Archbp. Ranjith’s observations about today’s state of the liturgy

We haven’t heard much from His Excellency Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith lately.  He is the indomitable and clear-thinking Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

CWN has posted that Archbp. Ranjith wrote a forward to a book by Nicola Giampietro, a CDW staffer, about the personal papers of the late Ferdinando Card. Antonelli, OFM, one time Secretary of a previous incarnation of the CDW, the Congregation of the Discipline of the Sacraments (1965-69). Antonelli was no fan of Bugnini’s Consilium or what it did.

The book will be published in English by Roman Catholic Books next September under the title True Development of the Liturgy.

In his ten page forward, Archbp Ranjith makes pointed observations about what happened after the Council mandated a reform of the liturgy. 

PERTAINENT DIGRESSION: There is a huge disconnect between what the Council’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, actually mandated, and what we actually got after the Council.  The body called the Consilium, set up under the leadership of Card. Lercaro and Fr. Annibale Bugnini, had their own ideas about what liturgy was all about.  They were able to use the authority of the Council to batter away at the Church’s ecclesiology and sacramental theology set forth by the Council of Trent.  You can get an insider (favorable) view of what happened in the book that came out under the name of Archbp. Piero Marini, once the papal MC and apprentice of Bugnini. 

I haven’t read the book by Giampietro yet, but I suspect it in part balances Marini’s book.

Thus endeth the disgression. 

Here are some quotes of Ranjith’s forward included in the CWN entry.  You readers will probably resonate with these observations.

Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation." … 

Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation–all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained. …

An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation– and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium– were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools. …

Clear and accurate.

Ranjith observes that we need a "reform of the reform" inspired not merely by a "desire to correct past mistakes".  It must be "true to what the Liturgy in fact is and means to us and what the Council itself defined it to be."

I wonder if The Tablet will review the book.

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54 Responses to Archbp. Ranjith’s observations about today’s state of the liturgy

  1. prof. basto says:

    CARDINAL RANJITH SUBITO!

  2. Marc says:

    Let’s hope that the press (or the ‘Catholic’ press) do not manage to ferret out intimations that Fr Giampietro refused to sign nuclear disarmament petitions in the 80s or hunts rabbits or something terrible like that (or, what would not be humorous at all, that he doesn’t know how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust).

  3. Irenaeus says:

    anthopologism — what is this? should it be anthropologism?

  4. ED says:

    The “need for the church for salvation” is what Father Feeney’s whole battle was about, even before the Council the American hierachy already filled with the false sense of ecumenism (then called interfaith) was blurring the lines for the need of the Catholic Church and her Sacraments for Salvation. Remember JESUS founded the Catholic Church (The Mystical Body) which makes it a SUPERNATURAL BODY all other sects (remember Pope Benedict said they couldnt rightly be called churches) took some parts of the true faith with them while rejecting what they didnt want. All these other sects are MAN-MADE nd are purely part of the FALLEN NATURAL ORDER. The Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood theology was NEVER a part of the FATHER FEENEY affair, it was the watering down or even the denial of the need for the Catholic Church for Salvation.

  5. LCB says:

    I’ve never been able to find a good book on the whole Feeney affair. Any recommendations?

  6. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    He was not called to head the Congregation, however. And that possibility seems now to be closed off.

  7. Irish says:

    I wonder if this could be an introduction to the talks between Rome and SSPX regarding VCII?

    “Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation—all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained.”

    Is it me, or does this sound like Bishop Fellay?

  8. Jeff says:

    Hip Hip Hooray to Archbishop Ranjith! There’s simply no reason for Sacred Liturgy and Latin to be feared more than the expiration date on a carton of milk.

  9. Quovadis7 says:

    Bravo Cardinal Ranjith!

    Read more of what the Cardinal has to say about the Liturgy via the following:

    http://adoremus.org/0309Ranjith.html

    Rock on Father Z & Cardinal Ranjith!!!

  10. Luigi says:

    From the piece:

    “…a better understanding of ‘which figures or attitudes caused the present situation.’ This, the archbishop says, is an inquiry ‘which, in the name of truth, we cannot abandon.’”

    My thought:

    Identifying the “attitudes” that brought us the distorted view of liturgical reform and its fruits is of some value perhaps, but let’s be honest, the liberal “attitude” and agenda isn’t very complicated. Unless I’m missing something, we all see it and can readily identify it now. How much more examination is needed here?

    The notion of identifying the “figures” behing the distortion is, in my mind, of nearly no use at all. How much time do we want to waste finger pointing? These people will have to answer the Judge whether we finger them or not, and besides, we already know who they are. They point to themselves on a daily basis.

    Here’s my point; a faithful examination of Sacrosanctum Concilium, interpreted in continuity as it should be, will allow us to recognize the authentic fruits from the distortions and set us on a course to “reform the reform” as needed – all without wasting energy looking backwards. I say let’s get on with it by doing the necessary work of implementing the Council authentically. Forget the “who struck John stuff.” That doesn’t get us any closer to where we need to go.

  11. leo says:

    Of course the Tablet is going to review the book. Libs like nothing more than trying to waste CATHOLIC opinions.

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    Luigi: a faithful examination of Sacrosanctum Concilium, interpreted in continuity as it should be, will allow us to recognize the authentic fruits from the distortions and set us on a course to “reform the reform” as needed – all without wasting energy looking backwards.

    This sounds nice in theory. However, as a practical matter,

    The Sri Lankan prelate argues that it in order to carry out a “reform of the reform,” it is essential to recognize how the liturgical vision of Vatican lI became distorted.

    One reason may be that most Catholics — lay, clerical, episcopal, and perhaps even curial — see no reason to spend time and energy on a “faithful examination of Sacrosanctum Concilium”, believing that this is history and its fruits are already with us. Therefore, it may well be that only by identifying precisely how and what went wrong can the reform of the reform gather enough steam to actually be carried out.

  13. kate says:

    Ha Ha! The Tablet review this book?
    It is running out of hatchets..

  14. thomas tucker says:

    Why did Paul VI approve the work of the Consilium?
    Does anyone actually know?

  15. LCB says:

    I’ve become addicted to American Papist’s comment rating system.

    For that reason, I’m giving Prof. Basto’s comment:
    “CARDINAL RANJITH SUBITO!
    Comment by prof. basto — 24 February 2009 @ 11:00 am”

    a +1. :-D

  16. LCB says:

    Thomas tucker,

    Though Paul VI’s decisions are often shrouded in mystery, it helps to consider his circumstances. He wound up with a curia that was determined to do its own will, a large number of European bishops (influenced by the theologians) who were absolutely determined to create a ‘new’ Church, modeled on the Protestant Vision that had been formed in the universities. Part of that vision contained a fundamental rejection of magisterial teaching authority and hierarchical authority.

    In many ways, Paul VI probably determined that if he didn’t go along with the Consilium they would just go ahead and make their changes anyways (consider Altar Girls and Communion in the hand, both made permissible after they became incredibly widespread).

    For better or worse, Paul VI was probably correct in that determination. George Weigel uses a helpful phrase: the truce of 1968. After Humanae Vitae the clear dissent from theologians, and Bishops, was so widespread that the Paul VI’s power had become severely curtailed. If he had attempted discipline, or had tried to fight back in some fashion, he probably would have been met with a 2nd Great Schism, the liberals splitting off and declaring their own Church.

    As hard as it is to admit, his course of action was probably the best he could do when surrounded by enemies. He quit writing after Humanae Vitae, cried himself to sleep most every night, and prayed that the Lord would send a successor who could begin the decades long process of fixing the whole mess. His prayer was not unheard, and the Holy Spirit sent Pope John Paul the Great, who began a 3 decade project of episcopal reform, seminary reform, and extensive writing that slowly provided an interpretation key to Vatican II. He outlived some of his enemies, and has been succeeded by Pope Benedict. If Benedict gloriously reigns for 5 more years, he will have had a pontifficate that supervised a near total overhaul of the curia, a massive replacement of the American and European episcopacy, and an appointment of over half the College Cardinals.

    This was surely part of John Paul the Great’s vision of the future of the Church, and of what his successors would be able to accomplish.

    Sorry the answer isn’t shorter, but it’s really kind of a big topic.

  17. I am not Spartacus says:

    Looking to the the past seems to me about the only way to attack present errors. I have been reading “The Liturgical Year” by Dom Gueranger and in Book V, “Lent” he makes some trenchant observations:

    In “The Liturgical Year,” Dom Gueranger notes (Book V Lent) in ‘The History of Lent.’ that the last Pope Benedict, Benedict XIV began his Pontificate writing an Encyclical about Lent (http://digilander.libero.it/magistero/b14nonam.htm) and how fast and abstinence was the duty of a Christian militant.

    Dom Gueranger continues and states; “More than a hundred years have passed since this solemn warning of the Vicar of Christ was given to the world and during that time, the relaxation he inveighed against has gone on gradually increasing. How few Christians do we meet who are strict observers of Lent, even in its present mild form.”

    “And must there not result from this ever-growing spirit of immortification, a general effeminacy of character, which will lead, at last to frightful social disorders?”

    My extremist mind reads this as prophesy.

    Written in the 1840s, it clearly anticipates the modern Catholic Church in America with its weak and yes, effeminate, Hierarchy and Feminised Church and connects this effect directly with its cause – a decline in the practice of contrition of the soul and the mortification of the flesh.

    The program of restoring masculinity to our Church begins with each and every individual man.

    If you hate the twin towers of homosexualism and feminism that have been erected within our Church, it is the beginning of wisdom to recognize we have but two weapons which can destroy those idolatrous towers. And the two weapons are contrition of soul and morification of the body.

    For men especially, Lent is our Spiritual Warfare CAMP (Contrition of the soul. Almsgiving. Mortification of the Flesh. Prayer; particularly the pluperfect form of Prayer, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in The Extraordinary Form).

    Once we have gone through our Spiritual Basic Training in the CAMP of Traditional Spiritual Warfare, we male Church militants can retake our Church from its enemies and destroy the Idolatrous Towers of Homosexualism and Feminism, banish effeminacy from our Sanctuaries, and restore the glorious Immemorial Mass to its rightful place.

  18. dcs says:

    LCB asks:
    I’ve never been able to find a good book on the whole Feeney affair. Any recommendations?

    I would suggest Gary Potter’s After the Boston Heresy Case, though I know that some of the parties involved say it isn’t wholly accurate. There is also a new book, Harvard to Harvard by Fr. Abbot Gabriel Gibbs, about which I have heard good things, though I have not read it myself.

  19. vox clamantis says:

    I am going to check to see if prepublication orders of this manifestly very important work are available so that I can order TWO copies now — one for me, and one as a gift to my Most Reverend Bishop.

    Vade et tu fac similiter.

  20. Glen says:

    In hindsight, I wonder if the Church would have been better off with the Modernists breaking away and forming their own sect in protest of Pope Paul not giving into their demands. Given the liturgical abuses seen in Austria, if those bishops continue to protest perhaps they should just follow Luther’s example rather than water down the Church any further.

  21. Steve K. says:

    “In hindsight, I wonder if the Church would have been better off with the Modernists breaking away and forming their own sect in protest of Pope Paul not giving into their demands. Given the liturgical abuses seen in Austria, if those bishops continue to protest perhaps they should just follow Luther’s example rather than water down the Church any further.”

    Yes, undoubtedly it have been better for that to be the case, but the Modernists wouldn’t have stood for it. Their goal is not to do things their own way and be left alone, but to eliminate non-Modernist belief, for which they need to take over the Church, and you can’t subvert an organization from the outside.

    Modernism can’t be understood apart from the secular politics that gave birth to it. Leftists strive for the gleichschaltung of society’s institutions to leftist ideology, and the modernists comprise the effort as extended to the Catholic Church.

  22. thomas tucker says:

    LCB- fascinating. Thank you.

  23. Ed Francis says:

    Some of this makes sense, but I followed the CWN link, and found something questionable:

    “The Sri Lankan prelate argues that it in order to carry out a “reform of the reform,” it is essential to recognize how the liturgical vision of Vatican lI became distorted.”

    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=60291

    I couldn’t disagree more strongly, in that the how or who of misimplementation doesn’t get us to correct implementation.

    Correct implementation gets us to correct implementation.

    Recognizing something wrong is not the same thing as “recogniz[ing] how the liturgical vision of Vatican lI became distorted.”

    Such a mis-emphasis–the how of misimplementation–too easily degenerates into witch-hunting, name-calling, and further misdirectionism.

    It’s a bit like the “I told you this would happen” phenomenon; where an auditor is left wondering whether the actual information is the salient point or the fact that it was related by an “important” informant.

    As ever, Pope Benedict XVI is our best teacher in all this.

  24. LCB: Had the Curia really changed all that much in the short reign of John XXIII? My understanding was that the Congregation of Rites, as it then was, had a conservative Prefect as did also the Congregation of the Holy Office (now CDF) Cardinal Ottaviani.

    Bl. John XXIII evidently removed Bugnini fom his place in the Congregation of Rites but Paul VI apparently was persuaded to bring him back. I have heard that Joseph Razinger went home to Germany after the frst session of the Council and when he came back he found things markedly different. Within that time John XXIII had died and Paul VI had become Pope.

    Finally, I once read an article about a conversation Archbishop Lefebvre had with Cadinal Villot about how much time Bugninni got to spend with Pope Paul. According to that narrative even Cardinal Villot (the Secretary of State) was amazed that Bugnini had such access and whatever else I have heard said about Lefebvre I have never heard him called a liar.

    There is a whole book to be written about those times. I hope that someone who really knows what he is talking about will write such a book.

    P.S.I hate the idea of Arhbishop Ranjith leaving the Curia.

  25. TJM says:

    Archbishop Ranjith is right on the money. I’m sure he’s not a favorite of the Tablet’s. Tom

  26. Steve K. says:

    Ok, Ed. What makes you think that Correct Implementation is going work this time, when it did not work 40 years ago? Without understanding what went wrong 40 years ago.

  27. Dominicus says:

    “In many ways, Paul VI probably determined that if he didn’t go along with the Consilium they would just go ahead and make their changes anyways (consider Altar Girls and Communion in the hand, both made permissible after they became incredibly widespread). For better or worse, Paul VI was probably correct in that determination…. If he had attempted discipline, or had tried to fight back in some fashion, he probably would have been met with a 2nd Great Schism, the liberals splitting off and declaring their own Church.” —Commented by LCB

    Do you mean that in order to avoid a schism, Paul VI would rather allow that cancerous growth to infect and corrupt the whole body of the Church?

  28. JuliB says:

    Fr. Z – the link in the post has a space in it. You might want to correct it!

    Overall, I think Roman Catholics Books is one of the best producers of quality books. Not only quality in terms of the content, but they are incredibly well-made, and will last a LONG time.

  29. Steve says:

    What is with the “John Paul the Great” title? He may have done some good things in his stand against the Soviet Union and helping Polish Solidarity but he watched over the decline of the modern Catholic Church and did almost nothing.

    Thankfully Pope Benedict has started to really turn things around for the better.

  30. Mark says:

    One way we Traditionalists may understand Cardinal Ranjith’s statement is as a suggestion that the Novus Ordo mass be “adopted”, so to speak, by us, and reinterpreted according to both the Sacrosantum Concilium and Tradition.

    In other words, rather than to wish it away, Traditionalists could try to reconcile with the fact that many of our fellow Catholics are attached to this form, but are also unhappy with it at the same time, and not knowing Tradition, may lack the insight as to why.

    Just as a thought experiment, how would the Ordinary Form of the Mass need to change to be in full agreement with both the letter of the Sacrosantum Concilium, and with the fullness of Tradition? With the hindsight of the past few decades, is such a synthesis possible?

  31. Bob K. says:

    The Archbishop needs to address the parishes and religious publicly on this issue rather than just putting it in a book that most Catholics may never buy!.

  32. Kim Poletto says:

    Dominicus:

    I have heard the same said about why JPII elevated Bernadin (sic?). Something about keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer. I heard if was to avoid a possible schism.

  33. Andreas says:

    Does everyone like that “reform of the reform” saying?

    It scares me. It’s like someone wanting to bake a loaf of bread and they burn it. And someone else comes along and says: let’s not bake anew loaf: let’s just do a “reform of the reform”. Let’s stick this burnt loaf into the freezer for a day and it will be just right.

  34. mpm says:

    Comment by LCB — 24 February 2009 @ 1:21 pm

    LCB,

    Hear, hear! As far as I’m concerned you can take all the time
    you want! ;> I would only add that his innermost “handlers”
    made sure Paul VI saw very little of those who might have helped
    him most after July, 1968. A true Prisoner of the Vatican.

  35. LCB says:

    I can’t give answers that are too terribly long, otherwise they will morph into blog-length posts. That’s not why Fr. Z gives us the comment box, and it would be unfair of me to hijack his blog to that degree.

    However, I will answer briefly,

    Dominicus, Paul VI probably thought that his opponents could be satisfied and controlled if he gave them a little extra leash, and he thought it better to avoid a massive schism which could take over 1000 years to heal. Paul VI held to a longer vision, knowing and hoping that a future pontiff could be in a position to slowly fix the problem. If the opponents can be kept in the Church, they can slowly be worked on, converted, and replaced.

    The general feeling on Bernadin’s appointment is precisely that. John Paul the Great knew that Bernadin would not go into schism, and the liberals in America would follow him, thus preventing a traumatic schism in America.

    Steve, take the longer view. John Paul II spent his entire pontificate slowly setting the stage for the sort of reform we are now seeing. Reread what I wrote. He set the stage for his successor to completly rewrite the American and European episcopacy, and to overhaul both the Curia and the college of Cardinals. Also, pay attention to the surge of young seminarians, and the young Catholics who remain in the Church. None are liberals. They will speak very highly, in glowing terms, about John Paul the Great. John Paul probably recognized just how far gone the previous generation was, and he placed great effort and energy into setting the stage for a youth renewal. World Youth Day is a fine example. Also, the greatest intellectual work of his papcy, The Theology of the Body, was aimed squarely at building a foundation for understanding Humanae Vitae. John Paul the Great is an appropriate title. If you don’t like it, don’t use it, but don’t caluminate the man who held the Church together for 25 years in the greatest storm it’s possibly ever experienced.

    Also, to better understand the whole period from 45-89 and even to the present, consider that the Soviet Union tremendously infiltrated the highest levels of the US government. Is it not possible that the same was done in the Church? Indeed, just recently in Poland a man was appointed a Bishop, only for it to be discovered that he had been a Soviet informer for decades.

    John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul the Great lived their papacy surrounded by enemies not only of their pontificate, but even by Soviets who were against the Church. Perhaps too by Masons, and some have dared to even suggest Satanists.

    My opinion? As hard as it was, Paul VI made the right decision. Unity must be preserved. Let the cancer continue in the hand, or cut off the hand? In this case, let it continue, wait for a cure, and the hand can cure again after the cure. The immune system worked, but it did take a toll on the body.

  36. mpm says:

    “…but he watched over the decline of the modern Catholic
    Church and did almost nothing. Thankfully Pope Benedict has
    started to really turn things around for the better.
    Comment by Steve — 24 February 2009 @ 3:09 pm”

    The problem with such comments is they are so materialistic, or
    magical. Snap your fingers, the dog jumps through the hoop! If
    a dog-trainer can do it, why couldn’t JPII do it?

    Do you think Pope Benedict’s “turning things around” has nothing
    to do with the past? What kind of hermeneutic is that?

  37. LCB says:

    As a side note, all this history is fun and interesting stuff.

    However, we should consider the fine words of Abp. Ranjith, and the current situation. What is important is finding a way for all of us to move forward, together, in unity with the Holy Father. Looking at the past is helpful in order to determine what want wrong and determine what needs correcting.

    I know many of us are hurt and sometimes even a little bitter over the suffering many of us have endured for a great length of time. I know I sure am, and Fr. Z has been very gracious and generous to give us a forum to vent these feelings. It has contributed to a great deal of healing for many.

    Let historians down the road work on placing blame and naming names. Maybe Paul VI and John Paul II should have done things differently, maybe Lefevbre was wrong, maybe he was right. The past can’t be changed. Our job at this point in time is to support the Holy Father, offer up our long suffering, and contribute to the restoration of Tradition. Blame will get us absolutely nowhere, and Benedict is the one chosen by the Holy Spirit.

  38. LCB says:

    My final point on this topic:

    If you believe that the Holy Father is no longer a Prisoner of the Vatican, and is no longer surrounded by many enemies, you would be mistaken. Several years ago I met with a certain Cardinal in Rome, a good man, who is completely loyal to the Holy Father and a model of the priesthood. At the conclusion of the discussion, one attendant asked him, “What can we do for you [concerning the matter at hand]?”

    He replied, “For me? There is nothing you can do. But for the Church? Pray for the Holy Father [Benedict]. Pray for him every day, many times throughout the day, as often as you can. He is surrounded by enemies, and is often alone and suffers terribly.” He was not offering vague platitudes, but was completely serious in every respect. Fr. Z is exactly on target when he urges us to pray for the Pope in these especially difficult times. Have masses offered for him.

  39. Deo volente says:

    Granted that Sri Lanka may need an Archbishop, doesn’t the good Monsignor make a very appealing candidate as the head of a Personal Prelature or some such structure sought by the S.S.P.X.?

    Just asking…

    D.v.

  40. Immaculatae says:

    Tomorrow at Noon (FL USA) the Mass will be offered for the Holy Father.
    Thanks be to God.

  41. Mark says:

    LCB:

    I agree with your comments concerning Pope John Paul II, but especially with “Unity must be preserved”. I also can understand how Steve can question the undoubtable greatness of Pope John Paul II, in view of all the problems our Church is facing. Your reply, to consider the long view of things, is right on the money.
    I do get the impression sometimes that the question of Church discipline did weigh on John Paul II spirit. In his last book “Rise, let us be on our way”, page 49, he stated:

    “Maybe I should have been more assertive. I think this is partly a matter of my temperament. Yet it could also be related to the will of Christ, who asked His Apostles not to dominate but to serve”.

    We won’t know for sure, but perhaps this was the price to pay for preserving Church unity in those dark days, and allowing time to do its work. Our current Pope, may God grant him a hundred years, is leading us out of this exile, and time is definitely on his side.

  42. Rose says:

    What puzzles me about the last 26 year pontificate [NOT the topic of this entry, btw]
    1. Surely there was sufficient time in that entire period to overhaul the episcopacy?
    2. Why did Pope JPII not exercise his considerable authority (his charisma would have muted much criticism) to curb liturgical abuses in the wider Church during his pontificate?
    3. Why was he not supportive of the publication of “Dominus Ieusus” (as has been widely reported)?
    4. The greatest puzzlement to me: his lack of action on the sexual abuse scandal, and the LC.

    Personally I think Pope Benedict has done some truly courageous things in the 4 years of his pontificate:
    1. The Regensberg address (given on Sep 12- within a day of the Sep 11 anniversary).
    2. Apology over the sex abuse scandal.
    2. Action over Maciel.
    3. Summorum Pontificum.
    3. Lifting of the excommunications.

    [I will delete additional rabbit hole comments.]

  43. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Fr. Z wrote:

    PERTAINENT DIGRESSION: There is a huge disconnect between what the Council’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, actually mandated, and what we actually got after the Council.

    Very true. But, if there was a “disconnect,” then it was there at the highest levels, viz. the Pope himself. Plenty of clergy and laity expressed their concerns (openly and privately, and to the Pope himself) over the revised liturgy. Bugnini was artful and clever, but let’s not give him too much credit: He could only do what he was permitted to do. It was the Servant of God Paul VI who simply allowed the steamroller to move on through.

    Even the Holy See (under John Paul!), in answering dubia through the CDW regarding liturgical practice gave the impression that there was a real, palpable break with the “old” liturgical ethos:

    Should one still beat the breast 3 times during the Confiteor? NO.
    Should one still follow the old pattern for incensing an altar? NO.
    Should a priest maintain “custody of the fingers”? NO.
    Should one genuflect everytime one passes the Blessed Eucharist? NO.
    And on . . . and on . . . and on . . .

    Regarding His Holiness Benedict XVI:

    Wearing a funny, little hat or an ermine cape doesn’t do anything to restore the liturgy. Nor, does making people receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. I’m sure it makes His Holiness feel like he’s doing something; rather, go to any Catholic church on Sunday. It’s not.

  44. Athelstane says:

    Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy… [Rest ommitted]

    Wow.

    His Excellency is…10 for 10.

    And the more you dig into it, the more you realize…that Abp. Ranjith is, if any thing, understating things. Relevant reading: “The Collects at Sunday Mass: An Examination of the Revisions of Vatican II.” Nova et Vetera, 3:1 (Winter, 2005): 5-38. Compare the (Latin) prayers to the corresponding (Latin) prayers in the novus order – your jaw will hit the floor.

    And bear in mind one point which is, pertinently, raised by at least a few progressives I know: most of the bishops who implemented (or let themselves get steamrolled by) those reforms in dioceses around the world in 1965 to 1973 were, in fact, present at the Council. Who were present for the drafting and approval of…Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    And yet: I wager if you had taken a representative dozen from 1964 into a time machine and whipped them ten, twenty years into the future to see a typical mass in their national conference, more than a few of them would have had strokes.

    Just something to ponder.

  45. LCB says:

    Rose,

    You ask great questions, and this is a great blog to ask them at. I am advancing the idea that our previous pontiffs have tried to move gradually, because they have been surrounded by enemies at every turn, and have tried to hold the Church together through a decades long assault from internal and external enemies, including the Soviet Union.

    Consider what would have happened if John Paul II had tried more drastic, confrontational action:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=60292

    Now imagine that happening between the Pope and 100, 200, 500, dioceses all at once, and the Curia openly splitting about the issue too. And the media vultures descending. And the Soviet Union meddling. And all the parishes in dioceses that weren’t in conflict, but that were run by liberal priests, deciding to declare their allegiance. And most every Catholic University in Europe and the Americas would declare against the Pope. Perhaps those schismatics would decide to ordain their own Bishops? Or elect an anti-Pope? And soviet-bloc countries recognize the new anti-Pope since their agents helped elect him?

    Think it couldn’t happen? Entire national Bishop’s conferences publicly and openly dissented from Humanae Vitae. You’ve seen how intense the SSPX matter has become in the media and in Europe. And that was just over the lifting of an excommunication as an act of mercy! Imagine if Paul VI had tried to intervene in the dissent after 1968.

    Indeed, gradual reform, building up the Church brick by brick, is the only tenable path forward.

    Let’s go point by point:

    What puzzles me about the last 26 year pontificate
    1. Surely there was sufficient time in that entire period to overhaul the episcopacy?

    26 years is a terribly short amount of time. Bishops were seated, and they had their auxiliaries in place, and the rising stars with promising futures were already in the system. Then, when one Bishop retires, a number of Bishops in the same nation and folks in Rome have say in who is selected, and they control the names that the Congregation in Rome hears about. So it’s really a gradual process of moderation and reform. Of course, these men also control seminary formation… so you can see the complications that arise. JPII spent a great deal of energy on seminaries. Hmmm, I his vision for reform becomes more clear.

    2. Why did Pope JPII not exercise his considerable authority (his charisma would have muted much criticism) to curb liturgical abuses in the wider Church during his pontificate?

    He tried, but even a Pope is limited in what he can do. He published Redemptoris Sacramentum, and it was widely ignorned in some circles. Of course, that builds the bricks (brick by brick) of a reformed episcopacy. Then you start asking potential future Bishops, “What is the candidate’s view on Redemptoris Sacramentum?” Reform is always gradual.

    3. Why was he not supportive of the publication of “Dominus Ieusus” (as has been widely reported)?

    Well, why do you think he wasn’t supportive of Dominus Ieusus? He let it be published, he refused to accept Ratzinger’s multiple attempts at resignation through the years. He formally signed off on it in the name of his Apostolic Authority. A document like Dominus Ieusus must sink in, and after some time it eventually starts to become a theological norm.

    4. The greatest puzzlement to me: his lack of action on the sexual abuse scandal, and the LC.

    Remember, JPII was an honorary Italian. Things are done differently there. The number of bishops who have resigned since 2002 “due to health reasons”, who had buggery problems in their diocese, is quite high. What could he have done? Called for resignations publicly? Deposed sitting Bishops without giving them due process? Then he would be expected to personally intervene in every matter worldwide, and that’s unrealistic. Then there might be cries of Rome’s “meddling.” The American Bishops themselves do bear responsibility for some level of fraternal correction and accountability. Of course, if he can transform the American Bench… As for the LC, the matter is not yet played out, so I can not give a response. There are not enough facts.

  46. LCB says:

    Whoops, just saw you didn’t want this line of discussion taken further. Feel free to delete the above.

  47. Jason Keener says:

    Matthew W. I. Dunn,

    I agree with you. I think the biggest failure of the papacy of Pope John Paul II was his allowing of the hermeneutic of rupture to run so wild. Part of me does not believe the late Holy Father accurately perceived how the rupture with Tradition was ripping at the heart of the Church. Catholics were allowed to believe for too long that Vatican II was a superdogma that split the Church into a pre-Vatican II Church and a post-Vatican II Church. I don’t know how many times growing up I heard, “Oh, Catholics don’t believe or do this or that since Vatican II.” The Church is just beginning to emerge from this identity crisis.

    As you pointed out, the CDW under JP2 rarely did anything to promote continuity in the area of liturgical practice. Altar girls were permitted for the first time. No “reform of the reform” was seriously promoted or undertaken. There was no real promotion of the “ad orientem” posture. We heard little about Gregorian chant. Of course, JP2′s own liturgies were sometimes the clearest examples of liturgical rupture. Also, JP2 made little use of the more traditional-looking vestments, the papal throne, etc., further contributing to the idea that Vatican II had represented a split in the Church’s life.

    The late Holy Father talked often about his primary role to correctly implement the Second Vatican Council. I sometimes think Pope John Paul II wasn’t guided enough by the hermeneutic of continuity in carrying out that implementation.

    Having said that, there were MANY good things about the papacy of Pope John Paul II. Theology of the Body, for example, is a brilliant development in the Church’s understanding of human sexuality. Also, I have a great respect for our late Holy Father and would never question his sincerity or love for Holy Mother Church.

  48. Patrick says:

    Related link

    http://verbum1.blogspot.com/2006/11/protestant-reaction-to-new-mass.html

    describes the motive of the Pope, Paul VI, to have the Mass become more “protestant friendly”, (not his words). This was a highly idealize motive toward removing obstacles for our “separated bretheren that produced, for his envisioning, unintended and non benign consequences to put it mildly.

  49. LCB says:

    Returning to the topic at hand, I felt it prudent to pull a quote from SC:

    22.3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

  50. Athelstane says:

    Matthew Dunn wrote:

    Wearing a funny, little hat or an ermine cape doesn’t do anything to restore the liturgy. Nor, does making people receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. I’m sure it makes His Holiness feel like he’s doing something; rather, go to any Catholic church on Sunday. It’s not.

    I call foul. I think these comments are hardly fair to the Holy Father.

    What’s he’s done for liturgical reform goes well beyond wearing a camauro or setting up communion rails in St. Peter’s – and surely you know it.

    Would we all like more? Sure. But we also know how much opposition what he has managed to do so far has already stirred up. Exercise a little more charity, please.

  51. Luigi says:

    Excellent commentary, LCB. Thank you.

    Reading through the comments here I can’t help but think of how skillfull the Master Deceiver really is. I have no doubt that the Holy Father is under direct attack by enemies of the Church who are very clear about who they serve. In number, however, they are just a small part of the problem; the head of the temporal beast so to speak.

    The bigger part of the problem, in number, is made up of the thousands upon thousands of lemmings who in large part mindlessly follow along to their own detriment; some of them bishops, many of them priests and more laity than one can count. Yes, they may believe that they are serving their own best interest, but I would maintain that many are being used and don’t even know it. They are being masterfully deceived, and it is the sheer force of their number that gives the Deceiver what appears to be a certain kind of leverage in how the entire beast is dealt with…

    This is liberalism in general; a relatively small number of players who know that their initiatives are detrimental to the whole driving the debate for personal ill-gotten gain, and an army of fools who follow along not realizing that they are walking en masse toward the edge of a cliff with everything to lose.

  52. Ed Francis says:

    Steve K – “What makes you think that Correct Implementation is going work this time”.

    I could say something glib about all the “bricks” we hear about on Fr. Z’s blog, and the stories of interest in so many younger priests who want to celebrate our “old” Mass. Correct implementation is happening, albeit slowly and with some setbacks, but it is happening, “brick by brick.”

    I think, too, of Pope Benedict’s remarks in the foreward to his “Jesus of Nazareth,” Steve, where he takes the historical-critical method to task. Historical analyses are interesting, fascinating really, but after a while “they are much more like photographs of their authors and the ideals they hold”(xii “Jesus of Nazareth”), than they are about the task at hand.

    That task is to forward our right, as Catholics, to have the Mass in two forms. Lots of grassroots advocacy needed there, but we have the mandate from Christ’s Vicar on Earth. I say save the historical analysis for some later date, after we’ve gotten further along, and we have breathing room to look back.

    Now that our Pope has opened, and continues to hold open, the door for Traditional Latin Masses, I find no point in caring about who tried to shut the door back when. I don’t see that as relevant; interesting, yes, but off-task.

    It’s like the phrase that Pope Benedict XVI used in his catechesis on the Parable of the Good Samaritan: “But Jesus now turns the whole thing on its head” (197). We don’t need to explicate history, because the Pope has already done that, in many writings over many years. We do need to establish the Extraordinary Form in every parish, now. We need to push and uphold that work in the present.

    As I see all this, a very dangerous “disconnect” occurs between our felt need to be right after all this time, and our responsibility to stand in Christ’s instruction to us, to become “like someone in love, someone whose heart is open to being shaken by another’s need” (197).

  53. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    Athelstane wrote:

    “I call foul. I think these comments are hardly fair to the Holy Father.
    What’s he’s done for liturgical reform goes well beyond wearing a camauro or setting up communion rails in St. Peter’s – and surely you know it.”

    Who’s being uncharitable? I called him “His Holiness.”

    The only thing I credit him for is Summorum Pontificum, which cannot in my opinion be classified as liturgical reform since the Holy See claimed that the subject of the motu proprio had never really, actually, heretofore been abrogated by the Church in the first place (yeah, sure).

    It’s nice, some of the things Benedict XVI is doing liturgically.

    But, if he really doesn’t prefer distributing the Blessed Eucharist in the hand to people who are standing (and, perhaps, thinks these changes were a mistake) . . .

    If he really thinks celebrating Holy Mass versus populum is problematic and a rupture with Vatican II and the Church’s time-honored custom . . .

    Well, then . . . he is Pope, isn’t he?

    There can be no “brick by brick” until an actual brick is laid.
    Until then — it’s nice — but, no more than “window dressing” in my opinion.

  54. RBrown says:

    The only thing I credit him for is Summorum Pontificum, which cannot in my opinion be classified as liturgical reform since the Holy See claimed that the subject of the motu proprio had never really, actually, heretofore been abrogated by the Church in the first place (yeah, sure).

    Abrogation is a juridical term. Suppression is not. There can be little doubt that the 1962 Missal was suppressed (mostly by harassment), but it is another question whether it was abrogated.

    But, if he really doesn’t prefer distributing the Blessed Eucharist in the hand to people who are standing (and, perhaps, thinks these changes were a mistake) . . .

    If he really thinks celebrating Holy Mass versus populum is problematic and a rupture with Vatican II and the Church’s time-honored custom . . .

    Well, then . . . he is Pope, isn’t he?

    NB: the recent events in Austria concerning a nominee

    There can be no “brick by brick” until an actual brick is laid.
    Until then—it’s nice—but, no more than “window dressing” in my opinion.
    Comment by Matthew W. I. Dunn

    You sound frustrated with the pace of liturgical reform, as I am.

    I thought BXVI would go to work on the Novus Ordo. Instead, he has begun the liberation of the Greg Rite. IMHO, this is much smarter and more effective than what I envisioned: In one move it has injected both Latin and ad orientem celebration into the equation.

    BXVI understands that what the Church needs is the re-Romanization of the liturgy.