In 2021, it became evident that the American bishops and the Pope are singing different hymns


The life of the Catholic Church in this country in 2021 has been characterized by an obvious and agitated cultural war and evidence that the Pope is increasingly determined to advance the reception of Vatican II in a way that will likely affect the ‘American Church in a profound way. manners.

The effort by the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to fight with the country’s second Catholic president has been the dominant story of the year. NCR editors named Archbishop José Gomez as Catholic Journalist of the Year for his role in the bishops’ conference catastrophically narrow focus on President Joe Biden’s support for legal abortion and, therefore, of his inability to recognize the unique opportunity offered by having a president who attends Mass with less and less display of Catholics, and who articulated the importance of teaching Catholic social took on his political views.

The long feud over how to craft a document on “Eucharistic Coherence” has shown a torn conference between the lousy theology of culture warriors who think Biden and other pro-choice politicians should be denied Communion and the otherwise universal practice of the church which distinguishes between legislating on a bad deed and the execution of the bad deed itself.

Part of the problem with the debate was that the June bishops’ meeting was virtual and therefore the kind of dialogue needed to forge consensus was not possible. But only a part. The other main cause of this debate was that the bishops had elected Archbishop Joseph Naumann as head of the Pro-Life Activities Committee four years ago, and he has used that perch to push that strategy forward. When the Vatican intervened, making it clear that such a strategy was impossible, the bishops realized over the summer what they should have achieved from the start: that they needed an exit from this approach badly. engendered.

The compromise was a text that is not technically even an educational document because the conference leadership announced that it would not be sent to the Holy See for the canonical approval necessary for such documents to become binding according to the laws. terms of canon law, and in particular of Saint Pope. The teaching of John Paul II in Apostolos Suos (Paragraph 22). They blew out the document with a proposal for a eucharistic awakening which is not a horrible idea in itself. But when they announced that the renewal would culminate with a National Eucharistic Congress estimated to cost $ 28 million, jaws fell on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Told by an idiot, full of noise and fury, Meaning nothing,” Macbeth said. But this is not entirely correct. The noise and fury of the bishops ‘debacle over Biden – among other elements, especially the liturgy – showed how disconnected the American Bishops’ Conference was from their people and the direction the Pope indicated. There remains acute resistance to this Pope, and it is increasingly evident that such resistance is in fact rooted in deeper opposition to the Second Vatican Council.

Across the waves, as the Vatican emerged from pandemic shutdowns, some conservative commentators were already speculating – I had almost written in fantasies – about the end of Bergoglio’s pontificate. Pope Francis turned 85 this year, the age at which his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, resigned from the papacy. Additionally, Francis underwent major surgery last summer. However, his relatives say he has no plans to retire and is in better shape than ever.

François is certainly more determined than ever. He began the year by sacking Cardinal Robert Sarah, with whom he had clashed, from his post as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. Before appointing a new prefect, the Pope ordered a visit to the congregation, which he repeated later in the year with the Congregation for the Clergy and the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. In the past, the Vatican dicasteries investigated others! Now the Pope was using the method to bring new perspectives to the workings of these often frozen bureaucracies.

The dismissal and trial of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu was another huge sign that Francis was not going to allow the prelates to escape responsibility for their decisions. For centuries, a watered silk red zucchini was a release card from jail without a prison in the Vatican, no matter what wrongdoing. No more.

In July, François published Traditionis Custodes, who revoked some of the permissions his predecessor had granted to celebrate the Tridentine rite of mass. He made it clear that an ideological movement had abused the concessions that had been made. Some have used the celebration of the old rite to oppose the Vatican Council II in its entirety, and in particular the liturgical reforms which not only flowed from the council, but which had helped to lay the foundations of the council.

Then, to resolve some questions that the bishops were asking about the implementation Traditionis Custodes, the Holy Father approved the responses of the Congregation for Divine Worship which clearly indicated: Attachment to the old rite could be tolerated, but not encouraged. In the United States, where some conservatives have used the Internet to make a lot of noise about the traditional rite, attacks on the Pope have been relentless. As I observed last summer, critics have proven to Francis that he is correct in discerning that the old rite is being abused in a way that undermines the bonds of communion.

Francis invites us to continue welcoming Vatican II. Some believed that this task had been accomplished with the publication of the official catechism, or with the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law and the body of papal teaching which was published by John Paul II. But it takes a century to receive a council, and Francis was shaped by his experience of the post-conciliar Church in Latin America, which experienced the most fruitful theological developments and from which emerged the most ecclesial expression. deep in Vatican II’s call for a resourcing, a return to the ideas and impulses of the early church. Where John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI saw this call as a theological call, Francis saw it as a more primordial and pastoral invitation to place the poor and marginalized at the center of the Church’s concerns.

Some in the American church resist the pope’s invitation, including a significant percentage of the hierarchy. Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in a recent interview, noted opposition to Francis coming from EWTN, the conservative Catholic media conglomerate. “The Holy Father himself has commented on the situation of EWTN television (large American Catholic channel), where on several occasions the commentators are very critical of the Holy Father, at least of his ideas,” said O’Malley. .

In recent decades, the Catholic Church in this country has shifted to the right, both among the laity and the clergy. They applauded both John Paul II and Benedict as they saw these two popes as pushing back the reforms of Vatican II. (In many ways, this perception was incorrect.) With Francis, there is no doubt that he is encouraging the church to move forward, and that he is not at all intimidated by the rowdy right-wingers. . This gave rise to a schismatic trend which has manifested itself for several years.

The pandemic has made us all see the world differently, and our wonderful Holy Father has emerged from containment ready to boldly move forward. 2021 saw the emergence of the first post-pandemic signs of its stirring the pot. Next week, we’ll see how the Pope’s goals and the resistance they engender in the United States shape the year ahead.


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