Saturday, March 23, 2013
CONTINUITY AND RUPTURE, THE CONTRASTS OF POPES BENEDICT AND FRANCIS
Pope Benedict, now Pontiff Emeritus, was good at showing forth contrasts in the Church, that of rupture and that of continuity. For him change had to be within the context of continuity, reform in continuity. Thus he was seen wearing ultra-modern vestments, especially early in his papacy as well as ultra-traditional ones a bit later in his papacy. For him (and his last public Mass on Ash Wednesday he had a simple Gothic chasuble) it wasn't either/or but both/and. The same is true of the Liturgy. As Cardinal (and never as pope publicly) he celebrated both the modern missal and the older missal. As pope he allowed both under the rubric of two forms of the one Roman Rite.
He also spoke of the true Church and the made-up Church of the Media, continuity and rupture.
Today, March 23, 2013, the new Holy Father, Pope Francis, who in some ways has created rupture in his style of being pope will also show dramatic continuity that no pope has ever shown publicly to the world. He will be visiting a living former pope. Folks this is world history in the making, make no mistake about that.
This pope is showing contrasts in his thus far short papacy, that of continuity and rupture, reform in continuity.
Here are some lovely and striking contrasts:
Yesterday Pope Francis had a simple Mass with the forgotten people of the Vatican, the “help” as it were. Then he met with the highfaluting diplomatic core. Nice contrast and that it isn’t either/or but both/and.
Then on Holy Thursday, I suspect there will be a splendid Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica for all the priests of Rome to renew their priestly promises and bring the “oils of Christ” to their parishes. I suspect this liturgy will be all Marini that morning, then the Holy Father will go to that mixed-gender prison for youth and have a simple “Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper” and show that the Sacrificial priesthood of the Catholic Church is indeed in continuity with the sacrificial priesthood of the Old Testament but in terms of service their is discontinuity or rupture as the Holy Father models for the priests of the world that one needs to enter into “ritual impurity” to wash the feet of others to make the cultic, ministerial priesthood service oriented also. So we have the splendor of the Vatican Basilica Liturgy earlier in the day and the squalor of the prison liturgy later in the day. Very nice contrasts.
And before this short papacy is over, in continuity with Benedict, which will be shown by today's visit to Benedict, this pope may well concelebrate some Eastern Rite liturgies as well as celebrate a low EF Mass, (I say low because he can’t sing a lick and thus can’t do a “high”) but of course foregoing lace but wearing a Roman Chasuble to show that he is the Bishop of Rome, no longer the Bishop of Buenos Aires. His ministry starts in Rome and then to the world. When one is the Bishop of Rome, “Euro-centricity” is necessary but then there should be a rupture from that too, to the world.