Baseball91's Weblog

March 27, 2013

The Book of Numbers: Why Pope Benedict Abdicated

Filed under: European Union,Pope Benedict XVI,Roman Catholic — baseball91 @ 5:24 PM

The New Irish Prayer for all of Europe through the end of February had been: “May the road rise up to meet you, since your congregation won’t. May the wind at your back always be your own, so long as the bishop hasn’t closed the church.”

The numbers reflect the effectiveness of the papacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Those numbers throughout Europe have shown the new Exodus, a generation later. In January 2013, German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki announced plans to Katholische Nachrichten Agentur to cut the 105 churches in the Archdiocese of Berlin to 30 parishes by 2020. This seventy percent reduction — over 70 percent — will also affect Catholic schools, as well as hospitals, elderly homes and nurseries. Those later mentioned institutions will soon be facing their own reductions to reflect a “diaspora experience.”

It was in 2007 that Cardinal Woelki’s predecessor –Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky – had cut in half the number of parishes due to the archdiocese debt of $140 million.

Also in German-speaking Austria, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn reduced the number of parishes from 660 to 150 in September 2012. That was a reduction of 510 churches in his Vienna archdiocese if you did the map. The number of German-speaking people were following behind the long-held tenets of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger that the Roman Catholic Church needed to be pruned back, theorized before he was elected pope. And he along with all of the cardinals appointed under John Paul II were leading the pruning, with loyalty oaths of the right guard of the church.

The language changes in a new interpretation of the English Mass came not with collaboration by the English speaking world but a stilted high German-like understanding of the world. Perhaps it was viewing what was happening in the Hapsburg Empire next door, Otto von Bismarck felt a scarcity of moral courage among Germans – Bismarck thought this characteristic among Germans with the complete lack of it among those who put on vestments and/or uniforms – made Germany unsuitable for democratic government.

Caught up on the cause of religious freedom as a basic human right, the old pope was oppressing a certain wing of his own church with his pruner. Blind to the difference between choosing and being chosen, with then all of the vanity about being right.

Forgotten was the reason why the Mass in the first place had once been in Latin, to appeal to the masses in the Roman Empire. And the change in these deep-rooted words was more than just in a translation but in the underlying use of power and might.

Week after week for the past year, less than half of the people verbally respond to the new wording in the prayer before communion: “Lord I am not worthy.” In the elimination tournament over language, less than half the congregation liked the archbishop here, who supports every change. When leadership since John Paul II was based on loyalty oaths, where the elimination mostly included belief. Never until John Paul II did priests have to take loyalty oaths to archbishops.

After so many Germans, Irish, and Americans might have realized that the new question was who was excommunicating who? Who had the real power of excommunication, to prune back, when the vicars of Rome were forced to close so many churches?

Yes, Spring is here. And the high and the mighty have been displaced. There is room again for real growth in the universal church, so this church can once again try to engage all of humanity. A church does not withdraw, does not retreat backwards. A church is not a tribe for like-minded people, not an exclusive society. A church does not retreat from the world. A church with its people is held accountable, legally in a society and so much more.

A church transfigured by this new pope, not using stilted language. One of us. There is cause for celebration that a church which brings people together might go back to its original purpose. To come down from the mountain top, Transfigured.

To be elevated was all like a dream. As the people could believe in the leader.


1 Comment »

  1. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 54, was named bishop of Limburg in 2008, becoming Germany’s youngest Roman Catholic bishop at the time. He was already known for a luxurious lifestyle and that reputation was furthered when one of his first acts as bishop was to renovate the diocesan center and his residence at a cost of nearly $20 million. At this same time, the diocese was closing other church institutions.

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    Comment by baseball91 — March 28, 2013 @ 12:59 AM | Reply

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