CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 November 2017

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Vatican press runs hot on the offensive

ROME (SE): Hot on the heels of an article appearing in the Vatican magazine, Civilta Cattolica, attacking right wing Catholics in the United States of America (US) for what it called running an ecumenism of hate in cooperation with fundamentalist evangelical groups, a second article has appeared in a different Vatican publication, L’Osservatore Romano, claiming the main obstacle to the reforms Pope Francis wants to see in the Church is the clergy.
 
Penned by Father Giulio Cirignano, a scripture scholar at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy, the article in L’Osservatore Romano titled, The conversion asked by Pope Francis: Habit is not fidelity, contends that closure, if not hostility from a good part of the clergy, at levels both high and low, are the pope’s main enemy.
 
“The clergy is holding the people back, who should instead be accompanied in this extraordinary moment,” Father Cirignano claims.
 
The laity on the other hand, Father Cirignano says are way ahead of the game. He writes, “Most of the faithful have understood, despite everything, the favourable moment, the Kairos, which the Lord is giving to his community. For the most part, they’re celebrating.”
 
However, he continues saying, “Despite that, the portion of the community closest to little-illuminated pastors is maintained behind an old horizon, the horizon of habitual practices, of language out of fashion, of repetitive thinking without vitality.”
 
Although Father Cirignano is not targeting the US with his comments and Crux maintains that he is confining his comments to Italy, he speaks of a common attitude of what he terms an antiquated image of the priesthood, which sees the priest as the boss and patron of the community.
 
He says that this type of priest then speaks of an old theology, associated with the Counter-Reformation, where the impassioned and mysterious adventure of believing is transformed into a religion and the God of religion becomes a projection of man, where faith is understood as God reaching out for man, instead of man reaching out for God.
 
“He risks remaining the victim of many things invented by man about God and his will,” he comments.
 
Father Cirignano argues that God doesn’t tolerate being enclosed in rigid schemes typical of the human mind, as God is love, and that’s all, love as gift of itself.
 
Although, as with the article published in Civilta Cattolica there is no indication that Pope Francis had ever seen it, the pope has on several occasions been critical of this type of attitude and taken bishops to task, as when he read the riot act in December 2015 to the Curia over what he termed 15 spiritual diseases.
 
In his top 15, the pope listed spiritual Alzheimer’s, rivalry and vainglory, gossip and even an unhealthy lack of joy, which he called a funeral face.
 
Father Cirignano is proposing priests are projecting a God in the image and likeness of man.

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