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Apparatchik PowerSome time ago when the new Pope was elected we published the article The Gods Must Be Crazy where we forecasted two things:

  • The Pope will attempt to push through many reforms
  • The Pope will face a steep opposition from the conservative, bureaucratic forces within the church.

On both counts we were correct. So much so that it has now became routine to listen to the Pope complaining and moaning about how much opposition he has and why this opposition must cease. OK. Fine. But then again, it is no mystery to us why is that Francis does not get it, considering he is not getting anything else (see for example Spectacularly Clueless and The Pope Strikes Again).

Look, this is not complicated. The Curia (i.e. the apparatchiks of the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church) are apparatchiks and as so they do what apparatchiks do. Every bureaucrat on the planet resents change because change implies the possibility of them losing their cushy jobs. Yes. It's that simple.

But isn't the church supposed to be above these petty issues? Really? And tell us please what's the weather like in your planet? Because, you know, over here on earth is somewhat different…

THE REFORMS

These are the 12 reforms that the Pope demands, with our comments and translations attached:

1 - Individual responsibility (i.e. personal conversion)

This is quite strange because we assumed that the members of the Curia have already been converted to Catholicism. But then again, perhaps we are mistaken. Perhaps some sleeping agents from the Hare-Krishna had managed to infiltrate the church and they are now proceeding to convert it to the flower power. Who knows? Anything is possible in the realm of the "faith".

Translation: what? On top of everything else we need to believe? Give us a break!

2 - Pastoral concern (i.e. pastoral conversion)

It would seem that the Curia must now also be concerned with "a spirituality of service and communion". Right. Again, in which planet? Since when has any bureaucracy anywhere in the world been concerned with the wellbeing of others? We have very strong suspicions that the Pope made this demands after a very strong cup of cappuccino, two cigars and some … ejem… "cold medication". And why do we suspect this? Because there is no other possible explanation. Nobody in their right mind would even bother trying to change bureaucrats. But then again, Francis is particularly clueless in many subjects and so, contrary to gossip he may have written this demand while in sound body and mind.

Translation: Hell no! We don't give a damn! It's not in our job description!

3 - Missionary spirit (Christocentrism)

On top of their paperwork duties, the Curia must now also "bring the Good News to the ends of the earth". Sure. We can already see it. Hordes of Curiae people roaming the streets of the Vatican converting every soul in sight. Yeah… Let's do that.

Translation: Sure. Sign here, here and here. Two copies go to the central archive and one for you to keep. Next, go to window 23 on the second floor and get it certified by the clerk. After that, mail it to the Central and wait for your genuine, Roman Catholic Apostolic Church license which will entitle you to eternal life unless we say otherwise. There. Another conversion. Now serving 5849, 5849? 5849?

4 - Clear organization

All departments must stick to their job descriptions and must not interfere in other departments. Oh, and let's not forget that all departments are accountable to the upper floor, capishe?

Translation: I am the Pope dammit! And you will do as I say. Fine, I'll let you play in your own little fiefdoms but in return you will kiss my ring. Capishe?

5 - Improved functioning

There will be some reshuffling of departments, mergers, re-assignments, firing and a general review of all roles… for efficiencies' sake.

Translation: not a chance. I earned this cushy job and just because Houser over there prays lauder I'll be darned if I let him take my department.

6 - Modernization

All departments must adapt and be suitable to "the circumstances of our time".

Translation: hell no! Just now, after 34 years of review and 23 committees, 5 fact-finding missions, 4 conventions and weekly meetings in the best restaurants that Rome has to offer, we finally agreed on the index of Form 76B. We won't throw away all this effort just because we don't use Latin in mass any longer.

7 - Sobriety

Getting rid of all Curia's organizations that no longer serve any need.

Translation: Ahhhhh the sky is falling. Simplification? Streamlining? Department mergings. Suppression of offices. Reduction of Commissions, Academies, Committess, etc. Ahhhhh!!!! This is truly the devils' work.  

8 - Subsidiarity

Demoting departments to be subservient to others and to the Secretariat of State.

Translation: what? To lose departmental independence? Never! Who is this guy? Who does he believe he is? The representative of Christ on earth? Well, fine, but besides that, what else? What has he done for us lately? Never! We shall remain independent! An independent bureaucracy is a happy bureaucracy. And the believers? Who cares! They are too busy sinning and getting pardoned for that. That's good enough for them!

9 - Synodality

Systematic and ongoing departmental progress reports presented directly to the Pope.

Translation: the what? We reporting directly to the Pope? Even worse, reporting about our progress? Blasphemy! We get our orders from the Pope through the chain of command who, after duly performed analysis and consideration provides us with suitable instructions as to the generalities of the churches' point of view vis-à-vis the opinions expressed from the top. And then, we can act as we see fit. This has always been the way things get done. You want proof? It only took us 374 years to pardon Galileo for his sins. There. Nobody could have done it sooner, see?

10 - Catholicity

Cut it out. If you are going to spend church money, hire Catholics only. Capishe?

Translation: This Pope must be out of his rocker. What is this thing that I can't hire my brother twice divorced with 7 children and only 3 out of wedlock? Since when this discrimination? This is against human rights!

11 - Professionalism

Continuous improvement must be accelerated and dismissing by promoting must be discontinued.

Translation: What? We are already doing that. We spend countless millions in sending all our hard-working employees to the best hotels throughout the world to attend the best 3 day courses within a 10 day trip. Just because those courses happen to happen in relaxation resorts means no other thing that they work too hard and deserve a break. Besides, the practice of promoting to get rid of people is not so. We promote to elevate people to positions of higher… recommending authority… yeah… that one.

12 - Gradualism (i.e. discernment)

Being able to make a sound decision based on facts.

Translation: Sure! But we always do so. When was the last time we didn't make a decision that didn't favor us? We always do what's best for us, even after experimental results demonstrate that other options may be better for other people. We always stay true to our guiding principle that a happy Curia is a productive Curia.

What all this boils down is to a de-centralization of the church where all church officials (including the Pope) must collaborate with each other.

And these are just internal reforms.

How about external ones? The Pope stated that the church had grown obsessed with abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception. He endorsed the State of Palestine. He started a debate about the church's point of view regarding divorce. He is holding Bishops accountable for sexual abuses. He is pushing for action on climate change. And, as it could not be otherwise (remember, he is a Jesuit and as we predicted in our original article), he is reviving the Theology of Liberation.

THE POINT

The whole point is simple. Apparatchiks are apparatchiks are apparatchiks. It matters not where they are or what they do. It matters not what they believe or whom they work for. Apparatchiks are enablers of all that controls you. They are the most formidable source of limitations that your life will ever experience. Forget the military. Forget politicians. In ultimate analysis apparatchiks are the ones that, hands-on, make your life miserable. Their power is immense and this point is clearly illustrated in Pope's words when he said that the Roman Curia's resistance he has encountered is sometimes “hidden” and “malicious,” the sport that “sprouts in disturbed minds.” He also complained about the Curia's philosophy where “everything must change so that everything can remain the same.” And please do remember that the Vatican is the only absolute monarchy left in the world. The Pope is, literally, the law. Yet, apparatchiks have the power to oppose him effectively and efficiently. Why? Because they are the enablers and without enablers even Pope's will, Pope's law is a paper tiger.

CONCLUSION

We are libertarians precisely because we don't want to be at the whim of enablers. We are not interested in changing nominal masters while retaining the same chains. We do not want to be bound by the failings of individual people, perennially waiting for "the one" who would set us free. We don't need them. What we need, what we want is to be free. We want to be the masters of our own lives. We want to make our own mistakes and to relish in our own successes. We want to be real, as real can get. And we also want this for you. And your family. And your friends. And for the rest of humanity.

We want so because we know from historical facts that liberty and free markets will get us a great deal closer to our goals from where we are today. And remember, we don't need to believe. All we need to do is to reach back in history and review what it was and how it worked. And from that alone we can say with certainty that yes, we are correct and they are not.

But that just us. You, being as free as we are may choose to believe something else. That's fine. You have the right to do so. Just one thing, when you reach back and review the history of what it was that you have chosen to believe, don't be depressed when you reach a dead end from which there is no escape. We told you so. You have been warned. Your move now.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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