Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jesuit Cardinal Says, "Tired"

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J. described the Church in Europe and America as “tired,” and asked “Where among us are the heroes from whom we can draw inspiration?” The burning “coals” of the Church, Martini continued, were hidden under piles of ashes; indeed, there is “so much ash on top of the coals that I am often assailed by a sense of powerlessness. How can the coals be freed from the ashes so as to reinvigorate the flame of love?” 
The cardinal went on to propose, quite rightly, that true reform in the Church is always reform inspired by Word and Sacrament. But then, at the end of the interview, came the money-quote: “The Church is 200 years behind. Why in the world does it not rouse itself? Are we afraid? Fear instead of courage?” To which one wants to reply, with all respect, “Two hundred years behind what?” 
 A western culture that has lost its grasp on the deep truths of the human condition? A culture that celebrates the imperial autonomous Self? A culture that detaches sex from love and responsibility? A culture that breeds a politics of immediate gratification and inter-generational irresponsibility, of the sort that has paralyzed public policy in Italy and elsewhere? “Why in the world,” to repeat the late cardinal’s question, would the Church want to catch up with that? As for the question, “Where are the heroes?” Cardinal Martini seemed unaware of, or puzzled by, or perhaps even unhappy with, the heroic witness of the man who created him cardinal after naming him successor to St. Ambrose in Italy’s most prestigious see: John Paul II, whose faith and courage continue to inspire the liveliest parts of the Catholic world in Europe and America. (John Paul, for his part, gave Martini’s commentary on the First Letter of Peter to the cardinals gathered for the pope’s silver jubilee in 2003, as an appendix to a replica of the Bodmer Papyrus copy of the “first encyclical.”) Nor was John Paul alone as an exemplar of Christian heroism during the Martini years in Milan: years in which, to take but two examples, Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko became the martyr-priest of Solidarity and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta completed her singular witness to the “flame of love” the cardinal thought buried under ashes. For all his brilliance, Cardinal Martini, like many on the Catholic left, never seemed to grasp that the secular culture with which Vatican II hoped to open a dialogue was not the secular culture that emerged in Europe in the aftermath of the upheavals of 1968. 
Link (here) to read the full piece by George Weigel


TonyD said...

Cardinal Martini makes a good point. We are more than 200 years behind our society.

I read the Bishops messages, uncaring about our society's values, trying to force Catholics to pass laws that enforce a definition of marriage. I read the Bishops messages, uncaring about our society's values, trying to force people to vote for candidates based on the issue of abortion.

We have moved very far from God's values. We lack an understanding of deep truths to share, and can instead only share a selfishness that is detached from the love of our neighbors.

God is here with us. He experiences, through us, our society. He allows us to live our values, and He even enforces them on our behalf. He does that, not because His values are our values, but because He loves us.

Anonymous said...

If Martini had gotten his way, the Church would now be as dead as he is.

Anonymous said...

The tired "c"atholics will die out or be assimilated into Muslim or secular culture.

The true Catholics will never tire, for God is their strength.

Many true Catholics will probably be martyred by Muslims or secularists.

TonyD said...

There are things that I can't say. So I'll say what I can.

The Church is imperfect, and the consequences of such evil can be quite real.

It is not humility to present your ideas as God's ideas. And it is not appropriate to disregard your neighbors' values. Further, it is selfish to use money wantonly. Worst of all, those who should be most willing to listen instead fill their mind with their own thoughts and interpretations.

Of course, the Church is vast. There are those who try to move away from such values -- I think of the Jesuit's vow of poverty, which is held in high regard. Efforts at humility exist and are seen.

God, in enforcing our values, must punish. While good intentions are real and are considered, they rarely mitigate God's judgment of those who hold evil values.