My friend John L Allen, Jr., the nearly ubiquitous fair-minded columnist for the ulta-dissenting National Catholic Reporter has a piece in Forward, a Jewish daily.
Take a look at the full piece, but here is something of interest to WDTPRS readers. Some of this will sound familiar.
Allen is talking about the seeming contradictions in Pope Benedict’s XVI concern for dialogue with Jews.
However understandable that reaction may be, there is actually a hermeneutic key to Benedict’s papacy, one that lends logic to what can otherwise seem like maddening inconsistencies.
Here it is in a nutshell: Benedict’s top priority is internal, directed at the inner life of the Catholic Church. His aim is to restore a strong sense of traditional Catholic identity, in order to inoculate the church against infection by radical secularism. [Exactly right.] That’s not just a personal hobbyhorse of this pope, but rather the culmination of 50 years of mounting concern inside Catholicism that the church has gone too far in accommodating the ways and means of the secular world. Today, this wave of “evangelical Catholic” energy is the most important policy-setting force in the church.
As a result, when Benedict XVI says or does things that affect Judaism, the key is often to understand that he’s not really talking to Jews but to other Catholics. [Good.]
Thus, Benedict’s decision to revive the old Latin Mass, including that infamous prayer for the conversion of Jews, was certainly not crafted as a statement about Judaism. Instead, [Watch this...] Benedict sees the old Mass as a classic carrier of Catholic identity, an antidote to any tendency to secularize the church’s worship. Likewise, Benedict did not lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including one who believes the Nazis didn’t use gas chambers, to endorse their troubled history with antisemitism. Rather, he did so because the traditionalists act as a leaven in the church, fostering appreciation for the Catholic past — even if their ideas on some matters lie far from the pope’s own thinking.
John Allen is a good analyst. He got this exactly right.
Pope Benedict has a plan, what I call his "Marshall Plan" to rebuild our Catholic identity. If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, we can have little influence in the world around us.
Liturgy is the tip of the spear.