Curia vs Who?

I admire Rocco Palmo’s enthusiasm and optimism about the Church that infuses most all of his writing. Even when he reports bad or difficult news, he wants to draw the reader into his own sadness or disappointment.

I have to take exception to his headline, “The Curia vs. The World.”

The world is very close to not caring about the curia at all. The pope still matters. The real headline should be: The Curia vs The Church. There is a long list of people who dislike or distrust the curia. Or some dis in between.

Rock’s analysis:

So powerful is the urge to “take the Vatican back” that, even if should a besieged Curial-Italian superbloc hold together – a development that would turn a cornerstone element of the prior “internationalized” Conclaves on its head – it wouldn’t seem able to withstand the drumbeat coming from those outside.

Again, though, a number unable to win can still thwart an otherwise strong push, forcing it to become more amenable to get over the top. In that scenario, other possibilities able to break the resistance down or peel it away will need to be sought.

In another shift of the scene, the elections of 1978 and 2005 saw ideology – of course, as determined by the legacy of the Council – as a key factor. That’s not the case this time – as ecclesial issues go, “reform” of governance usually belongs to the progressive camp, but many who wouldn’t be considered “liberal” by any stretch appear to be on-board.

In this election, the fault line can duly be termed “The Curia vs. The World.” And as a corollary to it, even if the scene remains immensely uncertain, yet another great upending of what’s long been taken for granted is thought to be taking place.

The curia isn’t a monolith. Cracks have appeared there. And the anti-curia bloc may well be able to pry enough cardinals away to achieve a reform of government with the next papacy.

That reform is essential. For better or worse, the pope has a certain teflon character. But we don’t pray for the curia every day at Mass. The curia isn’t much different from a diocesan chancery. Except that it’s largely less competent and more filled with clergy.

Twenty-four hours before “extra omnes,” I’m feeling rather hopeful about all this. Lent is here and a penitential attitude may be afoot in some cardinals. One, I heard, delayed his arrival in Rome because he was on retreat. It might not be a bad idea for future red-hat meetings before a conclave to include a retreat instead of a conference. A retreat would be a far better way to be open ot the Holy Spirit. Far less secular.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Curia vs Who?

  1. John McGrath says:

    Some changes to church government that might, along with others, become part of the Catholic public forum:

    1. Creating an Office of Papal Management. One pope, two Executive Assistants, appointed for nine years, able to serve three terms. The pope would choose each one, one of whom would have to be a nun or a lay person. Each would have certain Curial Offices report to her/him. AND either could be fired by a two thirds vote of the worldwide Cardinals. Fired based on what fair minded evidence? See next item.

    2. Create an Auditor General’s Office, reporting directly the the Office of Papal Management The Auditors would be empowered to demand and examine the financial an operational records of any office, and mandate records where there are none or the records are of dubious validity or effectiveness. In addition to a review and policing role, the Auditors would also have an advisory role aimed at getting each office examined the resources they need to operate more openly and effectively. Assets might be budget increases, computer, skills training, etc.

    3. Using Audit information, the Office of Papal Management would publish a Triennial Report similar to an Annual Report. The Report would open with letters from the Pope and the two Executive Assistants. The letters would contain a statement of faith, invoke the blessings of God and Christ on the church and the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the enriching the spirituality and humanity of the church and the care of Mary for Christ’s church. Then they would briskly outline goals, accomplishments and problems and how they are being addressed. These Reports would be deposited with various libraries around the world and be posted on the Internet.

    P.S. The Pope would retain a Discreet Charity Fund, whose amount would be disclosed but not any specifics about where and how the money was spent, although that would be addressed in a general statement. Given the state of the world,the papacy would always need to provide certain acts of assistance in private.

    Just sayin. Meanwhile the Curia rules.

  2. Mike says:

    From the post to which you linked: “The rest belongs to history, even as the world feverishly awaits the result.”

    I don’t think “feverishly” describes the way most people, whether Catholic or not, are waiting for the result.

    • Todd says:

      Agreed. Rock exaggerates a good bit on this. Or projects his own excitement and curiosity.

      I think most Catholics and all non-believers will care once the pope demonstrate what kind of person and believer he is.

  3. Charles says:

    “I think most Catholics and all non-believers will care once the pope demonstrate what kind of person and believer he is.”

    Todd, brother, would like to retract and reiterate the last clause of your sentence? (Judge not, lest ye be judged.) It seems to me that that tho’ we may, indeed, have been created in the likeness of God, we weren’t bestowed Pantocrator status as part of the deal. At best, your mistatement is naive, at worst, very Dan Brown. Not sufficient either way.

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