Friday, April 01, 2005


"Behold the man" If Pope John Paul II does pass away tonight (or soon, as it seems is about to happen), here is a brief look at what will happen. More detail here. This article offers a glimpse of who the frontrunners to replace JPII might be:
Sodano, Ratzinger, and Ruini: this is the highly authoritative trio that directs the Church today, with the full consensus of John Paul II. But a de facto hierarchy has been established even within this trio. Sodano, on Easter morning, simply acted as the pope’s alter ego. He read the pope’s message to the world while John Paul II, from his window overlooking Saint Peter’s Square, followed along with a printed copy of the text, wanting the speech to appear as his own. And it was the pope who gave the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing, although with an unforeseen and painful failure of speech. As secretary of state, Sodano governs the administrative system of the Church, its hierarchical institutions, and its international politics. But he has never gone beyond these limits, neither before nor at this point. He has never elaborated or expressed his own comprehensive view of religious geopolitics. He has never left an impression of himself like that, for example, of his predecessor Agostino Casaroli, the architect of the Vatican’s controversial Ostpolitik from the time of John XXIII to that of Mikhail Gorbachev. The pope’s esteem for Ratzinger and Ruini goes beyond his entrusting them with the two ceremonies dearest to him, Palm Sunday and the Stations of the Cross. He has also seen them, from the beginning, as the two sharpest minds among the Church’s leadership. He has always placed enormous trust in their analyses and decisions, and he keeps this trust alive.
I know little about Ratzinger and even less about Riuni, but, that said, I think I would prefer Ratzinger. It sounds like he has church reforms in mind, while Riuni seems too soft. Softness is the last thing we pampered, western moderns need (not that all of us are pampered). Somebody was interested in, or asked me about, how and when the teaching authority of the church is to be seen, given that individuals within it can be seen to be as imperfect as anyone. Here is what Bob Kennedy, teaching at University of St. Thomas has to say (and this post has more detail on what Lumen gentium 25 specifies):
The Second Vatican Council, in Lumen gentium 25, laid out a set of conditions that, when met, are a sure sign that a particular doctrine of the Church is genuinely taught under the guidance of the Spirit and therefore permanently irreformable. The doctrinal claims of the creeds of Nicaea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon, for example, would meet these criteria, as would, say, many of the doctrines of Trent on the sacraments. To be very precise, I think it is true to say that the satisfaction of these criteria does not (magically) create irreformability but is instead a sure sign of the presence of the Spirit. The Spirit may also be present on other occasions when the Church teaches but it is when these conditions are met that the Church is supremely confident of that presence. A corollary of this conviction is that when the Church teaches without meeting these conditions, the doctrine taught is, in principle, subject to reform or even repudiation. The Church does not claim that its doctrines are of two types, one undeniable and the other suspect. Rather, there are some occasions on which the Church teaches with utter conviction that it does so with the unerring guidance of the Spirit, and other occasions on which its convictions about the truth of what it teaches range from almost certainly true to probable.
The Western Catholic reflects on the recent Tory convention. The paper's editorial is here. ***** In other news... Something may be stirring at the Gomery Inquiry. Eternity Road's Francis Poretto shares his thoughts on living wills. I love it when people make this much sense. I've never cared for "daylight savings" either.

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