The NYT has its coverage of the MP now. Shall we look at it together? My emphases and comments.
June 28, 2007
Wider Use of Latin Mass Likely, Vatican Officials Say
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and IAN FISHER
Pope Benedict XVI has signed a document that would allow more churches [Well…. okay, churches] to adopt the old Latin Mass that largely faded from use during the 1960s, when the groundbreaking Second Vatican Council opened the door to worship in the local vernacular, Vatican officials say.
The revival of what is known as [a distinction, good] the Tridentine Mass has long been promoted by Roman Catholic traditionalists, who say it is more moving, contemplative and historically authentic than the modern Mass.
But Pope Benedict has been hearing resistance from cardinals and bishops, many of them in Europe, who argue that the change would divide the church by promulgating two very different official rites. [There are already more than one Catholic rite, of course, but we get the point.]
They say that it could create rifts in smaller parishes that cannot agree which Mass to use, and that it would burden already overburdened members of the clergy, many of whom do not know Latin and were never trained to perform the older rite’s more complex choreography. [Odd that we find the word "choreography" both here and in the execrable editorial in The Tablet I fisked the other day. At least there is an admission in the word that steps are blocked out and care is needed.]
In the Tridentine Mass, the priest faces away from the congregation and prays, sometimes in a whisper, [As they do also in the newer Mass] in Latin, a language unfamiliar to most of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics. [There are prayerbookd available.] The Vatican II reformers intended the modern Mass to be more accessible by allowing [another distinction, good] the priest to face the congregation and to involve the worshipers in prayer and song, [ouch… mistake here in what "active participation" is about] mostly in their native language but including some passages in Latin [another mistake here: the Council wanted the language of Mass to remain Latin, while sometimes the vernacular could be used for some parts. We know what happened with that.].
The issue is not a compulsory return to the Tridentine rite [another distinction, good], which is named for the 16th-century Council of Trent that codified it. While it is increasingly popular in small pockets of the church, there seems to be no widespread demand for it [Okay… it is increasingly popular, but there is not… yet?… widespread demand?]. The document being discussed, [well, "finalized" probably] church officials say, would allow priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without asking for permission from their bishops. [sounds about right]
Under the current rules, priests must get permission. And while many bishops have granted it, some [most] have not, frustrating priests [This is about FAR MORE THAN PRIESTS. Very often journalists covering the Church slip into a mistake of focusing on clergy.] who wish to make the Tridentine Mass more widely available.
Catholic experts agree that the debate is not merely about ritual, but about the legacy of the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965. [Yes, there is wider issue. Let’s see what they do with this.]
Some Catholic traditionalists regard the introduction of the modern liturgy as the start of what they see as the church’s slide since Vatican II and hope that the Tridentine Mass will rejuvenate the faith. Church liberals fear that if the pope undermines the modern Mass, it may lead to the reversal of other Vatican II reforms, like more open relationships with other faiths[read: ecumenism… it always comes back to that, doesn’t it. However, I find it interesting that "traditionalists…. hope" and "liberals… fear".].
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton in England said he had freely and happily given permission for the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated in his diocese but opposed a change in the rules. [I wonder if this is so. I will check with priest friends there.]
“It might be taken by some to infer [worthy of what I call "episcopal subjunctive"] that Benedict himself is not entirely behind the reforms of the Vatican Council,” Bishop Conry said. “For many it’s a symbol and a flag.” [Yes, but a good bishop and his priests will be able to explain to their people how that is not the case. RIGHT?]
Although this change has been rumored to be in the works for years, even under Pope John Paul II, who died two years ago, the church has only recently signaled impending action.
In recent weeks several top officials, including the No. 2 at the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state, were quoted in news reports as saying that the document would be issued shortly. Vatican officials say that the pope has already signed it and that it will be released and go into effect before the pope starts vacation on July 9.
Cardinal DarÃo CastrillÃ³n Hoyos told a meeting of Latin American bishops in Brazil in May that Pope Benedict was motivated in part by his desire to bring back into the fold the members of the Society of St. Pius X, a schismatic group opposed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The society’s founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated in 1988 after consecrating four bishops without Vatican consent. He died in 1991. Cardinal CastrillÃ³n leads a Vatican commission created to try to reconcile the archbishop’s followers, who reportedly number about one million, [!] with the church.
In recent months some bishops in Germany, Belgium, Britain and France have strongly urged the pope not to issue the document, arguing that it would undermine their authority [the real issue] and cement the perception of a church out of line with modernity [the red herring]. The main bloc of opposition, church officials say, has come from France, where the Society of St. Pius X is strongest. [ironic, n’est-ce pas?]
In addition, Jews and Catholics involved in interfaith relations have expressed concerns to Vatican officials that the Tridentine liturgy still includes passages offensive to Jews. The liturgy for Good Friday, for instance, contains a prayer “for the conversion of the Jews.” [Yawn…. well… this is the NYT after all.]
The Rev. Keith Pecklers, a Jesuit liturgical scholar at the Gregorian University in Rome, said: “We’ve made tremendous progress in 40 years of Jewish-Christian relations since Vatican II. What will that mean now to return to a liturgy that prays for the conversion of the Jews on Good Friday? [Yawn…. well… this is the NYT after all.]
“I don’t think they’re considering all of the potential pitfalls.” [Yawn…. well… this is the NYT after all.]
It is possible that the document will be further delayed or even derailed, but those who know the pope say they doubt it. [Yes, this is possible. Until the day it is issued in the proper form, it is possible.]
The Rev. Joseph Fessio, an American Jesuit priest who has published the pope’s books, said: “Because he is such a deliberate person, it is hard for me to think that he will have done all these drafts and spent all this time and not publish it. If he really believes it would help the church and doesn’t do it because some bishops complain, then all he does is strengthen the position of those bishops who want to oppose him.” [A very good point from Fr. Fessio. To go back now would be disaster, worse than going forward int he face of opposition.]
The Tridentine Mass has loyal fans [UGH…. what is this, a Cubs game?] who will travel great distances to churches where it is still celebrated. In Rome last Sunday, about 30 people, many of them young foreigners, attended the 10:30 a.m. Mass at San Gregorio dei Muratori church. [They didn’t see the much larger congregation at Gesu e Maria on the V. del Corso.]
“It feels alien when you first start doing it,” said Leah Whittington, 27, [Young… this is not about nostalgia. Also, this is non-Roman finding a place in Rome with other non-Romans and Romans too.] an American graduate student. But, she said, “I just love Latin and feeling that 2,000-year connection to the church, and I find it easier to pray, because there is not a lot of conversation between the priest and the congregation.”
Peter Kiefer contributed reporting from Rome.
All in all, this wasn’t too bad was it? It reveals that someone did a little homework.