PopeWatch: Pessimism

Facebook 0
Twitter
LinkedIn 0
Reddit 0
Delicious
Digg
StumbleUpon 0
WhatsApp
Email
Print

 

 

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Rorate Caeli posts an absolutely fascinating interview that French Catholic historian Odon Vallet gave with Le Journal du Dimanche.  Vallet, a liberal, is very pessimistic that Pope Francis can achieve his goals:

 

INTERVIEW – Historian Odon Vallet interprets pope Francis’ very harsh words for the Curia, the group of influent personalities in the Vatican. On Monday [December 22, 2014], the Pope presented a list of the 15 “infirmities” that affected the interior of the Holy See, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and “existential schizophrenia”. Odon Vallet is a historian of religions and the author of “God and religions in 101 Q & As” [Dieu et les religions en 101 questions-réponses], [published by] Albin Michel, and he sees a pope who is isolated and weakened.

[Le Journal du Dimanche] How to explain such harshness of Pope Francis towards the members of the Curia?

[Vallet] His words are indeed very harsh. Pope Francis speaks of “mental petrification” within the Curia. After the last Synod (editor’s note: on the family), the Pope sees that his adversaries are at the heart of the government of the Church. In particular, without naming them, the American, African, and Italian bishops.

Do these words express a difficulty in achieving the reforms he set out to do?

Nothing allows us to assume that he will be able to accomplish his reforms. I gather that he has an under-50% chance of accomplishing them. The reform of the Council of Trent (16th century) took 18 years, and required six popes… Pope Francis is 78, his undertaking in the renewal of the Church will be very difficult. Even more so because he has 90% of the Curia against him.

On the other hand he is very much appreciated by the faithful…

He is just as popular in Europe as he is in difficulty with those who are near him. Popularity can give rise to jealousy. Remember the crowd that applauded Jesus at Palm Sunday, and that spat on him on Good Friday.

Do you see in this speech a pope who is cornered, or a chief who is trying to affirm his authority?

Pope Francis comes from the Jesuit school. They advocate discernment and moderation. Today, the supreme pontiff resembles above all an intensive-care physician. I recall that he has already compared the Church to a hospital. Maybe he should have the interest of having his speeches read [beforehand] by more diplomatic persons, because those who approve of them in substance disagree with their form.

But who is he fighting against? Why is he this isolated within the Vatican?

When he was elected, he understood the problems of the Curia poorly. That which he found out went beyond his fears. Even if he has named people close to him, he would need 10 to 12 years to turn the bishops to his side. The problem of the curia is the same of that huge cruiser that ran aground the Italian shores. We can imagine that the cardinals and the bishops set up such a strong inertia in the Vatican machinery that Francis can do nothing about it. His worst enemies are those who praise him in the crowd.

Has he already lost the battle against his internal adversaries?

At this moment, he is in the process of losing it. Silence is gold…and he sets up a whole [new] category of persons against himself each day with his declarations. If I were pope Francis, I would put a cardinal in charge of saying good things about people and of putting oil in the cogwheels, instead of throwing it into the fire.

Can you see pope Francis resigning?

Yes. Even though he can still reverse the trend. His speech is perhaps a way of saying, “I will die standing.”

Winston Churchill used to describe Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.  I think similar words could apply to the Vatican.  The actions of the Pope and the Vatican are reported by and large by secular journalists who often have a shaky understanding of Catholicism, let alone of the workings of the Vatican.  This interview gives us a valuable peek behind the curtain.

More to explorer

13 Comments

  1. “Vallet, a liberal, is very pessimistic that Pope Francis can achieve his goals:”
    .
    Let us hope so. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ on earth. These two facts are to be one church. The soul is the form of the body. Anima Christi is the form of the Church, not Pope Francis.

  2. I’m torn here: I want the Vatican to be cleansed like Christ cleansed the Temple but I fear His Holiness is the wrong man for the task.

    The sex abuse scandal, the Vatican bank, the loss of Europe and South America, the destruction of religious orders… All were presided over by the Vatican. We’ve got an archbishop under arrest for tens of thousands of child porn images, we’ve got an American cardinal hiding out in Rome rather than being jailed here, we’ve got blatant liturgical abuses across Europe that have been going on for so long that many Catholics wouldn’t know a proper Mass if it bit them, and I conclude that rumors of networks of homosexual priests are understated.

    Over it all were three generations of Curia whose allegiance was not to God and His Church.

    The Vatican NEEDS a good whipping… Is this the guy to do it is the question.

  3. David Spaulding

    From Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who was elected in 1878, we had a virtually unbroken succession of popes, who had risen through the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy and who were, by habit, taste and training, administrators. Even Benedict XIV, better remembered today as Prospero Lambertini, the great canon lawyer, fits this mould.
    It is not unfair to describe the result as one of assiduous mediocrity. Even in Catholic countries, they had the same impact and the same popular appeal, as the average Secretary-General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank. Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.
    Meanwhile, we had the Church riven by the Thirty Years War, the Quietist controversy, the Jansenist heresy, the Gallican controversy, Josephism, the suppression of the Jesuits, the French Revolution and its aftermath, and the Risorgimento, in none of which can the Holy See be said to have distinguished itself.
    During this period, it was the Propaganda that had the greatest successes, largely because the Roman authorities had to leave the initiative in the hands of the local vicars-apostolic and the missionary orders, who, for the most part, rose to the challenge magnificently. The Faith flourished in the Missionary territories, as it crumbled in Europe, with the results we see today. Micro-management by a pope with a Blackberry could have wrought havoc!

  4. “Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.”

    Pio Nono was popular because he had a spectacular outsized personality and because he embraced with both hands new technologies like photography and cheap mass printing, to forge an alliance between himself and the average Catholic in the pew. His secular policies were all abject failures, his religious initiatives all magnificent successes. A giant among popes!

  5. “he embraced with both hands new technologies like photography and cheap mass printing, to forge an alliance between himself and the average Catholic in the pew”

    That is certainly true. But, between Sixtus V and Leo XIII, we have thirty popes and not a Leo, a Gregory, a Hildebrand or an Innocent III amongst them; the very suggestion seems absurd. Benedict XIV can fairly be ranked with Innocent IV as a canonist and with Leo X and Clement VII for his learning and he appears as a giant in that age of pygmies. Good men, pious men, of proven ability in a lifetime of administration and with their energies stultified by a Byzantine bureaucracy.

  6. “a Leo, a Gregory, a Hildebrand or an Innocent III”

    Different times. The secular role of the Pope was dying by the time of Pio Nono and he fought resolutely, and futilely, against this. Yet, simultaneously, he created a new role for the Pope as the world wide face of Catholicism, and as the point of Catholic unity in a world that was changing radically. Pio Nono is easily among the top ten percent of popes in significance.

  7. David Spaulding: “The sex abuse scandal, the Vatican bank, the loss of Europe and South America, the destruction of religious orders… All were presided over by the Vatican. We’ve got an archbishop under arrest for tens of thousands of child porn images, we’ve got an American cardinal hiding out in Rome rather than being jailed here, we’ve got blatant liturgical abuses across Europe that have been going on for so long that many Catholics wouldn’t know a proper Mass if it bit them, and I conclude that rumors of networks of homosexual priests are understated.

    Over it all were three generations of Curia whose allegiance was not to God and His Church.

    The Vatican NEEDS a good whipping… Is this the guy to do it is the question.”
    .
    St. John Paul II said “One crime and they are out.” They, the criminals, were to be turned over to secular authorities for prosecution. The $25, 000 indemnification for abuse was never taken off the table. Cardinal Law probably never witnessed the crime of abuse, and what a priest hears in the confessional is hearsay in a court of law. All cases of criminal abuse where tried under civil law instead of criminal law. Criminal law requires the testimony of two witnesses to establish a judicial fact, whereas, civil law only requires a preponderance of credible evidence. This is important because Jesus gave two witnesses to His being the Son of God: “My Father and my works testify, I, testify”. Not many criminals invite witnesses to their crimes. The damage was done in secret by the Lavender Mafia, teaching in the seminaries that sodomy is not a sin.
    .
    These are extenuating circumstances, of course, but nonetheless real.
    .
    Our Lady prophesied at Fatima that Satan would be unchained at the end of the century: the approval of atheism, the sexual revolution, contraception, the ignorance unleashed by Vatican II ignorami. Our Lady also promised that Satan would be again chained in the new century. Our Lady does not make things up and says only what Our Lord wants Her to say.
    .
    The Vatican will be corrected.

  8. Mary de Voe wrote, “Not many criminals invite witnesses to their crimes”

    Hence the Moorov doctrine. “Where an accused person is charged with a series of similar offences closely linked in time, character and circumstances, the evidence of one witness implicating the accused in one offence may be taken to corroborate the evidence of another witness implicating the accused in another offence, each offence being treated as if it were an element in a single course of conduct. It is essential for the operation of the rule, which must be applied with caution, that there be some underlying unity of purpose between the offences which makes them part of the one course of criminal conduct. And before you could apply it, you would have to say that the two offences that are the subjects of Charges 1 and 2 are not isolated, unrelated instances of crime, but are part of a campaign of related crimes. There must be at least two similar offences, and where there are only two, even more caution must be exercised in applying the rule.

    The rule can only apply to instances in each of which the accused is identified, either directly by a witness, or by inference from some other credible and reliable evidence; and, of course, only where you are satisfied that evidence of identification is both credible and reliable.

    What you have to decide, therefore, for this rule to apply, is whether the offences are sufficiently linked in time, character and circumstance as to amount to one course of criminal conduct.”

  9. Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Mary de Voe wrote, “Not many criminals invite witnesses to their crimes”
    Hence the Moorov doctrine. “Where an accused person is charged with a series of similar offences closely linked in time, character and circumstances, the evidence of one witness implicating the accused in one offence may be taken to corroborate the evidence of another witness implicating the accused in another offence, each offence being treated as if it were an element in a single course of conduct.”

    .
    I stand corrected. Might this doctrine be called a preponderance of credible evidence? Then criminal court or civil court?

  10. Mary de Voe

    Moorov applies in criminal cases. In Townsley v Lees, there were three charges of theft of jewellery from private houses. There was evidence that the first theft had been committed on 24 June 1995 and that the second and third had been committed five days later. In each case, an elderly lady was detained in conversation in her garden by a woman, while an accomplice entered the house and stole the property libelled. In each case the woman offered the complainer roses for her garden. In all three cases the woman had her hair combed back and was wearing similar clothes.

    On charge 1, the complainer could say only that the woman was similar to the accused in height and age and that she had her hair drawn up in a ponytail; but that evidence, taken together with evidence of neighbours that included a positive identification of the accused as having been nearby at the relevant time, was sufficient to constitute one source of identification. On charge 2, the complainer herself positively identified the accused as being the woman concerned. There being positive identification on charges 1 and 2, the sheriff (a judge in Scotland) was therefore entitled to rely on the Moorov doctrine to hold those charges proved.

    On charge 3, however, there was no identification of the accused. The High Court accepted the argument for the Crown that, since it was proved that all three crimes libelled were committed by the same person and that two of them were committed by the accused, it followed that the sheriff was entitled to convict her on the third.

    The proof that the woman who spoke to the complainer was the same person in each case was derived from evidence of similarities that were personal to the woman herself. In each case, the woman raised the same topic of discussion when distracting the attention of the complainer and on each occasion the woman was wearing similar clothes and had a similar hairstyle. Hence, the Moorov doctrine applied.

  11. Michael Paterson-Seymour:
    .
    The Moorov doctrine then is not circumstantial evidence, nor is it a preponderance of credible evidence. The Moorov doctrine is credible witnesses, testimony.
    .
    Thank you, Michael.

  12. The Moorov doctrine is about corroboration.

    In Townsley v Lees, the three incidents were so closely related in time, character and circumstances as to show that they were part of a single course or campaign of criminal conduct. Once that is established, the evidence of the witnesses on each charge can be treated as corroborating the evidence of the witnesses on the other two.

Comments are closed.