Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

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jserraglio
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Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jserraglio » Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:52 am

Reuters

Pope orders retired prelates to live austerely, shun power
Thu, Feb 15
By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, in a decision affecting Vatican officials and bishops around the world, on Thursday ordered them to lead simple lives and renounce any desire for power after they retire from senior positions.

A number of Vatican officials and bishops have come under fire in recent years for holding on to luxuries, such as large apartments and in some cases even police escorts, after they leave office.

Francis himself gave up the spacious papal apartments in favor of a simple suite in a Vatican guest house. Now a new Church law says prelates should "strip themselves of desires of power and of the pretence of being indispensable".

Francis made his comments in a new law known as a Motu Proprio, Latin for "by his own initiative". Its Italian title can be roughly translated as "Learning to Resign".

While the law makes changes in the bureaucratic aspects of the official retirement age, which remains 75 but allows some Vatican official to stay on at the pope's discretion, much of it was clearly aimed at avoiding the repeat of recent scandals.

One involved an apartment used by Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a former secretary of state who was removed in 2013.

Bertone's large retirement apartment, which has a huge terrace and breathtaking view of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, become a symbol of the difficulty the frugal-minded pope has faced in his efforts to rein in the perks some Church leaders cling to after they retire.

Even after he retired, Bertone was seen using escorts of Vatican and Italian police to move around Rome.

Last October, a Vatican court convicted the former president of a Vatican-owned hospital of abuse of office for diverting nearly half a million dollars of funds to renovate Bertone's apartment.

Francis said those who leave high office should embrace "a new life project, marked as much as possible by austerity, humility, prayer, time dedicated to reading and willingness to provide simple pastoral services".

This was an appeal to retired bishops and Vatican officials to live a simple life in religious communities or serve parishes by saying Mass, performing other sacraments and filling in for priests who are ill.

"The pope is saying people should pray before God when it is time to retire," Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told Reuters television in an interview.

"Basically, he is saying to bishops and cardinals 'be humble, learn a way to serve humbly.' It is as if he were saying 'be a parish priest again, go to your confessions, go help with the fish fry,' that kind of thing," Burke said.

Francis said high-ranking prelates should prepare spiritually for the coming change of lifestyle "otherwise it can be painful and conflictual."

Some retired Vatican officials have been known to want to stay close to the center of power, to try to influence Church decisions via younger staff allied with them.

A year after his election in 2013, Francis removed a German bishop because he had spent 31 million euros (£25.84 million) of Church funds on an extravagant residence while the pope was preaching austerity.

(Additional reporting by Cristiano Corvino, editing by Larry King)

jbuck919
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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:18 pm

I'm all for reining in abuses (Cardinal Law is another case, but his sinecure was handed to him by a previous pope), but if I knew I was going to have to retire to the level of a mere curate after having literally owned every ecclesiastical property in a diocese (as American bishops do), I would never accept a bishopric in the first place. Or, as the saying used to go, nolo episcopari.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jserraglio » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:18 pm
I'm all for reining in abuses (Cardinal Law is another case, but his sinecure was handed to him by a previous pope), but if I knew I was going to have to retire to the level of a mere curate after having literally owned every ecclesiastical property in a diocese (as American bishops do), I would never accept a bishopric in the first place. Or, as the saying used to go, nolo episcopari.
I don't think we're gonna see a bunch of empty sees anytime soon.

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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:18 am

jserraglio wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:27 pm
jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:18 pm
I'm all for reining in abuses (Cardinal Law is another case, but his sinecure was handed to him by a previous pope), but if I knew I was going to have to retire to the level of a mere curate after having literally owned every ecclesiastical property in a diocese (as American bishops do), I would never accept a bishopric in the first place. Or, as the saying used to go, nolo episcopari.
I don't think we're gonna see a bunch of empty sees anytime soon.
Or a bunch of ex-cardinal archbishops living like ordinary parish priests. Many people including myself are not bothered that they have a comfortable retirement within reason. We also don't expect the President of the United States to go back to selling men's clothing (thinking of Harry Truman, although that's almost what he did).

Continuing my rant, which I have offered before, the pope can live anywhere he wants, but there is a certain arrogance to having a couple of rooms in what amounts to a Red Roof Inn and forsaking the already modest (by modern standards of wealth) formal papal apartments. He might have a successor who could have good reason to live in those apartments, but he has tied that person's hands by assuring that he would appear as virtually another Alexander VI if he does so. The same is true for giving up the papal tiara. When Paul VI put down the tiara it meant for all practical purposes that it was put down forever, when it was an important symbol. Also, it was a gift to him from the people of Milan. Now how would you feel if you gave someone a significant gift and he just decided to get rid of it because he wanted to appear to be modest?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jserraglio » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:37 am

Most of these prelates never signed up for poverty, so whatever private wealth they've amassed won't be touched. The motu proprio makes it very clear that many, if not most, highly placed Vatican officials will be asked to stay on past the age of retirement because their experience and skills are still needed. The pope, while advocating an interior attitude of humility they need to adopt, is actually making it easier for them to stay in office past age 75.

So nobody thinks that big kahunas like them are gonna return to parishes and run the bingo. The Vatican spokesman who put that spin on the pope's edict “Learning How To Resign”, qtd below, must have had his Irish tongue firmly planted in his cheek and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Francis is asking your eminences to scale back their ostentatious and costly public displays, such as security details and limousines, that scandalize an already restive faithful.
Pope Francis wrote:Those who are preparing to present their resignation need to prepare themselves adequately before God, stripping themselves of the desires for power and the pretence at being indispensable. This will allow us to pass with peace and confidence through this moment, which could otherwise be painful and conflictual. At the same time, whoever takes on in truth this need to take leave must discern in prayer how to live the stage that is about to begin, developing a new project of life, characterized as far as possible by austerity, humility, prayer of intercession, time dedicated to reading and willingness to provide simple pastoral services.
For retired Vatican power brokers, that amounts to the pope telling them to say 3 "Our Fathers" and 3 "Hail Marys" as penance for their venial sins. The Holy Father's not about to send them all off to re-education camps, is he? Or is he?

As for Pope Alexander VI, I just read a student term paper describing him as a forerunner of the right-to-life movement, having conceived so many children.

Pope Paul VI, notwithstanding his refusal to be crowned with a gilded, jewel-encrusted relic of the Middle Ages, is on the short list for canonization, possibly as early as this year.

Francis's chances for sainthood are nonexistent—reactionaries brand him a heretic; worse still, he's on Motel 6's shitlist.

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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:35 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:37 am
Pope Paul VI, notwithstanding his refusal to be crowned with a gilded, jewel-encrusted relic of the Middle Ages, is on the short list for canonization, possibly as early as this year.

Francis's chances for sainthood are nonexistent—reactionaries brand him a heretic; worse still, he's on Motel 6's shitlist.
As you doubtless know, with the dubious exception of Pius X (whatever did he do when the important Pius XI is completely neglected?), the last pope to be canonized before the causes of, oh, say, half a dozen or ten of them or so were taken up in the last few years, was Pius V, the first important pope of the Counter-Reformation. That was hundreds of years ago. Now it is almost routine to bring a cause to canonize a pope. They're even going back to the ghastly Pius IX. If Francis is not a realistic candidate, then neither is the relatively worldly Paul VI. Saints are supposed to be people of heroic virtue. Concentrating on popes is like giving Douglas MacArthur the Medal of Honor (for which he shamelessly lobbied) when no general could ever have been Audie Murphy.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jserraglio » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:01 pm

As you suggest, when it comes to enshrining popes, importance counts for more than heroic virtue.

Plus XII was a worldly figure. He is also currently "Venerable", a kind of demi-saint. Historically important as the last of the old-fashioned pontiffs.

John Paul II was arguably the most politically important pope since the Renaissance. He is a full-fledged saint, very nearly canonized by acclamation.

Paul VI seems a monkish figure when set next to Pius XII the diplomat and JP II the politician. But he was an important figure in pushing the reforms John XXIII had initiated. Francis has predicted that Paul will be canonized this year, wisecracked that he and Benedict are next on the waiting list, and begged folks to pray for them both (presumably so it wouldn't happen).

As for the Counter-Reformation, doesn't everybody who is not revanchist acknowledge five centuries later that the main lines of Luther's protest were valid?

jbuck919
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Re: Pope to retired Vatican bishops & officials: No more perks, guys

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:29 pm

Paul VI and John XXIII were also diplomats before being given the second and third most important sees in Italy. (Venice is much diminished now because of depopulation, but its historic importance is obvious and it is the only see in Italy other than Rome whose archbishop is designated a patriarch.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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