Saturday, January 26, 2008


The pope asked the current GC for loyalty to dogma and obedience to himself.

What he got was the declaration of a troubled marriage. According to a CWN story:

the new superior general of the Society of Jesus said that the Jesuits remain loyal to the Pope. "If there are problems" in the relationship, he said, "it is precisely because we are so close."

So, the battle is engaged. The basic issue is, What is the source of church authority?

The Pope holds firm to the Great Chain of Being, in which he, the pope, and other worldly monarchs are answerable only to God Himself. Think “pecking order.”

As we have seen, much of the world has progressed beyond the belief that God chooses our monarchs for us. [This is meant as sarcastic understatement.] Many of us, too, have grown tired of the pecking, regardless of order.

The RCC clings to it. The nuns taught me that the Pope, any pope, is “Christ’s Vicar on Earth.”

Nicolas’ marriage model is way different. Marriages are dynamic. Powers shift, and are shared. Neither partner has dispositive authority.

Fr Nicolas seems to offer an assurance, but really just gives the coordinates of the battleground:

But as in a marriage, he added, the Jesuits and the Pope are wholly dedicated to the same goal: the welfare of the Church.

Sounds good. But Nicolas and Ratzinger have radically different definitions of the word “Church.” Nicolas thinks it’s a voluntary relationship among equals, Ratzinger thinks it’s still a shepherd and sheep thing.

My favorite quote from the story:

Before serving in Asia, [Nicolas] said, he had firm and unyielding views about what constitutes proper religious faith and practice. In Japan, he reported, such attitudes are seen as intolerant

It looks like a donnybrook. Reportedly vocations are up in East and Southeast Asia (Nicolas’ turf) and way down in Europe (Ratzinger’s).

I think the mere fact that Nicolas was elected, and that Benedict had to accept him, tends to support Nicolas’ point of view.

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