15 September 2013
Spurn that request for loose coins from beggars, trolling Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. They snap back with a new retort: "Cosa direbbe Papa Francesco?" "What would Pope Francis say?"
These mendicants “have clued in that something has changed”, writes John Allen of National Catholic Reporter “A revolution is going on, even if some of its content has yet to arrive. Change is here.”
Italian newsmagazine L'Espresso pinpointed signs of upheaval. It’s recent cover story on the new pontiff, bannered the query: Ce la farà? "Can he pull it off?" No need to explain what "it" meant . Everyone seems to know that Francis is trying to engineer a Catholic “glasnost”.
( The word means “a process of justice in governance, conducted with transparency”. In the late 80s, Soviet Union prime minister Mikhail Gorbachev elevated glasnost into policy. Linked to ’perestroika or “:restructuring”, Gorbachev used that double-blade to curb embedded corruption in the Kremlin and communist party. )
Francis 'lifestyle --- lodging in spare Casa Santa Marta quarters to spurning limousines ---- has rippled out. Cardinals shed titles and crimson laced vestments .. Work patterns in the change-resistant Curia to the troubled Vatican bank radically altered..
His approval ratings resemble that of Nelson Mandela. Francis is the "Teflon pope". Nothing bad sticks. When scandals erupt, no one blames him. “All see it as additional proof of why he's needed.”
He works the phone, bypassing usual gatekeepers. He ensured no one has a monopoly on his ear. There is no éminence grise, like Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz under John Paul or Archbishop Georg Gänswein under Benedict.
Some thought Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella was emerging as a man of influence. “Then, of course, Francis left Fisichella standing at the altar at a Vatican concert June 22. Trying to figure out who's up and who's down misses the point. The novelty is the game, as it has played, is finished.”
In March, if anyone wanted to influence Vatican's financial operations, he’d ring an Italian cardinal. There are 21 of them. Today, a lay economist from Malta would answer the phone. Joseph F.X. Zahra is one of 21 people, now in three commissions, drafting reforms. . Most are lay people. Only three are Italians”.
“This Latin American outsider is determined to break the Italian monopoly on governance of the church”, Allen notes. “Francis is giving rise to a ‘new culture of accountability.’. That means somebody actually gets fired He accepted resignation two Vatican bank officials. Nor did he shield Msgr. Nunzio Scarano of Vatican bank from a $30 million laundering charge.
Francis seeks to enhance role of the layman -- not just in ceremonial ways, but in the nuts and bolts of reforming and governing the church. And he is repositioning the church in the political center, after a lengthy period where it drifted to the right.
More radical changes will be clamped on after the commissions report. That’s later this year. Some Vatican watchers fixate on questions like: Who’ll be named as the next cardinal secretary of state. But the only issue most people have about a pope is: Does he inspire?
For now, the answer seems to be yes,” Allen adds. Given scandals and controversy the church “weathered over the past decade, if that's not a revolution, it's hard to know what one would look like”.
Will Francis see the impact of the upheaval he triggere d when he visits the Philippines January 2016? He is to attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu.
Eight out of 10 Filipinos are baptized Catholics. “Many are poorly educated in their faith”, theologian Fr Catalino Arevalo SJ told a Universityof Santo Tomas symposium, Only 6 percent of young Filipinos receive “significant religious instruction”. Filipino youth are not “are not turning away”, Arevalo said. “They are simply not being reached.”
“Split-level Christianity” is widespread. That’s co-exsistence, within one person, of two or more behavior systems that conflict with each other,” psychologist Fr. Jaime Bulatao explained. Leaders trot without fail to hear mass on Sunday. From Monday to Saturday, they wheel and deal in scams like there was no tomorrow.. Janet Napoles pork barrel scams are merely the last drill...
New Philippine church leaders are emerging. “Authority of establishment, must give way to the authority of witness”, insist Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Archbishop Antonio Ledesma How? Not by magisterial pronouncements but in ministering to the poorest.
“The Church must not pretend to have easy answers, Tagle said. “Instead, it must be an attentive and listening Church—less preoccupied by her power, prestige and position in society.”
“The Philippines has shown the gospel can be preached to empty stomachs”, the new Catholic Bishops conference Archbishop Socrates Villegas said. “But only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as his parishioners….Evangelization continues to be impaired by the arrogance of its messengers… ”
Will a “humble, prayerful, listening church” now hear the silent screams from an estimated 560,000 abortions yearly. Couples are still blocked from receiving family planning services. Does this end muttered threats, by some bishops, to excommunicate those who support the Reproductive Health Law?
In the 2013 elections, the bishops of Bacolod and Lipa boycotted “Team Patay” candidates who supported the RH bill. They were trashed decisively. . If they persist, cosa direbbe Papa Francesco? ####