Letter from the Publisher
Why choose to address the question of the papacy in a Catholic magazine? Aren’t all readers sharing the same faith? Do they not all believe in Christ’s divinity and in his Church? Do they not accept the authority of the Pope?
This issue, therefore, aims firstly at extolling the supernatural privileges granted to the pilot who steers the helm of St. Peter’s boat. The Holy Father, for all his personal shortcomings, is Christ’s representative on earth and must be venerated as such. He holds the Fisherman’s ring, with power to open and close Heaven’s gates. In his truly magisterial statements, his sharp word divides between the marrow and the sinew; he defines truth and condemns fallacy. To the Church—arguably to the papacy itself—Christ bestowed the promises of indefectibility, that is to say, that the Church would last till the end time.
On the other hand, along with this faith in Christ’s constitution of His Church, each Catholic is duty bound to have a lucid and critical mind in the face of the present ecclesiastical landscape. I am speaking of a multifaceted crisis, shaking firstly doctrine, then the morals, and finally, the trust in those very people and institutions which we deem to be the paragon of truth, morality, and stability.
Pope Benedict XVI, a few years ago, alluded to the crisis and compared it to the Arian crisis, so as to conclude that, as Arianism came and went away, so will it be with the present wobble. What, perhaps, the Pope Emeritus forgot to mention is that present day doctrinal and moral apathy is not only peripheral. It has reached the inner veins and vital organs of Church governance. Worse even, the disease seems to be emanating from the heart itself. A band aid will not do when gangrene has set in so deeply. To recover from such fate, what we need is the famed reform in capite et in membris, from head to foot, and in this specific order.
As always in Church history but more now than ever, the solution to the crisis rests in Peter’s hands. Pope Francis, not unlike old St. Peter, seems to be in chains, and the Church’s duty is to ardently pray for his liberation. What the Church enemies are aiming at is the head. What they dream of is a pope who sits on the throne but who de facto abdicates his power and leaves things unruly. Shakespeare, speaking of order in general, offers an arresting insight into what could then ensue: “Take but degree away, untune that string, And hark, what discord follows! Each thing meets in mere oppugnancy.”
Fr. Jürgen Wegner