Skip to comments.Rewriting the 'constitution' of the Catholic Church
Posted on 10/02/2013 5:49:33 AM PDT by NYer
No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
I don’t expect secular agencies to be completely accurate in covering stories about Vatican reform, but there’s a difference between inaccuracy and absurdity, and this Fox News headline falls into the latter category:
Pope Francis, eight cardinals set to rewrite church's constitution
Insofar as a “constitution” is the fundamental law on which an institution is based, the “constitution” of the Church is the New Testament, which isn’t going to be changed. Or maybe you could use the term “constitution” to refer to the Code of Canon Law, which is the existing legislation for the Catholic world. But this story is about the Pope’s meetings this week with the Council of Cardinals, to discuss reforms of the Roman Curia. You could change the Curia any number of ways—you could abolish the Curia, for that matter—without affecting the fundamental constitution of the Church.
How did Fox get this story wrong? There’s a hot clue in the 2nd paragraph: “Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras says the group has received suggestions on Vatican reform from around the world, The Telegraph reports.”
Aha! The Daily Telegraph of London! Fox has violated Lawler’s Rule for reporting on Catholicism: Never rely on a British newspaper for coverage of Vatican affairs. Sure enough, the Telegraph carries a very similar inaccurate headline:
Pope Francis to 'rip up and rewrite' Vatican constitution
The Pope and the Council of Cardinals are planning a revision of Pastor Bonus, the 1988 document in which Blessed John Paul II established the current division of responsibilities among the offices of the Roman Curia. The date of the document should be a giveaway. If the “constitution” of the Catholic Church was written in 1988, then either the Church existed for nearly 2,000 years without a constitution, or else the fundamental law governing the Catholic world was changed at that time. Actually Pastor Bonus changed very little about Catholicism. Changing the structure of the Vatican bureaucracy does not entail changing the structure of the faith. Indeed, the Telegraph’s story gave a reasonably accurate description of Pastor Bonus as “the apostolic constitution which apportions power at the Holy See.”
Did you notice that term? Yes, that 1988 document is an apostolic constitution. But it’s not the constitution of the Church.
You can mount a constitutional challenge to federal legislation, and you can take a constitutional stroll after dinner. Sometimes the same word can have different meanings. Journalists, take note.
This morning, Tuesday 1 October, in the Private Library of the Papal Apartments in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, was Pope Francis' first meeting with the Council of Cardinals, which was created earlier this year on 13 April and confirmed by Chirograph dated 28 September.
As is known the Council is formed of eight cardinals, responsible for assisting the Bishop of Rome in the governance of the universal Church and of studying a project for revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus on the Roman Curia.
The meetings will continue through Thursday, 3 October.
Ping for later
Better not tell Obama or Hairy Reid or they’ll decide that they can closed down the Vatican. ;-)
The secular world, the secular in the United states, so want the Catholic Church to sign off on what they are doing.
They constantly look for approval for their lifestyle choices, including practicing birth control, and its spawn, abortion, homosexuality and various unhealthy dependencies.
The media obsesses in this endeavor, constantly misrepresenting the Church. Do these people think that by taunting the Church, it will give in like some peer pressured high schooler, unaware of his own morality?
If the secular world would ever see that they are following stricter rules of behavior dictated by the adherents of their lifestyles than the Church ever dictates, they’d leave it alone.
Yet the Church does not obsess over these people and their choices. They do not affect the Church. the Church is not going to change itself for them.
So, the question is why doesn’t the media and its audience leave the church out of it?
It pretends to ignore the Church, ignoring what it really has to say. Then why doesn’t the media and its audience just truly ignore the Church?
Sola Scriptura? Or are they talking about the Vatican’s internal law? :)
(OK, I exaggerated. But only a teeny, teeny bit.)
My hunch is that the religion editor at Fox News has no idea of how the word "constitution" is used in the Catholic Church. Therefore he doesn't know the difference between a Papal decree like "Pastor Bonus" and a Conciliar document like "Gaudium et Spes".
(Just so's you'll know, PB is Pope John Paul's 1988 decree reorganizing the Roman Curia; GS is a "Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World" and an authoritive document of the Second Vatican Council, 1962-65, a council of all the bishops in the world.)
Neither one is the equivalent of the "constitution" of a representative republican government.
What Pope Francis is talking about doing, is a reorganization of the Curia. It is not infallible. It has nothing to do with dogma. It is not a matter of faith and morals. It does not represent the founding authority or the ruling philosophy of the Catholic Church. It is not a remaking of The Foundations of the Catholic Church. It's not earth-shaking.
It is purely administrative,loosely analogous to a President reorganizing his Cabinet.
It's romanità, internal Curial politics in the most bureaucratic sense of the term.
And as I never fail to emphasize to my darling baby n00bie catechumens in RCIA, big font, "AN APOSTOLIC HIERARCHY IS NOT THE SAME THING AS A CLERICAL BUREAUCRACY."
I trust I have not made the whole thing even more obscure.
Thank you, Mrs. Don-o. As always, a clearly worded and excellently expressed instruction.
. . . there's a passel of religion journalists who don't know an epistle from an apostle.
No, I actually don't think you have exaggerated, even a teeny, teeny bit. I would be willing to bet that there are many such reporters who really don't know what an epistle is, or care for that matter. And, a very excellent explanation of the issue, btw.
Thank you again. Another reason I consider you to be a blessing to the rest of us Catholic FReepers:)