ROME Joseph Ratzinger, as a theologian and cardinal, returned to the question often over the years. And now that he is Pope Benedict XVI, his paper trail on the issue provokes skepticism about him among more liberal Roman Catholics. The question, in his own words: "Is the church really going to get smaller?"
At another point, in an interview published in 1997 in "Salt of the Earth," he explained it this way: "Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church’s history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world – that let God in."
The standard argument is that Benedict "wants a more fervent, orthodox, evangelical church – even if it drives people away," as a New Yorker headline put it recently.
Today Pope Benedict XVI revealed what he really meant and that he is ready for and committed to a smaller church as he presented a prototype smaller church. The large crowd at St. Peters square was stunned into silence as they pondered the meaning of a smaller church and that the idea will get some getting use to. Though some commented that it would sure cut down on maintenance and A/C and heating costs.
Critics have pointed out that even with the declining size of the priesthood that they would still not fit in this new church.
Some might consider this to be a radical idea, yet back in 1991 eminent American theologian Avery Cardinal Dulles anticipated this when he wrote Models of the Church.
Cardinal Mahoney of the Diocese of Los Angeles was also prepared to be in line with the Pope as he introduces his new smaller church which will be much more affordable considering all of the law suits he is going to need to settle. His liturgical scientists are still perfecting a way a way to miniaturize liturgical dancers through a technique similar to the what was in the movie Fantastic Voyage.
The smaller cathedral is also available for a price of $22 at the gift store.