The other day when Benedict XVI was at Westminster Abbey, together with Anglican Archbp. Williams for an Anglican service, I just about sprayed my Mystic Monk Coffee on the screen when I heard that the Holy Father chose to wear a stole that belonged to … Leo XIII.
I was going to post about it then but time took it away from me. Today, a priest reader reminded me.
Leo XIII was the Pope who declared that Anglican ordinations, orders, priesthood, were invalid.
So,… the Pope of Rome goes into Westminster Abbey, a church dedicated to the Prince of the Apostles, and – while wearing Leo XIII’s stole – reminds them that he is the Successor of Peter.
And they applauded!
The title of this entry is a bit lighthearted, but the issues at hand are very serious.
Benedict XVI teaches through signs. Signs point to deeper issues. Vestments are signs.
In the person of Pope Benedict, Peter’s Successor came to Westminster. In Benedict, in a symbolic sense, Leo XIII came to Westminster as well.
This was not a a way of wiping anyone’s eye. This was medicine for a chronic pain.
Benedict engaged the Church of England on an entirely new level. He symbolically and effectively let them know that, from the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church, the still open strife of the last four centuries was over. At the same time, he affirmed that, while there is no going back, there may not be a way to go forward on certain issues if the Church of England continues in the direction it is headed.
He gave a great deal while still not budging an inch.
Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.