Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Liberation, Transformation, and Getting Personal

Pope Benedict XVI is back from his trip to Germany. This post is the second of seven about what he said, plus my opinions:
  1. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Hope, Confidence, and Looking Forward"
    (September 27, 2011)
  2. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Liberation, Transformation, and Getting Personal"
    (September 27, 2011)
  3. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Scandal, Abuse, and the Cross"
    (September 28, 2011)
  4. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Harlots and Pharisees, Agnostics and Routine Believers"
    (September 29, 2011)
  5. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: Dissent, Conversion, and Knowledge"
    (September 30, 2011)
  6. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: We're Not About 'Joyless Saints' "
    (October 1, 2011)
  7. "Benedict XVI in Germany, My Take: 'Where God is, There is a Future' "
    (October 3, 2011)
Back to the Pope:

Liberation, Transformation, and Getting Personal

"...'Secularizing trends - whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like - have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty,' he said.

"The Pope suggested that once freed from her 'material and political burdens,' the Church can 'reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world.'

"Thus the Church avoids giving greater weight to 'organization and institutionalization (rather) than to her vocation' which is to be 'a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God's word and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God.'

"This, however, doesn't not mean that the Church should or can change her teachings. Pope Benedict recounted an anecdote from the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who was once asked what was the first thing that would have to change in the Church.

" 'Her answer was: you and I,' recalled the Pope...."
(CNA (September 25, 2011)
You've heard it before: It's not the money that's trouble, it's loving the stuff. As for the Holy See having nice buildings and a top-notch art museum? I've posted about wealth, poverty, and getting a grip before.1

The Catholic Church: Getting the Job Done

The Catholic Church has a staff that runs various committees, academies, and offices. But that's what the Catholic Church uses to get our Lord's job done. The Church isn't the buildings or the institution. We're the body of Christ, with Jesus as our Head. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 787-795) Which doesn't mean I think I'm a spleen or a pancreas. Which is another topic. Topics.

St. Peter's in Rome is part of the image I get when I think of the Catholic Church - but it's a fairly new building. The global institution we have today wasn't around when Peter got stuck with leading the Church. (Matthew 16:17-19) 'All' Peter and the others had was the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: and orders to "make disciples of all nations." (Matthew 28:19-20)

So, why do Catholics support such a huge, vast, bloated global bureaucracy at the Vatican? We don't. If anything, the Catholic Church is understaffed: with 1,000,000,000-plus parishioners, about 400,000 priests, and I've been over this before.2

The Pope: Lots of Authority, But Not That Much

I heard a quip made by some Vatican official, about the Church keeping up with some trendy topic: 'We don't have the authority to do that. When God changes the rules, we'll let you know.'

Peter, and the 265 Popes we've had since, have a big job: and the authority it requires. It's the authority given Peter, passed along through the ages, down through the hierarchy, to a parish priest here in central Minnesota, that puts me at the Last Supper, Golgotha, and beyond at every Mass. (Catechism, 1548-1551)

But Papal authority has limits. The Pope can't decide to re-write the Decalogue, or change the rule about loving our neighbor. (Catechism, 65-67)

I've got even less. As a practicing Catholic, I've got the that comes with being a husband, father, member of a parish, and "some guy with a blog."

If the Pope can't change the rules about, say, inter-species marriage: I certainly can't. The options I have left are:
  • Be stubborn and ignore my Lord's teachings
    • Which doesn't seem wise
  • Change to conform to the will of God
    • Which sounds
      • Difficult
      • Probably painful
      • Worth it in the long run
Which is pretty much what the Pope said.

More posts in this series:Other related posts:
In the news:

1 Bottom line about money? It's not the problem. It's love of money that gets us in trouble:
"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains."
(1 Timothy 6:10)

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never forsake you or abandon you.'"
(Hebrews 13:5)
Idolizing, treating something as if it was God, is a bad idea. (Catechism, 2112-2114, for starters)

2 The Catholic Church is huge. I'm one of 1,000,000,000-plus Catholics alive today. Most of us are like me: ordinary, member-of-a-parish Catholics.

Priests, bishops, cardinals, and everybody else above 'parishioner' level are a tiny fraction of htan number. We've got about 400,000 priests, total: word-wide. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), that handles those priests, has with a whopping 45 people on its staff:

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I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

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Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.