As we celebrate the fifth anniversaries of the Pope's election and inauguration (on Saturday) it is worth reflecting on some of his achievements to date.
My own hope (and prayer) is that Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as the man who laid the foundations for the twenty-first century equivalent of the Counter-Reformation: the man who bought the Church back to a sense of continuity with its past, in particular reshaping our experience of the liturgy, re-interpreting the purpose of ecumenism, and fighting for the restoration of traditional asceticism and discipline; who spoke out on the threats to Western culture and why that culture is important to the life of the Church; and who has not been afraid to speak out in contradiction to secularist hypocrisies.
Some of the highlights so far:
- the concept of the hermaneutic of continuity;
- his work on highlighting the continuity of the Church with its past, and the importance of studying the Fathers, and Theologians, through the liturgy and not least through his General Audiences;
- tackling the deficiencies and misdirections of much modern Scriptural exegesis, including through his book Jesus of Nazareth;
- Summorum Pontificum and the restoration of the traditional mass;
- the impetus given to the 'reform of the reform' and more dignified celebration of the liturgy;
- vastly improved relations with the Orthodox, SPXX and traditionally inclined Anglicans, with some prospect that some in these groups will end up reconciled with the Church;
- more realistic appraisals of and relationships with Islam and Judaism, with a genuine dialogue started on how these religions can and should interact with each other;
- lancing of the boil (albeit with all the pain that implies in the short-term) that was the filth and disgrace to the Church in the form of child sexual abuse, with tough action against the Legion and its founder and others;
- tackling head-on secularist fantasies about what works (and yes, I do mean that comment about AIDS and condoms in Africa inter alia).
Far easier to think it or write it than actually do it though.
In any case, think we have a lot to be grateful for.
Keep the Pope in your prayers.