For those of you who don’t know exactly what is going on in Rome – or don’t want to know what is going on – and further don’t have the time to work through Evangelii Gaudium, the Bishop of Rome has just provided some helpful clarification. It takes the form of remarks reported to have been given to the Dutch bishops on their recent ad Limina visit and as reported by Joshua J. McElwee, “Pope talks openly about reform, sex abuse, Dutch bishop says,” National Catholic Reporter (December 6, 2013)
“Pope Francis told a group of Dutch bishops this week that the Vatican must continue reforms undertaken by the Catholic church in the 1960s and ‘70s, according to one of the participants in the meeting.
Bishop Jan Hendricks, who attended the meeting Monday, later recounted that the pope said implementation of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council is only half complete.
‘We have been implementing the council only half-way,’ Hendriks recalled from the pope’s words. ‘Half of the work has still to be done.’”
This, in reference to a country where the Council was most immediately, completely and radically “implemented” and where Paul VI already had to apply the brakes in view of the complete ecclesiastical collapse. These words are also revealing, of course, on the current pontiff’s attitude towards his two immediate predecessors.
And according to another bishop who attended the meeting:
“de Korte said the Dutch bishops had focused in their written report to the pope for their ad limina visit on issues of catechesis, but Francis seemed more interested in issues of charity.”
So, just as in the 1960′s, charity and doctrinal clarity are viewed once again as antagonistic.
On the other hand, the Pope seems to have accepted with relative equanimity the news that the Dutch church is in a catastrophic situation and that roughly half the Catholic churches in the Netherlands will be shut in the next 5 years. The Dutch bishops report hearing from Francis on this issue none of the emotional reactions the Pope reserves for traditionalists! The scope and the authoritarian nature of the church-closing campaign have been harshly criticized in the Netherlands- see this very detailed REPORT.
Pope Francis, according to one bishop, “did not say whether what we did or wanted to do (regarding church closings – SC) was right or wrong.” He reflected that the Dutch people must feel sad just like the Jews were sad when their temple was destroyed. The pope told the bishops, according to this report, that they should share the sentiments of the people whose churches are shut down and use the opportunity to get in contact with them. For finally, Francis is reported to have said,“I would like to encourage you not to be sad.”