POLE THAT HE WAS, Karol Wojtyla had a well-developed sense of historical irony. So from his present position in the Communion of Saints, he might be struck by the ironic fact that the Synod on “Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” currently underway in Rome, coincides with the 40th anniversary of his election as pope.
I NEVER TOOK a class from historian Frank Orlando, but the motto he placed in the faculty section of my college yearbook — “History is an antidote for despair” —has stuck with me for 45 years. It also seems quite appropriate at this disturbing moment in the life of the Church, so perhaps a history lesson is in order.
WHILE CATHOLICISM HAS been embroiled in a crisis of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance reaching to the highest levels of the Church, Eastern Orthodoxy may be on the verge of an epic crack-up with major ecumenical and geopolitical consequences.
In pondering the reform of the episcopate for the future, the distinction between maintenance and mission should be at the center of the discussion. Bishops who imagined their role primarily as one of keep-the-lid-on institutional maintenance are one of the primary causes of the McCarrick and Pennsylvania scandals.
ANYONE LOOKING FOR a remedy for insomnia might try working through the Instrumentum Laboris (IL), or “working document,” for the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in Rome next month on the theme “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment.”
AS THIS CATHOLIC annus horribilis continues to unfold, perhaps some good news is in order; first, a little background.
In the immediate aftermath of Archbishop Carlo-Maria Vigano’s “Testimony,” and its statement that Pope Francis knew of the dereliction of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and lifted the sanctions against him that had been imposed (but never seriously enforced) by Pope Benedict XVI, the polemics within the Church immediately intensified.
Catholics filled with righteous anger over the vile behavior of the former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, and Catholics determined to help reform the Church in order to cleanse the Church and prevent similar wickedness in the future, have something to learn from Rabbi Fackenheim. In our case, the lesson must be: Don’t give the Evil One victories.
On the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day in Denver, Colo., I can’t help sharing one of my favorite personal memories of John Paul II.
TAKE MY WORD FOR IT: You don’t want to be around me at breakfast. I am not a chipper morning person, and it’s best to leave me to the coffee and the newspaper – and I mean newspaper, not online edition – until I become fit for human company.