First, I am deeply grateful for the donations that have come in to defray the cost of my travel to Rome. Some have been widow’s mites, some have been hefty, all have been warmly appreciated. Since I have been on the run a lot during my time here, I haven’t had much of a chance to write all the individual thank you notes that I customarily send out. I also haven’t updated the “thermometers”. I will do more when I slow down. That said, I will again say Mass for the intention of my benefactors for this trip tonight at Ss. Trinita probably between 6-7 Rome time CET (1200-1300 CDT). UPDATE: I had a call from the priest at Ss. Trinità who asked me to take the parish evening Mass at 6:30. I may have to take their intention for the Mass. But I still have tomorrow and my last day! UPDATE: I was able to use my own intention! So you got prayed for again.
Now to business.
Since I have a few really smart people writing to me about the Synod and its aftermath, I’ll share some of their points with you. I can’t do much better than they are doing, frankly.
Here… much edited and cut… from a friend:
There is no keeping Cardinal George Pell quiet. He gave an extraordinary interview to Edward Pentin at the National Catholic REGISTER in which he builds upon his earlier, surprising comment (which I sent to you yesterday) to the effect that the Synod Final Document was better than a lot of us are thinking. HERE
READ THIS CAREFULLY. Pentin asks the right questions, in the right order. Pell answers in Anglo-Saxon clarity but there are points beyond which he will not go and will not be drawn. Pell’s responses are carefully crafted. Whatever you think about his reasoning, this is a reasoned set of arguments. Remember, too, that Pell was there and that he showed outstanding courage in initiating and continually defending the 13 Cardinals’ Letter.
Some of you have already seen this op-ed piece by Ross Douthat. I didn’t see it until it was sent to me because I don’t dumpster-dive in the New York Times. HERE
But Douthat would be incomplete without this repartee in the combox over at Andrea Gagliarducci’s blog MondayVatican. HERE
In the combox an anonymous comment appeared that challenged Ducci for “special pleading” on behalf of Pope Francis, i.e., for trying to defend the Pope against the charge that he really is batting for the other side; that he is a Kasperite and worse….
Gagliarducci responds. I am not going to say that I agree with Gagliarducci; I don’t. But the matter is too important not to be careful and then careful again. So read Gagliarduccis explanation of why he refuses (so far) to conclude that the Pope is really with the Kasperites, and make up your own mind. But compare Gagliarducci’s arguments with Douthat’s.
ONE MORE THING. I have been wondering for a couple weeks whether those of us who think in Anglo-Saxon terms don’t see matters in Rome in too black-and-white a set of terms. Gagliarducci calls us Manicheans and says we (Americans, British, Australians) lack subtlety in our judgments. While that may be true, we tend to win wars and not run away from them as the Italians do. But I raise the point again because I am struck at how very different American/British commentary on the Synod is from European.
Here’s the repartee at MondayVatican I am talking about:
Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. However, whenever I read your articles, I am always left with one unanswered question: why do you always suggest, without any evidence whatsoever, that the adapters that placed the Pope in office, and that he has appointed to high positions, and that he has surrounded himself with, are not expressions of the Pope’s mind? The Pope is basically elected by them; the Pope makes them his closest advisers; the Pope appoints them to draft and control important documents; the Pope appoints them to the Synod when bishops’ conferences did not; they claim to speak the Pope’s mind, and he never contradicts them; the Pope severely criticizes the opponents of the adapters, likening them to men with hardened hearts, not alive with the Gospel. The Pope, against the numerical will of the majority of bishops does not clearly close the issues at variance with the adapters. Is it not a logical conclusion to draw to say that the Pope is in fact their man, and that they are the Pope’s men? Why do you refuse to draw the obvious conclusion? Perhaps you know something we do not. If so, you have never said it.
Andrea Gagliarducci scrive:
thanks for your comment. For what I see, the Pope is mostly an old fashioned, even conservative man in terms of doctrine. There is always something that does not match between what he says and the people he is surrounded with. So I highlight the contradiction. When he speaks about openness and smell of the sheep and everything else, I always find him vague, certainly not on the adpaters side. On the other hand, the Pope showed appreciation for Caffarra during the last Synod, he did not demote Card. Bagnasco as Italian Bishops Conference president, he has a good relation with Cardinal Mueller, even though the Cardinal knows how to criticize him (but Cardinal Mueller has also a deep knowledge of Latin America). So, in the end, I have that sort of feeling that behind any populism, behind any moment the Pope expresses in a vague way thus grabbing the progressives attention and secular media headlines, the Pope have a sort of debt with the adapters who in fact campaigned for him. Because otherwise his thought or his way of doing is not what we can call a straight line, and it is often inexplicable. However, it can also be that the Pope does not follow a rationale. But I think that only time will tell.
Also, I think I predicted that a media onslaught would begin against certain figures who were perceived to have resisted the Kasperites. Today I received this SMS:
New scandal book by Gianluigi Nuzzi purports to quote “gay Cardinal” with new revelations Vatileaks style.
Whatever this is about, it can’t be good for anyone.