Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

June 26, 2008


Sit up straight in your chair and look at this! A full page ad by the Knights of Columbus in "America" magazine, NCR, and elsewhere! Color photo of Pope Benedict XVI; in bold type "Come follow me". And then: "We'd like you to join us in making Pope Benedict's vision of building a society of life and love a reality." No Jesus! Not a mention! Jesus said, "Come follow me", not Benedict! Jesus we follow; His vision we seek! What happened to Jesus?

In June 6, 2008 "Commonweal", a Letter to the Editor from Bishop Elden Curtis of Omaha states "It is a primary duty of a bishop to help keep his diocese in union with the universal church under the leadership of the successor of St. Peter..."
Primary duty? What happened to Jesus?

Human organizations have a centralizing impulse. What is centralized? Control; authority; power! Different popes have different visions. John XXIII brought the world's bishops together in Vatican II. Collegial efforts produced a church-shaking phenomenon. The Church was seen as "the people of God". And that "people" had a new voice - the vernacular in liturgy and greater roles. Paul VI sought to continue a collegiate modus operandi in his establishment of the Synods of Bishops. John Paul II
had a different vision. The Exhortations after the various Synods incorporated the vision of John Paul, not a collegial vision as in Vatican II and as intended by Paul VI. John Paul's charismatic personality accomplished much but did not put in play the visions of the Synods. He diminished the role of the laity in liturgy. He insisted, to the dismay of the Japanese bishops, that liturgical texts be translated in Rome, not in Japan. He neutered the national conferences of bishops: significant action decisions had to be unanimous; otherwise they went to Rome. Benedict XVI brought back the Latin Mass. These are a few examples of policy changes by John Paul and Benedict, achieved not by collegiate action and vision, but by popes with their own singular vision.

Of course, the Holy Father has an important place in our faith vision - of the lives of our universal Church, our national and ethnic churches, our parishes, and our personal lives. But the centralizing impulse and its exaggerations are at work. This may explain the "Come follow me" ad and the "primary duty" of Bishop Curtis. What happened to Jesus?