Joanna Moorhead, in the Guarddian, UK, Thursday 26 January 2017
His disregard for the rulebook has transformed the institution he leads.But Francis’s opponents won’t do down without a fight
Matthew Festing in his bright red, gold-tasselled suit, on the left looks solemn and majestic and proclaims the “the gospel of prosperity”, the other on the right in just plain white simplicity seems to be telling what Peter told the lame beggar at the temple gate: “I have neither gold nor silver but I give what I have, get up and walk in His name!”
The first represents the old guard, the never changing church Ottaviani’s motto says: “semper idem”(always the same) which got blown off by the tsunami called Vatican II. The second on the right represents the commoner, the hoi-polloi who calls himself a “sinner” like the rest of us and begs: “pray for us sinners,” to all and sundry. He started out his papacy with that humble request for peoples’ prayer on his first appearance at the balcony after the papal election. He makes himself dependable on peoples’ prayer, he does not make people dependable on his blessings. How many of your bishops ask you to pray for them when they speak to the public?
People get married, divorced, remarried as a matter of normal course, because it is not good for man/woman to be alone and Catholics are like all other peoples. So what is wrong? The era of legalism is over. It is passé! Now the people of God is not to be led by the nose as in the desert in the Old Testament with dos and don’ts. Now you have to be led more by your own commanding, counseling conscience, your internal light and light from better informed.
Almost half of the Catholic marriages, Francis had observed earlier may not have been even valid, due to their young age, physical, social,emotional compulsions, lack of proper understanding of all the implications of a partnership for a whole life time. That is why today there is the practice of one or two years of cohabitation before one decides to enter into a real life long marriage.
If many marriages are broken today, it is because they were no proper marriages at all in the first place. Such is the thinking today among youngsters and elders. So old guards like Raymond should be extremely slow to sit in judgment on broken or remarriages. These are all very doubtful moral issues. And the principle is (In dubio libertas) one is free to choose what is advantageous when confronted with marriages that don’t work, no matter what you do, and how much you try.
In this report Cardinal Raymond is referred to as “incandescent Burke”. Why? Because he is humorously called “Christmas Tree” because of his known weakness to “decorate himself in princely regalia” glittering all the time like a lighted Christmas tree. Such bishops and cardinals, Francis literally ridiculed in another place calling them “peacocking bishops.” We can say almost all Indian bishops are “peacocking” type and therefore most unworthy to be bishops. Why?
The tragedy or comedy is this: they dress up in precious princely shining attire to appear heavenly to dupe the public and yet they are not ashamed to demand from ordinary people to consider them as humble followers of the “poor Carpenter of Nazareth” walking dusty roads, half naked, wearing a crown of thrones and carrying a heavy cross to be crucified. Do they consider ordinary folks to be such idots or are they?. They may not just tell them that in their face.
This hypocritical lifestyle of prelates must go first, if this so called “hierarchical Bafoons and clowns” are to regain bit of their credibility as spiritual leaders before ordinary people. In one sentence, let them imitate the dress code of our “Naked Fakir” Gandhiji. In him you have an ideal of one who imitates Jesus. In his day even the Pope refused him audience, but not the British Crown. Think of the way Gandhiji could have been received by St.Peter at heaven’s gateway. Perhaphs Cardinal Burk and his Ilk would say: “Peter could not have entertained Gandhiji, since he was not baptized!”
Today’s man has no such dreams about a heaven, hell, salvation, afterlife, all manipulated by a God whom some wise crack has manufactured. Because his scientific search proves just the opposite. “In the last 100 years science has looked at the cosmos and found no god; it has looked back to the beginning of time and found no god; it has looked into the building blocks of matter and found no god; and it has looked into the formation of life and found no god. It is almost as though there is no god,” for him.
So why worry about the non-existent? Francis is worried and concerned about the existent, the present generation on the margins of society driven from pillar to post by plundering factions, terrorists on the attack, bombardments and therefore always hungry and homeless on the run, looking for ways to survive. The gospel of prosperity of Cardinal Burke and Malta Knights Chief Festing and the world of Francis are as poles apart as Lazarus and Dives in the Gospel story. They can never meet. james kottoor, editor)
“Pope in condom row”, say the headlines. In fact, this row has nothing much to do with condoms. The prophylaxes in question, which might or might not have been distributed by an outreach project run under the auspices of an ancient Catholic order, are merely the trigger for a dispute that is more important even than the rights and wrongs of contraception, an issue the Catholic church has struggled badly with for over a half a century.
The real issue in the row that resulted in the sacking of the British head of the Knights of Malta is the most important question of all in the Catholic church: what is the right way to represent Christ’s teaching in the world of today?
In one corner, we have Matthew Festing, a 67-year-old former auctioneer, in his bright red, gold-tasselled suit. He represents the old-style Catholic church, the church in which rules were made at the top and adhered to by those at the bottom. The church he loved, and would love to be part of still, was the church of the 1950s, the last hurrah of the institution that got blown away by Vatican II and the liberalism of the 1960s. As far as he is concerned, the Catholic church is an unchanging institution whose members, once married, remain married until death and who, if they want to limit their families, must do so using only natural methods of contraception.