Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Let's see how this works.

In doing my bit to bring myself up to speed on the Jesuits' 35th General Congregation (GC35) I have read insider-ish writings as well as the more public musings of the fossil media. Time magazine has an interesting article on GC35 with some quotes which, if I'm reading them correctly, simply stagger me.

#1: "Yes, we are in the vanguard of the Church," says Jose de Vera, head spokesman for the order. "It is not our job to just repeat the catechism, but to do research. Sometimes looking for real truth, you can step over the line."

Did you catch that verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry subtle li'l something? It all sounds very dull and standard and boilerplate-y until you zero in on that word: "repeat." This is the teensy little thread which, if pulled as I'm about to do, can unravel a carefully knit seamless garment. The implication then, is that the Society is above such mundane tasks as mere repetition of the Catechism and, in implying such, gently and lovingly devaluing the worth of the Catechism. It's not all that much different than saying "Oh, we have WAY bigger fish to fry than that." By saying such a thing, the "that" in question is belittled, and continues to conveniently shrink in one's eyes without any additional effort required.

But let's look at this a bit mo' fully, m'kay? What is it that is being prioritized downward when the importance of the Catechism is minimized? To my, admittedly skewed, eyes, it sounds a lot like the hot-button issues are given short shrift and their crucial importance is to be diminished. Above all, this is (to me; feel free to holler in disagreement) a mindset emblematic of not really being all that crazy about steadfast and unwavering adherence to the Magisterium of the Church. Frankly, it sounds a lot like one of my kids when I tell them to go clean his room.

I'd suggest to Fr. (Fr.?) de la Vera that the one thing the Society has to do that is infinitely more important than just to repeat the Catechism is to broadcast it, embrace it and defend it.

#2: New Jersey-born, Rome-based Jesuit, Father Keith Pecklers, says the ideal successor "will be a combination of the two" most recent superior generals. "We need someone with Arrupe's prophetic vision and courage but also it's absolutely key the leader will be someone with the diplomatic skills Kolvenbach has to maintain close ties with Holy See."

This strikes me as being a honeyed way of saying: "We need more of that progressive 1960s stuff, but we need a guy who can spin it so this troglodyte Pope won't notice." Maybe I'm overreading this -- I doubt it, but you're welcome to show me how -- but it's jarring to see that it takes diplomatic skills to maintain close ties with the Holy See. Stop for a moment and let that sink in. It takes diplomatic skills to maintain close ties with the Holy See. This is like saying it takes great diplomatic skills for an infant to maintain close ties with his mother. Shouldn't close ties be an automatic, a given, the default setting? And if there are not close ties why would that be? If Holy Mother Church and one of its organizations are, ahem, separated by some distance on a given issue...who is likely to have been the one to have wandered away?

My fear is that, if these quotes are indicative of the frame of mind of the delegates to GC35, I may have to revert to my "ARGH! They STILL don't get it." attitude towards the upper echelons of the Society. Should these sentiments prove to have wide currency among the GC35ers (and I'm not asserting that they do) then the problem of institutionalized, myopically arrogant intransigence is spectacularly entrenched.

Among my prayers for the Society and GC35, I pray that I am wrong on this account.




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