Pope Benedict XVI had some interesting things to say in his first homily during his recent visit to Portugal. Here is a key excerpt:
Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic. Perhaps we have placed an excessive trust in ecclesial structures and programmes, in the distribution of powers and functions; but what will happen if salt loses its flavour? (Source)
I’m shocked by that last sentence in red. What exactly did he mean?
- “Ecclesial structures” makes me think of the clergy, specifically the bishops and the various offices in the Vatican, some of which have been contaminated by liberal and lukewarm men. This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that he refers to the “distribution of powers and functions”, which is the realm of the episcopacy. Isn’t it odd that the Pope would be questioning the wisdom of placing too much trust in ecclesial structures? That’s a revolutionary statement coming from the Pope.
- “Ecclesial programmes” makes me think of social justice groups like Development and Peace.
The very last phrase “what will happen if salt loses its flavour” is a direct reference Matthew 5:13, in which Christ answers his own question by saying: “It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”
To me, it sounds like the Holy Father is warning the faithful that many of the Church’s offices have been infiltrated by Catholics who have lost the salt of the authentic Faith. That’s something that SoCon or Bust has been saying for years, as regular readers can attest. Catholics are naturally inclined to take for granted that our bishops are faithful, but the Pope seems to be warning us that this may be “less and less realistic”. He’s not condemning the structures and programmes in themselves, but rather wondering about their relevance if the current incumbents are no longer guided by the light of Christ.
This begs the question: does Benedict plan on “throwing out” some of these corrupt clergymen? We’ll see. May God inspire and guide him to do the right thing.