Tuesday, April 19, 2005

One thing is for sure. If the holy spirit was active at the conclave of cardinals, then the spirit of John Paul II certainly was too. The new pope was his chosen successor and the cardinals accepted that.

I will admit I would have preferred a pope who was not quite so much a conservative figurehead. The Hitler's Youth business just produces a ready made target for anti-Catholics. On the other hand, they hate the Church for what it is and would never warm to a pope unless he completely sold out to them. And that is something we did not want to see. As for my own predictions, the less said the better....

So what have we got? The finest intellect to occupy the throne of St Peter since... well ever, probably. A first class administrator when the Vatican administration is in a pretty poor state of repair. It is no good being a centraliser if the central machinery is not up to the job. A conservative yes, but one who has already admitted to some of the mistakes of the past. At least I don't have to worry about his orthodoxy.

One issue that I would like Benedict XVI to grasp with both hands is the liturgy. In the English speaking world, this has been on the skids for some time. We foolishly borrowed the Anglican ideas of 'inclusive language' and 'modern terminology' just when the Anglicans had rightly started to ditch the idea. I want to see the English liturgy develop some of the numinous lustre of the Book of Common Prayer, Latin to be used more often (especially Gregorian chant), traditional English hymns to be sung as they are by Anglicans and choirs that dress properly. It is the liturgy that allows most of us to get as close to God as we ever do and it needs to be a top priority. Here, at least, Vatican II was an unmitigated failure. Hard to believe that so much of the world's greatest music is set to the Catholic liturgy. Even Bach wrote a mass and he was Protestant!

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