Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pope Benedict's recent Address to the Curia

Mark's comment on my post of last night obviates the need for me to say much more about that particular aspect of the Holy Father's address. But I will add the following:

It was addressed to the 'high priests'. He framed it with two references to the Year for Priests. I'm sure that was deliberate on his part, but it seems to have gone unnoted in the published reports of what he said. I think he wanted to draw the Curial body into a central contemplation, and a will to action, in regard to their grave responsibility, vis a vis preparedness to acknowledge guilt, to turn to the Sacrament of Penance themselves, and to teach the faithful how and why they should return to the same. . He began by drawing attention to the different ways in which St. Paul and St. Jean Vianney fulfilled their evangelical and sacerdotal responsibility, and I believe he ended by challenging each individual member of the Curia to discern and act upon his own responsibility, particularly in regard to penitence and penance. Only by a genuine attempt to do so can they, or indeed the faithful, ever hope to become true friends of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. And that, he most clearly affirmed, should be the 'raison d'etre' of every priest.

As usual on these occasions, the emminent faces were almost exclusively expressionless. Whilst he spoke, they gave nothing back to him. Lord, it must be thankless work for the Holy Father. The artificiality of a protocol that dictates total concealment of ones's inner reactions must go hard with Pope Benedict, a man who is a consummate teacher. It is said that Pope John Paul II was a consummate actor. I've always felt that successful teachers are good actors, and this is not to call their sincerity into question. I suspect that Benedict XVI is a supreme teacher/actor with a greater subtlety than his predecessor......Comparisons are odious and undesirable but all actors and teachers know about the chilling effects of a 'dead audience', that is, one that gives nothing back. Reaction and interaction are the natural aims of teacher and actor. That is why I think Pope Benedict appears a little lack-lustre at these official curial events. (It would be naive to think that there aren't other reasons.) He has to preside over them, but they are not his natural milieu. I suspect he must know that they are a waste of time, and we, the faithful, know that he has other much more effective ways and means. Thank God!

It remains to be seen and heard, how many eyes and ears were truly open among the curial body on the occasion that sparked these reflections. Please do not think that I intend criticism of the curial cardinals. It's just that I doubt the best way to televise these events has yet been found. Not that I want them to stop these broadcasts, because they enable us, the ordinary faithful, to hear and try in our limited way, to understand what our dear Holy Father is saying. Deo gratias.

Perhaps this post should have been on the Oasis rather than on SMP. Nevertheless, here it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment