Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habent papam novum

Notice  that I did not write "habemus" which translates to "We have" but "habent" meaning "they [i.e. Roman Catholics] have..." 

The Roman College of Cardinals has made Jorge Maria Begeglio the new Pope of the Roman Church who has taken the name of Francis I. 

Now, I have no horse in this race and the Cardinals can vote for whomever they were moved to do so.  However, I feel that I have to say a few words about the Pontifex Emeritus, Benedict XVI.  As a teacher of Latin, a profession which, whether for good or ill, depends largely on the Catholic Church to preserve its Latin heritage to ensure I have a job, Benedict was a godsend.  Benedict is a man of profound erudition, not only in theology but especially as a man of Latin letters.  His motu proprio to allow for greater freedom of the use of the Tridentine Rite or Extraordinary Rite of the Latin Mass has been, in many ways, a boon to the study of Latin.  Even his resignation was announced in Latin first, not in Italian or even his native German.  He has even been responsible for the creation of several schools for the teaching of the Latin language.  A more powerful friend to the classics, I do not know. 

As a pope, I'm in no position to judge.  I will say, however, that Benedict's great respect and love for the traditions of the church gained him many friends particularly in the Orthodox Church, for which he has great respect and love.  Reconciliation with the Orthodox was one of his primary goals, though that goal will always be a pipedream as long as Rome persists in her adherence to heresies which have been condemned repeatedly by the Orthodox. 

With regards to this current pope, he does not appear to be the erudite scholarly man that Benedict is and that is no fault.  I fear though that since this man was an appointee of the late Pope John Paul II, he may well undo some of Benedict's reforms when it comes to permission to use the Extraordinary Rite and that will be a great blow to Catholics, many of whom want and demand the Extraordinary Rite, claiming that the Novus Ordo is too much like a Protestant contemporary worship experience with a few more prayers and the Eucharist.  And if such is a case, Latin will suffer along with it. But, this is purely conjecture on my part.  I don't believe that Francis is very knowledgeable of Latin.  His benediction to the City and to the World (Urbi et Orbi) sounded very hesitant and unsure, but I'm sure that much of that was due to the unnerving experience of being elected Pope of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

One interesting thing about Francis is that in his role as Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was also the prelate for the Eastern Rite Catholics in that region of the world. [Sidenote:  many southern Italians use the Eastern or Byzantine Rite and Argentina was a popular place for Italians to go after WWII].  I'm hopeful that  the experience he had as prelate will benefit him now as Pople and that he will continue the work that his predecessor began with regards to the Orthodox, who are Eastern Rite, for greater understanding and reconciliation.

I'm not qualified as I'm not a Catholic to say who should lead their particular church. I leave that to her respective temporal leaders and to God.  I will admit that I am sad that Benedict is now officially gone. He was a friend to the Orthodox and to tradition and to Latin.  This current pope, I cannot analyze just yet; he's been on the job now for only eight hours.  I'm hopeful that he will continue and not repudiate the work that has been done by his predecessor for the sake of Latin, for the sake of the traditions and liturgy of the ancient church and for the sake of good relations with the Orthodox.

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