Tuesday 9 August 2011

Subordinates in the Vatican work against Holy Father

Firstly, an apology. It's been a week since I've posted anything. My server went down and after numerous conversations with call centres on other continents it's only taken BT SIX days to get around to sending out an engineer. Such service and efficiency!

Anyway... sort of following on from my last post...

At an ordination at Winona last month the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, Bishop Fellay, spoke the Society’s situation with Rome. It reveals an interesting perspective on how the Vatican departments work (or don't work, if you've ever had any dealings with them!) The whole can be read here. It seems that the Society is sometimes left in a confused state depending on which department of the Vatican they are dealing with. Sometimes they receive positive feedback, at other times negative or no reply at all (in one case because the drafted letter had been tucked away in a drawer by a lower official than the Prefect of the department concerned).

We tend to think of "The Vatican" as being the same as "The Pope" and that if something "comes from Rome" (one of the departments) then it is the decision of the Holy Father. While in theory that is true - he is ultimately responsible - it would seem that there are factions and individuals working in the Curia and departments who are not on-board with his way of thinking. I'm sure that the conversations with the SSPX are difficult and delicate and that they have their own ways of looking at things that I would not whole-heatedly agree with but it does seem true that there are those in Curial departments in Rome who are either not following the Holy Father's agenda of indeed positively working against it.

Reportedly these are the words of the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “But you know, it’s the priests, it’s the bishops, it’s the Catholic universities: they are full of heresies!” Fr Ray Blake has posted about how we should call a spade a spade when it comes to dissent. Dissent is not disagreement over policy (as though the Church is a political party) rather dissent is an attack on the Truths of the Faith - Truths given to us by God to help us get to Heaven. But I suppose that's a very old-fashioned, romantically inclined and immature way of looking at things these in these enlightened days.


Roman Visitor said...

It is true that many people think that everyone in Rome is working to the same agenda. After all, is this not a perfectly reasonable assumption for most Catholics to believe? However, the reality is somewhat different. The staff in the curial offices, and especially in the larger and more important ones, have been in place for a number of years. They were put there during the reign of Blessed JP II to ensure that the policies that bloomed since the end of Vat II were continued. The most important positions, at all levels, were filled by men placed there by the Secretariat of State - the aptly named SS. Everything of import was reported back to the SS for clearance. And thus the SS has had a stranglehold over the Vatican for more than 40 years. Since most of these placemen are career Vatican employees, most of them are still in positions where they can frustrate material going up or down. Anything going up the line which is not pleasing to the SS mentality can easily be lost in a drawer somewhere at any level and be forgotten about. Thus it never reaches anywhere near the Holy Father, or even the Prefect or Secretary. Similarly, anything going down from the Holy Father for discussion, analysis, implementaion, which is not pleasing to the SS liberal mentality, can be delayed by any number of tactics. The Pope is so busy with so many things he cannot possibly keep track of everything he wishes to see done.
So, when you have a Pope of a more orthodox nature whose ideas are out of synch with the liberal structure that has been systematically (and ruthlessly) installed over a period of more than 40 years it is quite easy to see how progress on a number of fronts can quite easily be thwarted. These are the wolves of whom Pope Benedict XVI spoke. He had been long enough in the curia to know how it works. This is one of the reasons why the child abuse evil was not tackled sooner: even someone as high profile and long serving as Cardinal Ratzinger had to toe the SS line, until he was so disgusted by the 'filth' that was going unchecked he broke ranks and demanded that he take on the problem. Recent revelations have made clear the reasons why the SS did nothing about it, even for some years after it became obvious that there was a serious problem. Cardinal Ratzinger had to become Pope before he could get rid of Fr Maciel, for example. And people accuse Pope Benedict for not doing anything. It beggars belief.
If I were to offer a solution to the problem I would start by restoring the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as the senior dicastery. This would send an immediate signal that faith and morals are more important than running the shop a la the SS with its strangling and self-serving tentacles.

Roman Visitor said...

I forgot to mention about the appointment of bishops. Because the SS controls all the major curial appointments, as well as the 'middling' ones, all episcopal appointments recommended by the Congregation for Bishops, have to be approved by the SS before they reached the Pope. Anyone of a conservative/orthodox bent, assuming the miracle of getting their name approved by the Cong for Bishops, would be rejected out of hand by the SS as unsuitable. People blame the Pope for 'bad' appointments but he has to rely on advice given to him by his senior advisors: he cannot possibly know every priest who is nominated. He can ask as many questions as he likes but who is providing the answers?

georgem said...

Perhaps there is an answer, modelled on the secular bureaucracy template. Create another tier - a Super Secretariat of State - stuffed with your own placemen.
I don't see how it is that the Vatican can't juggle around with its own bureaucracy when most bishops' conferences appear to be quite adept at it.

Simon Platt said...

Dear Father,

I had similar problems (only worse than yours so far) with BT last year. I shan't bore you any further with the details. I switched to the Post Office - they're much cheaper and the service is better.

Furthermore, this chap BT sent round might have been called an engineer . . .

I'll read your post, now.

Anonymous said...

Roman Visitor

I just read in a book the scenario you have presented to us and did not know whether to believe it or if it was just another pious old-wives tale.

Thank you for confirming it for me.


Anonymous said...

One more thing I would like to add.

Maybe it would be best if a pope would simplify things in the Vatican - get rid of many useless departments that the Church lived well enough without for centuries, and tighten up and streamline the rest...and stay home so that he can oversee all so the wool doesn't get pulled over his eyes so much.


don Jeffry said...

I would like to Email you Fr. Simon. My Email is beato111 @ me.com No spaces by the @. Thanks a million. Fr. Moore

DOC said...

I have long thought that some (or all) of the career priests in the Vatican should be made to leave the vatican after (say) five years and go abd do parish work either in Otaly, or another country. They need to be reaquainted with 'ordinary' people and their problems (even if they knew about them in the first place!!). Some of them spend so much time on niceties subsumed into the idea of Churchanity that they foregt what Christianity is. Clear them out and put others in place on a rotation basis.