Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger’s successor, criticizes “royal court carrying on” in Vatican

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, successor to Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict) as archbishop of Munich, is critical of “royal court carrying on” at the center of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican behaves too much like a royal court, Archbishop Marx told the Deutsche Presseagentur (German press agency).

“The successor of Peter can be no monarch. In my view, that would contradict the office of Peter,” Marx said. With media coverage of church events such as the election of the pope, there is the danger that superficialities play too great a role, said the 59-year-old.

“Things such as the Swiss Guard and postage stamps are very nice, but the central thing is that Christ is spoken of. Side things can’t become the central thing. We have to attend to this.”

Marx expects a reform of the curia from Pope Francis. “There was a basic feeling among the cardinals that something has to change, that one must reflect anew on areas of responsibility, that one must deal with the scandals of the past. The pope will certainly be concerned about this, so that responsibility is taken for whatever wasn’t functioning correctly.”

Whether more things could be decided locally rather than in Rome will also have to be examined, Marx said. “I wish to emphasize strongly that we need the central office in Rome. But it must not overreach.”

“Everyone has to find their authentic style,” Marx said. “I rejoice that the new pope is so well received. But he will also have to make difficult decisions which won’t please everyone. As I have gotten to know him, he will not distance himself from his predecessor, but he will bring to the Petrine ministry his pastoral experiences from Buenos Aires. Just as Benedict had brought in his theological experiences.”

The archbishop of Munich does not wish to cut off contact with Pope Emeritus Benedict. “He is interested in what happens in Bavaria and especially in his home diocese. I will take care that lively, friendly contact with him continues further.”

Source: ORF.

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18 comments

  1. My colleagues keep asking me to tell them “what accounts for this sudden change of tone, of direction?” and I am at a loss for rational explanations…. but heartened to hear that the cardinals *did* do it on purpose!

  2. Strange we never heard much about this “royal court” while the Emeritus Pope Benedict was on the throne. I imagine now we’ll be hearing quite a few voices airing similar thoughts to those of archbishop Marx.

    Will the silks, lace and jewels suddenly be out? With sheepskin cassocks and wooden pectoral crosses suddenly becoming the uniform of the court?

    1. @Dunstan Harding – comment #4:
      With sheepskin cassocks and wooden pectoral crosses suddenly becoming the uniform of the court?

      So long as the “court” does not consider the external changes to be sufficient. “See how penitential we look now?!”

      Isaiah 58, please!

  3. One wonders how a three volume, thorough exegesis titled “Jesus of Nazareth,” a work of culmination among an extraordinary bibliography did not blip on Marx’s radar as fulfilling his criterion that “the central thing is that Christ is spoken of.”?
    And that Professor Ratzinger yet lives while this gross exhalation comes from his successor and his former haunt, incredibly crass and self-serving 20/20 retrovision. I don’t know what else to say.

    1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #5:
      I was and am fully aware of Pope Benedict’s scholarly works and his lovely efforts to present Jesus in a written form that would reach millions of readers. As a medievalist, however, I am well aware that words and theological analysis only reach a fraction of the faithful; the rich symbolism of simplified garments and humble living arrangements have already struck a much deeper cord among those of us who don’t measure our faith in terms of bibliographical achievement. I have enormous respect for Pope Benedict’s learning and scholarship; when I try to explain my faith to my secular colleagues, I look for a leader whose deeds and actions speak louder than words.

      1. @Ellen Joyce – comment #6:
        Prof. Joyce, I believe my comment was in response to the remarks of Abp. Marx, unless the quote I referred to was yours, and I made a misattribution. I’m not quite sure that one’s vocation, as a medievalist or musician in my case, can assess the effect of JoN’s consumption in any terms, Amazon sales, volumes passed around and shared, parish usage in groups etc. I think that in basic terms, such as the mustard seed parable, it behooves us not to underestimate the potential of evangelization of that series, not to mischaracterize and twist my words of those works to a mere “bibliographical achievement,” compare them (apples) to external expressions of “humble living” (oranges), and most of all, infer a detriment of pedantry upon its author and a presumption of unintelligibility of the general catholic reading audience. Your reaction I found to be quite puzzling. Thank you.

    1. @claire mathieu – comment #7:
      Claire, any Cardinal who made public criticisms of the carryings-on of the Vatican Royal Court, before the election of Pope Francis, would have been severely criticised by the courtiers – and probably found himself silenced.

      Generally speaking nobody becomes a Cardinal if they have ever made any statement that could be interpreted as being disloyal. They simply have to keep their opinions to themselves. That is one of the consequences of having a style of Church government modeled on a medieval tyranny.

  4. The Holy Father at his Chrism Mass with the priests of Rome said that priests can’t be collectors of antiques or novelties. Thus he contrasts the two extremes in the clergy, bishops or priests, and calls us to authentic discipleship. I suspect that we could point to a number of places in the world where the Church of antiques and the Church of novelties need to be purified of both. I suspect his homily is a bit of a “Marshall plan” for the priesthood as they are to take on “the smell of the sheep” whom they are to lead.

  5. Fr Allan McDonald is right to point out that important message in today’s homily from Pope Francis. In context it is:

    “A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say “not at all” because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the manager, “has already received his reward”, and since he doesn’t put his own skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of thanks. This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, become sad priests, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or novelties – instead of being shepherds living with “the smell of the sheep”, shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men.”

    Another quote that I thought was important was:

    “From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people”

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #12:
        Also the Bishop of Rome will wash the feet of one or two girls at the Prison Mass of the Lord’s Supper. I suspect this ties in with “smelling like the sheep” which the bishop and priest should, rather than seen as an “ordination” rite and thus purely clerical, which I don’t think it is in John’s Gospel since John’s Gospel presumes the “Last Supper ‘scene'” while not reporting it. Jesus washing the feet of his apostles is an example of what ordained priestly ministry is and what the general priesthood of the laity should also exemplify, that of cultic worship and everyday service in the world especially to those in need.

  6. Pope Francis has a vision for the Church which he articulated in his pre-conclave speech, enacted in the Habemus Papam scene on the balcony of St.Peters, and applied to priestly life this morning.

    It is an “ad extra” vision of the Church, of evangelization, “to the ends of the earth” but of evangelization with a twist. When he joked that the cardinals had gone “to the ends of the earth” to find a Pope, he understood God’s humor that we find ourselves (and the Church of Rome will find itself) when we lose ourselves by finding God in the people whom we serve. If we focus upon ourselves we become sick and our anointing turns rancid. (The Old World Church of Rome has to leave its self absorption, concern for the good and evil in itself, and find itself at the “ends of the earth” with this New World Pope).

    On that balcony Francis clothed himself not in the Papal vestments but in the love and the prayers of God’s people. These are the true signs of God’s anointing of the presence of the Holy Spirit among us. Mutual love, service, and prayer for one another are at the heart of ecclesial communion and all evangelization.

    We need to “go out,” then, in order to experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the “outskirts” where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all.

    http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-good-priest-can-be-recognized-in-his.html

    This is classical solid Ignatian spirituality, finding God in all things, especially the humble service of others, and most especially serving those who have been neglected by the church.

  7. Francis has lost no time in finding a replacement for himself in Buenos Aires. That shows even more clearly his pastoral priorities.

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