Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Bureaucratization" vs. Evangelization

Solving the pastoral problems that present themselves in your dioceses must never limit itself to organizational questions, however important these may be. This [approach] risks placing an emphasis on seeking efficiency through a sort of 'bureaucratization of pastoral care,' focused on structures, organizations and programs, ones which can become 'self-referential,' at the exclusive use of the members of those structures. These would have scarce impact on the life of Christians who are distanced from regular practice [of the faith]. Instead, evangelization requires starting from the encounter with the Lord, within a dialogue rooted in prayer, which then concentrates on the witness of giving itself toward the end of helping the people of our time to recognize and discover anew the signs of the presence of God.
–Pope Benedict XVI
Ad Limina Address to the Bishops of Western France
Castel Gandolfo
21 September 2012

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With a packed October slate featuring several major papal initiatives focused far more on dynamic matters than institutional ones – the launch of a 13-month Year of Faith, a Synod of Bishops on the signature priority of Joseph Ratzinger's pontificate, the unprecedented joint canonization of two missionary daughters of the Americas and declaration of an earlier age's searing star as the fourth female Doctor of the Church – something seems to say the above offers a sneak preview into a line of thought likely to loom large over the coming weeks.

At least, that's where the ecclesial "action" lies. Yet with these days merely the calm before it begins in earnest, what's almost certain to be the more prominent mainstream Vatican story of the fall will, ironically enough, be set instead in a courtroom.

Saturday morning brings the start of the trial of Paolo Gabriele, the Pope's now-removed butler, who was arrested in May on charges of leaking documents published in a controversial Italian book that painted an embarrassing portrait of a Curia in disarray.

The case having drawn immense attention over recent months, potential developments at the proceedings cited in Italian reports include appearances in the witness stand by Benedict's private secretary, Msgr Georg Gänswein, and/or the four laywomen who manage the papal apartment as well as living there with the pontiff and his two priest-aides.

Given the level of media interest – and the Vatican's ban on cameras in the courtroom – coverage of the trial will be provided by a rotating press pool.