I had intended relay this the day Damian posted it on his blog at The Daily Telegraph. I was reminded of it tonight over supper with friends (including the great Fr. Finigan).
First, think about the “New Evangelization” that is supposed to be a priority.
Are you thinking?
Now read this, with my emphases and comments.
Wanted: a Papal Nuncio who will improve the calibre of our Catholic bishops
By Damian Thompson
Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, the Papal Nuncio to Great Britain, is retiring early because of ill health. It’s sad for him, of course: I wish him a full recovery, a happy retirement and shall try to forget his attempts to silence this blog. But now, [NB] PLEASE, will the Vatican recognise that the Catholics who responded so warmly to Benedict XVI deserve a Nuncio willing to recommend bishops motivated by the Pope’s programme of orthodox renewal? [I think it is fair to say that the Catholic Church in the USA experienced a “bump” after the visit of Pope Benedict. The Holy See needs to strike while the iron is hot.] I don’t want to single out Archbishop Sainz, because he was just one of a string of Apostolic Nuncios or Delegates who represented the Bishops’ Conferences to the Pope rather than the other way around. Like secular diplomats who go native, the Holy See’s ambassadors have allowed the Magic Circle to force the names of second-rate church politicians on to ternas. The results are plain to see, especially in the North-West of England, its Catholic heritage left to rot by complacent prelates, and in the liberal protestant dioceses of the south coast with their 1970s retro liturgies. So… [I think many in the Roman Curia are overawed by people who speak with some sort of English accent (perhaps few excluded). Italians in particular go all wobbly.]
Wanted: a Papal Nuncio, inspired by the writings and teachings of Joseph Ratzinger, preferably a native English speaker, with a bullshit detector that’s set off by Eccleston Square Bishopese and a knack for spotting dynamic orthodox priests capable of turning round a moribund diocese. I can name a dozen such priests off the top of my head, but none of them stands a cat in hell’s chance of receiving a mitre until we get a decent Nuncio.
Some of the English priests I have met would be outstanding bishops.
Perhaps you readers out there, of whatever nationality and origin, might stop right now and say a prayer to the guardian angels of those who must make a determination about the new Nuncio. The Holy Father himself will probably have to make this particular determination, since this Nuntiature is so important. But the Holy Father will be advised, and I dare say even pressured by human forces.
Help to sustain him with your prayers in this matter. Pray for the Pope and perhaps also offer some fasting for him and this particular decision.
V. Let us pray for our Pontiff, Pope Benedict.
R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and bless him upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.
Our Father. Hail Mary.
Let us pray.
O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Benedict, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
At first I was surprised to read it, but then I thought, the real surprise is that Fr. Z’s managed to comment so long on the state of the Church in these times without printing the word “bullshit”.
Would it not be a demotion, I would highly recommend a certain Cardinal-designate Burke — a native English speaker with his head squarely on his shoulders, a long history of straightforward application of orthodoxy, and a certain familiarity with the state of the English church, being as he was once publicly prohibited by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor to offer the classical Roman Rite there.
Alas, though, he has other matters to attend to . . .
[Perhaps we should stick to reality?]
To this day, I have no idea what is meant by “The New Evangelization.” How is it different from “The Old Evangelization?” Was there an “Old Evangelization?” Is there really a “New” one?
Wait. Catholics haven’t really evangelized anyone in about 800 or 900 years. Do they even know how? I think not.
“Wanted: a Papal Nuncio, inspired by the writings and teachings of Joseph Ratzinger, preferably a native English speaker, with a bullshit detector that’s set off by Eccleston Square Bishopese and a knack for spotting dynamic orthodox priests capable of turning round a moribund diocese” AMEN! AMEN! AMEN, there is nothing that can be added to this. Great commentary Fr.
Frankly, I don’t think the majority of Vatican bishops believe in “The New Evangelization.” They probably don’t believe the “old” one, either. Like good little bureaucrats everywhere, they believe in featherbedding their own nests, retaining power (if not expanding it) in their insignificant little baileywicks and doing their best not to ruffle any feathers. That goes for the bishops’ “conferences,” as well. The point is that any new Nuncio to any new nation will be just another self-satisfied careerist. Such a man would view Benedict as a petty annoyance…and the Church infrastructure is so multi-leveled and corrupt that such a man would get away with viewing Benedict as such. Benedict is a good and faithful man who is far out-numbered by the careerists….and doesn’t have the constitution for the kind of blood-letting (metaphorically speaking, of course) that the Church desperately needs. I’m guessing that, given his age, a lot of bishops will ride him out and politely (but firmly) ignore him. The whole situation would make a great Gilbert and Sullivan comedy if it weren’t so tragic.
There is no more important object of prayer for English Catholics as a group than this. The visit of Pope John Paul II of nearly thirty years ago, despite being received as a huge success in its day, was followed by decades of decline in almost every major area of English Church life. There was certainly one very obvious reason for this (among a number) – and it lies very much in the hands of a future nuncio to remedy. Unless that remedy is administered, and the process starts soon, the recent visit of Pope Benedict could perfectly be followed by decades more of the same disaster. And things can get very much worse – as anyone who knows the wretched state of the Church in Flanders could tell you.
Perhaps someone more knowledgable can chime in: from which line of service are nuntii usually drawn? Curial bishops? Diocesan bishops? I can imagine that a priest who is not already a bishop might have some trouble getting the proper respect from the entrenched bishops in the country he’s assigned to, but perhaps an abbot or rising curial star?
It would not only be interesting to know, but it would also point to what type of candidate might see this as an opportunity to do good, rather than demotion (which I reckon it might be for many, in their own minds)
catholicmidwest: I think ‘New Evangelization’ is an useful term — the big difference is that the main ‘targets’ of any modern evangelism must be, to quote G. K. Chesterton: “the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard”.
That is, the ‘old evangelism’, whether of Romans of the 3rd century AD or Irish of the 5th or Norse of the 10th or Mesoamericans of the 16th, was of people to whom Christianity was genuinely new; the ‘new evangelism’ is of cultures that were once at least partially Christian and have secularized, or where the Christian Church has splintered.
Praying, Father Z, praying….