“Open The Doors!” (And The Closets?)

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

If you want to understand just how vastly different this Pope is from his predecessor, read the full and best translation of his recent impromptu remarks to the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women. They blew me away. Can you ever imagine the anal-retentive doctrine cop, Ratzinger, ever saying this about the body that dictates doctrine that he once headed, the Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith:

They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder [meter la pata], this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing… But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward… Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up…

The heart swells as the voice of Jesus replaces the voice of the Pharisee. Rocco tartly observes that Pope Francis’ “penchant for veering off-text in open company just reached a whole new planet”. You can say that again. I loved this aside in observing how we are often more obsessed with tiny shifts in stock prices than the human being dying of hypothermia down the street:

Computers are not made in the image and likeness of God; they are an instrument, yes, but nothing more. Money is not image and likeness of God. Only the person is image and likeness of God. It is necessary to flip it over. This is the gospel.

And I loved this dismissal both of the uptight traditionalists who cannot see the forest for the rosaries and of those seeking to substitute the core teaching of the incarnation in favor of a vague spirituality:

There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council… One feels in 1940… An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: “Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries.” Why don’t they say, ‘we pray for you, we ask…’, but this thing of counting… The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms… Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite… I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that …

And then a possible clue as to why Benedict XVI decided to break with centuries of tradition and run into hiding after he read a dossier on abuses in the church:

In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true… The “gay lobby” is mentioned, and it is true, it is there… We need to see what we can do…

Was the former Pope subject to blackmail? Were other Cardinals?

If the Vatican’s screwed-up doctrines about gay people have led to genuine threats of blackmail from within the hierarchy, if a faction of benign or malign homosexuals has really been using that leverage for whatever purposes, then we do indeed have a problem, to which the answer must be more transparency – of the kind Francis seems to endorse. The Vatican is refusing to comment on the content of the “private meeting.” But Mary Elizabeth Williams recognizes an emerging pattern:

The pope’s cryptic statement about a “gay lobby” doesn’t do anything to explain what a “gay lobby” actually is, how it’s gay lobbying and what it’s gay lobbying for — or what the Vatican intends to do about what Francis calls the “difficult” work of reforming the genuinely corrupt aspects of the huge worldwide organization he recently became the leader of. But already his actions have revealed a Hillary-like determination to do it his way, protocol be damned. …

Like his institution itself, Francis still got a long, long, lonnnnnng way to go in terms of broadening the definition of love, humility and tolerance. But a guy who’s been tweeting about “the unemployed, often as a result of a self-centered mindset bent on profit at any cost,” is a guy who’s having a good time shaking things up and making splitting headaches for the big shots around him. A guy who remembers that Jesus was a loudmouth and a troublemaker. [Vatican spokesman] Father Lombardi, I hope you’ve got plenty of Advil. Because I have a feeling your boss is just getting warmed up.

Previous Dish on the rumors of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican here and here.

(Photo: Pope Francis smiles after his weekly general audience in St Peter’s square at the Vatican on June 12, 2013. By Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images.)