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 Blooming Stars

Autocracy is a Sin -3

            Currently a feudalistic, autocratic system of power and control is maintained under strict censures leading to the ultimate penalty of excommunication of members who, following their conscience, do not end up keeping the laws and disciplines promulgated by canon lawyers of this absolute unchallengeable system. This system is so tightly controlled and shrouded in secrecy. The primary custodian of this system under late Pope John Paul II’s regime was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger who was eventually elected in a secret conclave by the coterie of Cardinals appointed by Pope John Paul II to succeed him as Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith tried to censor and try Hans Kung, an eminent theologian in the Catholic Church, for his writings. He did not obey the summons to Rome as he did not expect a fair trial. He was eventually stripped of his title as a Catholic Theologian in Tubingen University, Germany. Interestingly, Hans Kung himself had recruited Josef Ratzinger as a professor in the theology department of Tubingen University.

            After Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope, he had a long meeting (about four hours’ duration!) with Hans Kung that ended with a meal. The content of the meeting was not made known. Theologian Leonardo Boff had to leave the Franciscan Order and priestly ministry after he was silenced by Ratzinger for his theological writings. Boff, as a liberation theologian in Brazil supporting the rights of the poor and the oppressed, accused Cardinal Ratzinger of religious terrorism. Father Charles Curran, a moral theologian, was made to leave the Catholic University in Washington, for views different from the ”official” ones, and joined the Southern Methodist University. Father Mathew Fox of Creation Spirituality left the Catholic Church under censure and was well-received by the Anglican-Episcopalian Communion. The writings of a great Jesuit spiritual writer, Anthony D’Mello, in India were also censured. All these are examples of great Catholic theologians and spiritual guides who suffered under Cardinal Ratzinger.

            The Catholic Church is heavily programmed to believe that the Pope as the Vicar of Christ is supposed to discern the will of Christ, and communicate that will to the whole Christian Church. Non-Catholic Christians either ignore or deride this claim even to the point of calling the Pope anti-Christ. The belief as well as the deep programming in Catholic circle is that as Christ obeyed his father the Catholics are supposed to obey the pope, who is the Vicar of Christ. This Theology of Convenience developed over the years culminated in the Dogma of Infallibility for the Pope in the 19th century. This very theology of convenience has gone too far and got the Catholic Church tied up in knots. Autocracy in the Catholic Church is a product of this theology of convenience. The unfortunate reality is that the Magisterium with the Pope as its head is not accountable to the members of the Catholic Church. On the contrary the members of the Catholic Church are accountable to the Pope and the Bishops whom the Pope appoints.

            The Pope also appoints the Cardinals from the bishops who elect the next pope. The bishops in their dioceses appoint and transfer priests who in turn are accountable to their bishops. This hierarchical structure is so tightly controlled and protected to perpetuate a particular way of governing the Catholic Church. Pope John XXIII, who was elected as a harmless, transitional pope was, perhaps, the only pope in the modern age who broke out of the mold and the tight control of his handlers and the Curia (the bureaucratic set-up for governing the Catholic Church) who closely guarded the existing state of affairs and vested interests. The only problem with the carefully orchestrated hierarchical structure is that it so diametrically opposed to the spirit of Christ who said that he came to serve and not to be served (Mathew 20:28). The title The Servant of the Servants of God for the Pope is a great travesty of truth indeed.


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