Under the entry Summorum Pontificum: my intro comments and the text one Paul Dion, who inter alia is the theology editor for Parish World, takes Pope Benedict to task for the Motu Proprio.
His comments exemplify some of the thought and attitudes of people who are opposed to Pope Benedict’s decsion. He merits special focus:
I am an unabashed admirer of BXVI. I have admired him since the late 50′s. My admiration has never waned. I admire him still, but I wholeheartedly disagree with him about his latest Motu Proprio. I do not have a "mandatum", but I do have an STL, and I earned it by knowing Latin fluently.
I have many reasons (about 4) that I can bring to the fore about why I am against this opinion of BXVI.
You seem to be very sure of yourself in this matter. Since you have offered that you have an STL, could you kindly let us know in what field and from which institution? I think it is germane to the discussion and you, after all, brought it up. It will help me understand what your approach is. A person steeped in liturgy will see this topic through a different lens than someone who studied pastoral theology. Getting to the point, I am surprised that someone with an STL calls the teachings offered by the Pope and provisions he decreed in Summorum Pontificum an "opinion". In a document like this, they are not opinions.
The main [reason] is this:I think that it is diametrically opposed to the Mission of Jesus Christ to "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." (Mk 10; 17 – 30) True Catholics are disciples of Jesus.
This strikes me as rather a good example of proof texting. I will wager our readers could find all sorts of Scripture passages that could take this in a different direction.
Disciples are not only about taking care of themselves, they are about reaching out to those who are sick and weak and need the grace of God in them. We are not true Catholics if we are not missionaries. Latin does not feed missionaries. It feeds those who are in love with what they feel when they hear a language that they do not even understand.
How does frequenting Holy Mass in Latin prevent anyone from performing spiritual or corporal works of mercy? Did it prevent St. Camillus of Lellis, or Bl. Theresa of Calcutta? Mass in Latin was the Mass that formed them when they began their work. Have we seen great figures like them raised up in the Church after the introduction of the vernacular? There has been time, after all.
And from the point of view of the poor, no one will be constrained to hear Mass in Latin. Mass in the older form will not be obligatory to anyone anywhere. And even if this were the case, just because a person is poor, that does not mean either that he is so stupid as to not understand what is going on or that he cannot be taught.
How does Latin prevent anyone from being ministered to?
What is needed more than the vernacular is sound liturgical catechesis. Once that is in place, Latin could enrich them, rather than limit them.
Somehow when the Church’s liturgical language was only Latin the missionary work of the Church thrived in a way it does not today. And while it is true that Catholics must be at the same time missionaries, one cannot at the same time a true Catholic and insist that people are ignorant.
Jesus never caved in to those who opposed him, even if they represented the majority. He was carrying the message of God the Father, not the wishes of the discontent. This in and of itself, to me, is a terrible about face on the part of Josef Ratzinger. Isn’t this the same guy who once said publicly, "if you don’t agree with the doctrine of the Catholic Church, you are free to go somewhere else?"
Worse and worse. Jesus, being God, had different lights than anyone ever in the goverance of His Church. Jesus’s reasons for what He did by far transcend our own. We can strive to emulate Him, but we must do so in our own vocations and according to our own lights and the proper use of authority which instructs us. Joseph Ratzinger has a vocation in the Church: he is Peter. He exercises the Petrine Ministy. These provisions in Summorum Pontificum are an act of Peter. I think it very slippery to oppose Peter to the will of Christ in the governance of His Church.
Furthermore, you seem not to have taken account of one the main purposes of Summorum Pontificum: it is intended to unite. It is intended to gather into unity also those whose unity with the Church is in question along with foster the unity of all others. It does so warmly and without recrimination. In just such a way Christ invited many to come to Him. Many whom He called found His teaching too hard and they did not following Him more closely.
But was it Christ’s intention to drive them away by His invitation?
Similarly, this invitation of Pope Benedict may not meet with perfect success in every case, but he cannot be faulted for not opening the door.
It is Peter’s role to be the reference point of unity, not of division, though sometimes division must be sadly foreseen for the sake of integrity. Of course people are free to leave the Church, but no one wants that people actually leave, though their departure might be foreseen.
Finally, this "leaving the Church" because of Latin rhetoric just smacks of, well, hysteria. It is a dramatic red herring.
I am not going anywhere, but I am not going to the Tridentine Mass either, even though I understand Latin and even though I can live the "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi" to the letter. I can also live the axiom of Paul, "Faith comes through hearing" (Romans 10;17). That means that if your have to be reading the translation, you are not living the basic tenets of how to acquire nor how to grow your faith.
You are very very sure of yourself, I think. I am not so presumptuous as to consider these things easy to fulfill "to the letter". If they are for you, God has given you special graces.
That said, today is the feast of the Chinese martyrs. I recall reading the story of a little girl murdered by the enemies of Christ. They did terrible things to her. The only Mass this poor little Chinese girl had ever heard was in Latin. In rural China they had no resources as we have today in wealthy Western countries. She won an unfading crown of glory. We could say the same for St. Maria Goretti or any of a number of saints whose names will pop into the minds of the readers here.
Say what you want, Latin is a dead language, there is no away that it can help to revivify the faith of the world.
A moment ago you said you were fluent. Or is that not, in fact, the case?
Latin lives whenever it is spoken and received.
Mr. Dion, I submit that even though you have an STL, you might not be qualified to make determinations about what can "help revivify the faith of the world". Perhaps you might not be qualified to say that Mass celebrated also in Latin cannot help.
Do you think that this could be the reason why BXVI did not have the theological part of his Motu Propio translated? How many bishops and priests do you think are going to be able to appreciate the finer points of the official language of the letter? This is the 21st century, wake uop and make it God’s.
Latin, being the official language of the Church (therefore living) is the reference point. No matter whether there are official translation or not, we have to consult the Latin. I suspect the official translations are not ready yet, because they are taking care to do them properly. I doubt there is anything nefarious involved.
Since you are so fluent in Latin, perhaps you can use your knowledge to help people understand and love the document. That is what a Catholic would do. That would be missionary work, a true work of spiritual mercy: instruct the ignorant… correct those who err.
In the final analysis, I believe I may have more confidence in the intelligence of bishops and priests than you do. The people most affected juridically by this document, bishops and priests, will understand the finer points.
Benedict XVI, being a fine teacher and a master of his material, has always been able to make difficult things understandable. This document is both teaching document and a juridical document. Before the MP goes into force, there is time to discuss it. Afterward, there is a Pontifical Commission which can clarify it.
Many people think everything, including what happens at Mass, must be instantly comprehensible by everyone everywhere all the time. That expectation merely calls for everything to be continually reduced to the lowest common denominator which, while not as low as you seem to think it is, is not a good expression of confidence in people who love Christ and will, from that love, desire to know more once they discover that the Faith is a deep ocean full of possibilities.
I think the primary readership of this document, namely, bishops and priests, fit this description. In their love for Jesus, the Church, and the flock, they will strive to understand and seek clarifications in the proper way and pass along what they understand.