Ultra-conservative Tridentine Rite spin doctors

A kind reader sent me a piece from The Catholic Times of 25 March.  It seems to be an editorial or a letter of a columnist named Peter Griffiths against ultra-conservative "Tridentine Rite spin doctors".    I think he means me, among others.   o{];¬)   

He compares those who are talking favorably about a Motu Proprio ("ultra-conservative spin doctors") with Tony Blair defending the war in Iraq.  This might be the first time Tony Blair has ever been associated with any sort of "ultra-conservative".

Here is the letter, edited and with my emphases.  It’s a hoot!  It will be especially fun to re-read this with a nice glass of Veuve Clicquot in hand when the Motu Proprio comes out.

    PUBLIC relations officers in the Church are at the service of the truth, and charged with proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
    Sometimes, however, public relations officers forget what they are there for, namely to proclaim Christ in season and out of season.
    Instead, they become spin doctors, spinning things to the advantage of their own agendas.
    They take part of the truth and they spin it, in the same distasteful way that Tony Blair’s spin doctors tried to ‘sex up’ the ‘spin’ about the war in Iraq.
    ‘Burying bad news’ was what New Labour was accused of on September 11 2001.
    That is the way of the world, and of darkness but not of Christ, the Light.
    There has been much talk in the media and on the internet recently about Pope Benedict’s motu proprio on the use of the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Mass.
    We were assured of Pope Benedict’s great love for this particular rite of the Mass and that it would become the norm again in the Church.  [No one EVER said that, I think.]
    Pope Benedict, we were led to believe, was going to remove the power of local bishops on this particular issue and force them to allow priests to celebrate Mass using this rite, whatever the pastoral judgement of the local bishop might be.  ["Pastoral" is a code word for liberals.]
    Well, much of that now seems to have been spin – spun magnificently by the ultra-conservatives and traditionalists in the Church, or on its fringes[Okay… thanks for the "magnificent" compliment.  However, note that he is warming to his theme.  Note that he is beginning to marginalize those whose ideas he does not share.]
    Instead what did we get?  An apostolic exhortation from Pope Benedict following the Synod on the Eucharist. [I don’t think we ultra-conservative Tridentine Rite spin doctors claimed that the derestriction was going to be legislated in the Pope’s Exhortation.  We have been talking about a Motu Proprio, which the post-Synodal Exhortation clearly would not be.]

At this point the author rhapsodizes about the Exhortation extolling the wonders of the Novus Ordo, the role of bishops, and how very little mention it made of things like Latin, and nothing significant about the older form of Mass.   Then…

    All this is a far cry from what we were let to believe, even in sections of the British Catholic press, that a new emphasis is being made to allow the widespread celebration of the Old Rite, even without local episcopal permission.

    There could well be a motu proprio coming out quite soon to promote the Tridentine Rite.

    But at the moment, there is certainly no sign that Pope Benedict is thinking in that direction. [Okay… what’s it gonna be.  Are you going with the "it ain’t happening" scenario or are you going to admit that the Ultra-conservative Tridentine Rite spin doctors may be right after all?  But get this next part. I love this old hippie cant. It’s like  watching "All In The Family".]

    He emphasised how much the Church was guided by the Holy Spirit through the reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council.

    So far, Tridentine Rite spin doctors have been proved wrong.  [See what he did?? He set up an opposition between the "Tridentine Rite spin doctors" and those who think that the liturgical reforms of the Council were guided by the Holy Spirit.  In doing so, he displays that he is working from a hermeneutic of DIScontinuity rather than from the hermenuetic of continuity which the Holy Father desires and which would be one of the driving motives behind issuing the Motu Proprio.  So, I ask you… which of us is the real "spin doctor"?]

    Everyone involved in Church communications should be likened to Peter and his fellow fishermen, who were asked by Christ to take their boat a little way away from the shore so as to give a platform to Christ to announce his message to as many people as possible.
    Honesty should be very much the order of the day.
    Honesty needs to be coupled with an internal authenticity of life and action.  [And now apparently we are not only dishonest, we are pretty wicked too.  He is impuning the "internal authenticity of life and action" of those with whom he disagrees.  That’s sure helpful, isn’t it?]

    It was Pope John Paul II who spoke of the delicate exchange which takes place between mind and mind, between heart and heart, and which should characterise any communication at the service of solidarity and love.
    In truth and in short, there is no place for spin doctors in the church.[Typical liberal approach: You are all free… to agree with me.  He would even deny membership in the Church to those he is characterizing as "spin doctors".  How compassionate.]

    There is a place for professionals who dialogue with the culture of the age[bzzzzzzzzz….  So long as the dialogue doesn’t involve things we don’t like.]   Their language needs to be Christ’s language: the language of clarity and truth devoid of deception.

    The truth is that only now do we really know what the Pope thinks on the subject.  [Uhhhhh….. nooooo…. I don’t think this is by any means clear.  If the Pope is silent about the older form of Mass in the Exhortation, we cannot conclude that we know what he thinks about it from reading that document alone.]

    It should be taken seriously and considered with reverence, prudence and obedience[I wonder how obedient and reverent his side of the issue will be if and when the Motu Proprio is issued.   What is their track record so far with, hmm… lemme see… the Motu Propro "Ecclesia Dei adflicta"?]

    What we have just seen, prima facie, is the downfall in credibility of ultra-conservative spin doctors.

This is a good example of the type of person who believes that there was in the Church nothing of signifcance before 1962. 

Read his letter a couple times looking for the nuances and innuendos. 

Even if we ultra-conservative Tridentine Rite spin doctors are proven in the long run to be dead wrong, this letter is instructive.  

This fellow’s real motive is not to suggest that we are wrong or misguided.

He is saying that we are liars.

In the meantime, what can I and my ilk say in our own dishonest, internally incoherent defense?  I am….


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Craigmaddie says:

    I read that article on Saturday and it does seem very confused. It seemed to be based on the fact that the Apostolic Exhortation wasn’t the motu proprio. And the rest was just a prolonged gripe against who don’t share his own personal vision of where the Church should be going.

  2. arch167 says:

    Father Z,
    I have another one for you. Check out http://ncregister.com/site/article/2100/

    I have some comments on this article at http://asthetideturns.blogspot.com/

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