|Croweds Gathered in Saint Peter's Square |
the first night of the conclave that elected
It is always ideal when Reformation comes from within the ranks of Church leadership whether through Papal leadership as it will with Innocent III or Conciliar Leadership as at Trent. But what happens when the internal leadership either is not interested in Reform or cannot overcome its internal division in order to fashion and hold to a program of Reform such as happened after Lateran V in 1517? (Don’t worry if you don’t know much about Innocent or Lateran V, we will look at those episodes in detail as time and blog entries unfold.) As I am writing this I can’t but help think how these very days our federal government is so divided over various self-interests (Republicans, Tea-partiers, Democrats) that they can’t forge a program to meet a national crisis regarding the debt. This is what happens when people lose their sense of the common good and seek only to preserve their own self-interest. This happens in Church politics as well as national politics. Original sin sits as heavy on a bishop’s mitered head as a politician’s fat ass.
And that is why I want to look at the question of Reformations in the history of the Church. Today there is no Emperor to take charge and clean up the mess and the curias (or technically curiae) of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are too complicit in the problems for the their papacies to be effective in the needed reform the Church .
Why do I think that the Church today needs yet another Reformation? Well, in the first place, the Church always needs a Reformation. Ecclesia semper reformans, semper reformanda—the Church, always reforming and always in need of reform. That is just a principle of history of the Church. Just as no one of us individual Christians is ever quite “there” but continue to journey on towards the perfection to which we are called in our baptism so too the collective assembly of the faithful is never fully what Christ calls us to be as his Church.
I do have some more concrete examples of why we need to have a Reformation—and it is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are other reasons beyond the one’s I am going to enumerate.