Yesterday gave us the Memorial of Gregory the Great which I mistakenly thought we to celebrate today. But, having missed it, let me stay on the topic of how the Christians in Corinth were divided by their allegiance to Paul, to Apollos.
In telling them that their allegiance should be above all to Christ, Paul famously said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who has given the increase.”
Let me return to a matter I brought up yesterday. Namely, the different convictions brought to the Second Vatican Council by the German and the French bishops who voted there.
One matter on which the Germans and French differed was whether or not we are born in sin. The German and the Polish bishops held to the old view that, born with original sin on our souls, a child who died without baptism could not go to heaven. The contrary view of the French won out in the final document of Vatican II that in paragraph 19 stated, “The dignity of man consists above all in this that he is called to communion with God, and the invitation to converse with God is extended to him at the first moment of his existence.” Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II as bishops at Vatican II proposed an alternate wording in line with their views, but it was rejected, and they went along with the prevailing view.
Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul, at age twenty in Poland, had lost his family; and, while seeking to avoid a Nazi labor camp, had knocked on the door of the Archbishop of Cracow. He was taken in, hidden away in a warm clericalism that became part of his soul. While the French at Vatican II triumphed in defining the Church as “The People of God,” they lost to the Poles and Germans in moves they made toward doing away with clerical dominance in the Church.
The divisions between the French and Germans became open since Vatican II. Pope Paul VI, siding with the French, was a great patron of Vatican II reforms. He sent Bishop Jean Jadot to the U.S. with the mission of finding progressive priests like John Snyder as American bishops. But since the election of Pope John Paul II it has been priests with conservative leanings who have been chosen as bishops. The signs point to Pope Francis siding more with the French than with the Germans. We’ll see.
While it is usually the young people who have liberal leanings, among the priests in America, the old priests like me who are progressive, while the younger priests are conservative. As a pastor I was blessed with parishioners who managed the parish while I taught school, I now see younger pastors managing things themselves.
It is only human that in our church as in our families there will be opposite views on how we should go about living. Our Lord’s main prayer for us is that we all will be one. For that we need to respect the sincerity and the good sense of those with opposing views. We must go along with them when they are in charge.