Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Catholics fear Pope's revival of traditional ways

~from another Independent (original headline....cue in theme from Jaws)

Pope Benedict XVI faces uproar among liberal Catholics amid signs that he is trying to turn back the clock on an era of modernisation and reform.

From today, the Church wakes up to a new set of rules regarding the way in which the Mass may be celebrated. For the first time since 1962 the Tridentine Mass, the form of the service always said in Latin, will be permitted.

It is the Pope's personal effort to heal a rift created when the followers of French Archbishop Lefèbvre rebelled, and insisted on continuing the use the Mass introduced at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.

oBut even before the publication of the new rules the intensity of opposition has shaken the Church. One bishop interviewed by La Repubblica said the day the Pope's letter was published confirming the reform was "the saddest day of my life".

The Pope has confirmed that the existing form of the Mass, dating from the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, will continue to be the standard one, said in the language of the local congregation.

But many liberal Catholics see the return of a Mass which, in the form in which it was used until 1962, stigmatised "heretics", "schismatics" and Jews and which presented the Catholic Church as the only true version of the faith, as a reckless step backwards.

And when they review the changes Benedict has brought to the papal wardrobe, they see a pattern. Ever since his installation in April 2005, the German Pope has been speeding back to the future.

The magnificent papal wardrobe has been steadily modified since Vatican II. Pope Paul VI symbolically laid his splendid tiara on the altar of St Peter's at the end of the council; it was sold and the proceeds donated to charity. Benedict has yet to buy it back, but he has repeatedly stunned Vaticanologists with the variety of archaic hats, capes and other adornments he chooses to sport.

In his first winter as Pope he donned the snug, Santa Claus-like "camauro" hat, red velvet with a border of white ermine, which had not been worn since John XXIII, who died in 1963. He also affected the "galero", a cowboy-like number in red, and the "greca", the ankle-length cashmere overcoat last worn by Pope Pius XII. He has also moved to restore some of the dignity of the Pope sacrificed by his predecessors in the interests of humility and conciliation. Benedict has been photographed seated in the little-used golden throne in the Vatican's Sala Paolina, where Pius XII used to receive important visitors on their knees.

Read Fr. Z's commentary on this article.

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