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.
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.