Monday, March 11, 2013

Hopes for the Pope

Some rough thoughts about my hopes for the next pope. I may add to this.

He should, in my humble opinion:

- Start with the in-house business. Reform the ensconced, entrenched Vatican Curia. Too many Cardinals have become too comfortable for too long within the frescoed halls. This includes replacing virtually the entire Press Office with faithful, competent, and, not to be overlooked, savvy journalists.

- If he's not elected pope, choose Cardinal Raymond L. Burke for Secretary of State.

- Recognize that we are still in the throes of a decades-long liturgical crisis, and that addressing and correcting this is of paramount importance. Liturgical abuses are not inconsequential, they are dangerous, poisonous.

- Related to the above, complete the circle of Benedict XVI's liturgical reform, a great part of which consists in encouraging the usus antiquior, the extraordinary form of the Mass. Deal appropriately with bishops who have resisted this (and there are many).

- Recognize the essential role that the beauty of liturgy has within the life of the Church, the culture at large, and promote it.

- Understand that a strong Catholic identity and culture rooted, of course, in traditional liturgy, serve as the best counterpunch to an aggressively secular and hostile society. As my friend Joseph said several posts down, "Time to stop being afraid of being different. Or, better yet, time to develop an alternative culture so strong that the fear of being different would never enter people's minds in the first place. Gotta be different when being the same is being pathetic."

- Understand the richness of Catholic art in its various forms, and the essential role it has in evangelization. In a grotesque, dark culture, it has never been more true that "Beauty will save the world." This is one of the Church's most sacred responsibilities.

- Recognize that many in the College of Bishops, sadly, will not share these priorities, and even resist change. However, the new pope must flex some 'Tu es Petrus' muscle to ensure that his agenda is faithfully implemented, regardless of the ambivalence (or hostility) of other bishops.

- Task a trusted Cardinal in the tradition of Benedict XVI (Cardinals Burke or Ranjith for example) to scour dioceses around the globe for rock-ribbed, orthodox priests and promote them to the rank of bishop ASAP. This will have immediate, positive ripple effects on seminaries, seminarians, newly ordained priests, parish life, etc.

- Encourage bishops, especially in the United States, to re-evaluate the need for elaborate, byzantine middle managements within their dioceses. At least in the U.S., the "middle management problem" is huge. These diocesan offices are staffed with people who are either poorly catechized, or simply reject the Church's teaching whole hog on core issues. They undermine the bishops right under their noses.

- Address in concrete ways the disasters that have befallen institutions of Catholic education, a monumental but essential task. Look at the success stories in the United States (Aquinas, Christendom, Magdalen, Wyoming Catholic College, etc. These are growing for a reason, after all.) and encourage others to follow their example.

- Follow-up to the previous: Deal with the Jesuits

- Deal decisively with scandalous politicians and public figures who tout their Catholicism and yet defy the teachings of the Church on the sanctity of life and marriage. 

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