Quantcast
Latest Stories

Reforms in Vatican bureaucracy loom under Pope Francis

By

Loading the player...

Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope Francis I on Wednesday, becoming the first Latin American pontiff in a surprise decision that signalled a desire for a more open Catholic Church.


VATICAN–The election as pope of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who as archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina had tangled with state authorities over abortion, homosexual marriage, and the culture wars, is expected to provide a pastoral polish to the conservative theology of his predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Like Blessed John Paul, Pope Francis has called the liberal call for contraception, abortion and euthanasia as part of the “culture of death.” And like Benedict who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and doctrinal watchdog of John Paul II had called homosexuality an “objective disorder,” the new pope has come up with harsher language to depict the gay rights movement pushing for “same-sex marriage”: he has called it a “demonic movement.”

In short, Bergoglio provides both continuity and consolidation to the much lauded—or criticized—conservative stance of John Paul and Benedict.

Often derided for taking allegedly dogmatic positions on HIV-Aids and other issues of sexual morality, Benedict was perceived as theologically brilliant but pastorally deficient.

As a prelate actively engaged in various ministries for the family and the poor in Argentina, Bergoglio is expected to provide the pastoral or practical underpinning to the Chuch’s highly unpopular stand on the very divisive issues.

Bergoglio was made a cardinal by John Paul in the consistory of 2001. Depending on varying accounts of the papal conclave of 2005 that elected John Paul’s successor, he was said to have been runner-up to Benedict XVI or at least, his name had figured in the initial ballot.  (A conclave is confidential and cardinal-electors take a vow of secrecy.)

Other accounts said it was another Jesuit contender, Milan Archbishop Emeritus Carlo Maria Martini, who was pitted against Ratzinger.

Under Benedict, Bergoglio became a member of the obligatory congregations such as the Congregation for the Clergy and Pontifical Council for Family.

Bergoglio also follows the cautious legacy of John Paul and Benedict on social justice.

While John Paul wrote the celebrated social encyclical on labor and justice, Laborem Excersens, and Benedict excoriated liberal capitalism, they were critical of the theology of liberation, a distinctly Latin American theology that provided a political reading of the Bible to connect it with the alleged structural injustice in South America and the need to liberate people from such an unfair system.

Ratzinger, as doctrinal watchdog, condemned liberation theology for its use of Marxist analysis. His 1984 “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation’” was supported by Pope John Paul II, who having come from Communist Poland and spearheaded the movement that led to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, was necessarily wary of any political philosophy that freely borrowed from Marxism.

Although eschewing the triumphalist trappings of the usual high church functionary to better identify himself with the poor, Bergoglio is perceived ambivalently on social justice and human rights.

The Argentinian Church has been criticized for its establishment connections, especially since it receives state subsidy. His fellow Jesuit priest, Orlando Yorio, had criticized him when he was head of the Argentinian Jesuits in the 1970’s for failing to endorse the activist work of the Jesuits against the former military dictatorship.

Reform of Vatican bureaucracy

Although a member of a number of dicasteries, Bergoglio is a Vatican outsider and his election should indicate that the cardinal-electors had felt the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy would have to come from the outside and not within.

The overhaul of the bureaucracy has been seen as paramount considering Pope Benedict’s short reign was marred by the “Vatican leaks” scandal and other instances of red tape and factional struggles. Vatican observer Alberto Meloni has suggested that the reform should be made by devolution and “consultation with bishop conferences.”

As reelected president of the Argentine bishops conference, Bergoglio may do just that, but the initiative may run counter to the legacy of Benedict and even John Paul.

In the Ratzinger Report (1985), the Pope Emeritus said the Episcopal conferences “have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church as willed by Christ.”

Benedict however upheld the “conciliarism” of the Second Vatican Council and connected it with bishops’ unity with the papacy.

In earlier books commenting on the reforms of the council, where he was a peritus or theological adviser from 1962-1965, he said that the unity of the Church is rooted in the Episcopate (the bishops who are the magisterium or the teaching authority of the Church) and the unity of the bishops requires the existence of a fellow bishop who is head of the college of bishops—the Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter.

Still, for Ratzinger, episcopal conferences are just a clearing house of issues, its opinions and discussions are not theologically binding.

In 1998, at Ratzinger’s prodding, Pope John Paul II released the apostolic letter, Apostolos Suos, in which it was declared that bishops conferences could not issue statements on doctrine or morality without unanimity among its members or prior approval from the Holy See.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Church , conservative theology , News , Pope Francis , Religion , Vatican




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Pope’s Easter Message ‘Urbi et Orbi’
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement