Fr Guy Selvester has an interesting take on getting rid of the tiara from the pope’s coat of arms, something shocking for many traddies, a great sign of liberalism for others.
No longer is the Pope to be seen as monarch but as a bishop, a teacher of the Catholic faith, a leader of Christians, a sanctifier of men (yes, and women too, as well as children). We saw and we did not understand, here was a sign from someone often described as a “liturgist”, someone for whom signs and symbols (and words) are important.
If the panoply of sovereignty are gone, then what about the structures that support it? Well gone too is the Cardinal Sodano the diplomat replaced by a theologian, gone too is Archbishop Fitzgerald, the Islamic expert, gone with them is the spirit of rapprochement.
What has replaced it? I believe a papacy dedicated to the simply revealing the truth that Jesus is Lord. The most significant document of this Papacy was issued in 2000 Dominus Jesus, by the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Benedict believes with every fibre of his being that the world needs Jesus the Lord. He actually believes what he said in his Regensburg lecture that God is rational and communicates Himself through human reason. He sees the problems of the world coming from the rejection Truth, ultimately the rejection of Christ. Thus the triumph of Islam over the Byzantine Empire is indeed evil, for it is about Christ being replaced by something that lacks ultimate Truth.
In his struggle against Liberation theology, it wasn’t the idea of Christianity standing alongside the poor that worried him, far from it, it was the fusion of Christ and Marx, therefore the confusion of the Christian message, the blurring of Truth that caused him such concern.
In his books on the Liturgy, he argues that post Vatican II liturgy removes the image of Christ from its central position on the altar and replaces it with the priest. For Him the centrality of Christ is the only important thing. His ideal is that the Church, and the world, is re-orientated towards Christ and revealing Him with clarity.
His vision is one that is sharply Christo-centric, in his Regensburg address it is not merely Islam that should have drawn a sharp intake of breath but secularism and Protestant fundamentalism and liberalism, but above all Catholic Liberalism, for it is Christ presented in it His awesome clarity that is important to him, without the veils of modern philosophy that obscure his true image.
For the Church the Benedictine years are going to become increasingly exciting, for his constant invitation is to turn towards Christ and to reveal Him to the world.
For Benedict, Christ who is the Truth is discovered, or even revealed, in many different ways but only partially; ultimately Christ the Truth can be known fully only within mainstream Christianity, which is identified in Dominus Jesus as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.