Cathblog - Worth a punt in the Papal stakes?

Someone like this? The late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan (Google Images)

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Worth a punt in the Papal stakes?

BY JOHN RYAN

At last, after many wasted years of trying to find and eradicate the problems that have made their way into the system which is ‘Holy Mother Church’, one can presume a certain level of acceptance in claiming that the problem is the system with which the Church is clothed.

Over the years, the experience of the Christian mystery has become encrusted from time-tainted understandings and expressions which, as is to be expected, were culturally determined in their origin.

Such mythical expressions are precious and only problematical when they outlive their cultural matrix and are continued on beyond their historical use-by date.

Currently, we are drowning in a sea of such toxic myths, so much so that one can only have gratitude for writers who speak of things such as “the harm that has been done by the literal interpretation of the story of Adam and then by the confusion of this myth with later speculations, principally Augustinian, about original sin’ and ‘so many are victims of ignorance and dysfunctional myths [especially around sexuality] which need not exist.

These ‘ignorances’ are causing great pain and awful behavior and are a burden to the Church and its mission to evangelize”.

As we pray for the incoming Pope, let us pray for a man who can appreciate the role of the ‘myth busters’ and sponsor them on to the magisterial stage. Here is the challenge before the Church today, and it is a daunting one because the dysfunctional myths have infiltrated the very governing structures that control us and they are being protected with political power that far outweighs their inner authority.

There are leaders who have an intellectual understanding of this problem but there are very few indeed who have insight into it. In other words, very few whose conversion has progressed far enough below their ears to give them the necessary freedom to lead us out of this enslaving Egypt.

Good scripture scholars such as the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini had an advantage in having to walk alongside fellow scholars from other churches and traditions and none in tracking the modern demythologizing of the Scriptures.

It is a similar journey that has to happen in other realms of theology, dogmatic, moral, patristic etc.

From a human point of view, we can be sad that Cardinal Martini is not in the running at this Conclave but there is a man who while not of the same stature could well be the best bet for the top job. He is Gianfranco Ravasi, an Italian Cardinal and scholar and one-time collaborator of Martini. Few if any others would have his form as one capable of ‘leading in the clowns’.

I use that phrase ‘leading in the clowns’ advisedly, because that is what they may be judged to be by the powermongers who in their learning claim to know far more than it is decent for anyone to know in the world we are discussing here.

When I hear cardinals clearly looking for and lobbying for someone who can pull the ‘dissidents’ into line, I shudder. Seeing where those nominated are coming from, I think this is the very opposite direction for us to look.

Maybe if we can put some of our spiritual currency on Ravasi or someone similar, if there is such a candidate, we might help to back them into favoritism and give the Spirit a chance.

Fr John Ryan, a Sandhurst Diocese priest who lives in Canberra, has spent much of his 49 years of ministry working in renewal projects, especially with priests.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.

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