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Friday, March 15, 2013

JPII, Francis, and Jesuit reform

Update 11/25/16: Francis' Amoris Laetitia may very well "suspend" his Magisterium altogether.  I pray he may correct the document and clarify his teaching to be more in accord with Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendour.

Since the election of Francis I, formerly Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J., much surprise and misunderstanding has surrounded the Jesuit order.  Known for bordering on unorthodox social teaching, including liberation theology, the Jesuits have produced the likes of Pedro Arrupe and others who outrightly enacted the 'spirit of Vatican II' as opposed to the 'hermeneutic of continuity' of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  However, Pope Francis I may stand as a direct descendant of true orthodoxy from the council fathers, even in the throes of various Jesuit disorders.  

Blessed John Paul II attempted early on in his pontificate to reform the Jesuit order with mixed results.  Indeed, George Weigel claims that the Jesuits were like a thorn in the side of JPII--always evading his strategic reforms with more and more unorthodoxy: 
(speaking of the election of Francis I)
   I suspect there were not all that many champagne corks flying last night in those Jesuit residences throughout the world where the Catholic Revolution That Never Was is still regarded as the ecclesiastical holy grail. For the shrewder of the new pope’s Jesuit brothers know full well that that dream was just dealt another severe blow. And they perhaps fear that this pope, knowing the Society of Jesus and its contemporary confusions and corruptions as he does, just might take in hand the reform of the Jesuits that was one of the signal failures of the pontificate of John Paul II.  GEORGE WEIGEL--http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/342964/first-american-pope-george-weigel?pg=3

Apparently, the Jesuits were more or less forerunners in the brain-child of liberation theology (please reference my 2012 post on "JPII vs Liberation Theology").  Not only that, but they espoused outlandish teaching on women's ordination, homosexual activity, and contraception.  For an order that originally was formed to pledge absolute allegiance to the seat of St. Peter, Jesuits had fallen far away from the tree.

It is easy, then, to guess that JPII did very little to correct such disobedience.  Likewise, it is easy to think him aloof in addressing problems that constantly arose during his days as Pope.  On the contrary, JPII acted somewhat harshly on the Jesuits soon after their vicar general, Pedro Arrupe, passed away from stroke:
  The Pope picked his own team to head the powerful order. The Jesuits swear an oath of obedience to the papacy but, throughout their 441-year history, their independent ways and elitist style have ruffled many Popes. John Paul II, no stranger to controversy, last week took a bold step to bridle the Society of Jesus. In a move interpreted as a warning to all religious orders, he suspended the normal workings of the Jesuit Constitutions, removed the acting leader of the organization and replaced him with two Italian Jesuits who enjoy the Vatican's confidence: Paolo Dezza, 79, and Joseph Pittau, 53.
And, the New York Times reported similar measures in 1999:
The Jesuits, formally the Society of Jesus, an order founded in the 16th century, grew politically divided in the social unrest of the 1960's and 70's. One of the first concerns of John Paul II's papacy was ridding the Roman Catholic Church of Marxist-tinted 'liberation theology' movements in Latin America, of which Jesuits were often leading advocates. Jesuits in the United States and Europe were also prominent in theological rifts with Rome.
In 1979 the newly elected pope warned a gathering of Jesuits that their order was 'causing confusion among the Christian people and anxieties to the church.'
Based on those events in JPII's lifetime, it becomes much more clear why George Weigel notes Jesuit reform as one of the few 'failures' of Blessed John Paul's pontificate.
But, I repeat that the 'redemptive suffering' endured by JPII on behalf of the Jesuit order may have, at long last, opened the door for true reform in the pontificate of Francis I.  The Jesuits are bound to re-discover their roots of allegiance to the chair of St. Peter, because one of their own will call them out of error! 
Final note on a tangential Catholic/Jewish connection between JPII and Francis I--within the first 3 days of his pontificate, Pope Francis issued this statement to the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni:
'Trusting in the protection of the Most High, I very much hope to be able to contribute to the progress that relations between Jews and Catholics have experienced since the Second Vatican Council, in a spirit of renewed collaboration and at the service of a world that can be ever more harmonious with the will of the Creator.'  
(Please reference my 2013 post on Jerzy Kluger and Karol Wojtyla).  It appears that the Jewish/Catholic relations begun by JPII will be picked up again with Francis, just as they were with Benedict XVI!

Update as of Cannonization of Argentine Blessed Jose Brochero (proponent of Ignatian Spiritual Exercises):
http://opeast.org/2013/10/01/holy-cowboy/ & http://www.news.va/en/news/argentianian-priest-fr-brochero-beatified

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

JPII vs Abuse Crisis

In recent years, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has publicly confronted the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.  He has prayed, sought pardon for priests, and visited victims and locations where the abuse occurred.
His predecessor helped to lay the groundwork for such difficult reconciliation and healing.  Together, the two men turned shame into purification, disaster into opportunity for reform.

In my lifetime, I have observed the Church undergo transformation and renewal, even in the midst of some of the darkest days of her history.  Certainly, nothing can ever fully heal wounds as deep as abuse--but, the measures taken to not only avoid such abuse in the future, but to guarantee good priestly formation and child safety for generations to come far outweigh the wounds inflicted in a few decades.  Again, I do not excuse the behavior of Christian leaders (since it was not just Catholic clergy responsible for the abuse), but I do propose that men like Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI took painful measures to repair what was broken--far beyond what was expected of them as shepherds.  I would even go so far as to suggest that by working on magnum opuses like Love and Responsibility, The Theology of the Body, and  The Acting Person, JPII went after the lost sheep on a man-to-man basis--offering to pick them up and carry them with his teaching.  Even so, several disobeyed.

What was the cause of such disobedience?  And, why were there not immediate consequences?

Based on the subject matter of much of Blessed John Paul II's writing, namely the admonishing of leadership to address sexual ethics in an age of birth control and promiscuity, I would say that plenty of sound preventative material was available to the faithful post-Vatican II.  Not only that, but early on in his pontificate canon law was updated by the holy father to swiftly deal with 'crimes' associated with clergy:
The Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1983 updated the whole discipline n can, 1395, § 2: 'A cleric who in another way has committed an offense against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the delict was committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants'.
Why then, were there abuses in the light of such measures?  My guess is that on a local, diocesan level, leaders were not getting the preventative training that exists today--Protecting God's Children.

Wide in scope and sparing no leadership position of necessary accountability, on a local level, Protecting God's Children came into effect toward the end of JPII's reign.  It required leaders to be certified in overseeing youth, in addition to being accountable to other leaders in a parish or school.  In my opinion, it successfully, and finally made an impact on parishes-- to such a degree that it has become the undisputed norm (along with JPII's teaching on human sexuality to back it up). 
Another key to the implementation of his teaching was the collaboration between laity and clergy--a simultaneous goal of the new evangelization.

Therefore, the unstoppable teamwork of JPII and future pope, Joseph Ratzinger, bore fruit in a swift and effective solution to abuses in the Church:
Finally Pope John Paul II decided to include the sexual abuse of a minor under 18 by a cleric, among the new list of canonical delicts reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Prescription for these cases was of ten (10) years from the 18th birthday of the victim. This new law was promulgated in the motu proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela' on 30 April 2001. A letter signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, respectively Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was sent to all the Roman Catholic Bishops on 18 May 2001. This letter informed the bishops of the new law and the new procedures which replaced the Instruction 'Crimen Sollicitationis'.
The Catholic Bishops did well to 'clean house' in their own dioceses.  As the old scripture says, 'judgment begins with the house of God'.  Truly, such judgment calls for reform and ultimately, a purified and more ordered house--focused on doing the will of God and not hampered with confusion, fear, and blame. 

Today, the Church is much more focused on the new evangelization.  So much so that, beyond accusers and fault-finders, many would have trouble guessing that the past 40+ years even had trouble with regard to abuse in the Church. 


from: http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_introd-storica_en.html 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Karol Wojtyla and Jerzy Kluger (Catholics and Jews)

A few notes on the book entitled The Pope and I, by Jerzy Kluger:
Before WWII, in Wadowice, Poland, two men grew up in a Catholic/Jewish neighborhood.  The most famous of these men is Karol Wojtyla, but the second is his lifelong Jewish friend, Jerzy Kluger.  Together, they spent their elementary and highschool years in Wadowice, only to meet again after the War in Rome and in very different states of life.
Family Backgrounds:
A widower, Captain Wojtyla (Karol's father), led the Wojtyla family's life in Wadowice.  A tailor by trade, Captain Wojtyla later served as a Polish (then Prussian) officer in WWI.  He had three children with his wife Emilia: Edmund, Olga, and Karol.  Edmund became a physician just after WWI, caught scarlet fever while treating his patients and passed away a decade before WWII.  Olga also passed away much earlier on, not more than a few days old.  That left Karol as the only remaining son of Captain Wojtyla, whose wife even passed away when Karol was nine.

The Kluger family was a highly influential Jewish family in Wadowice.  Wilhelm Kluger was the president of the local Jewish community, and would regularly speak in the synagogue.  He had an eldest son, Jerzy (Jurek), and a daughter named Tesia.  Wealthy, well-educated, and gifted, Jerzy regularly noticed how much more advantaged he was than his friend 'Lolek' (Karol).  Here are some humorous examples:
--About skiing, "As we grew older, Lolek and I moved on to the tougher slopes around our area.  Lolek's technique was not as good as mine, and I was also afraid of his breaking my skis" (p.19)
--About ping-pong, "Lolek was also a good ping-pong player, although not as good as me, and I'd spot him ten points when we played together" (ibid).
--About soccer (and early indications of Wojtyla's deep understanding of Jewish/Catholic relations): "Usually Lolek would take his place between the goalposts...the spirit of competition was so fierce that even though he was not a Jew, Lolek showed no intention of taking it easy on the Catholics when he played goalie for the Jewish side" (p.25)
--About dancing with women:
"Lolek plunged into the action with Halina Krolikiewicz, the daughter of the principal of the boys' school.  I paired up with a girl named Olga, with blond hair and a floor-length green silk dress" (p.28)
Above are the lighthearted accounts of frienship in the book, but the two men also underwent tremendous tragedy in their lifetimes, mainly due to the Nazi take-over of Poland. The War proved to be devastating for both Kluger and Wojtyla families.  By it's end, only Wilhelm, Jurek, and Karol survived--and all apart from one another.  Wilhelm's wife, Rozalia, and daughter were both killed at Auschwitz.  And, Jerzy himself was taken with his father to a Soviet prison camp, Maryjskaja, only to be separated from him when obligated to join the Polish forces in Russia at Kara-Suu.
Without Lolek, Jerzy could have easily made the logical conclusion that all of Europe was anti-semitic, including Catholics.  Indeed, without the interactions that the Klugers had with the Wojtylas, Wilhelm would have also concluded that the entire world was against the Jewish people.  But Jerzy records a few touching stories that made a deep impression on him, and his father.
--Jerzy visits Catholic Mass, and is ridiculed by an elderly woman, only to be consoled by Lolek: "Believe me, Lolek, I didn't know Jews aren't allowed in here"...'Doesn't she know that Jews and Catholics are all children of the same God?' Lolek was barely ten years old'' (p.12)
--Lolek visits the synagogue: "I would like the Captain and Lolek to come to the synagogue on the Sabbath as well', father told me at one point.  I was immediately overjoyed, and I ran to extend the invitation to Lolek.  I thought again of what Lolek had told me a few years earlier, when I, as a Jew, had set foot in a church, and how my friend reassured me that this was not a sin, because Jews and Catholics come from the same God" (p.23)
Lastly, as I said, Jerzy and Lolek met again in two different states in life: Lolek as Pope, and Jerzy married, w/ 2 daughters, to a beautiful Irish Catholic woman.  They met regularly throughout JPII's pontificate, discussing Jewish/Catholic relations and ways of reconciling the two.  One such occasion arose when JPII got the idea to be the first Pope to attend Liturgy at the Roman synagogue:
--JPII in the Roman Synagogue: "You are our beloved brothers', he told them, 'and in a certain way, our older brothers'.  It was a phrase taken from Adam Mickiewicz, the author of Pan Tadewsz and Poland's greatest poet.  Hearing it again at the synagogue that day, I was suddenly brought back to those years before the war, and all of those old emotions welled up in me again.  When the pope finished speaking, there was again silence and prayer in the synagogue" (p.183).
Much healing took place in Jerzy Kluger's life on account of his friendship with Karol Wojtyla.  He was able to face the fear of returning to Poland, where his mother and sister had been murdered--he was able to serve as an ambassador to Israel for the Vatican--and above all, he was able to be a loyal friend to JPII on such a significant level that entire groups of people were reconciled by the sheer witness of their interactions, partnership, and love.

further note:
Jerzy Kluger remained a faithful Jew his entire life.  His immediate family (wife, daughters, and grandchildren) were all Catholic.  The Pope himself baptized Jurek's granddaughter with his blessing!
This stands in stark contrast to a few references to the Inquisition and forced baptisms (of Jews) in the book.  Nothing was forced in Lolek and Jurek's relationship--it was a partnership forged in suffering, good will, and solidarity that resulted in the same outcome the Inquisitors tried to  force from Jews, but without the prosetylization.
Personhood, in this sense, proved to be foundational for their friendship.  In the end, the Kluger family found the fullness of truth through personalism