Monday, 16 February 2009

Austrian nominee for bishop withdraws

When Pope Benedict XVI was first elected many hoped he'd take a tough stance - restore the TLM, sack more than a few bishops and appoint orthodox men in their stead, and so forth. It has been a bit of a wait - he has attempted to build bridges and momentum (with some success) and proceed step by step - but he is now acting faster. And the reaction is building. And it is not good.

Linz nominee withdraws

The latest, and very bad news I think, via CathCon is that the Pope's nominee as auxiliary of Linz in Austria, Fr Wagner, has withdrawn his nomination in the face of opposition, and his withdrawal has been accepted by the Vatican.

Fr Wagner's sins, for those who haven't been following the saga, are, amongst other things, refusing to have altar girls in his parish church, and daring to suggest that Cyclone Katrina might have some relationship to sin in New Orleans. No wonder no mainstream Australian clergyman has publicly dared to suggest any connection between the Victorian bushfires and the recent abortion legislation, whatever they might think privately!

The pressure

In the lead up to this latest development:
  • a number of Austrian bishops complained publicly about the appointment - a meeting of them was to be held today to discuss the matter;
  • a group of priests started a 'referendum' to counter the appointment;
  • large numbers of the laity claimed to have defected to protestant churches.

Now, one might think that the last two points give it all away really - the objectors clearly really are protestants in all but name (the same old syndrome of people insisting that they are catholics while rejecting everything the name stands for). So on the face of it disappointing, if perhaps understandable, that the Vatican has backed down.

Some reasons why standing firm might not be the best tactic

But I suspect the Pope, while clearly prepared to act (or put pressure on others to do their jobs) in the worst cases, prefers to keep this schism de facto rather than declared not least because it is dying out by attrition. Its followers are mostly of a certain generation - and with a few notable exceptions they are mostly a pretty dispirited lot. The thrashing around we are seeing, it can be argued, really are its death throes. But if it did split off, that would inevitably energize it somewhat, and might start reproducing itself.

Now I'm not totally convinced of this analysis myself - I'm a black and white kind of girl, and prefer to call a spade a bloody shovel (as if you hadn't noticed!).

In the Church, Liberals just seem a menace, making life unpleasant for the rest of us, and I'm not totally convinced that the disruption caused by St Mary-esq affairs breaking out all around the world would necessarily be worse than the regular doses of heretical sermons and liturgical abuses, let alone the fraudulent sacraments perpetrated by the worst offenders, most of us are forced to regularly endure.

Still, the problem facing the Pope I guess, is that while we know the Church would eventually prevail, given a hostile and subversive curia combined with a lack of sufficient orthodox and loyal bishops, it might be a long drawn out and bloody war (Bishop Morris of Toowomba for example apparently has the support of all his Queensland brother bishops and one suspects more than a few other key members of the Australian hierarchy in his efforts to 'get his people used to the idea' of married priests, woman and protestant 'priests', and other creative solutions to the lack of vocations).

The Pope however clearly does know the stakes - he has made comments several times about how to avoid a Reformation, and I personally don't think his main focus in reflecting on this subject was really the SSPX. His strategy seems to be to hope that the wider availability of the TLM, the (potential) reconciliation of the SSPX (and perhaps others such as the TAC), together with the weight of demographics, will, over time work to change the dynamic and enable heresy to be combated more effectively. There is something to this, even if it is painful for the orthodox in the meantime!

Still, unless he can get good bishops in place, that agenda is in serious jeopardy.

Hope everyone is saying that novena....

**The commentary on CMR is also worth a read on this - it calls this a pivotal moment.

And please, dear readers, do comment! So long as you give yourself a name, and keep it reasonably polite by attacking ideas not individuals, feedback and discussion is very welcome.


Anonymous said...

There clearly are some real problems at the moement for the Pope and the vatican curia to look at very closely. The withdrawal of the bishop-elect in Austria is a major turnaround. Given that this is highly unusual, what does it say about the apppointments' process in Rome? Following in the blundering case of the dissident excom bishop who disbelieved in the gas chambers, this is just another major blunder on decision-making that shows all is not well in the vatican. Who is talking to whom? Is there a real breakdown there? Are people undermining Benedict? Is he up to the job? Is he strong enough to control and run the curia? I think this looks bad and there is a growing crisis in the vatican. The Fr Kennedy case is also another crisis that Rome has kept quiet on. The priest there ought recant, show loyalty and check his theology once again and also make a vow of loyalty to his bishop and catholic dogma, a la the Virgin birth and Jesus as the Son of God.
There is much debate about the new arch of Westminister and whether the Abbot of Plusarden actually did refuse to move to London. Well, what is going on?
The Benedict papacy will not go on for years. It could come to a sudden end with his death at any time as he is in his 80's. I believe he is not getting good advice, or if he is, then he ignores it. The Regensburg speech is a prime example of how Benedict did not seek others advise or counsel before he delievered the speech, which shocked the Muslim world. It was a blunder JPII would not have made and never did.
I feel that Bertone is the wrong man for the job and should never have been made Sec of State. He has not been good at this job and hasd been grandstanding since he moved back to Rome. He is out of his depth and the sooner he is shifted out the better. Many others ought go, but the Pope will not do this - he is not able to run the Curia regretably and the negativity, insecurity and wavering will continue until a new pontiff is elected. But only God knows when that will be - until then the Church lurches along with a broken rudder and this needs to be fixed or insecurity will reign - a bad position for all of us in the barque of Peter.
Semper fidelis.

Terra said...

Why do you think Regensberg was a mistake 'Semper Fidelis'? So he shocked the Muslims.

He shocked them with the truth.

And, unlike any other world political or religious leader, actually succeeded in getting them to the table for a serious discussion on things that actually matter (like religious liberty) as opposed to the wishy washy avoidance that had passed for interreligious dialogue up to that point.

I do think we have to be careful to avoid the error of thinking that public opinion is the test of success. After all, many are keen to condemn another recent Pope for failing to speak up in the face of evil notwithstanding that doing so could cost lives...