2011-10-02 History the key to understanding Vatican policy...and what's happening in Austria today
History provides the big picture to explain why Rome is
making every effort to increase its control over the universal church.
The heart of the matter is not liturgy or religion, but colonialism.
What we are seeing is a group of Europeans making a last grasp at keeping power.
Ever since Vatican II called for the church to become more
international and more locally-responsible,
the Europeans have been out to stop the process of internationalisation,
and to stop their "colonies" from becoming self-governing or independent.
The Europeans have succeeded:
75% of top Vatican officials are now Europeans. (see Benedict's papacy)
Of the 20 cardinals recently appointed, 11 are Europeans.
Of the current group of 120 voter-cardinals, 62 are Europeans. (see Europe's cardinals dominate college)
At the height of the colonial age, countries like Britain set up a loyal civil service in their colonies.
People in this service were happy to be loyal - it gave them status and power.
In the current Catholic church, there's also a loyal clique of power-people in each country
who are happy to help Rome keep control over the local church.
Politically, dozens of former colonies became independent in
the last half of the last century.
Ironically, the church was often a key player in the independent process.
But in the church itself, there has been no War of Independence - just a tragic Boston Tea Party re child abuse.
A key element of this whole issue is the relationship between
Rome and the USA.
Vatican policy is an open secret: "control the church in the USA and you control the church in every country".
With it's long tradition of independence and freedom, the USA has always been a thorn in the side of the papacy.
This sheds light on the current tug-of-war about English translation of the Mass prayers.
It's not about liturgy. It's about power.
History shows that colonial powers are an endangered
But as they die, they make every last effort not to "let go".
Witness Britain's long tussle with Gandhi in India.
This is what is now happening in the church.
The threatened species of European church leaders, and their local associates,
are making every effort to keep power.
How little all of this has to do with the teaching of the One
who taught his followers "not to lord it over others".
Not to mention his main appointee who said "Do not be a dictator over any group".
One ray of hope is that within Fortress Europe, there have
been enlightened people calling for change,
just as William Wilberforce called on the British Establishment of his time to change its views about slavery.
One such enlightened leader was the late Cardinal Konig.
His beautiful 1999 article "My Vision for the Church of the Future"
was a humble and frank assessment of the danger of European centralism.
What is happening in his native Austria today is a frustrated push for his vision to be put into practice.