Monday, May 6, 2013

Charity Is The Greatest “Tradition”


A peculiar or unusual transition in the Church calls for peculiar in­novations, just as a peculiar crisis calls for peculiar solutions which may also appear to be innovations. Reactions to these novelties, how­ever, must be guided by a desire for ancient wisdom and age- old chari­ty.
Pope Francis’ decision to reside at Domus Sanctae Marthae, rather than moving immediately into the papal apartments on the third floor of the apostolic palace where Popes have lived for many years, was viewed somewhat guardedly by papal standard- bearers. The Pope must live where the other Popes lived, they said, and when he did not, some were quick to put a negative spin on the new development, reacting as if the only way the decision could be viewed was as a blow to tradi­tion, a violation of precedent, and a sign of other possible unwanted changes to come. Fear bred further fear through a thoughtless and un­charitable gloss of the innovation.

Pope Francis, however, may have chosen to remain at the Domus out of respect for his still- living Predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict who, as of your reading this column, will have moved into the monastery prepared for him in the Vatican gardens. Pope Francis is most directly affected by the innovation of papal resignation that led to his election, and his decisions should not be seen in themselves as innovations, but, rather, as prudent adjustments in view of the unusual circumstances in which he finds himself functioning as Pope. That is, with another ex-Pope living in his backyard.

It is expected of Francis, and a gesture that he gladly and lovingly gives, that he show deference and respect for Benedict and we must in charity and with prayer allow him the room he needs to do that, ac­cording to the inspirations which the Holy Spirit gives him. Judgments must be firmly rejected as ever.

This applies also to the papal commission of cardinals which Pope Francis has chosen from various continents. He is faced with a crisis in the Church that is characterized by new problems necessitating new answers and effective countermeasures. Some critics have reacted to this as another unprecedented innovation, claiming that Pope Francis with this move is parceling out papal authority in a way contrary to prece­dent.

I agree with Andrea Tornielli, an Italian journalist and expert on the Roman Curia, who, with a view to the long history of the Church, claims correctly that Popes have in the past turned to cardinal advisers for help in discharging their enormous and ponderous duties. He says that the only innovation in Pope Francis’ selection of a council of cardinal- ad­visers is that they more widely represent the universality of the Church than other councils in the past, but they most certainly do not consti­tute an innovation.

Tornielli said that the Popes of the past have relied on the advice of councils, and the tradition of the papacy survived the convention just fine.

I submit that the only thing that might seriously injure the papacy is the attacks and judgments coming from within the Church on the part of those who react without thinking or prayer in uncharitable, unhelp­ful, and, tragically, sometimes scandalous ways. Let our Holy Father edify us as does any holy person in the Church who heroically and selflessly lives out his vocation. He needs and deserves our prayers.

Here is an ancient tradition, from Sacred Scripture itself, that if we follow will make all of us better coworkers with our Holy Father in the Church, the vineyard of the Lord Jesus: “ Love one another as I have loved you.”

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