Only a totally disinterested person could be unaware of the challenges facing the Catholic Church at present, not least among them the severe lack of candidates for the priesthood and the growing number of empty pews on Sundays.However, many believe that the Church is still strong and solid beneath the surface and a series of reforms such as less pomp, married priests, women priests, etc would turn the tide and bring people back.
An example of people getting involved when they are interested enough was to be seen last week when, for nine days in a row, an average of 10,000 people turned up every day for the Annual Redemptorist Novena in Limerick City.
For the most part, I don’t comment on rows about doctrine or reforms as I don’t really feel I am qualified to do so although I can see the painful lack of common sense pertaining to some issues.
Pope Francis wants to be a reformer but he is being hampered and one of the biggest and unbecoming controversies from within the Vatican has been making headlines in mainstream media.
Even a recent edition of The Tablet, one of the most respected Catholic magazines in the world, has addressed the matter on its front-page with a question that asks: ‘Have we got one Pope too many?’
Since Pope Benedict resigned six years ago to be replaced by Pope Francis, the reforms of the new Pope have been resisted by influential senior figures in the Church. Now, it is claimed that the conservatives have used former Pope Benedict (93) as a reluctant tool in their campaign against Francis.
When Benedict resigned he promised that he would devote himself to prayer and stay ‘hidden from the world’. However, according to sources in the Vatican, he was cajoled into writing a letter blaming the sexual revolution of the 1960s for the scourge of clerical abuse. Consequently, the retired Pope is now seen by some as a spearhead in the opposition to Francis’s reforms. Apparently, the former Pope intended to live away from Rome and call himself Fr Benedict but he has been persuaded to remain in the Vatican and to dress in papal white where he is still addressed by his ‘supporters’ as ‘Your Holiness’.
According to informed sources, the small number of rebel senior church figures in the Vatican and Europe are being fully supported by conservative Catholic groups around the world but mainly in the United States.
Perhaps those involved in the unseemly behavior of undermining their Pope should recall the words of Leonardo da Vinci who knew his way around the Vatican.
“As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.”