My conversation with Msgr. Banuelas spurred me to seek another perspective. So I had lunch with Father John Navone, who teaches spirituality at the Gregorian. He cuts the “two worlds-two churches” divide yet another way.
"Although a poverty of spirit in America is not the same as an empty stomach in Africa, each is a poverty," he said. "So I would agree not with an arbitrary line between a North and South church, but rather one that, for example, Episcopalians and Jews have. The Episcopalians have a 'high church,' a 'broad church,' and then a 'low church.' The Jews are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. In Catholicism, on one extreme are those who say 'Orders are orders and I will follow them,' and on the other, 'No, not me, I'm a thinking person and nobody is going to tell me what to do.' In the middle are those who say, 'Look, if this makes sense for my life--and believe me, I need to make sense of my life--you can sign me up. If not, if it does not help in my life, sorry, I just won't do it.'" After his explanation, Father Navone turned less ecclesial and more mystical. "The mystery of God raises questions in all of us. Although we would love to do it, there is no uniform, formulaic answer for this. God is where He wants to be in each person's life and each person is trying to find that place where they can meet. Catholics have no corner on this market." So once again, I start off with these neat categories, these focused questions. This time, about a Church of the North and a Church of the South. But reality isn't quite that neat, certainly in the Catholic Church. And I'm sure those cardinals now meeting behind closed doors know this better than I do as they ponder who they hope--and, I'm sure, pray--their next leader will be.