can a new pope reform the church?


As we count down the last hours of the papacy of Benedict XVI, news continues to pour out from the Vatican. I’ve been spending far too much time reading the latest press releases about the soon to be pope emeritus, I’m hooked on following the changing tides of the long list of papabile. (It’s a good thing that I’m not a gambler.) My jaw has dropped a wee bit more at each new scandal; from the surprising resignation of a Scottish cardinal to the simmering  cauldron of the Vatileaks affair. Too many hours have been spent trying to process it all, and not enough in writing. I hope to put thoughts to words in the next few days.

Meanwhile, here is the latest piece I wrote for the Prairie Messenger. Some believe that reform is not possible with the current roster of conservative cardinals. I’m more optimistic. I believe that conservative theology can go hand in hand with a progressive leadership style. After all, few would call Benedict XVI progressive. Yet, he threw a centuries old tradition of pope-until-death out the window. The key is in reclaiming the Vatican II wisdom of collegiality and subsidiarity. Here is the article….

  Bring back collegiality and subsidiarity in the church


8 thoughts on “can a new pope reform the church?

  1. I wish I shared your optimism about a restoration of collegiality and subsidiarity. But the last twenty years have demonstrated the opposite. The Holy Spirit is the only real hope to overturn Vatican momentum.
    Power is very hard to give up. Human nature will have to be overcome.
    I hope you are right and I am wrong.

  2. By no means is my optimism unfailing or unquestioningly certain, Jerry. I’m desperately clinging to hope….as we all are. I’ve had to deal (and not always successfully) with a lot of anger, disappointment and disillusionment over the years….and still do. May the Holy Spirit blow freely and generously, that wisdom and good judgment will guide this conclave.

  3. Yes! Collegiality and subsidiarity! I did not even know what those words meant until you so clearly defined them. And I love the idea of the possibility of a traditional cardinal leading with a servant leadership mindset. It could be the prefect blending! My prayers will be for this vision.

  4. Hi Marceta! I was introduced to the concepts of collegiality and subsidiarity while researching the post-Vatican II years of my dear Benedictine friends here in Manitoba. The Sisters took these concepts to heart when they embraced the spirit of renewal. Communal, collaborative decision making and respecting the individuality and diversity of each sister replaced the old mentality of blind obedience. Many religious orders ‘got’ the concept long before the clerical side of the church did. Sadly, many clerics still don’t get it….

  5. I was happy to hear that the pope resigned. But as they say, be careful what you wish for. That may be worse than what you have.

    That being said, I find myself in the camp of those who believe there will not be real change with the current group of good old boys in the highest levels of the hierarchy.

    The only thing that gives me hope is the thought that there may be someone who could surprise; someone like John XXIII, who with the Holy Spirit could be a breath of fresh air for a stagnant, stale church.

    1. Hi Anthony,

      Images of John XXIII keep coming to mind for me too. Oh loving God…if only….wouldn’t that be wonderful to have another pastoral pope willing to open up the windows again?!!

  6. Bob Burns – Richmond, B.C.

    Thank you for your insights regarding collegiality and subsidiarity. Your optimism suggests a prophetic imagination of a vision for the future not of the past. I hope, in bewilderment, that the Canadian bishops can take a leadership role in the matter of collegiality and subsidiarity for the Church of Canada. Along with the American bishops, there is no excuse for their lack of leadership of the Church in North America, including stand up to the dicatorship of Rome. The Canadian christians deserve more than Papal inserted bishops (Oullette and Miller).
    Thank you again. Your web site looks excellent – although it was still somewhat difficult for the novice to leave a message.

    1. Hello Bob…and welcome to the dialogue! With regards to bishops, it does seem that it’s the cultural warrior types that get the media coverage…and are usually rewarded with the red hat. Sigh…

      I’m sorry that you had difficulties leaving a comment. The blog site is set up so that a first time commenter must be approved – to block any spammers. After your first comment, your post will be published immediately. I look forward to hearing more!


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