Going Back to the Ones That I Know…

Pope Benedict XVI is certainly shaking things up in his "new" approaches to the Mass, Anglicans and Orthodox. It has more profound implications that many people realise.

To start with, he’s being more proactive to Anglo-Catholicism than many anticipated.  In Think Before You Convert, I figured that the Roman Catholic Church would simply pick up those who "swam the Tiber" in the wake of what Damian Thompson referred to as the "car wreck" of the Anglican Communion.  (The old British car, I might add!)  Obviously His Holiness has a different idea, and it will be interesting to see how this proceeds.

That proactivity may be facilitated by his moves with the liturgy, making it easier to use the Tridentine Mass.  Note should be taken how he’s done this.  Instead of eliminating the Novus Ordo Missae or establishing a formal system of parishes that use it, he simply took the power to regulate it out of the hands of bishops.  With the easier feedback now available, liberal bishops who try to get in the way of "progress" can be ratted on.  (Oh, that we would have had this a long time ago…)  It’s a decidedly "bottom-up" approach.  But it also is a step away from the breezy informality that the Mass is celebrated with in many places, putting Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic practice more in synch with each other.

All of this–including his dialogue with the Orthodox–shows that the current Pontiff is trying to re-establish Roman Catholicism’s traditional view of itself while at the same time do so in a way that makes more progress in the present world.  It’s "going back to the ones that I know" (Tull fans will recognise this) in a new way.

But those outside of the circle that Benedict is creating need to take heed: dialogue with Roman Catholicism will become more difficult as the church reverts (in some ways) to a more pre-Vatican II stance.  Remember, this is the man that reminded the world that we (outside of this circle) may not be a church after all.

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