We have lived through fifty years of self-inflicted wounds, some very deep. John Paul II and Benedict XVI felt these traumas, of course, and they responded effectively. John Paul II spoke forcefully about the non-negotiable objectivity of moral truth and the unity of faith and reason. Benedict XVI emphasized the renewal of the liturgy and promoted firm theological standards. They knew that the Church cannot be salt and light if she is not true to herself.
The next pope will continue along the same lines, pressing forward with the reform of dysfunctional religious orders already, as well as securing greater consistency in seminary training. He will no doubt remind our relativistic culture of the reality of objective moral truth. But the tone will change. He’ll know first hand the foolishness of playing footsie with the increasingly hostile secular culture in the West.
This won’t mean a retreat from the Second Vatican Council and it’s wonderful confidence in the culture-shaping power of the gospel. The heroic generation will remain heroic. But a man who came of age when the Church was falling apart will know in a deep, primitive way that even sound teaching is empty and faithful proclamation ineffective when the household of faith is in disarray.
Thus my prediction: The college of cardinals will give us a pope who knows in his bones the evangelical power of a Church rests in its ability to stand against the world with both a spirit of charity and a coherent, effective inner discipline. Only then can the world hear again the gospel and choose to stand with the Church.
H/T William Doino