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Will Pope Benedict XVI Reduce Liturgical Abuses?
Question from Matthew D. Herrera on 4/19/2005:
United States

Will Pope Benedict XVI have a tangible impact in the reduction of liturgical abuses and innovations here at the parish level in the USA?

Answered on 4/26/2005:

Since he is very clear in his liturgical thinking, I would hope that he would.

One aspect of his thinking that has been criticized is his position on the relationship of bishops to the Pope, and especially the Curia. It is said, the argument goes, that he favors centralization, and under him the Curia will have more power. His position, I feel, is both wrongly described and wrongly analyzed in its effect. His view, largely accepted by Pope John Paul II and promulgated in Apostolos Suos, is that Conferences of Bishops are not distinct ecclesiastical realities, but agents of the pastors who form them. It is the local bishop, and the Pope, who have pastoral power, not the collectivities to which they may belong (the exception being the College of the whole episcopate with the Pope, as in a General Council). In his view, bishops should be faithful and courageous pastors in their own right (e.g. Archbishop Chaput, who won't be bullied by those in the Church or outside of it). Certainly, bishops are not free to re-invent the Church to their or anyone else’s liking, simply because they have ordinary power in their own diocese, and so they are subject to the supervision of the Holy Father. There is nothing odious in that, unless you are self-willed and going against the teaching and discipline of the Church. Such pastors should not be surprised to be corrected by the Supreme Pastor. But you can be sure he will teach and cajole before he punishes.

Despite the media claims of ruthless purging and punishing of theologians, like Charles Curran, in every single case the theologians were teaching wholly contrary to Church teaching (e.g. that moral evil could be justified for proportionate reason), did so for years, received far more due process than they deserved, and were only punished after proven obduracy. There was nothing unfair or ruthless about it, except to those who unreasonably think that anyone should be able to teach anything in the Catholic Church (from a pulpit, from an episcopal seat, from an academic chair) in the name of personal freedom. To do so, they should leave the Church, or at least their positions, and do so without the hypocrisy of violating their solemn commitments of fidelity.


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