01 May 2010

Homer Nods?


Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus - one of the scraps of the classics I still remember without having to look it up.  (Add Loeb editions, with the Latin on the left hand page and the English on the right to a good memory and you're half way to a JMB GCE O Level.)

It's the concept that counts, though.  Most of us get all sort of things wrong, and all of us get at least the odd thing wrong.

And you'd have to be the most extremely ultramontane supporter of Pope Pius XII, and the date about 1950 if you wanted to try to suggest that the Pope never gets things wrong.  But he does.

One thing was the appointment of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor to the Congregation for Bishops.  It might have felt like a nice consolation prize to soften the blow of leaving Westminster, and to Archbishop Nichols at that, but it's more important than a sinecure.  Every time the Nuncio comes up with a suggestion for a new Bishop for England and Wales (or, I assume, for Scotland too), there's CMO'C able to explain in great detail exactly why the Nuncio has got it right, just how sound a man the candidate is, and just why he's exactly the right Bishop for that See at this time.  And nobody else in the Congregation can answer the arguments, because the premisses have been stated by CMO'C as axioms and nobody else knows the Church on the ground in England and Wales well enough to argue.

It would be great for us if Damian is right, and Cardinal Pell is to take over as Head of the Congregation for Bishops, because his influence will trump that of CMO'C.  But how many other superannuated Cardinals are being given posts like this, where they exercise significant influence whilst carrying no formal responsibility?  And in which Congregations?

Once their resignation is accepted, off they should go.  There is plenty of pastoral work to do if they want to remain active as simple priests, or they can write their memoirs, or they can retreat quietly to make their souls.  But away, please!


Londiniensis said...

Did you write that deliberately to spoil my Saturday afternoon?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is yet another aspect of the system which Pope Benedict has to work within or change, and there are too many fronts for him to engage with at present.

The scenario painted regarding CMO'C role in the congregation is pessimistic indeed. But do the cardinals confer in this way on every episcopal appointment? It would mean a deadweight on change in every hierarchy with superannuated members in the Congregation. Cardinal Law has a similar appointment, and the circumstances of his resignation from Boston make the prospect for USA appointments even more frightening, if your analysis is correct. I hope it is not.

Ttony said...

Dear Anon: I know something about the Curia. I know lots about how central bureaucracies work.

the structures are fluid: I don't want to paint things as black and white. And while CMO'C has a disproportionate influence where appointments in England and Wales is concerned, it would be very difficult to have such influence either where a larger Bishops' Conference was concerned, or in a Dicastery whose jurisdiction was exercised across the Catholic world.