BY MICHAEL MULLINS
One of the English speaking world's most respected Catholic commentators is the National Catholic Reporter’s John L. Allen. He speculates that Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, could well be a contender for the papacy:
Last year he hosted a major Vatican conference on evolution, inviting scientists and believers into dialogue – despite what he calls the “terror” of some in the Vatican, who felt it might open doors better left closed. (Ravasi says that Benedict XVI backed him on the project “completely”.) Some observers have suggested that one day, those same qualities could make Ravasi an attractive papal candidate.
Allen says the conventional wisdom is that whenever the cardinals next gather for a conclave, they will be looking to fix at least two perceived problems. These include an administrative mess in the Vatican, and chronic PR woes. “Depending on how things break, Ravasi could seem a solution on both fronts.”
On another front, Allen looks at various WikiLeaks cables referring to the Vatican. One quotes two from mid-level officials at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and “Cor Unum”, which apologise, or at least explain, to the US that the Vatican is unlikely to become more explicitly favourable to GMOs (genetically modified food crops) due to “vocal opposition among some Catholic laypeople and clergy.”
The cable says that while “mainstream opinion” within the Vatican is that the “science is solid” that GMOs are safe, the Church in the Philippines would “go into schism” if the Vatican adopted a pro-GMO stance.
This morning. Terra, who blogs at Australia Incognita, posts Part V of her ten part series on the collapse of religious life. Her theme is the “dramatic failure in the transmission of the faith from one generation to the next”. She is particularly critical of the “scandalously low” number of young people emerging from Catholic schools who attend mass regularly.
She details the destruction of the Catholic sub-culture, pointing the finger to a number of factors including “the embrace of Zen practices by perhaps the most famous monk of the time, Thomas Merton, in suddenly making the Western tradition seem old hat”.
In another post, Terra is critical of the 'Christmas diversity' message of a video partially underwritten by the Catholic Church in Adelaide (embedded on this page). In the video, Muslim and other non-Christian children wish everybody a merry Christmas.
Contrasting with Terra’s purist view of Christmas is that of the Catholic Herald’s William Oddie, who sees value in watered-down or paganised views of Christmas, in a post that asks what exactly is wrong with the commercialisation of Christmas. “Even the paganised Santa of popular culture, has a Christian origin, still there not far under the surface; and that what we need to do is to reinvest Santa with Christian meaning, not abolish him.”
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every Monday.
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.