Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Major Reforms Coming?

~from The Telegraph

Many popes have celebrated their 80th birthday, but few have reached this milestone in such good form as Benedict XVI. Fighting form, perhaps.

After two cautious and successful years, in which he has surprised critics by writing about God's love rather than raging against contraception and homosexuality, the Pope is preparing a series of reforms of the Catholic Church.

Just how far he will go remains to be seen. But there are many nervous bishops at the moment - especially in this country.

His pastoral, unexpectedly upbeat style has won him many friends, especially among non-Catholics who found John Paul II intimidating. When he attended a conference in support of the family in Spain last year, he failed to mention gay marriage or abortion - not because he does not oppose them, but because he felt that the Church should explain what it was for before it got round to explaining what it was against.

Recently, however, it has become clear that Benedict's agenda remains essentially the same as it was when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. When he was elected, he described himself as "a humble worker in the Lord's vineyard". Where John Paul II roamed far outside the vineyard, Benedict is staying close to the soil, pulling out weeds.

Those weeds are not so much people as bad habits - rambling sermons; smug, self-centred celebrations of the Mass; ugly music and architecture that, in his opinion, insults God.

Benedict is rumoured to be on the verge of removing restrictions on the celebration of the ancient Tridentine Rite, which liberals see as elitist. For two years, Catholics have wondered what sort of papacy this will turn out to be. Now they are about to find out.

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