Is the Catholic Church taking a turn to the right and, in the process, leaving the Vatican II reforms in the dust? It's a question that many Catholics are asking after Pope Benedict's decision to rescind the excommunications of four bishops of the "Society of Pope Pius X." The New York Times reports:
Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage. The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s four-year-old papacy has increasingly moved in line with traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.
On the "traditionalist movement" and anti-Semitism, John Allen of the NCR reported:
A troubled history with Judaism has long been part of the Catholic traditionalist movement associated with the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre — beginning with Lefebvre himself, who spoke approvingly of both the World War II-era Vichy Regime in France and the far-right National Front, and who identified the contemporary enemies of the faith as “Jews, Communists and Freemasons” in an Aug. 31, 1985, letter to Pope John Paul II.
Jewish groups are expressing everything from outrage to disappointment. And it looks like Benedict could end up cancelling his May visit to Israel. But left-leaning Catholics are also jumping in, asking why more efforts aren't being made to mend fences on their side of the aisle. Hans Kung seems to think that Benedict is out of touch, and “does not see that he is alienating himself from the larger part of the Catholic Church and Christianity. . . . He doesn’t see the real world. He only sees the Vatican world.” As such, perhaps a leaner Catholic Church will be Benedict's legacy. It all makes me wonder just how long the Hans Kungs of the church will hang around.