Have you read William Lind’s on Pope Benedict’s Counter-Reformation? Writing in the American Conservative, Lind points the way forward toward the reunion of the Western Church. His position may be utopian, but it is right on.
“For Rome, there is a possible way around this wall rather than over it: status quo ante. Anglican and Protestant congregations and jurisdictions joining in full communion with Rome would not be required to accept as doctrine anything postdating their split from Rome. The Catholic Church would lead a second Counter-Reformation by backing away from some of the first.
Before the Council of Trent (1545-63), which begat the Counter-Reformation, Rome’s hand rested lightly on national churches. For example, we think of the Roman Catholic Church as having a single rite, after Trent the Tridentine Rite and following Vatican II the sad and dispiriting Novus Ordo. Before Trent, Rome allowed a vast variety of rites, as she would again. England alone had three major rites and a host of minor ones in a country of 4 million people. Rome saw no problem as long as the rites for communion services followed what Dom Gregory Dix called “the shape of the liturgy.” Anglicans might again chant in the litany, “From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us.”
Pre-Trent, the same decentralization reigned in other matters as well. Kings generally had a good deal of say in who became a bishop. The Church might “volunteer” to pay some form of tax to a needy monarch. (After all, Church lands might make up a third of his kingdom.) When, occasionally, a Pope would overreach, king and bishops would come together to oppose him.
If Rome’s ambitions for a reunited Western Church go beyond Anglicans, and the Vatican is willing to bend beyond what the Apostolic Constitution currently offers, it may be time for Vatican III. The goal of such a council would be twofold: to sweep away obstacles to Christian unity stemming from the Council of Trent and Vatican I and reverse the disastrous consequences of Vatican II, including the vandalization of the liturgy and abandonment of practices (such as fish on Friday) that buttressed Roman Catholic identity among laymen. Ultramontane doctrinal innovations would all have to be on the table; they might remain for Roman Catholics but would not be required of others seeking full communion with Rome.”
Can Rome go this far and remain Rome? You bet they can. Organic development and growth is at the heart of the Roman experience. What can be more organic than to re-interpret the Counsel of Trent and subsequent councils in a way that offers a true hope of catholicity?
Pope Benedict XVI, it is time to be courageous and to save Christendom!