BY MICHAEL MULLINS
DotCommonweal quotes an interview with renegade theologian Hans Küng in a German magazine published on the eve of his visit to his homeland.
“In the past, the Roman system was compared with the communist system, one in which one person had all the say. Today I wonder if we are not perhaps in a phase of ‘Putinisation’ of the Catholic Church. Of course I don’t want to compare the Holy Father, as a person, with the unholy Russian statesman. But there are many structural and political similarities. Putin also inherited a legacy of democratic reforms. But he did everything he could to reverse them…
“Unfortunately, even as we acknowledge the positive things, the negative developments that are taking place cannot be overlooked. Practically speaking, both Ratzinger and Putin placed their former associates in key positions and sidelined those they didn’t like. One could also draw other parallels: the disempowerment of the Russian parliament and the Vatican Synod of Bishops; the degradation of Russian provincial governors and of Catholic bishops to make them nothing but recipients of orders; a conformist ‘nomenclature’; and a resistance to real reforms.”
Blogging in The Tablet, Robert Mickens applies different scrutiny to the pope.
“Pope Benedict XVI and his closest liturgical aides -- Mgr Guido Marini, the master of ceremonies, and Mgr Georg Gaenswein, his personal secretary -- pay careful attention to what type of vestments he wears and for which occasions. So it was interesting to note that on Friday, during an ecumenical prayer service in the former Augustinian church (now Protestant) where Martin Luther was ordained and celebrated his first Mass, the Pope wore a stole that depicted his personal coat of arms topped by the triple-crown tiara. Talk about sending a message! If there is anyone who railed against the imperial papacy, it was surely Luther.”
But Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia is more empathetic towards the Holy Father in his post titled “Das ElevatorMusik, PapstTrip Edition” in which he is critical of the music that accompanied his censing the altar during the stadium Mass.
“Well, now he knows what it's like to be on the phone to one's utility providers.”
The blog PrayTell “particularly like[d] the expression on the Pope’s face at the end”.
But the increased sense of gravitas in the liturgy that Palmo and PrayTell seem to be urging is not necessarily a winner with the people in the pews. In another post, PrayTell quotes the response of a survey in the Diocese of Dunedin, where Catholics have already road tested the new missal translation.
“While the minority said it ‘deepens the meaning’ of the Mass and is ‘more reverent,’ most characterised the changes as ‘unnecessary,’ ‘confusing and meaningless,’ and ‘a backward step and pre-Vatican II in language style.’ … Out of 180 replies to [Dunedin Bishop Colin Campbell’s] survey, 17% were positive and 83% were negative.”
Australia Incognita blogs on priests who avoid preaching “hard truths” because they are “trying to be ‘pastoral’”, “and thus avoid[ing] mentioning those disturbing, pesky bits of the faith about the need for actual repentance from mortal sin for salvation.”
She suggests that they are often intimidated into avoiding hard truths, citing two examples of priests in North America who have been suspended or transferred for denouncing abortion and homosexuality from the pulpit or in local political debate.
“Would it happen here? You betya. We do after all, even in the Sydney Archdiocese of all places, still have ‘Acceptance’ masses taking place every week explicitly catering for homosexual persons which you can pretty much guarantee are extremely ‘pastoral’ indeed in their sermon pitches!”
Blogger David Schütz of Sentire Cum Ecclesia publishes an address he delivered on The New Evangelisation to the National Conference of the Catholic Women’s League of Australia, in which he argues that evangelisation demands a military rather than pastoral metaphor.
“The problem is that we want to be sheep singing ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’, rather than warriors singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’. We have tried to set up a lounge room with tea and coffee after mass in the middle of a battle ground. We have given people ‘thoughts for the day’ when we should be arming them with the Sword of the Spirit and the Breastplate of Salvation.
“Perhaps the emphasis in the Catholic Church on the ministerial priesthood – that is, the servant priesthood – over and above the common priesthood of the baptised is partly responsible for this.”
In a post titled, “On being Progressive or Conservative - and Why it Sucks”, Divine Wedgie adds perspective to Church debate with a 1924 quote from Chesterton:
“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.”
The blog of the Australian Bishops’ Catholic Earthcare Australia publishes a long piece from Irish Columban ecologist Fr Seán McDonagh with the title “Trees and God Talk”. He relates his life with trees from his days as a seminarian when they were “not even encouraged to give the trees the basic respect of knowing their names”. Unlike much of the thinking in seminaries in the early 1960s, he says this thinking persists in the Church today:
“Despite claiming to be a pro-Life Church, the Catholic Church has very little teaching on biodiversity. Biodiversity only merits one half of a paragraph in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church and the concern is completely homocentric.”
Country Priest blogs on being regarded as “cute”.
“Last Wednesday I said mass at my almer mater, Damascus College. On Saturday, I delivered a talk on confession at a Youth for Christ retreat. On both occasions, I heard teenage girls saying to each other, ‘he’s so cute!’ …
“Past efforts have demonstrated I can’t grow much of a beard. But maybe stacking on some weight will help me look older.”
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.