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Can A Dead Language Resurrect A Dying Church?

German born Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, recently resurrected the Latin Mass, after years of its absence. He then suggested that only Catholics were true Christians. This should come as no surprise, because Pope Benedict is known for his conservative views. The question it raises however is, in an era where the Catholic Church has increasingly come under attack, because of generations of priests engaging in illicit sex and pedophilia, can Latin, a dead language, resurrect a dying Catholic Church?

When Latin was commonly recited at Mass, most congregants felt aomewhat removed from the service. What took place at Mass was primarily done by rote, which created an unspoken disconnect between worshippers and their Church. They attended mass mostly by force of habit, not because they derived a sense of spiritual fulfillment. No thought is given to what congregants recite. Little emphasis is placed on understanding what is being recited. The Rosary is learned by rote, as are the responses. Through the centuries mystery has proven to be a useful tool for the Churchís hierarchy. Under the old Church system, there was no way of communing with God directly. In prayer a variety of saints serve as intercessors. Confession is done before a priest, who then acts as an intermediary with God, seeking forgiveness for the supplicant. The dissolution of marriages has to have the blessing of the Churchís hierarchy, in order for one to remain in good standing with the Church. Moreover, the power of the Holy See is absolute. All of which tend to work against the Churchís growth in an age of enlightenment.

According to Wikipedia, since the 1950s, Pope Benedict XVI has been one of the best-known Catholic theologians and a prolific author, Benedict XVI is viewed as a defender of traditional Catholic doctrine and values. Benedict XVI was elected Pope at the age of 78, making him one of the oldest since Pope Clement XII (1730-40). Herein possibly lies the rub, as Shakespeare might say. He had served longer than any Cardinal than any Pope since Benedict XIII (1724-30). As Cardinal Ratzinger Pope Benedict had a distinguished career as a university theologian before being appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI. Even before becoming Pope Ratzinger was one of the most influential men in the Roman Curia and was a close associate of John Paul II. As Dean of the College of Cardinals, he presided over the funeral of John Paul II and over the Mass preceding the 2005 conclave in which he was elected.

Clearly his bona fides are impressive, however, unlike John Paul II, who opened the gates of the Catholic Church wide and served as an international good will ambassador for the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict appears to be xenophobic. The Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI, is reversing the reforms of the Vatican II Council in the 1960s. He is set in his ways and at his age, isnít likely to change. He has made a number of missteps in his short time as Pope. To my knowledge, he has yet to apologize for the sins of the Church, which are well documented and stretch for generations. What he has said about other Christians tends to alienate other Christians from the Catholic Church. And while it is true that Christianity sprung from the Catholic Church, other Christian denominations have been well established. To call them less than Christian isnít how one goes about winning friends and influencing people. Resurrecting the Latin Mass at a time when many Priests donít even know the language, is not only cumbersome it can only serve to create a deep chasm between the Church and its parishioners, which brings us back to the original question, can a dead language resurrect a dying Church?

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Cedric McClester is an award winning journalist who has written for local, national and international publications. He has a Masters of Science Degree in Education from New York's Fordham University. The Boston born journalist is married and resides in New York. Mr. McClester is the author of the leading selling book on the topic of Kwanzaa, the African-American cultural holiday. His latest effort is a childrens book entitled: The Legend of Nia Umoja, on the Gumbs and Thomas imprint.

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