6 thoughts on “The Papal Resignation and Future of the Catholic Church by Gina Messina-Dysert”

  1. Hi Gina,

    I just watched the whole interview. How lucky you were to have such thoughtful questions and so much time on the air. And with what grace and poise and intelligence you answered them. Good for you! I recommend the interview to everyone.

    You were in a tricky position with Turkson. On the one hand considering him for pope represents an opening of the church beyond Europe, on the other some of his views are pretty horrible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Turkson :

    HIV/AIDS and condoms In 2009, he reaffirmed the Catholic social teaching on contraception, in regard to statements made by Pope Benedict XVI that condoms were not a solution to Africa’s AIDS crisis and were taken out of context by the media.[25] Turkson did not rule out condoms in all circumstances suggesting they could be useful in the situation of a married, faithful couple where one partner is infected; although he warns that, as the quality of condoms in Africa is poor, their use could engender false confidence. He said abstinence, fidelity, and refraining from sex if infected were the key to fighting the epidemic. He also believes that the money being spent on condoms would be better spent providing anti-retroviral drugs to those already infected.[22][26][27]

    Reform of the international financial system In response to the global economic crisis started in 2008, Cardinal Turkson, together with bishop Mario Toso, elaborated a proposal to reform the international financial system by creating a Global Public Authority and a Global Bank that consider the interest of all developing countries. The document of 40 pages was officially presented in October 2011 and criticizes the current structure of International Monetary Fund and other institutions.[28]

    Homosexuality In 2012, in response to a speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging Church leaders to do more for human rights and in particular LGBT rights in Africa, Turkson, while recognising that some of the sanctions imposed on homosexuals in Africa are an “exaggeration,” stated that the “intensity of the reaction is probably commensurate with tradition.” “Just as there’s a sense of a call for rights, there’s also a call to respect culture, of all kinds of people,” he said. “So, if it’s being stigmatized, in fairness, it’s probably right to find out why it is being stigmatized.” He also called for distinction to be made between human rights and moral issues.[29]

    Sex abuse scandals In February 2013, Turkson stated in an interview that he believes that the Catholic child sex scandals would not spread to Africa in significant proportions. He claimed that “African traditional systems […] have protected its population against this tendency”, and went on to say that “in several cultures in Africa homosexuality or for that matter any affair between two sexes of the same kind are not countenanced”.[30]

    Do you think there is any chance there will be a pope who will do any better on any of these issues? Or is Turkson’s social justice concern combined with his inability to understand the roots of the child abuse issue, his homophobia and studied ignorance on gay issues, and his opposition to contraception–along with the assumption of male patriarchal privilege–the best that can be hoped for?


    1. Hi Carol, first thanks for your kind words and for recommending the video. It was overall a very good experience but there are some things I would change – as you note here.

      First let me say that there is really no frontrunner or cardinal in general that I am excited about as a possible candidate for the papacy. I do not see any of the big issues on my agenda being addressed. As I was preparing for the interview I wanted to think about who were the possibilities for pope and what each had to offer. I decided to talk about Peter Turkson for the reasons mentioned: He is the President of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, Africa has the fastest growing population of Catholics, and there is a chance that Turkson would end celibacy for priests.

      I recognize that every candidate is going to have major flaws so I was considering who might, with all their flaws, offer the most to gain.

      All this said, the article you mention here was released a few days after my interview taped. It was a “live to tape” interview meaning they do not edit it at all – that was exactly our conversation. But, it taped early and aired late Friday night. When I saw the article I was truly disappointed and actually posted it on my FB page with the comment “Why Turkson, Why?!?!? So disappointing.”: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gina-Messina-Dysert-The-Feminist-Theologian/311361675572519?fref=ts

      So I absolutely agree with all you have to say here and if I could go back, I’d likely change this part. These are such important points you raise here, Carol! Thanks!


  2. I believe, more than ever before, that the Holy spirit is calling all thinking ,mature catholics to stand up and demand that their voices be heard in the structure of man-made rules of the Catholic church. Instead of rushing ahead to elect a new Pontiff, it seems that a delay would be more appropriate at this time in the church. If the Holy Spirit lives in each of us,it is time to stop selecting whose expression of this Spirit is to be heard and acted upon. May the Holy Spirit come alive in each of us at this critical time of our church.


    1. Thank you for your comments, Mary. I’m curious – if there was a delay in electing the pope, what would your hope be for? A change in Vatican law to encourage new options for an elected pope? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


      1. Gina, I would like to see the acknowledgment that Pope Benedict very clearly put “his conscience” above all traditions of the church; something that catholics have for years been “warned” of doing,in some cases,even excommunicated for doing.(Similar stated reasons for Cardinal Mahoney) as to his rationale for voting at the conclave.
        I am praying that those sincere men and women in positions of “power” in our church will have the courage to bring about changes in church laws made by men . I am praying that those Catholics who question the status quo of our existing church will be included in some Vatican 111 Council where the differences that exist between the true beliefs of our faith will be
        separated from the erroneous historical man-made laws since the middle ages.To me, to sit quietly bye and accept the status quo- is not what we have been called to witness. I believe we all have been called to give witness to the workings of the Holy Spirit in each generation.


  3. Gina, Well done, Bravissima!! Although I do not have any concrete thoughts about who may be the next pontifical leader, it stands to reason that more transparency is needed. I agree that from what I know and sense about it much more will be coming out about the scandals that needs purging. My hope is that status quo will be tossed out even if the most likely choice will be someone hyper-conservative. My hope also is that the Spirit will be fully active as she was during Vat II and surprise us all.

    Yes, asking for forgiveness and admitting that chidren have been abused by priests still needs to be clearly stated. Well, and another thing that needs transparency is for the Vatican to have a few gay cardinals ‘come out’ publicly. We know they are in there and most people would embrace that wholeheartedly–how would that be a super healing moment!!

    Talking about sexuality in an open manner would also be a huge shift and one that could be paradigmatic without knocking down any huge walls, but clear the way for dialogue on the other issues.

    Benedict is a brilliant theologian and I am sure he’s been thinking about this resignation thing for a long time — his ‘school-buddy’ Hans Kung (Vatican III: The Work that Still needs to be Done) has been calling for term limits for popes since 1974, so perhaps this is an act in that direction.

    The marginalized–absolutely need to have a voice and all the lashing out at those who love the church and have been ‘abused’ in other ways for standing up for righteousness and their consciences in prophetic disobedience must be reconciled!! I think the fact that you were on Tavis’ show is prophetic and standing in another kind of solidarity.

    This move by Benedict is historic and certainly needs documenting. May the conclave discern with heart and soul and not just with head this time.


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