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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Living in community

Pope Francis has decided not to live in the Apostolic Palace but instead at the Vatican Guest House, the Casa Santa Marta. As an article at America Magazine notes, this is pretty significant, and, I think, a really good idea ...

Of all the symbolic, lifestyle changes, the new pope has made, this may be the most significant, especially for reform of the Roman Curia. For, in the Santa Marta dining hall, in my experience, while visitors mix it up on one-side of the dining hall, on the other Vatican staffers keep to themselves. In fact, many eat silently alone—as if on perpetual retreat. When I visited Santa Marta, I used to wonder to myself, “Are these isolated, private souls, the people we trust to run the church?”

Pope Francis’s presence will, at a minimum, encourage his co-workers in the curia to get to know one another and exchange the ideas they are accustomed to keep to themselves, as they attempt to guard the secrets and privileges of their own offices. It will also allow the pope to meet people on business at the Vatican freely and stimulate a more open exchange of views than would have been possible in the guarded sanctity of the Apostolic Palace. A room at Casa Santa Marta has certainly become the hottest ticket in town.


There are some interesting comments on this in a post on the subject at Pray Tell, especially this one ...

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#15 by Jack Rakosky on March 26, 2013 - 6:17 pm

“Community rather than “simplicity and “poverty” is the most important reason for this move upon the part of the Pope.

Let me suggest that he is greatly altering the social networks of the Vatican, and thereby already initiating the reform of the Curia from below!!! Indeed he seems to be in the process of turning everything upside down!!!

First Francis made it clear that being Bishop of Rome was the foundation of being Pope; he signaled that in his appearance on the balcony of St. Peters. Then he is began to show that being a part of the parochial life of Rome is the foundation of being bishop of Rome both by saying Mass at the Vatican parish and in his plans for Holy Thursday. Now he has begun to make saying Mass for people in the Vatican and for visitors is an important part of being bishop of Rome.

However the Domus and the dining hall may be the biggest change of all. For it contains rooms not only for visitors but for priests and monsignors that work in the Vatican

Of all the symbolic, lifestyle changes, the new pope has made, this may be the most significant, especially for reform of the Roman Curia. For, in the Santa Marta dining hall, in my experience, while visitors mix it up on one-side of the dining hall, on the other Vatican staffers keep to themselves. In fact, many eat silently alone—as if on perpetual retreat. When I visited Santa Marta, I used to wonder to myself, “Are these isolated, private souls, the people we trust to run the church?”
http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/hottest-ticket-town

There are reports that the priests objected since this would put them in close proximity to the Pope who replied that he is used to being with priests. So now the Pope is going to begin to interact with the bottom of the Vatican staff who are not used to interacting with higher ups or even with each other. That is a good place to begin the reform of the Curia.

So what are the Vatican staff going to do? Are they going to ignore the Pope and let him eat and interact with the visitors? Maybe these very visitors are going to be showing up in their offices in the next few days saying “when the Pope and I were talking..”. Are they going to interact with the Pope and not with each other?

The Pope is going to go to the Papal Palace for meetings with dignitaries. However none were scheduled these first three days of Holy Week. I suspect the Pope is meeting informally and talking over the phone with all sorts of people both inside and outside of the Curia.

The Pope no longer has a Household in the Papal Palace but does have a rather large community of both Vatican and non-Vatican people in the Domus. The Pope no longer has a small Vatican network controlling his networking within and outside the Vatican.

Arch. Ganswein is Head of a non-existent Papal Household. He will likely continue his job of escorting dignitaries to the Apostolic Palace to meet the Pope but I suspect his ability to control the Pope or even know what he is doing will be rather limited.

Cardinal Bertone remains for the time Secretary of State but his ability to control access to the Pope by members of the Curia or visitors is also going to be very limited.

The Pope is essentially abolishing the hierarchical structure of the Vatican and initiating a modern organizational structure which emphasizes multiple networking among and across levels.

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You can see some photos of his new digs here - http://www.popeofhearts.com/

4 Comments:

Blogger Dina said...

"Indeed he seems to be in the process of turning everything upside down!!!" you quote. Yes, great! Exactly what I blogged about yesterday, this turning things on their head in order to make tikkun olam.
I love Francesco more every day.

12:19 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dina,

I'm still cautiously optimistic but he does seem to be doing some good things so far.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems clear that the effect, if not the intent, of moving to the Domus is to liberate him from Abp Ganswein's ministrations.

Perhaps this servant of Francis by day and Benedict by night will be looking for a new cure.

9:15 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

I wondered too if that was part of the reason.

12:12 PM  

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