Monday, August 04, 2008

The Foresight of Paul VI

It has often been said that Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae was prophetic. But the Pope also had the foresight to write to the bishops of the world and prepare them for what is coming. In this letter, sent before the release of HV, we see how Pope Paul forsaw the need for a strong stand from the whole episcopal college if the teaching was going to be received by the whole Church. We know what happened when they failed to respond to his plea.

3 Comments:

At Monday, August 04, 2008 2:16:00 pm , Blogger Athanasius said...

The Church has been blessed in recent decades with Popes who have been both strong pastors and sound thinkers.

But if it's a choice between a strong Pope and weak bishops, or strong bishops and a weak Pope, I'd go for the strong bishops every time. And this is something critics of Vatican centralism don't get. The Vatican would dearly love to be able to leave pastoral and theological matters to the bishops. Unfortunately, we've seen time and time again that they can't. The child sex scandals are merely the most grotesque example.

I wonder how different the last few decades would have been if we had had a strong College of bishops, instead of a few shining stars.

 
At Monday, August 04, 2008 2:23:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

What? Montini was an unmitigated disaster for the Roman church, and not at all for his stand in HV.

If he thought the "episcopal college" was going to take a strong stand with him on this, or anything, then he understood NOTHING of what had just happened at the Council.

A weasel, pipsqueak career bureaucrat who made it to the top of the bureaucracy in which he worked.

He gave himself away at his address to the UN. What had we here? Someone in the line of Peter's address to "men of every nation" recorded in Acts. No, just what he was to everyone apart from the minority in his church still under classic Roman notions of pope -- head of state of a tiny obscure state, who some regard with religious significance.

Although, that was my first clue that maybe things aren't what they claim in the "church".

 
At Tuesday, August 05, 2008 2:40:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

As popes go (taking a full historical persepctive), Pope Paul was a better than average pope. As bishops go (again taking a full historical perspective), even the post-Vatican II bishops were not a bad mob. For that matter (once again taking the full historical perspective), even as "pastors" and "churches" in general go (looking simply from the point of view of performance, not validity of orders or charisms of infallibility or anything like that), the post-Vatican II Church is certainly NOT in bad shape.

But I think we have come to expect a whole lot more from our bishops than perhaps at any time ever before in the past (including the Apostolic times even perhaps?). Part of this is because they are under a whole lot more and a whole lot closer scrutiny than they ever were in the past. That goes for the popes too.

We have been blessed with a couple of popes who will indeed be a hard act to follow - the bar is now set amazingly high, even for someone who is reckoned to have the charism of infallibility (under certain circs)!

My thoughts are that the times will in the end find their man. Or the other way around: the Holy Spirit will find the man for the times. That doesn't mean a perfect correspondence: the times change this instant and the pope changes this instant. Paul was caught in a time lag (not unusual in the church) - he was not ready for what 1968 dealt up. Who, to ask the blunt question, was? We cannot blame him. After all, he called it right on at least one count in HV (I very much appreciate and still use his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi).

We can be thankful that the Holy Spirit raised JPII and BXVI up as his successors however.

We pray that other Christian communities, such as the Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox churches, will find leaders who can lead them in a new way to meet the demands of the current age as well.

 

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