It has just been announced (Sunday, March 17) that Pope Francis will meet former Pope Benedict XVI on March 23 at Castel Gandolfo — ten days after Pope Francis’s election. The timing of the visit seems rather leisurely, given the unprecedented state of affairs represented by Benedict’s abdication from office.
One can only speculate about why the reigning Pope would wait so long to pay his respects to his predecessor. Nevertheless, one hopes that during the coming meeting the former Pope will discuss with the reigning Pope certain realities concerning the state of the Church in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council that Benedict XVI was honest enough to admit.
One hopes in particular that the conversation will turn to the disastrous results of what Benedict called “Council of the media” in his remarks to the Roman clergy on February 14:
And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized ...
Will the former Pope and the reigning Pope confront together during their meeting what to do about all the calamities, problems, and miseries that have afflicted the Church over the past half-century of the unprecedented experiment in attempting to “update” her?
Will the former Pope stress the centrality to the crisis of the “collapse of the liturgy,” as he himself called it?
Will the former Pope urge the new Pope to leave untouched the liturgical restoration that Benedict launched with Summorum Pontificum?
And what will the former Pope have to say to the new Pope about the status of the Society of Saint Pius X, whose four bishops — in one of many surreal developments since the Council — are now regarded by certain members of the Vatican apparatus as quite literally the last four remaining “schismatics” on the face of the earth? (The term “schismatic,” like the term “heretic,” has otherwise been abandoned since the Council in order to avoid offending non-Catholic religionists.)
This is the former Pope’s opportunity to influence the course of the new pontificate before he enters a convent on the grounds of the Vatican, where (as he puts it) he will remain “hidden from the world” until the end of his life. Let us hope Benedict makes the most of his access to the Pope who has succeeded him in the midst of the worst crisis of faith and discipline in the history of the Church.
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