Monday, 12 March 2012

Excesses of the Church

The recent appointment of 22 new Roman Catholic Cardinals in Rome briefly introduced the world to a spectacle  involving much pomp and circumstance. Members of the Catholic  hierarchy could be seen dressed in incredible sartorial splendor of red, gold and silver.  For a Church that rejects the world, this display must have reminded spectators, as well as the participants, of the immense power and control the Church once held over the world.  That form of triumphalism is hopeful coming to an end.  The reign of God is found in simplicity not in grandiose spectacles of men adoring each other for the sole purpose of electing ‘one of their own’ sometime in the future.        
For most Catholics this display completely obscured and diminished the Church’s vow of poverty against overwhelming world poverty.  But what most Catholics probably do not know about these excesses how some of their contributions are spent in Rome. Under the heading 'The Cost of Looking Good in the Magic Kingdom'  by Huguccio Della Chiesa, it proves that this kind of excess sadly still exists within the Church. 
I imagine there would be few Catholics today who would  not find spending more than $ 30,000 (or even a 10th of that)  on ecclesiastical garb or religious vestiture for one bishop seem somewhat excessive!
Those familiar with the Gospel will immediately recognize the obvious dichotomy behind this kind of excessive behaviour and Jesus’ concern for the poor.  Such excesses were clearly recognized by one our Church’s greatest saints St. Francis.  While today some bishops may have ignored ‘the preferential option for the poor’, it was nevertheless enshrined in Catholic Social teaching.
Benedict XVI in red cappello
romano and red shoes 
Quoting Wikipedia, Pope Benedict XVI has re-introduced several papal garments which had previously fallen into disuse. Pope Benedict XVI resumed the use of the traditional red  papal shoes, which had not been used since early in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Contrary to the initial speculation of the press that the shoes had been made by the Italian fashion house Prada, the Vatican announced that the shoes were provided by the pope's personal shoemaker.
On 21 December 2005, the pope began wearing the camauro, the traditional red papal hat usually worn in the winter. It had not been seen since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII (1958–1963). On 6 September 2006 the pope began wearing the red cappello romano(also called a saturno), a wide-brimmed hat for outdoor use. Rarely used by John Paul II, it was more widely worn by his predecessors.

Is it perhaps time for the Catholic Church to return to a humbler manner as portrayed by Jesus.  Secrecy today about such matters and cover-ups do very little for the credibility of the Church. Lets hope one of those bishops rejects such attire for a simple tunic such as worn by Jesus.  Then the poor, who are the real treasures of the Church. may perhaps enter the church once again.

No comments: