NPR on the Motu Proprio: just about every error you can make

I was alerted by my friend Fr. AL, to whom I tip the tricorno   o{]:¬)  that the über-liberal National Public Radio on its Morning Edition had a piece by Sylvia Poggioli on the older form of Mass.  The title:

Catholics Concerned Latin Mass Not Progressive

With the exception of a strong accurate soundbite from my dear friend Raphaela Schmid of the Becket Institute (who recently produced a fabulous DVD/video "God In China"), this piece from NPR was ridiculous.  You can hear in it almost every cliché along with a strong does of hysteria. 

Some high points.  

Pope Benedict’s move harks to the Inquisition.

  • It is an attempt to turn back the clock.
  • This is a "counter reformation" against the Council and religious freedom.
  • Jews are offended.
  • It is slap in the face of John Paul II’s ecumenical efforts.
  • "Traditionalists" refer to the older Mass "in code"  (sound like a reference to that DaVinci thing?)
  • The old Mass will create divisions.
  • She gets one thing right: she says that Benedict is trying to reestablish a Catholic identity.

As you listen, remember that this is from NPR.
 

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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32 Responses to NPR on the Motu Proprio: just about every error you can make

  1. Kathy says:

    Um, gee, that was biased reporting!

    But it did get one thing right in the quote about intercommunion (which doesn’t happen with the knee-jerk frequency suggested, and is something many Catholic ecumenists avoid, but does happen). Progressives I know are avoiding the issue, with an attitude of unconcern–the familiar “I don’t expect anything to actually change in my diocese.”

  2. Thomas Burk says:

    I was once an aircraft accident investigator, and had a long career in aviation. I can assure you that NPR and many other media are completely incapable of reporting anything like the truth. I never believe anything they say, and you can double that for the taxpayer-supported NPR.

  3. Diogo Taveira says:

    “She gets one thing right: she says that Benedict is trying to reestablished a Catholic identity.”

    Or wasn’t His name Benedict.

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    One of the mistakes was in the NPR title:

    Catholics Concerned Latin Mass Not Progressive

    It should have read:

    Catholics Grateful Latin Mass Not Progressive

  5. Father Zuhlsdorf: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE record and post a reply to this piece of ersatz journalism so that we can pound the NPR email servers — with links to your counter-commentary — so that the TRUTH might get the chance to be heard!!!

  6. Vincentius says:

    I attended college in the first four years of the 1970s. It was a time of seeming hoplessness for the Church and her tradition. I thought Michael would never stop rowing the boat ashore. And I thought that I would never participate in the Classical Rite again. People like this reporter ruled the roost. Our prayers have been heard. I will be much more charitable to them than they were to us. I will pray for them. We now can listen to these pieces and chuckle! Allelulia

  7. audio: Who are you kidding? This is NPR we are talking about.

  8. Geometricus says:

    Interesting. I have always suspected Sylvia Poggioli to be an angry leftist and a feminist, but this report confirms that she is at best clueless concerning Church matters, and at worst a willing instrument of Church dissenters.

    Lord have mercy.

  9. Monica says:

    There is nothing new here. The strategy of those who are at odds with Pope Benedict XVI (and the hierarchy in union with him) is to ignore documents and instructions that reinforce Catholic tradition and orthodoxy by minimizing their importance and plowing ahead with their same agenda that they’ve had for forty years now. What many of us experience at a local parish level, is really a reflection of the problem on a bigger scale. The situation will get better as the old guard is replaced with a newer and fresher breath of air (one that doesn’t have some kind of axe to grind with traditional catholic beliefs and practices).

  10. Jonathan Bennett says:

    So now that Pope Benedict has restarted the Inquisition and initiated a “counter-reformation” on Vatican II and religious freedom, does this give us permission to toss Ms. Poggioli into a bonfire?

  11. Roger says:

    I recently visited my in-laws. All of them are cradle Catholics. I am a convert and the only Traditionalist among them (besides my wife). They were saying the very same things that are contained in the NPR report. That the Holy Father is trying to bring back the Middle Ages. That the Church has to go forward, not back. That the Holy Father is undoing all of the changed since Vatican II. That the Holy Father was crazy to say that the other “churches” aren’t churches.

    It was a tirade in which all of them decried the recent actions of the Holy Father for 5 minutes or more. It began with a “I don’t like the new Pope.”

    I was aghast. I wouldn’t have expected this from fellow Catholics. I have never been more uncomfortable. My protestant family (most Southern Baptist) have never attacked the Holy Father more viciously than this.

    The point is, the attitude exhibited by NPR isn’t theirs alone, but it is also the attitude shared by many rank and file Catholics. Sad as it may be…

  12. TJM says:

    Roger, my condolences on your family situation. I assume
    your inlaws are members of the baby-boomer generation
    ( belong to this group myself) a group very conflicted
    when it comes to the Church. When you ask them the
    reasons why they say these things, you often find they
    simply no very little about the Catholic theology, history, or
    liturgy and are simply spouting liberal, left-wing
    tripe they gather from sources like NPR and the
    New York Slimes. Catholics well educated in their faith
    seldom engage in this type of histrionics. I also think
    many of them have “authority” issues, whether its with
    regard to the Church, their parents, the government or any
    other form of external authority. They’ve never matured.
    Tom

  13. Henry Edwards says:

    I also think many of them have “authority” issues, whether its with regard to the Church, their parents, the government or any other form of external authority.

    Is it true (or merely apocryphal) that Freud said all these problems stem originally from toilet-training difficulties?

  14. dcs says:

    When you hit a dead end you need to take a few steps back before you can start moving forward again.

    Karl Keating made the point a couple of years ago that the traditional Mass is progressive in the true sense; it will allow us to move forward past all these years of liturgical abuses and shenanigans.

  15. techno_aesthete says:

    I thought NPR was part of the crowd whose buzzwords include “tolerance” and “diversity.” They don’t seem to be very tolerant of diverse forms of worship. No one is forcing them to worship this way. Why can’t they just live and let live?

  16. RBrown says:

    I recently visited my in-laws. All of them are cradle Catholics. I am a convert and the only Traditionalist among them (besides my wife). They were saying the very same things that are contained in the NPR report. That the Holy Father is trying to bring back the Middle Ages. That the Church has to go forward, not back. That the Holy Father is undoing all of the changed since Vatican II. That the Holy Father was crazy to say that the other “churches” aren’t churches.
    Comment by Roger

    It might be interesting to see how they stand on specifics of Catholic doctrine, e.g., contraception, abortion, women “priests”, homosexuality, etc.

  17. The early 1970s saw its share of anti-Latin propaganda, a lot of which rather successfully poisoned Catholic culture with mediocrity for forty years. The anti-Latin, and now anti-Rome, propagandists (twentieth-century sense) know well that the voids of ignorance are easily filled with their own vacuous ideas. I have run across many Catholics, including equal shares of priests and laymen, who will blithely or sometimes angrily proclaim “I hated the Latin!” When pressed for elaborations, they rarely have a good reason for their prejudices; many of them will tell you that they hated Latin because they didn’t understand it! (cf. “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like…”)

    The failure to educate people about the necessity of beauty in the liturgy is a profound tragedy, especially since there was, ironically, an extensive Catholic school system in place at the time of Vatican II which should have been the means for teaching those things that need to be preserved. In the late 1960s I signed up for a third-year Latin class at a large Catholic high school in Penna. The course was canceled because of “lack of interest” and no matter how I exhorted the principal to let us three students have the class, he would not relent. Latin had become irrelevant, he told me. I am convinced that the precipitous drop in enrollments in Catholic schools in the 1960s-70s and the subsequent tanking of high Catholic culture in America was in no small part a result of missed opportunities to take good advantage of the extensive network of Catholic educational institutions. Indeed, many of them quickly became hotbeds of questionable orthodoxy and helped spread the spiritually empty John Dewey-like pragmatism that is so common among Catholics (and others) today.

  18. Brian Crane says:

    Roger:

    I continually find it astonishing how little respect many Catholics have for the Holy Father, how they are so ready and willing to criticize everything that he does (as it is presented through the distorted lens of the media). There is no reverence for the Vicar of Christ, no benefit of the doubt, etc. I would call them on that. He is not a crazy old man sitting in Rome — he was elected by the Cardinals inspired by the Holy Spirit to be the visible representative of Christ on earth for His Church and enjoys the guidance of the Holy Spirit in his ministry. While he could still make mistakes (in things not pertaining to faith and morals), nevertheless we should give him the benefit of the doubt in all things and find out for ourselves what he really said and what his motives really were before we pass judgment and question his qualification to lead Holy Mother Church. Folks tend to see him as just another politician.

    I would challenge your family members: what is their problem? What are they worried about? Did the Holy Father say that they were going to HAVE to go to the Tridentine Mass, or that they HAD to like it? Once they can get over the emotional revulsion to what the media has reported (which is not actually what is happening), then perhaps you can discuss with them the BENEFITS to what the Holy Father is doing. But at this point it sounds as if they have swallowed the media’s hook and are having an emotional reaction to a non-issue.

  19. Norman Lee says:

    “It was a tirade in which all of them decried the recent actions of the Holy Father for 5 minutes or more.”

    *sigh* and what’s new? I once suggested to my Church group to carefully look at the text of the hymns they choose for mass. I got scolded – “its Sing a new song to the Lord, not sing a theologically correct song to the Lord”, one guy said. That evening I couldn’t sleep …

  20. RBrown says:

    Of course, the irony is that there is more Latin in a Harry Potter book or movie than in almost all masses.

  21. Mark says:

    Sometimes NPR allows for a “counter-opinion” piece to be aired, if done responsibly without the ad hominem attracts and polemics.

    Fr. Z, given your position as a priest and your knowledge of the subject, I believe you are the “best” person other than the Pope himself to correct the misinformation of this piece directly.

    I suggest that you contact NPR by the following means to see if they might allow you to offer counter-commentary to this report on the air:

    Listener Services (202) 513-3232
    Media Relations (202) 513-2300

    or perhaps, you may want to contact these individuals directly:

    Andi Sporkin
    VP for Communications
    (202) 513-2300

    Leah Yoon
    Sr. Manager, Media Relations
    (202) 513-2300

    Anna Christopher
    Manager, Media Relations
    (202) 513-2300

    Personally, I believe it’s worth the effort to make a few phone calls and see if they are willing to allow for dissenting commentary. If I were a priest, I would do it myself – but unfortunately, I am not. We need an “authoritative” representative such as yourself to correct this erroneous biased report.

    Please consider this carefully.

    Instaurare omnia in Christo,

    Mark

  22. Reggie says:

    Very few, it seems, are willing to discuss what the NPR said about the Jews being ‘offended’.
    I think it is high time that Catholics confront Jewish bigotry; and their attacks against
    Christians and the Catholic Church.

    For example, Abe Foxman at the ADL has (in writing) made the statements that 1) the Catholic
    Church is responsible for WWII; and 2) that Catholics are responsible for the murder of
    millions of Jews during WWII. This needs to be publicly confronted by Catholics all over the
    world. Moreover, literally thousands of prayers are offered up daily in Catholic Churches,
    in Jewish temples, and in Muslim mosques for “the whole world.” Making a show out of the
    Holy Week prayer for the Jews is simply one way of showing one’s ignorance and bigotry.

    Moreover, the Associated Press, CNN, the BBC, the LA Times, the New York Times, and almost
    every other major media source in the world publishes on almost a daily basis the most
    hideous of lies and slander against Catholics and the Catholic Church. So, in my opinion,
    this whole thing by the NPR about the MP is simply another way to attack the Catholic Church.
    We have every right in the world to decide how we will pray; and if we pray for non-Catholics
    they should have the decency to respect our prayers for them, even if they differ in
    religious beliefs.

  23. Dan says:

    I haven’t listened to the piece — who needs the irritation? — but I wouldn’t expect anything less from NPR and Sylvia Poggioli than what Fr. Z has described.

    Not that long ago I was a New York Times-reading, NPR-listening liberal. The entire time I consciously agreed with what I read and heard but yet….felt a vague irritation, a dislike, as I sensed in what I read and heard a disagreeable smugness. For example even when I was a liberal Sylvia Poggioli always irritated me. At the time, as I was far away from the Church (though in some ways not as far as it might have seen), I explained it to myself this way: “She reports on Italy from the vantage point of a rich northern Italian; she doesn’t know the Italian south of my relatives.” I now know that this was in a sense true but the real difference, the real source of the irritation, was her blindness (and mine)to Christ’s truth.

  24. Jim C says:

    Greetings! Brian, I agree with you that people don’t need to be so angry at this. No, we’re not being forced to move back to the Latin mass, but now that option is available for those people who wish to keep that particular form of Catholic Culture alive.

    Personally, I wouldn’t bother going. I’ve sung Masses and Requiems, etc., and love the music of the High Mass. But the only Latin mass I went to was almost 20 years ago when one of the local priests got permission from the bishop to offer a Latin mass on Christmas. I went, thinking it was an opportunity to connect with my Catholic heritage. For some reason (maybe they couldn’t find an organist willing to do it), they offered a Low Mass — no music, no singing, no nothing. It was the most boring service I’d ever been to. I was suddenly struck by something I had read years before that had never made sense to me until then — that Catholics had been encouraged to bring bibles or “spiritually-enriching books” (such as biographies of the saints) to read during Mass.

    But I’m glad it’s back for those who do feel more connected to it.

    >

  25. Hugh says:

    I understand your feeling of boredom at a low mass, absent of music, on Christmas Day. I had a similar experience in the late 1980’s. However I need reminding myself, that that form of the mass – the low mass – was never what the Church prescribed or recommended as the norm – least of all on one of the most solemn feasts of the year-, and people should be wary not to judge the Old Mass according to the version which, although the most frequently encountered, is the most far removed from the ideal, or normative, version.

    In fact I suspect part of the discontent with low mass is not so much boredom as frustration: what could be happening here, according to what the missal says, is not happening. For example, why is the Gloria being said, not sung, when the missal tells us it is a Hymn of Praise? In fact, as has been pointed out by those in the know, the very idea of liturgical prayers being said and not sung is at odds with the principles of worship, not only according to the Church, but even according to what Natural Religion understands. No aboriginal ever spoke their prayers at a corroboree. And the Jewish boy learns to sing from the Torah. To speak the sacred words would be disrespectful.

    The Mass at the end of the annual Chartres Pilgrimage – for example – is far closer the spirit of the old liturgy as envisioned by the church. A glorious gothic Cathedral, thronging with thousands – and even more thousands outside – banners, flags, statues on biers, processions of sodalities and catholic youth, thundering pipe organ, fogs of incense, deafening responses from the congregation echoing through the arches and columns, (which make the episodic moments of silence even more powerful), ranks of scouts and guides saluting and tipping flags and banners at the consecrations, with the huge ancient bells booming high overhead … That is the spirit of the liturgy the Church is beckoning us to embrace. She wants us to give our utmost in the circumstances to render glory to God.

    Of course, the Church is pastoral, and on busy weekday mornings when the duties of our state of life summon us, low mass attended devoutly is all most communities of layfolk can offer. That’s perfectly acceptable – and in any case while we are settling into our secular labours, we know we are spiritually linked with the monasteries of cloistered monks and nuns (inter alia) attending to their own sacred work, chanting their conventual masses and offices so that through the whole day and night, liturgical worship in its highest form is continually offered to God.

    The other side of the coin, as has been frequently observed, is that it’s harder for a priest to abuse the Old Liturgy in any form and low masses preserve something of this virtue. Sure, it can be boring, and the priest can mumble or race with the Latin, or perform inordinately long, or short elevations (seen both), or have the odd awkward twitch, or just lack that liturgical je ne sais quoi. All of which can form a cross for the ‘stable community’ to bear daily (just as he might have to put up with their quirks and foibles). But apart from these avenues, one has peace of mind as one dips one’s finger in the stoop, not having to worry “what the heck is Fr. going to try on us today?”.

  26. RichR says:

    While the world and the liberals cry foul, gnash their teeth, and call traditional Catholics names, we silently go to our Latin Masses and partake of the Heavenly Banquet here on earth.

    I am glad that these articles keep coming up. It is teaching me to ignore them.

  27. Jack Bandage says:

    NPR website offers few opportunities to provide feedback on their webpage…but pride themselves on their “leadership in diversity”….unless, of course, it involves unbiased reporting on Catholic Christian issues.

    You can contact their head of diversity management here:

    Walt Swanston
    Director of Diversity Management
    202.513.2027
    wswanston@npr.org

  28. Maureen says:

    It’s always been perfectly fine to whisper one’s prayers. And in fact, there are some very solemn Jewish synagogue prayers which are whispered, IIRC. Speaking is a legitimate form of prayer, too. Moses seemed to do quite a lot of normal talking with God, actually, and so did Abraham.

    Breathe deeply, folks. Don’t be so enthusiastic about what you like as to condemn other legitimate liturgical aspirations. :)

  29. Mary says:

    Dear Rev. Father,

    Keeping in mind that the Holy Mass is the most important prayer of the Church. I thought you might like the following.

    “The Four Degrees of Prayer”

    Those who are versed in ascetical and mystical theology are well acquainted with the different categories of human relationships with God: prayer, sometimes restricted to vocal prayer; meditation; contemplation; and the prayer of quiet.

    Prayer in general is an elevation of the mind to God in order to converse with Him.

    Vocal prayer is any form of prayer which is expressed in words, whether written or spoken.

    Meditation or mental prayer is the application of the mind to some supernatural truth (e.g., the life, passion or death of Our Lord, His teachings, death in general, destiny of the soul after death, etc.) in order to penetrate its meanings, love it, and carry it into practice with grace; all these aim to promote God’s glory and our advancement in virtue.

    The next plateau in spiritual advancement is contemplation, which is defined as a simple, loving, protracted gaze on God and divine things through the gifts of the Holy Ghost and a special actual grace which takes possession of us in a passive manner.

    The prayer of quiet is an advanced type of contemplation in which the soul experiences an intimate awareness of God’s presence that fills the soul with an ineffable sweetness and delight.

    The latter two are usually listed under mystical theology and the first two under ascetical theology.

    All of this comes from the book:
    “A Spanish Mystic in Quito, Sister Marianna of Jesus Torres”
    By Monsignor Luis E. Cadena y Almeida, page 35 & 36.

    Thus, vocal prayer is the lowest form of prayer while the “prayer of quiet” is the highest.

  30. Dwight Bobson says:

    Why the over-reaction and defensiveness? Surely if you have confidence in your faith and the power of God you need do nothing more than pray for the immortal souls of those you believe to be nonbelievers.
    When Catholics rail against fiction, e.g., The DiVinci Code,, they weaken their position and the strength of their faith because they seem to be afraid of the faithless.
    If you are good Catholic and possess the strength of your faith, you have nothing to fear when some element of society speaks about your beliefs with a lack of understanding.
    Do you think God is concerned or satisfied with his position?

  31. Dwight Bobson says:

    Why the over-reaction and defensiveness? Surely if you have confidence in your faith and the power of God you need do nothing more than pray for the immortal souls of those you believe to be nonbelievers.
    When Catholics rail against fiction, e.g., The DiVinci Code,, they weaken their position and the strength of their faith because they seem to be afraid of the faithless.
    If you are good Catholic and possess the strength of your faith, you have nothing to fear when some element of society speaks about your beliefs with a lack of understanding.
    Do you think God is concerned or satisfied with his position?

  32. dcs says:

    If you are good Catholic and possess the strength of your faith, you have nothing to fear when some element of society speaks about your beliefs with a lack of understanding.

    This is true, but others who are weak Catholics or who are non-Catholic could be scandalized by false reports about the Church in the press, etc., and so it behooves us to correct these reports. Fr. Z is not concerned only for himself, but also for the souls in his care.