More on that “Rescript” concerning the “resignation” of office holders

Marco Tosatti has won from me the adjective “intrepid” which I have stripped from Tornielli (what’s up with him, anyway?).  He has piece about the recent odd Rescript “edict” about bishops and cardinals and other office holders resigning or being dismissed from their offices. HERE

Tosatti muses that perhaps the new norms are aimed in part at Benedict XVI’s former Secretary of State and present Camerlengo, Card. Bertone, who turns 80 on 2 December.  Could be.

He also points out a change in language.  Bishops and cardinals are now “bound” (tenuti) rather than merely “invited” (invitati) to turn in their resignations at 75.  The Pope is still the one who decides to accept them or not, so nothing changes there.  But there is greater pressure now to turn in the resignation.  Are there some who don’t?

Tosatti also gives a short list of prelates who are over 75 but still functioning, which leads me to wonder what the landscape would look like were they out of the picture.

  • Card Amato: 76, Saints
  • Card. Vegliò: 77, Migrants
  • Card. Grocholewsi: 75, Education – perhaps to be replaced by the Pope’s friend Archbp. Fernandez from Argentina
  • Card. Caffara: 76, Bologna – who contributed to the “Five Cardinals Book”
  • Card. Romeo: 76, Palermo
  • Card. Lehmann: 78, Mainz – Prefect of CDF Card. Müller is from Mainz, though I am told that his position seems to be secure
  • Card. Acerbi: 75, Knights of Malta – usually they end office at death, but Pope Francis told Card. Burke that that’s where he wants to put him
  • Card. Sodano: 87, Dean – enough said

Clearing out the Curia’s old guard and replacing them with men who are more clearly onside, would also have an impact on the next Synod of Bishops in 2015.  Dicastery heads, such as Card. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, participate in the Synod ex officio.

Anyway… just FYI.

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  1. Bobby says:

    I may have been a little vague (not intentionally dishonest) in my previous comment on this blog about my my interest in Catholicism. I had once started taking instruction as a Catholic and had made a concerted effort to study the faith towards which I felt I had been drawn. What put me off was a sister who seemed put out at some of my questions regarding my pre-reception formation. I had read some de Lubac where he’d expresed concern about what followed Vat:II and she’d complained to the parish priest. I was asked to either follow the program or maybe think about what I was actually looking for. I had thought about moving to another parish but then Benedict resigned and Francis gave me the willies. Now I feel that I was right to put it off. My question is this: in light of this posting (though of course not only this posting) am I right in assuming that Catholicism is not moved so much by the Holy Spirit but rather by the spirit of the age. What it looks like to an educated (at least I like to think so) observer is that the wishy washy-ness of Anglicanism is now endemic in Christianity as a whole. The pope has the power not to appoint men who support the faith, but who support his interpretation of the faith. Cathiolicism is thus nothing more than the universal expression of the faith or the ruling elite within the Vatican and the pontiff in particular. It seems that what matters most is not that I ascent to the Catholic faith but that I ascent to the ruling pontiff’s understanding of what the Catholic faith really is. And according to Francis I don’t need to become a Catholic anyway.

    I give you my word as a Christian, Catholicism has ceased to be the rock I though it was, but has become as much a bed of shifting sand as any other church (N.B. not Church).

    Here’s the crux of my confusion. If Jesus called himself the Church to Paul on the road to Damascus and Francis says we don’t need to join the Church what was Jesus talking about either Jesus was wrong, Paul made up his story or Francis is wrong? Which is it? For an “interested in catholicism” individual these are confusing times!

  2. Siculum says:

    “Clearing out the Curia’s old guard and replacing them with men who are more clearly onside, would also have an impact on the next Synod of Bishops in 2015. ” YES. Precisely.

    You said, “Bishops and cardinals are now “bound” (tenuti) rather than merely “invited” (invitati) to turn in their resignations at 75. ”

    I had understood that, at least, bishops were encouraged and/or supposed to ask for resignation at 75. So now that push is stronger. Fine. But I thought that it was merely suggested cardinals retire at 80 since they are no longer eligible to vote in the conclave.

    If the retirement age for cardinals became 75, and those retirements were realized by perhaps age 77 (on average), then wouldn’t we have more retired, no-longer-functioning cardinals who are still under age 80 and therefore permitted to vote in conclaves? But then… that would mean a possibility of a cardinal literally coming out of retirement to become pope, right? So….. I ponder:

    Pushing a mandatory retirement on cardinals at the lower age of 75 might signal a future change in the conclave eligibility age threshold as well, no?

  3. Allan S. says:

    Bobby, like you I converted because I was seeking truth. It just happened to be Catholic.

    With Francis now promulgating positions which I believe to be false (there is no reason to become Catholic, etc.), the question becomes again “well, where is the truth?”

    If Francis is right, then Catholicism is false. Yet, we know from faith and Our Lord that His Church is real and present. So…if not here, then where? Those will greater confidence and faith seem certain that all this apparent foreplay will not develop into actual rape of the Bride of Christ – that the Holy Spirit will ultimately prevent it. But my faith is weak, and I don’t believe this will end well. We are all going to receive the ‘fruits of the abdication’ good and hard.

    God, however, writes straight with crooked lines. I have no idea how all this will end up, but it could very well be with the Church not being what we all thought it was. God usually picks outcasts and other cast offs to be His vehicles. For all I know those nutty ‘peripheral’ sedevacanist groups might have been right all along. Or, Francis will pull a Paul VI and drop his own Humanae Vitae and frag his BFFs. I really admire those good and faithful clerics who have contorted themselves into “reading Francis through Benedict”, but as their faithful stalwarts and friends fall left and right from friendly fire, even this fiction cannot be sustained without absolute cognitive dissonance.

    My weak faith tells me there is a Church, and it will never be defeated. But at this point I can’t tell you it’s the same one the Bishop of Rome thinks it is.

  4. LeeF says:

    Well one first notes that the Holy Father himself is now 77. What is his reasoning for his office being an exception if he boots curial cardinals over 75?

    Secondly it seems that one of the things that led many cardinals to vote for BXVII in the conclave was his masterful performance of his duties in leading JPII’s funeral service and related meetings. Perhaps Francis would prefer his own type of men be the ones seen performing any such services after his own death or resignation and thus possibly vaulted to the top of the list of papabili.

    Nonetheless, there are valid reasons to have retirement ages. For many as they get older their abilities decline and staff takes on an even more important, and perhaps negative, role. The best way to guard against over-reaching staff, besides the obvious on of rotating them as well, is to try to insure the primaries are in the best shape possible to perform their duties.

    Some bishops in the US lowered the max age that a priest could be a pastor to 70 from 75 with the intent to clear the way for younger, more liberal, pastors. But what goes around comes around and when those younger guys get old they are often these days replaced with younger conservative pastors.

  5. Toan says:

    Bobby, i encourage you to keep up with reading good Catholic literature and prayer life. Give Hesus your struggle and ask Him to show you what you, as someone who loves Him, stand to gain from the unsettling direction Church politics seems to be taking. I have no doubt if you ask and listen, He will show you sooner or later, and you will understand.

    The assent to the Catholic faith in its rich 2000 year history is far more important than assent to the “ruling class”. Think about what the Church teaches about infallibility. It is not the inability to sin or to make poor appointments (or dismissals) of bishops, or the ability to set up laws that are surely bound to uphold doctrines taught, or the ability to make appropriate liturgical decisions, but rather that ex cathedra teaching by the Pope to all the faithful on matters of faith and morals shall not err. While Church politics seem to be going in a poor direction, doctrines have not been changed. Heck, even if the “penitential path” nonsense is accepted as practice, the doctrine of indissolubolity of marriage would still remain…the problem would be that the discipline of the Church would sit at odds with doctrine, and so people would get even more confused than they have been.

    Faith in the Church is founded upon faith in God, not in the Church’s servants administrative or disciplinary choices. How many saints were treated terribly by the Church’s leadership–exiled, excommunicated, burnt like St Joan of Arc? And yet they remained faithful, even to the Church, because their trust was in God and not in man. He gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom, after all, and breathed on the apostles to give them the ability to forgive our sins. Unlike the Anglicans, we still have those keys in our Church, and we have the promise that the gates of hell will not prevail–we will win in the end and overcome the enemy. The Church has lived through much worse than Pope Francis.

    While Pope Francis perhaps emphasizes that people outside the visible boundaries of the Church may be saved, such a teaching is in line with what our last popes have taught. All Pope Francis is doing most of the time with his controversial statements is putting them in punchy, modern, and unspecific, and/or hyperbolic language. I don’t like his hyperbole, but then again, I’ve been annoyed at Jesus’ hyperbole as well. In any case, Pope Francis uses hyperbole and the media exaggerates his hyperbole after taking it out of context, and we all end up thinking Pope Francis said being Catholic is an impediment to salvation at best and that only active homosexuals will be saved. Truth is, while it is not absolutely necessary to be within the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church to be saved, it is much better to be within those boundaries because confession (which Pope Francis frequently encourages, unlike liberal bishops and priests in general), the sacrifice of the Mass, the deposit of faith, the merits of past saints, real priests, and many other priceless gifts and graces would be lost. Chances of going to hell are far greater without the benefits that only the Catholic Church provides. Read what Pope Francis actually says and you’ll get a feel that he believes it is imperative to bring as many people to the Catholic Church as possible, though his recommended strategy may not be as straightforward as we’d like.

    As for apparent stacking of the deck for the next synod and the political train wreck of the first one, will need to wait, pray, and see what happens. Doctrine will not change, though media outlets will surely have us believe otherwise. And who knows, maybe the synod will recommend against the indissolubility of marriage, and Pope Francis will ignore their recommendation.

  6. Toan says:

    Hah, sorry Jesus, I didn’t intend to call You Hesus, but I can’t edit my post.

  7. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Yes, re rogantur vs tenuti, I made the same modification in my comments. One thing still gets me, though, and that is, as the Roman Curia is so obviously a papal-appointment, purely ecclesiastical-law office, why bother with demanding resignations at age 75 at all? Why not simply say, they retire at 75, or at most, they hold office ad papae nutum? Why “require” something another has no right to withhold?

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “My question is this: in light of this posting (though of course not only this posting) am I right in assuming that Catholicism is not moved so much by the Holy Spirit but rather by the spirit of the age.”

    No. One has to make a distinction between the incorruptible and pure Church and its weak and corruptible members. Only when the Pope acts as the universal representative of the Church, in speaking ex cathedra is he guaranteed to be infallible, but at that exact moment, he is infallible, unlike anyone else on the planet. No one, no other Office has that safeguard. At other times, the Pope is subject to the same limitations as the rest of us. If he is a saint (and, sometimes, even not then), he may demonstrate special wisdom apart from infallibility, but one cannot always assume this. This is why it is so important to pray for the pope. He should be the most prayed for man on the planet because his judgment affects so many.

    The Church is the body of Christ and, like Christ, it is incarnated of both a divine and human nature. Unlike Jesus and Mary, however, the human natures within the Church are weakened by the effects of original sin. This is why Scripture talks about the Church coming to form Christ in his maturity (Eph 4:1 – 16):

    “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
    There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.
    But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
    And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.
    Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.”

    The Church is very much eternal and perfect, but also temporal and a work-in-progress. We are, after all, the only Church (let’s not get technical about the Eastern Orthodox), who hold that there is a Church Suffering and a Church Triumphant, both outside of our perception of time, but also a poor, feeble Church Militant, whose members, sometimes, trudge in very uncomfortable marching boots.

    The Chicken

  9. William Tighe says:

    “My weak faith tells me there is a Church, and it will never be defeated. But at this point I can’t tell you it’s the same one the Bishop of Rome thinks it is.”

    Unless one wishes to embrace Protestant revisionism, meaning subjective “Solascripturalism” and the postulate of an “invisible church” (or the derived notion of a visible but divisible church) then there are only three choices to choose from: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy (the “non-Chalcedonian” churches).

  10. Pat says:

    Padre, about Tornielli: he is probably part of the inner circle of Francis…..unconditional supporter!

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