The recent number of The Catholic Times, (21 Sept, p. 9) an English weekly, has one of the dumbest articles about Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum I have read to date.
It was written by one Msgr. Basil Loftus, whom I had not heard of until I read this.
A kind reader typed it out and sent it.
My emphases and comments.
No-one was more pastorally sensitive to the need for Tridentine –rite Mass provision than Pope Paul VI. [You. Must. Be. Joking. Aside from the fact that His Holiness allowed for older priests to continue to use the older form and then was eventually persuaded by Card. Heenan (and Agatha Christie) to allow for something in the UK, how was Paul VI "pastorally" sensitive by virtually supressing the older form of Mass? Furthermore, this is a great example of the use of "pastoral" as a mere buzz word. It means almost nothing here.] The greatest obstacle to this concession was the attitude of Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers in various countries. [Okay… this makes Paul VI sound petty: "They are being jerks so I won’t do what they ask… regardless of the merits of the petition. I believe the writer is projecting backwards onto the events of the late 60s and early 70s something of what we experience today in dealing with some traditionalists.] In a letter to the Cardinal secretary of state on June 29 1973, Fr Bugnini, the Secretary of the Congregation For Divine Worship, spelt out the difficulties: “Opposition to the ‘new’ Mass has given rise to a bitterly disputatious campaign of attacks on the Pope and the Church, on the Council and on ecclesiastical institutions. It has opposed the Mass of Pius V to that of Paul VI, calling the one the expression of true faith, the other heretical. Once the problem is located on this doctrinal level, any yielding would be harmful to faith and discipline. On the other hand, when special cases arise in which the moving force is not polemical and doctrinal, a concession can be granted to celebrate the old Mass.” [Note that that was a letter from Bugnini to the Secretary of State. That was Bugnini’s position, not Paul VI’s. But the author started out saying how pastorally sensitive Paul VI was and then wound up quoting you know who.]
Fr Bugnini refers to the request for Tridentine-rite Mass provision after the promulgation of the new rite, in these terms: “Their request could even be seen as quite legitimate when seen as a psychological and spiritual need of faithful who were accustomed to the kind of celebration they had known and loved since childhood and who were ill at ease with the new rite. But the petitions made had a serious drawback: the criticized the Missal of Paul VI as heretical and Protestant and claimed that the Mass of Pius V was the only authentic Mass.” (The Reform of the Liturgy, 1984-1975, p284) [Again with the Bugnini. And once again, those who are attached to the older form of Mass are presented – by Bugnini here, but certainly this is the writer’s view – as being caught in a trap of nostalgia, unable to grow up and make the enlightened changes which have born such wonderful fruit in the years since their implementation.]
On the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul in 1970 a pilgrimage to Rome by those who were petitioning for the retention of the Tridentine-rite left the following letter with the Holy See: “We know that the infallible and irreformable teaching of the Council of the Trent on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has been betrayed in the new rites – by the imposition of the vernacular, by the fraudulent watering down of the consecration of the chalice, and by the translation into the vernacular which has destroyed the Catholic doctrine on justification as defined by the Council of Trent. The Mass is no longer the bloodless renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary, but an assembly; the hierarchical and sacred priesthood has been eliminated and replaced by the president of the assembly … we know that the entire liturgical reform amounts to a real disavowal of transubstantion and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.” [Again… a letter from no one in authority. The writer should be reminded that the plural of anecdote is not "data".]
No Pope, however deep his sympathies with the spiritual and pastoral needs of those who sought concessions of the Tridentine-rite within the context of the liturgical reform, could ever be allow them when his action could be seen to be a capitulation to those who accused him of heresy. [And yet Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have done just that.] Yves Congar fingered the precise point when, in his book Challenge to the Church – the case of Archbishop Lefebvre, he cited the traditionalists’ main concern as not being liturgical renewal but the renewed image of the Church which came out of Vatican II. [And that image has really worked out well so far. But note how the author pits one vision against the other, one group against another, one Missal against the other. Citing Congar and Bugnini, he is a good example of someone who applied a "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture".]
This regrettable tendency to exaggerated and offensive language was not limited to issues, but descended into personal abuse, particularly of Pope Paul VI and Fr Bugnini. [He does not cite the abuse traditional Catholics continue to endure.] On November 30, 1969, a number of fountains in the centre of Rome had chemicals poured into them to stain the water red, allowing the Lefebvrists to claim “the waters of Rome run red just as the waters of Egypt were transformed into blood” – a reference to Exodus 7:19. [More anecdotes.]
The situation was not dissimilar from that which existed at the Council of Trent. At that time, 400 years before Vatican II, there was considerable sympathy for the introduction of the vernacular into the Mass. [Similiar things came out of the Synod of Pistoia and were condemned by the Church.]The only reason [?] it was not done was because the more extreme of the Protestant reformers claimed that the Mass was invalid in Latin – something the Council of Trent could not afford to be seem to admit. After Vatican II, because of the exaggerated claims that the new liturgy was heretical, Pope Paul VI could not allow himself to be seen as admitting that in any way by making concessions about the re-instatement of the Tridentine-rite Mass. Yet, despite the abuse and insults, and the undoubtedly stressful times, both Paul VI and Fr Bugnini not only continued but redoubled their efforts to make provision for those whose pastoral needs could only be met through the Tridentine Mass. [The writer may be living in a dream world.]
There was special concern about a number of countries, especially Britain – invariably referred to in Vatican documents as “England”. Even when trying to understand the difference between England”, “Britain” and “The United Kingdom”, the highest officials in Vatican could run into difficulty. A then British Minister to the Holy See once asked me what briefing had been given to the Pope which caused him to greet the diplomat with the words: ”Ah, I know you have not come England”. Confusion reigned, as the Minister rather thought he had! But it was “England” and other countries with a Protestant tradition which elicited special understanding. [But he digresses…]
Bugnini (p280) is quite clear: “The point needs to be made that in the United States and especially in England, and more generally in countries with a strong Protestant majority, the introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy meant to many the loss of one distinction between Catholics and Protestants and of a sign of their attachment to Rome in the face of Protestantism. For these people, the psychological effects of the reform were quite serious. For some, the reform meant the collapse of a world and the practical acceptance of views until then regarded as heretical”
Another deep worry for Paul VI was the position of Paul VI was the position of priests who had grown old, who could not face the changes, and for whom the Mass each day meant everything.
So, the problems were clear- what was the solution to be?
First of all, clear re-statement of the facts, “When … Pius V published the first edition of the Roman Missal he presented it to the people as an instrument of liturgical unity and as a witness to the truth and devotion of the new Church’s worship … we now express a similar hope that this book (the new rite of the Mass) will be received by the faithful as an act whereby all can witness to each other and strengthen the faith common to all, since it enables one and the same prayer, expressed in so many languages, to ascend to the heavenly Father.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, April 3, 1969). [How has that worked out?]
Then, provision for good and loyal priests, who had served the Church faithfully all their lives, and needed the Tridentine-rite for the rest of their lives – on September 18, 1974, with a single “P”, Paul VI approved the suggestion that individual bishops should be allowed to authorise such priests to celebrate Mass privately in the Tridentine-rite. For the rest, a firm line – bishops could not authorise the public celebration of the Tridentine-rite Mass. But of course, the Holy See could, and did, provided there was no danger of such public celebrations being seen as an admission that the new liturgy was in any way defective.
The extent and the depth of Paul VI’s determination to meet genuine pastoral needs is seen at its best in his reaction to the petition from Cardinal Heenan, the Archbishop of Westminister, for a concession to be made for groups of converts and elderly people – not privately, but publicly. Fr Bugnini (pp297-298) prints out the handwritten note he received from the Pope, who forwarded the cardinal’s request to him: “The Congregation must have already drawn up instructions for such cases … In any event, I think … that a favourable answer … (s)hould be given to the first request, and to the second as well … my thanks, prayers and blessings, October 30 1971.”
As the more extreme and vitriolic outbursts of the Lefebvrist-inspired traditionalist movement began to run out of steam, and in a certain sense cocooned in an eccentric cultural attachment to birettas and exaggerated clerical dress which isolated it from everyday, common-sense Catholics, [How pastorally sensitive.] it became possible for the Holy See to enlarge its concessions for the public celebration of Tridentine-rite Masses for groups of people who accepted the legitimacy of the new rite. [I see… so the new concessions came because they started to behave better. They didn’t have anything to do with the illicit consecrations of 1988? Once those people were no longer a danger, once they were cocooned, there could be more concessions?]
The latest pronouncement Summorum Pontificum – by the present Pope, also has a restriction. The concession is for already (continentur) [?!?] existing groups of Tridentine-rite Mass devotees. It is not an invitation to seek converts to the cause. The clear obligation on all bishops and priests to work tirelessly for the acceptance of the new rite, laid down by Vatican II remains.
[There are so many problems with this it is hard to know where to begin. First, he quotes "continentur", a word which doesn’t appear in Summorum Pontificum. He probably meant "continenter", a controversial adverb in the originally released text now corrected to "stabiliter". He bases his line of thought on "continentur" but so misapplies the word in that sentence that I am forced to conclude that he hasn’t the slightest idea of what it means. Not even the slightest idea, which is embarrassing. Next, in the midst of his hand-wringing he inserts a sneering "devotees", as if this is a slightly kooky thing, like a meeting of people who collect spoons. Then, he asserts something that seems to run contrary to the desire of the Holy Father. The Pope wants the two Uses to enrich each other. He wants people to know and have access to the older form. Card. Castrillon spoke of the Pope’s wish that the older use be widespread. So, Summorum Pontificum in fact does seem to be an invitation for people to get interested in the older form of Mass. Also, I cannot see how it is an obligation of bishops to make one side of the Roman Rite known and accepted without they also have the obligation to make the both sides of the Roman Rite known and accepted. The Roman Rite has two Uses, juridically. If you are going to talk about obligations, you ought to be fair and see the larger picture, not just the part of it you happen to prefer. And let us not forget that Vatican required a lot of things that aren’t being pushed: Latin, Gregorian Chant, pipe organ, polyphony. Vatican II required that nothing be done to the liturgy unless it was for the good of the people. Vatican II required that only a very few things be done in the reform of the liturgy. But… I digress.]
“England”, as the Vatican will always see us, has been exemplary in its interpretation of the Pope’s pastoral concern for those who need the Tridentine-rite Mass for their spiritual health, [I wonder if anyone in England would have a different view of the matter?] rather than for those who want it in order to bolster their campaign of opposition to Vatican II in general , and its liturgical reforms in particular. This proud legacy must not be squandered.