George Weigel has always been rather sanguine about the ecclesia moderna. The author of the tome-like biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope, has turned more elegiac. Back then, at the turn of the millennium, things did seem more sunny, bright and, well, neon. The Berlin Wall had fallen ten years before, signifying if not the death of communism, at least its a serious setback; a saintly pope, still vigorous, was still holding the fort, his teaching clear and insightful; World Youth Days – whatever one thinks of them – gathered millions of exuberant young people; the economy was booming; it was pre-9-11, and a new millennium dawned, with all its possibilities…The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.
Now, two decades on, Mr. Weigel has to admit that the tenth anniversary of the second successor to Karol Wojtyla is, in Weigel’s words, a sombre one, with a melancholic mood around the Vatican, even the whole Church, tense, uncertain, balkanized. There seems little hope – at least of the natural sort – on the horizon. So much in the Church is quite literally dis-integrating, and one wonders what the mood will be in Lisbon’s own youth gathering this summer. That is, if sections of Europe and our economy are still standing, and not reduced yet to nuclear and socialist ash, respectively.
Oh, boy, my Irish is coming out as we approach Saint Patrick’s day.
There is hope – there always is. Yes, most of the cardinals have been appointed by Pope Francis, and some of them have but a tenuous hold on doctrine, some even spouting what amounts to heresy. But our God is a God of surprises – the Holy Spirit will never abandon the Church, which will endure unto Christ returns in glory, where our true hope always resides.
In the meantime, pray for fidelity, for joy in what God sends, to delight in the good, endure the bad, live in gratitude for both. He will restore all things, and vindicate His faithful, perhaps when, and how, we least expect it.
Speramus et gaudeamus in Domino! +