where they have come in and immediately made dramatic changes with total indifference to the needs or expectations of the faith communities they have been apppointed to serve.
If the Catholic Church has a fundamental problem it is that every PP seems to regard himself as a “Pope in the Parish”. They freely ignore their deans, bishops and archbishops claiming some higher authority “I’m just doing what Benedict wants me to do”.
I think the Passover Meal that Jesus Celebrated was a pre-fix to Calvary which completed the Sacrifice. One and only the last. That is why only the 12 I believe were there. The Father offering up His only Son-like Abraham-and because of Abraham’s promise and confidence in God, his son was saved. Like Abraham having as many children as stars in the sky, that is the promise that Jesus left us for our Salvation. I am not telling you anything new I know.
Regarding ‘Pope in the Parish’. The PP is not meek!
Holy Communion on the tongue was never forbidden, and was only allowed with I feel some pressure. Altar rails were never in the Vatican 2 documents or moving the Tabernacle. What could be more prominent than the centre.Of course it would not be important if it is called the Box that kept the bread in!!
Of course it took over the whole Church when one came in-where it ought to be the Lectern and the Chair. As I was told by a priest who smashed the Holy Souls box up and threw it on a rubbish tip.
Don’t start me off for goodness sake!!
The Chair is important if the person in it realises that.
According to my Bishop kneelers are a ,health risk.nothing to do with the Pope!’
Milligan has actually reinforced the point I was making. His ‘faith communities’ are the remnants of the 1970s liberals (everyone else has voted with his feet) and the sooner they are out of the scene, the better. Until now they have had the tacit support of liberal bishops whose credo is to be all things to all men, but this is changing (look at the most recent episcopal appointments) and if there is a fundamental problem in the Catholic Church it is people who think like he does. They can’t even get things right with the last papacy. However, the ‘biological solution’ will prevail, and quickly.
It sees to me that there is no reason yet to fasten the seat belts. I don’t see any prospect of a ‘helter skelter’ ride any time soon.We will carry on as we always have. Change being gradual and sometimes for the better and sometimes not. (Opinions as for ‘better or worse’ are interchangeable.)
To make matters more complex those in favour of change are labelled modernists, (they are supposedly only one step away from Satanism,) and those who are not are labelled traditionalists
( Harbingers of doom no less.) I rather suspect that most are like me, somewhere in the middle.
I recommend that every RC Churchgoer adult be compelled to wear a badge in which they make it clear as to where they stand. The wearing would be compulsory but can be changed at will.
I go to a Monastery, I am quite comfortable there. No need for a badge there.!!
Ha ha ha ! I wear my Mantilla at every Church Claret, that’s my badge. We have to wear one at Sunday Traditional Mass but on the weekdays when I visit my local church it seemed weird to wear one one day and not another – so I took courage and ignored ‘odd looks’, I wear it and even forget it is on as I switch my mind off the subject, if you know what I mean,
The washing of feet or Mandatum – this was traditional on Maundy Thursday. Queen Mary Tudor washed the feet of poor women. In convents the Superior washed the feet of the sisters. Unfortunately Bugnini in the 1955 reform incorporated it into the Missa in Cena Domini, thus giving it a (spurious) liturgical significance which it had not had before. So if Pope Francis technically broke the rubrics they are only recent rubrics, and traddies shouldn’t get too worked up about it; nor should liberals read too much into it, either. Quentin’s post might seem to confuse style with substance, and to suggest a dichotomy which doesn’t exist, but it is designed to provoke reactions, and has succeeded in doing so.
Quentin’.So Pope Francis didn’t wash women’s feet at Mass then ,Is that right’
I could have been doing some sewing!. That was a waste of time then!
St.Joseph, he did wash women’s feet at Mass, and it was controversial, but the pedilavium was only incorporated into the Mass in 1955, which is unfortunate since it appears to give it a liturgical significance which traditionally it does not possess. The Royal Maundy is a remnant of the custom of kings washing the feet of the poor – as I remarked earlier, Queen Mary washed the feet of poor women.
Those who read into Pope Francis’s extempore comments indications of a change of direction are deluding themselves. if you extract the sense from the nonsense he isn’t saying anything new. Talk of a ‘Prague spring’ is not only ludicrous but mischievous in that it equates the revealed truth of the Church with the lies of Soviet Marxism-Leninism. It’s also an unfortunate analogy – Alexander Dubcek was quickly overthrown. It’s 600 years since a pope resigned, and at the same time two others were deposed. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Thank you. ‘The Devil never sleeps, we need to stay awake’
If Scripture does not tell us what Jesus actually did and taught when He walked the earth. then we are in a bad way. Preachers quote it, the Fathers of the Church .cite it, and the Catechism relies upon it.-Jesus assure us that it ‘can not be broken’ Three time during His forty days in the desert he stung Satan with the words, “Scripture has it…” Each time, Satan shifted tactics. But I suspect that if the scene were re-enacted for a modern day audience, the Devil would ask Christ where he ever got the idea that Scripture could be taken literally.
From the beginning of an article. The reliability of the Bible by Frederick W. Marks.in a response to Raymond Brown’s Reading the Gospels with the Church (1996) and the serious charges that it brings against Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
That brings to mind the ‘A study of two very curious ‘faiths’ and two very curious ‘Catholic books’ both which were given an Nihil obstat and an Imprimatur.
Dr Roderick Strange (promoted now I understand) wrote his book, based on lectures he gave as Catholic Chaplain at the University of Oxford, when he occupied the same position of trust, as the famous and great Fr Ronald Knox. The book was published in 1986 (I was around then) having been given a Nihil obstat by David McLoughin and an Imprimatur by the Archbishop of Birmingham.
Mrs Clare Richards the 1995, GCSE textbook, ‘Roman Catholic Christianity published her book while Head of the RE, at Notre Dame, Norfolk her book was given a Nihil by Nicholas Kearney and an Imprimatur by the Diocese of East Anglia
Both had no truck with Miracles that Jesus performed.
How much affect will these have had on the lack of Vocations to the Priesthood or the Religious life. I wonder!!!.
To change any culture does take a good deal of time, patience and discipline, even if the methods used are one that is in accord with modern notions of leadership. I think that Pope Francis is wise to not take my own approach to these matters, if I were the Pope. That is one of a relentless ramming of modernity down the throats of every Catholic. I would probably end up with a fractured or completely divided Church, which would be completely counter-productive. I am laughing as I write this. It wouldn’t be so funny if it were remotely true of course!
I haven’t been to the Vatican website lately, but it has become far more user-friendly. Once you choose your language option, you are presently given a popup telling you that a new encyclical is available to read. It gives you the option of ‘leafing’ through the encyclical using their software, the ability to download the encyclical as a pdf (this is a ‘portable document file’, which means you can save it to your computer), or it gives you a link to read it directly from the Vatican website.
If you choose the option to ‘Leaf through the Encyclical Lumen Fidei’, you are taken to a page or facility where you can page through the document using software that the Vatican has introduced to their website. It is called ‘FlippingBook Publisher’, version 2.4. This page or facility has a lot of features on it. If you go to each corner of the document, you will find a plethora of useful tools to assist your study.
A right click on the majority of the entire page will give you a drop down list of extra tools, such as a quick copy of the internet address of the document etc., etc. The other three corners are even more useful.
The top right-hand corner has a ‘Find function’, that is accessible by simply clicking the empty space and entering the word or phrase you are searching for.
The bottom right-hand corner has a ‘First Page’, ‘Previous Page’, ‘Next Page’ and ‘Last Page’ function, as well as a ‘Slide Show’ of all pages in a slow enough fashion to read subheadings.
The bottom left-hand corner has a very convenient ‘thumbnail’ function of each page, so you can quickly go to any page number, a ‘Bookmark’ tool to record a page that interest you, a ‘Share this’ function that immediately gives you links to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MySpace, Tumblr, and Google Blogger. It also has an email link that immediately pops up an email, with the link to the page automatically presented in the body of the email in question. It also has print and download tools, as well as other useful links. Amazing stuff!
The Vatican has also developed smartphone apps for both iPhones and Google phones. I have downloaded three of them to my own iPhone. They are called, ‘Missio’, which is the Pontifical Mission Society’s Vatican news app, ‘Vatican.va’ app, which is a mobile version of the Vatican homepage, and ‘The Pope App’, which allows you to follow the Pope live during ceremonies and important speeches.
If you choose to read it from the Vatican’s website, you are given links to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus +, as well as links to email, print or change the format of a document, to a pdf document. Very user-friendly!
‘Lumen Fidei’ is Pope Francis’ first encyclical. You can read it from here if you wish.
P.S. Quentin, can you try to place SecondSight on Facebook? Thank you.
Agreed, John, it’s amazing how quickly you can access things these days. When an encyclical came out you had to wait until the CTS published it and then buy it from the rack at the back of the church. Last week there was an important conference in Rome, “Sacra Liturgia”. Even as it was in progress you could download the speeches and liturgical celebrations. During the revolutionary years of the 1960s no-one seemed to know what was going on, not even the bishops. In 1967 the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Heenan, said he didn’t know the name of a single member of the Consilium which had just produced a new form of Mass which with some modifications was to be imposed on the whole Western Church two years later.
If I were to nominate where the Pope could make a start, I think it would be a three-pronged attack. Firstly, it would be to rid the Church of celibacy, thereby helping to lessen the extent of clericalism in our midst. Although there is no guarantee that clericalism will be expunged. Secondly, I would hope he would pay attention to reform the Vatican Curia, with its internecine politics, careerism and eternal power-plays. Finally, there is a crying need to develop the Roman Catholic Church into a listening and empathetic organism. This will principally be borne out by the delegation of authority in the guise of collegiality between Rome and national conferences of bishops.
JC, a celibate clergy has its advantages. A bishop can deploy his priests according to the needs of his diocese. If the priest had a family, with his children in school, he could not easily be moved. In the CofE the ordained ministry is indeed a career choice (I’m not saying it isn’t also a vocation). The Church could ordain more married men, but could not allow priests to marry after ordination, as this has never been the tradition in the apostolic Churches. In the Eastern Church all the higher orders (bishops included) are required to be monastics and therefore celibate. And why should a married man be less prone to ‘clericalism’, whatever that means? Actually, you might like to define it, and explain why you don’t apply the same strictures to other professions, such as medicine and the law.
Paul VI internationalized the Curia and it is a mistake to view the dicastery heads as civil service mandarins. They’ve all had pastoral experience as bishops in various parts of the world. Further reform may indeed be necessary, but to see the Curia as a hotbed of Renaissance-style intrigue smacks of outdated anti-Catholic propaganda.
National Bishops’ Conferences are not particularly good examples of collegiality; they can become self-perpetuating oligarchies with a penchant for ‘playing safe’. Recently Pope Francis stressed to nuncios their key role in the selection of bishops. It would be going too far to infer that he favours a legatine form of governance, but it is clear that he expects nuncios to be more than just mouthpieces for their respective Bishops’ Conferences.
‘…why should a married man be less prone to ‘clericalism’, whatever that means? Actually, you might like to define it, and explain why you don’t apply the same strictures to other professions, such as medicine and the law.’ (John Nolan)
A simple definition of clericalism would be when Priests are perceived by themselves, as well as perceived by the laity, as constituted of a separate, higher, or special class of Catholic, who is higher in stature or importance than any ordinary member of the laity. It is a form of idolatry or ecclesiolatry, if you like. If the people understand anything about this Pope, it is that Francis, in both word and deed, is absolutely against these attitudes, by Priests, religious, or by any member of the laity.
There is no reason why a married priest would be less prone to clericalism, compared with a celibate priest. Indeed, there are excellent Priests everywhere who are not in the slightest bit interested in clericalism, or of desiring power or influence over others. These men are the salt of the earth. Of course it would be entirely unfair and hypocritical, if I were to insist that all Priests must eschew clericalism, and not apply the same rubric to every other profession, such as medicine, law, engineering, etc., etc.
While I personally would insist that all Priests and religious should be as anticlerical as possible, while affirming that they do have some authority to carry-out their important functions in any parish, the problem remains as to how are we to train and form Priests and religious to be less clerical and more pastoral. I believe that it must fall to our seminaries and religious formation programs, to properly prepare Priests and religious with regard to the issue of clericalism. For those who are already consecrated or ordained; ongoing formation, refresher courses, seminars, workshops, and lectures that attend to this, as well as a multitude of other issues, is probably the answer.
One our our monks, Father Chrysostomos, gave the following excerpt, which was read during the midday meal at the monastery, from which I was absent. It is a wonderfully perfect answer to a complex question posed about the nature of values in the political and social world and the the different nature of similar truths in the spiritual realm.
These beautiful comments, by the Serbian “Chrysostom,” St. Nikolai (Velimirovich) are wise and profound.
St. Nikolai makes distinctions in a simple way: distinctions that we often ignore and which demand of us deep thought, on the one hand, and which help to explain our separate worldly and spiritual duties, on the other.
Spiritual or political peace is one thing. Achieving peace between all religions is something else. Equality in civil rights and duties is one thing, the rendering of all faiths equal something else. Christians have a strict command to show compassion towards all people, regardless of religion; however, at the same time, they must hold strictly to Christ’s Truth.
From the New Catholic Reporter:
I’m beginning to think the many amazing choices Pope Francis has been making in these early days of his pontificate will have an important, long-lasting effect on the church of the 21st century. He is preaching almost daily a powerful, silent sermon denouncing the scourge of clericalism that is at the root of most of the problems bedeviling Catholicism.
It’s the simple way he lives; his decision to move into the visitors’ quarters and eat his meals with them; his lack of interest in pomp and pageantry; his decision to wash the feet of prison inmates (including women) on Holy Thursday; his insistent concern for the poor and the state of planet Earth.
He hasn’t yet addressed any of the hot button items, including birth control, the aspirations of women, the collegiality of bishops or the Vatican’s failure to address the priest abuse scandal in a meaningful way. And I suspect he will not, at least for some time.
Instead, he may be building by example a case against the arrogance and self-satisfaction that provides the foundation for a multi-tiered, class-conscious society of those who make the decisions and those who don’t, those who have given up earthly rewards in favor of honorific titles, fancy liturgical attire and, above all, power.
Francis seems to be harkening back to an earlier age of the church when the equality of believers was at center stage and a feudal structure of society had not yet become the norm for both state and church.
For many generations earnest, young male seminarians have been taught that they are aspiring to a higher level not available to the laity, a level at which they will have the authority to teach, sanctify and govern those below. They will carry with them sacred powers that will accompany them even into eternity. For such privileges they promise to become eunuchs for the kingdom, and they pledge to defer their own judgments without reservation to the authoritative pronouncements of those on still higher levels, be it pastor, bishop or pope.
In effect, they become members of a kind of boys club that is warm, supportive and exclusive — and never breaks ranks. For what they give up, they can expect a relatively high standard of living and the respect, even adulation (at least until the abuse scandal hit), of their grateful congregations.
Of course, priests have always been urged to develop an active spiritual life, to nourish virtues like humility and self-sacrifice. And a great number of the clergy do manage to live holy, creative lives and inspire their people with their integrity. Their membership in the boys club is loose.
But not everyone succeeds. Clericalism is contagious, breeding a kind of mentality that revels in ecclesiastical ambition, status and power. For some, especially those attracted to the episcopacy, it often leads to indifference toward the experiences and needs of ordinary Catholics. It encourages the creation (or repetition) of teachings and regulations worked out in ivory-tower isolation from the real world.
And now comes Francis.
It will not take him long to recognize the extent of clericalism rampant in the Curia and to realize how it corrupts the church and strangles the Holy Spirit. Even before he arrived for the election, he was undoubtedly aware of clericalism and its effects in other countries. I want to believe he is laying down a kind of platform to reconnect the church of this era to the Spirit that inspired the early Christians and authentic leaders, like Francis of Assisi, to both proclaim the gospel and live it.
When that happens on a wide scale, the hot buttons will surely be addressed but in a different way. No longer will they be so front and center. The church, possibly the larger Catholic church, could be involved in finding solutions to these nagging, peripheral issues, which deafen us from hearing the radical gospel message.
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Nektarios, I do not encourage long quotes on this blog — otherwise we could end up running the whole discussion in terms of views published elsewhere! A summary of the point you want to make can always be given — and a link to a relevant article can be shown, which people can look up if they choose. I notice that the length is over 600 words — and you may not know that I believe that 600 words is the outside maximum — and should itself be very rare. I have left your contribution in because John Nolan has commented on it, but I do not wish others to see this as a precedent. Hope you understand.
Yes, Quentin, message understood.
What is the Orthodox Church’s teaching on contraception?.
Do you believe that the contraceptive pill and other forms of contraceptives cause an early abortion?
Do you have any Natural Family Planning Teachers?
I would be interested to know if there are large families in the Orthodox Church! What is their answer to this , is it the same as the RC?
Like everywhere, one will find large families. I don’t know off hand what the Orthodox position is on NFP or contraceptives. We are against abortion, that I do know.
Nektarios, I cannot believe that you, as an Orthodox Christian, subscribe to the heterodox nonsense of the NCR, unless you see it as a ‘fifth column’ to destroy the Catholic Church, leaving the Eastern Church with no rivals.
John Candido, an ordained priest in the Catholic Church is not like any layman; he alone can confect the Eucharist and confer the sacraments. If you don’t believe this, you are not a Catholic and I suggest you seek another denomination. I could stand at the altar and offer Mass in the Ordinary Form, Extraordinary Form, in Latin, English or a number of foreign languages in which I am conversant – but it would not be the Mass, simply a sacrilegious counterfeit of the same, with no significance whatsoever, because I am not ordained to do so. The pastoral function of a parish priest is cure of souls, and St John Vianney knew this. I suspect that most liberal bishops of the present day would have sacked him for being ‘confrontational’ in calling his errant flock to Confession. You can just hear them: “We are a ‘faith community’ with needs and expectations. We don’t want this clericalist nonsense. We want a listening Church which will tell us that our lifestyle choices are all right”.
What a joke.
No, I do not subscribe to NCR. I only posted it as information on a view, not necessarily my own view, concerning Pope Francis.
Clericalism is an interesting phenomenon, being part of a seminary training as an adult, albeit part time, with a non Catholic background puts me in a position to observe the formation process at almost first hand. To me clericalism is a simple function of pride and insecurity. I encounter it at seminary and observe the seeds of it in my own heart as I begin to take responsibility. I also think that clericalist attitudes are the natural counterpart of strength of spirit and as such are very liable to take hold in the young or the weak of character and the institutionalised- then to tighten grip courtesy of an obsequious laity.
Clericalism is what happens when a man tries to uphold the dignity and practice of his own office with his own personal strength and tries to inure himself from the very embarrassment and failure which will lead to true humility; clericalism is based on a kind of fantasy. Apparently all this is known and looked out for in seminary life and often discussed. I had an interesting talk with a tutor recently who told me that each man had to get away from the belief that he was going to ‘save the world’ and a bout of depression or anxiety is a common result of the conflict that goes on when a priest realises that what he is called to do is simply beyond him. Its what happens after that which is the true test of the man. Keep praying for your priests everyone!!!
Who is going to support these married priests, and pay for their children’s education at University.
Are they going to live the way Holy Mother Churches teaches and not use contraception.
Are they going keep the Church’s law on Divorce.
These are problems which will arise.
Priests do have to be more perfect than lay people-they don’t need these extra difficulties in their lives.
John Candido-you don’t really understand the true meaning of Priesthood.
Jesus said ‘Leave Mother Father Brother Sister and follow me if you can not do this you can be not be my Disciple’ -typical example when He sent out the 72.. They are not of this world. Jesus did not even want the young man to stay to bury his father.
It is easier said than done.
Yes, I agree with you. Not very Apostolic is it?
Many are called but few are chosen.
As to the quote from the New Catholic Reporter above-its a reporter speaking I guess-expressing his or her own literary dreams for pay, nice work if you can get it.
It’s interesting how people defer to the medical profession (doctor knows best) and even allow them to pontificate about how they should live their lives, even when those who pontificate don’t necessarily follow their own precepts, whereas if a priest has the temerity to do his job and proclaim the truth of the Faith, or even celebrate the liturgy properly (and the role of the priest is essentially cultic, it was the larger Christian community that was required to be ‘pastoral’ in the modern sense of the word) he is excoriated for being ‘clerical’. It’s akin to accusing a physician of being ‘medical’ or a lawyer for being ‘legalistic’. I really think that those who understand the Catholic Church are outside it, and I’m not talking about those erstwhile Catholics who have left the Church for reasons of pride and enjoy sniping from the sidelines. Too many Catholics take refuge in pious platitudes which on closer inspection turn out to be meaningless.
John, you quote the example of a lawyer being legalistic. Exactly. He is legalistic if he forgets about justice, which he serves, and allows the minutiae of his job to predominate. The clergy is clerical (in the bad sense) if they forget that they are not priests for their own sake but for the sake of the loving community of the Church. From not listening deeply to the laity to simply not bothering to answer their letters to hiding the bad behaviour of their fellow clergy in order to protect their own caste, clericalism, where it occurs, is profoundly inimical to the good of the Church. It has a great deal to answer for. Much of the good that ‘non clerical’ priests do can be wiped out by their behaviour.
Vincent the Anglican Church apologised today for their clergy abuse!
Celibacy is not the reason for the abuse. I am not saying that you are , but it does happen with married priests too..
I quite agree – the celibacy question seems to be a red herring. And there is always the possibility that a person with a ‘mixed-up’ sexuality would choose celibacy simply because he feared the intimacy of a regular married relationship. I have not checked whether the Anglican clergy involved were married or not
Vincent, you are right up to a point, but all professions tend to close ranks if they feel their interests are being threatened, and clerics are no exception. If a lawyer does not use the minutiae of the law to get his client off, he is not doing what he is paid for. If as a result justice is not served, that does not make him a bad lawyer. “Listening deeply to the laity” sounds fine, but the laity is not of one opinion, and the priest cannot be all things to all men. Not answering letters is discourteous; but there is no guarantee that the recipient will like the reply.
I agree with you about the essentially cultic nature of the priest and of the responsibility of the wider Christian community to be ‘pastoral’ This is how it should be and takes a bit of getting to grips with.
For myself ‘clerical’ has nothing to do with function but is fundamentally an issue of revelation .I can be ‘clerical’ if I choose and the word can be best interpreted as ‘officious’ Its not quite the same as for a lawyer or physician because of the source of the authority. But I want to know what this means:
” I really think that those who understand the Catholic Church are outside it, and I’m not talking about those erstwhile Catholics who have left the Church for reasons of pride and enjoy sniping from the sidelines.”
I don’t follow you here at all and would like to.
What I meant is that an institution as long-lived as the Roman Church, which has had such a profound influence on European history and culture (and continues to do so), and whose influence extends far beyond Europe, needs to be looked at objectively. On more than one occasion I have quoted from Macaulay’s essay of October 1840, which is itself a review of the English translation of the ‘History of the Popes’ by the great Prussian historian Leopold von Ranke. Neither man was a Catholic, and it is clear from Macaulay’s essay that he does not for a moment accept the spiritual claims of the Catholic Church; indeed he regards much of its doctrine as mere superstition. Yet as an historian he has to account for its phenomenal success, and he does so with considerable insight, and in memorable English prose (his mastery of the language puts most modern writers to shame).
Because I accept the supernatural claims of the Church, I cannot be objective about her (notice I have now instinctively reverted to the feminine pronoun) although I try to be. Neither can disgruntled Catholics or ex-Catholics. Neither, for that matter, can ideologically-motivated atheists or fundamentalist Protestants, who shamelessly distort and falsify the historical record.
Ok I’m with you now. I make the point here from time to time that, for me, little said on second sight goes beyond being the verdict of an individual tapping away on a laptop about a subject they are riled up about. In a sense you are saying the same thing but on a much larger and more sweeping scale. I have just studied my way through Verbum Domini in which Pope Benedict makes the reverse point about secular hermeneutics. We have a history of the Popes but I will maybe track down a copy of Macaulay. My own view accords with the apostle Paul that no eye has seen and no ear heard the glory that awaits ..but it is true that an ‘outside’ eye often helps. I might think my behaviour as a Christian impeccable but my non churched neighbour may have a different perspective to offer!
Oh, regarding the function of the priest as principally cultic , Pope John Paul II in Pastores Dabo Vobis also has this to say:
“Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others. This is truly fundamental for a person who is called to be responsible for a community and to be a “man of communion”. This demands that the priest not be arrogant or quarrelsome, but affable ,hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console…”
Phew….glad I only opted for the diaconate then!!!
Mike that sounds like the ambitions of the laity what we strive to be.
I think you are doing a good service to the community.
If more males became Deacons they could unload some of the priests work and let the priest do what he is ordained to do, listen and instruct-visit the sick ,with the Sacraments and visit the schools etc, .and most of all spend time in prayer…
About the only thing you can say in favour of EMHC is that in visiting the sick and housebound they are performing acts of charity proper to the laity! Whether it’s appropriate taking the Sacrament to them is another matter since they cannot hear confessions or absolve sins (although I understand that a person in extremis may confess to a lay person in the absence of a priest).
My opinion is that Pope Francis is like a breath of fresh air and just what the Church needs, but I do not want this to imply criticism of Pope Benedict or any other recent popes. Hearing them juxtaposed in this way makes me feel very sad and uncomfortable.
St. Paul`s first letter to the Corinthians, I think, contains some very relevant teaching,
1 : 10-14, and 3 : 4-10 especially.
The most recent example I have seen is in today`s Daily Mail, which reports that he has advised priests and nuns to use run of the mill cars and equipment, rather than flashy and expensive varieties, (motorbikes perhaps ?!)
My PP in the 1960s drove a black Morris Minor, reg. no. RTL 21. Some sharp-eyed parishioners were aware that he had changed to a newer black Morris Minor but had transferred the number plate in the hope that no-one would notice.
I’d agree with this Singalong..this isn;t a version of “Vaticans got talent” we are playing here-no reason to compare or rank at all.
Not to open up a dead or at least very tired subject again the overhelming majority of child abuse happens among family and ‘friends’-nothing to do with celibacy.
Micheal H.’s comment is true and based on research. There were a set of documentary programmes many many years ago very late at night and the presenter urged us parent to watch it even though the topic was distasteful. I am so glad I did. They demonstrated that most children were abused by family friends, neighbours, sport coaches music teachers and anyone who have wormed themselves into the confidence of parents. Sleepovers were banned in our family and I have never regretted it.
Steeped in history and tradition, celibacy is conceptualised as part and parcel of the innermost mystique of the priestly state. Iconic and as inseparable as the sea and the varied creatures that inhabit that deep abode. We can all think of many Priests who have been absolute examples of holiness and service. They are true men of grace. They have touched us all and impressed us onto greater service of the kingdom of God. It is these confirmations and witnesses to goodness, which explains our natural desire to pull away from iconoclasm. In all Catholics there is something of an assumption that celibacy is an accompaniment of perfect and untouchable grace, much like a regiment of soldiers in lock-step. As a result, we can all be lulled into soporific bliss, until the rudeness of the real world comes crashing through our mature lullabies.
Despite the overwhelming integrity of many Priests, there is the ever present danger of celibacy, in that it attracts unsavoury characters such as paedophiles. Despite the modern enlightenment of the Church to the danger of paedophilia, paedophiles potentially see the priesthood as a way of both hiding their proclivity and of having access to children for immoral ends.
Former Priest and psychotherapist, A. W. Richard Sipe, wrote a book called, ‘A Secret World, Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy’, published by Brunner/Mazel, New York, 1990. He estimates that at least 30% of Priests are not faithful towards the rule of celibacy at any one time, in heterosexual relationships with women (Sipe, 1990…p. 74). And around 10% of Priests are active homosexuals (Sipe, 1990…p. 133). This brings a total rate of Priests who are not genuine celibates at any one point in time to around 46%, when you include paedophilia. Given modern knowledge, it is well-nigh high-time for the reconceptualisation of celibacy in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church.
“…Steeped in history and tradition, celibacy is conceptualised as part and parcel of the innermost mystique of the priestly state. Iconic and as inseparable as the sea and the varied creatures that inhabit that deep abode. We can all think of many Priests who have been absolute examples of holiness and service. They are true men of grace. They have touched us all and impressed us onto greater service of the kingdom of God. It is these confirmations and witnesses to goodness, which explains our natural desire to pull away from iconoclasm. In all Catholics there is something of an assumption that celibacy is an accompaniment of perfect and untouchable grace, much like a regiment of soldiers in lock-step. As a result, we can all be lulled into soporific bliss, until the rudeness of the real world comes crashing through our mature lullabies…..”
Oh come come now, next thing you will be writing for the Catholic Reporter. This really is nonsense. Tell you what, come over to the Midlands, read this paragraph out to the parishioners and see what they say-be prepared for gales of laughter. Then bring it to the Diocese seminary, read it out there-they could do with cheering up a bit. Last time you tried this I think it was Quentin who published a study which showed that the offending rate among Australian males was greater in the general community than among priests which led him to conclude that due to the danger of paedophilia all adult male Australians should be castrated!!!
Poor Michael Horsnall! I suppose he is still asleep at the wheel.
Poor John Candido, alone and dreaming on of Byzantium and literary fame….
The problem with the short lived Orthodox Byzantium period and what brought it to an end, was they fell in love with the image. I suspect this is the same problem traditionalists of the RCC and the Orthodox has about themselves – clergy, bishops and hierarchs.There is much more to say on this
Oops , sorry, I was referring to WB Yeats’ poem ‘Sailing to Byzantium’…never mind, time to move on now.
Indeed, Mike. This is no country for old (or even middle-aged) men.
Ha Ha Ha!! By any chance have you seen the utterly brilliant film of the same name?