When Pope Francis visited his good evangelical friend in Caserta, Italy on Monday and met with about 300 of his parishioners, I thought that it was a very good ecumenical move. We don't need to dwell upon what divides us but what unites us. With evangelicals, we believe in the Most Holy Trinity and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We believe in a common morality and can work together for pro-life causes.
If Pope Francis can work effectively with his evangelical friend, how much more effective would ecumenism be in the Church to avert a true schism and yet another seperation that leads to the hostility and hurts that Catholics in Italy foisted on evangelicals especially during the fascist period?
What if Pope Francis went to see his good friends and brother bishops and parishioners of the SSPX? Certainly the Holy Father has more in common with the SSPX in both faith and morals than with the evangelicals.
The same is true for rank and file ecumenism in our local churches and dioceses. Pope Benedict knew that we are closer to the SSPX than even to the Eastern Orthodox. There is no good reason on God's earth that we cannot reconcile with the SSPX and Pope Benedict certainly understood that and did in a more formal way what Pope Francis did with his evangelical friend in Caserta.
What do rank and file Catholics who prefer the normative liturgy of the Church and much of the authentic spirit of Vatican II fear from the SSPX and traditionalists that are not even a part of the SSPX?
I think of PI who is ecumenically savey with Protestants but has little or no time to reach out to those who are Catholic traditionalists. Why the rigidity? It makes no sense whatsoever.
I want to make something abundantly clear. I appreciate very much Vatican II when properly interpreted as Pope Benedict was striving to do so. Pope Benedict would disagree with the SSPX on the things that they reject from Vatican II but His Holiness was smart enought to know that what the SSPX rejects is not in the same league with what many Protestants reject about the Church in general. And if we can have ecumenical relations with Protestants, create an Anglican Ordinariate and strive for organic unity with Protestants, how much more with the SSPX?
While I appreciate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and would be content in a parish that was exclusivey EF I love the Ordinary Form also, especially the vernacular. That is why I have advocated that some vernacular be allowed for the EF Mass, especially the parts that change. That seems to me to be a no-brainer.
I do believe the Ordinary Form of the Mass needs to recover some elements of the EF's piety and spirituality and yes order. I have come to the conclusion that the loss of Catholic faith, piety, devotion and belief in the real presence can be traced back to the negativity to things liturgically pre-Vatican II, such as hushed piety, kneeling for Holy Communion,scrupulously guarding against any profanation of the Sacrament or its fragments or droplets. There must be continuity in these things so that a rupture in what is called pre-Vatican II and Post Vatican II are not as evident as it is now, a rupture in belief that has helped lead to the collapse of Catholicism in so many parts of the world and a loss of faith in the essentials of the Mass.
When it comes to the SSPX and the Evangelicals and reaching out to both Pope Francis and rank and file bishops, priests, religious and laity have nothing to fear but fear itself!