Friday, March 15, 2013

Habemus Papam

Depends...on who you mean by "we!"

I think often of the election of John XXIII, the last of the "caretaker" popes.  I was in the seminary at the time, just into the college years, finishing up the B.A. in philosophy. Somewhere in the coming years ahead we would be studying theology--although honestly I couldn't imagine what could be more fascinating and exciting than a good philosophical argument.

Little did I know that it would be off to Catholic University in Washington, D,C., for theological studies; and that the pope who took over from Pius XII in 1958 would call for a council--and that that council would shake up the church in ways that endure down to the present. The council also made those years studying theology more exciting than the philosophy that had so enthralled me. (So much so that after I resigned the priesthood, I went back to school and got a PhD in Religious Studies at Marquette University,)

But I digress.  I think of John XXIII because I long for this caretaker pope to call another council--this time to undo the retrograde actions of the following popes and curia and traditionalist think tanks which have undone so much of what Pope John brought to the church: in his words, opening the window and letting in a breath of fresh air.

But I self-delude. I know from my theological studies that the ground work for Vatican II was long and arduous.  Many were the theologians who suffered ostracism and silencing from the Holy Office; but even more were those theologians and believers who went ahead with trying to develop and implement new ways of practicing and then talking about their faith.  We are not anywhere near that level of laying the groundwork.  Should Pope Francis call for a council, it would fall mostly on deaf ears.  The only people who would hear the call would be those who see themselves now as victims of Vatican II, and who seek to restore the church to its Tridentine glory.

Whose pope do we have?

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