Those familiar with the political machinations of Catholic officials noticed the immense political overtones with the resignation of Ratzinger (Pope Benedict.) It isn’t difficult to surmise nor anticipate his immediate moves throughout the near conclave. He’s called a conclave so as to consolidate his move to reform the Roman Curia (Court.) This is the official legal entity (bureaucracy) that runs the day-to-day operations of the Vatican. My guess is that reform will not be done in haste, but it will be done! This is a political act, and we need to understand why Ratzinger chose to do it instead of remaining on as Pope.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) is the avatar embodying Orthodoxy. Although he cut his teeth as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he is especially attuned to affirming what the Church needs to survive. His interview and subsequent arrest of his house butler revealed behavior consistent with the need to reform this most insular institution. My guess is that Ratzinger was caught off-guard acknowledging homosexual escapades of Curia Staff. His initial instincts were right. Immediate public resignation, a new conclave and a retired Pope; all overt political acts demonstrating bold leadership in acknowledging and advancing reform.
Everyone admits that Ratzinger’s time as Pontiff was remarkable for its low-level, slow burn admonishment of modernity and accommodation with leaders hostile to the Church. Most people familiar with the Church acknowledge that Ratzinger’s time was one of consolidation. This may be the only time he can, in effect, move rapidly to address moral issues from within the administrative bureaucracy, a true spiritual act, one fit for Ratzinger!
He has already made it known that Cardinal Angelo Scola from Venice his chosen successor. I will write on him later this month, but for now, we should admit that Ratzinger holds a grip and vision of reform alloyed to the necessities of the moment. He will prevail, but more needs to be said of how the Church will discipline itself after reform. This is a supreme ecelesiological act on par with both John Paul II & Gregory the Great; although I’ll admit that Gregory’s time was far more approving than our current detractors, if Ratzinger can sell his needed political reform publicly, he’ll reign alongside both Gregory and JPII.
Now that Communism is dead, the Church is now in a position to be Herself!
That’s politically and culturally where we stand at this time. The gift of this opportunity must be shaped from within the cauldron of the men most familiar with Orthodoxies traction on modernity, especially its relation to gnosticism and positivism. We should know that Ratzinger’s admonishment on the convergence of faith and reason birth the theologic that is Western Civilization. He means to bring that albatross to bear on the political machinations of the Curia itself. No mean task!
As Benedict begins to survey his fellow Priests on this task, he will surely note that the Church’s lumbering, centuries old administrative bureaucracy is its Achilles Heel. Honed over centuries to protect itself, the Vatican resembles a 16th century museum/ward than a 21st century lean adjunct. Ratzinger and his adjudicates know that they proved themselves insufficient regarding numerous recent scandals. The insular mode of the Curia must be broken and with it a vision of Ecclesiology fit for Evangelization.
Its time that the Church clean out the Augean Stables for a leaner more transparent view of grace!