Wednesday 21 September 2011

Pope Benedict is not a traditionalist

Benedict XVI

I found this article by that from Jean-marie Guénois that I reproduce below very interesting. Along with others, he now sees that the untouchable sacred cow of the Second Vatican Council is now allowed to be approached with some measure of common sense. He sees that Pope Benedict is willing to redefine and re-interpret it. He puts it in terms of seeing the Holy Father as not "more" Catholic but "truly" Catholic. Of course, the Pope doesn't want to turn the clock back but he is open to tradition. How could the successor of St Peter be anything else? He is also open to the modern world and Church but not in the disastrous way that many have been doing it in the name of the Second Vatican Council, the way that merely gives in and compromises with he world. The world, other Christians, other religions - must all be judged by what is Truly Catholic.

The idea rings true for me because although I look like an old Trad I've always resisted when called or labelled a "Traditionalist". No! I say I'm a Catholic - and you can't be a Catholic without being a traditionalist. The Tradition that goes all the way back to the Apostles and includes all the Ages since without missing out great chunks of history.

Pope Benedict is not a traditionalist - he is a Truly Catholic.

From the Vatican correspondent's blog, published in "Le Figaro"

Jean-Marie Guénois

Behind the battle between expert theologians engaged in the negotiations between Rome and the Lefebvrists, an important evolution is taking place in the Catholic Church. No word yet on how Msgr. Fellay, welcomed Wednesday in Rome, will react to a proposal that was made last night which did not betray any enthusiasm - but whatever his response, The Holy See has gone through a crucial stage.

There are two main points to the issue. Formally, the Catholic Church seems to be rediscovering the essence of what it has been living for several centuries with the twelve Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. That is, the possibility of and the respect for a liturgical difference and an autonomy of operation and, in part, of doctrine. One could speak of a coexistence of "particularisms" with and alongside the Latin Roman Church.

It was given a prominent image by creating an ad hoc structure to accommodate Anglicans who wish to become Catholics. Another example could arise with the creation of an International Personal Prelature for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, in spite of the fact that this reality openly considers itself a custodian of the true Catholic Church.


The other side of the matter sinks because it touches the very roots of Catholic identity. From the beginning of his pontificate, Benedict XVI's focus, has been on pushing Christians who say they are Catholic not to be more Catholic but truly Catholic.

Much more than a redefinition, therefore, is underway. The term is too superficial. And the proposal made yesterday to Bishop Fellay follows precisely along these lines. It concerns, of course, the special case of the Society of Saint Pius X, but its underlying logic confirms continued action and decision making, without just getting stuck on intentions.

It could be considered a kind of "essentialism" that combines depth, and pastoral, intellectual and... mystical intensity under the wing of Benedict XVI. This last aspect is essential for a Pope but since these matters of the soul cannot be "seen" and are not "said", being invisible and silent, they elude external analysis while being the central engine of the process


Another element, the emotional charge, positive or negative, depending on the side, that the simple evocation of the Second Vatican Council causes, changes the cards on the table. What is not seen, but is perceived, is that behind the words, Benedict XVI wants to lead negotiations according to the taste of the Christian faith, as interpreted by the Catholic Church.

And this gives the Pope a wide freedom of thought and action as well as a breadth of vision that allowed him to open the doors to the Lefebvrists who criticized him severely for the beatification of John Paul II and for his participation, a month from now, in an interreligious meeting in Assisi.

Such benevolence has already triggered uproar in the left and center since it differentiates, with regard to the teaching of Vatican II, considered up to that time a single block and definitively overcome, of the areas in which a "legitimate discussion" is possible. But even if the response of Msgr. Fellay were negative, this stage has now been explicitly overcome by Rome, even though the Second Vatican Council had been deemed untouchable.


This reminds us, moreover, of a forgotten aspect of Catholic theology often perceived as a monolith: it has a central core on which the satellites are aligned, firmly bound together at the center, but structurally peripheral. Even the greatest theologians admit it.

Finally, I am struck by the discomfort and the vividness of the first reactions I have observed here and there. They show that many Catholics today consider themselves above all Christians. They guard themselves firmly from a Catholic identity that is too strong, because this would isolate them from dialogue with society, and particularly with other religions, and from that tolerance which they claim to be a priority.

However, the misunderstanding lies precisely in thinking that Benedict XVI is reaching out to the Lefebvrists, and that he wants to go in the direction of a Catholic Church that is integrated, uncompromising and, even fundamentalist!

While seeking to reconcile Catholic Christians, on the left, and Christian Catholics, on the right, with what is really...the Catholic Church!

1 comment:

Jacobi said...

"No! I say I'm a Catholic"

I like that Father. I go to the EF by preference whenever I can but fully accept the validity of the OF, despite the banal liturgy, the endurance of which I offer up.

My particular gripe is having to put up with the priest apparently trying to catch the eye of the congregation, while saying the words of Consecration!

I usually say, when asked, that I'm a mainstream Catholic - but just plain Catholic is more logical.