Conservatives have championed Benedict's move to bring about a more orthodox faith to the church, even at the expense of popularity among liberals.
"Benedict understands his mission as custodian of the faith," said the Rev. Robert Gahl Jr., an Opus Dei priest and professor of moral philosophy at Rome's Pontifical Holy Cross University. "The pope has little interest in opinion polling and focus groups. He is not going to adjust the doctrine according to popular opinion or majority belief. Benedict's aim is to unite the church around the faith handed down by Jesus, the church's founder."
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, reached out to both dissidents and members of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X in an anniversary editorial this weekend, urging unity as the pope begins his eighth year.
"It is our hope that dissenting groups will hear his invitation to be in communion with the church and receive this invitation with respect and attention, and with an understanding of its significance," Lombardi wrote. And he added that he hoped the Vatican II anniversary "might be an occasion to promote the proper and objective understanding of the council as a 'compass of the church of our time.'"
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