___________________________ QUO VADIS POPE FRANCIS? This article reflects the personal views of the auther and not of the healing ministry.
By Bernie Lopez email@example.com
Now that the dust of celebrations and euphoria over the Papal interregnum has somewhat settled down, there is a need for the Papacy to face squarely and immediately the emerging Church crisis. His major pronouncements on focus on the poor, planned dialogues with nations such as China, and with the Jews and the Muslims, are most welcome, but there is a deeper concern which needs urgency, namely the emerging Church crisis, which will be the litmus test of his reign.
Upon ascending the throne, Pope Francis faced a whirlwind of both praises and criticisms in the global media and the Internet. The praises included his being down to earth, able to commute without security, love of the poor, and so on. But the criticisms dwarf the praises by far – his controversial past in Argentina, his alleged ties with the oppressive military regime, which carried out murders of leftists whose children became deparecidos (the ‘disappeared’), presumably brainwashed on the regime’s ideology in secret camps, alleged cover-up and non-disclosure of the regime’s crimes, and so on.
Papal experts and journalists have mentioned indisputable evidence of corroboration, but others argue that there is a lack of proof. Because these accusations are within a gray area of being conclusive and inconclusive, it is better for us to perhaps defer judgment, not to cast the first stone, and give Pope Francis a chance to prove his mettle. Even before he can move, his hands have been tied by these avalanche of accusations.
For in truth, the core issue, the urgent concern, is the Church in crisis, not the Pope in crisis. Let us keep that in mind. It is easy to be distracted by a secondary issue. Of course the crisis of the Church and that of the Pope are intertwined. But we need to make a distinction. They are not the same. The question is not so much – ‘quo vadis, Pope Francis’, but ‘quo vadis Catholic Church’. Can the Church withstand the onslaught of the 21st century, the rapid evolution of global forces, conflicts, growth, decline, wars?
Let us define the Church in crisis. As featured in a previous article (‘We Need a Radical Pope’, written before Pope Francis was selected – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/03/eastwind-journals-54, the current Church crisis is trilateral – leadership, corruption, and spirituality. Leadership is now in the hands of the new Pope, so we just have to wait and see how he performs. The crisis of corruption revolves around the Curia, especially the handling of the Vatican Bank, which is relatively a matter of political will and a strategy for inner cleansing. Let us assume Pope Francis can perform in this political arena. Actually, corruption goes beyond the Curia. It is in dioceses across the planet. It is a big job for the Pope. We need a new Counter-Reformation. (Read previous article, “Towards a New Counter-Reformation” – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/02/eastwind-journals-50.
But the crisis of spirituality, which revolves around the thorny issue of pedophile priests, about which Pope Benedict XVI and cardinals and bishops have been accused of cover-up, is the single greatest thorn that will be the litmus test for Pope Francis. Here lies the essence of the Church in a long-term crisis. (Read previous article on pedophilia, “‘Pedophile Crisis in the Church’ – http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/02/eastwind-journals-51.
Radical reforms are needed in this area, which worries many who look on Pope Francis as a ‘conservative’. Will he sweep this issue under the rug, which was the accusation against Pope Benedict XVI. If he does, he will go down as quickly as his predecessor. Will he make compromises that will degrade the effectivity of solutions?
The nature of these ‘radical reforms’ may perhaps include exposing and punishing the criminals, which means publishing a list of pedophile priests, which will not be easy for a conservative Pope. But it will save the Church from the accusation of cover up, and ‘participating in pedophile crimes’.
Punishment may require not moving the pedophile priests to new remote locations where they can continue their crimes, but letting them serve their jail sentence just like the rest of non-priest pedophiles, or somehow neutralizing their capability for more crimes. Some are talking of excommunication, but others say we cannot go back to the days of the Inquisition, when thousands of priests were executed on mere suspicion. Again, this is not easy for the Pope. What choice does he have? He must seek inspiration from the Holy Spirit to be creative enough to deal with this dilemma.
Where is the Pope going and where is the Church he is leading going? These are the questions which we have to pray over intensely, while we wait for an answer in the next few months. firstname.lastname@example.org