(Melbourne)David's previous articles
Mutual Enrichment of the two Rites
hubris keeps piling up
an enthusiastic young theological advisor to Cardinal Frings of Cologne Fr
Joseph Ratzinger kept extensive diaries during the Second Vatican Council. It is
of more than academic interest that reflections of former peritus Ratzinger can now be closely compared with his later revised
theological convictions as Cardinal and Pope. His views on many substantive
issues at Vatican II are electrifying. His positions on the same developments
now are alarming. He has regressed from the optimism and adventure of the Pope
John’s conciliar Church and taken refuge in the safe haven of an ecclesial
entity of a distant dogmatic past.
was particularly encouraged by the Council’s push towards decentralisation,
limiting the power of the Roman Curia and liturgical reform. His writings are
full of great insight into all of these aspects of development and change. He
was deeply perceptive about just how stagnant and sterile the liturgy of the
Roman Rite had become and consequently how alienated Catholics had grown from
any deep sense of celebration and participation.
the things he recorded in his diaries were a number of key assessments. John
Wilkins, a former editor of The Tablet
has documented in great detail the Ratzinger of the Council and the
Cardinal/Pope of his later hierarchical incarnations.
he writes, centralized all liturgical authority in the priestly bureaucratic
Congregation of Rites. Lacking historical
perspective, the Congregation viewed
the liturgy solely in terms of ceremonial rubrics; as sort of court
etiquette for sacred matters prevailed reducing the liturgy to a
rigid, fixed, and firmly encrusted system …. a total impoverishment of the
liturgy. Ratzinger wrote that the Baroque High Mass became a kind of sacred
opera, that during its celebration the people simply went about their private
devotions. On the relationship between congregation and priest during Mass, he
wrote, They were united with him only by being in the same Church with him. For
Ratzinger, if the liturgy’s proper function was to be recovered, the
wall of Latinity had to be
view mirror and more serious matters
many commentators who are observing this regression is the Irish theologian
Joseph P. O’Leary. In a post last year he addressed the issue of the status of
Vatican II in conciliar history, its rightful place in that Tradition and the
disingenuousness of its reinterpretation over the past thirty years or so,
is no way of divorcing the authentic sense of Vatican II from that authentic
sense enacted by Paul VI and the Council Fathers in the years immediately
following the Council. What is much easier to do is to see the inconsistencies
between the work of the Council and its dismantling in recent decades.
(Pray Tell, 29/11/11)
is now a growing body of compelling evidence that this conscious and
programmatic dismantling has been going on apace in the Catholic Church for
years. It began in earnest under the watch
of the CDF, (1981-2005).
Kung, Ratzinger’s colleague at Vat II, has recently accused him of being
dangerously close to a state of schism
with the Catholic Church. He charges the Pope with arrogance, warning him of the
extreme ecclesial dangers of the Curia’s negotiations with the SSPX on the
terms and conditions of their reconciliation with the Church,
Pope Benedict should be warned that, with such a scandalous decision, he in his already much bewailed aloofness, would further distance himself from the people of God. The classical teaching on schism should be a warning to him
one should take this lightly. The stakes are high not only for the papacy but
also for the unity of the whole Catholic Church. Further to the point, the
ecclesiastical hierarchy have for too long presumed obedience from a largely
unthinking lay constituency. This has changed dramatically over the past few
decades as the level of education has risen and awareness of Church authority
and politics has become more acute. The days of passive compliance and supine
acceptance of diktas and refusal of subsidiarity and dialogue are well and truly
over. The non-ordained have embrace ownership of their ecclesial communities in
accordance with the invitation of Vat II and they will not forfeit it.
recent weeks, Fr Robert Barron, an American apologist for the New Evangelization and
Australian Professor Tracey Rowland have independently revealed themselves as
populist spokespersons of the new official cautiousness and ambivalence about
Vat II. Both employ slanted and disingenuous scholarship in their critiques and
are superficially contrived in their estimation of the Council and its place in
Church history. What is significant in both cases is that they are showing clear
signs of communicating a pro-forma scripted message. A very similar line can be tracked through recent
pronouncements by other prominent public figures in the loyal to the Pope and Magisterium community.
no better example of this messaging
strategy can be found than in the promotion of the new liturgical programme. The
hubris and pretence has been finally stripped away. The official brand name is mutual
enrichment. In reality, it is code for the proposed combination of elements
from the traditional Latin Mass and the Novus
Ordo. This has long been the dream and wish of Cardinal Ratzinger. It is all
happening now that he is Pope Benedict.
the Red to demand the Black
Raymond Burke (Apostolic Signatura), Malcom Ranjith, Archbisop of Colombo,
Antonio Canizares Llovera (the
Congregation for Divine Worship), Kurt Koch (Pontifical Council for Promiting
Christian Unity) and others having been propagating the official Vatican line
ever since Cardinal Ratzinger’s famous letter of June, 2003 written to a
follower of the SSPX. In that communication, he strongly indicated his own
desire for a single Rite in the Latin Church. The momentum picked gradually
after his election as Pope in 2005. Cardinal Burke promoted this same idea in a CNA
interview in 2011. Burke offered what is now a standard softener
before the real message is disclosed.
warmly acknowledged the liturgical directions given by both JP II and Benedict
XVI stressing de rigeur that they are
completely continuous with the vision of Vat II, namely mandated a God-centred
liturgy and not a man-centred liturgy – who would deny that? But he then
introduced the straw man, namely, that
the congregation at Mass had lost the
fundamental sense that the liturgy is Jesus Christ himself acting; God himself
acting in our midst.
then makes a pitch for the Extraordinary
Form claiming that it had helped correct the problem, The celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form is now less and
less contested and that people are seeing the great beauty of the rite as it was
celebrated since the time of Pope Gregory the Great (sixth Cent.). The Ordinary
Form then could be enriched by the elements of that long tradition. This he
says, would eventually amount to that combined normative rite favoured by the
Pope. What pleases the Holy Father is
a new dominant support group mantra. It is the corollary of loyalty to his
person and Magisterium and a sine qua non
of authentic Catholic orthodoxy.
in particular is using his high profile image in the Roman Curia’s to lend
extra authority to the promotion of the Extraordinary
Form. He has regularly show-cased its celebration around the world.
Burke’s ecclesiology is rooted in a fundamentalist conviction that the
historical Jesus consciously established both the Church and its whole
sacramental system (NCR, 10/07/12).
The nostalgic imagery he evokes is highly allegorical, operatic and
extremely clerical. It reflects his romantic view of a completely God-centred
ritual, paralleling the celebration of the Tridentine Mass with the Levitical
rituals of Jewish Temple
stress on bloody Sacrifice and sacerdotalism confirms this kind of pre-critical
interpretation of Scripture and Tradition which is so highly favoured by the
Pope himself. The collateral casualty is the full, active and conscious
participation by the congregation. The liturgical involvement of the laity has
been diminished and sidelined by a supposedly God-centred ritual which is, in effect, priest-centric and exclusive so. (See Sacrosanctum Concilium, # 50).
now, the Monsignor’s supporting act
a recent piece article in The Tablet,
Msgr Wadsworth, former high profile functionary in the ICEL, echoed the now
expected Vatican rhetoric suggesting that Vat II has become something of an
embarrassment of history, due to misunderstandings
and misinterpretations - both common
code words to justify Benedict’s Reform
of the Reform. Wadsworth
quotes with approval the Pope’s message to the recent International Eucharist
Congress in Dublin,
renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make
it easier to enter into the depths of the mystery. It’s true
purpose was to lead people to a personal
encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God,
so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of his brothers and
sisters for one another might grow. Yet not infrequently, the revision of
liturgical forms has remained at the external level, and ‘active
participation’ has been confused with external activity. Hence much still
remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal.
real problem with Benedict’s line of thought here, and embedded in the
apologetics for his liturgical reforms, is that the Eucharistic liturgy is now
being defined according to the rituals and rubrics of the devotional rites of Benediction
and Adoration. Both of these, while admirable in themselves, are rather
static by definition, hence the emphasis on the Real Presence. The Eucharistic liturgy on the other hand is very public,
dynamic and very active. It seems
as though Catholic devotional piety has superseded Catholic Eucharistic liturgy.
Ratzinger’s earlier criticisms of the operatics and theatrics of the
Tridentine Rite and the wall of Latinity have now given way to a revisionism
which applauds them both. Wadsworth
urges as both desirable and urgent, A
recovery of the Latin tradition of the Roman Rite that enables us to continue to
present elements of our liturgical patrimony from the earliest centuries with
understanding. This necessarily requires a far more enthusiastic and widespread
commitment to the teaching and learning of Latin in order that the linguistic
culture required for interpreting our texts and chants may be more widely
experienced and our patrimony enjoy a wider constituency.
predictably inserts his support for the official line on ecclesiology and the
liturgy. The subtext of this is the famous debate between Cardinals Kasper and
Ratzinger on what pre-existed, the Universal or the local Church. Ratzinger
argued from a position of biblical and patristic fundamentalism while Kasper’s
position was rooted in a critique of actual
repeats the Ratzinger line by asserting that the local churches have lost their
sense of the Universal and have, as a consequence, become parochial and self-selective
in both policy and praxis. This same
criticism paradoxically reflects the very same self-selective, self-justifying
centralism and authoritarian control the Vatican itself claims in its global
governance. It is a matter of airbrushing reality and convenient redaction of
texts and traditions. It’s commonly called hubris.
Council, according to the new official message,
is to be situated in the historical record and assessed as a minor pause in
journey of the Church. Vat II had nothing much of real novelty or substance to
say about much at all. Furthermore, it can now be explained conveniently and
comprehensively via a thorough reading of it primary tool of interpretation, the
of the Catholic Church.
the long drawn out and often heated debate leading up to the introduction of the
new translation of the Roman Missal late last year, Anthony Ruff OSB gave a
rather insightful critique of the propaganda surrounding the Extraordinary
Form and the representative role of the celebrant in relation to the
at its best, Mass with the 1962 Missal doesn’t bring out at all that the
priestly community is brought into Christ’s self-offering by their own
self-emptying to each other for the sake of the world, drawing them closer to
the Community. Even at its best, it looks like there’s only the priest, and
everyone else is privileged a) to be present as he offers sacrifice and b) to
receive grace his ritual brings to them. (Pray
remains one of the great ironies that in the present adulation of the supposed God-centredness
of the EF its proponents have never successfully shaken off the criticism of the
young Prof Ratzinger that it is a performance by a few remote and ornately clad
actors observed from a distance by a largely disengaged audience. This seems to
be missed completely by Card Burke and the other passionate apologists of the EF.
While insisting that their orientation is towards God, the actual focus of
attention is on the tightly scripted theatrical performance by the sacred ministers. They, not God or Christ, are the real centre of
attention. It is they who are the main
game and they are exotically dressed
for the part.
Cardinal has the final say with foot in mouth
It would be improper and
even offensive to Our Lord to have someone offering the Mass who doesn’t know
what he’s saying or doesn’t even know how to say it.
Cardinal Burke commenting recently on the linguistic preparation needed by
priests for the celebration of the Mass in Latin. He might well have been
talking about the new English translation of the Missal.
Timbs writes from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
on the systematic roll back of Vatican II: Here
a further link to Kung’s warning
to Benedict about schism over the
his April, 2010 open letter to the world’s bishops.
Burke’s latest pronouncements on Concelebration
for further insights into the baroque, clericalist mindset in liturgical matters.]
Comments: (please send to email@example.com )
This is an interesting analysis of the reform of the reform programme. It is unfortunate that through its initial and long period of ostracism the old Mass became so politicised that it is very difficult to attend or approve of it without feeling one has to accept the less attractive religious package with which its promoters present it. And, due to this politicisation, it seems to me inevitable that a certain self-consciousness must attend its celebration: there being a sense of a kind of implicit statement of defiance each time it is celebrated. Since it is a deliberate, as yet minority, choice, how could it avoid this?
The truth remains that the old Mass and the old paraliturgies, if done thoughtfully, create a space for the palpably numinous. They represent one aspect of the developed and inherited Catholic psychology of prayer. They ought not be discarded. But equally, they ought not be imposed. The new liturgical and extra-liturgical forms and theology also address important human psychological religious needs. Just as bells, incense, silence, and mystery symbols accentuate the ineffable and transcendent; so too do lay choreography, community vocalisation and vernacular language accentuate the importance of the assembly and the democracy implied by Incarnation, i.e. God is no longer exclusively transcendent but immersed and humanised and is part of the human searching for God.
A merged, amalgamated Latinate Ordinary form is not the best stratagem: like all cobbled together solutions, it will only succeed in failing, becoming neither fish nor ornament, useless and contrived with the worst of both worlds.
One of the worst aspects of the old liturgy is not the prayers, not the language, nor even its theology on paper, but the frequent pre-occupation of many of its celebrants and promoters with ecclesiastical fashion and archaism, so that the effect on the observer is nothing so much as a perception of their narcissism, clericalist contempt and theological superficiality. Cardinal Burke appears to be a typically shocking and embarrassing exemplar of this.
Perhaps this "reform of the reform" strongly suggests that B16 is well past his expiration date, mentally as well as physically...