Important 2003 letter of Card. Ratzinger about the older rite of Mass

I tip my biretta to the Cafeteria o{]:¬)  for linking to a posting on the site of one Joseph S. O’Leary: a very interesting 2003 letter of Joseph Card. Ratzinger on the issue of the older form of Mass, the "Tridentine" Mass, being more widely available.

The letter was written in German by Card. Ratzinger and O’Leary provided a translation.  However, Gerald of the Cafeteria also did a translation.  After a rapid check, I will give you O’Leary’s, because the English is smoother.

NB: O’Leary calls this letter "frightening", which gives you an idea of his take on the Joseph Ratzinger and the use of the older form of Mass.

Here is the O’Leary translation with my emphases and comments:

To Dr. Heinz-Lothar Barth, 23 June 2003

Dear Dr. Barth,

I thank you cordially for your letter of April 6 to which I find the time to answer only now. You are asking me to act for a broader availability of the old Roman rite. Actually, you know yourself that I have no deaf ears towards such a request. My work on behalf of this cause is meanwhile generally known.

Whether the Holy See will “admit the old rite again for every place and without restrictions” as you desire and have heard it rumoured cannot be simply answered or confirmed without further ado. [We know more about this now, of course.] Still too great is the aversion of many Catholics, instilled in them over many years, against the traditional liturgy which they scornfully call “preconciliar”. Also one would have to reckon with considerable resistance on the part of many bishops against a general readmission.  [This is pretty dense and needs to be pulled apart.  1) Immediately Card. Ratzinger wants to dispel the fiction that the use of the older Mass is somehow out of step with the Second Vatican Council.  He knows that "pre-conciliar" is code for "opposed to the Council".  Ratzinger sees continuity between the older Mass and Council, not rupture.  2) The aversion which was instilled in people was purposely instilled: people in power positions tried to make others hate the older form of Mass.  They weren’t content to make people love the newer form, they wanted people to feel aversion to the older.  3) Bishops, who should know better, are the real obstacles.]

Things look different, however, if one thinks about a limited readmission. The demand for the old liturgy is limited, too. [Ratzinger is talking about a measured response to the demand for the older Mass.  Also, he is a shrewed strategist: he knows that to over-reach would do great harm to future possibilties.  This is the "brick by brick" element of his Marshall Plan I keep talking about.] I know that its worth, of course, does not depend upon the demand for it, but the question of the number of interested priests and laypeople, nevertheless, plays a certain role. Besides, such a measure can now, only some 30 years after the liturgy reform of Paul VI, be implemented only stepwise. Any new hurry would surely not be a good thing.  [See?  It would be worse to tye to implement something that has little chance of success.]

I believe, though, that in the long term the Roman Church must have again a single Roman rite. The existence of two official rites is for bishops and priests difficult to “manage” in practice. [This is why Summorum Pontificum is so clever!  Papa Ratzinger does not resolve on a scholarly lever the debate about whether or not there are two rites.  Frankly, I doubt serious if Papa Ratzinger thinks that the Novus Ordo and the older form are really the same Roman Rite.  What we got in Summorum Pontificum was a juridical solution to the issue.  By saying there is, juridically, one Roman Rite, he eliminated the need for a priest to have additional faculties to use the older form.  That was a masterstroke.] The Roman rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or in the vernacular, but standing completely in the tradition of the rite that has been handed down. It could take up some new elements which have proven themselves, like new feasts, some new prefaces in the Mass, an expanded lectionary – more choice than earlier, but not too much, – an “oratio fidelium”, i.e., a fixed litany of intercessions following the Oremus before the offertory where it had its place earlier. [This is huge and it needs more explanation below.]

Dear Dr. Barth, if you commit yourself to work for the cause of the liturgy in this way, you will surely not stand alone, and you will prepare "public opinion in the Church" for eventual measures in favor of an expanded use of the earlier liturgical books. One should be cautious, however, about awakening too high or maximum expectations among the traditional faithful.  [See my comments above.]

I am using the opportunity to thank you for your appreciated commitment to the liturgy of the Roman Church in your books and lectures, even if here and there I would wish still more charity and understanding towards the magisterium of the pope and bishops. [Many of our liturgical problems remain battles over ecclesiology!] May the seed you are sowing germinate and bring much fruit for the renewed life of the Church the “source and summit” of which, indeed its true heart, is and must remain the liturgy.

With delight I give you the blessing you have asked and remain sincerely yours

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

This is an interesting read.  I have seen this before, but it is nice to get it back out there again.

I said there was more to say about that central paragraph.

Joseph Ratzinger had the idea that side by side celebrations of the older form of Mass with the newer would eventually jump-start the organic growth of liturgy that was so artificially interrupted by the cut-paste job of experts at desks when the Novus Ordo was stitched together.  Never had liturgy been impose in that manner and harm has resulted.

Neverthless, we must be practical.  At the Council there was perceived a need for some reform.  Though we didn’t get the reform the Council Fathers though they were mandating, and the Consilium under Bugnini and Lercaro (with Piero Marini already a disciple in the cause) went way beyond its mandate in order to push a new ecclesiology on the whole Church, there are some elements that in retrospect we can reflect on as a Church as being positive.  We can also learn from the problems we created.

So, what is envisioned here is a kind of tertium quid that slowly but surely there would emerge over time from the "dialogue" between the older form and the newer form.  Ratzinger is saying that the older, traditional form must be the basis, the starting point, for any eventual single Roman Rite, not the Novus Ordo.  The Novus Ordo is perceived as a kind of bump in the road, perhaps, in the long route of the liturgy’s development.  But there are points in the Novus Ordo which might be useful… perhaps we be useful… over time.  Not right away…. eventually, as a matter of organic growth, not artificial imposition.  The elements he suggests as useful are also in part ancient.

Pope Benedict has a clear vision, thought though long and well.  I used to pick his brains about this years ago when I had the chance to talk with him, fairly often, when I worked in the PC Ecclesia Dei, in the same building as the CDF.  I wrote an article about this very point in the early ’90s in Catholic World Report, (I would love a copy of that issue or article now!) and was taken to task about it by no less than Michael Davies and Eric de Saventhem, both of whom I esteem. 

Papa Ratzinger, not they, will be proven right about this, however.  Wait and see.

This is why I make so bold as to talk Benedict’s vision and work in terms of a Marshall Plan.  This is why I repeat "brick by brick", to describe the slow process we need and the patience.  This is why I say that the "liturgy is the tip of the spear", for it is truly the key to a long engaged thelogical war being waged.  This is why I use the image of "gravitational pull" when I describe the way the older form will influence the newer form, and vice versa.  Frankly, even the smaller moon exerts some pull on the larger earth.  So too, the older Mass will influence the newer form much more than the other way around and eventually it will be the older form that prevails, in this vision.

But that doesn’t mean that the effects will be either immediate or only in one direction.

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84 Responses to Important 2003 letter of Card. Ratzinger about the older rite of Mass

  1. Habemus Papam says:

    Fr.Z: this fairly recent letter is very interesting and requires analasis (which you’ve given but this is rich stuff). It should go a long way in clarifying the thought of Pope Benedict and hopefully will ease some of the fear and confusion which going around right now.

  2. Fr. D says:

    You’re right on here Fr. Z. I was having a discussion yesterday with two brother priests about our desire for widespread liturgical renaissance. We’re hoping, but not very optimistic, that we’ll see it in our lifetime. It will have to happen “brick by brick” as you say due to the false ideas and theology taught to the faithful after the Council. True organic development was supplanted by popular innovation giving us hymns like “Ashes” and “City of God” which all but summarize the present Catholic experience for the average church-goer. I love seeing the Holy Father’s Marshall plan in action. Talk about a great pastor. To arrive at more authentic worship we need him to continue to set the tone but we also need other bishops to do the same.

    I’m aware that the brilliance of Summorum Pontificum was to take the bishops out of the equation, thus giving priests the the ability to celebrate either form of the Roman Rite. No doubt, the more it’s made available, the more opportunity there will be for people to experience the Church’s more ancient heritage. This approach will take a long time but the resulting reform will be solid and long-lasting. Benedict knows that top-down efforts must be matched up with a bottom-up, grassroots movement in order to arrive finally at one form of worship.

    However, even if more and more priests offer the Traditional Mass, we still need bishops who see what the Holy Father is doing and then implement the Plan in their diocese. I’ll be blunt – there needs to come a point where somebody (bishop) stands up and says, “This diocese is going to approach the Liturgy in a new way. Here’s the plan.” I don’t think we can wait 50 years.

  3. Ernie Bragiel says:

    Dear Fr. John,
    This letter makes for a very interesting and thought provoking read. I feel that I also need to reflect on it with respect to all that has transpired since then. I have a deep respect and love for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, but also must live in the day-to-day reality of the ordinary form. Patience, deep, long suffering, penitent patience will be required of many of us. And I need to remember that the greater majority of the faithful are not fully comprehending all that is happening within the Church. I agree that all of this part of a great Marshall plan by beloved Benedict XVI and so I need to study and pray, pray and study. I was the director of our parish Liturgy Committee and found often that I needed to humble myself when making suggestions to improve devotion and reverence in the ordinary form. I had to remind myself that much of what is accepted as appropriate practice in the ordinary form has been acquired by attrition and is not necessarily liturgically correct. I pray for you and your work. Continue to bless all the faithful with your insights, findings and teachings.
    God bless you Fr. John.
    God bless and protect Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI
    Ernie

  4. Andrew says:

    The Roman rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or in the vernacular …

    I wonder how the original German phrased this. The above English translation begs a question:

    Does he envision a future of Roman Catholicism potentially without any Latin at all? In my humble opinion: if Latin is not mandated, (at least somewhere) it will become extinct.

  5. Jeff Miller says:

    If Fr. O’Leary doesn’t like something it is almost infallible witness to the orthodoxy of something. You should have seen his Amazon.com review of Pope Benedict’s book on Christ. He goes around St. Blogs assaulting comments boxes under the name of “Spirit Vatican II.”

    One of my favorite accomplishments was to get labeled a “neocath” by Fr. O’Leary which puts me in such company as Jimmy Akin, Peter Kreeft, Amy Welborn, the Blossers. Surely he would consider you one to.

  6. Tom says:

    We can say a lot of things about liturgical liberals (a poor phrase, but the best I have), but they are not dumb (well, not all of them). I think they see the “tip of the spear” better than traditional Catholics, which is why they fear the TLM. THEY understand “brick by brick” perfectly well, and they see those bricks as being taken from the edifice they’ve built for the last 40 years.

    As a Catechist, I can tell you that liturgical renewal without a radical overhaul and standardization of catechesis, starting from the youngest age, will fail. We have lost 30 years worth of Catholics to rotten religious education and a timid approach to the faith. I’m completing a five part PowerPoint history lesson for our Confirmandi tomorrow, setting straight the many lies repeated in secular society about the faith, and pointing out the continuity of the faith through the years. Such an understanding of our history, coupled with strong catechesis, is vital to the “reform of the reform.” In fact, without it, this renewal will fail.

  7. I do believe that our Holy Father does seriously mean it when he says that the EF and the OF are two uses of the Roman Rite. Anyone who comes to our Novus Ordo High Mass in the Birmingham Oratory (facing East with celebrant and two deacons) would not notice much difference between it and the 1962 rite, except for a few details such as vernacular readings and the canon said out aloud.

  8. Jordan Potter says:

    Jeff said: If Fr. O’Leary doesn’t like something it is almost infallible witness to the orthodoxy of something. You should have seen his Amazon.com review of Pope Benedict’s book on Christ. He goes around St. Blogs assaulting comments boxes under the name of “Spirit of Vatican II.”

    Yes, Father O’Leary/Spirit of Vatican II has an intense fear and loathing for Pope Benedict, so I’m not surprised he’d find Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter “frightening.”

    Anyway, I’m grateful to see this letter, as it confirms what Father Zuhlsdorf and others have been saying about the Pope’s approach to the liturgy, and verifies that he is committed to measured, prudent, but inexorable steps towards a repair of the great damage done to the liturgy since Vatican II.

  9. Habemus Papam says:

    Latin Novus Ordo’s are the exception, unfortunately. The average parish Mass facing the peoples table is worlds away from the Extraordinary Form. We have now, legally two forms of one Rite though in practice its hard to see that.

  10. Traddie forever says:

    Yes, Fr Z hits the nail on the head. the one rite is exactly where the Pope wants to go.

  11. EDG says:

    Very interesting! I was thinking about the intercessions, which of course the Orthodox still have (and the prayers are indeed fixed, and not the latest inspiration of the “Peace and Justice Committee” or some goofy misalette publisher). I certainly would not object to those being restored, and I think this was the kind of restoration most people had in mind at the time of the Council. The Easter Vigil was an example of a restoration or revival of something from an earlier part of the Church’s liturgical tradition.

    The unfortunate thing is that the liturgical movement got taken over by the Protestantizing Higher Biblical Criticism folks, who virtually believed in the “First Century Apostasy” theory and went back to look for alleged primitive (but curiuously undocumented) liturgical practices which were somehow supposed to trump more than 1700 years of organic development. Reaching back into the past and restoring things from our genuine and legitmate tradition, on the other hand, is a wonderful idea, and was probably exactly what the Council really had in mind.

  12. Thomas says:

    …liturgical renewal without a radical overhaul and standardization of catechesis, starting from the youngest age, will fail.

    As I see it, Tom, liturgical renewal is a necessary beginning in building towards what you are suggesting. This renewal is not intended to be done in a vacuum, I’m sure. About 15 years ago, after experiencing what we now are calling the E.F. of Holy Mass for the first time, I was prayerfully searching for orthodoxy of belief. I think that is what attracted me to the E.F. in the first place. I now see, first hand, in my own personal experience, the necessity of both going hand-in-hand, liturgy and belief. I know I will receive solid teaching in homilies from priests of the E.F. – something which is rare (in my own experience) in the Novus Ordo rite, though I must admit I now try to avoid it for that very reason.

  13. Fr Ó Buaidhe says:

    Yes again, to a fixed Prayer of the Faithful. I am presently in the process of such a ‘fixing’ for my own church, using the best of the offerings over a number of years. The idea being to link well thought out prayers to the Mass celebrated, and draw people away from News-at-Six-Thirty bidding prayers. (You know the kind I mean: the prayer for victims of the latest road accident which was reported between your leaving home and arriving at church… exit six people switching on mobile ‘phones…)

    If the Holy Father approves something of the kind for inclusion in the Missal, my people will be better prepared for it and I will give way rejoicing!

  14. For those looking for ‘fixed’ intercessions, I would commend to you the 5 forms for the prayers of the people in the Book of Divine Worship that is the missal for that other use of the Roman Rite, the Anglican Use. The first form, from Rite I, can be seen here. I would be happy to send along the others to those who do not have access to the BDW. These prayers have the “added” value of being an approved form of worship in the Catholic Church. While Rite I uses older “Eliabethan” English, Rite II from the same book is in contemporary idiom.

  15. Tom says:

    If you could see the catechetical material produced for children, you would shudder. It’s such a slog to review them all, that I simply search for the words “real presence,” which are rarely encountered or taught. The Fr. O’Learys of the world are in charge of producing teaching materials, which means that young people have very little sense of what the Mass even means unless they somehow encounter an orthodox catechist. This means that all of you become vital to what Pappa Bene is doing. If you are a regular reader of someone like Fr. Z., then you care about liturgy, which already puts you ahead of most catechists. Please get out there, get involved in your parish program, and help children understand these important truths. Otherwise, they’ll have 9 years of “my fwiend Jesus”, get Confirmed, and then vanish from the faith. If the reform is going to take hold and spread, we’ll need more teachers like you folks. Please help us.

  16. Jon says:

    Okay, I’ll take a stab at this again.

    The Holy Father ultimately believes the Church should have a single rite.

    Vatican II, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, did call for a reform of what was then the current rite, the 1962 Missal, and was very specific about what the reform was supposed to contain.

    Last July the Holy Father promulgated Summorum Pontificum, which,in the spirit of Pius V’s Quo Primum, when Pius permitted the use of rites over 200 years old, restored to the Church the unreformed Mass.

    The Novus Ordo, in both its creation and implementation, obviously exceeded the vision of the Council Fathers and Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    The Ordinary of 1965, however, an interim Mass, contained specifically, and no more, the reforms mandated in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    The solution? First, abrogate immediately the Novus Ordo. This also includes an abrogation of all post-Conciliar innovations such as Communion in the hand to the standing, Extraordinary Ministers, and altar girls.

    Second, a unified Missal. This Missal will contain the Mass of 1962, and, as an option, the Ordinary of 1965. Added to the ’65 Ordinary, in order to comply with SC’s requirement “to open up the treasure of the bible more lavishly,” a second non-Gospel reading will be added. Otherwise, the traditional cycle of readings will be maintained. The traditional calendar will also be restored.

    Whenever the ’65 Ordinary is celebrated, the propers and readings may be done in the vernacular, the remainder of the Mass in Latin.

    Celebration of the ’62 Ordinary will not include a third reading.

    The two Ordinaries cannot be blended.

    The rubrics for both Ordinaries will be those of the ’62 Mass.

    There. Problem solved.

  17. Lauren P. says:

    I, too, was happy to see the part about ‘fixed intercessions.’ The extended and sung intercessions of the Byzantine rites is one thing that surprised me about the difference between our own rite and theirs. I hope to see this part of the Mass/Divine Liturgy introduced into the future of our own rite in as beautiful a form.

  18. Fr Ó Buaidhe says:

    Very interesting, Steve.

    I would certainly be interested in seeing the others. Elizabethan-style English or otherwise, I will then have to try to translate them into dignified and comprehensible Irish.

  19. Habemus Papam says:

    Jon: Great points and until recently I would have agreed that the obvious solution lies in the ’65 “interim Mass”. Now, however I think the Holy Father in order to avoid too much disruption “in the pews” is intent on using the 1962 Missal as the basis for re-building the 1969 Missal into something akin to the intentions of the Council Fathers. In other words Benedict is starting from where we are now.

  20. Fr. MacCartheigh says:

    Fr Ó Buaidhe,

    LOL!

  21. Pistor says:

    I have long thought the Great Litany would make an ideal replacement for the prayers of the faithfull but have hesitated only because of the old maxim “non commixta rituum”… on the other hand it is borrowing from an ancient and venerable rite of the church for good reason. I’ve wondered if this is permissable… any imput?

    For those of you who havent ever seen the text of the Great Litany sung by a deacon or priest in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Crysostom here is a link: http://www.byzantines.net/liturgy/liturgy.htm

    The Orthodox version can be heard sung here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20_PP_T0CSA&feature=PlayList&p=48B7010F23BDD692&index=0&playnext=1

  22. jack burton says:

    Those famous Good Friday prayers are what remains of the authentic prayers of the faithful. The litany fell out of use in Roman liturgy (and Western liturgy generally) pretty early on. The exceptions are rare, such as the litany of the saints at the Easter Vigil. I consider this to be a difference from Eastern liturgy but not a defect. Western liturgy makes up for this apparent loss with its wealth of orations and I consider the merits of Roman Canon to be a consideration in this discussion.
    I do agree with your intuitions though; if one were to attempt a restoration of the prayers of the faithful I believe the Eastern pattern to be vastly superior to what we ended up with in the novus ordo.

  23. PMcGrath says:

    The next brick in the wall, or thrust of the spear-tip, should be an ad orientem Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral by the Holy Father when he visits here in April. This Mass is supposed to be for priests only, so — talk about a teaching moment!

  24. AJdiocese says:

    Speaking of fixed intercessions, in Appendix I of the Sacramentary there are a set of 7 for the different seasons of the year, including Holy Week and Masses for the Dead.

  25. Tom says:

    “Joseph Ratzinger had the idea that side by side celebrations of the older form of Mass with the newer would eventually jump-start the organic growth of liturgy that was so artificially interrupted by the cut-paste job of experts at desks when the Novus Ordo was stitched together. Never had liturgy been impose in that manner and harm has resulted. Neverthless, we must be practical. At the Council there was perceived a need for some reform. Though we didn’t get the reform the Council Fathers though they were mandating…”

    Father, I agree with the above statement.

    However, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II (even the majority of current bishops) insisted repeatedly that the Novus Ordo represents the authentic liturgical reform mandated by the Council.

    The majority of bishops (and priests) certainly adhere, for example, to Pope John Paul II’s repeated teachings and claims that despite a few post-conciliar “shadows,” the Novus Ordo has generated a new liturgical “springtime” within the Church.

    Perhaps 100 years (probably more) will pass before the majority of Cardinals, bishops and priests admit that the Novus Ordo has sent the Latin Church into a state of collapse.

    If we’re talking about a slooooow brick-by-brick liturgical Marshall Plan, then we’re talking decades and decades…again, 100 or more years…before the majority of Latin Church parishes would begin to offer anything that resembled the Traditional Mass.

    Hundreds of millions of Latin Church Catholics grew up with Popes Paul VI and John Paul II and believe in what said Popes taught…that the Novus Ordo has renewed the Church as THE Mass of Vatican II.

    As indicated by Summorum Pontificum-related news stories that you have posted since last July, even the most TLM-friendly Cardinal and bishops have made it clear that the TLM is desired by just a relative handful of Latin Catholics.

    Even TLM-friendly Cardinal DiNardo, whose response to Summorum Pontificum you praised, declared the following: “I don’t see much of an increase in the number of parishes using the extraordinary form because there hasn’t been much of a demand thus far.”

    The reality is that decades will pass…again, I’m thinking in terms of at least 100 years…before the majority of Latin Church Catholics (from Cardinals to laymen) believe that the Novus Ordo must give way to the authentic Vatican II liturgical reform.

    Again, hundreds of millions of Latin Catholics believe in the tremendously positive Novus Ordo-related teachings and declarations that they received from Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

    Changing the minds of said Catholics, who believe that the Novus Ordo has renewed to the hilt the life of the Church…and is THE Mass of Vatican II…will take decades and decades and decades…100 or more years.

    The TLM-friendly Cardinals and bishops, such as Cardinal Dinardo, are correct…the majority of Latin Catholics are not interested in anything except the type of Novus Ordo Mass that they encounter at their respective parishes.

    TLM Tom

  26. Habemus Papam says:

    Tom: You are assumming that as the older generation of priests and laity dies off in the next 10-20 years, they will be replaced by another generation of Novus Ordo loving Catholics. The middle-aged are indifferent and the young want a traditional liturgy.

  27. Wayne says:

    Great stuff Fr Z the next thing, is as some have said, is the Pope saying the Mass in public, his visit to Lourdes later this year would be the ideal location, where most committed Catholics show up sooner or later. Then there is the regularizing of the SSPX, this would be a massive indication of where the “wind bloweth”, and ultimately where it “will listeth”.

  28. Tom says:

    Habemus Papam wrote: “Tom: You are assumming that as the older generation of priests and laity dies off in the next 10-20 years, they will be replaced by another generation of Novus Ordo loving Catholics. The middle-aged are indifferent and the young want a traditional liturgy.”

    Where is the great wave of support for the TLM among young priests? The Holy Father declared that the Novus Ordo will remain the form of Mass for the majority (99 percent) of Latin Church Catholics.

    Cardinal DiNardo, who is TLM-friendly, gave the same response to Summorum Pontificum as other TLM-friendly Churchmen…interest in the TLM exists among relatively few Catholics.

    Our Churchmen have made clear, “Novus Ordo loving Catholics” comprise the majority (99 percent) of Latin Church Catholics.

    Again…even Pope Benedict XVI has made in loud and clear that the Novus Ordo is here to stay.

    Each Latin Church Catholic born and raised during the Paul VI and John Paul II Pontificates encountered nothing but monumental praise regarding the Novus Ordo from said Popes.

    Popes Paul VI and John Paul II spent decades claiming that the Novus Ordo had renewed the Church and was beloved by the majority of Catholics.

    Decades and decades would have to pass before, if you will, Paul VI and John Paul II Catholics would even entertain the notion that the Latin Church would be better off without the Novus Ordo…or at least a “reformed” Novus Ordo.

    TLM Tom

  29. jack burton says:

    Habemus saith: “At the Council there was perceived a need for some reform. Though we didn’t get the reform the Council Fathers though they were mandating.”

    I should say at the start that I consider Vatican II to be a quasi-ecumenical pastoral Synod (I only accept the first seven as oecumenical in the full and proper sense), so my opinion may be virtually meaningless to most people who perhaps consider Sacrosanctum Concilium to be the definitive charter for liturgical reform.

    I could be way off in fantasy land with this one, but in my semi-educated opinion the ticket for authentic liturgical reform (I prefer the term renewal) is traditional ritual pluralism, a strong link between so-called private devotion and liturgy, and the fostering of sound local paraliturgical practices. Coupled to this would be the formation of new clergy in that liturgical piety called for by the founders of the movement and mystagogical catechesis for the laity. Better liturgy is not created in a conference room but is born of the devotion of the people in living contact with authentic tradition. Without authentic tradition at the root – witnessed to by the fathers and saints – the assurance of orthodoxy is not present.

    It is simply heterodox to forcefully suppress the traditional worship of the Church in favor of a novel reconstruction or newly fabricated rite. The better approach, in my silly opinion, would have been to promote authentic pluralism in the liturgy whilst retaining the traditional Roman rite at the center. The normal and organic stewardship of the liturgy is appropriate so I’m not saying that the 1962 missal should have been frozen in time, but the historical Roman rite should not have been cast aside in favor of a substantially new rite pitted against the living tradition and in many cases the sense of the faithful.
    The revival of supplanted Western rites and even the implementation of new uses of the Roman rite along side the essentially “Tridentine” form would have been a more orthodox and less destructive approach in my opinion. Rather than spending energy promoting wreckovations, lay “ministers” all over the place, the death of sacred music, Communion on the hand, et cetera, it would have been more helpful to have promoted Vespers, Lauds and the like on the parish level. Rather than opening up the treasures of our liturgical tradition, and the full range of possibilities for our authentic traditional liturgy, the time and energy was spent on impoverishing, cheapening and falsifying the Western liturgy.

    I believe that abuses were inevitable and that the climate of dissent spiraled out of control pretty much stacking the cards against a healthy renewal. Perhaps greater interest in the TLM, and traditional liturgy in general, will lead to a revival of the treasures that the Church has kicked to the curb in recent generations. I would love to see a day when I could see the thoroughly traditional Roman rite celebrated at most parishes in this country; perhaps a smattering of Sarum rite parishes here and there; maybe a Dominican run parish with the traditional Dominican rite (in all its splendour); maybe I could even go to Japan and encounter a wholly traditional Japanese use of the Roman rite (perhaps destined to become a distinct ritual branch after some decades or centuries of deep devotion). I admit that this comment is little more than a daydream.

  30. I do hope the pope is not “shrewed” — I am sure you mean “shrewd” .

    I suppose your commentary gets the mens auctoris correctly, and if so, I do think the letter is a frightening one. The motu proprio appears here as a rather dishonest strategy, a sort of Trojan Horse.

    The weakness of the position of commentators like Jeff Miller is shown in his inability to do anything but abuse myself: “If Fr. O’Leary doesn’t like something it is almost infallible witness to the orthodoxy of something. You should have seen his Amazon.com review of Pope Benedict’s book on Christ. He goes around St. Blogs assaulting comments boxes under the name of “Spirit Vatican II.”Miller’s own rhetoric fits far more smoothly into the category of assault. M review of teh Pope’s book was elaborated and published in the National Catholic Reporter, and it is in line with what all exegetes with one exception have said. The exception is Cardinal Vanhoye, who has reasons to be eternally grateful to the author. I also have a long review of the many reactions to the Pope’s book on my weblog. The book is of great significance as it gives a foreshadowing ow what the next Synod is likely to say. Cardinal Martini, who originally welcomed the Synod, sicne it was he who suggested its theme, is now warning that the Synod must not attempt to reverse the teaching of Dei Verbum… Such a warning, from the most eminent Catholic scriptural scholar, is indeed a frightening indication of dangers ahead.

  31. Susanne says:

    I live in southern California and my parish is St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens it is served by The Oblates of The Blessed Virgin Mary based in Boston. Since October 14th we have had the Traditional Latin Mass. Today after Mass The Pastor came out and told us that the superior General Fr.Patrice Veraquin who is based in Rome came out in November’07 to our parish here and didn’t like the Latin Mass and no longer wants it celebrated here at our parish. He said this is not from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles but from the superior general Fr. Patrice. The Pastor continued to state that Fr. Patrice Veraquin was in consultation with someone in the Vatican that has to do with the liturgy and so Fr. Patrice made his decision on this after several months of prayer since November ’07 Our Pastor never gave the name of this person in the Vatican that Fr. Patrice was in consultation with. (Iam confident it wasn’t Our Holy Father.) Our Pastor said the Traditional Latin Mass was only on experimental trial, and now it has ended and is no longer allowed. (At this moment I felt like he was calling us lab animals in some kind of medical experiment). Our pastor said the superior General Fr. Patrice said, it is not in the Apostolic Work of The Oblates of The Blessed Virgin Mary to offer the Traditional Latin Mass. (I am saying to my self offering the Holy Mass is not an Apostolic Work of a Roman Catholic priest?) Our pastor said we only had 175 to 200 people who were regularly attending this Mass compared to the thousands that attend the NO mass.( for note my parish is a primarly a spanish speaking community with supposedly 25,000 families attending mostly spanish speaking and not always regularly .( Also to note we had a broad spectrum from the parish of different ethnic cultures attending the Tradional Latin Mass Hispanic, Philippino,and white european from elderly to young families to young single adults the mass was at 1pm every Sunday in The old church we had limited kneelers at the pews, people use carpet samplers or would bring their own kneelers. Three of the priests not the pastor out of the six priests we have at St. Peter Chanel were offering this Mass. We had several altar boys that went through training, we had a very small choir for the low Mass. We were also looking forward for a high Mass soon. ) Our pastor contined to tell us that we can go to other parishes that offer it in southern California. Well that means traveling anywhere to 20- 30 miles. (I felt , like others, that we were not wanted by our parish pastor as if we were some comodity that can be discarded!) I just couldn’t believe I was hearing this! Our pastor said, we the priests here have to be obedient to the superior. I say sure the priests have to be obedient, but what happen to obedience to the Holy Father. I am left very confused and heart broken. I have just become acustomed to this Mass and I love it! It is so reverent and peaceful. I asked someone if we can have at least the ordinary form in latin? I was told no, we can’t, because the superior Fr.Patrice, said No! to that too. I find all of this very disturbing and I just wanted to cry! I sense dissent from The Holy Father’s order on this from The superior general of The Oblates of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Obedience has a different meanning it seems to some priest superiors! Iam sorry if this was a little off the topic here on this post, but I have to let off some steam.

  32. jack burton says:

    This is extremely bad form but perhaps slightly related. I came across a comment on a thread which no longer accepts comments and I must respond briefly to one called xathar.

    xathar was quoted in the following manner, apparently insinuating that the Apostolic Tradition undermines the ideal of written liturgical prayers….

    xathar: AT 9:3—“The bishop shall give thanks according to all that was said above. [4] It is not at all necessary that he prays with the very same words given above, as though by an effort of memory giving thanks to God. Each shall pray whatever is according to his ability. [5] If someone has the ability to pray a lengthy and solemn prayer, that is well. If someone else, in praying, offers a short prayer, this is not to be prevented. That prayer must only be correct in orthodoxy.”

    Is this Cuming’s translation of the Sahidic text? “It is not at all necessary” would be better translated: “It is not absolutely necessary.” “Solemn prayer” is also a controversial choice of words. Cuming assumes that the missing Greek which underlies the Coptic may have been “solemn”; Dix suggests “grand and elevated”; – the most substantiated suggestion is that of Stewart-Skyes: “sophisticated.”

    Botte et al. have suggested that this text ought to be contrasted with the practice of set liturgical prayers when in fact such a contrast is alien to the author’s actual intent. The author is speaking of the sophistic practice of extempore exordium, which a clearer translation would obviously show. Interestingly, this text of the Hippolytean school was in fact influential in the transition away from extemporization and the crude suggestions such as that of Botte are simply anachronistic and confused.

    See: Stewart-Skyes, “On the Apostolic Tradition”, 92-93, 194; Easton, “Apostolic Tradition”, 81; Bouley, “From Freedom to Formula”, 118-128; Stewart-Skyes, “From Prophecy to Preaching”, 5.

  33. jack burton says:

    Furthermore Fr. Z’s statement that the Hippolytean text in question was not a genuine anaphora is not flat out wrong as xathar asserts. Fr. Z is correct that the scholarship on this source from the time of the novus ordo experts is now generally thought to be naive, and the assumption that this text provides a genuine Roman anaphora has been torn to shreds. This question is today treated with more skepticism and agnosticism than it was fifty years ago, and for good reason.

    “The composite character which the document displays extends also the individual ritual units within the text, such as ordination, baptism, and even the Eucharist itself, which appear to be artificial literary creations, made up of elements drawn from different local traditions rather than comprising a single authentic rite that was ever celebrated in that particular form anywhere in the world.” – Bradshaw, “The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship”, 83.

    “It would be naive in the extreme to read Apostlic Tradition as a simple description of Roman liturgy in the early third century, though this is the manner in which past commentators have tended to view the work…
    This opens up the question, however, of the extent to which the liturgies described and directed really reflect the conduct of the Hippolytean church, or whether they are simply idealizations of an armchair liturgist.” – Stewart-Skyes, “On the Apostolic Tradition”, 50; cf. Bradshaw, “The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship”, 104-109; Brent, “Hippolytus”, 458.

  34. jack burton says:

    Shucks, I only typed out half of what I meant to quote from Bradshaw in my last post…

    “This church order therefore deserves to be treated with greater circumspection than has generally been the case, and one ought not automatically to assume that it provides reliable information about the life and liturgical activity of the church in Rome in the early third century.” – Bradshaw, “Search”, 83.

  35. Please disabuse yourself, Mr Potter, of the fantasy, which you have expressed elsewehre a ffew times, that I have “an intense fear and loathing” of Benedict XVI. Such fantasies are a poor substitute for rational argument.

    I have read Benedict XVI since 1968, studied under him, and followed his career with much teh same sentiments as the majority of his colleagues at the time of the Council — sentiments most lucidly expressed by Hans Kung in his eloquent recent autobiographical volume, Umstrittene Wahrheit. These are not sentiments of fear and loathing (though several of his actions and documents have induced anger — much as my letters seem to anger you) but of concern at the damage his reactionary outlook is likely to do the church and of a certain pity, since I see him as engaged in a losing battle, as the fate of his motu proprio, for example, is showing. (I first had this sentiment when I read his Theologische Prinzipienlehre, which seemed to me a great falling-off; then we had the Ratzinger Report, with its eccentric querulousness, etc.).

  36. Please disabuse yourself, Mr Potter, of the fantasy, which you have expressed elsewehre a ffew times, that I have \”an intense fear and loathing\” of Benedict XVI. Such fantasies are a poor substitute for rational argument.

    I have read Benedict XVI since 1968, studied under him, and followed his career with much teh same sentiments as the majority of his colleagues at the time of the Council — sentiments most lucidly expressed by Hans Kung in his eloquent recent autobiographical volume, Umstrittene Wahrheit. These are not sentiments of fear and loathing (though several of his actions and documents have induced anger — much as my letters seem to anger you) but of concern at the damage his reactionary outlook is likely to do the church and of a certain pity, since I see him as engaged in a losing battle, as the fate of his motu proprio, for example, is showing. (I first had this sentiment when I read his Theologische Prinzipienlehre, which seemed to me a great falling-off; then we had the Ratzinger Report, with its eccentric querulousness, etc.).

  37. Let me say in praise of Benedict that he is an intelligent and dignified figure as Pope, sharing his patristic culture eloquently and understandably with the People of God; that he wrote some fine books in his youth, especially his thesis on St Augustine, and that his writings since he got caught up in the administration are peppered with remarks worthy of reflection; that he is a man of taste and culture, which should have a benign influence on the Church, not least in the liturgy.

    One must always try to do justice to and be respectful of such figures if one intends to maintain a “loyal” opposition on certain points, and one must also have a basic readiness for creative cooperation, such as was gently expressed by the newly appointed general of the Society of Jesus. And of course good manners and charity are mandatory always, and I am sorry if I have failed here on occasion.

  38. And of course I pray for the Pope in the Morning Offering and every time I celebrate the Eucharist, so my “fear and loathing” must be quite mild.

  39. jack burton says:

    As a young person of the current age I can testify to the fact that the phrase “spirit of Vatican II” sounds about as groovy as disco. Just fyi.

  40. jack burton says:

    As a young person of the current age I can testify to the fact that the phrase “spirit of Vatican II” sounds about as groovy as disco. Just fyi.

  41. Copernicus says:

    Pope Benedict: here and there I would wish still more charity and understanding towards the magisterium of the pope and bishops.

    Fr Z: Bishops, who should know better, are the real obstacles.

    A delightful irony, no?

  42. Habemus Papam says:

    TLM Tom: The Cardinals who elected Ratzinger were/are surely aware of his views on the liturgy as expressed in this letter. I take your point regarding JPIIs endorsement of the Novus Ordo (and Vatican II!), however I would like to know where Benedict XVI has said that the NO is “here to stay”?

  43. Copernicus says:

    Habemus: however I would like to know where Benedict XVI has said that the NO is “here to stay”?

    In this? –

    “The Synod of Bishops was able to evaluate the reception of the renewal in the years following the Council. There were many expressions of appreciation. The difficulties and even the occasional abuses which were noted, it was affirmed, cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored.”

  44. Habemus Papam says:

    Copernicus:”whose riches are yet to be fully explored”. Ah yes, a reformed Novus Ordo, something along the lines expounded in this letter, but surely not the NO as baptized by John Paul II?

  45. TLM_advocate says:

    Tom said:”As a Catechist, I can tell you that liturgical renewal without a radical overhaul and standardization of catechesis, starting from the youngest age, will fail. We have lost 30 years worth of Catholics to rotten religious education and a timid approach to the faith.”

    I feel that this is a very true statement. I went through 9 years of Catholic School in the 1980’s, got that Jesus is my friend stuff and was confirmed and that was it. A year or so after I was confirmed, our new parish priest started having Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and I was like, what is this. I never heard of a monstrance much less the hymns Tantum Ergo & O Salutaris Hostia. If the young are not taught “traditional practices” officially in CCD or Catholic School they will be soon forgotten and seen as odd to the majority of Catholic faithful. The Novus Ordo is the most exposure most Catholic’s get of their faith tradition, which is sad given the rich tradition that exists.

  46. mpk says:

    Here is George Weigel on the broadening availability of the older form of the Mass (reviewing the Marini book at Newliturgicalmovement): “I am no nostalgic in the matter of the pre-conciliar liturgy. The point today is to reform the reform, not effect a liturgical Thermidor in a futile attempt to recapture an often mis-remembered past. Surely, however, the “challenging reform” of the 21st century requires an account of 1964-69 that’s something more than cowboys-and-Indians, Vatican-style.”
    Pat

  47. Jordan Potter says:

    Father O’Leary said: Please disabuse yourself, Mr Potter, of the fantasy, which you have expressed elsewhere a few times, that I have “an intense fear and loathing” of Benedict XVI. Such fantasies are a poor substitute for rational argument.

    Father, it would be easier for me to disabuse myself of that opinion if you posted a lot more comments about Pope Benedict like yours above of 11 February 2008 @ 3:51 am, and much, much, much less of the sort that I usually have seen from you.

  48. Dove says:

    Suzanne, I could feel your sorrow as I read your posting. Is this not a case that could be appealed to the Bishop? If the people clearly want TLM can the superior of the order legitimately forbid it? Let’s hear from the regular posters. THis is truly a travesty.

  49. Susanne says:

    Dove, Our Bishop is Cardinal Roger Mahony. The Cardinal has to provide for our parish a priest who will offer the TLM. If the Cardinal doesn’t , I believe the Commision at the Vatican will get involved in the matter. Thank you for your support Dove. It is truely heart breaking for many people at St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California!

  50. Mr Potter, you can read my long review of the Pope’s Jesus book, which contains lots of positive comments, http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/06/benedict_xvi_on_1.html

    and also my review of Deus Caritas Est, which is nearly entirely positive. http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/02/love_conquers_a.html

  51. Jack Burton, do you think I don’t know exactly how the phrase sounds? It is almost a historical quotation, culled from the lips of Paul VI who used it regularly. Youth’s idolatry of their own “now” is a shallow investment, that soon runs out of steam. Embrace the wider tradition of teh Church is what an old fogy like me would tell you to do.

  52. jack burton says:

    Dear Spirit of Vatican II,

    In my opinion it is the tacky slogan that is irrelevant and distasteful, not the idea itself. While I find the idea of Vatican II as an “event” which leaves the letter of the Council in the dust to be asinine, I do believe that speaking of the spirit of the Council can be meaningful if such a phrase is not meant to imply the heterodox revisionist spirit that we all know so well. Quite often people who wear that phrase as a kind of slogan seem to believe in such a way that Vatican II (only in spirit of course) somehow brought forth a new religion that has little to do with historical Catholicism except perhaps that criticism and ridicule of the former Catholicism is a favorite pastime.
    What I reject, and what I believe any orthodox believer must reject, is the idea that daring mavericks of the 1960’s and 70’s architected a new religion that has rightfully deprecated the faith of the fathers and saints. You may say that this is not what you believe, but I have a lovely collection of theological journals from the 1960’s and 70’s in which key players perspicuously suggest otherwise. If anyone needs to embrace the wider tradition of the Church it is those who cannot think beyond the “spirit” of the 1960’s.

    One does not need to idolize and absolutize that famous pastoral synod of the 1960’s in order to appreciate the value of fostering fraternal respect and dialogue with other peoples and of bringing the faith to the modern world in appropriate ways. The interpretation of the spirit of this council as a call to radically reconstruct and revise the Catholic faith (a concept which the liturgical reforms express) is preposterous to me for many reasons (and for the record I embrace ressourcement and aggiornamento, albeit from a perspective of continuity and not arbitrary license). One such reason is the fact that the theology, spirituality and liturgy that this arrogantly supposed “breath of the Holy Spirit” has produced is quite frankly not at all compelling to anyone, modern or otherwise. If the banal religious philosophy that is pawned off as representing the true spirit of Vatican II is in fact the best that Catholicism has to offer I’m afraid it will be impotent in converting the world to Christ. What is so threatening about the idea of criticizing the Council in light of recent history and a holistic understanding of the faith? Why would such a thing be unwelcome to a camp that is generally associated with radical criticisms of the Scriptures and Church Tradition? The letter of Trent can be discarded but the supposed “spirit” of a certain pastoral council is absolute? What is really at stake? Syncretism? Feminism? Sexual morality? Perhaps it is that the spokesmen of this “spirit” realize that the heterodoxy and lack of authentic faith would be exposed. I assume since you invoke Pope Paul VI as one of your own you must be a big fan of Humanae Vitae. If not you must be somewhat inclined to agree that the revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s was not infallible or above criticism. Catholics were betrayed, abused and led astray in droves during those years and the various crises in the Church spawned during that rebellious generation are still with us. Why not reevaluate the Council and its implementation? Why not be suspicious of the so-called “spirit” of Vatican II? Can we at least focus on what we have in common and try to foster authentic dialogue in a spirit of liberty, fraternity and equality? What do we have in common anyway? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true man? Do you believe in the virgin birth?-Mary’s role as Coredemptrix and Mediatrix? Do you believe in the resurrection of the body?-Transubstantiation?-Or would you ridicule these beliefs as naïve and infantile; perhaps pre-Vatican II? I am being honest here since I have had plenty of “spirit of Vatican II” priests tell me things such as that the spirit of Vatican II means that belief in the Real Presence is “optional” and that various dogmas of the Church for which people have shed their blood are mere theologoumena that are now irrelevant to the mentality of modern man. How can people be expected to believe in the Resurrection in this age of radio?
    But it is not just weak faith that comes to mind when the phrase “spirit of Vatican II” is invoked to justify rejections of authentic Catholic tradition and identity; it is also reminiscent of worldliness, “humanization” as opposed to deification, and banality. The hermeneutic of continuity thing may in fact vindicate the Council from this unfortunate baggage of the modernist hijackers.

  53. jack burton says:

    The above rant is only a crude caricature of how the “spirit of Vatican II” slogan often resonates with me and I do not mean to impute any of that to you personally. I know nothing about you as a person and I like to think that I am not excessively presumptuous as the above sentiments might suggest. I’m sure you’re a fine person and I mean no disrespect. Unfortunately there is no delete feature so I can only apologize for any offense that my rashness may have caused.

  54. Fr Ó Buaidhe says:

    Fr MacCarthaigh:

    Not too L. Otherwise Fr Ó Fiannachta might hear, and I’d be in bother then all right ;-)

  55. “The interpretation of the spirit of this council as a call to radically reconstruct and revise the Catholic faith (a concept which the liturgical reforms express) is preposterous” – Surely it is preposterous to say that the liturgical reforms approved by Paul VI and the world’s bishops express a preposterous revision of Catholicism? The reforms, or better reforms that go in the same direction, are here to stay, so the Council has made at least that much of a difference. You cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube..

    “the theology, spirituality and liturgy that this arrogantly supposed “breath of the Holy Spirit” has produced is quite frankly not at all compelling to anyone, modern or otherwise.” It is a more honest and exposed theology. The theologians who are in reaction to it, including Balthasar, offer something compelling only if you want to live within an elegantly furnished intellectual ghetto. I find that Rahner, Congar, Schillebeeckx and Liberation Theology open up a space for theologizing that cannot be closed again.

    “What is so threatening about the idea of criticizing the Council in light of recent history and a holistic understanding of the faith?” John XXIII had lived through the years of Nazism and Stalinism in several countries; he knew the dark side; yet he warned repeatedly in the name of the Gospel against the prophets of doom.

    “Why would such a thing be unwelcome to a camp that is generally associated with radical criticisms of the Scriptures and Church Tradition?” Schillebeeckx, to take one example, devoted years of his life to intensive scriptural study; Balthasar’s take on Scripture is entirely filtered through Greek patristic categories. Liberation Theology too is deeply scriptural, whereas the Pope’s Jesus book shows a quite defensive attitude toward the social dimensions of Jesus’s message of the Kingdom of God.

    “ The letter of Trent can be discarded but the supposed “spirit” of a certain pastoral council is absolute?” The letter of any council is bound to its time and needs to be interpreted with a responsible hermeneutics. it does not mean “discarding” but seeing the deeper sense that the letter inadequately points to in the conditions of its time.

    “What is really at stake? Syncretism?” No, dialogue with all religious men and women of good will in whose hearts the Spirit is moving and whose religions express a ray of the enlightening Word. “ Feminism? Sexual morality?” Respect for persons.

    “I assume since you invoke Pope Paul VI as one of your own you must be a big fan of Humanae Vitae.” HV was surely one of the biggest faux pas into which the Vaticanist rollback on Vatican II landed the papacy. It was when he acted against the Council that Paul VI failed; the first failure was to take the issue of contraception out of the hands of the ordinary magisterium gathered at Rome; he received their critical responses respectfully in 1968 but later the authority of bishops’ conferences was systematically undercut in a series of Roman documents, and of course only yesmen who explicitly adhered to HV were appointed as bishops. In spite of all this the Catholic faithful have rejected HV en masse and there is not the faintest possibility that this situation can be reversed..

    “Why not reevaluate the Council and its implementation? Why not be suspicious of the so-called “spirit” of Vatican II?” The Council was a gloriously illuminating event, which radically changed the face of Catholicism, putting us in touch with sciptural, evangelical Christianity as never before and taking us out of a ghetto into creative dialogue with our Jewish, Protestant and non-Christian brethren. Its “implementation” was botched, largely because of Vatican obstructionism. But like the Bible, the Council still holds out a space of thought and a challenge that it is up to us, with God’s grace, to put into practice.

    “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true man?” Yes, but read my essays on that under the title “Christology” on my weblog. “Do you believe in the virgin birth?” Not as literal biological fact, but I respect that most Catholics are able to believe this. “Mary’s role as Coredemptrix and Mediatrix?” These are not part of Catholic teaching and actually savor of heresy. “Do you believe in the resurrection of the body?” Yes, but in the sense of I Corinthians 15. “Transubstantiation?” The total meal-event is transformed into a participation in the paschal mystery, and Christ is really present in the power of his paschal mystery. “Transubstantiation”, according to Trent, is a suitable word to express this. “That various dogmas of the Church for which people have shed their blood are mere theologoumena that are now irrelevant to the mentality of modern man.” Well, this is probably true. People shed their blood to defend the Pope’s right to depose monarchs (as defined in Unam Sanctam). “How can people be expected to believe in the Resurrection in this age of radio?” I would have thought that a good apologist could use the invisible force of radio as an argument for not closing our minds to belief in invisible realities.

    “worldliness, “humanization” as opposed to deification” – there is no opposition, “God so loved the world,” Christ makes us more human, “deification” means that we are saved from the darkness of ignorance and corruption and become open to the divine, and htus more integrally human.

  56. Tom says:

    Habemus Papam wrote: “TLM Tom: The Cardinals who elected Ratzinger were/are surely aware of his views on the liturgy as expressed in this letter. I take your point regarding JPIIs endorsement of the Novus Ordo (and Vatican II!), however I would like to know where Benedict XVI has said that the NO is “here to stay”?”

    “Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.”

  57. jack burton says:

    Dear Spirit of Vatican II,

    Thank you for your cool reply. I must admit at the outset that I am basically a whippersnapper with next to zero academic credentials so do excuse me for pretending to know anything about anything.

    SV2 said: “Surely it is preposterous to say that the liturgical reforms approved by Paul VI and the world’s bishops express a preposterous revision of Catholicism? The reforms, or better reforms that go in the same direction, are here to stay, so the Council has made at least that much of a difference. You cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube…”

    The bishops of the world approved Sacrosanctum Concilium and the history of the supposed implementation of that document makes clear that one cannot simply say that Pope Paul VI and the world’s bishops approved of what followed. The main body of the work was done in virtual secrecy with minimal involvement from anyone outside Bugnini’s clique. Many of the distinct features of the “reformed” liturgy were objected to by Pope Paul VI (among many others) and have more to do with dissent and maneuvering than with the actual intentions of the Pope and consensus of bishops. A case in point would be the destruction of the Roman Canon. The Council did not call for new Eucharistic prayers and when the question of editing the Roman Canon was considered early on the Council fathers shot it down quite decisively. Pope Paul VI, the CDF, pretty much everyone of significance outside of the Consilium (or later CDW) opposed the idea which was campaigned by Bugnini and company as a strategic way of channeling and ultimately gaining control over the scandalous epidemic of liturgical improvisation that had erupted in places such as the Netherlands after initial instigation by such figures as Hans Kung. Of course the agenda incrementally gained more and more ground all the way up until the dismissal of Bugnini and the mothballing of the CDW. The point is that it was an agenda of the heterodox who took advantage of a situation in which the Church was weakened and the “sheep” (including the masses of “peasant” clergy) were confused and easily manipulated. In fact many if not most of the distinct changes of this kind (Communion on the hand, the death of sacred music, radical vernacularism, et cetera, ad nauseum) involve the same basic pattern and thus identifying the post-conciliar liturgical landscape as simply the will of the Council fathers and Pope Paul VI is so crass a simplification as to be virtually meaningless. Even in the last years of his papacy Pope Paul VI spoke of the gaping defects in the “implementation” of the liturgical reform such as the disappearance of Latin and Gregorian chant. According to the manifest mind of Pope Paul VI I would dare say that he believed that a certain “continuity” with tradition was lacking in the liturgical reform as it stood in the 1970’s.
    I think some recent words of Pope Benedict describe the sentiments of a great many bishops in the aftermath of the liturgical reform.
    “The Liturgical Movement had in fact been attempting…to teach us to understand the Liturgy as a living network of tradition that had taken concrete form, that cannot be torn apart into little pieces, but that has to be seen and experienced as a living whole. Anyone who, like me, was moved by this perception in the time of the Liturgical Movement on the eve of the Second Vatican Council can only stand, deeply sorrowing, before the ruins of the very things they were concerned for.”

    SV2 said: “It is a more honest and exposed theology. The theologians who are in reaction to it, including Balthasar, offer something compelling only if you want to live within an elegantly furnished intellectual ghetto. I find that Rahner, Congar, Schillebeeckx and Liberation Theology open up a space for theologizing that cannot be closed again.”

    I think you are confusing skepticism and lack of faith with honesty and authenticity. There is nothing “dishonest” about the theology of von Balthasar. I am reminded of Keifer’s book “The Mass in a Time of Doubt” (as an aside Keifer clearly asserts that most of the changes in the celebration of the Mass owe more to grassroots initiatives and “agents of reform” than to the Pope or Council; of course this is a man who apparently believes that dissent is what really governs the Church), not really the contents of the book specifically but a trend in thinking that it represents; namely that faith is too much to expect of people and that the faith needs to be broken down and translated into rationalistic terms that do not demand theological virtues in any remarkable sense. This is really what the seduction of modernism (a term I don’t prefer so please excuse my simplicity) comes down to in my opinion. The theological virtue of faith is replaced by an essentially modernist religious philosophy thoroughly laced with immanentism and positivism. I’m not trying to single out anyone – the subject is far too general for that – but in my opinion modernist theologians often appear to be merely religious philosophers, generally indistinguishable from their liberal Protestant counterparts. I believe there are concrete epistemological and existential reasons why you would characterize von Balthasar’s thought as an “elegantly furnished intellectual ghetto” in juxtaposition with the thought of men like Rahner and Schillebeeckx. Not having the expertise to adequately contrast these complex and prolific figures I can at least attempt to generalize a bit and suggest that there are different methodological boundaries rooted in two (broadly speaking) alethiological dynamics; the former is more expressive of religious experience and the structure of Divine Revelation; the latter is more expressive of the legacy of German Idealism and of course forms of immanentism that are blatantly obvious on many fronts.
    My only point is that your evaluation strikes me as a limited subjective impression and that from a different point of view (no less valid perhaps) Schillebeeckx and liberation theology might appear to be impoverished. Of course a common post-enlightenment misconception is to confuse reductionism and cynicism with intellectual honesty and competence. From the perspective of supernatural faith and Christian theoria it is quite possible that what some would define as “theology” would be considered a limited tool of a bigger and more meaningful definition of theology (for the record I have enjoyed Rahner and Congar in many respects – having read but a portion of their writings – so don’t read me as applying my broad generalization to such fecund and complex thinkers without qualification).

    SV2 said: “John XXIII had lived through the years of Nazism and Stalinism in several countries; he knew the dark side; yet he warned repeatedly in the name of the Gospel against the prophets of doom.”

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here so I have no response. Interest point to ponder however.

    SV2 said: “Schillebeeckx, to take one example, devoted years of his life to intensive scriptural study; Balthasar’s take on Scripture is entirely filtered through Greek patristic categories. Liberation Theology too is deeply scriptural, whereas the Pope’s Jesus book shows a quite defensive attitude toward the social dimensions of Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God.”

    Certainly Catholic theology is not merely “Biblical Theology” as defined by modern specialists. So you don’t jive with Balthasar’s methods; they seem pretty sound based on the criteria of the Church for authentic Catholic theology. Did Vatican II turn Catholicism into liberal Protestantism? I think a bit of ressourcement from the Greek Patristic side of things is most valuable for the Church in the modern world and certainly in keeping with the “spirit of Vatican II.”

    SV2 said: “The letter of any council is bound to its time and needs to be interpreted with a responsible hermeneutics. it does not mean “discarding” but seeing the deeper sense that the letter inadequately points to in the conditions of its time.”

    In fact I agree with this statement but I suspect that we understand the implications of it very differently. I assume that you would that it is fair to apply this logic to the groundbreaking pastoral synod of the 1960’s?

    SV2 said: “No, dialogue with all religious men and women of good will in whose hearts the Spirit is moving and whose religions express a ray of the enlightening Word… Respect for persons.”

    We share these values in common but I think we would translate them differently in the concrete considering that we obviously differ dramatically in our understanding of how the Catholic religion fits into this picture. You may be surprised, but I consider values and such to be inline with the spirit and letter of Vatican II in this regard; no joke. I suppose you would at least swear by the spirit of the Council so perhaps this is some common ground.

    SV2 said: “HV was surely one of the biggest faux pas into which the Vaticanist rollback on Vatican II landed the papacy. It was when he acted against the Council that Paul VI failed; the first failure was to take the issue of contraception out of the hands of the ordinary magisterium gathered at Rome; he received their critical responses respectfully in 1968 but later the authority of bishops’ conferences was systematically undercut in a series of Roman documents, and of course only yes-men who explicitly adhered to HV were appointed as bishops. In spite of all this the Catholic faithful have rejected HV en masse and there is not the faintest possibility that this situation can be reversed…”

    I honestly wasn’t sure how you would roll with that question and I’m sad to see the heterodox perspective (although I don’t doubt your sincerity). It would be a bit off topic to enter into a systematic defense of the Church’s moral teachings and although I assume you’ve been through the motions on this many times I feel compelled to challenge you on this one. Perhaps I’ll start a blog in your honor and try to ruffle your feathers enough to dialogue with me.

    SV2 said: “The Council was a gloriously illuminating event, which radically changed the face of Catholicism, putting us in touch with scriptural, evangelical Christianity as never before and taking us out of a ghetto into creative dialogue with our Jewish, Protestant and non-Christian brethren.”

    Of course there have been fruits and I would not presume to invalidate the many excellent developments of the last 40 years. I’m sure our list of priorities would differ greatly however. For example I consider Humanae Vitae and the subsequent teachings of John Paul II on sexual morality to be a great achievement of the post-Conciliar Church. I also consider the motu proprio of Pope Benedict to be one of the most important steps toward a full realization of the vision of the Council since the liturgical reform went haywire.

    SV2 said: “Its “implementation” was botched, largely because of Vatican obstructionism. But like the Bible, the Council still holds out a space of thought and a challenge that it is up to us, with God’s grace, to put into practice.”

    The way I see it the Church was spared from virtual apostasy at the last minute. I think it is clear from the events of the early 1970’s that Pope Paul VI lamented having entrusted so much to Bugnini and company. Pope John Paul II inherited a Church in profound crisis in more ways than one and he managed to accomplish many things, but I’m sure he would be the first to admit that there is much, much more to be done; and I’m not talking about the Call To Action agenda.

    SV2 said: “I would have thought that a good apologist could use the invisible force of radio as an argument for not closing our minds to belief in invisible realities.”

    It was an allusion to Bultmann for no purpose other than a cheap effect. The idea is that I’ve noticed a recurring mentality underlying a lot the more faithless scholarship to the effect that “God is dead, and we have killed Him.” What I mean is that since “modern man” has worked so many marvels – you know, radio, moon landings, nukes – we don’t really need God and miracles anymore. You get the idea so I won’t elaborate further except to say that I mean to speak of a kind of attitude more than something that is explicitly affirmed by so-and-so.
    I personally wouldn’t use the radio argument for belief in invisible realities because I don’t think the real issue is detectability by the naked senses. The existence and properties of radio waves can be accounted for in empirical terms; it would strike me as only slightly more advanced than the idea that wind and air support a belief in unseen spiritual realities.

    I’ll have to respond to the few remaining statements later as I must go to the store… Peace.

  58. Habemus Papam says:

    Tom: Right. Is this quote from the motu propio or the covering letter for Bishops?

  59. RBrown says:

    “ The letter of Trent can be discarded but the supposed “spirit” of a certain pastoral council is absolute?” The letter of any council is bound to its time and needs to be interpreted with a responsible hermeneutics. it does not mean “discarding” but seeing the deeper sense that the letter inadequately points to in the conditions of its time.
    Comment by Spirit of Vatican II

    Your comment is obviously from Karl Rahner. I find it ironic that you would hold that dogmatic definitions are time bound, yet you are stuck in a theology whose day has long since come and gone.

    No one is interested in Karl Rahner anymore.

  60. jack burton says:

    I believe that dogmatic formulations have a historical context and that doctrines can be misunderstood, or perhaps that the understanding of the doctrine can change, based on the simple fact that such formulations are bound to language which is diachronic and anthropologically conditioned. I wouldn’t affirm the statement that “the letter of any council is bound to its time” without qualification, but this is why I believe the key is that doctrine “needs to be interpreted with a responsible hermeneutics.” That is the crux right there; what is the nature of said responsible hermeneutics? I think it is here that SV2 and I would dramatically part ways.

  61. RBrown says:

    I believe that dogmatic formulations have a historical context and that doctrines can be misunderstood, or perhaps that the understanding of the doctrine can change, based on the simple fact that such formulations are bound to language which is diachronic and anthropologically conditioned. I wouldn’t affirm the statement that “the letter of any council is bound to its time” without qualification, but this is why I believe the key is that doctrine “needs to be interpreted with a responsible hermeneutics.” That is the crux right there; what is the nature of said responsible hermeneutics? I think it is here that SV2 and I would dramatically part ways.
    Comment by jack burton

    The problem is that he would probably say that Chalcedon (of which Rahner was not fond–and I’m being kind) was written in Greek categories, and now our “responsible hermeneutic” is categories of German philosophy.

    You must understand that Rahner and Schillebeeckx were the post modern version of neo-scholastics. But they used German philosophical categories instead of Greek ones.

    More both are did not use philosophy to explain Scripture (like the neo scholastics) but rather selected texts of Scripture that would seem to justify German Existentialism. They somehow deluded themselves into thinking that there is a link between apophatic theology and philosophical subjectivism.

    What they produced was just an updated version of Hegel.

  62. RBrown says:

    “More both are did not use philosophy to explain Scripture (like the neo scholastics)”

    should be:

    “More importantly, both did not . . . “

  63. jack burton says:

    Thank you RBrown. I am certainly inclined to agree, for as I said above, I consider Rahner and Schillebeeckx to be primarily religious philosophers and not theologians in the full traditional sense. I count Florovsky, Lossky and Schmemann among my list of favorite 20th century theologians if this says anything about where I’m coming from.

  64. I do not think one can say that the liturgical reform was foisted on the Church in the way Jack Burton claims. This demonizing of Bugnini is an over-exploited traditionalist talking point. The fact is that the Vatican approved the current English translation of the Roman Canon in 1970, and while I find much that is flat in vernacular versions of the liturgy, this English version of the Roman Canon seems fine to me. A point to bear in mind is that TLM supporters do not want the Scriptures read to them in the vernacular — surely that puts them very much at odds with Vatican II, with all other Christian churches, and with the Church of the Fathers. Improve the quality of translations, the lectionary menu, and the training of lectors, I say, but do not silence the Scriptures.

    I am flattered to think I was unconsciously quoting Karl Rahner, though the point in question is one very widely made by Catholic theologians. My objection to Balthasar is not his patristic learning — I appreciate highly his books on Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus Confessor. My objection is his idolization of patristic categories and his refusal to let them be solicited either by Scripture or by modern questions. Rahner and Schillebeeckx both love Chalcedon. I was at a lecture by Schillebeeckx in 1974 and he was asked to sum up the meaning of Christ in one senstence. His reply: “I cannot do better than repeat the statement of Chalcedon.” But both of them point to the need to translate Chalcedon into contemporary terms, or to advance our christological thinking within the horizon Chalcedon defined. (Many years later I met Schillebeeckx at a conference in Nijmegen; I had just bought a book on Chalcedon past and present, which Schillebeeckx eagerly took and looked through.) A lot of wannabe “orthodox” people are drenched in monophysitism and unwaree of the complexity and subtlety of the Chalcedonian horizon.

  65. jack burton says:

    Thank you for your reply Spirit of Vatican II. I have enough lucidity for a partial response (it is 3 am here).

    SV2 said: “I do not think one can say that the liturgical reform was foisted on the Church in the way Jack Burton claims. This demonizing of Bugnini is an over-exploited traditionalist talking point. The fact is that the Vatican approved the current English translation of the Roman Canon in 1970, and while I find much that is flat in vernacular versions of the liturgy, this English version of the Roman Canon seems fine to me.”

    My intention was to indicate something of why the liturgical climate of haphazard experimentation that erupted after the Council cannot be called simply the will of the Council and Pope Paul VI (or even Bugnini for that matter). My little narrative was simplistic but it is primarily based on Bugnini’s own documentation in “La riforma liturgica.” I have not intention of demonizing Bugnini and I agree that this is generally overdone, but he was a key player and in some respects the key player. Anyway, the Canon was just one example; look into it and I’m sure you will be forced to concede that the multiplication of Eucharistic prayers was pushed through by the factor of dissent and liturgical crisis rather than the explicit desire of the Council or Pope Paul VI. Bugnini and many other experts believed that new Eucharistic prayers would be good in themselves (pastorally and so forth) but the events that led to the actual promulgation of new prayers is much more complex. The only point is that it is not fair to assume that all of the details of the reform (even some major elements) were simply the will of the Council and Popes.
    I don’t have a problem with the vernacular and between you and me I think it would have been nice if Trent had introduced some vernacular (might have saved us a lot of trouble). I do have a problem with radical vernacularism, which is the attitude that Latin has no place in the liturgy or perhaps that Latin is intrinsically hostile to authentic active participation. I understand many of the reasons why people prefer substantially vernacular liturgy and I don’t have a problem with this preference. Sure, it would be nice if everyone shared my love and appreciation of Latin, and experienced it as an extremely edifying and dignified language of prayer, but I don’t see myself as a crusader poised to slay the enemies of Latin. Vernacular has been rightfully introduced and the preference among many Catholics is perfectly valid.

    “A point to bear in mind is that TLM supporters do not want the Scriptures read to them in the vernacular—surely that puts them very much at odds with Vatican II, with all other Christian churches, and with the Church of the Fathers. Improve the quality of translations, the lectionary menu, and the training of lectors, I say, but do not silence the Scriptures.”

    I think it has been common practice for a long time among TLM parishes to give the readings in the vernacular. At my parish the readings are solemnly intoned in Latin from the epistle side and gospel side of the altar but before the homily the readings are read in the vernacular as well. It is a bit redundant for me since I follow in the missal and am comfortable enough with Latin anyway, but it is certainly an understandable practice that I don’t think many traddies would object to (I could be wrong).

    The main criticism I have with the way the vernacular was introduced was that the enthusiasms were somewhat inordinate. It was thought that the vernacular was some kind of golden ticket that would automatically bring about authentic actual participation and deeper liturgical spirituality. I’m sure the banality of the ICEL translation is a factor here, but nonetheless I believe the vernacular is quite often overrated. I think this inordinate and naïve enthusiasm fueled contempt for Latin which is hardly the way to go in my opinion. The vernacular was meant to be introduced as complimentary to the Latin and not in bitter opposition. But what do I know…

    Peace.

  66. That is all quite reasonable, Jack Burton. But factor in the role of committees in the falt ICEL translations. The French liturgy is better, because a poet was involved.

    Latin chants and prayers are fine, but we could also bring more of the beauty and creativity of contemporary language and music to play. But there is too much fear of any movement to allow this.

    I just don’t see anything resembling a solution to the liturgical crisis in the Motu Proprio. Going back to Latin is a panacea that will work only for a tiny minority.

  67. That is all quite reasonable, Jack Burton. But factor in the role of committees in the falt ICEL translations. The French liturgy is better, because a poet was involved.

    Latin chants and prayers are fine, but we could also bring more of the beauty and creativity of contemporary language and music to play. But there is too much fear of any movement to allow this.

    I just don’t see anything resembling a solution to the liturgical crisis in the Motu Proprio. Going back to Latin is a panacea that will work only for a tiny minority.

  68. RBrown says:

    I am flattered to think I was unconsciously quoting Karl Rahner, though the point in question is one very widely made by Catholic theologians. My objection to Balthasar is not his patristic learning—I appreciate highly his books on Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus Confessor. My objection is his idolization of patristic categories and his refusal to let them be solicited either by Scripture or by modern questions. Rahner and Schillebeeckx both love Chalcedon. I was at a lecture by Schillebeeckx in 1974 and he was asked to sum up the meaning of Christ in one senstence. His reply: “I cannot do better than repeat the statement of Chalcedon.” But both of them point to the need to translate Chalcedon into contemporary terms, or to advance our christological thinking within the horizon Chalcedon defined. (Many years later I met Schillebeeckx at a conference in Nijmegen; I had just bought a book on Chalcedon past and present, which Schillebeeckx eagerly took and looked through.) A lot of wannabe “orthodox” people are drenched in monophysitism and unwaree of the complexity and subtlety of the Chalcedonian horizon.
    Comment by Spirit of Vatican II

    Of course, the reference to Monophysitism is also rooted in Rahner.

    Just because a theology opposes Monophysitism doesn’t mean it is good Christology. Nestorianism, of which Rahner was accused, is also opposed to Monophysitism. Further, Rahner’s “Christology from below” assumes–as do Protestants like Bultmann and von Harnack, that the earliest Christology is Low. In fact, recent Biblical research shows that the Pauline Hymns, the Highest of High Christology, were composed very early.

    To reject Greek formulations of dogma is also an a priori rejection of the New Testament.

  69. Tom says:

    Habemus Papam wrote: “Is this quote from the motu propio or the covering letter for Bishops?”

    Yes.

    TLM Tom

  70. Tom says:

    Habemus Papam wrote: “Is this quote from the motu propio or the covering letter for Bishops?”

    The cover letter to the Bishops.

    TLM Tom

  71. “Just because a theology opposes Monophysitism doesn’t mean it is good Christology.”

    Of course.

    ” Nestorianism, of which Rahner was accused,” — very unjustly, I should think; and WHO made this accusation?

    “Rahner’s “Christology from below” assumes—as do Protestants like Bultmann and von Harnack, that the earliest Christology is Low. In fact, recent Biblical research shows that the Pauline Hymns, the Highest of High Christology, were composed very early.”

    This sounds more like Kung than Rahner, though to Kung’s surprise Rahner found nothing shcoking to orthodoxy in his book On Being a Christian.

    The Philippians hymn was always known to be early, but there is dispute as to how its Christology should be read. It has an adoptionist vision of Jesus being exalted and given the divine nname.

    I agree that the image of progressive heightening of Christology from Paul to Mark to Luke to John is problematic.

    “To reject Greek formulations of dogma is also an a priori rejection of the New Testament.”

    Neither Rahner nor Schillebeeckx nor myself for that matter have rejected Greek fromulations of dogma. Rather in fidelity to the truth those formulations aim at they have sought to retrieve the biblical image of Christ beyond a metaphysical enclosure, in line with John XXIII&s principle :

    “the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a Magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.” (Gaudet Mater Ecclesia)

  72. RBrown says:

    ” Nestorianism, of which Rahner was accused,”—very unjustly, I should think; and WHO made this accusation?

    Interesting that you would ask who made the accusation. Above you make vague reference to opinions widely held by Catholic theologians On another site you vaguely mention that some Episcopal conferences think Humanae Vitae is not binding on conscience. So it’s a little silly for you suddenly to think that specific references are important.

    Having said that, I’ll simply say that Rahner’s Trinitarian theology is dependent of the Filioque, which, as St Thomas says, is an antidote to Nestorianism.

    “Rahner’s “Christology from below” assumes—as do Protestants like Bultmann and von Harnack, that the earliest Christology is Low. In fact, recent Biblical research shows that the Pauline Hymns, the Highest of High Christology, were composed very early.”

    This sounds more like Kung than Rahner, though to Kung’s surprise Rahner found nothing shcoking to orthodoxy in his book On Being a Christian.

    The Philippians hymn was always known to be early, but there is dispute as to how its Christology should be read. It has an adoptionist vision of Jesus being exalted and given the divine nname.

    You’ve just given an excellent example of the poor theological method I referred to earlier: Select texts that seem to support an opinion, but ignore those that don’t. You’ve mentioned Phil (which is of course the source of the radical Kenotic theology of Luther), but you fail to mention Col, which is High Christology, very ontological.

    There is no text without context.

    I agree that the image of progressive heightening of Christology from Paul to Mark to Luke to John is problematic.

    “To reject Greek formulations of dogma is also an a priori rejection of the New Testament.”

    Neither Rahner nor Schillebeeckx nor myself for that matter have rejected Greek fromulations of dogma. Rather in fidelity to the truth those formulations aim at they have sought to retrieve the biblical image of Christ beyond a metaphysical enclosure, in line with John XXIII&s principle :

    Not a theoretical rejection (see below) but a practical one–the preference of dogmatic formulations according to the categories of outdated German philosophy.

    “the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a Magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.” (Gaudet Mater Ecclesia)
    Comment by Spirit of Vatican II

    In no way does that text indicate that somehow the categories of German philosophy (that went out of fashion with disco music, as someone mentioned above) should be used.

    Let’s face it: You are endorsing a theological method that is based on equivocation, i.e., theological expressions that can include contradictory elements. In my classes I have often called this method Semi-Arian Theology. Such an approach is very effective for lawyers who have to defend double-murderers, but it does very little to enlighten the faith of Catholics.

    BTW, the Conciliar use of the word “Transubstantiation” goes back to Lateran IV, predating Trent by over 300 years.

  73. RBrown says:

    Spirit of Vat II,

    You also make mention of your concern at the damage his reactionary outlook is likely to do the church,

    I can only conclude that you have been a prisoner of war and missed the events of the past 40 years. We’ve had a mass exodus from the priesthood and religious orders, few vocations, priests and bishops who are active homosexuals (sometimes with young men), priests (and at least one bishop) dead from AIDS, suicides in the priesthood (I know of two from Ireland) and religious orders, and . . . theological obfuscators who are purveyors of an untheology.

    What more damage can be done?

  74. Just Google to discover which Episcopal Conferences said HV was not binding on conscience. THe Canadians certainly.

    Colossians is probably a much later text than Philippians, and has much less prima facie
    relevance to the question of the divinity of Christ, which is why I did not bother to mention it.

    I have criticized Rahner’s metaphysical categories in my book “Questioning Back” but in no way do they imply a rejection of Chalcedon or any unorthodoxy. I would not be so sure the categories are as hopelessly out of date as you suggest, any more than the categories of Aristotle or St. Thomas are.

    “We’ve had a mass exodus from the priesthood and religious orders, few vocations, priests and bishops who are active homosexuals (sometimes with young men), priests (and at least one bishop) dead from AIDS, suicides in the priesthood (I know of two from Ireland) and religious orders, and… theological obfuscators who are purveyors of an untheology. What more damage can be done?”

    It can be argued that not Vatican II but the failure to implement it – including the refusal to question the opportuneness of the celibacy law – is the cause of this, alongside the sexual revolution. The obfuscators, it seems to me, are not Liberation Theology or Rahner but those who have prevented Catholic theological culture from flourishing and who have caused a serious brain drain in the Church.

    I can imagine more damage: the final discouragement of the laity, except for a small remnant. The transformation of the Roman Catholic Church into a historical fossil like the Coptic Church — beautiful, spiritual, undying but unconnected with the wider world. The growth of intransigent fanaticism within that remnant, making Catholicism synonymous with anti-democratic politics. The complete alienation of Catholicism from our sister churches and the complete abandonment of scriptural culture.

  75. Just Google to discover which Episcopal Conferences said HV was not binding on conscience. THe Canadians certainly.

    Colossians is probably a much later text than Philippians, and has much less prima facie
    relevance to the question of the divinity of Christ, which is why I did not bother to mention it.

    I have criticized Rahner’s metaphysical categories in my book “Questioning Back” but in no way do they imply a rejection of Chalcedon or any unorthodoxy. I would not be so sure the categories are as hopelessly out of date as you suggest, any more than the categories of Aristotle or St. Thomas are.

    “We’ve had a mass exodus from the priesthood and religious orders, few vocations, priests and bishops who are active homosexuals (sometimes with young men), priests (and at least one bishop) dead from AIDS, suicides in the priesthood (I know of two from Ireland) and religious orders, and… theological obfuscators who are purveyors of an untheology. What more damage can be done?”

    It can be argued that not Vatican II but the failure to implement it – including the refusal to question the opportuneness of the celibacy law – is the cause of this, alongside the sexual revolution. The obfuscators, it seems to me, are not Liberation Theology or Rahner but those who have prevented Catholic theological culture from flourishing and who have caused a serious brain drain in the Church.

    I can imagine more damage: the final discouragement of the laity, except for a small remnant. The transformation of the Roman Catholic Church into a historical fossil like the Coptic Church — beautiful, spiritual, undying but unconnected with the wider world. The growth of intransigent fanaticism within that remnant, making Catholicism synonymous with anti-democratic politics. The complete alienation of Catholicism from our sister churches and the complete abandonment of scriptural culture.

  76. The Belgian bishops also upheld the right to conscientious dissent from HV http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE4DC1E3BF933A05750C0A961948260

    So did the Japanese bishops/

  77. Excellent fisking, Fr Z.

    =======

    As for some other comments above….

    Let’s see, what’s it called? Ah, yes. I remember. The old Prinzip der Prinzipienlosigkeit… That’s it… “Truth” by way of the tyranny of democracy… Exactly how the Living Truth Himself was crucified by those who wanted only their opinion. The Holy Spirit, instead, forms us into the unchanging Truth, Christ Himself, we becoming members of His Body.

  78. Spirit of Vatican II says:

    As a comment on the Canadian, Belgian and Japanese episcopal conferences’ responses to Humanae Vitae, the following, if that is what it is intended as, does not seem to me to be very not apt: “Let’s see, what’s it called? Ah, yes. I remember. The old Prinzip der Prinzipienlosigkeit… That’s it… “Truth” by way of the tyranny of democracy… Exactly how the Living Truth Himself was crucified by those who wanted only their opinion.”

    Paul VI recognized the teaching authority of the bishops and allowed them to practice it in their reception of his encyclical. Their response was not based on Prinzipienlosigkeit but on the principles of responsible pastoral judgment and respect for freedom of conscience. The argument that the teaching on contraception is infallible in virtue of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium (a Roman thesis smuggled into Vatican II) has been made impossible by the fact that the most articulate and well-prepared representatives of the ordinary magisterium received Humanae Vitae in such an attenuative and dubitative manner.

  79. As a comment on the Canadian, Belgian and Japanese episcopal conferences\’ responses to Humanae Vitae, the following, if that is what it is intended as, does not seem to me to be very not apt: \”Let’s see, what’s it called? Ah, yes. I remember. The old Prinzip der Prinzipienlosigkeit… That’s it… “Truth” by way of the tyranny of democracy… Exactly how the Living Truth Himself was crucified by those who wanted only their opinion.\”

    Paul VI recognized the teaching authority of the bishops and allowed them to practice it in their reception of his encyclical. Their response was not based on Prinzipienlosigkeit but on the principles of responsible pastoral judgment and respect for freedom of conscience. The argument that the teaching on contraception is infallible in virtue of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium (a Roman thesis smuggled into Vatican II) has been made impossible by the fact that the most articulate and well-prepared representatives of the ordinary magisterium received Humanae Vitae in such an attenuative and dubitative manner.

  80. Ah yes, morality by brute force of numbers… How does that work? I get it, now! With two non-sequiturs:

    (1a) trashing morality as “A Roman thesis smuggled in Vatican II”;

    (2a) claiming that conscience is free.

    Instead:

    (1b) The Pope is the Bishop of Rome. That’s where one can find the Vatican. That’s where Vatican II took place. Perhaps that is unknown.

    (2b) Conscience is a practical judgment. The conscience itself is not free. One’s conscience is to be formed in attentiveness to natural law and the teaching of the Church. One is free to accept the practical judgment from such a properly formed conscience. One is also free, as Saint Paul says in Romans 1, to suppress the very truth to which conscience would have us assent, but that decision brings with it horrific inversion, of which he speaks.

    One is free to against Humanae Vitae and abort kids with the pill, as one is free to use condoms and treat another person like a piece of meat upon which to abuse oneself, making for no discerment of male and female and, therefore, leading to a culture of viciousness and homosexuality, as Saint Paul points out in Romans 1. Saint Paul mentions that using one’s freedom to become a slave of sin leads to punishment, both in this world and in the next.

    These things mortally insult the Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ’s marriage with His Bride, the Church. His marriage redeems the marriage for which we were created, male and female, together, the image of God, bearing fruit.

    Of course, it is convenient to forget what Christ said about what is done to the least of these is done to Him. Leading people to abuse each other sexually, leading people to murder their children, and leading people to despise the fruitful marriage of Christ with His Bride the Church is NOT good; it is not “responsible pastoral judgment”. Saying something is doubtful doesn’t mean it is.

    But maybe I’ve misread all this, for, after all, what is a double-negative: “does not seem to me to be very not apt”?

    Perhaps I’m missing the point in that I’m actually thinking someone is serious is positing such rubbish which seems to strongly to go against mankind, against the Church, against Christ. Anyway, there we have it, whatever comes… I mean, how does one deal with someone who thinks that episcopal conferences are necessarily made up of saints who are necessarily better than the Living Truth, who is Christ, so much better, that they can decide to set out to destroy Him in the least of our brethren…

    Christ was on the Cross for a reason. The reason for the original post is how to go about worshipping Christ in the best way. The question is…

    “What is the best way to celebrate the marriage of Christ with His Bride, the Church, the Last Supper, the Wedding Banquet, Calvary, the Consummation, as it were, of the Marriage, in total self-giving, in drawing all to Himself?”

    The answer is not to be found in abusing marriage and the fruit of marriage.

  81. Stan says:

    Episcopal conferences as such have absolutely no more magisterial or even moral authority, in fact they have less, than the bishops severally in their dioceses. ECs are administrative conveniences. The ordinary episcopal magisterium is constituted by the bishops teaching in their own dioceses. For SV2 to assert that

    “Paul VI recognized the teaching authority of the bishops and allowed them to practice it in their reception of his encyclical . . . . the most articulate and well-prepared representatives of the ordinary magisterium received Humanae Vitae in . . . an attenuative and dubitative manner”

    is misleading, since no pope would or could “allow” bishops to teach authentically the contradictory of what he had already taught magisterially (HV was addressed to the entire church and dealt with a matter of “faith and morals” — revisit para. 4 for starters); and of course “the most articulate and well-prepared representatives” is a throwaway line involving nothing more than opinion and rhetorical ploy.

  82. Stan says:

    Episcopal conferences as such have absolutely no more magisterial or even moral authority, in fact they have less, than the bishops severally in their dioceses. ECs are administrative conveniences. The ordinary episcopal magisterium is constituted by the bishops teaching in their own dioceses. For SV2 to assert that

    “Paul VI recognized the teaching authority of the bishops and allowed them to practice it in their reception of his encyclical . . . . the most articulate and well-prepared representatives of the ordinary magisterium received Humanae Vitae in . . . an attenuative and dubitative manner”

    is misleading, since no pope would or could “allow” bishops to teach authentically the contradictory of what he had already taught magisterially (HV was addressed to the bishops generally and was on a matter of “faith and morals”—revisit para. 4 for starters); and of course “the most articulate and well-prepared representatives” is a throwaway line involving nothing more than opinion and rhetorical ploy.

  83. Stan says:

    And I’d love to be shown where, in the documents of Vatican II, there is any basis for SV2’s imputation that “the refusal to question the opportuneness of the celibacy law” is part of a “failure to implement” the Council.