Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Let me quickly put out some views on Pope Frank, Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop The Most Reverend Justin Welby.  They have hit the news and not just for their fantastic titles and amazing headdress. 
Let’s start with Pope Frank.  He is playing a blinder early on in the first half of his pontificate.  He is stressing two values: concern for the poor and deviation from Papal clothing statements.  Often these pronouncements might sound empty and meaningless.  But I would argue that they have symbolic power. 
Simplicity and alleviation of poverty are two of the fundamental values that are encapsulated in the vows taken by Catholic clergy.  For the godless it is depressing to see him stick to such core values. It confirms my pessimistic belief that if the next couple of pontiffs stick to a reform regime and core values, the sexual abuse scandal will quickly fade from the amnesiac memory of the populace.  There are those godless who harboured views that the abuse scandal was a fatal blow.  It might not be thus. 
Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, like Francis is embarking on an amazing innovation. You will recall that from the demise of the Roman Empire until the Schism of the Middle Ages, Orthodoxy (based in Istanbul nee Constantinople) and those who became Catholics headquartered in Rome (and Avignon), waged an internal war for the leadership of Christianity. But after a row in the 11th century, there was a mutual excommunication between East and West. Thus the Great Schism of 1054 is almost 1000 years old.  Amazingly, since that time, no Orthodox Patriarch has darkened the doorstep of St Peter’s for a Papal Investiture.  Bartholomew has broken their duck!
Finally, and almost invisibly, the Anglican Communion has a new leader.  The Archbishop of Canterbury has just been ceremonially invested with his office.  Justin Welby faces huge issues identical to the Catholics – how do we keep the conservative growth areas in places like Africa aligned with progressive Western dioceses?  That is worth a blog on its own. I think he will struggle and fail.
Well this flush of change has everyone in the Church happy as Larry.  What is your view?
Will Pope Frank be the answer to all of Catholicism prayers or will he slip up on the gay inclusion issue and his underwhelming role in Argentina’s Dirty War?
Are Bart’s Orthodox overtures the beginning of a new age?
How Most Reverend Welby cope with his contradictory Church?
Over to you guys….


  1. You know Dick, if they were just liars , hypocrites and petty thieves I'd just turn my back to them. We have shown them their ancient scriptural failures and the power-mad money-hungry Emperors, bishops, Popes and mullahs for what they are now for many years, but to no avail. Without question their peccadilloes become perversions, their self righteousness deviancy. As time increases so does their claim to legitimacy fester in pomp, circumstance and bronze aged delusions. They believe they are beyond moral judgement historical accuracy and secular law. I will always have hope but deep down I don't believe they can change except through lengthy gaol sentences for the crimes they have, and will, commit. We are still primitive creatures the religious prove it.

    ..ah well, on that happy note, here's to a thorough and honest Royal Commission, cheers.

    1. Oh Great and Powerful Og - once again you say much that is not contestable. But you know and I know that the prosecutions will not be as extensive as hoped. However, I imagine that the Catholic Church will be able over the decades to put this behind them. The Scouts have recovered from similar but less pervasive issues and the Catholic Church will make a similar rise from the ashes. Am I too cynical? Dick

  2. As I said before I'll wait and see. But it seems more makeover than new beginning. JND as they say in advertising.

  3. And if you will accept some constructive criticism, maybe you should move on from the papacy. There doesn't seem to be much left to say about it.

    1. You are so correct. I am a bit of a Papacy freak. You know I went to Papal audience and got to touch JPII! I can sense the jealousy from here.

    2. Martin C10:58 AM

      Robin: One of the endlessly fascinating things about the Papacy to non-believers is the way the institution (the RCC) fails to change when its leaders change. The only parallel we have is leaders of nations, and there is usually a sea change in thinking when a nation elects a new leader. But the papacy never has an obviously left-wing candidate ... they are all pretty much in exactly the same faction all the way (left on a handful of social justice issues, but far right on everything else, including issues of personal freedom).

      This sometimes leave atheist Pope-watchers studying a new Pope for signs on change ... and rarely finding any. Here comes the new boss; same as the old boss. No doubt some would view this constancy as a good sign, unfortunately it tends to perpetuate the Church's mistakes as well as its virtues ... viz. the ongoing pedophilia problems.

  4. Dear Maroubra Man,
    The balance between certainty with its change aversion and innovation with its disconcerting shifting of verities is a constant tension in every organisation. The RCC is this tension writ large. Francis must move to some evolutionary change and I cannot predict how root and branch this change will be. What is your guess?

  5. Hello Dick,
    Re the "demise of the Roman Empire". It happened a thousand years later.

    You know as well as I do that Constantine the Great moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople. He left the Western half of the Empire to the invaders. The Eastern half continued on until 1453 when it was finally overrun by the Turks.

    Please don't be a conduit for Western Church spin.