Boston Globe on the MP: “the heyday of the Inquisition”

Here is a gem from the Boston Globe.  The author of this Op-Ed piece is Frank K. Flinn, adjunct professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, is author of "Encyclopedia of Catholicism."  This fellow is heavily into studying cults.  In his own bio, Flinn says: "From 1958 to 1964 I was a member of the Order of Friars Minor… I am a practicing Roman Catholic at All Saints Church, University City, Missouri".

The Boston Globe

Concilium Vaticanum IIum, vale!

By Frank K. Flinn  |  July 10, 2007

CATHOLICS AROUND the world should now have no illusions. Pope Benedict XVI’s recent decision to encourage [permit] wider use of the traditional Tridentine Mass in Latin is the latest move in his long campaign to undo liberal reforms in church practices popular with [some] Catholics since the 1960s.

The move may well trigger liturgical schisms in dioceses throughout the world.  [And frogs will fall from the skies.  Always with the drama!  Sheesh!]

The form of the Mass was promulgated by Pope Paul V in the Roman Missal in 1570. In this rite the priest stands on an elevated altar, [whereas in many newer arrangments in churches microphoned priests grin at congregations from an elevated throne more splendid than Augustine Caesar ever had.] facing away from the people and mumbling [ka CHING! "Say da magic woid! Winnahundred dahlahs!  Is there any description more cliche than this?] most sacred parts of the liturgy in Latin.

The Tridentine Mass lasted until the new form promulgated in 1969 by Pope Paul VI at Vatican Council II (1962-65). [Okay, so Paul VI promulgated the Missal in 1969, but that as "at" the Council which had ended four years before…. got it!]  While drawing on some of the most ancient Christian forms of worship, the new Eucharist was translated into local languages. The priest now faced the congregation. [Did he still mumble?  I bet not!] Around the world liturgical music expanded to include gospel music, African chants and drumming, Mexican mariachi bands, folk music, and even pop rhythms. [grooooovy!] Immediately conservative Catholics attacked the new rite, but Paul VI warned that the gospel would be lost to the modern world if it were not addressed to people in their language and their customs. [Ummmm…. he did?  What did he write, precisely?  That wasn’t in the same speech where he talked about the "smoke of Satan" entering the Church through some crack… I know it wasn’t then.  I know he didn’t talk about that in humane vitae… which surely is to be defended as fiercely as the Novus Ordo is by progressivists.  Hmmm…. I wonder where Paul VI wrote that.]

Criticism continued unabated by a traditionalist minority. [And an non-traditionalist, if you consider many people who simply wanted the Novus Ordo without abuses and with decent, appropriate sacred music and architecture, etc.] In 1988 former French Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre [spelling!] led a small minority of Catholics into schism over what he and his followers labeled the heretical "Mass of Paul VI." The Lefebvrists not only rejected the new liturgy, they rejected key doctrines of Vatican II on ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality. Collegiality was the central ecclesiastical concept that shaped Vatican II. The depth of the traditionalists’ hatred of Vatican II teachings was and remains astounding.  [This deep analysis does not, however, consider what their reasons were for those views.]

On the other edge of the church, progressives wanted to advance the openings [notice the spin] begun at Vatican II, not only in the liturgy but also in ecumenism, lay involvement, Christian social action (liberation theology, feminism, ecology), and ethical theory (priestly celibacy, birth control). Paul VI started to apply the brakes, but Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, his new prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , went in for a whole new brake job.  [If we are going to use the car analogy, who would say that having brakes is a bad thing?  I like my brakes when I am heading for the edge of the cliff.]

They set out to thwart the progressive [notice the spin] side of the church. In the 1980s they silenced the liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, removed Swiss Hans Küng and American Charles Curran from their teaching posts, and unscrupulously [Can you believe this?] oversaw the unlawful excommunication of the Indian Tissa Balasuriya [More about what Fr. Balasuriya taught, below.  And he taught it to others.  I once lived with an Indian priest student of Balasuriya and he held much of the heresy he had been taught]. (That act was reversed.) Just this year the pope censured Salvadoran Jesuit liberation theologian Jon Sobrino by using the old Vatican tactic of stringing together quotations out of context.   [This is a simplistic dodge of the left.  It doesn’t matter that some statement is taken out of context, if it is straight forward heresy.  The only way taking something out of context would be problematic in this case is if a negation was improperly excised.  But if a guy teaches or writes soemthing that is against the Church’s teaching, then what difference does it make how much context you put around the fundamental position?]

In contrast, the papacy remained inexplicably lenient toward the schismatic Lefebvrists despite the scorn they continued to heap in the direction of the Vatican itself. [This is obtuse.  Archbishop Lefebvre was EXCOMMUNICATED.  That doesn’t sound lenient to me.  What does this lefty want the Vatican ot do?  Use the rack on conservatives but give milk and cookies to heretics?   Lefebvre wasn’t a heretic.  He might have been a schismatic, might have been, in taht he refused submission to the Roman Pontiff.  But he didn’t deny dogmas of the faith as Balasuriya and others have.  Balasuriya was RECONCILED when he abjured his errors.  Archbp. Lefebvre died excommunicated.  The Holy See worked with Balasuriya and ALL the other questionable theologians in processes lasting for YEARS.  Do conservatives not deserve the same justice?] Indeed, in the 1980s Cardinal Ratzinger gave them free ammunition. In the preface to a liturgical treatise he accused modern Masses of being faddish "showpieces" and "fabrications." [Has anyone shown this writer video clips from the Masses, say, in L.A. for the annual conference?]  He went on to praise the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Eucharist as exemplars of an "eternal liturgy."  [Okay… so would being anti-Eastern or anti-Orthodox be helpful in some way?] One can detect a Eurocentric prejudice in his remarks.  [Has this thoroughly clueless writer read Pope Benedict’s addresses when he went to Turkey or when he has received Orthodox figures?  How about Ratzinger’s liturgical writings?]

The pope has not been evenhanded in his dealings with the many branches of the Catholic church. He has simply capitulated to the Lefebvrists, who continue to look down contemptuously on average Catholic parishioners who like to worship in their own tongue and see their priest face-to-face. The appeal to an "eternal liturgy" is false. [Who has  weight here…. Frank Flinn of the Boston Globe or Joseph Ratzinger?] The liturgies of the earliest churches were both multiform and multilingual within the first generation going from Aramaic to Greek and Syriac in short order. The earliest known church, recently excavated at Megiddo in Israel, has the altar not elevated and apart but at the very center of the worshiping community. A true traditionalist would gladly embrace the many languages and cultures of the world as did the early church.  [Obtuse does not beginning to cover this man’s approach.]

Why do I say farewell to Vatican II?  [Always with the drama…] One of the roots of that council was the liturgical movement that preceded it by half a century. [Of which His Holiness is deeply aware and which he supported and IS supporting now.  This is Benedict’s hermeneutic of CONTINUITY" not the rupture being thrust down the readers throat by Flinn.] The liturgical reformers were convinced that the liturgy was of, by, and for the whole people of God, clergy, and lay alike. The very word liturgia in Greek means "the work of the people." This notion embodies at its fullest the principle of collegiality, [HUH!??  It doesn’t embody the confusion of roles and diversity this guy suggests!] the key theological idea that shaped Vatican II. The Tridentine Mass is the work of the priest. [Not if you understand what true "active participation means".  He doesn’t.  In the older Mass as in the newer form the priest said "Pray brethren that MY SACRIFICE AND YOURS may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.  "He meant it then and means it now no less than before.]  By turning back the liturgical clock [and the cliches just keep rolling in] not to the creative multiplicity [good grief] of the early Christian communities but to the heyday of the Inquisition and papal monarchism at Trent, [How we love the smell of thumbscrews in the morning.] Pope Benedict XVI is abandoning the principle of collegiality [Which is why he had a seemingly endless process of consultation every time in the CDF there was a problem with a theologian, or why he consulted and consulted and consulted again before this Motu Proprio.] that embraces all bishops, all priests, all deacons, and all lay people as the worshiping community of the beloved faithful. [It’s like drowning in syrup.] That says to Vatican II, "Farewell!"

How do I put this gently….


This deserves some kind of award.

Here is something about his hero Tissa Balasuriya:


by Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, O.M.I.

January 2, 1997

The aim of Fr. Balasuriya’s publication is, in his own words, "the critique and evaluation of theological propositions and presuppositions. (p. iv) of the Church’s Mariological teaching. In pursuing this intention, the author arrives at the formulation of principles and theological explanations which contain a series of grave errors and which, to different degrees, are distortions of the truths of dogma and are, therefore, incompatible with the faith.

Fr. Balasuriya does not recognize the supernatural, unique and irrepeatable character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, by placing its presuppositions on the same level as those of other religions (cf. pp. 31-63). In particular, he maintains that certain "presuppositions" connected to myths were uncritically assumed to be revealed historical facts and, interpreted ideologically by the clerical "power holders" in the Church, eventually became the teaching of the Magisterium (cf. pp. 41-49).

Fr. Balasuriya assumes, moreover, a discontinuity in the economy of revelation. In fact, he distinguishes "between the faith due in Christianity to what Jesus teaches and to what the Churches have subsequently developed as interpretations of his teaching" (p. 37).2 From this, it follows that the content expressed by various dogmas is considered to be on the same level as theological interpretations offered "by the Churches, which are the fruit of their cultural and political interests (cf. pp. 42-45, 7677). This position involves, in fact, the denial of the nature of Catholic dogma and, as a consequence, the relativizing of the revealed truths contained in them.

In the first place, the author relativizes Christological dogma: Jesus is presented simply as "a supreme teacher," "one showing a path to deliverance from sin and union with God" (p. 37), "one of the greatest spiritual leaders of humanity" (p. 149), a person who communicates to us his "primordial spiritual experience. (p. 37), but whose divine sonship is never explicitly recognized (cf. pp. 47, 104-105, 153) and whose salvific function is only doubtfully acknowledged (cf. p. 81).

The ecclesiological errors of the text follow from this vision. In not recognizing that "Jesus Christ wanted a Church -say the Catholic Church-to be the mediator of that salvation" (p. 81), Fr. Balasuriya reduces salvation to a "direct relationship between God and the human person" (p. 81) and so denies the necessity of Baptism (cf. 68).

A fundamental aspect of the thought of Fr. Balasuriya is the denial of the dogma of original sin, held by him to be simply a product of the theological thought of the West (cf. pp. 66-78). This contradicts the nature of this dogma and its intrinsic connection to revealed truth." The author, in fact, does not hold [4] that the meaning of dogmatic formulas remains always true and unchangeable, though capable of being expressed more clearly and better understood. [5]

On the basis of these positions, the author arrives at the point of denying in particular, the Marian dogmas. Mary’s divine motherhood, her Immaculate Conception and virginity, as well as her bodily Assumption into heaven, [6] are not recognized as truths belonging to the Word of God (cf. pp. 47, 106 139, 152, 191). Wanting to present a vision of Mary free from "theological elaborations, which are derived from a particular interpretation of one sentence or other of the scriptures" (p. 150) Fr. Balasuriya, in fact, deprives the dogmatic doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin of every revealed character, thus denying the authority of tradition as a mediation of revealed truth. [7]

Finally it must be noted that Fr. Balasuriya, denying and relativizing some statements of both the extraordinary Magisterium and the ordinary universal Magisterium, reveals that he does not recognize the existence of an infallibility of the Roman Pontiff and of the college of Bishops cum et sub Petro. Reducing the primacy of the Successor of Peter to a question of power (cf. pp. 42, 84, 170), he denies the special character of this ministry. [8]

In publishing this Notification, the Congregation is obliged also to declare that Fr. Balasuriya has deviated from the integrity of the truth of the Catholic faith and, therefore, cannot be considered a Catholic theologian; moreover, he has incurred excommunication latae sententiae (can. 1364, ß1).

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved this Notification, adopted in the ordinary session of this Congregation, and ordered it to be published.

Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2 January 1997, memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger Prefect

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone
Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli

From the January 8, 1997 issue of "L’Osservatore Romano".

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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