Over at Bonfire of the Vanities, Fr. Fox relates some comments by WDTPRS’s favorite defender of dumbed-down liturgical language, His Excellency Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Erie and lame-duck chair of the USSSB’s BCL.
Here is Fr. Fox’s entry after some editing and with my emphases and comments.
What is Bishop Trautman thinking?
I just read my recent edition of the Newsletter of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. It headlined an address by his Excellency, the Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, Bishop of Erie, Pennsylvania, and chairman of the committee.
He also touches on the new translation of the Mass, and the holy father’s recent decision to liberate the celebration of the older form of the Roman Mass.
But then, in conclusion, the bishop says the following, and I quote exactly:
"My words to you in that address [i.e., on October 9, 1996] are still true today. I said to you then, and I say again: ‘A pre-Vatican II liturgical theology and practice have no chance of speaking to a post-Vatican II world… The full, conscious and active participation of all the people is the goal in the reform and promotion of the liturgy.’ Do we accept this teaching of Vatican II? If we do, we should not be calling for a retreat from the reform of the liturgy of Vatican II. There should be no backsliding".
Under the circumstances, I assume the bishop has had plenty of time to reflect on these words which, after all, he chooses to cite and emphasize all over again. Can he truly believe that the "full, conscious and active participation of all the people" is something new with Vatican II? [Yes, Father, he can. This is because he doesn’t really get what is meant by "active participation". He has the wrong starting point.]
After all, he then goes on to quote "the words of the great Joseph Jungman: ‘For centuries, the Liturgy actively celebrated had been the most important form of pastoral care.’" But Father Jungman wrote that before the Second Vatican Council; yet according to Bishop Trautman, this was not part of the "pre-Vatican II liturgical theology"!
Now, what I think Bishop Trautman means is that this was largely unrealized in the liturgy prior to the Council, hence the need for some change. But then what he should be referring to is not a "pre-Vatican II theology" but rather, a pre-Vatican II practice. The theology that he identifies with the Council was, of necessity, "pre-Vatican II." These ideas did not–as he himself points out–spring full-grown, Athena-like, from the collective heads of the Council Fathers. [On the other hand, I think we should take H.E. Bp. Trautman at his word. As you, Father, said above, he has had time think about this. It is most likely that his objection to the use of the older form of Mass, is rooted in his objection to what he perceives as a pre-Conciliar theology. Also, since Bp. Trautman is a pretty sharp guy, it is hard to believe that he really believes that the translation debate revolves around whether people can or can’t enter into the prayers immediately as they are spoken. It is far more likely that what he objects to in the sort of translation called for by the Holy See’s norms in Liturgiam authenticam (a document he strenuously opposes) is in fact the theology of the Latin prayers. I stipulate with others that even in the Latin of the Novus Ordo certain "negative" concepts were systematically replaced when ancient prayers were ported over into the 1970 Missal. Nevertheless, the English we have been using is so mushy and devoid of meaning that it can’t even remotely suggest a "pre-Conciliar" theology, while the Latin Novus Ordo still can. Thus, after this long digression, I think the problem is that H.E. Bp. Trautman is so firmly rooted in a hermeneutic of discontinuity that he really does see the need to repress what he believes is a different Catholic theology.]
And since he brought it up, who exactly does he accuse of proposing to "retreat" from the Council’s vision? [Pope Benedict and the Holy See’s CDWDS and CDF.] This is a dressed-up version of a polemic one hears in parishes: "oh, you just don’t accept Vatican II"–directed at people who: like bells at Mass; use "old fashioned" vestments; use Latin and chant; sing the prayers; don’t sing the prayers; use incense and so forth. I’m sorry to say you hear it from priests, who should know better; but then, we hear a version of it here from a bishop who ought to know better. The truth is, what’s actually going on is people label as "pre Vatican II" things they don’t like, aren’t used to, or associate with the past.
I really don’t know what he thinks of as "retreat," either now, or in 1996, when he gave the address he quotes. Is he complaining about Holy See’s efforts to tighten up on how texts are translated? [Also, yes!] We know he doesn’t agree with the Holy See’s approach on that. Is he complaining about wider celebration of the older form of the Mass? If so, is he saying that people cannot participate actively, fully, and consciously in the older form of the Mass? If that be the case, that is simply nonsense. Yes, it’s true that there were people, in the old days, who didn’t participate well. Guess what? We have people who are that way today. I would be willing to bet some of the same people. And I suspect some folks who think they didn’t participate before, may think their current participation is more than it is.
What I think we see here is exactly the sort of "hermeneutic of rupture" [Father, you got to it. Good for you.] that the holy father has identified and faulted in relation to Vatican II. Of course, Bishop Trautman may be able to explain this better and who knows, maybe he will show up here and give that explanation; but it really looks like he has this idea that Vatican II marks the beginning of "full, conscious and active" participation. [You now have to take this another step.]
Maybe I’m misunderstanding the bishop. Comments are invited from those who might offer an explanation. Comments that treat the bishop with disrepect (different from criticism or disagreement) will be deleted. If in doubt, err in the direction of civility and respect for a successor to the Apostles.
Fri, Nov 9, 2007 16:10
Be sure to go over to Bonfire of the Vanities.