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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?
The Pope laying even greater emphasis than John Paul II on both doctrine
and authority of the Church
Catholics fear Pope's revival of traditional ways
By Peter Popham in Rome
Pope Benedict XVI faces uproar among liberal Catholics amid signs that
he is trying to turn back the clock on an era of modernisation and
From today, the Church wakes up to a new set of rules regarding the way
in which the Mass may be celebrated. For the first time since 1962 the
Tridentine Mass, the form of the service always said in Latin, will be
It is the Pope's personal effort to heal a rift created when the
followers of French Archbishop Lefèbvre rebelled, and insisted on
continuing the use the Mass introduced at the Council of Trent in the
But even before the publication of the new rules the intensity of
opposition has shaken the Church. One bishop interviewed by La
Repubblica said the day the Pope's letter was published confirming the
reform was "the saddest day of my life".
The Pope has confirmed that the existing form of the Mass, dating from
the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, will continue to be the
standard one, said in the language of the local congregation.
But many liberal Catholics see the return of a Mass which, in the form
in which it was used until 1962, stigmatised "heretics", "schismatics"
and Jews and which presented the Catholic Church as the only true
version of the faith, as a reckless step backwards.
And when they review the changes Benedict has brought to the papal
wardrobe, they see a pattern. Ever since his installation in April 2005,
the German Pope has been speeding back to the future.
The magnificent papal wardrobe has been steadily modified since Vatican
II. Pope Paul VI symbolically laid his splendid tiara on the altar of St
Peter's at the end of the council; it was sold and the proceeds donated
to charity. Benedict has yet to buy it back, but he has repeatedly
stunned Vaticanologists with the variety of archaic hats, capes and
other adornments he chooses to sport.
In his first winter as Pope he donned the snug, Santa Claus-like "camauro"
hat, red velvet with a border of white ermine, which had not been worn
since John XXIII, who died in 1963. He also affected the "galero", a
cowboy-like number in red, and the "greca", the ankle-length cashmere
overcoat last worn by Pope Pius XII. He has also moved to restore some
of the dignity of the Pope sacrificed by his predecessors in the
interests of humility and conciliation. Benedict has been photographed
seated in the little-used golden throne in the Vatican's Sala Paolina,
where Pius XII used to receive important visitors on their knees.