Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kass says it best.

March 14, 2013
Jorge Bergoglio, the son of Italian immigrants born in Buenos Aires, doesn't fit the image of a high and mighty churchman in charge of an empire of more than 1 billion people.
He's a humble man and, at 76, not young. Until quite recently, he rode the bus to work and lived in a small apartment. He cooked his own meals.
After the white smoke poured from the Vatican on Wednesday, and Cardinal Bergoglio took the name Pope Francis, he asked the people to pray for him.
  • John Kass
  • John Kass
By taking the name Francis — one of Roman Catholicism's most humble and beloved saints — the new pope announced changes coming to Western Christianity's largest church, a church in crisis.
The cardinals, in putting their trust in Francis, were directly responding to the challenge laid out by the former Pope Benedict XVI.
Before he stepped down, Benedict repeatedly warned that the church was in crisis, among the hierarchs and the laity. The example on most people's minds, regardless of their faith, is the hypocrisy among the church leaders who moved sexually abusive priests from parish to parish to cover up their crimes and allow them to continue ruining the lives of children.
Benedict also warned that such hypocrisy had accelerated a drifting faith among the people (and this applies to all Christians), where some attend services and see not a holy miracle but a pageant.
This is endemic, particularly in the stridently secular big-government West that regards Christianity as a competitor, an obstacle to overcome, if not an outright threat to squash.
Shortly after Francis was chosen, I phoned two experts to explore Benedict's warning in the context of the church's new leadership.
The first was Larry Chapp, professor of theology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania.
"Benedict made it very, very clear," Chapp told me, "that the crisis in the church, from the sexual abuse crisis, to the mismanagement of the Curia, to the crisis in the Vatican, to the crisis of secularism in Western society, all of these crises have one root cause:
"The leadership of the church lacks proper faith in Jesus Christ. They're not living in a sense an evangelical life of poverty, chastity and obedience. They're not living a radical life of devotion to the poor and the outcast and the marginal. They're too concerned with worldly things. Now they've picked the man Francis who in a sense will reorient the church toward fundamental things of faith. I think this is critical. Yes, the cardinals responded to the challenge."
Prior to the selection, there was much talk that the cardinals would chose either an evangelist or a bureaucrat.
"Instead, they elected a man of faith," Chapp said. "They went and found the holiest man in the College of Cardinals and made him pope. It wasn't what people were expecting. But they saw his holiness and faith as priority No. 1. And that's astounding."
Rod Dreher, a former Roman Catholic turned Orthodox Christian who writes on religion and culture for The American Conservative, said Francis should do something dramatic to address the sexual abuse and other scandals.
"He can have a come-to-Jesus moment with some of these cardinals and bishops who have been the most egregious facilitators of abuse, covering it up.
"If the pope could make an example of a few of those guys and forcibly retire them, send them to a monastery," said Dreher, "this would send the message to the people and the wider world that the days of covering these things up are over."
It would allow the new pope to publicly and forcefully come down on the side of the faithful.
"To stand with the people against the aristocratic class, so to speak, within the church … to show there's a new regime in town and that the bad old days are over," Dreher said. "We need a clean break with the cover-ups."
As the scandals and the cover-ups have cost Catholic leaders the moral authority required to act as good shepherds, the onslaught of a strident secularism, particularly in the West, has weakened Christianity generally.


  1. Anonymous3/15/2013

    Well put. We Catholics need to take a look in the mirror. We need to pick up the ball not let the federal government dictate to us. We need to care for the people in our community. Not the free loaders.... Have we forgotten that the church is there for the community not the other way around. As a Catholic we have all had examples of a religious leader in our past to emulate ,nun or priest. Step up or shut up...