Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Motu Proprio, Finally

Roma Locuta...

The Pope has finally issued "SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM"

Fr. Joseph O'Leary has the best relevant commentary here.

Not long ago, I read a book called The Reform of the Papacy, by the former Archbishop of San Francisco, John R. Quinn. It was written in 1999 as a reponse to the broad invitation issued by John Paul II in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint.

Archbishop Quinn made some interesting observations at the time on this topic.

(A) sign that (a certain) curial mind-set still exists is indicated in a more observable way by what may be called the restorationist direction of the Curia at the present time. This seems to be an effort to recreate the preconciliar situation of the Church. It is manifest, for instance, in the encouragement of a return to the preconciliar Latin liturgy. This began as a limited conces­sion with the hope of avoiding a schism on the part of the fol­lowers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.* The concession did not in fact avoid schism, but it has led to the development of groups who rally around a return to the preconciliar liturgi­cal forms. These groups now use not only the preconciliar Mass liturgy but also the preconciliar sacramental liturgies. ** From being a concession granted as an extreme measure to avoid schism, the return to the preconciliar liturgy has now become almost a campaign.

Cardinal Ratzinger, for instance, holder of one of the most important and influential offices in the Vatican Curia, was quoted in an interview as saying:

On the basis of my experience, I am convinced above all that we must do everything possible to form a new generation of prelates who can see that this is not an attack on the Coun­cil ... we must ... help priests and bishops of goodwill to see that celebrating the liturgy according to the old texts does not mean overshadowing.

This would seem to be a statement that the Curia has the role of teaching and shaping the episcopate on a matter that is not of faith. The assumption of such a role by the Curia seems to be quite in conflict with the understanding of the episcopate as taught in Vatican II and as taught in the divine tradition of the Church. The episcopate is not simply a sec­ondary body to be shaped and formed to a certain point of view by the Curia, especially on matters open to free opinion in the Church. Admittedly the Curia has delegated authority. It is quite another thing when the Curia assumes a role of authority over the episcopate to shape its thinking in a mat­ter open to legitimate debate in the Church. Not only has the cardinal expressed this need to form a new kind of bishop who will favor the preconciliar liturgy, but he himself at times publicly celebrates the liturgy in this form. For such an influential and central figure of the Vatican to invest himself in word and action to such a high degree in promoting the preconciliar liturgy and to declare that the Curia must form bishops who will follow his lead is a matter of great signifi­cance.

* Archbishop Lefebvre was a French Catholic archbishop who had been a member of Vatican II. He was leader of a movement that bitterly opposed the reforms of the liturgy at the council and sought to restore the use of the Latin liturgy as used prior to the council. The council itself had not forbidden the use of Latin in the liturgy as reformed by Vatican II. But the Pope did suppress the use of the Latin rite of the Mass as it existed prior to the council so that those who wished to use Latin should use the reformed rite of the Mass.

** This ranging beyond the Latin Mass reformed by the Council of Trent to the Tridentine form of the sacraments is surprising. After all, Pope Paul VI, by an act of the supreme apostolic authority, changed the form of several of the sacraments. Is another act of the supreme apostolic authority necessary to change the form of the sacraments back? Has this been done? Furthermore, the entire liturgical reform of the council was made on the basis of significant theological principles, among them giving new emphasis to the centrality of the mystery of Christ and opening this mystery more effectively to the people. The reform was not a superficial matter of introducing the vernacular or changing ritual. Can these theo­logical principles now be simply set aside? What is to be said of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)? Is this required of those who return to the past forms? If not, how does such a return to the past respond to the deep theological and patristic developments which under­lie a thing such as the RCIA?


cowboyangel said...

Oh dear, the Papal distress signal - upside-down Pope. You're not going to get ex-communicated for that, are you? I thought Hillary had helped pass an ammendent to outlaw that.

Interesting to see the headline variations on this story:

NYT: Pope Eases Curbs on Celebrating the Latin Mass

Reuters: Pope revives old Latin mass, sparks Jewish concern

Bloomberg: Pope Allows Latin Mass in Gesture to Traditionalists

From the NYT: Amid opposition from other Jewish groups, the Anti-Defamation League condemned the change on Saturday, calling it a “body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations.”

Even after reading your post, your links, and a few articles, I'm still not sure how to take the news. What, in your opinion, is the "troubling scenraio," as O'Leary puts it, if "The faithful will be choosing between a Tridentine Mass at 9 and a Novus Ordo Mass at 10"?

There are already different rites in use in various places. Do you think the Latin mass will really take off, thus causing confusion? Personally, I keep hoping for an upsurge in popularity of the Mariachi Mass, but it just hasn't happened yet.

I don't think reviving the Latin Mass is necessarily going to help lower the average age of priests from 65 or whatever it is in this country. Or help put more priests in smaller communities. Or heal wounds of the child molestation scandal. Or draw new people into the Church. From my own admittedly limited and semi-outsider perspective, Rome seems to be fiddling while the Church burns.

Liam said...

Great post, Jeff.

I'll say what I've always said about this: except for the anti-semitic passages, which should be removed, I have no problem with the Tridentine Mass being available in the context of diverse approaches to the Mass that can speak to different individuals. I see no more problem with a church offering the Tridentine Mass at 9 and a Novo Ordo Mass at 10 than I do with my parish Church offering a high mass in English at 11 and a Charismatic Mass in Spanish at 12:30. At the same time, Masses are offered in a number of different Catholic Rites all over town.

The problem is that I wish it were only fiddling. There is nothing new with this or the prior papacy in centralizing and denying a more conciliar ecclesiology that gives bishops more control over their own dioceses. This is just one more example. The other problem is that it has been done to please the Lefebvritos. I have no problem with a church that seeks to accommodate groups on a broad spectrum of ideologies for the sake of unity. But the past thirty years has seen more of openings towards archconservatives both in the Church (Opus Dei) and outside it.

Liam said...

Sorry -- I signed out too soon. What I meant to say is that the papacy has had its hand out to groups who are more in line with an anticonciliar ecclesiology -- which is to say, it is not just fiddling, it is grabbing power where it can.

Deacon Denny said...

Hi Jeff,

Mostly I agree with cowboyangel -- it's not something I will lose sleep over, and I do wonder why they bother.

I do get miffed sometimes, because there are a lot of times that I try to work with/within the Church on bigger-picture things, and as Liam indicated, it shows that the "big guys" are really moving in other directions.

I'm glad there's a Holy Spirit.

Garpu the Fork said...

On the one hand, true diversity in unity is a good thing. But I have to agree with Liam, too, about his comment about the SSPX and other groups.

In short, I dunno. Pray for the Church, I guess, since that's about all we can do.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I agree profoundly with the last paragraphs from each and every one of you. I'll say no more about it.

P.S. I've been remiss about catching up with all of you on your respective blogs. I'll try to do better. :-)

crystal said...

I'm late and with nothing much to add - I'll start worying when the Mass is celebrated in Klingon :-)

crystal said...

PS - in my further wanderings tonight, I saw a post on this at the Wild Reed and he had a link to this commentary at Fr. O'Leary's blog, Spirit of Vatican II.

cowboyangel said...

Reuters article this morning: Latin Mass A Looming Headache For Catholic Parishes.

[Benedict's] letter to bishops explaining the step skated over some practical problems that local pastors now face. Few priests know how to say the old rite mass. The clergy's thinning ranks already have their hands full saying the usual masses on Sunday.

"Where there are groups that want it, it's going to be a real pain in the neck for the pastor," said Father Tom Reese S.J. of the Woodstock Theological Center at Washington's Georgetown University. "He's going to be pressured to do it."

Another argument Benedict made -- that promoting the old Latin mass did not mean reversing other Vatican II reforms -- also seems to have met with some skepticism in the Church.

Bishop Luca Brandolini, an Italian liturgy expert, said after the decree he was in mourning and fighting back tears.

"A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled," he told the Rome daily La Repubblica.

Liam makes a good point on the centralization movement within the hierarchy not being "fiddling."

I'll start worying when the Mass is celebrated in Klingon.

Crystal, I'm sure you didn't mean it, but your statement almost sounds racist. Surely Worf proved once and for all that "Klingon treachery" was a myth perpetrated by certain people within the Federation who had a political/imperialist axe to grind. I hope you haven't been falling for Lou Dobbs' xenophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Klingons aren't "the enemy" anymore.

Rashfriar said...

Jeff and All, Peace!
There's a lot to chew over. I think both those afraid of and those delighted with this move tend to oversimplify the advantages and problems with it. My biggest fear is always those who will use this to support their attack on the current missal as invalid, heretical, etc. Of course, the pope supports no such thing, but some may see this as tacit support for this. But I believe the Holy Spirit will still help us, and remind us of what is important.
Regarding Klingon, by the way, I was once searching for an online edition of the Latin Vulgate Bible and found a site with such, as well as a Klingon translation of the Bible! I've lost the link, but it intrigued me that someone would spend time and energy on that.
God bless!

Anonymous said...

Jeff, when I saw your note today, I wept. Haven't done this in years. Tough guy I am!! As I post you may understand better why someone out there will listen about my 'book.' Will get myself under control and try to get back later today .

Anonymous said...

Jeff, that you would take time to discuss my book overwhelmed me!!!

Rica is honest, but has never told his story. Trite maybe, but you said you had read a few pages so here goes;

For some reason Rica had always been thought of as a solver of others problems. Yes that was a compliment; but Rica because of his reputation as a problem solver, found that people thought he never had a problem. But he was human and as all humans had problems at times.

When his father was dying of cancer when Rica was 15, and the vogue was not to tell the patient of his condition, Rica stayed with him most of the time. He lived in mortal fear his father would ask what the real situations was. At 90 pounds the patient was returned to the hospital. Maybe off the story but 2 nuns came to Rica's mother and said was she sure he had been baptized; "well I'm pretty sure he has because he had been a part time church musician." The nuns:" would you be offended if a priest baptized him, just to be sure. We don't want to be where Mr. Rica isn't" Mr. Ricas mother said, "Of course not, I would be honored."

Each relative was brought into the room to say 'last goodbye'. Mark Rica the protagonist of this story was brought in last. Although he was supposedly unconscious, the dying Rica lifted his arm and murmed something like "Thanks". The doctor notice this and grabed Mark and said "You did your duty."

Now some 60 years later, Mark for the first time told a friend this story. Mark still has bad dreams when he is alone with suffering man, and wonders if he should to something to put him ot of his misery? It should be clear who the friend is.

Thanks friend. But just telling this part of the book has shaken me. Will be back.

Anonymous said...

Am I taking too much space and hurting your blog? Let me know.

Jeff said...


Not at all. Just very busy, and thinking over what you wrote about that book.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you know I'm not very pious, but somehow believe Someone has sent you and Anna to me for some reason. Back to book.

Mark finished his masters and went to Emory University for doctorate, mainly because Charles Hartshorne, a close colleague of Whitehead,was there. Then spent time in airforce. After he returned to home town[ maybe town is wrong word, population 500,000], one day his tennis partner ask a funny question:"I have a new secretary who I would like to marry. Will you help me"? I think he thought Mark's

glibness with words and 'experience' might help him win the girl.

Mark met the girl, and she was beautiful, but years younger than Mark.On top of which she was a 'prominent' socialite, and had heard Mark speak once in a class Mark was teaching. Her father was general counsel of large oil company and personal attorney of one of the largest catholic philanthropist in country.

Details get in the way, but one day he was having coffee with Ann {we'll call her} and out of nowhere it seems she said. "I like my boss but I want to marry YOU." Mark was stunned. Not only had he seemingly betrayed his tennis friend, but it just did not seem to fit. Mark: from middle class protestant family, no money to speak of, no real furture in sight. Ann, beautiful, young, money, catholic, and this sound silly persued, among others, by a member of the Saudi aristocracy who chartered plane at least once a month to come to visit Ann!!!

Visited priest who said marriage would never work. Families were schoked!!A match made in hell! But Mark and Ann persisted; a young priest said "I think this will be a great marriage".

Ann's mother called every clergyman she knew. But they would not interfere. The "good" priest called Ann's mother and said he was going to mary them and the mother could be there or not! Ann's mother didn't give up. She offered money, and in desperation threw her out of house. Yes, Mark and Ann took an apartment.

The marriage did take place. But in last attempt to block it Ann's mother invited an airline owner from Puerto Rico, who had molested Ann at 10 to offer more
money. Interestingly enough Ann had to lock herself in bathroom to avoid his advances on wedding day!!

The wedding took place. The "good" priest refused to come to reception for fear of fight with Ann's mother. But the good news: Monsignor F... did attend! What a victory for mother!!Monsignor rather than lowly priest!!!

End of this section of book but with your permission will come back

Anonymous said...

Mark, thanks for your generosity and patience. Think I can finish.

Mark retained a casual friendship with "good" priest until the latter went to another assignment. One night Mark and Ann were having dinner with the priest and he asked "Ann can I tell Mark why you said you wanted to marry him" Not quite sure Ann said yes. The "good" priest said "I'll always remember it. You said Mark was kind, smart, sexy, and had strong but gentle hands" We all got a laugh, but Ann still says that today.

Mark has written alsewhere of the "school" crisis which almost drove Ann from catholicism. Speeding along, Markd stopped traveling and confined his union work and teaching to his home city. Then one final crisis.

Todd, their son died. He was especially close to his mother although he loved verbal 'jousts' with Mark. His illness required 1500 dollars woth of medicine a month!!. His parents offered to pay it, although they did not have the money. But Toddd said no. He tried the medicine but it made him so sick he could not work or do anything. He ask the doctor what would happen if he did not take the medicine. You can live between one and ten years. Todd dropped the medicine. Two years later he died.

He was in a comma and each family member went to his hospital room to whisper something he might hear. Mark did not; he could not stand to see his bright, lively son in this condition. OR, and this haunts Mark till today, was he afraid the many assembled would see him cry. Perhaps a bit of both but Mark still wonders. At the funeral mass all Mark could hear was Milton's:

For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime. Young Lycidas, and had not left his peer...So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high, Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves.

Well, life has been kind to Mark and Ann. He still wonders about the "hands" and they still grieve at times for Todd.Ann is still active socially; Mark calls himself her "social"secretary".But Mark is busy too. Family friends still call for advice, confusing glibness with wisdom.

But times pass and Mark remembers a few highlites and low lites.

Mark had a young neighbor kid who did his lawn. A nice kid, but obviously one with problems. One day Mark ask him if he would like a regular job. With excitement the boy yes, if I could. Mark got him a job on the yard crew for the local schools. He helped the boy fill out his application but the boy broke down on the question "Have you ever been arrested for drugs?" Mark, and yes this is wrong, said "Put no" Somehow the boy got hired and by some luck move ahead to a responsible job where he could buy his own house and became one of the leaders of the security system, making a very good salary. 17 years later Mark and Ann ran into him at a mall. They chatted for a moment and then parted. The young man called out "Come back1" Lokking straight at Mark he said in his not sophisticated way"Mr. Ricca, you were the only person who ever helped me".

There was not a dry eye, and even today when Mark tells this story he has trouble seeing his manuscript.

But what about the not seeing his son at the end. Will Mark ever know the answer? Will Todd ever know?

Mark loves quotes on the ground that almost everything that needs to be said has been said, better,, in the past.

Newman{not exact} 'Belief is not just an intellectual assent to a proposition. Real belief is the willingness to act on the proposition'

Graham Greene,"The Heart of the Matter": As Scobie dies from suicide:"...he hears someone outside the house calling him...someone wandered seeking to get in, someone appealing for help...dear God, I love" but he dies before the last word. Who was calling? If you read Greene you.
know he will not tell us.

That's the end of the book summary. I think the key is Mark wanted to tell HIS story to a friend{S}. A story he has never told out of fear, pride, maybe kindness to others---who knows. Thanks

Jeff said...

Thanks for the summary. It's a lot to think about. If you'd like me to respond via email rather than here, you can reach me at:

Anonymous said...

Jeff, respond here. Have e mail problems. Thanks for 'listening'!!! Boring story, but never told. So glad you would 'listen'. I just had to tell it to someone.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, don't write me off now! Important day Wed. Finally found possibility of kind of peace , then this fight! Should I worry? As for e=mail , too many see it. Mark

Jeff said...


Sorry. I aplogize. Not to worry. There's only so much I can get to in a day, between work, family, and as you've seen, controversies I've been involved in elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

You apologize to me!!!!Outrageous. I apologize to you!!!. My worry is about controversy!!! You will NEVER have to apologize to me!!

Anonymous said...

Jeff, you will never know what you have done for me!!! That a person who you have never seen or met to listen to my 'book' is very moving to me {Like "On eagles Wings" which you're right about, but I can't sing anything}

I have had a happy life, not at all bitter, but still plagued by what only you and I know. You were the voice calling outside my door!!

Please don't think i'm sentimental but after your analysis of the book, and the tears I've shed over your responses I am at loss for words. Thank you for me, my family,daughter, wife, grandkids. I will never forget your kindness!!

Jeff said...

No, it's my good fortune to know you, Anon. Thanks for the kind words just the same.

Anonymous said...

Had a great day. Thanks to you, buddy.

Jeff said...

That's great, Anon. Glad to hear it went well.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, priest did read the book on your site. He was likeable and came over as really interested. Thank you for suggestion. Will keep you informed. Thanks.