That has been a theme of the Abbé de Nantes and Catholic Counter Reformation in the 21st century for years and decades. Look at the sixteenth century. There were not only popes putting people in dungeons and torture chambers. There were also the saints, like Ignatius of Loyola, Philip Neri and the great bishop Saint François de Sales – yes another Francis. I get the feeling something is happening to melt the hearts of sectarian liberals, traditionalists and all of us.
In many ways, the Counter Reformation did as much harm as the Reformation, by making the Church into an almost totalitarian machine with men marching in lockstep. In spite of the holiness of the saints of that time, intolerance took root, and with it every possible violation of human life, happiness and freedom. And that was from both sides. I don’t want to see that reproduce itself, ever.
I don’t want to go overboard on this or start with the kind of Papolatria we had during the John Paul II pontificate. I’m not interested in the stuff about Peter the Roman. What we need to look out for will be facts. For the moment, we know of Bergoglio as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and have been studying the way he dealt with bad priests, liberation theology Marxism and the dictators down there. We now need to see whether he re-nominates the John-Paul II Curia as Benedict XVI did in 2005 or whether he is really going to clean out the stables. That will be an observable fact over the next month or two.
The next thing to look at will be his episcopal appointments. There are loads of vacant diocesan sees. What about the episcopal conferences? We have seen the Benedict XVI pontificate in terms of brick by brick and unfinished achievements, because he was blocked at every turn. I don’t expect Pope Francis to be any less prudent, but we hope to see energy and determination.
Who are going to get put into the keys posts in Rome? The present guys, or a changed scenery? What will be done about the dirty bishops around the world and the seminaries, all the important things that don’t involve discussion of birettas and lace? Will it now be – Welcome, Good Men?
I think in about a month or two, we will begin to see a new chance for Christianity in our world, or shake our heads in shame in the knowledge that we can only keep our faith alone and at home, in our little micro churches and communities.