Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Staying The Course With Benedict XVI in a Post John Paul II Church: An Intellectual Celebration of Two Great Catholic Historical Figures


Cardinal Dulles' talk was mainly a rundown of JPII's Pontificate focused on his attempts to correctly put Vatican II into action. He pointed out the 1985 Synod of Bishops spoke of interpreting the Council in light of tradition, something that was frequently missing in the 1970's-1980's. He noted the Pope's first encyclical Redemptor Huminis striked the opening chord of JPII's Papacy: that all salvific work of the Church is tied to the rights of man. This made Christian Humanism the theme of the Papacy, that freedom is tied to truth and reason. If freedom is misused, then man becomes a slave to sin, which in turn diminishes freedom. This is all based on my notes, so please excuse any mistakes or misinterpretations. Cardinal Dulles said a major part of JPII's Legacy will be the Theology of the Body, that marriage images the union of Christ and the Church.

Fr. Massa gave a good response which focused on John Paul II's governance of the Church. He focused on 3 main areas that he felt should receive more attention under Benedict XVI.

  1. The secularization of the religious communities, Catholic hospitals and schools that continued unabated 1978-2005. He emphasized that just wishing that dissenting communities "die off" would not suffice, but that unfruitful renewal processes not be repeated.
  2. Episcopal Collegiality - this has never been better according to Fr. Massa, but it seems to be effective only when Rome is behind the Bishops. In areas such as public policy and liturgical uniformity there were failings. His most interesting idea to me was that Bishops were not being held accountable through fraternal correction. As has been mentioned on the internet, no bishop is willing to publicly criticize another, even when it is necessary. Fr. Massa suggested that the role of Primates and Metropolitan Archbishops be increased. This is something I remember being mentioned around the height of the sexual abuse scandals in the priesthood, where the idea of a Primate for America be established.
  3. John Paul II did not write an encyclical on Liturgy early in his Papacy, and Fr. Massa asked why? This is an area he obviously felt should have received great attention and hopefully it will under Benedict XVI.

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