Francis, Cardinals and the Peripheries

I have occasionally written about the significance of “peripheries” for Pope Francis.  Today Andrea Gagliarducci drills into the topic, in view of the upcoming consistory and the nomination of new cardinals.

A taste:

Since becoming pope, Francis has asked the Church repeatedly to reach outward toward the peripheries, and he immediately began to show his preference for them. His first papal trip was to the Italian island of Lampedusa, a periphery of the Mediterranean and an asylum for refugees. His first European trip outside Italy was to Albania, a country that is still not a member of the European Union. And the big reform of the Church seems to be oriented to giving more weight and power to the peripheries of the Church. But which are the peripheries that Pope Francis prefers? To which peripheries does the Pope want to give the keys of the Church?

This question occurs as Pope Francis is leaving on his trip to Asia (another periphery), because his plan for the Church may be better understood by understanding which are his preferred peripheries.

Pope Francis’ choices of new Cardinals for the next Consistory have surprised many. In general, he respected some non-written rules for the creation of new Cardinals; yet he interpreted these rules his own way, mixing up the cards as he usually does. In the end, his picks not only tilted the balance of influence in the College toward the Church’s peripheries, more importantly, they showed that some peripheries are more significant than others.


I am not sure about his final conclusion (read it for yourselves over there), but Gagliarducci is thought provoking.

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  1. PA mom says:

    It is interesting. 100 years ago, only priests from Italy could have any designs on the papacy. Now, rather than just realizing that talent can come from anywhere in the world, so can ambition.

    Disappointing that our own priests cannot find the beauty in the Church’s teachings that so many average Catholics can. I guess it is a good thing the Protestants were allowed to occur. They will be saving souls that the Catholic Church is essentially discouraging into abandonment.

  2. Traductora says:

    I don’t know when “pastoral” became a synonym for “progressive popularist,” but that seems to be its application now. And, with a couple of exceptions, as the author pointed out, all of the new cardinals certainly meet that definition. I think his overall analysis is correct, although I’m not sure the Pope is that ignorant of the ultimate objective as the author believes him to be.

    The Pope is not only naming bishops and cardinals who wish to distance themselves from Rome, but he’s doing a fair amount of distancing himself. Today in Sri Lanka he started off with an address that would be worthy of the head of any secular NGO, toured the crowds – and then cancelled his meeting with the country’s bishops. I don’t know if he’s rescheduled or if there just won’t be enough time for them.

  3. John of Chicago says:

    Mr. Gagliarducci does not mention the three Cardinal-appointees that I think most intriguing of all–the bishops (not archbishops) of David, Panama; Santiago, Cape Verde Islands; and Tonga. Just try to locate those three on a map. For example, Tonga has a Catholic population listed at just over 13,000 and its Bishop, Soane Mafi, will be eligible to vote in consistories until sometime in the 2040s. Now that’s giving the peripheries a voice.

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    I believe Andrea is correct. To further expand, what we are witnessing is the quiet and orderly dismantling of the Catholic Church. In the future, we can look to churches which generate their own local Catechisms, and as we have witnessed, local Bishops who will change and mold doctrine to mean whatever they wish it to mean. We will see wide variance from the Tradition of the Church, and sacrilege and offenses piled upon offenses. The Pope will be a figurehead. The ultimate goal is a church that goes along and gets along with world. Even within diocese, we see wide differences between parishes. The insurgents are oh so close to accomplishing this goal, and it keeps me up at night. Much prayer and fasting is needed.

  5. aruder says:

    I agree with Sonshine135 and PA Mom. I am afraid that the Church is inexorably and ultimately moving toward a state where the only authority is majority public opinion. The Church, dominated by the leadership of a secular public who neither knows nor cares about the sacred or the soul, will abandon the sacred and the goal of the spiritual salvation of souls. The only ends of the Church will be the fad of the day. It is depressing to have to wonder and fear where the faithful will turn for true spiritual growth and renewal.

  6. Eugene says:

    @Sonshine135 …sadly I could not have said better myself…Maranatha Lord Jesus

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    Sadly, I agree with the analysis of all here. I believe we are seeing the dismantling of the church as we have known it.
    If the Catholic faith folds and gives in to the secular world, becoming indistinguishable, as far as I know only the American Southern Baptists are left as far as resistance to the progressive mindset in teaching and practice.
    There is too much going on in the world for this to be coincidental. In our state (CT) we have had 9 earthquakes since last Thursday. We almost never have earthquakes. It is not hysteria to read the signs of the times. Scripture and Our Lady have told us what to expect if the world continues on in defiance to God.
    I will try to pray more, go to Mass, and make a good confession regularly. We need God’s help. Only He can do anything about these movements, although at some point we will likely have a part to play.

  8. Eugene says:

    @Kathleen10 says:
    ” It is not hysteria to read the signs of the times. Scripture and Our Lady have told us what to expect if the world continues on in defiance to God.” …sadly most priests and Bishops do not believe or teach this…its business as usual…go along to get along…God have mercy on us

  9. Indulgentiam says:

    It is hard not to become discouraged by this stuff. But let us not forget that the Church has stood through bloody persecutions, bad Popes, judas priests & religious, heresies of every stripe for two thousand years and counting. The Church is not the sum total of its merely human inhabitants. Let us not be so quick to write off The Holy Spirit. I’m just going to keep appealing to HIS spouse. HE never says no to Her.
    Queen of the Most Holy Rosary pray for us.

  10. TWF says:

    For those who fear widespread heretical local catechisms if the Church is, in an administrative sense, decentralized, keep in mind that the Church was very decentralized (in any practical administrative sense) for well over half of her history…yet orthodoxy prevailed. Our faith teaches us that while individual bishops can and do fall into heresy, the ordinary magisterium (the collective teaching of the bishops around the world united to the Pope) will ultimately not fail. Even if the Roman Curia is dismantled and administrative authority increasingly ceded to local bishops’ conferences, the Holy Spirit will ultimately guide the Church back to orthodoxy as He has time and again. I also believe that younger priests are, by and large, far more orthodox than those of recent previous generations, and this will lead to a generally more orthodox college of bishops in the years to come. Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy have no central administrative structures, yet the vast majority of their bishops remain steadfast devoted to solid liturgy and orthodox teaching (with the exception of those few areas where they diverge from Catholic teaching).

  11. Traductora says:

    The only good thing about all of this is that it is making us really examine things we had always taken for granted – and that people are realizing that the Faith is not something to be left to the hierarchy and something that is not our responsibility. And by “our,” I mean the lower levels, so to speak: the clergy on the ground, average religious and laypeople.

    Laypeople particularly have to learn about the Church, learn its history (since many younger Catholics are poorly instructed) and also read up on the Saints! Many of them faced horrible situations where the Pope, if not a heretic, was certainly on the shaky side and the princes of the Church were busy bickering and the theologians had gone haywire. So the Church will survive, which we know because we have the Lord’s promise, but it’s not necessarily going to be easy and help or leadership may not come from where we’d expect.

    That said, the more I have thought about it today, the more I am concerned by this “local Church” nonsense. Don’t forget that the “pastoral provision” in the US was one of the things that enabled a generation of bad bishops to flout Rome’s authority and do whatever they wanted to the liturgy and law. While the documents of Vatican II were in many cases weak or questionable, it was really the local permissions that enabled the destruction.

    And people holding up the Orthodox autocephalous (“self-headed”) churches as a model are sadly mistaken. Maybe their official theologians are orthodox, but at a popular level, they have no effect and no influence on the world around them. This is partly because they avoid moral theology like the plague. So they continue to do their traditional liturgy, they’re great on the Two Natures and such things, but silent on the question that Our Lord was often asked, “Master, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

  12. Dennis Martin says:

    For TWF,

    True, the Church was less centralized in earlier centuries. The world was both centralized and de-centralized. Great empires ruled by allowing local some national/ethnic autonomy to conquered but with clear lines of imperial authority. That was replaced by the decentralizing of the European nation-states from the 1300s to the 1800s. The increased centralizing of the Catholic Church under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome was a response to that new phenomenon. The alternative was the complete subservience of the Church to the temporal ruler in each nation state (state churches).

    The nation-state is vanishing in favor of globalized, homogenized, instrumentalized, a-moral absolute control over people’s lives. Is a decentralized or a centralized Church better able to cope with that reality?? That’s the question. That the Church the past was more or less centralized or decentralized is not terribly relevant.

    She has always had to fight against the effort of the powers of the age to subordinate her, to turn her into a Department of State. The quivalent today: turn her into an NGO???

    Perhaps there is a plan hidden in the Holy Father’s “move to the peripheries” by which better to oppose the coming cataclysm in which the Culture of Death turns round on the Church, having vanquished nearly all intermediate instances, cultural resevoirs of reason and virtue and reduced the humanity to a machine (all the recent chattering about how indistuinguishable we humans are from robots).

    But that snarling turning-round on the Church by the now centralized, globalized Culture of Death is what is happening. I hope that someone, somewhere has a plan to fight it. Who that someone is, I don’t know. The Bishop of Rome would be a good choice for someone with a plan. And perhaps a Cardinal from Tonga fits into the plan.

    Or perhaps not.

  13. LarryW2LJ says:

    I agree with Indulgentiam. It is always darkest before the dawn. Our Lord and Savior Himself promised that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. Of course that does not mean that difficult days and perhaps difficult choices will not come before us. But I for one, will keep my eyes focused like a laser on Jesus, and will follow HIM wherever I have to.

    Much prayer, fasting and almsgiving, adoration, confession and worthy reception of the Eucharist is needed, my friends.

  14. chantgirl says:

    The Church is facing the spiritual equivalent of the Vikings- looting the traditional treasures of the Church and violating the inner structures of the family. A decentralized Church may only enable individual localities to be picked off more easily. A united front is needed to combat the culture of death, the breakdown of the family, and the centralization of world government. Individual Bishops’ Conferences don’t have much of a chance to stand up to the UN, to planned parenthood, to the EU and the US federal government ( which is gaining the weaponry and surveillance ability that the Gestapo could have only dreamed about). The only advantage I could see to a decentralized Church would be to weather an inept or corrupt papacy/curia, but it would only save parts of the Church and provide no protection for the secular machine that has the Church in its’ gun sights.

  15. chantgirl says:

    Sorry for the typo- that should read “protection from the secular machine”.

    Dennis Martin- you must have been reading my mind while I was posting, lol. My thoughts exactly.

  16. Marc M says:

    What a bunch of negativity!! Isn’t despair a sin?! Do you guys really think Christ will desert His bride? St. Jerome noted in his day that the whole world woke up with surprise to find itself Arian. Read some Athanasius and Basil. Bishops denying Christ’s divinity! Look at the Borgias and Medicis! The Church has been through worse than a few liberal Cardinals. Pray and stand firm and never lose hope!

  17. chantgirl says:

    Marc M- Yes, the Church will survive, but there is no guarantee that all of the souls She is trying to save will survive. We can take hope in the promise of Christ about the gates of Hell not overcoming the Church while still being soberly realistic about the individual casualties along the way.

  18. marcelus says:

    Ohhh the fallen vaticanisti again. There was a piece days ago in Latin America dealing with the attacks PF is subjected to by this Journalist who are used to get theid iinfo first hand from Italians who find themselves displaced a bit?

    It is clear the European Church is getting less & less influential and we still have a looong time to go with Francis.

    Good for him

  19. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    The Holy Father should, in my opinion, visit the Pontifical College Josephinum during his travels in the U.S. It’s high time a Pope visited his own seminary. Rather than saying Mass in ball stadiums, and making nice-nice with other religions, the Pope ought to visit the Josephinum and encourage the future pastors of his own Household of Faith.

  20. Matt Robare says:

    I see two contradictory patterns from Francis.

    On the one hand, he has been promoting these progressivist bishops, giving signals to people like Cardinal Kasper and other “Anglicanizers” that they’re in the ascendency and the idea of doctrine, sin and the Church as anything other than Sunday morning social hour are about to be put out to pasture or even dumped into the ash heap of history along with the Curia.

    On the other hand, he has repeatedly affirmed the reality of Satan, was instrumental in fighting Liberation Theology, is closely advised by Pope Benedict and put together a decent orthodox track record in Buenos Aries by all accounts. Francis is also reputed to be far more authoritarian than any of the recent popes. And what would be the point of talking to Patriarch Bartholemew if he were going to “change” the teachings on homosexuality. That would make dialogue a waste of time.

    Let us remember, also, that Dew, Kasper and certain others rose their positions under St. John Paul II.

    What can we make of this seeming contradiction. I see three possibilities: Firstly, Francis is a dilettante in the tradition of Leo X who doesn’t understand or care what he’s doing or how people perceive his actions. I think we can confidently reject this idea.

    Secondly, Francis is some sort of Enemy agent who carefully built an ediface of orthodoxy and discipline in order to undermine the Church and confuse the faithful, indirectly leading them into error. I think this is unlikely, though not impossible, because of the complexity and risk involved.

    Thirdly, the orthodox Francis is the real one and has craftily cultivated an air of change and openess, keeping his enemies closer than his friends, with the intent of drawing them out into manifest heresy a la Mao’s Hundred Flowers Campaign. Now, maybe it’s wish-fulfillment, but I find this the most likely possibility.

  21. juergensen says:

    Would that we heard less about the peripheries, and more about the core.

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    This whole talk about, “peripheries,” is too vague. There are many different types of peripheries: moral, economic, intellectual, behavioral, just to name a few. The interaction between the various types is very complex and has played out in various ways in history. This is a multi-variable evolutionary process with many different, only partially understood inputs. In other words, I don’t like facile views of historical development that claim that starting initial positions will always produce the same outcomes like some exercise in linear physics. That Rome fell from the peripheries, inward, is not a sure sign that all similar societies will. That the Christian diaspora of the Second-Century went to the peripheries and latter re-congregated around Rome is no guarantee that the same will happen this time. Santayana was wrong about not learning from history. Sometimes, those who fail to learn from history don’t repeat it, they simply fail history in a different way. Large portions of history occur underground and apparently out of sight. What we can learn from history is only its vaporous outlines and only, rarely, its true substance. We see darkly, if we sees any true history, at all.

    It occurred to me with startling clarity, yesterday, that it is, in the final analysis, no easier to get into Heaven today than it was 1000 years ago. This is the single biggest lie being perpetuated by the progressives – that God has, somehow and for some reason known only to them, gone soft on us in our old age as a species. Adultery just isn’t what it was 1000 years ago, you know. Surely, God now has a pity on those living in sin, I mean, divorced and remarried, that would have been the envy of those a millennia ago. Christ said that God revealed things to the simple that He never could to the learned and clever. Perhaps, he has explained to the children how to live without a mother and father, but I have yet to hear of one who really wanted to try, unlike the learned and the clever of today.

    When one has diabetes and is suffering from a glut of sugar in the blood over time, what starts to go first? The peripheral nerves. Healing doesn’t start by favoring the hands and feet of the diabetic as if one could look for a cure, there. One must look to the pancreas and correct the processing of the sugar. Indeed, if the increase in technology of today is the sugar upon which we are being glutted, then treatment of the spiritual diabetes must begin by correcting our processing of the sugar. We have completely missed the point of Vatican II. It was supposed to be about refining our relationship with the modern world so that Christians could direct the moral ends of the rapid technological advancements. Instead, we got more sugar as a quick fix. Here’s the secret no one is really talking about: Vatican II was supposed to be hard to implement, not easy. That is was so fast and easy to implement shows that the insulin was mixed with a lot of snake oil.

    I’m just jawing, here, but in the end peripheries don’t matter so much in a war. Character does. The peripheries did not win WWII. It was won on the front lines by men of character. We have nuanced Christianity to the point where the Christian character no longer has much of a living definition. If the divorced and remarried think that their character is of such sterling quality that they dare approach the Holy-of-Holies, then we deserve to lose this battle (although we can never lose the war). My point is that every Cardinal, every bishop should be a living definition of the Christian character. That is what Christ intended. They do not have to be perfect, but they have to be plucky, they have to be scrappy, they have to keep the Faith and let me say, for the record, that the Faith is not a matter of peripherals.

    So, I don’t care where Pope Francis gets his cardinals. Let them come from Tunga or New Zealand or Idaho – let them come from the peripheries of the world – but for goodness sakes, do not let them come from the peripheries of character. In the end, the goal posts of the war between good and evil hasn ‘t moved in 2000 years and the question any pope has to ask when choosing his cardinals is: would you, seriously, want to fight a war with these men on the front lines? Some of these cardinals seem to be fighting a different war than the one started ages ago. They don’t seem like they are the ones fighting the Good Fight out in the peripheries to me. They seem more like the ambassadors to a Vichy France, if you know what I mean (you young people, look up the reference).

    Maybe Pope Francis is cagey in playing his hand, but being cagey takes time and there comes a point where one can be too subtle.

    Oh well, sorry to drop so many electrons on the page. Some people kept me up last night with the tv turned on full volume cheering for the college championship game (no, I don’t care who won) .

    The Chicken

  23. Clinton R. says:

    Traductora said:
    “Today in Sri Lanka he started off with an address that would be worthy of the head of any secular NGO…”

    Sadly, Nostra Aetate was quote by Pope Francis. Thanks to this document, the Church fails in her duty to preach the Gospel to all people, and make disciples of them. Instead, we are given the gooey, ‘all religions are good’ falsehood. So then, what did Christ die for? So the successor of St. Peter can go around kowtowing to false religions? Of course not! He died so all men might be brought to Him. We are in incredibly dark times and the seem to get darker by the day. Domine, miserere nobis. +JMJ+

  24. Indulgentiam says:

    All this cogitation on Pope Francis’ ulterior motives and intent is an exercise in futility. While I agree that one must be informed about what the Pope is saying as apposed to what the msm is reporting he is saying. At least for the purposes of setting the record straight. I don’t see the good of all this angst over things we have no control over. Other than praying, really, really hard for His Holiness, we can do nothing to affect his choices. At our personal judgement, we will not be accountable for any Popes actions. Only our own. We already know that things are going to get ugly. It does no good to try to guess when the ugly is going to break loose and hit the fan. Dwelling on the coming persecution only keeps us in a state of agitation and robs us of the beauty that we still have, in the here and now, to enjoy. Yes, this news is troubling. And after it has served its purpose of driving us to our knees, to greater penance etc…we should turn it loose. Because the weight of it is not ours to carry and will only serve to push us down into despair. In my final analysis thanks be to GOD and Our Lady’s constant intercession, we got Summorum Pontificum. I now know a good deal of what has been taught in the Church always and everywhere by all. I own books by the Church Fathers, know that there is a deposit of Faith and objective truth. They can’t take that away from me. Whatever else they may take I know what to choose. All that remains is the grace to choose it. To that end I like a prayer recited daily by one of the Saints, a Monk I think…can’t remember who at the moment. He would pray every morning “keep both hands on me today JESUS because if you don’t I’ll betray you worse than judas”
    My two cents probably not worth even that :)

  25. Traductora says:

    Clinton R: Many of the Vatican II documents and statements by the weak, deluded Paul VI were very bad. This was mostly because they were feeble and ambiguous in themselves, but also because because the heretical element suddenly felt empowered by the “local church” nonsense to impose its will.

    In truth, it did, and their bizarre policies were carried out through the “pastoral provision,” which gave the local bishops’ conference the power to do whatever it wanted. And unfortunately, that was when we got Paul VI’s “boy bishops,” very young appointees who rose immediately through the ranks and continued to afflict the Church for another 40+ years, until the election of BXVI. That was not because he got rid of them, but simply because a lot of them had retired, had been caught in grave moral problems, or were about to retire. And now Pope Francis has restocked the pond with a hatching of second-rate bishops from low-level places who can probably be in power for at least another 15-20 years. Not to mention the horrible cardinalates…

    But my only point is that we should not despair; it is simply that at this hour, it has fallen to us, the lowly, whether clergy or lay, to remain faithful. Ideally, with the leadership of at least some of the cardinals who wear red because they are supposed to sacrifice their lives for the Church…but if not, we all know the Faith and Our Savior and Our Lady will support us.

  26. Lorenz says:

    It should be noted that the progressive (deist/agnostic/atheist) Cardinals and the bishops who are now becoming Cardinals are all John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointees. I can recall the astonishment of many on the web with many of their elevations (Kasper in particular). It is a great mystery as to why such men who are hostile to their mission were promoted. Now they are in the position to do great damage and they have already started. Like the USA in the 70s, I greatly fear the world is in for a series of Jadot Cardinals.

  27. Rob22 says:


    Where will the faithful turn?

    If this plays out with the church changing dogma over the next decades it means the church was not what she claimed to be.

    That scenario will be reacted to differently depending on where you come from. I am a convert from evangelicalism and have already after deep prayer been confirmed in that my answer will come after the synod and the path will be cler.

    For cradle Catholics it will be tough. I reluctantly converted and almost entered Orthodoxy instead. So its not the same for me. Personally I will, if I leave, not join any formal Christian denomination but become more a “generalist” in religious matters.

    The devout will reluctantly go to Orthodoxy and Mormonism to a degree as they have a centralized structure akin to Catholicism.

    The sad thing is some may loose their Christian faith altogether.

    I agree with what someone said above that a democratic church is emerging. Informed from the ground up instead of from the top down.

  28. Dennis Martin says:


    Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Really, truly. I too am a convert. There is nowhere else to turn to, no matter how confusing things become. Tu es Petrus. There can be no Plan B.

  29. jhayes says:

    Traductira mentioned Pope Francis’ speech in Sri Lanka. Perhaps its worth reading a fuller report on what he said:

    COLOMBO, SRI LANKA Embarking on a key mission of his visit to this island nation — shoring up efforts at interreligious dialogue to heal wounds from a 26-year civil war — Pope Francis on Tuesday said such work should not blur the lines between different religious convictions.

    In an address to leaders of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and other Christian denominations, Francis said he sought to reaffirm respect for each religion’s beliefs but to ground such respect in “a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.”

    Citing from the Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate, Francis said: “For my part, I wish to reaffirm the church’s sincere respect for you, your traditions and beliefs.”

    “It is in this spirit of respect that the Catholic church desires to cooperate with you, and with all people of good will, in seeking the welfare of all Sri Lankans,” he continued.

    Then, Francis followed with: “But, as experience has shown, for such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions.”

    “Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are,” the pope said. “But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem, cooperation and, indeed, friendship.”

  30. jhayes says:

    Sorry for the typo. That should have been “Traductora”

  31. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Rob22, the faithful don’t turn anywhere, certainly not to Orthodoxy or Mormonism. The Head of the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ, not the pope, and the Church consists of all who have ever been baptized and persevered, not just those who are on earth now. So we stay where we are, teaching the Truth, if necessary calling our bishops and pastors to their duty (Canon 212, all of it), and gratefully receiving the Sacraments from any priest validly ordained by a bishop in the Apostolic Succession, even if what he says in the homily is barking mad.

    In the Arian heresy, it was the lay faithful who saved the Church, not the bishops. When the bishops fail, that is precisely when the faithful laity are needed.

    I also expect that we are in for very trying times. But can it be darker than the two nights Our Lord was in the tomb?

  32. NBW says:

    Very good article. It’s a bit depressing but I am hopeful things will change for the better.

  33. Landless Laborer says:

    Indulgentium that was gold, and with that i’m off to say a prayer and to bed.

  34. Sonshine135 says:

    There will always be a place to turn to, otherwise Jesus lied. You don’t separate yourself from Rome even if Rome leaves you behind to focus on the peripheries, but you follow the Shepherds who speak in the voice of the Good Shepherd- my bedrock, my constant in life. I have attached myself to an oasis in the desert of modern, feel-good, “c”atholicism, and I have pledged to myself to drink as much and as fully from that cup as I can while those Priests are here with me. I believe Saint Sir Thomas More is a perfect example of living this out. Ora Pro Nobis.

  35. Giuseppe says:

    The men who voted for Pope Francis were all appointed by St. John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. And I am certain Pope Benedict XVI probably had some idea who might be his likely successor.
    I honestly am not very worried about the church that survived 2000 years.
    Information overload from the inter webs causes too many false alarms.

    (Admittedly, I’m a little too mellow today as the cold medication is kicking in.)

  36. Daniel W says:

    I think all you people disappointed by the pope bypassing your favorite cardina-bile are missing the point. JPII gives his norms about the election the title “The universal flock of the Lord”. That means a key aspect he wants to ensure in the college of electors is universality. This is how he puts it: “In the present historical circumstances, the universality of the Church is sufficiently expressed by the College of one hundred and twenty electors, made up of Cardinals coming from all parts of the world and from very different cultures.”

    So a college that is too Italian, too European, too Western (remember the association for people with Italian background (eg Francis) and the term spagetti westerns – ie gun happy Americanos!) needs to be set right by building the variety of cultures, ie going to some peripheries (while still ensuring fidelity).

  37. MouseTemplar says:

    Rob22: Mormonism? For the hierarchy? I’m speechless.

    I am not going anywhere and intend to remain true to all I have been taught of my faith, no matter what sort of mess these clerics make. When I ask Our Lord about it in prayer I hear Him say “What’s that got to do with you and Me?”

  38. Daniel W says:

    Rob22: “I am a convert from evangelicalism and have already after deep prayer been confirmed in that my answer”

    I cannot understand your statement about Mormonism for the devout.

    The only logical retreat for a Christian leaving Catholicism is back to Judaism!

    If the Catholic Church is not infallible then Jesus was wrong, therefore not the Messiah, and we are back on the road to Emmaus! (The Mormons realize Christ’s Church must be infallible but believe something about that it went in hiding till it was found in the Lost tribe by their founder)

  39. stephen c says:

    To the commenter who says he is a convert from an Evangelical church – I have been told that the Catholic church, at its best, believes everything the Evangelical preachers believe, plus more (for example, Evangelicals often teach eternal security – once you accept Jesus, heaven is contractually and legally assured – Catholics teach that Jesus is so loving that you can trust him without a contract or a guarantee..,), so you can’t really “convert” from that church to Peter’s and Jesus’s church. You just kind of join the church you always belonged to. I love my Evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ, and would be happy to offer up to the Lord as much of my sufferings for them as I am able, but I worry about their unthinking respect for sinful leaders (did you know Billy Graham, whom they seem to consider almost a saint, supports abortion in many situations, and thereby has made a clear public statement that, in spite of all the beautiful Christianity he has been witness to, he refuses to fully accept Jesus, who loved all children with all his soul and all his being, into his heart?), and I worry about Evangelicals’ frequent insouciance when evildoers insult and mock and even blaspheme the church and the Mother of our Lord. Oh well, lots of Catholics, including of course me, are ridiculously sinful too, and I have to say this may not be a worse world than I deserve to live in. I hope to live in a better one soon. I wish there were never a cause to say negative things, even with affection in my heart, about my fellow believers.

  40. Imrahil says:

    James Joyce once was complimeted on becoming Protestant, by a devout Anglican woman who had heard he had left the Catholic faith.

    Quoth he: “Madam, I have lost my faith; I have not lost my reason”.

    The devout will certainly not become Mormon. Considered as religion (i. e. if we look beyond the side-issue that religions tend to make their followers adhere to common natural decency), Mormonism has but superficial similarities to the Catholic faith.

    I know what they ought (at least) to become; and I suspect it is what many of them will become: grumbling Catholics. And while a Catholic who retreats into a corner and grumbels over all the ecclesial mismanagement is not an ideal, he’s quite Catholic.

  41. jflare says:

    “I believe we are seeing the dismantling of the church as we have known it.”

    Kathleen10, et al, I wonder really how to take such a statement. It sounds dreadful, yet I’m forced to ask: How HAS the Church as I have known it been? Or put differently: How would I describe the Church as I have known it, er, Her?

    That’s a remarkably messy question!
    I must say that, in general, I have a known a Church that does not know what it really teaches, doesn’t remember that we have Catholic traditions that most Catholics have never known, a Church that has forgotten that She holds the fullness of revealed Truth. ..I have known a Church that, in more recent decades, has allowed Herself to suffer innumerable battles over the respective roles of men and women within the Church. In recent days, I’ve seen various articles howling rage about how much an idiot and a throwback Card Burke has been, mostly because he’s dared to tell the truth about the Church’s abandonment of meaningful manhood in recent decades.

    I can’t say I’m unhappy to see that change!

    On the other hand, I can’t honestly profess to have much confidence in the choices that Pope Francis has shown. In his most recent picks, I can’t help but feel that the Church will continue with what I more or less consider to be the status quo.
    At the risk of offending people, I’ll comment that I’ve long felt that the Church has all but abandoned and betrayed any non-Hispanic or male people here in America, but the Church probably won’t listen to that without leveling charges of racism or whatever.
    Women too, don’t seem to understand that many of them seem to me to have been on a warpath to alter the Church for some time.

    Ultimately, for all that I’d like to be capable of looking to episcopal leadership within the Church to offer hope, I’ve more or less given up on expecting any tremendous help from the lot of bishops. As a result, I think we’ll see little aid given by the average diocesan priest.

    On the whole, I think we’ll need to fight for our Church as Fr Z has often written.
    We most likely will need to organize the ways and means of restoring the fighting and praying zeal of our Church as laypeople, possibly even in spite of obstruction and resistance from chanceries and parish staff.

    If we want to live our lives as faith-filled Catholics, we’ll need to make the effort to do so ourselves, dragging some of the clergy along as we go perhaps.
    I simply don’t see the Church developing by any other means anytime soon.

  42. robtbrown says:

    I don’t think that the Church is being dismantled, but there are some things that are happening.

    1. It has been thought by some (incl BXVI) that the Curia has become so independent that it is not responsive to the pope. Part of the reason has been the power of the Sec of State, who not only controlled the Curia but also Vat finances.

    2. There has also been resentment from Latin Americans, who think they have had little influence on the Church despite their high Catholic population. IME, Latin Americans often feel like the Church’s step sister–lacking the rich cultural history of Europe and the political/economic power of the US.

    3. I have no doubt that there are some who want to strengthen national/regional episcopal conferences at the expense of the papacy. On the other hand, dissipating the power of the Curia might mean strengthening the papacy.

    4. The re-emergence at the Synod of False Gradualism (despite JPII and Familiaris Consortio) and/or antinomianism as well as conciliatory comments toward homosexuality by certain week kneed bishops indicate where we are. It also validates the thesis that can be drawn from various Ratzinger comments–neo con Catholicism doesn’t work.

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