While scanning my RSS feeds this morning I noticed that Gerald at the Cafeteria found an article in a publication I nearly never pay attention to: Commonweal. They published something by a Rite Ferrone on the Motu Proprio.
Commonweal will have other articles on the MP available. As Commonweal puts it:
Editors’ note: This is a preview of our August 17 issue, which will contain four responses to Pope Benedict’s Summorum pontificum, which will make the so-called Tridentine Mass more widely available than it has been since Vatican II. The other respondents will be Peter Jeffery, Joseph Komonchak, and Bernard P. Prusak.
Gosh, I cam barely contain my excitment at what they might say. Still, if one of you kind readers has access to the online edition, and can provide those other articles, I am sure we will all be grateful.
Let’s take a look at what they put online as a preview.
My emphases and comments.
July 13, 2007 / Volume CXXXIV, Number 13
A Step Backward
The Latin Mass Is Back
Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum pontificum gives broad permission for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. [Broad permission is what John Paul II had called for in 1988. Had it been done, we would have this MP now.] The motu proprio also permits use of preconciliar liturgical rites for all the sacraments, with the exception of ordination. [WRONG! The bishops for years could use the older Pontifical. And they can now also.] It lays the groundwork for the creation of two liturgical establishments within the Latin-rite Catholic Church-one worshiping according to rites mandated by the Council of Trent, the other according to rites mandated by the Second Vatican Council.
It was not the intention of Vatican II, or of the popes who implemented it, to create a situation in which two forms of the Roman rite would exist side by side. [Yah… well… times change, hun.] The liturgical reform of the council was intended as a true reform, addressing genuine problems of the old liturgy for the good of the church as a whole. [Yes, and the Council also required that no change be made to the liturgy unless the true good of the faithful demanded it. So, from the very beginning the reform desired by the Council Fathers went astray.] Now, with the stroke of a pen, Pope Benedict has made that reform optional. [Why can’t we be pro-choice?] Individual priests may use the preconciliar rites at will, and groups of the faithful who ask for celebrations according to the preconciliar norms may not be refused them. [Not quite. They could certainly be refused if there were a good reason to do so.]
No one familiar with the liturgical views of the present pope will be greatly surprised by his decision. While still a cardinal, Benedict expressed displeasure with the course of liturgical reform since the council, and in various ways he supported a revival of the Tridentine liturgy. It was the support of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that encouraged Pope John Paul II to give the original indult in 1984 permitting use of Tridentine rites, despite the near-unanimous opposition of the world’s bishops. [This seems overstated. Even the Commission of Cardinals before the original Indult recommended a wider permission than what we actually got in the Indult.] The professed aim of the indult was to reconcile traditionalist Catholics who, under the leadership of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X he founded, were headed for schism. It did not work – the schism occurred anyway. Nevertheless, the indult was broadened in 1988-this time without any consultation of bishops [Hmmm… This is the second time "consultation" has been mentioned in such a way as to suggest that the Pope was obliged to consult, but instead violated some unwritten rule.] – and a commission was founded to tend to the needs of those who were committed to the Tridentine liturgy.
At least as important for understanding the origins of Summorum pontificum, however, is a different phenomenon that arose at the same time: A small but vocal group of Catholics began to call for a “reform of the reform” of the liturgy for the church across the board. They are not schismatics, like the Lefebvrites, but they are interested in the restoration of Tridentine liturgical forms and the marginalization of the reformed liturgy. They found a champion and supporter in the future Benedict XVI. [The author is confused. Those who actually adopted the phrase "reform of the reform" were not in fact advocating a return of the older form of Mass. Rather, they wanted to bring the way Mass is celebrated into conformity with what the Second Vatican Council actually mandated: which were actually very few points. The older form of Mass had to be a starting point, but the goal was to be what the Council Father’s asked for, not what we got from the Consilium.]
The most visible proponent of this agenda was Msgr. Klaus Gamber of the liturgical institute in Regensburg, Germany. He became known outside scholarly circles when he published a popular [And thus not limited to narrow group of zealots?] book in 1984, which appeared in English in 1993 under the title The Reform of the Roman Liturgy. [Again, the author is confused. The volume she cites is not a "book", in the sense of a work written as a unit. This volume present two separate essays.] Gamber did not reject the council. He regarded the liturgical movement leading up to the council as a generally positive phenomenon. Nevertheless, he was highly sympathetic to the restorationist cause. Gamber believed the crusade to reestablish the preconciliar liturgy too important to be left to “a small group of fanatics” who reject the council outright. Yet his horror at the reforms that followed the council was hardly any less dramatic than theirs:
Great is the confusion! Who can still see clearly in this darkness? Where in our church are the leaders who can show us the right path? Where are the bishops courageous enough to cut out the cancerous growth of modernist theology that has implanted itself and is festering within the celebration of even the most sacred mysteries before the cancer spreads and causes even greater damage?…We can only hope and pray that the Roman Church will return to Tradition and allow once more that liturgy of the Mass which is well over 1,000 years old. [Gamber was not strictly advocating a complete return to the older form of Mass. What he was trying to point out were damaging "reforms" imposed on the Roman Rite which constituted a break with the Rite and with tradition. His Holiness in Summorum Pontificum breaks with Gamber on the point of the continuity between the older form and newer form. Gamber thought the newer form was legitimate, but the changes made to create it (artificially) were so substantive that it was really a separate Rite. I think one day we are going to have to have a serious debate about this question. Benedict XVI solved the problem from the JURIDICAL point of view in Summorum Pontificum. His elegant solution removed the need for priests to have any permission from authority to use the older form beyond the normal permission simply to say Mass at all. That was an elegant JURIDICAL solution. I am not, however, of the mind that that juridical solution resolved the deeper question, perhaps even for the Pope himself. Remember: a juridical solution doesn’t mean that all historical-theological-ecclesiological questions about the Rite are thereby closed.]
Gamber also expressed a definite view about the current Mass. He wanted it not to be considered the Roman rite, but merely retained as a rite ad experimentum until it dies out. Ratzinger found these extreme [There is nothing extreme about these views. How could a Rite in use for hundreds of years be swept aside and some new interloper of a few short years suddenly be considered as stable and a success needing no changes?] views congenial, and oddly enough, deemed them moderate. [This would not be odd to a reasonable person.] He wrote a preface to the French edition of Gamber’s book, calling him “the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the church.” [Here is a truly important point. Some people, usually toward the progressivist side of things but not on the extreme left, think the "center" is the majority. ]
Another partisan of the “reform of the reform,” Alcuin Reid, OSB, of Farnborough, England, published The Organic Development of the Liturgy in 2004. In giving a positive review to Reid’s book, Ratzinger voiced some of his own views on liturgical reform. He opined that scholars and experts were heeded too much after the council, and that although pastors should have had more of a voice, pastoral insights are unreliable. “Because…people’s judgments as to what is pastorally effective are widely divergent,” Ratzinger wrote, “the ‘pastoral’ aspect has become the point at which ‘creativity’ breaks in, destroying the unity of the liturgy.” Once you’ve eliminated scholarship, expertise, and pastoral judgment, what basis remains for constructive liturgical reform? Clearly, the deck is stacked against the acceptance of any reform whatsoever. In his letter accompanying the motu proprio, Benedict chides [Does he really "chide"? I don’t think so.] those bishops who believe that expanding the use of the Tridentine liturgy will detract from the standing of the Second Vatican Council, of which the reformed liturgy was sign and symbol. Yet surely the bishops’ concerns are justified. [Really? Is the based on the fabulous renewal parishes have experienced in the last 40 years?]
Indeed, the traditionalists Benedict wants to conciliate [Hang on. This is not only about the conciliation of traditionalists. The MP was about far more.] do not simply reject the Mass of Paul VI – they reject the conciliar theology [Not all of them, no. Most people on that side of things simply want Mass celebrated reverently. Certainly there are those who have theological concerns, such as questions about the Council’s document on religious liberty but these will not be the majority of the people who frequent the older Mass..] it embodies. The Society of St. Pius X published a defense of their position in 2001, The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, which showed that their opposition to the liturgical reforms of the council is profoundly theological. [See above.] They argue, for example, that the idea of the paschal mystery is out of keeping with the true meaning of the Mass. The paschal mystery has been consistently proposed in council documents, papal pronouncements, and all the official teachings of the church since the council as the key to the whole liturgical reform. One would have to look hard to find a concept more universally accepted since the council, yet the traditionalists reject it. ["the traditionalists" cannot be painted with such a brush. I believe this is inaccurate.] In their view, the Mass is only about the expiation of sin. [Again, I think this is inaccurate. For how long have we taught and learned that prayer has many aims, including praise of God?] The Resurrection has nothing to do with it. [B as in B. S as in S. This is simply ridiculous.] Their glad welcome of the pope’s motu proprio should give every Catholic pause. [Fear monger.]
In addition to the council’s emphasis on the paschal mystery, other core values [bzzzzzz] of the council are called into question by the pope’s move to reestablish the Tridentine rites. The council emphasized the role of Scripture in the life of the church, and this value was richly reflected in the liturgical reform. The old lectionary had a one-year cycle of readings. Almost all of the Gospel passages were taken from St. Matthew. There were no Old Testament readings on Sunday. The sacraments and many of the weekdays had no readings assigned to them at all. [Yes… what a blessing that was.] When the council fathers decreed that the Catholic faithful should have richer fare at the table of God’s Word, they were making a pastoral move of immense consequence. The three-year lectionary cycle was an outgrowth of the renaissance in Catholic Scripture scholarship in the mid-twentieth century and repeated papal urgings to dwell on the sacred texts with an avid mind and an open heart. [That came somewhat before the Council.] According to the USCCB Web site, the so-called Extraordinary Form of the Missale Romanum (1962) includes 1 percent of the Old Testament and 17 percent of the New Testament, whereas the Ordinary Form (what most Catholics use now) includes 14 percent of the Old Testament, and 71 percent of the New Testament. Benedict XVI’s motu proprio implies that none of this, in the end, is essential or even very important. [This is simply daft. The Motu Proprio doesn’t imply anything of the kind. The writer seems to know that the older form is the "Extraordinary Form" not the Ordinary. This Pope has never implied that Scripture is not important or that the expanded use of Scripture in Mass was not beneficial. What she wrote is simply mendacious.] Those who celebrate according to Tridentine rites may use the new lectionary or not, as they choose. [Not really. But even if it were true, doesn’t that militate against what she is claiming about what the MP provides for>] The biblical-liturgical synthesis of Vatican II is now optional. [And Choice is bad, if it allows you to choose something I don’t agree with. Is that it?]
Before the council, women were forbidden to serve in liturgical ministries. They were kept outside the sanctuary-a very old taboo perceived by many today as sexist and out of keeping with our sense of the dignity of the baptized. This prohibition was ended after Vatican II. The third directive on the right implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Liturgicae instaurationes, 1970), admitted women to various liturgical ministries which are exercised in the sanctuary-such as that of reader or musician. They now also serve in the sanctuary as extraordinary ministers of Communion, and as altar servers.
They may not do so in the Tridentine rites. [Big deal.] Thus, each additional celebration according to Tridentine rites increases the number of occasions when women are kept out of the sanctuary. An outdated and harmful exclusion that was done away with for good reason is being encouraged. [The MP is not anti-woman. This is dopey.]
It is hard to credit the pope’s claim that his edict is intended for the benefit of the faithful. [This strikes me as simply snotty. ] How can it be “for the benefit of the faithful” to return to a ritual of baptism in which the parents of infants say nothing? [How can it be for the benefit of the faithful to eliminate a rite of baptism in use for so long? How can it benefit the faithful to have eliminated the exorcisms? Why does talk from the parents make the newer rite better? Do we no longer believe in mediation? Does everything today have to be of the "serve it my way" or "I did it my way" self-centered style so characteristic of the post-Christian age? ] In the spirit of ecumenism, the liturgy that came out of Vatican II eliminated the abjuration of heresy and schism that non-Catholics made before being admitted to Catholic communion. [AND THAT IS BAD….WHY?? Should the Church admit people who are still heretics? Who deny Catholic teachings? Should it admit people who don’t submit to the Church’s authority?] How can we justify reviving such practices today? There was no catechumenate in the Tridentine church, despite a crying need around the world for this liturgical structure of evangelization and formation. [Okay… this is getting hysterical. The Church had amazing conversions and missionary work before the Council.] How can we deprive adult converts of the catechumenate-which canon law now requires them to have? [The writer, again, is being stupid about this. The Motu Proprio does not DENY a period for formation for converts.] The reform of the liturgy was not a mere matter of aesthetic preferences, of “contemporary relevance” versus “timeless mystery,” of Latin versus the vernacular. The reformed liturgy embodies the values of the council in innumerable ways. [But I am seriously beginning to doubt that the writer actually understands what the Council meant, or what the older form of Mass (and the the pre-Conciliar period) was about.
Given the series of concessions that have already been made to Catholic traditionalists, [The Party Line: "We’ve already done enough for these … people!"] and the radical views [I consider her views, and those of her way of thinking, to be radical.] and program of those to whom this pope has given his approval and endorsement in the past, it is difficult to believe that with Summorum pontificum a definitive compromise has been reached and the matter will end there. A more plausible understanding of the present moment is that it marks another step toward a goal that the vast majority of Catholics would not countenance if it were openly acknowledged-namely, the gradual dismantling of the liturgical reform in its entirety. [Does this smack of paranoia to you?]
Could such a plan ever succeed? That remains to be seen. I believe that the Second Vatican Council and its reforms were the work of the Spirit. Yet these reforms were also the work of human hands, and in this respect they are vulnerable. We do ourselves no favors by pretending otherwise.
What a weird rant.
Perfectly consistent with Commonweal.