From The Telegraph comes this piece by a retired British diplomat who spent most of his career in China and Germany. He is an active member of the Labour Party.
My emphases and comments:
As an Anglican, I can’t understand why Catholic bishops fear the Latin Mass
From what one hears, the Church of England should be shaking in its warm woolly socks by now. The Pope’s latest initiative, allowing ultra-traditionalist Anglicans [I think all the want is to stick to the Christian tradition. Doesn’t that make the ultra traditionalists?] to go over to Rome en masse while being allowed to preserve their traditional liturgy, is being portrayed as a devious Papist attempt to split and undermine our national Church.
As a strong Anglican, I don’t buy into any of this. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?] Many people may not think that there’s much difference between the churches, but that’s not how they see it in Glasgow, and that’s not how the Pope sees it either. These things are important. But still, for me anything Pope Benedict does to break down the barriers is a Good Thing. If some Anglicans choose to go over to Rome as a result of this initiative, I’m not going to throw anything at them. Some of my best friends, etc.
But there’s a strange backstory here. As my colleague Damian Thompson chronicles in his blog, there are internecine disputes between British Catholics too. The Pope – and let me say at this point that I admire intellectual rigour even when I disagree with the man who wields it – wishes to reintroduce the old-style Latin Mass, not as compulsory, but as an option. Much of the British Catholic hierarchy, according to Damian, do not like this at all. They seem to fear that the Latin Mass is a) so 1950s, and b) only one step away from the thumbscrew and the stake. [And it gives the lie to decades of a liberal agenda.]
Now, the sort of traditional Anglicans the Pope is trying to attract are the sort who wouldn’t mind the Latin Mass in the slightest. I like it myself. When travelling abroad – most recently in Budapest and Copenhagen – I have attended Mass on a Sunday. While prepared for a completely unintelligible service, I was on both occasions gratified to sit in on a service which I understood (a lifetime of choral singing has left me well acquainted with the Latin Mass). This was the Catholic Church doing what it says on the tin.
[Read closely….] What I wonder is why the British Catholic Bishops are so frightened of a resurgence of the Latin Mass. It seems odd that Catholic liberals are so wedded to modernism in liturgy and music, whereas the hardcore traddies prefer Tridentine rites, Gregorian chant, etc. On the Anglican side it is the hardline evangelicals who are keenest on modern “choruses”, tambourines, clapping etc, while the liturgical traditionalists, who cherish the great tradition of English church music, are closer to the liberals.
So, will the Pope’s initiative lead to a large exodus of traditional Anglicans? I don’t think so somehow. Anyone who is at all susceptible to the ecclesiological arguments of Rome has surely gone over already. [It isn’t all about the arguments. It is about having a "safe zone".] We’ll carry on making our sublime church music. (The Sistine Chapel Choir is terrible.) We’ll live alongside you as we always have, and will listen to anything sensible you have to say, especially to HH the Pope, who is a great Christian theologian. And, while we’ll always accept in a brotherly spirit anyone who is honestly convinced to go over to Rome, we’ll also rejoice over any of yours who can’t cope with the intellectual tergiversations any more and come over to us. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]