N HIS FIRST FULL DAY as the Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel with the College of Cardinals. At the conclusion of that Missa pro Ecclesia, the new pontiff shared a heartfelt reflection, acknowledging his own “sense of inadequacy and human apprehension.” At the same time, though, he said that he felt “a lively feeling of profound gratitude to God.”
Perhaps the most personal part of the reflection was a brief tribute to Pope John Paul II. “I seem to feel his strong hand clasping mine,” Benedict said of JPII. “I seem to see his smiling eyes and hear his words, at this moment addressed specifically to me, ‘Do not be afraid!’”
Another theme during that brief address was ecumenism, which became a central feature of his eight-year reign, including special outreach to Anglicans and members of the SSPX. The Holy Father said:
Peter’s current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty. He is aware that good intentions do not suffice for this. Concrete gestures that enter hearts and stir consciences are essential, inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress.
Theological dialogue is necessary; the investigation of the historical reasons for the decisions made in the past is also indispensable. But what is most urgently needed is that “purification of memory”, so often recalled by John Paul II, which alone can dispose souls to accept the full truth of Christ. Each one of us must come before Him, the supreme Judge of every living person, and render an account to Him of all we have done or have failed to do to further the great good of the full and visible unity of all His disciples.
One such “concrete gesture” is the forthcoming publication of the missal for use within the Personal Ordinariates established under the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. Entitled Divine Worship: The Missal, the volume is set to be published this November, in time for Advent. These missals are available now for pre-sale from the Catholic Truth Society (see HERE).
Together with our brothers & sisters from the Ordinariate, let us celebrate and welcome this ecumenical & liturgical milestone.