From the WSJ with my emphases and comments:
The Pope Lets a Thousand Liturgies Bloom [This is an echo of a famous phrase that helped to spark the so-called "Hundred Flowers Campaign" in Communist China. "Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend". The idea was that this would make socialism stronger. However, it also led to horrors as officials used the opportunity to flush out dissidents.]
By FRANCIS X. ROCCA
The Vatican’s announcement this week that it will allow former Anglicans who join the Catholic Church to retain a collective [I pay attention to vocabulary when reading. Funny he should use "collective" after that title.] identity, using many of their traditional prayers and hymns in their own specially designed dioceses, is an event with profound implications for both Anglican and Catholic life.
The decision, made to accommodate Anglicans upset with their church’s growing acceptance [Aren't they just so diverse and tolerant?] of homosexuality and of women clergy, is likely to transform ecumenical relations between the churches. It will also heighten the internal Catholic debate over the requirement of priestly celibacy (which is to be routinely waived for married Anglican clergy who convert under the new rules, extending an exception made on a limited basis till now). [I don't know, but I get the sense that the press will try to whip that part into a froth of spittle and tears, but in reality it will remain a less important point in the more serious discussions that follow. Not sure. Just my sense of things right now.]
Perhaps the most striking effect of the Vatican’s move is the likelihood that, within the next few years, [some] Catholic [former Anglican] priests around the world will be celebrating Mass in a form that draws largely from the Book of Common Prayer. This resonant text, in its many versions, has informed Anglican worship since shortly after King Henry VIII led the Church of England away from Rome nearly five centuries ago.
Startling as that may sound, the Vatican’s adoption of a liturgy with Protestant origins is merely the latest—and hardly the most exotic—addition to the Catholic church’s liturgical smorgasbord. [Not exactly a respectful way to put it.] The range of worship forms has grown ever wider in recent years as the global church has become ever more diverse. [So, the Catholic Church is diverse!]
Millions of Charismatic Catholics today, most commonly in Latin America but also in Africa and the Philippines, regularly attend spectacular Masses featuring Pentecostal-style faith healing, speaking in tongues and preaching that echoes the upwardly mobile aspirations of the Prosperity Gospel. [They do. But should they?] Catholic Masses in sub-Saharan Africa typically feature exuberant dancing, not only by designated performers but by the congregation at large, and music derived from popular local traditions.
In the U.S., too, Catholic worship shows local influences, with many parishes resembling evangelical megachurches, not only in their theater-like architecture and wide range of community services but in the prominent role of lay people as administrators and eucharistic ministers. [Incorrect use of the term... but keep going.]
Pope Benedict XVI, even before he decided to extend the availability of Catholic "Anglican Use" liturgy, had made another, equally dramatic contribution to the church’s liturgical diversity. More than two years ago, the pope lifted virtually all restrictions on celebration of the so-called Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Tridentine Mass, which had fallen out of use amid the modernizing reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), when Catholics around the world began worshipping in their local languages. [Keep pushing through ... keep going...]
All these variations represent efforts by the world’s largest church to maintain unity among its 1.1 billion members, while extending their ranks. Charismatic Catholicism has proved an effective competitor to Protestant Pentecostalism in the developing world. The revival of the Tridentine Mass was an explicit overture to the schismatic ultratraditionalist [yawn] followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, just as Catholic Anglican Use liturgy has been designed to draw back a less recently departed group.
It may seem ironic that Pope Benedict should be presiding over such diversification of worship. After all, as head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office for more than two decades prior to his 2005 election as pope, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger built a reputation as the church’s most vigilant guardian of orthodoxy, receiving [from idiots who didn't know him] the nickname "God’s Rottweiler."
Benedict is hardly permissive when it comes to liturgy. [There are limits, you know. At a certain point worship ceases to be Catholic... or even rational.] The Neocatechumenal Way, a growing international movement that the pope has long praised for its vigorous work in evangelization, was forced to modify some of its most distinctive practices—such as taking Communion in the form of a large loaf of bread shared around a table—before receiving final Vatican approval last year. The pope has also warned against liturgical dance that turns the Mass into a form of entertainment [because it ceases to be Catholic worship] and has made clear his preference for tradition when it comes to music (Gregorian Chant) and the distribution of Communion (on the tongue while kneeling, rather than the more recent practice of receiving the host in the hand while standing). [Keep in mind that those kneeling and Communion on the tongue are really still the norm, to which exceptions have been tolerated.]
Yet according to the theologian Tracey Rowland, [author of an exceptional book on Ratzinger's theology. I recommend the book!] one of the pope’s most informed and accessible scholarly interpreters, Benedict is a genuine "liturgical pluralist," ready to countenance any rite that "can be traced back as an organic development of apostolic provenance." The key concept, Ms. Rowland says, "is organic development. What he’s really against is your parish liturgy committee getting together and saying, ‘let’s do something different.’ "
Though even most Catholics are not aware of it, many sanctioned modes of worship have co-existed within the church over its 2,000-year history. The Ambrosian Rite, celebrated only in certain parts of northern Italy, with its own special prayers, vestments and type of chant, is one of the most ancient, dating back at least to the fourth century. Not to speak of the many Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, which share a rich liturgical heritage with Eastern Orthodoxy. The Charismatic movement, of course, with its speaking in tongues and emphasis on "gifts of the Spirit," harks all the way back to the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Paul.
An emphasis on uniformity of worship is a relatively recent development in Catholicism, Ms. Rowland notes. The 16th-century Council of Trent, which imposed a number of reforms on the whole church to fend off the rising challenge of Protestantism, prescribed the form of the Latin Mass that Catholics used almost exclusively for more than four centuries thereafter. By sanctioning the current trend toward liturgical diversity, Benedict is leading his church forward in the spirit of its oldest traditions.
—Mr. Rocca is the Vatican correspondent for Religion News Service.
A rather messy article. Starts in one way but ends in another with a tenuous connection.
And what was going on with that Hundred Flowers thing? Just being clever?
Did the Hundred Flowers thing work here? Is it applicable?
The other day I rather provocatively labeled used "Anschluss" in conjunction with the Anglican provisions. Is this the same thing?