We are far from the integral--by whatever name we might want to call it. Our race still has no idea how to have graded governance. This is as true in the Church as it is in society-politics.
As long as morals are lopped in with faith (as in faith and morals) in the unchangeable category, things appear really hopeless to me. Especially when morals are often reduced to sexual ones, and the scientific information of the modern world is not admissible evidence. Or discipline--how could you have one element of the Church (The North American, Northern European, say) have women priests and the Latin Americans-Africans-Asians not?
The Third-World Church is not ready for change in terms of homosexuality and women. The First World Church is hemorrhaging because of it.
Benedict will not, I imagine, even allow condoms as a lesser of two evils option regarding AIDS. The Catholic Church is the trans-national organization on the continent--would Christ let them suffer so needlessly? Think of the good they could be doing.
He may allow divorced and remarried communion. That would at least be something. He was right about some of the more extreme elements of liberation theology, but his use of his position as a sounding board for his own views (see John Allen's book on Ratzinger) and his, at times, total lack of charity in dealing with the theologians of liberation was nearly unforgivable. And the Vatican recognizing the coup military state in Haiti. That's awful.
God Bless Him indeed. I hope he accomplishes what he sets out to do, what he feels called to. He will certainly be more moderate as pope. In public anyway. The Church, the Churches need visionary leadership--this is distinctly lacking right now across the board.
Otherwise it will be simply the same old same old. Conservatives vs liberals. The liberals unable to connect into the mainsprings of sacramental, biblical mysticism. The conservatives, with their wonderful (some) liturgical style, disconnected from the mayhem and death in our world, from the very soil itself.
I offer these thoughts and meditations as a sacrifice for the pain of so many. Everyone feels the pain, traditional or progressive. That is the one thing it seems all parties can actually agree on. How broken this whole thing is.
If it be the Divine Will, I would help create a matrix, a setting for the reconciliation of these grievances, of this pain, even just a forum for those who want something beyond George Weigel vs. Richard McBrien.
And Fr. Thomas just goes about quietly building the only real cutting-edge element of the Church. Never raising his voice. Never on television giving this or that party line about the new Pope or whatever. He simply reminds the baptized of their call to union with God, to be lived out in justice, mercy, compassion for all of God's creatures.
Why don't people listen?
So much death in the Church--so much petrified traditionalism...on both the right and left. How can I help? What is there even to do?