timely advice

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 19, 2004

Another Kumbaya Catholic, like Snoopy athwart his doghouse, fires his pretend machine gun at the ghostly bogeys of the 1960s. No injuries were reported.

The Roman Catholic Church, tightly centralised under Pope John Paul, should open up to share power more among its bishops, priests and people, the Archbishop of Westminster [Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor] has written in a new book.

Right. Ask any of the Westminster clergy or laity who want no part of the currently mandated RENEW program how open the chancery is to power-sharing.

"At the Heart of the World," a short volume just published in London that reflects on the challenges facing Catholicism, comes as the 125 cardinals due to elect the next pope look ahead to the era after the ailing Polish pontiff, now 83.

Hey, be fair. The pope obviously has Parkinson's, and he tires easily, but don't you have to work less than a five-day week before you count as "ailing"? And is it strictly relevant to the ecclesial issues that he's an ailing Polish pontiff? I can't find any reference to bedsore-bedizened British bishops in the same article.

Some thoughts are openly stated, others posed as questions that hint at critical answers. All show a moderate keen to see his 2,000-year-old church march more in time with the times.

An old dodge: you put a question mark after your heterodoxies so you can give a squeal of wounded virtue when challenged ("I was only asking a question!"). In any event, one has to wonder which aspects of "the times" he sees outside his window Murphy-O'Connor wants the Church to get in step with.

Citing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), he writes: "We need to discover ways of fostering the effective participation of clergy and lay people in synodical or representative bodies within the Roman Catholic Church."

Is this man in a strong position in lecture the Universal Church on how to revitalize herself? Westminster has 32 seminarians -- the same number as Lincoln, Nebraska. Westminster has a base of 465,000 Catholics; Lincoln has 89,000. Even more to the point, with forty years of post-conciliar experience to guide him, what tool has Murphy-O'Connor chosen "to foster effective participation"? RENEW. If you're a recently incorporated Catholic, you may not grasp the rich ecclesial nuances of the word: "Yeah, my Uncle Louie was in his '78 Bonneville when it stalled on a level crossing and got renewed by a freight train. They had to get him out with a garden hose."

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