Whittling down-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
TOMAS Osmeña’s losing candidates are for the birds,” fretted this anxious fan of Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle. Instead, he asked:
“How many ballots before we know who the cardinals elected pope?”
The last conclave voted four times to pick 78-year old Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. The seat of Peter was vacant for over three years in the 13th century. People locked the cardinals in, tore off the building’s roof. A diet of bread and water led them to elect Gregory X.
The March conclave comes to a church that “shifted southwards,” notes New York Times. Two thirds of Catholics lived in Europe in the 1900s.
Soaring spires of Notre Dame, Chartres to Mont St. Michel symbolized their faith.
Religious indifference and secularization emptied the pews. Only half of the French now identify themselves as Catholics, down from 80 percent.
Mass attendance seesaws from 18 percent in Spain to 10 percent in Germany. Baptized millions “never darken doors of a church, and don't support policies on morality or sexuality.”
In contrast, Asia had 130 million Catholics in 2010, up from 126 million, Vatican’s annual statistical yearbook reports. Latin America’s Catholics will rise to 600 million within two decades. By 2025, there’d be 220 million African Catholics. At century’s turn. there were 130 million.
“The Vatican is now in the wrong location,” writes Philip Jenkins in the New Republic. By the half-century mark, Europe will account for 15 percent of Catholics. Many will be immigrants or overseas workers from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Cardinals voting in the Sistine Chapel will be looking south. “Some theorists are boasting, “Africa is the Faith," Jenkins adds. Who can best reveal the sensus fidelium?
“The sufferings of people and difficult questions they ask are an invitation to be in solidarity with them, not to pretend we have all the solutions,” Tagle told the last Synod. “They see the concrete face of God in a Church that can be silent with them, as confused as they are.
“The Church should contribute in the public square. But we in Asia are very particular about the mode….So, you may be saying the right things. But people will not listen if the manner by which you communicate reminds them of a triumphalistic, know it all institution.”
Do Tagbilaran bishop Leonardo Medroso and like-minded bishops get the message? Medroso threatened excommunication for anyone who backed the RH bill. That swept in President Aquino, legislators to ordinary Catholics like Mercedes Concepcion, one of 42 scientists Pope Paul invited to advise on “Humane Vitae.”
“The phenomenon of bursting (Philippine) churches is actually misleading,” notes Windhover magazine. Only 21 percent of Filipino urban students believe in life after the grave, an earlier survey by McCann Erickson and Philippine Jesuits found.
Majority or 88 percent believe in a Supreme Being. But only 15 percent were instructed in their faith by parents. Their doctrinal foundation and catechetical instruction seem to be faltering.”
If the rate the Church loses members persists, the Philippines would no longer be a Catholic country in 40 years, theologian Catalino Arevalo writes.
“They’re not turning away. They’re just not being reached.”
“The church is at a crossroad,” Australian daily reports. “But as a consequence of the brilliant letter of papal resignation, a whole new revamp becomes possible when few expected it. Who occupies the throne of St. Peter matters way beyond church circles.”
That whittles Osmeña’s gripe about losing councilors to size.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 03, 2013.