By Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline, D.Min.
Finances, intrigue, and corruption, among other problems at the highest level of clashing Catholic Church’s officials, called the Curia, have Cardinals from around the world pitted to reclaim authority. The next pontiff will be elected from 115 eligible candidates this week. In recent history, five days in conclave have been the longest time cardinals were locked into the Sistine Chapel to select a pope in secrecy. White smoke and ancient and tired Vatican bells will chime at papal election to announce to the world that a new pope was elected.
Pope Benedict XVI resigned Feb. 28, vacating the seat, and, being the first chief shepherd to give up the troubled papal reigns in 600 years.
The pope emeritus, as he is now called, broke tradition and opened the door for loosening of intrigue plaguing the billion-member global Church.
Just as at Vatican II back in 1962-65 when the usual protocol had hundreds of participants at the second ecumenical Vatican Council rebel at the agenda curia officials set. I recall Detroit Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who was a student studying canon law in Rome at the time, telling me that he was surprised that the bishops were surprisingly leaving their meeting place the day Vatican II began. Gumbleton said that assertive worldwide leaders re-wrote the agenda that ushered in “fresh air” on the watch of Pope John XXIII. That Council’s aim is questioned today after turbulence now confronts leaders of the 2,000-year-old institution. Outstanding theologians, among others, protested then as cardinals today want reform at the highest level.
Among the emerging cardinals for pope will be one cardinals hope to be a firm new sheriff to clean up the Vatican corruption from the top to the bottom, one who has run a local diocese like the Canadian head of the Congregation for Bishops, Marc Ouellet. Among other qualities for the crippled Church’s pope who will lead it, will be a great communicator of the Gospel amid clashing power struggles among curia and cardinals who have delivered several speeches about the dire state of the Church since their arrival in Rome weeks ago.
While cardinals are spending time getting to know each other, some Detroit area Catholics are calling for participation of parishioners in the process of telling leaders what is needed in the fledgling Church. Some want Vatican III, a council similar to the council in the ’60s that was implemented poorly, some suggest. Others claim Vatican II needs to be reclaimed now. They want to claim their role of greater participation called for in the historic Vatican II that some believe has been dismissed causing unrest, a lack of mission, and, an identity crisis among the faithful.
Even the garrulous ” U.S. superpower” pastoral and practical Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York, and Capuchin Sean O’Malley of Boston are mentioned to be contenders for the election that may be decided this week when voting starts Tuesday. Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, 55,
a proven preacher, and diocesan administrator at home, is also emerging as a leading candidate.
As Benedict XVI broke revered Church tradition with his resignation, Catholics are hoping that taboos, illegal activity, intrigue, and curia dysfunction will end with a pastoral pope, some call, Pope Rambo I, for example, who will firmly lead parishioners, and, the people of God beyond the dire division, corruption, finance issues, and culture clashes these days, beyond hypocrisy in a Church called to love God and neighbor as one’s self.
(Reach Rev. Lawrence M. Ventline, D.Min., first executive director of the ecumenical Michigan Coalition for Human Rights at http://www.religionrootsrelationships.blogspot.com/, or (586) 777 9116).