Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rick Malloy's Articles on the Papal Election

An unnamed pilgrim prays in St. Peter's square as the Cardinals discern and vote.

These two articles, aimed at helping college students appreciate what is going on with the resignation of Pope Benedict and the subsequent conclave, appeared in the March editions of The Aquinas, the University of Scranton Student newspaper.  - Fr. Rick

Soon, “Habemus Papam”
Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D.
Vice President for University Mission and Ministry, the University of Scranton
There’s another kind of March Madness in the air.  Some are calling it “The Sweet Sistine.”  Chris Chase at CNN analyzed the outcome according to his reading of how the NCAA usually goes (e.g., favorites don’t win; teams with saints’ names don’t cut down the net) and came up with Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn as the next Pope (  If the Austrian Schoenborn is elected, you heard it here first!
The College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church is selecting a new Pope.  Prayerfully open to the influence of the Holy Spirit, they will elect a new leader of the Church, the pilgrim people of God.  The new Pope will be the Bishop of Rome and the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the globe.  That’s 17.5% of the 7 billion plus people who populate the planet.  The church grew by 29% from 1990 to 2010.  There has been explosive growth in the third world: a 109% increase in Africa and 50% growth in Asia.  There are some 65 million Catholics in the U.S. 
115 Cardinals will select the new Pope.  The Pope appoints Cardinals and they are usually Archbishops, that is, Bishops of large dioceses.  The Cardinals can select any Catholic man to be Pope.  He would then need to be ordained a priest and Bishop, if he were not so already.  They could make Stephen Colbert Pope!  But the probability of their selecting someone other than one of the 115 in the conclave is virtually nil.  It was not until the 11th century that the Cardinals began selecting the Pope.  In the early years of the church, the Bishop of Rome, like many other Bishops was elected by the people of the diocese.
There have been Jesuit Cardinals, most notably Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini who was the Bishop of Milan from 1980-2002.  He was considered “papabili” but time did not favor the possibility of his being elected.  Some Jesuits have been named Cardinals late in their lives to honor their service to the church, e.g., Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., the famous theologian.  Such Jesuits are often named Cardinal after they pass the age of 80.  Only Cardinals younger than 80 can participate in the conclave.
The Bishop of Rome is the first among equals.  The Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches, each organized under the leadership and authority of a Bishop.  “The Church subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him” (Lumen Gentium 8; CCC# 816)).  Priests are the assistants of the Bishop and are authorized to function in a diocese by the Bishop and in communion with him.  The Bishops of the Church are united in their loyalty to, and acceptance of, the leadership and authority of The Bishop of Rome, who is the successor of St. Peter, the first Bishop of Rome (who by the way was a married man.  More on that in a minute). 
The Bishop of Rome is the visible sign of unity that exists in the Church.  He is also known as the Pontiff, the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ and the Pope.  The word “Pope” from the Latin papa and the Greek “pappas” is a little child’s word for “Daddy.”  In the early centuries of the Church, the Pope was known as the Father of the Poor.
“The Church is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery” (Lumen Gentium 3) and is essentially both human and divine… present in the world, but as a pilgrim (Catechism of the Catholic Church  #771).  It’s been said the church is a hospital for sinners, not a showcase for saints.  The news lately has evidenced that fact.  Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien had to recuse himself due to his sexual misconduct.  Many have questioned the participation of Cardinal Law, formerly of Boston, and Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles due to their mishandling of the priests sex abuse scandals of the past decades.
The new Pope will face many challenges. In 1970 there were 419,728 priests and 1,004,304 religious sisters worldwide.  In 2012 there were 412,236 priests and 721,935 sisters.   In 1965 in the USA there were 58,632 priests and 179,954 sisters.  In 2012 in our nation there were 38,964 priests and 54,018 sisters.  The Catholic population has grown tremendously, but vocations to priesthood and religious life have not kept pace.  Lay leadership in the church will certainly increase in coming years.
The questions of married priests will be one the new Pope will face immediately, especially since dozens of married Episcopalian priests and protestant ministers have been ordained and are serving as Catholic priests in parishes in the USA today.  Women priests; the church’s teachings on moral issues like contraception, homosexuality, and the use of drones in warfare; the withering of church attendance and affiliation among the young of Europe and the USA (in the USA, one in three raised Catholic in no longer practicing the faith); and a host of other issues, most importantly the effects of the ongoing sex abuse crises, will confront whoever is elected. 
Given all that the new Pope will face, let’s pray for the Cardinals as they deliberate and choose, and let’s pray for our next Holy Father who will lead the church well into the 21st century.
                                                2025                                        2050

Africa                          219 Million Catholics              342 Million Catholics
Asia                             172 Million Catholics              207 Million Catholics
Europe                         272 Million Catholics              256 Million Catholics
Latin America             568 Million Catholics              646 Million Catholics
and the Carribean

North America              97 Million Catholics              113 Million Catholics
Oceania                         11 Million Catholics                13 Million Catholics   

World Wide                1.34 Billion Catholics             1.57 Billion Catholics

Saenz, Rogelio, “The Changing Demographics of Roman Catholics” (2005) .  Accessed Mar 1 2013


Pope Benedict XVI Steps Down.

Richard G. Malloy, S.J., Ph.D.
Vice President for University Mission and Ministry, the University of Scranton

This week we saw something that hasn’t happened in 719 years.  A Pope resigned.  This is a wise and humble choice on the part of Benedict XVI.  He has led the church since 2005, taking over from the charismatic and beloved John Paul II.  Admittedly more shy and less media savvy and charismatic than his predecessor, Benedict has charmed many he visited, e.g. his USA trip in 2008.
Celestine V in 1294 A.D. was the last Pope to voluntarily resign as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.  (Gregory XII was forced to resign in 1415, and so ended a painful schism, in the Western church where two Popes were claiming the Papacy).
Benedict’s eight years as head of the world’s more than one billion Catholics have not been easy.  He had to deal with the never ending revelations of priests’ sex scandals and Bishops mishandling of these matters.  Benedict XVI has been less the conservative enforcer some predicted and has certainly not made the conservative –liberal logjam any worse than it was when he took office.  Still, relations with religious women, and especially two well respected female theologians, Margaret Farley and Elizabeth Johnson, did not please the Catholic left.  But the Catholic right has not been pleased with what some see as his unwillingness to take a hard line and “crack down” on dissenters. 
This Pope is a brilliant theologian and an astute reader of the signs of the times.  He realizes that women and men of faith gain more by the patient and prayerful work of persuasion than the bludgeon of deafening dogma.  In the long run, dictators never win true allegiance of hearts and minds. 
Especially in his writings (hundreds of articles, multiple books, Encyclicals and three recent popular books on the life of Jesus), Benedict has been a voice of faith grounded in solid biblical scholarship.  Jim Martin, S.J., notes, “in [his] books, the pope brought to bear decades of scholarship and prayer to the most important question that a Christian can ask: Who is Jesus?  This is the pope’s primary job--to introduce people to Jesus--and Pope Benedict did that exceedingly well.”
Benedict’s voice calls for faith in an age where faith is fragile.  The erosion of faith in European and First world countries threatens the life of the church.  Yet hope rises where the church is blossoming, in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America.  China has seen Christianity grow exponentially in recent decades.
In his Introduction to Christianity, Benedict writes, “one could very well describe Christianity as a philosophy of freedom” and “The Christian message is basically nothing else than the transmission of the testimony that love has managed to break through death here and thus has transformed fundamentally the situation of us all.” (1968, p. 158; p. 307)
Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen argues that Benedict’s “encyclical Caritas in Veritate, with its affirmation of structural reform as ‘political charity’ and his call for a global authority to regulate the financial sector, may be the most radical since John XXIII's Pacem in terris 50 years ago.”
In Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict movingly reveals his view of God who exists in loving relationship.  “We see that to be God’s child is not a matter of dependency, but rather of standing in the relation of love that sustains man’s existence and gives it meaning and grandeur.  One last question: Is God also Mother?  The Bible does compare God’s love with the love of a mother.    The mystery of God’s maternal love is expressed with particular power in the Hebrew word rahamim, … ‘womb,’ later used to mean divine compassion, … God’s mercy.  The womb is the most concrete expression for the interrelatedness of two lives and of loving concern…” (2007, p. 139).
Joseph Ratzinger was born in 1927 and ordained a priest in 1951.  He has been serving the church in many capacities for over six decades.  He merits some time to relax, read and pray.  Maybe he’ll even have some more time to write.
College students know how to use twitter.  “Tweet” the Pope at his twitter handle “@pontifex” and say, “Thanks.”

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