You have to admire Bp. Trautman. He kept his powder dry and his plan of attack hidden, saving his very last musket ball for the end.
He raised a motion that the bishops should see the Gray Book of the Antiphons, discuss it and vote on it.
Very dramatic, really.
Background: Card. George, as President, had asked in the name of the Conference that the Holy See handle translation of the the antiphons. The Holy See, of course, agreed. Eventually, the Holy See sent a Gray book, but it was not distributed.
Bp. Trautman, who said at one point he wasn’t aware of the Holy See’s Gray book, reacted to this departure from procedure saying that the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy requies that competent territorial authority has to approve translations. He calls this a doctrinal issue. I will return to that important point at the end.
Therefore Bp. Trautman put a motion on the floor for the bishops to insist that the all Latin bishops as a conference have the change to work on the Gray Book for antiphons.
This was probably his Waterloo.
The bishops as a body rejected his motion.
It remains to be seen how the bishops will eventually deal with this departure from regular procedure in the future.
Unlooked for players on the correct side of this battle were, wait for it…. Archbp. Pilarcyk and Card. Mahony. They both suggested that, after Bp. Trautman’s motion was addressed, the body of bishops could simply ratify what Card. George had done acting as president of the USCCB in his dealings with the Holy See over the Gray Book for antiphons.
As it was, Bp. Trautman’s last ditch move to delay the process was rejected by the other bishops. Then Archbp. Pilarczyk made the motion that the bishops let Rome handle the antiphons and the bishops approved the same overwhelmingly.
That seems to have been the last hurrah.
Of course, it is Zuhlsdorf’s Law that whenever you want to show someone something with technology, at that very moment you need it, the technology will fail. And the extent of the failure is in proportion to your urgency.
At the very moment when Card. George was to announce the results of the vote on Bp. Trautman’s motion, the TelecareTV coverage died… video froze and then went black as the audio died. SO,…. I picked up a tweet from the Twitter feed of @usccbmedia. Thanks to them we learned what happened.
We didn’t learn it from TelecareTV, tasked with the coverage. We got it from Twitter.
It was a dramatic moment for more than one reason!
It is not quite time for a Te Deum, but this was a great step forward.
All during the presentation of the various elements for voting, Bp. Seratelli, head of the liturgy committee, reminded the bishops that this meeting, this November, was – according to the Holy See! – the last chance to vote on things. After this, the Holy See would take charge and handle the issues that remained open. It seems that the bishops took this to heart… a heart that was no doubt weary and flagging after all these years.
Going back to Bp. Trautman’s motion.
As this was going on I was reminded of what I read in the book that came out under the name of the former papal master ceremonies, Archbp. Piero Marini. He described in detail the workings of the Consilium under the late Annibale Bugnini. Marini explained that the Consilium realized they were changing doctrine with the liturgical changes. An objective of Bugnini was to strip the Congregation for Rites of its power and redistribute it to territorial conferences. One of the knives he used was the question of who gets to approve liturgical translations, Rome or the local conferences?
This same dynamic and question returned at this meeting of the bishops, with Bp. Trautman playing the advocate of the old Bugnini/Marini objective.
But it is a sign of the times that the American bishops rejected that position and were content that the Holy See not only approve the translation of liturgical texts but, in the case of the antiphons, actually do the work.
You can see why Bp. Trautman was so intent on this and why he saw it as his last great chance.
But he is a sly one. Perhaps he will find a loaded pistol on the ground even as he abandons his discharged musket.