Where Pope Benedict noticed one thing lovely accessible to all within the Latin mass, Pope Francis sees alternative for pleasure.
Pope Benedict has outlived his legacy. His signature achievements have been ethical and liturgical. First as head of the doctrinal underneath John Paul II after which as pope, he made clear that Catholics could be anticipated to dwell by the Church’s unchanging educating. When Catholics urged the Church to allow divorce and remarriage, Benedict stated no. He rejected the concept new instances name for a brand new morality.
In liturgical issues, he promoted pluralism and wonder. His outreach to the Anglicans and opening to traditionalists have been essentially the most dramatic elements of this program. He believed that these connected to the phrases of Cranmer or the austere beauties of the Roman Rite ought to be free to make use of them. He hoped that “mutual enrichment” would permit all Catholics to expertise a liturgy that was lovely.
Almost for the reason that second of Pope Francis’s election, there was a gentle assault on this twin legacy. But it acquired its clearest blow on Friday, when Francis issued “Traditionis Custodes,” a doc that locations contemporary restrictions on the Latin mass. Back in 2007, Benedict issued “Summorum Pontificum,” a doc that made using the Latin mass, suppressed after Vatican II, simpler. “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,” he declared.
Francis has now made clear that he disagrees. He writes that the Latin mass as it’s practiced “contradicts communion, nourishing [a] drive to division.” For the well being of the Church, he believes, its use should be restricted, particularly amongst youthful monks. This is the authorized consummation of his frequent options that traditionalists are notably nasty, useless, and querulous. If true, this makes them precisely like all different Catholics. Indeed, all different males.
Benedict is commonly referred to as a conservative and Francis a liberal. These descriptions should not totally satisfying. Especially in his youth, Benedict might be theologically adventurous. And regardless of his closeness to liberals, Francis has typically stated strikingly reactionary issues. There is a greater technique to perceive the differing approaches of the 2 popes. Benedict believes that Catholic magnificence and Catholic morals should not past the frequent man’s comprehension. Francis, to all appearances, doesn’t.
This distinction first turned clear in 2016, when Pope Francis stated “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” as a result of most Catholics merely don’t perceive Church educating. If Catholics don’t know what marriage is, they can’t enter it. Some have accused Francis of getting a low view of marriage, however the reverse is true. His view of marriage is so excessive that he locations it above the attain of most males.
Contrast this with Benedict, whose papacy mirrored a confidence that Catholics can perceive what the Church teaches and dwell by it. For nevertheless harsh Benedict could generally have appeared, it was exactly this confidence that lay behind his public protection of Catholic fact. The two males don’t differ in any substantial approach of their understanding of marriage and sexual morality. They differ solely of their estimation of whether or not others can grasp the truths they each imagine.
One can see the identical divide within the two popes’ strategy to Catholic liturgy. Benedict is the Pope most related to classical music. He loves Mozart, a truth the media hardly ever failed to say when presenting him as a comic-book villain. But Francis’s appreciation for music is much extra refined. This was revealed in 2013, when Francis not solely listed a few of his favourite composers and works, however named his favourite recordings. As Damian Thompson (an achieved music critic and papal critic alike) has famous, these choices reveal beautiful style and numerous hours of cautious listening. Only a person keenly appreciative of magnificence and dedicated to the best requirements of artwork would have interaction in such an endeavor.
And but it’s Benedict who devoted essentially the most effort to reviving Catholic music and selling the liturgy. This just isn’t as a result of he loves music greater than Francis does (by all indications, he doesn’t) however as a result of he believes that each one Catholics can and ought to be caught up within the riches of magnificence. Francis could hearken to essentially the most superb recordings in his personal chambers, however he has been far much less involved to advertise the liturgical arts that will make magnificence accessible to Catholics at massive.
Benedict and Francis each imagine within the true, good, and delightful. But Benedict believes that fact, goodness, and wonder are issues that may and ought to be shared. Francis typically appears to disagree. One view is extra slender, the opposite extra encompassing. Those who imagine that each one Catholics can benefit from the riches of the Church’s educating and liturgy will lament the destruction of Benedict’s legacy.
Matthew Schmitz is senior editor of First Things journal, and a contributing editor at The American Conservative.