In the current ecclesial landscape, there are Catholics who loyally and fiercely support the Church against the immoral demands of the secular West: they are outspoken opponents of abortion, same-sex marriage, and government encroachments on religious freedom. They adhere to the true teachings of Vatican II as expressed by the Council fathers, not the liberal “spirit” as falsely advanced by what Benedict recently called the “Council of the media.” Their theological standard is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and they are employing it to foster the New Evangelization.
Let us call this perspective the “new orthodoxy,” the position of not a few Catholics in their late forties and fifties, and of a growing number of American bishops, as well as many cardinal electors in the coming conclave. To be orthodox is to hold as true the teachings of the faith, and this group does so with conviction.
Yet the “new orthodox” typically lack something. “Orthodoxy” means “right worship,” but right worship according to Vatican II – a solemn liturgy in which the priest and faithful glorify God together – is not a major concern of the Catholics in this group. Instead, they prefer the people-centered orientation that is the principal feature of the Novus Ordo. At the same time, they remain uninterested in or even hostile to both liturgical beauty as modeled by Benedict and the traditional Latin Mass.
The second group inside the conservative camp, generally of a slightly younger age, shares the same goals as the “new orthodox,” but for them reverently celebrated liturgy is the ultimate standard of orthodoxy. They believe wholeheartedly in the maxim lex orandi, lex credendi – how and what we pray directly influences how and what we believe. For these Catholics, the liturgically minded pontificate of Benedict XVI has brought a great deal of hope and energy to the Church. Let us call this second group the “Benedictines.”