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Perceptive commentary: Zuhlsdorf, Weigel, Quinn, Paprocki

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 22, 2013

As a service to our readers, once again we call attention to some of the most interesting commentary that has appeared on other sites regarding the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the prospects for the March conclave. For our efforts to correct some of the less astute commentary, see our separate “Popular Misconceptions” series, which will continue through the papal election.

  • Wherein Fr. Z makes a suggestion to Cardinal Electors—Father John Zuhlsdorf suggests that in their choice of a new Pontiff, the cardinals should lean heavily toward a prelate whose handling of the sex-abuse crisis is already known. He reasons that the cardinals should be aware that “once one of their brothers is elected, investigative journalists will start looking for clerical sexual abuse in dioceses in which he has ever breathed air.” If there is the slightest hint of negligence in his background, it will soon be on the front pages, and his credibility will be impaired from the start of his pontificate. Father Z’s suggestion would seem to weigh against the choice of a cardinal from South America or Africa, where the investigation of sex-abuse complaints has not yet been extensive.
  • George Weigel on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy—The papal biographer says that “anyone who does not have a vested interest in the status quo” will agree that the next Pope should institute a thorough reform of the Roman Curia. The Vatican bureaucracy has been an impediment to the Pope, he argues, and reform will entail not merely reworking the organization chart but instilling an entirely new attitude toward the work of the Curia. Vatican officials should realize that they serve the Pope, not their own interests, he says.
  • Road to renewal or blind alley? David Quinn notes in the Irish Catholic that when the mass media speak of “reform” at the Vatican, what journalists usually have in mind is “a liberal wish list; women priests, married priests, acceptance of contraception, a more liberal view generally of human sexuality.” Such a “reform” would require a rejection of the true mission of the Church, he observes. Moreover, even if Church leaders did follow the advice of liberal commentators, the result would not be an end to conflicts within Catholicism; in fact there is “plenty of evidence that further disunity and factionalism would result.”
  • Bp Paprocki & March Madness: How to Address B16 After Feb. 28—What should Pope Benedict be called after his resignation takes effect? Will he “resign” or “abdicate” or “renounce” his position as Roman Pontiff? Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, a canon-law expert, provides some informed answer to those questions.

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