Friday, May 25, 2012

Roman Insensitivity

I wrote a week or so ago about some disturbing statements regarding the maintenance of celibacy for Eastern Catholic priests outside their official patriarchal territories. Another article on this topic has come out which I think hits the nail on the head.

For example, in saying, "it’s difficult to see how Cardinal Sandri’s words advance the ecumenical agenda. In fact, it would seem to do the reverse. For, what possible inducement to deepening trust could the Orthodox find in Rome’s insistence that Eastern Churches compromise their traditions the moment they hit the customs line at JFK?"

Sometimes I think Rome's decisions in these regards, or what values are at play...are simply indecipherable. Sometimes they seem so thick that they wind up offending people even when they think they're appeasing them. 

Case in point, as this article also mentions, the baffling decision to get rid of the Pope's title "Patriarch of the West," which was actually probably one of the titles most amenable to ecumenical use; if the Vatican were to admit that most of it's centralized government and micromanaging applied only to the Latin Rite in the Pope's role as its Patriarch, rather than being intrinsic to his role as Pope of the whole Church...that might reassure the East. Instead, they strangely got rid of this title. Did they simply not think through the logic of it well enough and think mistakenly that it would somehow help ecumenical dialogue? Or was it an assertion that the Pope would not be reduced to "merely" Patriarch of the West in terms of his relation to the Eastern Churches? 

(Or perhaps it was some nuanced point about how there are not two offices, but that as Bishop of Rome he is by that very office Pope; just like Cardinal George is not separately "Bishop of Chicago" and "Archbishop of the Chicago Province" but is rather simply "Archbishop of Chicago" and from that archiepiscopal status of the See itself has his role as regards the suffragan dioceses. But then...the Pope ironically retained his separate titles "Bishop of Rome" and "Archbishop and Metrpolitan of the Roman Province" rather than collapsing them into "Archbishop of Rome" or something like that, so...this is still not consistent!)

Anyway, Rome seems to speak out two sides of its mouth as regards ecumenism sometimes. On the one hand, they make all these gestures or put forth all these hypotheticals in their ad extra dialogue with the Orthodox, on the other hand they carry on ad intra as if nothing is going to ever change (or even as if they're holding some things back as negotiating chips??) And in the process the Eastern Catholic Churches are put in a very difficult (and I'd say stifling) position.

1 comment:

Young Canadian RC Male said...

If Rome were smart, they'd remove the celibacy requirement for priests altogether and leave it only for the Bishops and higher (not including Cardinals). This is why I will never desire to become a priest in the Latin Rite.