A reader sent me the following from the website of the Diocese of Basel, Switzerland. His Excellency Most Rev. Kurt Koch has weighed in with comments in a rather highly amped German-language speaking environment. As you know there is a lot of tension right now in the German-speaking areas over traditional expressions of Catholicism.
This is from the July 2009 monthly newsletter to the priests of the Diocese of Basel with my emphases and comments.
What moves me?
More honesty please! [A good way to start.]
In the last few weeks a lot of journalists, and also some clergy, have been expressing their opinions of Pope Benedict. [Surely this has to do with Summorum Pontificum and the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.] In these opinions were also contained many half-truths, untruths, and slanders.The worst accusation asserts that the Pope wishes to go back to before the Second Vatican Council. This accusation is the worst because it implies that the very person who possesses the teaching authority of the universal Church would work to undermine the authority of the council. This verdict, however, would be completely mistaken. As a young theologian, in fact, Benedict XVI contributed very much to the council. [And, as a young theologian he also criticized some aspects of the Council’s documents.] Anyone who seeks to understand the Pope now — not just from the media — but also by reading what he writes, would come to the conclusion that he has oriented his entire magisterium on the council. [Hmmm… interesting statement. "…dass er sein ganzes Lehramt am Konzil orientiert". Maybe a better way to say this is "toward the Council"? He has grounded his own teaching as Pope in the Council documents? Fine. But at the same time I wonder if we would do better to say that Benedict has reoriented the Council, rather, the understanding – the interpretation – of the Council toward the entire Magisterium?] How should we then understand the accusation being made?
Many people have signed a petition for the unqualified acceptance of the council. Right from the start, the expression "unqualified acceptance" irritates me because I don’t know anyone — myself included — to whom it would apply. A few arbitrarily chosen examples will suffice: [This is great….]
– The council did not abolish Latin in the liturgy. On the contrary, it emphasized that in the Roman Rite, apart from exceptional cases, the use of the Latin language must be maintained. Who among the vocal defenders of the council wishes "unqualified acceptance" of that? [Right. Hey, you liberals out there! Wanna sign on to that?]
– The council declared that the Church regards Gregorian Chant as the "music proper to the Roman Rite", and that it must therefore "be given primary place." In how many parishes is this implemented "without qualification?" [Liberals only like the parts of the Council that they like.]
– The council expressly requested that governmental authorities voluntarily give up those rights to participation in the selection of bishops, that had arisen over the course of time. Which defender of the council advocates "without qualification" for that? [Most liberals think that there should be popular or at least local election of bishops without interference from Rome.]
– The council described the fundamental nature of the liturgy as the celebration the pascal mystery and the eucharistic sacrifice as "the completion of the work of our salvation." How can that be reconciled with my experience, made in many different parishes, that the sacrificial understanding of the Mass has been completely eliminated from the liturgical language and the Mass is now understood only as a meal or "the breaking of bread?" In what way can one justify this profound change by reference to the council? [I am starting to like this bishop.]
– No office of the Church was given more significance by the council that that of bishop. [One might actually argue that way too much significance.] How can we then understand the widespread diminishment in Switzerland of this office of the Church, which is justified by reference to the council? When, for example, Hans Kung denies completely the teaching authority of the bishops, allowing them only the office of pastoral leadership? [ZzzzzzOT!]
It would not be difficult to lengthen this litany. Even so, it should be obvious why I demand more honesty in the current debate about the council. Instead of accusing others, and even the Pope, of wishing to go back to before the council, everyone would be well advised to look over their own books and reassess their own personal position on the council. [In other words READ THE TEXTS.] Because not everything that was said and done after the council, was therefore done in accordance with the council — and that applies also to the diocese of Basel. In any case, the last few weeks have illustrated to me that a primary problem in the current situation has been a very poor, and in part very one-sided understanding and acceptance of the council, [We might even call it a "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture".] even by Catholics that defend the council "without qualification." In this regard we all — once more including myself — have a lot of ground to make up. Therefore I again repeat my urgent request: More honesty please!
+ Kurt Koch
Bishop of Basel
Official WDTPRS kudos to Bishop Koch!