Wed 22nd Oct 2014 | Last updated: Wed 22nd Oct 2014 at 18:57pm

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

Benedict XVI is offering extraordinary leadership on liturgy and the environment

Seven years in, the Pope has inspired Catholics and shown he has an authentic vision for the Church

By on Friday, 20 April 2012

Benedict XVI has charmed the faithful with his holiness and humility (PA photo)

Benedict XVI has charmed the faithful with his holiness and humility (PA photo)

Yesterday I had the great pleasure and honour of celebrating the Mass for the Pope “especially on the anniversary of election”, as the newly translated Roman Missal has it. In my edition, the Mass is to be found on page 1304.

Seven years have passed since Josef Ratzinger was raised to the throne of Peter. As one who has loyalty to the Pope in his DNA, I think it has been a great, even an exciting, seven years. Benedict XVI has got a vision for the Church, and this has been advanced on several fronts.

Firstly, he wants the liturgy to be the place where we experience the touch of the divine more visibly and more easily than heretofore. This is now happening, thanks to Summorum Pontificum, the new translation of the Roman Missal, and, perhaps most importantly of all, the intangible sense that there is abroad that we ought to take care and time in preparing for the liturgy, and ensure we celebrate it with as much dignity as possible.

Second, he is the Pope of Christian unity; here we have Anglicanorum coetibus as the guiding light that will re-establish unity with those who have longed for it for decades. Thanks to the Pope, this can now happen. It will be a slow process, but it has begun, and it will continue.

Third, he is the Pope of dialogue. He has underlined the need for proper dialogue with the world of Islam and he has established a firm basis for it in all his speeches on the topic, especially that famous Regensberg lecture. This is a welcome development. Likewise, he has made several efforts to engage at a substantive level with unbelievers, which has had some success outside the English-speaking world, where such academic endeavours command a degree of respect.

Finally, though many have not paid attention to this, he has made some interesting theological interventions on environmental questions. (You can read about that here.)

Perhaps most visibly of all, the Pope has won the hearts and minds of many ordinary Catholics and many non-Catholics too with his charm and humility. This was always something of a well-kept secret when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, but even in those days people who bumped into him in the street always came away with a warm impression of his character. Now vast crowds have experienced his warmth, which springs, I think, from his holiness of life.

I have never met the Pope, sadly, but I love and admire him. Long may he reign! Ad multos Annos!

  • CTEditor


  • Benedict Carter

    For the serious reader and thinker about Catholicism, here is a link to an extremely interesting article about the Pope’s theological thinking. 

    This has been one of the most helpful contributions to my own understanding of where this Pope is coming from. 

    A worrying article it is too.

  • Apostolic


  • Adam

     And soon may the good Father be titled Bishop!

  • Richard

    If you liked that then you’ll like this….

  • Benedict Carter

    Had a quick scan, will read later more fully.

    My own take on this Pope is that even from the late ’60′s he saw the way things were collapsing and reined in his own views, which have modified over the subsequent years. Now, facing the Four Last Things, he has tried at last to plant the seeds that will return the Church to sanity in the years that lie ahead, but he has not been able to, or chooses not to, escape the net of his earlier errors completely. 

  • William L. Patenaude

    For a study of the Holy Father’s use of ecology as a tool in the New Evangelization, visit  

  • Bonello Richard

    I was delighted to come across Fr Alexander Lucie Smith’s Blog. I’m almost certain I can count Fr Alexander as yet another old-boy of mine ( and St Edward’s College – Malta) to have been ordained a priest. My local Parish Priest St Julian’s Malta as well as the present chaplain at the University of Malta are two other old-boys who are now serving the Church as priests. Keep up the good work!
    Richard Bonello ….(Mr Bonello) 

  • Alexander Lucie-Smith

    Mr Bonello….. how lovely to hear from you after all these years! Warm best wishes! ALS

  • musore

    If “the touch of the divine” is to be expressed in clunk and at times unintelligible transliteration then I feel sorry for the Holy Spirit!

  • theroadmaster

    The present Holy Father seeks genuine renewal of the Church through arguments based on reason and illuminated by Faith.  His self-effacing demeanor belies a steely intellectual rigor which he has displayed very effectively in his weekly audiences, published works and encyclicals.  The promotion of a reinvigorated transcendent Liturgy based on beauty and doctrinal truth, as evidenced in 
    Summorum Pontificum, and the upcoming New Evangelization project which will be carried out later this year, demonstrate Benedict XV1′s firm commitment to the course set forth by the great Council, Vatican 11.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    Fr Lucie-Smith’s headline writer hits the nail on the head when he describes the Pope’s leadership as “extraordinary”.

  • Patrickhowes

    How nice to see Catholics starting to agree.This is what The Holy Father is teaching us,to all sing of the same hymn sheet.May be in high,medium or low putch but the same hymn or more to the point the same Mass(not service as Iam increaisngly seeing everywhere).Yep would love to see FatherAlex as a Bishop and one day Cardinal.He like the Holy Father never waivers …..

  • Oconnord

    Why are countries which were devout so quick in moving away? 

  • Patrickhowes

    Because either the leadership of the local Bishops is atrocious or the politicians begin an anti catholic,anti everything campaign.Mr Blair and his wife were supposed to be Catholics,yet they enacted anti Catholic laws.Mr Cameron wants everyone to go to Church but then wants to push a gay marriage bill on us when there is no public sentiment for it!.The exceptions to these are Malta,Poland and Chile where the politicians have stood by their conscience!.Poland once free from the dark days of communism,struck down the abortion on demand law.Malta bravely has protected its pro life laws within the EEC.Last week President Piñera of Chile made it clear that he would vetoe any attempt to waterdown Chile´s constitutional protection of the unborn.The vote was lost in the senate by three votes.We need good solid Catholic politicians and GOOD QUALITY BISHOPS please Holy Father!The green shoots that are beginning to come through,will then be green pastures of Faith and commitement.

  • Benedict Carter

    Slovakia is another. 

    Yes, the quality of Bishops is very, very poor or even worse – how many of them actually believe in the Catholic religion is an open question. Many have been renegades and betrayers of the faith over the last fifty years. We have to ask ourselves why they are appointed in the first place. 

    The biggest reason has not been mentioned: the throwing down of the doctrinal and disciplinary ramparts after Vatican II in a wholesale protestant revolution within the Church Herself which has done more damage than even Luther et al managed. 

  • buckle


    Larson’s obsession with B16′s ‘heresy’ has been refuted by your good friend Michael Davies.

    On the subject of links, try this ‘person’ out:

    The key to understand the collapse of the Church is not tiresome conspiracy theories about modernists. The problem was the war(s).

    Cardinal Heenan knew that this country (and Poland) were behind the trouble in 1939 and not Germany. When Germany was finally conquered, he instinctively sensed that there was going to be problems (spiritual blowback?) and was one of the “prophets of doom” of which JXXIII complained. What even JH could not have suspected was the impact defeat, conquest, occupation and denazification programs had caused German theology. Indeed many theologians from the countries of the original “EEC 6″ were similarly troubled as a result of the events of 1939-45 and this spilled over into the Council. As like Germany, all the original 6 had been conquered and experienced defeat and occupation during the war.

    Pope Benedict and Vatican II itself are the inevitable product of this chaos. A chaos started by hawks in the UK as much as anywhere else despite the claims to the contrary by historians and Hollywood.

  • Benedict Carter

    I don’t think it was poor Poland who invaded Germany, was it? 

    Of course it was the neo-Modernists and neo-Protestants whose victory Vatican II was. But I do accept that the chaos of two world wars undoubtedly formed an important part of the back-drop.

    Will rad your link, thanks for it.