Monday, August 31, 2009

Scientist: Pope Was Right About AIDS

Says Abstinence, Fidelity More Effective than Condoms
RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 27, 2009 ( The director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project is affirming that Benedict XVI's position was right in the debate on AIDS and condoms.

Edward Green stated this in an address at the 30th annual Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples in Rimini, sponsored by the lay movement, Communion and Liberation. Green, an expert on AIDS prevention, said that "as a scientist he was amazed to see the closeness between what the Pope said last March in Cameroon and the results of the most recent scientific discoveries."

He affirmed: "The condom does not prevent AIDS. Only responsible sexual behavior can address the pandemic." Green continued, "When Benedict XVI said that different sexual behavior should be adopted in Africa, because to put trust in condoms does not serve to fight against AIDS, the international press was scandalized."

The Pope made this statement in a meeting with journalists en route to Africa last March. The scientist affirmed that the Holy Father spoke the truth. He noted, "The condom can work for particular individuals, but it will not serve to address the situation of a continent."

Change habits

Green added: "To propose the regular use of the condom as prevention in Africa could have the opposite effect."He explained the phenomenon of human behavior called "risk compensation," whereby a person "feels protected and thus exposes himself more." The researcher and medical anthropologist asked: "Why has an attempt not been made to change people's customs?"

"The world industry has taken many years to understand that measures of a technical and medical character are of no use to solve the problem," he added.

Green highlighted the successful policies that have been implemented in Uganda to battle AIDS, programs based in the "ABC" strategy: "Abstain, Be faithful, and, as a last resource, use a Condom."

He reported: "In the case of Uganda, an impressive result has been obtained in the fight against AIDS.

"The president was able to tell the truth to his people, to young people, that on occasions some sacrifice, abstinence and fidelity are necessary. "

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Holy Father's letter to Sen. Edward Kennedy

Two weeks after President Obama hand delivered a letter to Holy Father from Sen. Kennedy, the Pope responded, writing, as usual, through a senior Vatcan official:

"The Holy Father has read the letter which you entrusted to President Barack Obama, who kindly presented it to him during their recent meeting. He was saddened to know of your illness, and has asked me to assure you of his concern and his spiritual closeness.

He is particularly grateful for your promise of prayers for him and for the needs of the universal Church. "His Holiness prays that in the days ahead you may be sustained in faith and hope, and granted the precious grace of joyful surrender to the will of God our merciful Father. He invokes upon you the consolation and peace promised by the Risen Savior to all who share in His sufferings and trust in His promise of eternal life."

Commending you and the members of your family to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, comfort and strength in the Lord."

Pope Benedict wisely, and predictably, rendered no judgment on Kennedy's public record. . . . but [offered] his charitable and heartfelt expressions of support and prayer . . .

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reality Check

Top Vatican official dismisses talk of rollback on Vatican II
By John Thavis
Catholic News ServiceVATICAN CITY (CNS) --

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has dismissed fears that Pope Benedict XVI plans to roll back major ecclesial changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council.

On the contrary, the German pontiff has demonstrated his commitment to the council during his more than four years as pope, Cardinal Bertone told the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in an interview published Aug. 27.

In the wake of recent reports about a planned move to reverse liturgical changes made since Vatican II, Cardinal Bertone said reporters and observers should stick to the actual actions undertaken by the pope since his election.

"The other ruminations and whispers about presumed documents of reversal are pure invention, following a standard and stubbornly re-proposed formula," he said.

A week earlier, an Italian newspaper reported that the Vatican's worship congregation had given the pope a document with proposed liturgical modifications, including a curb on the practice of receiving Communion in the hand. A Vatican spokesman later said that, at present, there were "no institutional proposals for a modification of the liturgical books."

Cardinal Bertone pointed to several areas in which he said Pope Benedict had promoted the teaching of Vatican II "with intelligence and depth of thought," including relations with Eastern and Orthodox churches and dialogue with Judaism and Islam.

He said the pope has also favored an increasingly direct and fraternal relationship with the world's bishops, as evidenced during their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican and in the freer discussions during synods of bishops.

Likewise, the cardinal said, the pope has had more direct contact with top Roman Curia officials and has restored the practice of regular meetings with them.

Cardinal Bertone said the pope does have a plan for "reform of the church," but it's one that focuses on personal holiness and fundamental questions of faith. In a similar way, the pope's messages to the wider world have made it clear that his main priority is to restore a sense of awareness of God in the world and in society, he said.

Copyright (c) 2009 Catholic News Service/USCCB.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The Pope’s Challenge to the Faithful
Joel Hilliker, Columnist
August 26, 2009
“This saying is hard,” he says as he marches forward with his conservative agenda. “Will you also go away?”

Catholic priests are now encouraged to perform mass ad orientem—facing east, with their back to the people. The change, approved by the pope this past weekend, is the latest step in the Vatican’s march toward traditionalist, conservative Catholicism.

Pope Benedict xvi is leading the way, his back to the people, challenging them to keep up. Inside the church, he is continuing his decades-long campaign to expel liberals and stack the deck with conservatives. In Europe, he is working to reestablish a Catholic continent. Among non-Catholic Christians, he seeks to draw worshippers under papal authority. In the world, he is leveling a strong attack against secularism and godlessness. And to Islam, he has unmistakably shown a resistance, a toughness, that promises to grow stronger. He has repeatedly spoken out against those who would stand in his way, unafraid to offend, unafraid to turn opponents into enemies.

In March 2006, Ratzinger lashed out against European secularism—and Islam—with his book, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam. Co-authored with the president of the Italian Senate, it addressed the “advance of Islam” and stated that Europe is now “paralyzed because it does not believe that there are good reasons to say it is better than Islam. And it is paralyzed because it believes that, if such reasons do indeed exist, then the West would have to fight Islam.”

In September, Pope Benedict traveled to his home state of Bavaria for a six-day visit where, among other things, he spoke with German President Horst Kohler about the dangers of Islamic penetration into German society. His most famous speech on that trip was a lecture at the University of Regensburg, where he quoted Catholic Byzantine Emperor Manuel ii Paleologus: “Show me just what Mohammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

In March 2006, Pope Benedict xvi chose to drop “patriarch of the West” from his lengthy list of official titles and became merely “Bishop of Rome, vicar of Jesus Christ, successor of the prince of the apostles, supreme pontiff of the universal church, primate of Italy, archbishop and metropolitan of the province of Rome, sovereign of Vatican City State and servant of the servants of God, his holiness Benedict xvi.” Why bother with the change? The message was not lost on the Eastern Orthodox Church. It meant the Catholic Church still sought “universal jurisdiction of the bishop of Rome over the entire church,” the Eastern Orthodox synod said, adding that it makes it so that their status as “‘sister churches’ between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox church becomes hard to use.” The non-Catholics the pope was targeting knew: He dropped “patriarch of the West” not because it gave him too much jurisdiction, but not enough.

In July 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith restated the doctrines of Dominus Iesus, a document the pope—then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—had signed in 2000 to proclaim that non-Catholics were “gravely deficient” and that Protestant churches are “not churches in the proper sense.” The restatement added that Orthodox churches suffer from a “wound” because they do not accept the pope’s authority, a wound “still more profound” in Protestants. The document, approved by Pope Benedict, said that denominations outside Roman Catholicism are defective or not full churches. “Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress … it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of ‘church’ could possibly be attributed to them,” it said.
Mid-May that year, the pope traveled to Brazil to open an assembly of the Latin American bishops’ conference—not by invitation, but by personal choice. There he challenged the bishops to galvanize a continent-wide crusade against competing non-Catholic religions (“sects,” he called them), such as North-American evangelicals. Latino bishops jumped on board and began lobbying national governments for legislation to ban and obstruct non-Catholics’ operation in Latin America. The visit illuminated Benedict’s aims to re-energize Catholicism not only in Europe, but across the whole globe.
The pope has also resurrected the Tridentine Mass, a Latin-language ceremony codified in 1570. In the 1960s, the church restricted the use of the ultra-conservative Tridentine prayer book, which is peppered with references that make Jews and non-Catholics bristle (asking God to “lift the veil from [their] eyes,” and that Jews “be delivered from their darkness” and converted to Catholicism). The more inclusive, modern mass the church adopted in its place was scorned by hard-core Catholics, one of whom was a younger Joseph Ratzinger. In July of 2006, Pope Benedict reversed that restriction, reconnecting the church to its medieval past.
The offense to Jews grew worse when, in February of 2008, the pope revised the “Good Friday Prayer for the Jews” portion of the Tridentine Mass. The new version reads: “Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men.” German rabbi Walter Homolka said, “This kind of signal has an extremely provocative effect on anti-Semitic groups. The Catholic Church does not have its anti-Semitic tendencies under control.”

Conservative Roman Catholics see nothing to balk at in praying that Jews would emerge from darkness. They see no problem with labeling non-Catholics gravely deficient. Catholicism, after all, is universalism. The church can never attain its universal potential—more are coming to believe—unless it stops pretending that those outside of it have access to God.

While some take offense at the pope’s political incorrectness, an increasing number find it refreshing in a world sick with moral relativism. They appreciate his courage in turning his back to lead the congregation into a stricter, more orthodox, less accommodating future. (Read Brad Macdonald’s column from last year, “Benedict’s Strategy for Expanding Vatican Power,” for more on this trend.)

This was the message of Pope Benedict’s sermon this past Sunday. He spoke of how Jesus’s saying offended many, who responded, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?” The pope then said, “And from that moment on, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus, however, does not lessen His claim. Indeed, He directly addresses the 12 saying, ‘Will you also go away?’”

This is the pope’s challenge to the faithful. “Jesus in fact is not satisfied with a superficial and formal following,” he said. Total devotion—even in opposition to non-believers—is required.
It appears they are accepting the challenge—and that, remarkably, their numbers are swelling. It’s been said that crowds came to see Pope John Paul ii, but they come to hear Benedict xvi. Over his pontificate, Benedict has consistently attracted larger audiences to witness his weekly homilies in St. Peter’s Square than did his predecessor.

As their devotion grows, so does the indignation of the pope’s growing list of opponents. And so too does the inevitability of a violent clash—prophesied in the Bible—between the church and its fiercest enemies, which are becoming more polarized before our eyes. •

Joel Hilliker’s column appears every Wednesday.To e-mail Joel Hilliker, click here.Please note that, unless you request otherwise, your comment may appear on our feedback page.To read more articles by this author, click here.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Benedict XVI and Bonaventure

The Pope's Trip to the Saint's Birthplace Is More Significant Than It Seems
By Robert Moynihan

ROME, AUG. 24, 2009 ( Sometimes, there is more to a papal trip than meets the eye.

And that is the case with an upcoming trip of Benedict XVI to the small Italian town of Bagnoreggio, the birthplace of St. Bonaventure.

In two weeks, on Sept. 6, the Pope will go out of Rome to visit Bagnoreggio and Viterbo.
Viterbo, about 65 miles north of Rome, or just an hour by car, is well-known as the place where papal conclaves were born.

Until 1271, the gathering of cardinals for the election was not called a "conclave" ("con" meaning "with" and "clavis" meaning "a key") -- a closed meeting in a place locked "with a key."
After the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268, the cardinals meeting in Viterbo did not elect anyone for almost three years. Finally, the city officials locked all of them in a meeting room and gave them only bread and water to eat. Soon after, they elected Pope Gregory X. He then made it Church law that papal elections would take place in a conclave.

Benedict XVI will travel to Viterbo by helicopter from the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

But on his way home, he will stop in Bagnoreggio.

Why stop in such a little, seemingly unimportant town?

Because St. Bonaventure was born there in 1217.

Still, the Pope does not stop in the birthplace of every important saint. He would not have time to do so. So, why is he taking time to stop in Bonaventure's place of birth?

For the answer, we have to look into the Pope's own past, and there we find something rather interesting.

We find that Bonaventure was one of the two major intellectual influences on Pope Benedict's entire theological formation. (The other influence? St. Augustine.)

In Germany, scholars must write two dissertations. The first, as in the United States, is to receive a doctoral degree (a Ph.D.). The second, called the "Habilitationsschrift," is to qualify for a professorial post.

And the young Joseph Ratzinger, in the mid-1950s, wrote this second, postdoctoral thesis, on ... St. Bonaventure, and his understanding of history.

Press accounts will say that the Pope is "scheduled to venerate the 'holy arm' of the saint, which is kept in Bagnoreggio's cathedral" (the rest of St. Bonaventure's body is buried in France).

But Benedict is venerating also the deep wisdom of Bonaventure's vision of Christian revelation, and in so doing "making contact" with one of the central concerns of his own personal theological vision.

In this sense, if we can understand what Benedict learned from Bonaventure, we can understand more clearly what Benedict is trying to do now, in his pontificate, to lead the Church through this complicated period in history.

Benedict XVI himself gave us an idea of this intellectual background in a speech he gave to a group of scholars several years ago, before he was Pope.

He said this: "My doctoral dissertation was about the notion of the people of God in St. Augustine. ... Augustine was in dialogue with Roman ideology, especially after the occupation of Rome by the Goths in 410, and so it was very fascinating for me to see how in these different dialogues and cultures he defines the essence of the Christian religion. He saw Christian faith, not in continuity with earlier religions, but rather in continuity with philosophy as a victory of reason over superstition. ..."

So, we might argue that one major step in Ratzinger's own theological formation was to understand Christianity as "in continuity with philosophy" and as "a victory of reason over superstition."

Then Ratzinger took a second step. He studied Bonaventure.

"My postdoctoral work was about St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan theologian of the 13th century," Ratzinger continued. "I discovered an aspect of Bonaventure's theology not found in the previous literature, namely, his relation with the new idea of history conceived by Joachim of Fiore in the 12th century. Joachim saw history as progression from the period of the Father (a difficult time for human beings under the law), to a second period of history, that of the Son (with more freedom, more openness, more brotherhood), to a third period of history, the definitive period of history, the time of the Holy Spirit.

"According to Joachim, this was to be a time of universal reconciliation, reconciliation between east and west, between Christians and Jews, a time without the law (in the Pauline sense), a time of real brotherhood in the world.

"The interesting idea which I discovered was that a significant current among the Franciscans was convinced that St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Order marked the beginning of this third period of history, and it was their ambition to actualize it; Bonaventure was in critical dialogue with this current."

So, we might argue, Ratzinger drew from Bonaventure a conception of human history as unfolding in a purposeful way, toward a specific goal, a time of deepened spiritual insight, an "age of the Holy Spirit."

Where classical philosophy spoke of the eternity of the world, and therefore of the cyclical "eternal return" of all reality, Bonaventure, following Joachim, condemned the concept of the eternity of the world, and defended the idea that history was a unique and purposeful unfolding of events which would never return, but which would come to a conclusion.

History had meaning.
History was related to, and oriented toward, meaning -- toward the Logos ... toward Christ.
This is not to say that Ratzinger -- or Bonaventure -- made any of the specific interpretations of Joachim his own. It is to say that Ratzinger, like Bonaventure, entered into "critical dialogue" with his overall conception -- that history had a shape and a meaning -- that he, like Bonaventure, took it quite seriously.

I have some personal insight into how seriously Ratzinger took these matters.
My own doctoral research was on the influence of the thought of Joachim on the early Franciscans.

When I first met Joseph Ratzinger, in the fall of 1984, I told him I was studying his book on St. Bonaventure with interest, and he replied: "Ah! You're the only one in Rome who has read that book of mine."

Then, later, he commented to me that the liberation theology of the Brazilian Franciscan Father Leonardo Boff was a "modern form" of Joachimism -- a desire to see within history a new ordering of human society.

So I am persuaded that Ratzinger took his research into Bonaventure quite seriously.
Ratzinger received his degree on Feb. 21, 1957, at nearly 30 years of age, but not without controversy.

The academic committee judging his work actually rejected the "critical" part of his thesis, so he was obliged to cut and edit it, and present the "historical" part only, centered on the analysis of the relation between St. Bonaventure and Joachim of Flora.

Ratzinger's professor, Michael Schmaus, thought Ratzinger's interpretation of Bonaventure's concept of revelation showed "a dangerous modernism that had to lead to the subjectivization of the concept of revelation," as Ratzinger himself recalls in his autobiography, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977. (Ratzinger felt, and still feels, that Schmaus's criticisms were not valid.)
What was it that Ratzinger found in Bonaventure that aroused such controversy?

For Ratzinger, Bonaventure's concept of revelation did not mean what it does for us today, that is, "all the revealed contents of the faith."

In Ratzinger's view, for Bonaventure, "revelation" always connoted the idea of action -- that is, revelation means the act by which God reveals himself, and not simply the result of this act.

Why is this important?
Ratzinger wrote in Milestones: "Because this is so, the concept of 'revelation' always implies a receiving subject: where there is no one to perceive 'revelation,' no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it."

And why does this matter?
"These insights," Ratzinger continued, "gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture, and tradition. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always something greater than what is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sola scriptura ["by Scripture alone"], because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given."

In essence, what Ratzinger drew from Bonaventure modified and completed what he had drawn from Augustine.

If Augustine's thought emphasized the continuity of Christianity with classical philosophy, and the "reasonableness" of Christian faith over against pagan superstition, Bonaventure's thought emphasized the contrast between Christianity and classical philosophy, indeed, condemned the futility of classical philosophy, with its embrace of the concept of the eternity of the world and the "eternal return" of all things, because it lacked the revealed truth of a divine "actor."

Ratzinger suggested this in the forward to his work on Bonaventure: "Has not the ‘Hellenization' of Christianity, which attempted to overcome the scandal of the particular by a blending of faith and metaphysics, led to a development in a false direction? Has it not created a static style of thought which cannot do justices to the dynamism of the biblical style?"

Even today, if we go to the last chapter of the Pope's recent book, "Jesus of Nazareth," we find the metaphysical terminology that presupposes an ontology of "person as relation" that I believe is the "golden thread" throughout all of Ratzinger's work, from his first book on Augustine, begun in 1953, through his "habilitation thesis" on Bonaventure (1956) to his recent Jesus of Nazareth (2007).

Ratzinger is saying that Christian revelation must always transcend reason, though it does not, and must not, contradict it.

When Benedict XVI visits Bagnoreggio, then, he will be, in a sense, returning to the source of his own deepest intellectual struggles, to the place where he came fully to understand the newness of the Christian faith, and how that faith, that revealed truth, is at one and the same time in harmony with, and at total opposition to, the "reason" which was the highest good of classical philosophy.

This makes the trip to Bagnoreggio far more than another papal trip; it is a trip into Ratzinger's own intellectual and spiritual past, and into the core of his intellectual and spiritual vision.

* * *
Robert Moynihan is founder and editor of the monthly magazine Inside the Vatican. He is the author of the book "Let God's Light Shine Forth: the Spiritual Vision of Pope Benedict XVI" (2005, Doubleday). Moynihan's blog can be found at He can be reached at:
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments today on remarks made yesterday by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood:

Planned Parenthood is getting restless knowing that its abortion-happy health care reforms are on the skids. Cecile Richards is now accusing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops of seeking to make “American women second-class citizens.” And that’s just the danger they are doing at home. Abroad, “their hard-line opposition to women’s rights also endangers millions of women around the globe.” Why they haven’t been locked up, she does not say.

Richards was recently summoned to the White House to discuss health care reform. Is this the kind of advice she was given—to lash out at Catholic bishops? If not, then someone needs to rein her in before the whole health care package blows up in their face.

Richards is either ignorant or lying when she says “comprehensive reproductive health care [is] supported by the majority of Americans.” In fact, nearly two in three Americans (63 percent) favor laws preventing the use of taxpayer funds for abortions. But no matter, data never convince ideologues.

This is great. The American people are called fascists by U.S. Congressmen because they oppose the health care bills now on the table, and Catholic bishops are told by one of the leading proponents of health care reform that they are a threat to human rights. This is the politics of self-destruction on steroids.

Cafeteria Catholics: the results of my Pope Benedict survey

Cafeteria Catholics: the results of my Pope Benedict survey

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As usual, I am out of step with not only society at large, but many of my Catholic brethren as well. Holy Father said somewhere along the line that we may get smaller to remain strong. I think he is no doubt correct.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pope Benedict: A Pontiff With a Plan

Posted on 08/03/09 by scottarbuckle
Scott’s Catholicism Blog
By Scott P. Richert

Tuesday July 21, 2009 – The recent release of Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, followed the very next day by a motu proprio on the unity of the Church (Ecclesiae unitatem), has reinforced a sense that I have had ever since the Holy Father’s election in 2005: This is a pontiff with a plan.

Because of his age, Pope Benedict has always known that his would not be one of the longest pontificates in the history of the Catholic Church, but he seems determined to make it one of the most significant in recent centuries. And considering the men who have occupied the Chair of Peter in the 19th and 20th centuries, that’s a tall order.

Yet the Holy Father is well on his way to fulfilling it. In his now-famous address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005, he set forth a plan to show to the world that there is no such thing as a “pre-Vatican II” and a “post-Vatican II” Church, but simply One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, upholding an unbroken Tradition from the time of the Apostles.

That required that Vatican II be interpreted through a “hermeneutic of reform” rather than a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” which has characterized both proponents of the “spirit of Vatican II” and traditionalist critics of the council.
And Benedict set about putting his own words into action. He signed the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on June 29, 2007, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Summorum Pontificum freed priests to use the Traditional Latin Mass, and the date was significant: The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch sends representatives to Rome each year to take part in the celebration of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (and sometimes comes himself). The Orthodox have long been concerned about the decline of the liturgy in the Western Church, and the revival of the Traditional Latin Mass was seen as a major step in the right direction.

The motu proprio was released to the public on July 7, 2007—a date that takes on greater significance this year, in light of the release of Caritas in veritate on the same date. Three days after the release of Summorum Pontificum, which was an overture to the traditional Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), Pope Benedict authorized the public release of “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church.” It, too, was dated June 29, 2007, and it addressed another major concern of traditionalists—namely, the Catholic understanding, expressed in the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, of the nature of the Church—and, by extension, the nature of those other churches and Christian communities that are not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Now, two years later, Pope Benedict has delivered a similar one-two punch. Caritas in veritate, as I have noted, is an extended exercise in the “hermeneutic of reform,” taking another document long criticized by traditionalists—Pope Paul VI’s 1967 social encyclical Populorum progressio—and situating it squarely within the mainstream of traditional Catholic social teaching. Delivered on the same date (July 7) as Summorum Pontificum (and signed on June 29, as Summorum Pontificum and “Responses” were), the message could not be clearer: All of these documents forum part of a unified plan to clear up confusion and misconceptions that have reigned in the Church since the closing of Vatican II.

Part two was the release of Ecclesiae unitatem the very next day. This motu proprio may seem unexciting, simply announcing the folding of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but what it signals is far more important. As far as Pope Benedict is concerned, all liturgical questions raised by the SSPX schism have been answered, and the groundwork has been laid for addressing the remaining doctrinal questions.
As the Holy Father notes in Ecclesiae unitatem,

"The duty to safeguard the unity of the Church, with the solicitude to offer everyone help in responding appropriately to this vocation and divine grace, is the particular responsibility of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, who is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of both bishops and faithful. And thus it is significant that the results of all doctrinal discussions with the SSPX will be submitted “to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff.”

It is important always to keep in mind that the pope—any pope—is a man, and subject to personal failings. Even though he cannot err when speaking ex cathedra on a matter of faith or morals, he can make mistakes on practical matters.

Yet at many points in the history of the Church, when the Faith seemed most under attack and the Church Herself has seemed in disarray, the Holy Spirit has raised up a Supreme Pontiff who has led the Church out of Her troubles in truth, in charity, and in prudence.
I cannot help but feel that we might be in one of those times now.