Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Bagnasco, Italian Bishops' Conference chairman, in favor of Natural Marriage - Pope humiliates him

[Background: the Italian Parliament is about to approve the civil recognition of same-sex "couples". Only a few faithful bishops are supporting the millions of Catholics who are protesting it - led by the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Bagnasco. Pope Francis does not like it.]

The Pope “cancels” Bagnasco, supporter of “Family Day”

by Carlo Tecce
Il Fatto Quotidiano
20th January 2016

Tomorrow [today] Francis will not meet the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) as planned. He was not pleased at being drawn into Italian political issues. Jorge Mario Bergoglio has eliminated Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco from his agenda of official meetings, so, [there will be] no audience tomorrow morning. The private meeting fixed a week ago by the permanent Episcopal Council, appeared and then disappeared from the internal “Bollettino - Prefettura della Casa Pontificia". The is the umpteenth episode and perhaps the most clamorous, which sanctions the distance between the Church of Francis and the Church of the Bishops presided over by Bagnasco himself.

The motive: the Cardinal’s media- exposure – and consequently that of the Italian Bishops - on behalf of the “Family Day” scheduled for the 30th of January. The Argentinean Pontiff can no longer put up with the political activism of the Bishops’ Conference, accustomed to amending law texts, and is angered because Bagnasco himself has dragged him into the public debate about the public event against Civil Unions. The Pope did not authorize the public demonstration nor the pressures on Parliament.

Pope Francis supports the traditional family i.e. marriage between a man and a woman – but prefers not to interfere with coarse and (even) offensive judgments. It is all about the language of understanding, which is what he adopts to draw the Church nearer to the divorced and homosexuals. Nobody should be excluded or rejected by Christ’s flock. The former Archbishop of Buenos Aires does not hold a different idea of the family and repeated this with insistence during the tumultuous Synod of last October, but he is still convinced that bishops are called to the role of shepherds, not senators or auxiliary members of Parliament.

In order to illustrate the less than idyllic relationship between the bishops of Bagnasco (a survivor from the time of Bertone) – and Bergoglio’s pontificate, no interpretations are necessary: it is sufficient to summarize the facts.

The first: immediately after his election (in the summer of 2013) Pope Francis changed the Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference: replaced by Nunzio Galantino, Mariano Crociata ended up in the Archdiocese of Latina. The second: at the Bishops’ Assembly, some months later, (May 2014), Bergoglio discouraged Bagnasco: the Argentine delivered the opening address which inaugurated the work and put forward Gualtiero Bassetti as a candidate to be President. The same behavior last May: “The Pope is not the last to speak”, [was] a message directed at Bagnasco. The third: Francis took part in the Bishops’ meeting in Florence (November 2015), in sequence discarding the ‘seasons’ of the eternal Camillo Ruini and his more fragile successor, Bagnasco. “I prefer a Church that is bruised, wounded and dirty from being out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being closed up and clinging in comfort to its own certainties. We must not be obsessed by power, even when this takes on the face of a useful and functional power for the Church’s social image. If the Church doesn’t adopt Jesus’ sentiments, it loses its bearings, it loses its meaning.”

On that occasion, in front of a plateau of somewhat hostile monsignors, Francis also explained the behavior the CEI must assume: “Dialogue is not negotiating in order to try and get one’s piece of the cake. Dialogue is to seek the common good, for everyone; it is to discuss together and think of the best solutions for everyone”.

Even if he is trying to represent the conservative Church which still resists Pope Francis, Bagnasco next year will complete his mandate with an evident delay: they have been waiting in vain in the Vatican for his resignation, [as]they would have endorsed it. (Those who want reform the most report this with enthusiasm). The election of the new head of the CEI will be a significant Italian evaluation on Bergoglio’s pontificate. Who knows if the Vatican will forgive Bagnasco before long and summon him to the Apostolic Palace or, on the other hand, to Santa Marta for a rebuke. For sure, instead of the Cardinal, in the future Bergoglio sees a nuncio. As if to say: my Church is the world, yours is the halls of the Chamber and Senate.

[Source: Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, via Il Sismografo. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana.]