Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Who Elects A New Pope ?

Who shall elect a Pope?  Most certainly not those who have found the God within, who is always available 24/7 and speaks directly to our heart.  Why settle for ‘a representative’ who has no direct interest in your welfare and only communicates via complex and confusing documents.
Do Catholics have a say in who they want as leader of their particular religion?  The answer is a definitive ‘yes’ simply based on Jesus’ teachings!   However, in reality many Roman Catholics understand otherwise. The following article by  Matthew Fox from his book ‘The Pope’s War’ (2011) may help us discover or re-discover who and how a leader of the Catholic church may hopefully be selected in the future.   

“The late and esteemed Father Bede Griffith wrote a fine article on the true meaning of "magisterium," (the teaching authority of the church) saying: "Many people today think that the magisterium consists of the pope, and the Roman Curia, but this is mistaken. 'Magisterium' comes from the Latin magister, a master, and sig­nifies authority to teach. Strictly speaking there is only one such authority in the Church and that is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to his disciples to 'lead men into all truth.'" He goes on to name four "organs of the magisterium" including the pope and the Roman Curia, which deals with day-to-day administration of the church; the second is the bishops. The pope is "subordinate to the authority of the bishops in communion with the pope who constitute the magisterium properly speaking. This was made clear at the Second Vatican Council." The third organ is the "periti" or expert theologians who advised the bishops. "In a sense it is to the theologians that the word magisterium properly applies, since a theo­logian is a master of sacred doctrine, who has been commissioned to teach theology in the name of the Church."

But the "most important" organ of the magisterium is the laity, "the people (laos)God . . . Strictly speaking, it is the laity, the people of God, who constitute the Church, while popes, bishops and priests are 'minis­ters' chosen from among the laity and commissioned by the Holy Spirit to act in the name of the Church." The whole church is called "a holy nation, a royal priesthood," and all members of the church share equally in the gift of the Holy Spirit The idea that authority comes from above, from the pope and the bishops, is not the ideal of the church as found in the New Testament. Such a "command structure" smacks much more of the Soviet Union than of New Testament church. Popes and bishops "are respon­sible to the laity, the people of God, for their teaching and their actions. Just as the pope has no authority apart from the bishops, so the pope and the bishops have no authority apart from the people from whom they are chosen and whom they represent."

Bede wrote these words at the time of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. His prayer was that Eastern Europeans' newly found freedom might also extend to the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal John Henry Newman, who has recently received the dubious honor of being named a saint by the same organization that called Escriva a saint, would very much sup­port this analysis of teaching authority in the church. Newman said this about the papacy in his day: "It is anomaly and bears no good fruit. He [the pope] becomes a god, has no one to contradict him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it." He called the papacy of Pius IX a "climax of tyranny" that was heretical, and decried the fact that an "extreme centralization . . . now is in use." Newman believed the laity should participate fully in the life of the church, and when a bishop objected he said: "The church would look foolish without them." Newman favored individual conscience over groupthink and blind obedience.”


Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI were instrumental in developing policies that centralized the control of more than a billion Roman Catholics under the rule of the Vatican.When Benedict ignored collegiality by transferring the power of bishops to the Cardinals he immediately lost and avoided the voice or cry of the people. The role previously assigned to our bishops.So it is now that a select group of cardinals, sworn to be totally obedient to the Pope, are to select a new leader of the Roman Catholic institution.While we may hear that the Conclave is surrounded by the Holy Spirit while they cast their votes, the laity is certainly not less endowed with the same Holy Spirit which they received during their Sacrament of Confirmation.
Under the influence of a living but retired Pope our Cardinals are under enormous pressure to elect an individual who will ‘carry on business as usual’. And indeed it may require one more Pope to bring the involvement of the laity out of this antiquantied process. Today more and more educated Catholics understand that when Jesus spoke in parables he was talking about a kingdom (here on earth) that reflected upside down values where the least would be first and the first would be last.         

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