Skip to comments.The challenge Pope Benedict has left for his successor—and for ordinary Catholics
Posted on 02/12/2013 3:00:09 PM PST by NYer
Although Pope Benedict caught nearly everyone by surprise when he announced his resignation, we can’t say that he didn’t give us fair warning. In an interview in 2010, the Holy Father explained at some length why a Pope should resign when he no longer had the strength to carry out his duties. He even said at the time: “I also notice that my forces are diminishing.”
For months now, visitors to the Vatican have reported evidence of the Pope’s physical decline. He not only needs help walking because of aching joints, but also has trouble concentrating through a long work session because of flagging energy. After a nap his mind is as sharp as it ever was, but the need for rest is coming more frequently. Apparently the Pope assessed his own condition—humbly, prayerfully, and unsparingly—and concluded that he can no longer do the work.
The decision must have been a painful one, because Pope Benedict still has several cherished projects to complete: the liturgical “reform of the reform,” the completion of the Year of Faith, the new encyclical. An ordinary man would no doubt struggle to complete those last few projects, even if he knew that his strength was failing. But Benedict XVI is no ordinary man.
This has been a pontificate of surprises. The most important announcements have come without accompanying fanfare, without premature news leaks. Yet when he has taken action, Benedict XVI has always been decisive. His resignation announcement is no exception.
As my colleague Jeff Mirus points out, a papal resignation is not unprecedented. But nothing of the kind has occurred in this era of instant worldwide communication. From this day forward, for better or worse, every Roman Pontiff will face questions about if, or when, he plans to resign. The Twitter generation will begin asking questions whenever a Pope experiences a health crisis. (Is it possible to serve as a Pope while fighting early-stage cancer or heart disease? With failing eyesight?) More ominously, the same sort of questions will arise when the Pope loses a popularity poll; the political pressures on the papacy are sure to increase.
Count on it: The mass media will remark with surprise that the next Pope, whoever he is, is “conservative” on doctrinal issues, because he upholds perennial Church teachings on matters such as the male priesthood and the dignity of human life. The secular media cannot be made to understand that every plausible candidate for the papacy is “conservative” by their standards, since the papabile are all believing Catholics. An unbelieving world, accustomed to appraising all disagreements in political terms, cannot comprehend that the Bishop of Rome has no personal discretionary authority on questions of doctrine: that he can only teach what the Church teaches. So the pressure on the new Pope will begin from the day of his election; the media will demand radical change, and attack him when he fails to meet their expectations. Pope Benedict has endured this sort of pressure for nearly 8 years now, and never buckled. But the hostility of the mainstream media have undoubtedly taken their toll, as they will on his successors.
In retrospect we can see that Pope Benedict has been preparing for his own departure. If he has been contemplating resignation for months, as his brother reports, it is much easier to understand why he called two consistories within the space of one year. He wanted to ensure an appropriate balance within the College of Cardinals, among the men who will choose his successor. He chose to step down now, no doubt, so that he will not leave that successor burdened with too many tasks that he himself was unable to complete.
So now Pope Benedict has left us, the faithful, with a task of our own. We have a day to swallow the news of his resignation, and another day to digest it. Then Ash Wednesday will arrive, and we must all buckle down to a season of prayer and fasting for the good of the Church, and especially for the strength of Benedict’s successor.
It is anecdotal but I am seeing a lot of chatter about the possibility of an African Pope...
Pray for Pope Benedict and the cardinals as they prepare to meet in conclave! That is our Lenten mission.
The complete text of the announcement of the resignation
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to
communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in todays world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.
With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
We can, and the media certainly does, make conjectures about this man or that.
The Holy Spirit is the one who chooses and as such, we should just relax in that knowledge and pray.
I do believe that the gates of hell will not prevail and that whomever comes into the papacy will do so as God will’s.
There are only two African (sub-Saharan, that is) candidates. The one most discussed is Peter Cardinal Turkington of Ghana, who seems pretty conservative (although he’s very involved in some sort of “economic justice” initiative, which doesn’t sound very good to me). He’s president of the “Peace and Justice Commission,” so he has Vatican experience.
But I don’t think Africa is ready to have a Pope, or at any rate, not this time. I don’t think he’d be a good choice, aside from his anti-capitalist leanings, because I don’t think he’d be able to bring in people of his own with experience and the background to deal with the Vatican bureacracy. This will be a problem with most Africans, who come from complete missionary territory.
It’s kind of a foregone conclusion that no American will be accepted, since Europeans (who make up the bulk of the electorate) are fervently anti-American, but I’d like to see either Cardinal Burke or Cdl Ouellet (Canadian). Both have considerable international experience, are multilingual, scholarly but very strong - Burke recently came out and said that pro-abortion pols should be DENIED Communion.
From Latin America, I think there’s one possibility, Cdl Sandri of Argentina. He has a lot of international experience, has spent much of his career at the Vatican, has very good relations with the Jews (important to BXVI), also knows the Mid East, and I think is quite a forceful person.
Whoever takes over is going to have to be very strong. BXVI had the ideas, but not the strength to carry them out, and I think this is why he is resigning. They (the Vatican appartchiks and the old VII crowd) opposed him at ever step and many of the things he ordered never took place, such as the broader distribution of the Old Mass. The bishops simply refused to comply, as in my diocese, and BXVI didn’t have the ability or the will to force them to do so. I hope his successor takes up his ideas...but is more forceful and can actually implement them.
Not sure if he's too old, but Cardinal Arinze would make an excellent Pope. Can't remember which African Archdiocese he represents, but he's very faithful and orthodox.
Sorry for not being politically correct here, but I don’t want an African Pope. The tradition of the church is not, nor ever has been, in Africa. It is a Western world religion, not an African or South American continent religion. There are no historical roots in Africa. And not that much in South America. And none in the Orient either. I want a traditional Western World Pope. My favorite pick would be Cdl Ouellet (Canadian), as he is a multiple linguist, is very traditional on the matters that count most, abortion, gay marriage, the basic principles of the Church’s teachings. I pin my hopes on him as being the best of the potential lot. This politically correct thought has got to end.
Otherwise, here is the political version of what is now going on with the Pope: the next President of the United States has to be a woman, and thus Hilllary Clinton should be the nominee after the first black President’s term is over. Do you really want that? I don’t think so. Get out of the mindset of political correctness. In today’s world we can’t afford to have a politically correct Pope dealing with international affairs. No way.
Doesn’t Gods Spirit transcend racial, national and geographical boundaries? I think you place God in a small box of your own construct to make a statement like that.
In a sense, I’m almost in agreement. Western Civ became what it was in Europe. I’d love to see Europe return to that era. But it doesn’t look at all likely. Europe has come close to demolishing Christianity in the last century, and it’s highly unlikely, given the influx of Islamic immigrants, that it will ever return to that golden age.
Right now, the old church flourishes in unEuropeanized (sorry about the word) countries. Africa’s dioceses conform more to the culture and tradition, never mind the dogma, of the old European church than Europe does. But it’s not just that. The Church is universal. What there is about the Roman Catholic Church that makes it unique isn’t the surrounding secular culture. It’s the essence of the Church, the same essence that transformed Europe and the lack of which will transform it again.
Don’t worry about an African pope (or a South American, or a Chinese, or an Aleutian pope). Who cares? The choice is not ours or even the cardinals’, it’s the Holy Ghost’s. (I’m not PC either.)
Really? You don’t want a bishop from Africa? If I wanted a nationalist religion, I’d become an anglican, and what you’re asking for is just anglicanism on a bigger scale.
The RCC consists of the worldwide communion. Nothing less.
Besides, the African leadership is some of the most conservative in the church. Their seminaries are filled, while ours are empty.
It is quite possible since Africa has witnessed the greatest growth of christianity in the past half century. Not surprisingly, the secular mainstream media ignorantly put forth information that fits the framework of contemporary society. This morning I caught Gretchen Carlson on Fox & Friends, show a picture of Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana. She excitedly commented that were he elected, he would be .... the first African American pope. Yes .. she said that. I could only laugh. Moreover, I doubt the msm have done much research. Were they to dig deeper, they would discover that the Catholic Church has already been served by 3 African popes source.
“Really? You dont want a bishop from Africa? If I wanted a nationalist religion, Id become an anglican, and what youre asking for is just anglicanism on a bigger scale.
The RCC consists of the worldwide communion. Nothing less.”
What you say, of course, is ridiculous. If you want a worldwide communion, then it appears YOU are the globalist. Yes, Catholicism has spread all over the world, but it is still a Western religion, with all of its strong roots in the West, and no, I don’t want ANY MORE PC BALONEY. Comprende? (just a little globalist lingo).
“Doesnt Gods Spirit transcend racial, national and geographical boundaries? I think you place God in a small box of your own construct to make a statement like that.”
Well, what percentage of Africa is Roman Catholic? Where are the bulk of Catholics to this day? It’s in the Western culture, because that is where it started. If you pick a Latin American or African Pope, you are going to get lots of social justice philosophy mixed in, just wait and see. I don’t want to chance it. I want a conservative Western Pope. He can then minister to the whole wide world, including Africa and Latin America and the Orient, but I want the Pope to be a Westerner.
And I’m sick to death of political correctness (or in this case, spiritual correctness). Some of you can continue to try to guilt trip me with your PC ecumenical, globalist philosophy by ceding a western church and its spiritual culture to other foreign lands for the Head of the Church, but you won’t succeed. And I’ll bet a Pope’s chalice that there are a bunch of readers on this thread that agree with me 100 percent, many of whom may be afraid to admit it though. So sad that it has come to this.
“Besides, the African leadership is some of the most conservative in the church. Their seminaries are filled, while ours are empty.”
Ours aren’t empty. They are doing better a lot better of late, in fact and many of them are Latin Mass conservative young men. And there are plenty of conservative Catholics throughout the Western countries. Plenty. You sell your own kind short, unless of course, you aren’t of western kind.
I thank God for Pope Benedict.
And pray that he will get healing rest soon and spend many many years as he wishes in prayer and contemplation.
Irrelevant. What percentage of Heaven is comprised of Africans? I don't know. I don't care. It's above my pay grade. If you are indeed Catholic, why do you not trust the process? I'm not Catholic. I don't care who they elect but any consideration of race or geography, plus or minus, is wrong minded. No, I don't believe in Affirmative Action but I have no proof it would be employed here. I don't think you do either.
My own kind?
Personally, I’m only hoping for a pope who will be true to church doctrine, and the Holy Spirit can sort that out.
Meanwhile, you can pray for your western pope, but I doubt that skin color is high on God’s list of priorities.
By the way, my “kind” is white. Cajun white.
“By the way, my kind is white. Cajun white.”
Good, my kind too. Let’s have a Cajun Pope. Can you find us one? Would Cajun fit the politically correct quota, do you think? Oh no, sorry, that won’t work. Must be an African or Latino. Cajun just isn’t quite politically correct enough. Too white. Can’t have any of those white folks. Now THAT is politically incorrect.
“I’m not Catholic. I don’t care who they elect but any consideration of race or geography, plus or minus, is wrong minded. No, I don’t believe in Affirmative Action but I have no proof it would be employed here. I don’t think you do either.”
From the posts on this thread, it was the first thing that was spoken about, having either an African or South American Pope. Anyhow, you don’t have any dog in his fight as you are not Catholic. Therefore it is immaterial to you as to who is Pope. Well I do care, and I am of western heritage, and Catholicism is a western heritage religion that should be led by a western heritage Pope. Roman Catholicism is the last bastion of western Catholic philosophical spirituality, the original Christian religion. If it gets watered down into some PC diluted mess, that would be the biggest sin. It has already been battered by allowing homosexuals to infiltrate its ranks in the name of PC, and look where that has led to. I want nothing of PC to affect the Catholic Church any more than it already has. I want no more Father Pfleger in Chicago types. I want a conservative western Pope who shares our heritage. I guess you will vote for Hillary for Prez next time around, as we must have a first woman, now that we’ve had a first black Prez. Bah humbug.
Frankly I don’t know why I’m the one here defending the Cardinal voting process. But let’s look at the facts.
#1 Catholic means universal, but your universe only includes Western Civilization.
#2 I’ve told you I don’t believe in AA and you repeated it back to me but then add I’d probably vote for Hilary so we’d have a woman president. You must have a logic repellant or a lack of comprehension that needs looked into.
#3 I don’t have a vote on the next Pope and neither do you. There’s probably a good reason for that.
#4 Your use of “my kind” betrays your bigotry. If they are Catholic, baptized and accepted by the Church officials then you should accept that person as “your kind” regardless of race or origin. Jesus does. Or do you presume to know better than Him or the Cardinals?
“#4 Your use of my kind betrays your bigotry. If they are Catholic, baptized and accepted by the Church officials then you should accept that person as your kind regardless of race or origin. Jesus does. Or do you presume to know better than Him or the Cardinals?”
Sorry, you obviously miss my point. If you can find me a conservative black American or latino American or Western country Cardinal such as a Spaniard, who has the skills for the Office, then bully. I want a Pope with western values through and through, and conservative. The former Italian Popes must be rolling over in their graves with no Italian Pope for so long. It seems to be let’s have anything but an Italian Pope nowadays, poor Italians. By the way, what color was Jesus? Just curious. I guess we can have the same “kind” of Pope as Jesus was, wouldn’t you say? Or don’t you like your kind.
“Frankly I dont know why Im the one here defending the Cardinal voting process. But lets look at the facts.”
P.S., we aren’t discussing the voting process. It is as it always has been. That’s not the problem. The problem will be if the cardinals who are voting do so from a PC position of now we must have an African Pope or a Latin Pope, or an Oriental Pope. No, have a western civilization Pope to lead the flock, and that person will be Pope to all nationalities where Catholics reside. But we don’t need a non-western Pope to lead the flock, do we. The western ones have done a pretty good job for all these years. I’m voicing my preference. I’m standing up for my western heritage, not one that is alien to western values. Each to their own. By the way, am I talking to the manic Bob or the depressive Bob. Maybe that’s the problem here.
Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.
“Discuss the issues all you want, but do not make it personal.”
I assure you it’s not. BP Bob won’t let go of my giving my opinion to which I am entitled. I’m off this thread now anyway, as the debate is going nowhere. He doesn’t understand me, and I him. My comment was meant tongue in cheek because of what he has named himself. Well, the discussion is over anyway as I am on another thread about what’s happening in CA. Just hope we get a really good Pope.
I don't want to see a European, definitely not an Italian.
you never know about an American or Canadian -- who would have thought in 197 9 that a Polish guy would become Pope?
God's choices are not ours...
'Europe' is too blanket a word. I live in Poland, have lived here for 2 years now and no, Christianity is not diminishing here. Neither is it in Hungary or Croatia or Serbia or Bulgaria
Even in near godless France or England I've been to Catholic Churches that have a small, but intensely devout congregation. In England I've seen similar devotion among the Baptist and Coptic Churches there, but the Anglicans are dead man walking
Also, to you, flaglady47 , I recommend reading "PHILIP JENKINS - THE LOST HISTORY OF cHRISTIANITY" -- some excerpts
About 780 AD, the bishop Timothy became patriarch, or catholicos, of the Church of the East, which was then based at the ancient Mesopotamian city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (in modern day Iraq). He was then 52 and lived on into his nineties, dyuing in 823 AD.
At every stage, Timothy's career violates everything we think we know about the history of Christianity -- about its geographical spread, its relationship with political state power, its cultural breadth, and its interactions with other religions. In terms of his presitge, and the geographical extent of his authority, Timothy was arguably the most significant Christian spiritual leader of his day , much more influent than the Patriarchs in Rome and Constantinople -- Perhaps a quarter of the world's Christians looked to Timothy as both spiritual and political head.
Well into the Middle Ages, the Christian strongholds of the Middle East included such currently newsworthy Iraqi cities as Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, while Tikrit -- hometown of Saddam hussein -- was a thriving Christian center several centuries after the coming of Islam.
Focusing on the Asian, Eastern story of Christianity forces us to jettison our customary images of the so-called Dark Ages. From Timothy's point of view, the culture and learning of the ancient world had never been lost...
The Church of the East still thought and spoke in Syriac, and its adherents continued to do so for several centuries afterward. As late as the thirteenth century, they still called themselves Nasraye "Nazaarenes". Monks and priests bore the title rabban
To appreciate the scale of the Church of the East, we can look at the list of hte Church's metropolitans -- that is, of those senior clergy. in england, the medieval church had 2 metropolitans: York and Canterbury. Timothy himself presided over nineteen metropolitans and 85 bishops. Just in Timothy's lifetime, new metropolitan sees were created near Tehran, in Syria, Turkestan etc. Arabia had at least 4 sees and Timothy created a new one in Yemen. And the Church was growing in southern India
Timothy reported the conversion of the Turkish great king, the khagan, who then ruled over much of central Asia. He mentioed in 780 AD how :in these days the Holy Spirit has anointed a metropolitan for the Turks, and we are preparing to consecrate another one for the Tibetans"
The Church operation in Syriac, Persian, Turkish, Soghdian and Chinese
When Timothy died in 823, he had every reason to hope for his Church's future. The new caliph was friendly to Christian clergy and scholars, and although some ordinary Christians were drifting toward the new faith, there were few signs of any ruinous defections. Even if conditions under Islamic rule ever did become difficutl, the Church of the East had plenty of opportunities to grow outside that realm, with all the new conversions in central Asia and china, and the continuing presence in India.
Any reasonable projection of the Christian future would have foreseen a bipolar world, divided between multiethnic churches centered respectively in Constantinople and Baghdad. Timothy would hprobably have felt little hope for the future of Christianity in western Europe. Already in Timothy's last days, Charlemagen's vaunted empire was fragmenting, and falling prey to the combined assaults of the pagan Norsemen and Muslims Saracens. In the century after 790, ruin and massacre overtook virtually all the British and Irish monasteries that had kept learning alive over the previous two centuries, and from which missionaries ahd gone out to evangelize northern Europe. Spain was already under Muslim rule, and southern Italy and southern France seemed to follow. In 846 Saracens raided Rome, plundering the Basilica of Saint Peter and the tomb of Peter.
Latin Europe's low point came soon after 900 when, within the space of a couple of years, areas of central France were ravaged in quick succession by pagan Vikings from the north, Muslim Moors from the south and pagan Magyars from the east: Christians had nowhere left to hide. Perhaps history would ultimately write off the Christian venture into western Europe as rash overreach, a diversion from Christianity's natural destiny, which evidently lay in Asia. Europe might have been a continent too far
Christianity is a world religion, in origin definitely NOT western -- we are an Eastern religion, well, Middle-Eastern
I'm Catholic btw, and the Church is, well, Catholic -- which the Western Patriarich (the Bishop of Rome) is the first among equals, there are equals as the Patriarchs of the Catholic Chaldean Church, the Maronite Catholic etc.
As part of the wider Catholic Church we see that the European component is, just a component
Non-Catholic westerners like Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Baptists etc. make the same mistake many of us Catholics make in just seeing Christianity through the prism of Europe
This is incorrect -- the first Christian nations were in Asia -- Armenia or Georgia OR in Africa (Ethiopia)
Some of the greatest fathers of the Church were from Africa - St. Augustine of Hippo for one or the numerous fathers from Alexandria
in fact, right up until the Islamic conquest we see the great schools of religion as being in Alexandria or Antioch -- not even among the Orthodox. Yes, they did ask the Pope as arbitrator, but the dynamism was in the East (and that kind of tells me why the Pope was kept as the arbitrator, lets say the office to be required to give infallible decisions -- because the Bishops of Rome kept away from the various theological upheavals and stayed true, so were the best to provide the Spirit driven decision)
From the Orient, come on, the Mongol tribe of the Naiman were Christians before the Hungarians or Slavs or Baltics were Christians
no one's going to put a black guy as Pope just because he's black
Cardinal Turkson is quite conservative, in fact more conservative than many Italian Cardinals
And Cardinal Ivan Dias from India has publically stated that gays can be cured and that abortion of any kind is a heinuous sin
These guys are highly conservative and very good for the Church and they just happen to be of a different skin color
I've met Poles from that generation who were stunned when it happened, but they thought in 1979, even after Pope JP II came to Warsaw to celebrate 1000 years of Christianity in Poland and chanted "Poland and Christianity are intertwined and can never be separated" with the communists glowering, they never believed that 6 years later they would be freed of the commies and that 12 years later the USSR would collapse.
God's will is incredible -- whatever we expect, He has other plans
Catholicism is rooted in Jerusalem, in Asia, we are Maronite, Latin, Chaldean, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, etc.
There is no PC baloney about this
Catholicisms roots in just one -- the Maronite Church in Lebanon/Syria, date back to the 2nd century, in another, the Syro-Malabar in India to St. Thomas the Apostle Himself
If one limits only to "roots" then there can be no Pope from outside the Mediterranean countries -- no German or Slavic popes, not even English as they were Germanic barbarians
The Americas are 49% -- and from LA alone is 32%
Asia is 11%
europe is 27%
So, LA+APAC+Africa = 32+11+13 = 56% of Catholics are not from NA or Europe
so yeah, the bulk of Catholics TODAY are in Asia+Africa+LatinAmerica
Catholicism started in Jerusalem on the day of the Pentecost -- as the Pope said, we are the Church of the Pentecost, so we didn't "start" in Europe
Christianity is much bigger than any one region - we may be dying out in the Middle East, the place we started, but we are growing elsewhere and we will return to the ME
Err.. the only "kind" that GSD is, or I or you or NYer are is Christian. I see Turkson as conservative Christian just as Dolan is or the Canadian Cardinal.
Whoever is chosen by the Holy Spirit will be conservative Christian, whatever his "kind" of skin color
btw, the Latin Americans can be nearly purely European
Here's the list of cardinals and Dolan is 63, a good age. I'd like to have him or Turkson -- seeing them in terms of just color of their skin is wrong.
Wrong again. Catholicism if anything has its roots in the Middle East -- many of the earliest popes were from Syria, a couple from North Africa
Turkson is as much of "Western heritage" as you or I or Dolan
Yes, the former Soviet countries seem to be faring better than the free ones—but not all are like Poland which never caved to atheism. It’s mainly the never-communist nations that are suffering the loss of orthodoxy—Ireland may be worse than France, and Scandinavia’s worse than Germany, Switzerland, Greece, and Italy. Spain’s never been weaker. Not that there aren’t pockets of piety utterly without influence, treated as troglodyte strongholds. And my experience with Hungarian & Baltic immigrants doesn’t convince me that the faith’s anywhere near what it was when Mindszenty was around; except for two Romanians (who escaped in the late 60s), they’ve all been atheists (and, to be fair, younger than 50). Then again, D. C. may not be the desired destination for incoming Christians.
Perhaps I am misunderstanding what you have written but some clarification needs to be made. First off, the Catholic Church is both Western and Eastern.
Although it is not widely known in our Western world, the Catholic Church is actually a communion of Churches. According to the Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, the Catholic Church is understood to be "a corporate body of Churches," united with the Pope of Rome, who serves as the guardian of unity (LG, no. 23). At present there are 22 Churches that comprise the Catholic Church. The new Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope John Paul II, uses the phrase "autonomous ritual Churches" to describe these various Churches (canon 112). Each Church has its own hierarchy, spirituality, and theological perspective. Because of the particularities of history, there is only one Western Catholic Church, while there are 21 Eastern Catholic Churches. The Western Church, known officially as the Latin Church, is the largest of the Catholic Churches. It is immediately subject to the Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. The Eastern Catholic Churches are each led by a Patriarch, Major Archbishop, or Metropolitan, who governs their Church together with a synod of bishops. Through the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Roman Pontiff works to assure the health and well-being of the Eastern Catholic Churches.
While this diversity within the one Catholic Church can appear confusing at first, it in no way compromises the Church's unity. In a certain sense, it is a reflection of the mystery of the Trinity. Just as God is three Persons, yet one God, so the Church is 22 Churches, yet one Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes this nicely:
"From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them... Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity" (CCC no. 814).
Although there are 22 Churches, there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. A Rite is a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony," (Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, canon 28). "Rite" best refers to the liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments. Many Eastern Catholic Churches use the same Rite, although they are distinct autonomous Churches. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church are distinct Churches with their own hierarchies. Yet they both use the Byzantine Rite.
To learn more about the "two lungs" of the Catholic Church, visit this link:
The Vatican II Council declared that "all should realize it is of supreme importance to understand, venerate, preserve, and foster the exceedingly rich liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Eastern churches, in order faithfully to preserve the fullness of Christian tradition" (Unitatis Redintegrato, 15).
A Roman rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his or her obligations at any Eastern Catholic Parish. A Roman rite Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest, since all belong to the Catholic Church as a whole. I am a Roman Catholic practicing my faith at a Maronite Catholic Church. Like the Chaldeans, the Maronites retain Aramaic for the Consecration. It is as close as one comes to being at the Last Supper.
At the most recent consistory to elevate new cardinals, the Holy Father appointed two from the East: Maronite Patriarch Bechara Cardinal Rai and Syro-Malabar Major Archbishop Mar George Cardinal Alencherry. In retrospect, his reason for doing so was to add their voices to the electorate.
Insofar as the continent of Africa, perhaps you are not aware that the Catholic Church has 3 popes that hailed from Africa The African Popes of the Roman Catholic Church
As we catholics enter Lent, it is important to pray for Pope Benedict and the cardinals who will be selecting his successor.
I don’t think anybody is saying the Pope has to be an African; Turkson was simply one of the people under discussion. I don’t think he’d be a very good choice, partly because I don’t think Africa yet has the “ecclesiastical infrastructure” to provide him with support outside of the Curia, partly because he is advocating for some crazy “world economy” scheme, and finally because he has been giving press interviews since yesterday telling people what he will do as Pope!
But aside from that, the Church creates its own culture, that is, Christian culture, which may be expressed a little differently here and there but as long as it is the product of orthodox Christian thought (the duty of the Pope is to maintain this) will produce unity and a coherent common culture. Western culture, after all, is nothing but the product of orthodox Christianity.
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POPE BENEDICT XVI WILL RESIGN AT THE END OF THIS MONTH, VATICAN PRESS OFFICE TELLS FOX NEWS