What follows is ugly.
The author, Fr. Mark Francis, is superior general of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians). He is one of the darlings of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in the USA, producing such gems as Models for Multicultural Celebrations (Washington, DC: FDLC, 1998). Check out the section on “Full Multicultural” Model for some stomach churning hijinx. Here is a syllabus he created for a class on the multicultural parish. The North American Academy of Liturgy had him for a seminar in 2004 on, guess what, multiculturalism. Even the USCCB has used him on, yep, multiculturalism.
Folks, Pope Benedict doesn’t need a defense. The author of the piece that follows is surely attacking Pope Benedict in a disrespectful and dishonest way, but that is not the real problem. This fellow, aided by the Tablet, is essentially urinating on anyone who prefers the older form. This is a condescending and embittered public unburdening of hatred for those who are attached to previous liturgical forms.
My emphases and comments.
Feature Article, 14 July 2007
Pope Benedict’s sanction for wider use of the Tridentine Mass is an unprecedented change in the Church’s liturgical life. But as this professor of liturgy argues, it also has troubling theological and pastoral consequences
The long-expected motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, permitting a wider use of the 1962 edition of the “Missal of Pius V” – the so-called Tridentine Mass – has finally been published, containing elements that are sure to displease traditionalists and progressives alike.
Understandably, the majority of Catholics “in the middle” may wonder what the fuss is all about since only a small minority has voiced an ardent desire to return to the old rite. It is very unlikely that Catholics will flock en masse to their local parishes to demand that altars be turned back to the wall and that money be set aside for the purchase of new baroque chasubles with matching maniples, [I think this might be is a suggestion that people who like maniples are effeminate.] pax boards, [That’s right… pick something weird] and the reinstallation of communion rails. [A reminder of humility, just as the other things are reminders of dignity.]
Nevertheless, publication of “Summorum Pontificum” is troubling. Given the negative reaction that the possibility of this motu proprio provoked among many bishops – especially in France – and despite Benedict XVI’s repeated statements in support of collegiality, it is disappointing that he seems to have given greater weight to a small group of advisers (and perhaps to his own personal piety) [what an insulting comment about the Pope] rather than to bishops who are more in touch with the pastoral life of the church. [Who have, after all, been welll…….]
Until now, the Pope, who is not a trained liturgist, [unlike “Dr. Liturgy! He knows more… than you.”] has shown interest and sensitivity in liturgical matters. [Like any amateur.] The motu proprio, though, seems to betray a real misunderstanding of liturgy’s role in the life of the Church. [And so he will now educate Papa Ratzinger about what liturgy is all about.] It is ironic that, given the Pope’s often-voiced antipathy toward relativism as both the bane of modern life and a threat to the integrity of the faith, he himself seems to have succumbed to the very relativism that he has so often denounced. [Is he daft?] It is legitimate to wonder, given liturgical history, theology, canon law, and pastoral practicalities, whether the liturgy is being taken seriously by this motu proprio or being treated as just another choice available in the “Catholic cafeteria”. [Or maybe he doesn’t have the slightest clue about what Pope Benedict is really trying to accomplish by this move.]
A logical place to start any discussion is the designation of the Tridentine Rite in the apostolic letter as the “extraordinary Roman Rite”. Such a designation has no precedent in the liturgical history of the Church and is based on the debatable presumption that the use of the Tridentine Rite was not abrogated [However, in this case, the Legislator, not the Pont. Council for Legislative Texts, but the Legislator himself said it wasn’t. Of course I suppose the writer is also “trained in law”. The problem with liturgists is that they think they are experts in everything.] by the publication of the liturgical books mandated by Vatican II.
From 1970, when the Missal of Paul VI was promulgated, to 1984 when the Congregation for Divine Worship issued an indult to allow a local bishop to permit celebrations of the old rite, the abrogation of the Tridentine Missal was taken for granted. [I find it interesting that someone so well trained in liturgy, unlike the Pope, has forgotten that from the very moment the newer form was promulgated, Paul VI still allowed for older priests to say the older form and also gave an indult to the UK, long before the wider indult.] In 1988 Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei adflicta called for a “generous application of the directives” already stipulated in the 1984 indult. [I wonder what the writers record is like in the generosity department.] Again it emphasised that permission to use the old rite is a pastoral concession to those spiritually unable to adapt themselves to the new rite, [This is a falsehood. It was granted to those who, from rightful aspirations, were attached to the older form regardless of their reasons: 6.c: “respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition.”] provided that this did not imply a rejection of the Second Vatican Council or the validity of the liturgical reform. The use of the old rite was not presented in either of these documents as “normative” in any way. [The late Holy Father’s provisions were, however, normative. They established norms. So are Benedict’s.]
In the context of this rather ambiguous disciplinary situation, [If it was ambiguous, it isn’t any more.] it is helpful to reflect on the nature of a “rite” within the Church. The Roman Rite is one of 23 recognised “rites” of the Catholic Church. The term “rite” encompasses not only the Order of Mass and – at least traditionally speaking – is a way to describe how a given group of Christians expresses their faith in life and worship. [In other places, I mentioned that there were arguments in favor of the claim that the changes resulting in the Novus Ordo actually created a new Rite. However, this is going to be a problem for the writer. If was he is saying is true, then there was in fact a rupture between the older Rite and the newer. That would mean that the newer rite would be an anomaly.] It goes beyond issues of language, rubrics or ceremonial directives of the Mass to differences in designating liturgical time, the assignment of particular saints’ days, the particular style of liturgical prayer employed in all of the sacramental rites, along with distinctive gestures and movements used in these liturgical celebrations.
The adoption of a new calendar that altered the liturgical year and modified the relative importance of certain feasts and memorials, the removal of saints from sanctoral cycle that were deemed unhistorical, the revision of the celebration of funerals, the re-introduction of the adult catechumenate, all significantly changed the liturgy, no matter how much the Pope may argue for continuity between the old and new Roman Rites. [This guy has … chutzpah.]
Historical precedent also demonstrates that the “Tridentine Rite” was meant to be abrogated in 1970. It simply cannot be argued, for example, that after the sixteenth century there were two officially recognised ways of celebrating the Roman Rite. Designating the old and new rites “uses” within the same rite is an attempt at canonical sleight of hand and does not solve the problem. [Remember, as I explained elsewhere, the decision of the Pope in this JURIDICAL document was an elegant JURIDICAL solution. By saying there is only one Rite that means that any priest of the Rite can celebrate that rite even in two uses. If you say there are two rites, then a priest must have special permission to celebrate a rite different from his own.] While it is true that when the “Missal of Pius V” was promulgated, there were local medieval “usages” in France, such as the rite of the City of Lyon, these were permitted as a concession to centuries-old territorial custom. Nor can it be reasonably argued that the “Tridentine Rite” ought to be accorded the same status as one of the Oriental rites, [I think this is unreasonable. The older form of Mass is really pretty old, after all. And it wasn’t exactly the Rite of Gary, Indiana. It was the Rite of Rome.] since the ancient rites of the Eastern Churches are the expression of Christianity lived over centuries by a given nation or ethnic group within a limited geographical territory. [Rome isn’t very big. But it is ROME, after all.]
It also seems clear that Pope Paul VI intended to replace the previous Missal and wanted to restore the liturgy by returning “to the original norm of the holy Fathers” [As a “trained liturgist”, you would think he would know that alot of those claims about the antiquity of certain things were found later to be too shakey to be sustainable. Also, just because a thing is old, that doesn’t mean it is necessary to keep it. Pius XII warned of a liturgical archeologizing. However, this fellow seems to want to pit one Pope against another rather than find continuity between them.] (general introduction to the 1970 Roman Missal). The sixteenth-century framers of the “Missal of Pius V”, which dates from 1570, were unable to do so because they lacked adequate historical resources, for they were unable to refer to manuscripts dating earlier than the pontificate of Innocent III, around 1216. As a result much of the Tridentine Rite is a hybrid of medieval Franco-Germanic elements fused to a Roman core that dates from the late sixth century. [On the other hand, it was the way things were done in Rome. Also, this does not take into account the historical conditions. There was a serious threat to the life of the Church in Northern Europe. Also, notice how he approaches this as a modern liturgical “expert”, who, from their superior vantage point think they are qualified to pass judgement on how people pray. He looks at the post-Tridentine reformers through the lens of a wielder of the historical-critical method. He loses the larger context of the needs of the Church in those days because like a pencil-neck he is focused on the documents they lacked and how much more sophisticated we are today with our modern tools. We should reread the preface and first part of Papa Ratzinger’s Jesus of Nazareth to get an idea of where this fellow is coming from.]
That is why Paul VI’s novus ordo is closer to “the original norm of the holy Fathers” than the Tridentine Rite. Article Six of the Preamble to the General Instruction of the “Missal of Paul VI” implies as much by stating that there was something that was incomplete about the old missal since “the older Roman Missal [that of Pius V] is brought to fulfilment in the new” [that of Paul VI]. [Not all would agree. I think Klaus Gamber would disagree.]
As a product of the sixteenth century and compiled during the height of the Reformation, the “Missal of Pius V” reflects the Church’s antagonistic relationship to a larger world that was seen as opposing its authority and traditions. [Hmmm… didn’t Jesus and Paul warn about “this world”?] This can be easily seen in some of the Ad diversa Mass formulas which maintain earlier, medieval texts – for example, a Mass “Against the Pagans”. [Perhaps we need a few more… for example: Mass “against Liturgists”, Mass “against Modernists”, Mass “against scandalous op-eds”, Mass “in time of war on the Pope”, Mass “for fostering swift retirements”.]
Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the “Tridentine Rite” is its treatment of Judaism. [I see. All this horror suggested by the Motu Proprio for the life the Church is less important that what some Jews might think about it.] While the adjective “perfidious” describing the Jews was removed from the 1962 edition of the Missal there are still prayers that call for their conversion in direct contradiction to Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” (see Nostra Aetate 4). In much the same vein, the Missal refers to Christians of other Churches as heretics and schismatics [So? Those terms really do have meanings and there really are heretics and schismatics around.] – descriptions of fellow Christians that are unlikely to promote much ecumenical dialogue. [Unless you want some real dialogue for a change.] And since the lectionary attached to this Missal proposes practically no readings from the Old Testament it represents a deficient liturgical presentation of God’s Word – a problem that the Council fathers sought to remedy (see Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 51). [The addition of an extra Sunday reading gave the impression that Mass is a “didactic moment” and the Old Testament readings are beyond the ability of most priests to preach on with competence.]
The ecclesiology expressed by the old rite reflects the very limited liturgical attention the Counter-Reformation Church gave to the baptised faithful. [Ya know… I think it was entirely about the baptized faithful. This is why there was also a Catechism.] It was the role of the ordained that was highlighted, and the gathered assembly is not even mentioned in the introductory material and rubrics of the “Missal of Pius V”, thereby reducing their role to mute spectators. [This is so wearisome.]
In addition to the ecclesiological problems, another weakness of the “Tridentine Rite” is its anaemic pneumatology [Remember…. he is smarter than you.] – or theology of the Holy Spirit. While the faith of the Church expressed in the liturgy is in the Triune God – we pray to the Father, with the Son, in the Holy Spirit – try as you may, it is difficult to discern an epiclesis (an invocation of the Holy Spirit over the gifts and people) in the Roman Canon; an element commonly agreed in East and West to be as an important element for a theologically complete Eucharistic Prayer. [So…. is he saying that the older form is invalid?]
All of the new Eucharistic Prayers composed [right… introduced as novelties, cut and pasted together by experts] for the “Missal of Paul VI” have such an invocation. Reverting to a pneumatologically weak formulation of the central act of the Church’s worship (the Roman Canon being the only Eucharistic Prayer in the “Missal of Pius V”) clearly impoverishes the worship of those who would exclusively use this Missal. [Or, it enriches us, because it gives us a deeper experience of what the Sacrifice is about. I guess we should distribute copies of Dominum et vivificantem as people go to Mass.]
While the theological problems of the “Tridentine Rite” are at odds with the teachings of the Council, [This just gets more and more hysterical, doesn’t it. This person has absolutely no regard for the continuous vision the Pope has and insists on creating rupture.] the pastoral difficulties that will accompany the implementation of this motu proprio may prove to be an even greater problem, starting with the priests themselves. Where will competent priests, willing to celebrate the Mass and other sacraments according to the old rite, come from? Are we now to offer Latin and liturgy courses in seminaries to train our new priests to offer the Rite of Mass and the sacraments of the Medieval Rite [Remember, “medieval” is bad.] on demand along with the liturgical rites mandated by Vatican II? [OMG!!!! OMG!!!! OMG!!!! Disaster is STARING US IN THE FACE! FROGS will FALLLLLLL from the SKYYYYYYYYY!!!!]
The official proclamation that this medieval rite [Notice how he just made the claim and then it is true for the rest of the article.] is “extraordinary” compromises the coherence of the Church’s self-understanding and threatens to reduce the liturgy to a simple matter of individual “taste” rather than what it is meant to be: an accurate reflection of what we believe as Catholic Christians who live in the twenty-first century. [Because nothing good happened before 1963.] Although cited several times in the document, the hallowed patristic axiom lex orandi, lex credendi (how we pray, so we believe) has been seriously ignored in this motu proprio. [Or has it been enriched?]
In short, “Summorum Pontificum” weakens the unity of the Church by failing to support the foundational insights of the Second Vatican Council. [I hope someone fires this guy’s sorry keester.]
One last thing. At whom is this aimed? He didn’t write this for those who are convinced. He didn’t write it for money. Here is a multiculturalist trying to say that there must only be one form of Mass defined by him. So, what is going on here? Whom is he trying to persuade, or rather dissuade?
People will actually have a choice now. The placement of this article in The Tablet indicates that this is aimed at clergy. “Shame on you, Father, if you put on a chasuble and matching maniple.” He’ll tell you what you need.
Remember: This article, as awful as it is, is really good. The writer was scared. They have lost on the issue of the English translation of the Novus Ordo. They lost big time about pro multis and consubstantialis.
He is aiming at priests who will perhaps be interested in the older Mass. He is trying to poison them against the older form before the provisions are in place. He is afraid. He is deathly afraid that the older form is going to catch on. This is aimed at priests who are thinking, and there are lots of them, that the older form of Mass might be a good thing, that maybe they ought to learn it.