Monday, November 26, 2012
A Few Observations on a speech by the Tablet's Rome Correspondent
thanks to the Bones for the video
This is a very tedious, not very intelligent or nuanced speech, by Bobby Mickens, the Tablet's Rome correspondent, to The Cleveland City Club (they are the "Under 40s Division" but that must have been many years ago, there appears to be no-one under 40 in the video, many seem to be about the Pope's age). He says nothing for the first six minutes, except to speak about his Catholic heritage.
He speaks about a Vatican or Catholic "implosion", for which he blames the Pope. His main thrust seems to be that Vatican-leaks is caused by squabbling amongst Vatican factions, he is right, the Pope seems actually at pains to allow diverse voices in the Curia.
He illustrates the "implosion" on Cleveland's own experience of closing parishes.
He speaks about the Pope speaking strongly about condemning abuse and removing clergy who abuse but not disciplining Bishops who covered up abuse. Here I agree with him. The problem is that the poor Pope would have to get rid of a large number of Bishops but I think the reason is that a Bishop once ordained is given by God to his Church, though the Pope has "ordinary authority", unless you have an Ultra-Ultramontane, he can't go firing and hiring at will. But I am convinced that most "Liberals" tend to see Pope in that light, they actually do not realise the vision of Vatican II is that Christ rules His Church not the Pope, that seems to be the VII vision, that so many refuse to take on; we are in the twenty-first century, not the 1930s or 1950s.
He says that Monarchical bishops were not scriptural, not even the Bishop of Rome, yes, a single bishop in a local Church was not the norm until as late as 130! I suspect the Holy Spirit did it. However he seems to forget or is unaware of Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter...".
He speaks about the unaccountability of Bishops. I really think he has a point here, the Church is frighteningly feudal but the alternative until recently has been an oligarchy of people like Mickens himself, the first is frightening the second quite terrifying. He talks of the need for democracy in the Church, and increased lay participation, he compares the Catholic Church to other Churches including the Orthodox. He complains about "Clericalism" but what he fails to understand is that Clericalism comes about by taking the Faith away from from the people. The great strength of Orthodoxy is that there is common understanding the "Faith", that comes from a common Tradition and Orthodox identity. In the chaos following Vatican II, what he describes as "the encounter with modern world", we have lost a sense of both Tradition and identity. In the Orthodox Church men like Mickens and his audience would simply have no place and no voice.
He criticises the Pope's negotiations with the SSPX and various "Tridentine trends", I would suggest that this is necessary before any "serious structural reform" takes place. It is necessary for the Church to be at peace with itself and with its history in order to move forward. Again he complains that the Pope ignores structural reform but just calls for interior conversion. Both of these things surely are necessary for any real and lasting reform of structures within the Church unless it is merely something imposed from above, which has been the model since the Council and one both favoured and hated by The Tablet.
He seems to want quick fix solutions, for example for Catholics in irregular marriages, he is concious of the immense damage done to their children, fewer Catholics like him with a Catholic heritage, what he fails to realise is that upholding the teaching of the Gospel is also impotant.
Bobby Mickens like so many people of his ilk, seems to both criticise the Pope as an absolute Monarch and yet wants to see him as a Stalinist dictator, it is an Ultra-Ultramontane view. Almost everything the Pope seems to be concerned about is encouraging grassroots movements which are firm in faith, which come from the bottom up. These are the groups that produce vocations and are dynamic and which people want to join. Will the The Tablet and The Cleveland City Club: Under 40s Division still exist in a decade's time?
Mickens, like The Tablet, promotes the various "Priest's Initiatiives" and criticises the Pope and others for ignoring such groups, even he then points out they are "older priests" "younger priests are different" he says. He fails to realise these dissidents are not the voice of the future, the death rattle of the past. Again he doesn't realise how rapidly the Church under Benedict or the 21st century is indeed changing, society is changing, social communiocations are changing, even attitudes to democracy are changing. We are coming to the end of "the Church in flux", younger people are indeed walking away from the Church but it is precisely the Church of men like Mickens, and his audience, that is so unattractive to the young.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake