Where the buck stops

How long, one wonders, does the list of senior clerics accused of sexual misconduct have to be before the Vatican undertakes a thorough investigation on the lines of the British IICSA?

The IICSA, without fear or favour,r has savaged the Anglican Diocese of Chichester, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham; has effectively ended the ministry of a former Archbishop of Canterbury; and sullied the reputation of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. In short, it has taken the complaints of victims seriously. By way of contrast, the Vatican has done virtually nothing about loud accusations – in particular from Latin America. It has even given asylum to alleged offenders.

Who is to blame for this inaction? The answer can only be one man – the Sovereign Pontiff.

In a regime which has consistently emphasised the omni-competence of the successor of Peter, there is no place to hide. Francis should initiate a thoroughgoing, independent and wide-ranging investigation forthwith. Only such a course of action can remove the growing suspicion that the Holy See itself is complicit in the alleged offences.

Provincial Autonomy

The Scots, I hear, have rejected the Francis translation of the Paternoster. Good on them! But on what grounds, one wonders.

True, anyone with a smattering of Latin knows that the Francis version is no translation – and scholars say the same of the New Testament Greek. Is the Scottish episcopate learned in Aramaic, I wonder? And more learned than the Holy Father?

Or perhaps their Lordships meditated, considering the univocal opinion of distinguished linguists, on the undeniable superfluity of the change.

And what of England and Wales? What version will obtain south of Hadrian’s Wall? Will the weighty scholarship of the English and Welsh match that of the Scots? Or will they side with the Italians?

Biblical translation is becoming as exciting as the World Cup. We hold our breath.

Rhine Synod

At a specially convened press conference, Cardinal Parolin has authorised the release of the Instrumentum Laboris for the forthcoming ‘Rhine Synod’ The 168-page document sets out the agenda for the Synod, which is scheduled for December. A digest has been helpfully supplied by Walter, Cardinal Kasper.

The Instrumentum will address the crisis in vocations which has long afflicted the Rhineland nations, by permitting the ordination to the priesthood of so-called ‘viri probati’ (married men with no more than one previous spouse living). This will accord with the social mores of indigenous peoples, who, throughout the region, either never marry, or do so several times.

Another aim of the document is to encourage liturgical changes in tune with local custom. Mass attendance, for example, will no longer be seen as obligatory and can be commuted by payment of the Kirchensteuer.

Said Cardinal Baldisseri, who has had oversight of the project: ‘The aim of the Holy Father is to respect indigenous culture wherever it is to be found. The Rhine, the Amazon, the Mekong – it matters not where. The Catholic Church is called to embrace all kinds of cultural diversity. That is why it is called ‘Catholic’.’

Where next?

In its relentless desire to push the envelope, the CofE (aka WOKEChurch) has finally appointed its first black female bishop. Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin (why the ‘_’?) has been waiting in the wings for some time. In an institution which prides itself on inclusivity, the delay seems unconscionable.

But the question now must be: what next? To keep up the momentum of novelty there is much to be done. The first partnered gay woman bishop? The first black partnered gay woman bishop? The first transgendered bishop? The first black transgendered bishop? And when those are achieved, where?

Nothing is certain. Except that whatever it is, the Episcopal Church of the United States will have got there first.

Ipsissima Verba

A kind reader has suggested that Pope Francis would never be so crass as to adopt the minimalist interpretation of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes so familiar to us from liberal Protestant sources. I append the following:

Thus he tells his disciples to have the people sit down in groups of 50 — this is not merely coincidental, for it means that they are no longer a crowd but become communities nourished by God’s bread. Jesus then takes those loaves and fish, looks up to heaven, recites the blessing — the reference to the Eucharist is clear — and breaks them and gives them to the disciples who distribute them… and the loaves and fish do not run out, they do not run out! This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity. (Francis, Angelus,  St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 2 June 2013)

Surprisingly, the account of the multiplication of the loaves does not mention the multiplication itself. On the contrary, the words that stand out are: “break”, “give” and “distribute” (cf. Lk 9:16). In effect, the emphasis is not on the multiplication but the act of sharing. This is important. Jesus does not perform a magic trick; he does not change five loaves into five thousand and then to announce: “There! Distribute them!” No. Jesus first prays, then blesses the five loaves and begins to break them, trusting in the Father. And those five loaves never run out. This is no magic trick; it is an act of trust in God and his providence. (Francis, Homily on Corpus Christi, Rome, June 23, 2019)

Excerpts from the Pope Francis New Testament.

No 2: The Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus and his mother knew that the unjust steward had been syphoning off the best wine into these jars for his own use. (It was a regular scam of stewards.) Jesus said to the servants, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.  When the master of the feast tasted the wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee. And his mother, who knew precisely what had happened, kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Excerpts from the Pope Francis New Testament.

No 1: The Non-Multiplication of the Loaves. (cf Francis, Angelus address, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, 2 June 2013)

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?’ He said this to test him, for he himself knew what would come to pass. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, ‘There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated beside him; so also the fish. And behold, at this sign of generosity from Jesus, the five thousand, who had selfishly been keeping to themselves the food each had brought – hidden in satchels and up capacious sleeves – shared their provisions also. Each said to other: ‘Come let us share, for here is food enough.’ When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw what his simple gesture had achieved, they began to say, ‘This man is a real inspiration. There was enough food for everybody after all. A man with charisma like that should be elected president.’