Drinking with the Bolettini
So here I am with a nice cold glass of wine, for although today’s news was not vodka-worthy, vino seems in order.
I first got that sensation when the little group reports came rolling out, and I saw that the great, the magnificent, the presumably very brainy Cardinal Pell was in charge of the group – Little Anglo Circus A – that recommended the following words of Pope Francis:
“So great was (God’s) love, that He began to walk with humanity, with His people, until the right moment came, and He made the highest expression of love – His own Son. And where did He send his son – to a palace? To a city? No. He sent him to a family. God sent him amid a family. And He could do this, because it was a family that had a truly open heart!”
Okay, first of all, this whole idea of God’s power being contingent on His creation hurt my little Jesuit-trained brain, since my Jesuits were good guys who encouraged me to read the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas. And the claim of clannishness hurt my little Marian heart, for I seem to recall that God sent His Son not “amid a family” but to a barely teenage virgin whose fiancé decided to call off the wedding because she was pregnant with this Son, and Divine Intervention was necessary. The truly open heart around at the moment of the Incarnation, I have always been taught, was the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
However, I was cheered up by the solemn acknowledgement of an overly Euro-centric or Western-mindset in the Instrumentem Laboris, which suggests that the Asians and Africans are kicking up an almighty fuss. By the way, isn’t it killing that the official language of the Asian Bishops Conference is English? Puts the Indians and Filipinos at quite the advantage over the Chinese and the Koreans, doesn’t it? Something to think about. Incidentally there’s some dodgy theology coming out of the Philippines that the CDF should look at once they’ve finished packing up Ks. Charamsa’s desk.
Little Anglo Circus B is moderated by Cardinal Nichols, and it also gets in a quote from Pope Francis early, i.e. “God’s dream for his beloved creation.”
Well, Pope Francis may say God’s a dreamer, but He’s not the only one. Cardinal Nichols & Co. add that they have witnessed every day “families who try to make God’s dream their dream.” They hope some day we’ll join them, and the world will be as one.
On to Little Anglo Circus C. It is moderated by a Monsignor Eamonn Martin, not by +Diarmuid, a relief for those with memories that stretch back to the Irish Referendum. And, holy Tain Bo Cuailnge, but it looks like they actually sat there and tried to do a close reading of Instrumentum Laboris. Sadly, they decide that the work of Saint John Paul II, who died, as I recall, yesterday, is obsolete:
“We also considered certain phrases which have become commonplace in Church documents, among them ‘the Gospel of the family’ and ‘the domestic Church.’ These were vivid and illuminating formulations when they first appeared, but in the meantime they have become clichés, which are less clear in their meaning than they are usually assumed to be. We felt that it may be a good thing if they were given a rest and if we chose instead to use a language which was more accessible to those unfamiliar with our particular speak.”
I do confess myself unfamiliar with their particular speak. Perhaps if Monsignor Martin were to give a speak to the press, it would become more clear. Naturally he will want to think very carefully before he gives a speak to the press about how the “domestic Church” has become a cliche to the hundreds of thousands of badly catechised Catholics who have never heard of it.
On to Little Anglo Circus D. Oh dear. It is moderated by one of the few prelates for whom I feel that good old tribal, romantic and unthinking peasant woman Catholic loyalty, i.e. the Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto, so the engine of my snark machine begins to choke and rattle. Happily, this report is the best of the bunch, being a close reading of Instrumentum Laborens that does not run a bus over the theology of JP2. It is very nicely structured, and has two lovely concluding passages that bear repeating. I shall highlight my favourite bits.
“Overall, members felt that Pope Francis and the people of the Church deserve a better text, one in which ideas are not lost in the confusion. Our group suggests that the text should be turned over to a single editor [Dorothy note: there’s a renowned but underemployed German intellectual out snoozing in the garden with a cat] for clarification and refinement. The current material is obviously the work of a committee. Because of that, it lacks beauty, clarity and force.
“Finally, members felt strongly that even in difficult situations, we need to underline the fact that many Christian families serve as a counter-witness to negative trends in the world by the way they faithfully live the Catholic vision of marriage and the family.
These families need to be recognized, hono[u]red and encouraged by the document. Thus the first section of the IL text, which is about “observing” the facts, ought to highlight the good as well as the bad and the tragic. Heroic holiness is not a rare ideal and not merely “possible,” but common and lived vigorously in much of the world.”
Hooray for Tom Collins, which, incidentally, was my Scottish-Canadian grannie’s favourite cocktail. Ca-na-da! Ca-na-da! I’m off to look for soda water, for I already know I have lemons and gin.