Dear Editor: While your editorial (“The Legacy of Benedict,” March 5) rightly praises Pope Emeritus Benedict for the clarity of his writings and homilies, which perfectly present the beauty, truth and wisdom of our rich Catholic faith, it fails to mention one of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s greatest gifts to the Church, the motu propio “Summorum Pontificum,” which restored the ancient liturgy to our churches for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of his people.
The recovery of the Mass of the ages has been a cornerstone of the New Evangelization, throughout the world and in our own Diocese of Brooklyn. The Latin Tridentine Mass which has nourished saints throughout history is now leading to a greater participation of the laity, an increase in grace and has provided a wellspring of vocations to the priesthood.
Long Live Pope Emeritus Benedict!
Robert A. Lepore
Long Island City
Dear Editor: I was happy to see a few words (March 5) about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he seems to have been largely forgotten by many Catholics.
For what it’s worth, I am hardly a scholar but I found his writings quite clear and inspiring, and I appreciated that he did not seem to be “talking down” to his flock. It will likely be impossible to fully assess or appreciate his papacy until much more time has passed, but I must note that any such appraisal cannot exclude his teachings and reforms in the area of the liturgy. It was very refreshing to have a pope who – as evidenced by his pre-papal writings – truly understood the spirit and ethos of the liturgy, and strove to have it celebrated worthily and with dignity befitting its worth.
In that vein, his letter, “Summorum Pontificum,” not only eliminated most of the onerous restrictions on the use of the traditional Mass, i.e. “Extraordinary Form,” but he clearly explained his rationale and how he hoped it would benefit the Church. Perhaps the average Catholic does not see the point to the whole thing, but one need only speak with seminarians and younger priests to learn how many of them have been profoundly affected by “Summorum Pontificum.”
Failing to mention it in an account of Benedict’s papacy is a bit like chronicling Paul VI’s papacy without mentioning “Humanae Vitae.”
North Carver, Mass.
Dear Editor: It is incredible to me that you would not have mentioned probably the two most important acts of Pope Benedict during his pontificate:
- His freeing the traditional Latin rite (Tridentine, if you will) from the trammels of abusive authority.
- His lifting of the excommunications of the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.
These courageous acts have had, and will have, enormous effects in the Church, like them or not.
David P. Lane
Dear Editor: I am writing to say that the editorial “The Legacy of Benedict” (March 5) missed two very important contributions during that glorious pontificate.
1) The motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”:
In the document, issued on his own initiative, Benedict clarified that the traditional Mass had never been juridically abrogated. Because of the opposition that was expected, he attached a letter explaining clearly that he was reaching out to a particular part of the Church that had been marginalized. He showed mercy to a part of the Church that, despite its growth, had been ignored, neglected, ridiculed and openly opposed simply because this group preferred to worship God using the ancient Liturgy.
2) Lifting the excommunication of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.
Benedict’s second truly charitable and selfless act was the lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX Bishops. He did not want this Society to continue in an uncertain canonical status or be labeled schismatics without a clear foundation for the accusations. And Benedict did this at the expense of his own reputation and peace because he was viciously attacked for having done it.
Since Benedict’s “Summorum Pontificum,” the number of traditional Masses offered has increased and many more people are (re)discovering the immemorial liturgical treasures of the Catholic Church.
Since the superbly charitable act of withdrawing the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops, we have seen greater acts of charity toward them. The most public one being the one shown by Pope Francis in this Year of Mercy, granting the SSPX priests faculties to hear confessions.
Eddy José Toribio