Opinion: The face of the Church marred by divisions and rivalry

As days pass since the announcement of Benedict XVI’s resignation, it becomes clear that his decision is one whose profound significance will only gradually become clear.

Benedict is a teacher, a writer, a scholar, for whom words are never trivialized.  Vatican observers are listening carefully to each of his speeches, and watching every gesture and decision he makes.

In recent days he has presided at the Ash Wednesday ceremony in St Peter’s; he has addressed the clergy of his diocese of Rome; he has spoken with bishops of other dioceses in Italy.

On Ash Wednesday, he spoke of “the face of the Church marred by divisions and rivalry”. He spoke of Jesus’ denunciation of “religious hypocrisy, the behaviour that focusses on appearances, the attitude of seeking applause and approval.” He underlined that the true disciple serves the Lord “in simplicity and generosity.”

These words have significance in the light of the serious scandals that have been revealed inside the Vatican especially in these last three years: financial scandals involving the Vatican Bank; sexual scandals inside the Vatican, including the revelation that a papal usher was involved in a call-boy ring; and most recently the publication of secret and sensitive Vatican documents, stolen from inside the Pope’s private office by the Pope’s butler – the Vatileaks scandal.

“Vatileaks” was a huge scandal – still not resolved – and it simply revealed in glaring colours the systemic dysfunctioning of the internal organization of the Vatican, known as the Curia.

Benedict has not been able to contain this systemic disorder of the Curia. When he speaks of “divisions and rivalries within the Church”, for “Church” read “Curia” and this gives meaning to his statement that someone “of robust physical and mental strength” needs to lead the Church at this time.

– Fr. Craig Larkin s.m., Rome based, writing exclusively for CathNews NZ Pacific

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