Friday, February 12, 2016

Where have you been, where are you going?

It seems like a lifetime ago, in many respects.

For many years, a Ratzinger papacy was the pontificate so many of us (my particular age group of more conservative to traditionalist leaning Roman Catholics) had pinned our hopes on. In the last decade of John Paul II's papacy we often postulated, "if only Ratzinger."

In 2005, we got just that, and the jubilation (from our particular corner of the world) was electrifying. This was the moment, the fulfillment of the long turnaround from the doldrums of Paul VI's papacy and the chaos that came in the wake of Vatican II.

Was it everything we expected? I suppose. There is a definite feel and aesthetic to Benedict's papacy that is easily distinct from both his predecessor and successor. The Roman liturgy seemed to celebrated (finally) with serious intention. Lest we forget, there was (finally) a proper theologian heading the Roman Church.

Certainly, when I think back to the Roman Church as piloted by Benedict XVI, all things considered, I feel more at home, as compared to Francis.

Then again....the announcement of Benedict's resignation coincided with the day my migration into the Orthodox Church became seemingly irreversible.

Benedict's papacy was enjoyable, so long as one found the proper enclave in which to enmesh oneself. It wasn't that he was "wrong," mind you. Rather, it was a more a problem of having a vision that proved too theological for the nuts and bolts of a massive church. Frankly, the majority of the people who flanked onto Benedict's papacy were cut from a radical right wing cloth. Meanwhile, his detractors were ideologues of the other extreme. In both cases, Ratzinger's intention was ignored and his thought distorted, save for a few monasteries that actually seemed to get it. It was with that realization that it became readily apparent that monastic communities were the only sure source of sanity in Roman Catholicism. The monasteries have a way of staying above the fray - sadly, they are operationally removed from the needs of family life, and the normative formation most of us will receive.

Still, it is impossible to think back on Ratzinger's papacy and not recall the initial hope we all had in my circles. The hope, the anticipation, the sense that (finally) everything that had been building in potential was about to come to fruition.

Though I don't frequent the same circles and I no longer call the Roman Church my confessional home, I would like to seem him back.

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