Spectator’s hard-hitting commentary on pontificate of Pope Francis

At The Spectator there is a must read piece by Damian Thompson for anyone who is puzzled about what Pope Francis may be up to, especially in regard to the Roman Curia.

Here is an excerpt with my emphases:


As a Latin American who didn’t know his way around Rome when he became pope, he approaches the Curia as an outsider. That is why the cardinals elected him. They did not imagine that this previously austere figure, who even as a prince of the church travelled on buses dressed as a simple priest, would turn on the charm for journalists and become a global celebrity. (In Buenos Aires he rarely gave interviews.) But they did suspect that he would kick the living daylights out of Vatican politicians who seal sleazy deals with Italian businessmen while stuffing their faces with saltimbocca alla romana.

Last year Francis described his ‘court’ as ‘the leprosy of the papacy’. By ‘court’ he may have been referring to monarchical trappings — but employees of the Curia suspected that he was talking about them. For those good priests who found themselves trapped in a sclerotic bureaucracy it came across as a needless insult. ‘Morale is tremendously low,’ says a Vatican source. ‘And matters aren’t helped by Latin American clergy swanning around Rome telling us how they’re bringing us simplicity. There’s a new ultramontanism of the left. You can disagree with anything the church teaches so long as you think Francis is fabulous.’

But neither the Pope’s cheerleaders nor his critics grasp the essence of his mission. The battles between liberals and conservatives, progressives and traditionalists, defined the last pontificate — not this one.

The Pope has begun his attack on the Curia by placing its scandal-ridden financial structures under the control of a new department with unprecedented powers: the Secretariat for the Economy. Its first prefect is Cardinal George Pell, the conservative former Archbishop of Sydney.


And then…


When it comes to reform of the entire Curia, Francis is advised by the so-called ‘C9’ committee of nine cardinals, of whom George Pell is one. It’s chaired by Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras — a charismatic pastor who is unremittingly hostile to ‘neoliberal’ America. He shoots from the hip. In January he told Archbishop (now Cardinal) Gerhard Müller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to stop seeing the world in black and white. This was a bit rich coming from Rodriguez, who in 2002 suggested that America’s Jewish-controlled media was playing up the paedophile scandals to punish the Catholic church for its support of Palestine.

How will the C9 reform the bits of the Curia covering doctrine, evangelisation, clergy, foreign affairs and so on? To repeat: major changes on marriage and homosexuality aren’t on the agenda. In October, a synod of bishops will discuss the family: since it’s almost certain to reject calls to admit divorced people to the Eucharist, Francis needs to lower expectations. He doesn’t want to find himself in the position of Paul VI, who provoked a hysterical reaction when he vetoed proposals to allow artificial birth control. [It might be too late for that.]

What is on the agenda is ‘decentralisation’, the current buzzword. The problem is that, while taking power out of the hands of Vatican bureaucrats is a good thing, giving authority to national bishops’ conferences isn’t much better. [Disaster, more like.] Consider the mediocrity of the English hierarchy, made up of grey, jargon-spouting liberals. Here we encounter one of Francis’s weaknesses: his ignorance of the Anglosphere. He doesn’t speak English. He has never been to the United States.


Wow.  There is some hard-hitting commentary here.

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  1. Faith says:

    Cross out the last two sentences. He is coming to USA and here Spanish is good enough.

  2. PA mom says:

    There was a fascinating article in Fortune on Pope Francis’ efforts in the Secretariat of Economy and the various fiscal policies tightening there. I have no idea how accurate it was, but it sounds like a significant improvement in that area.

    He certainly is keeping many people on their toes.

  3. Norah says:

    In “The Ratzinger Report” then Cardinal Ratzinger had this to say about Bishops’ Conferences:

    . “ We must not forget that the Episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function.,, The collective, therefore, does not substitute for the persons of the bishops, who…are” the authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care.”(cf CIC Can. 753) Ratzinger confirms: “No Episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.”…it is a matter of safeguarding the very nature of the Catholic Church, which is based on an Episcopal structure and not on a kind of federation of national churches….It must once again become clear that in each diocese there is only one shepherd and teacher of the faith in communion with the other pastors and teachers and with the Vicar of Christ”…”.It happens,” he says, “that with some bishops there is a certain lack of a sense of individual responsibility, and the delegation of his inalienable powers as shepherd and teacher to the structures of the local conference leads to letting what should remain very personal lapse into anonymity. …It happens then that the search for agreement between the different tendencies and the effort at mediation often yield flattened documents in which decisive positions (where they might be necessary) are weakened.”

  4. ChrisRawlings says:

    I rather see a great deal of similarity between Benedict and Francis, not only in theological but also in ecclesial emphasis. Both men seem to have a kind of particularly Christological and evangelical passion that guides their approach to the various challenges the Church faces in the 21st Century. Andrea Gagliarducci likes to stress the fact that Pope Francis is implementing Benedict’s vision for the Church, which is actually an important point to make because the misguided and unsophisticated popular refrain is that Francis is veering off on a very different direction.

    Or perhaps Thompson was referring only to their personalities.

    Second, why assume that the Holy Father doesn’t grasp the Anglosphere well enough? If he is relying on Cardinals Pell and Oullet as much as it appears, then I feel quite comfortable about the Pope’s approach to the English-speaking world. And the bishops appointed throughout the U.S. and England has demonstrated a profound understanding of the needs of the local churches in those places, filling vacancies with men appear particularly well-suited to the proclamation of the Gospel to an increasingly skeptical world.

    The point about the liturgy, however, was brilliant.

  5. Mike says:

    This is the most hopeful article on Francis that I have read thus far. While I tend to focus–rightly!–on the liturgy, the curial mess does need cleaning up.

  6. Robbie says:

    I read this article early this morning and I guess I’ll need to read it again. I say that because my first reaction was it wasn’t so much a critique of Francis as it was the sordid situation that surrounds him. I do think the article made a very fair point that Francis has allowed expectations on the synod to get out of hand.

  7. stephen c says:

    Damien T. is a good writer, I fondly remember a recent column of his describing how his father, who notoriously did not like to spend money, bought several different LP versions of a single Schubert sonata, explaining to his surprised son that beauty is priceless. This has nothing to do with the main point of the topic of this post, but I sincerely, very sincerely, doubt that Pope Paul entertained for a second the liberal deathly idea of saying that artificial contraception and abortifacients are a matter of indifference in the Church instituted by our Lord with the help of his friend St Peter. Mr T, in the sixth quoted paragraph, seems to think that Pope Paul made a mistake that led him to involuntarily suffer because he had allowed high level church bureaucrats to believe he would agree with their foolish support of artificial contraception and abortifacients. Contrary to Damien T’s implication, if Paul VI he did suffer, it was probably only through sadness at the lack of empathy and lack of love in the bureaucrats that he was surrounded by, not through any regret at his own “mistake”. It might be hard to believe for us who live in the secular promised land of 2014, but I believe there is no way a decent Catholic with the good theological education that Pope Paul VI enjoyed could have entertained for a second the idea of proclaiming anything less enthusiastic about life than Humanae Vitae, and Pope Paul VI would probably be stunned to know that later generations have thought him “courageous” for stating an obvious truth, and stunned to know that even intelligent writers like Damien T assume that he would have had any reason not to want to be the author of Humanae Vitae, regardless of the criticisms from the cold-hearted.

  8. Lori Pieper says:

    Faith: not only Spanish, but judging by his talk to the young people in South Korea, his English is getting better all the time. (The young people there clearly understood his English; I suspect they teach it in the schools). By the way I am wild with delight at the thought that Pope Francis may be coming to New York! If he does, he’ll be the third Pope I’ve welcomed here.

    On the subject of the article, some of it sounds a bit strained to me. Francis is “ignorant of the Anglosphere,” that is, English and American life and Catholicism? Who says? The fact that he has difficulty speaking English doesn’t mean that he doesn’t understand it or can’t read it. I am living proof of that for the Italian language. I can translate quite complex things from Italian to English, but if I have to converse in Italian I am often tongue-tied. Two different skill sets are involved.

    Even if it were true that he has no knowledge of English, it’s a bit insulting to the Holy Father to suppose that he isn’t capable of filling in the gaps in his knowledge with the help of someone like Cardinal O’Malley (a Spanish-speaker), who he has known for a long time, or from other sources, like the Papal nuncio. In order to undertake the needed reforms, he has to be a shrewd judge of people. I suspect he knows quite well what’s going on in the USCCB, since he has access to a lot of different voices from there.

    I think this idea of Francis’ “ignorance” goes back to the whole Evangelii Gaudium debate, and the idea that Pope Francis says something that has always been part of Catholic social teaching, and it’s inimical to certain corners of U.S. or British Catholicism of a conservative political stripe, it has to be due to his ignorance. The fact that the Pope says something that appears to contradict some cherished aspects of American economic thought doesn’t mean he’s ignorant; it just means he disagrees. Of course, I don’t know enough about DT to know if this is really what he’s doing, but his scenario is unlikely in any case.

  9. Mojoron says:

    The article is very chunky. Meaning, there is too much to try to digest with respect to the Francis’ real purpose for being elected as Pope. There is a dichotomy for leadership. First being a Jesuit, there are many good Jesuits, but there were many scoundrels, especially during the turbulent 60’s when the church was really under attack. Secondly, being someone who has apparently made his priorities the Roman Curia: For those of us who do not understand the intricate foolhardiness of the Curia, I can only guess what kind of mess they are in, or were in. I’m sorry to read that the Curia was the reason why BXVI left the Pontificate, but it seems that Francis has given himself only three years to live, that is not enough time for a major administrative office to be cleaned and re-equipped to implement a “world standard” accounting process(es).

    I recall when I wrote a paper in graduate school on the demise of one of the worlds largest medical supply corporations, William-Harvey, in the 1970’s into the 1980’s, management incompetence were in the same magnitude that the Curia were embroiled in the latter half of the 20th century, and W-H went out of business.

    I’m interested in your opinion on Francis Fr. Z. We know you won’t go out on a limb since you must have allegiance to the Roman Pontiff, many Catholics see a major difference between the last three Pontiff’s in their leadership and liturgical stances.

    I’m still afraid of Jesuits.

  10. marcelus says:

    I think it’s the other way around. The author unfortunately common nowadays in English writers, does not know much of the Latinsphere. To claim the Pope doesn’t speak English, and because if that his ignorant of the events of the northern hemisphere churchewise, sorry to say, as Michael Voris said, , a majority language in the church, shows the author is not very well prepared. Strange and little helpful article. By 2015 when he goes to Philadelphia he will be telling polish jokes.

  11. vetusta ecclesia says:

    National Episcopal Conferences are a bane. The grey, jargon-spouting 70s lefties who make up the majority of the hierarchs in England and Wales have produced a bureaucracy spanning 17 pages in the Catholic Directory of committees and ecumenical talking shops. Then there is Scotland and Ireland – three dollops of this nonsense for the British Isles alone.

  12. Phil_NL says:

    I think Damian Thompson did put several very apt points in his piece. I particularly liked this section:
    “‘The Pope is hungry to spread the Gospel and in Latin America he sees that being done most effectively by left-wing priests in the slums,’ says a Vatican insider. ‘What he doesn’t realise is that in North America and other English-speaking countries, it’s the conservatives who have fire in their bellies, who evangelise, often with minimal encouragement from their bishops.’ And no one is likely to explain it to him.”

    But when reading the article in its enterity, the conclusion must be that the really important stuff is shown by omission.

    Reform of the curia was deemed a necessity at the last conclave – and before. But what has been done, a good year into the pontificate? A group of 9 advisors, who still have to present any kind of final conclusions (and, with such a pace, count on years for those recommendations to be implemented, and even longer before they bear any fruit). And the Vatican finances have been shaken up.
    Now I’m usually the first person to acknowledge the importance of good finances (I usually land the treasurer’s job in an association or project), but that was not the primary problem with the curia. Sure, it was a problem, but at the end of the day, the Church can function quite well even in the face of considerable waste – it has done so for the best part of two millenia. Neither was BXVI’s pontificate frustrated by monetary worries.
    So the root of the problem – a kind of ‘corporate culture’ that doesn’t heed the papal agenda but much more parochial interests – is, as far as I can tell, still unadressed.

    Moreover, Francis agenda has to be broader than just curial reform – otherwise he’d put more emphasis on that, while the ‘new humility’ (for want of a better term) is now at the forefront of things. But will that effect last? It’s mainly a matter of style, and for style to rub off on the Church, a much longer pontificate is needed – St JPII did it, BXVI did it a bit, but would have needed several additional years to have it really gain traction outside those areas of the Church where it was welcome anyway. And sooner or later Francis’ media holiday will be over as well; I would not be suprised if Francis simply lacks the time for this line of reform (unless, of course, the next Pope would be in a very similar mould, but that’s rarely the case).

    I’m afraid the more relevant news isn’t what the Holy Father is doing, but what he isn’t (yet) doing or getting done.

  13. Cosmos says:

    I’d be very surprised if that is how Pope Francis understood his mission. I think he sees himself as a reformer attempting to bring the gospel to the world with new freshness. Sure, reform of the Curia is one of many ways he intends to make the Church better equipped to carry out Her mission–as he understands it, but I don’t think his agenda is so specific or modest. It seems like wishful thinking to me; trying to understand something that seems uninteligible from many angles.

  14. robtbrown says:

    Stephen C,

    Many people think that Paul VI’s “mistake” was waiting too long to address contraception, giving opponents an extensive opportunity for disinformation. That delay made Humanae Vitae even more controversial.

    The circumstance that created the necessity of HV was the invention of The Pill. There were some who thought using it did not violate the Church’s prohibition of contraception.

  15. stephen c says:

    robtbrown – I have reread the sentence “He doesn’t want to find himself in the position of Paul VI, who provoked a hysterical reaction when he vetoed proposals to allow artificial birth control” and your take is of course correct. The sentence quoted is well written but there is a lot of history behind it, and the word “provoked” is shorthand for a lot of that history, one aspect of which is probably often forgotten, and that is the nearly complete lack of there having ever been any chance that Pope Paul VI, with his intelligence and education and, most importantly, prayerfulness, would have decided to go along with the pro-contraception intellectuals and bureaucrats and their closely allied pro-abortifacient and even pro-abortion friends. From that point of view, Pope Paul VI can be said to have put himself in a bad position with respect to tactics, but not such a bad position with respect to his ultimate determination to do the obviously right thing.

  16. Gerard Plourde says:

    I agree with Lori Pieper that “the fact that the Pope says something that appears to contradict some cherished aspects of American economic thought doesn’t mean he’s ignorant; it just means he disagrees.”

    The Church has consistently taught that while private ownership of property is licit it contains with it the danger of the sin of Avarice which in turn can open one to the other Deadly Sins. We have seen the effects of this in the world economic crisis that erupted in 2008 but whose seeds were sown in the decades preceding. All too often humans are tempted to seek what they perceive to be a good or licit end but attempt to achieve it through a dubious or outright illicit means. Thus we have Countrywide Mortgage attempting to increase home ownership among the poor by overoptimistically reporting the applicant’s projected income or in some cases just outright misstating it. Or we have Enron backing itself into a corner and resorting to fraud when projected income figures did not match up with actual performance.

    This danger is the reason that God calls us to humility and obedience. As St. Paul writes, “For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.”

  17. Matthew Gaul says:

    Regarding the national conferences, perhaps it is time to reinvigorate the traditional duties of metropolitan archbishops.

  18. rtjl says:

    The problem is that, while taking power out of the hands of Vatican bureaucrats is a good thing, giving authority to national bishops’ conferences isn’t much better. [Disaster, more like.]

    Precisely. My experience has been that Roman intervention has typcially been exercised to protect me from some of the inanities of the local bishop’s conference and to protect my rights and iterests as a member of Christ’s faithful, especially in liturgical matters but also in catechetical matters.

  19. M. K. says:

    I think that Damian’s point about the Holy Father’s perception of the ideological fault lines being shaped by his Latin American experience is spot-on. One can also get a sense of this from a lot of his widely-reported comments which have been taken as critical of conservative-to-traditional Catholics, as those comments often seem to reflect Latin American perceptions or stereotypes about what conservatives and traditionalists are like. And if the Holy Father is getting a lot of his advice on the Anglosphere from cardinals like Donald Wuerl and Cormac Murphy-O’Connor (as has been reported), then he probably is not going to be given a particularly nuanced presentation of how the European and North American experience is different from the Latin American one vis-à-vis the role of ‘conservative’ vs. ‘progressive’ Catholics in evangelization.

    I don’t see it as unfair to point out that the Pope has very limited experience and knowledge of the Anglosphere or to note that his command of English is poor. He spent most of his life in very different circumstances and wasn’t expected to be an expert in these areas, and now he faces a fairly steep learning curve (and, as he has said himself, at his age it’s hard to change one’s habits and perspectives). I can appreciate the arguments for having him give speeches in English in Korea because it’s more widely understood there than Italian or Spanish, but it was obvious that he was not as comfortable or spontaneous in English as he would be in the other languages – and I don’t expect that to change much, given his age and the fact that he has a lot of other stuff on his plate (and it is both naïve and smug to suggest, as some have, that he’ll somehow dramatically improve his English in the next year just because of, well, the “Francis effect,” or something). Part of me thinks that it’s better for him to speak in Italian – he is the bishop of Rome, after all – even in places where the language is not widely understood. Simultaneous translation can help here, and I’d rather hear the Pope speak in a language he can speak comfortably and naturally rather than hear a halting English recitation of a text that is probably a translation from Italian or Spanish in any event.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Stephen C,

    By delaying, Paul VI put himself in a bad position to have a good reception for HV.

    It’s an old liberal trick to pre empt the authoritative decision.

  21. Phil_NL says:

    Gerard Plourde,

    You write “The Church has consistently taught that while private ownership of property is licit it contains with it the danger of the sin of Avarice (…)”.

    While not incorrect as such, it is misleading, as non-private ownership of property can cause just as much averice. (perhaps more, even). Communal or state ownership, or whatever other structureone would devise, will still not remove the situation where one man has use of a good, while the other has not, at least not at the same time. That’s all that’s needed for sin to rear its ugly head. The exclusivity is a feature of the good, not of the ownership rules. So averice can and will ensue, as long as there are goods, privately owned or not.

    It is a classical mistake of all communists – but also others – that a different set of rules would also lead to a different men, i.e., one without sin. That is B as in B, and S as in S. The sin will remain as long as man is unreformed, and no political, ideological or legal structure can do that.

    To be clear, I do not think or claim you hold any of those positions, but the philsophical error is so widespread, that I’ll use every opportunity to fight it.

  22. LeeF says:

    The issue I really care about in that article is that of episcopal conferences not being given too much authority. Doing so would effectively be turning them into national synods with authority that properly pertains to synods of various liturgical rites. While the Eastern Rites electing their own bishops subject to the Pope’s confirmation seems to work, their synods are far more conservative than the episcopal conferences of the Latin Rite nations, and despite JPII and BXVI naming so many bishops. And as for teaching doctrine, how could they authentically do so when there is real and almost certain possibility of teaching something contrary to the Catechism endorsed by the Holy Father? If they are merely going to teach on practical implementation of the Catechism in various spheres, that has to be a matter of prudential judgment and not binding on the faithful, even if the faithful should rightfully be leery of disagreeing with their bishops.

    Perhaps if more attention were given to selecting pious and faithful staff, both religious and lay, who serve in the various dicasteries in Rome, and such staff were regularly rotated, the situation of an entrenched bureaucracy with many morally ambiguous members could be avoided for the most part, as long as they didn’t effectively select their own replacements.

    But if more authority is to be given to episcopal conferences, then the real test is whether they can rebuke their peers for doctrinal dissent and liturgical aberrations, as well as other canonical delicts. Personally I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  23. Gerard Plourde says:


    I don’t disagree with your statement that any kind of ownership of property can equally cause avarice. I don’t advocate a policy of communal or state ownership that excludes private ownership and I most certainly do not believe that any man-made rules will make us people without sin. That said, temptation and sin are part of the human condition and will be with us until the Parousia. None of us are exempt from sin and its effects. The best that our man-made systems of justice can do is to try to minimize the effects that wrongdoing inflicts on those who are its victims and to care for our fellow sinners in need. This is what Jesus calls to do throughout the Gospels.

  24. TWF says:

    Matthew Gaul:
    Such would be in line with the Church’s ancient tradition and in line with the current practice of the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. Our Eastern Catholic brothers are largely autonomous, their patriarchs, metropolitans, and synods running their own churches with little, if any, dependence on the Roman Curia…their traditional liturgies flourish and liberal / modernist heresy is not even a bliip.
    The Roman Curia, historically, gradually appropriated authority that had, since ancient times, belonged to the national primates, provincial metropolitans, and local synods. The modern very political episcopal conferences are not true synods, but a different beast.

  25. Reconverted Idiot says:

    I was impressed by an answer given by a very orthodox and ‘hard-headed’ friend the other day in answer to the ‘Francis’ question:
    “I’ve never prayed so hard for a pope.”
    Not only was it a good answer, but it spoke too of the right attitude IMO.

  26. “‘The Pope is hungry to spread the Gospel and in Latin America he sees that being done most effectively by left-wing priests in the slums,’ says a Vatican insider. ‘What he doesn’t realise is that in North America and other English-speaking countries, it’s the conservatives who have fire in their bellies, who evangelise, often with minimal encouragement from their bishops.’”

    I suspect this is a key to understanding some of the pope’s perplexing views–his narrow background, and his lack of familiarity and exposure to the larger Church, where in many areas the situation is very different from Latin America. Perhaps the cardinals will be inclined to select–sooner than later, if Fr. Z’s guess is right–as the next pope someone with broader knowledge and experience on a larger stage.

  27. robtbrown says:


    You seem to have missed the point of the article.

    It’s not merely a matter of financial waste or corruption, but rather a key factor in the pope’s inability to use the curia to implement his program. Part of the problem has been that the Secretary of State had too much power, including control of the Vatican finances.

  28. Phil_NL says:


    If parts of the curia have too much power, those parts need to be cut to size. But finance, even though it can be an instrument of power, isn’t the essential ingredient in that. Especially not in an organization as the Vatican, where access to His Holiness and the assignment of people are much more powerful levers of control than whether or not a million more is available for this or that.
    And also vice versa: if the finances are in order, that does not guarantee the smooth working of the curia.
    At best, financial reform precludes one way to play pesky organizational games. It does nothing about the other avenues for that, nor about the presence of people willing to engage in inter-curial warfare.

    I think the real issue is one of organizational culture, and that’s something embodied in the persons themselves, their mindset. And I have yet to see much happen on that front. Frankly, I think the only way to reform a wayward bureaucracy is to smack a couple of heads against a wall (figuratively, but hard), appoint new people who have been carefully instructed and are loyal, and make very clear to the remainder that they have to sing in tune. Only when that is done does it pay to look at any flaws in the organogram.

    So I stand by my point: the fact that curial reform is thusfar mainly financial reform is not a sign that things are moving in the right direction, as the true problem lies elsewhere. At best it’s something that needed to be done anyway, at worst a distraction. The news is in what isn’t being done.

  29. Lori Pieper says:

    Henry Edwards,

    I think it is that “Vatican insider” who is out of his depth with his stereotyped views. So it’s only “left-wing” priests and religious who minister in the poor Third-World slums? Let’s all reflect on how “left-wing” Mother Teresa was! I think you would find many priests and religious of the same type in Latin America. Do the more conservative Catholics in the U.S. seem to be better at evangelization? No doubt. Does the Pope think it good that they might evangelize in the slums as well? Yes. And this is narrow-minded of him? In the U.S. we’ve certainly got enough slums. And what are we doing for them? As Fr. Z himself often says, “Go practice the corporal works of mercy!” I don’t see what Francis is doing as indicating a lack of understanding of the richer countries. I think he understands us all too well, and he is shaking us up in a god way.

  30. amont says:

    Having lived through the chaos of the Post Concilliar Era- marked by outright disloyalty on the part of various Episcopal Conferences’ etc. I fail to see how the present incumbent in the See of Peter could possibly think his pet project of handing-over authority, rightfully his own , to the same failed episcopal rebels would in any way improve the church ? Sandro Magister on his blog has, since the election of Pope Francis, drawn attention to this subject. It would appear Pope Francis- based on his South American experience- wants to eliminate the authority of Rome to directly act in local church affairs. I have been , it would seem, under the delusion that was precisely the lack of exercise of this same authority over the last 40 or so years, that has left us in the mire we currently inhabit.

    For my own part I must confess to a great fear, held for some period, that the outcome of the failed Ecumenical movement, would be a form of “death or glory” effort to appease the Eastern Churches by diminishing the power of the Papacy. But to what end? How will that make the faith stronger or better?

    Faced with the increasing attacks on the Faith in the West, and the Moselm Crusade in the East, we would potentially be left with a church grid-locked in parliamentary style debates, while the proverbial seas engulfed the church within and without.

    To conclude, I pray no such things never come to pass.

  31. marcelus says:

    Lori says:

    “I think it is that “Vatican insider” who is out of his depth with his stereotyped views. So it’s only “left-wing” priests and religious who minister in the poor Third-World slums? Let’s all reflect on how “left-wing” Mother Teresa was! I think you would find many priests and religious of the same type in Latin America.” Kudos to you.

    Im in Argentina and everytime I read things like this I’m sorry to say it is upseting !
    That’s what I was pointing out before considering the poor knowledge of some journalists when it comes to these ends of the world, of places and life they’ve had to lookup in a rush in order to write things like this. I supponse the author does not speak spanish (or not like me) so likewise we may say, he is not familiar with the Latinsphere?? whatever that is. That is a poor guess.

    The Church preaching only thru priests in slums in LatinAmerica??? we should pitch in and buy him a ticket and have him see for himself.

    On the EG capitalism ‘criticism’.Advanced countries have not ‘suffered’ the ugly side of capitalism, it has one , as have some countries in the 3rd world. And the world does not end in the northern hemisphere, SO he speaks to the whole world

    In any case, EG on capitalism is not that different to what BEnedict and ST.JP2 have already said:


    “Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and this ideological promise has proven false.
    Capitalism left a distance between rich and poor and is “giving rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity.”


    “There are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied. Ther is a radical capitalistic ideology that lacks an “ethical and religious” core.”

  32. vetusta ecclesia says:

    The Church of England should be a warning from history of what happens when a local church is deprived of the steadying guidance of Rome.

  33. robtbrown says:


    I said that the Sec of State had too much power–and that control of the finances was one factor. Was it necessary to write ONE FACTOR?

    And your idea of how to reform an organization suggests you are without organizational experience or knowledge.

    1. The present structure, which is largely from Paul VI, set the Sec of State between the pope and the head of every dicastery. Everything was funneled through the Sec of State. There are various problems with such a structure:

    a. It can only work if the Sec is not only of one mind with the pope but also an extraordinarily talented manager.

    b. It limits the movement of information from the bottom up. Top Down management is the reason why GM went from the biggest corporation in the world to an also ran. It also was the reason why Robert McNamara and Ronald Dumsfeld made such messes in Viet Nam and Iraq.

    c. It isolates the pope (cf. Francis not in the Papal Apartments), which consequently isolates the dicasteries from the pope, making them too independent and unresponsive to what the pope wants. Two examples of the situation: Altar Girls and BXVI’s dead on arrival plan to reform the liturgy.

    2. The Paul VI structure was modified a bit by JPII, whose re org gave Cardinal Ratzinger direct access.

    3. IMHO, the present situation seems a battle between the Curia and the Episcopal Conferences over who gets to usurp papal authority.

    From your comments I would guess that you are either an attorney or a professor (but not in theology, philosophy, or canon law).

  34. Pingback: Spectator Analysis of the Pontificate of Pope Francis : Oriens

  35. Urs says:

    @ Faith This is the USA and no, Spanish is not good enough here. English is spoken in the USA. (Sorry, I reacted politically cuz I smelled politics) However, the pope can speak any language he chooses. I just hope that translators are vetted a little better than we have encountered thusfar. And from your comments, Fr Z, “Rodriguez, who in 2002 suggested that America’s Jewish-controlled media was playing up the paedophile scandals to punish the Catholic church for its support of Palestine.” This suggestion is what put the smell of politics in my nose. That is not to say that I automatically dismiss conspiracy theories or see conspiracy theorist as a derogatory name…on the contrary, I think that they speak truth quite often and to view the world as if they do not exist is be blind to reality….But I think such a suggestion is not only political and unbecoming a prince of the Church but also completely out of touch with the reality of the Church in the USA….and perhaps a bit of ‘protesting too much’.

  36. jflare says:

    “He is coming to USA and here Spanish is good enough.”

    I beg to differ.
    Not so many months ago, I chanced to turn on EWTN English-speaking stream while Bishop Vasa offered Mass for the celebration of the apparition of Our Lady at Guadalupe. Yes, I’m well aware that the event was in Mexico and may well have been in Spanish. …But he offered this Mass in Los Angeles, CA, USA, not Mexico City or Guadalupe, MX. I rarely turn off EWTN, but that time I did, because I felt VERY alienated.
    He couldn’t have said “I don’t care about non-Hispanic people” any louder if he’d tried.

    I have zero interest in listening to or watching something being done is Spanish when the event occurs in a generally English-speaking country. (Yes, I know the multiculturalist agenda wishes to turn that into a memory. Most of these seem to be ridiculously intolerant toward virtue.)

    Someone commented that Cardinal O’Malley could speak for Pope Francis if needed. I sincerely hope that Pope Francis will speak for himself, even if in somewhat halting English and off the cuff. If I’m not ecstatic about His Holiness, I’m pretty wary about His Eminence too.

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