I have been called allot of things in my 47 years, however the phrase, “Papist,” is perhaps the nicest one right after being called a, “Catholic.”
It seems that will all of the papal pronouncements that came forth from the Vatican in early July there are many Catholics that are starting to “come around” to the spirit of the new evangelizing of Benedict XVI.
What is really reassuring is simply this, there is nothing really new in this phase of evangelization, it is really all included in Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium.
It just happens that there are generations of Catholics that have never really become familiar with the Council’s documents and their long term applications.
The power of the Holy Spirit is amazing in the fact that you never quite know when, how and where the ecumenical spirit will hit. It seems that after 40 years of trying to come to an understanding of Vatican II, Catholics are receiving a refresher course in the spirit of the Council from the actions and teachings of Benedict XVI.
Earlier in the month, I noted how Vatican II was still alive and present in our Catholic Church. While it seems that Vatican II was intended as a replacement for the pre-Council Church it was really a vehicle for reformation of the pre-Council Church. What I specifically mean by this is that Vatican II really never intended to replace the doctrinal aspects of the Council of Trent, it really intended to reform the reformers, and make Church life more appealing to the modern world.
In all of this updating and reforming, it is slowly becoming evident that the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is a belief that is strongly reestablishing itself throughout the Catholic world. Vatican II did focus on the hierarchy and it’s relationship to the People of God, those fully incorporated into the faith, those less than fully incorporated into the faith, the non-Christians, the non-believers and the atheists. However in the post-Council years it seems that our entire Catholic concept of hierarchy is beginning to reestablish the Bishop of Rome as the central teaching focal point for a global Church, now rooted in a new global evangelization.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Church was still in the reactionary mode of the Council of Trent. Now it seems that the Church, quite realistically has gotten over the Reformation and the subsequent…anathemas lodged against the reformers and heretics and the rest. In the spirit of Vatican II, we tried an ecumenical approach and tried to distinguish all types of “degrees of incorporation” into the Catholic Church, and tried to be the most politically correct in our descriptions.
Now it seems that the era of ecumenical political correctness is over and the Holy See is not only reaffirming the directives of the Council of Trent, but it is very precisely extrapolating on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council since the dust has settled in the past four decades. That does not mean we are in a period of returning to a Church that is anti-ecumenical, anti-Jewish, anti-Islamic or anti-anything. It appears that the Church and it’s papal leadership is beginning to affirm Catholic primacy as the legitimate and logical heir to salvation history, and is ramping up it’s membership campaign.
For decades we have as a Church tried in the spirit of ecumenism and ecumenical brotherhood tried to provide a sort of theological melting pot for everyone that was just a bit…well, put off by our papist roles and rituals. Finally, after years of minimizing our liturgical rituals and hierarchical beliefs the Pontifex Maximus is once again flexing the papal vocal chords and teaching in a defined, clear and Catholic manner and message.Benedict XVI clearly understands that the future of the Church’s development in the modern world is the strong evangelizing of new believers and followers in a world that is increasingly attacked by secular humanism, and Islam. If in fact the Catholic Church intends to be a theocentric player on the global world stage, then our beliefs and unique Catholic identity needs to be proclaimed.
It is no longer an issue that Catholics and other Christian denominations have philosophical and theological differences. It appears that Benedict XVI is holding out a papal olive branch to all of these groups with his ardent desire for continued dialogue; however our Catholic dialogue seems to be strongly supportive of maintaining Catholic identity and dignity.The papal teachings are not indicting non Catholics as heretics and non believers, but rather as groups of faithful followers that have strayed a bit from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic family.
The rhetoric that reaffirms all of our Catholic beliefs, and the re institution of a liturgy that reaffirms our Catholic Roman identity are positive moves that clearly indicate being, “Catholic” is a good and positive thing.
Not only is being Catholic a good and positive thing…having a Pope as the central spokesman for theological truths and teachings is also a good thing and for us Catholics the greatest thing that we have realized over the past 500 or so years since the Reformation. Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II have not changed anything, but rather have clarified and solidified the true importance and value of the ministry of the Prince of the Apostles. Each time the Pope reaches out to the four corners of our global village and makes a proclamation, it’s purpose is to reignite a new evangelizing movement that pivots the future life of the Catholic Church against religious extremism and political zealots throughout the world.
Papist, I am! Catholic, I am! Newly inspired towards evangelizing, yes…not because the Catholic Church is always right…but because it is on the right path towards global realization of theological and philosophical unity against threats of Islamic and political extremism!