Latin Mass firestorm just ahead

ratzingertlm9asOne of the rare subjects on which conservative and liberal Catholics agree is this one — the work of John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter is must reading about 99 percent of the time. This is especially true, in my opinion, when he tackles complex subjects that require blending an inside-the-Vatican perspective with some understanding of Catholicism in the swinging United States.

So Allen’s recent New York Times commentary on the upcoming controversy about the “return” of the Latin Mass is must reading for anyone interested in writing, or reading, news about American Catholicism. Here is how it opens:

A senior Vatican official has confirmed that sometime soon Pope Benedict XVI will expand permission for use of what’s popularly known as the Latin Mass, the service that was standard before the Second Vatican Council. Though some details remain vague, one point seems all too clear: When the decision officially comes down, its importance will be hyped beyond all recognition, because doing so serves the purposes of both conservatives and liberals within the church, as well as the press.

Pope Benedict’s intent, according to Vatican authorities, is to make the pre-1960s Mass optional, leaving Catholics free to choose which Mass they want to attend. Because the older Tridentine Mass, named for the 16th-century Council of Trent, has come to symbolize deep tensions in Catholicism, the pope’s decision is sure to trigger an avalanche of commentary.

Some voices on the right will say this action is step one in rolling back the liturgical reforms — or “reforms,” with scare quotes, depending on one’s point of view — of Vatican II and, thus, returning some of the sense of awe and beauty lost in the wake of folk Masses, polka Masses, bad liturgical dancing and whatnot.

In other words, this is great fundraising letter material.

Meanwhile, some voices on the Catholic left will, essentially, say the same thing, only with fear and anger in their voices. This is linked, in part, to their opposition to the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI, who has a long history of being a liturgical traditionalist. Allen notes:

That argument, too, depends on selective perception. While Benedict certainly wants to call the church back to some Catholic fundamentals, evidence of a systematic lurch to the right is hard to come by. This is the same pope, after all, who scandalized Catholic traditionalists by jettisoning limbo and by praying alongside the grand mufti of Istanbul inside the Blue Mosque in Turkey. On the political front, Benedict has demanded debt relief for impoverished nations, said that “nothing positive” has come from the United States-led war in Iraq, and denounced capitalism as an “ideological promise” that “has proven false.”

In other words, the pope is not a Republican or a member of the Religious Right. However, some on the left love to pretend otherwise while crafting the language in their own fundraising letters.

So this is likely to be one big mess of a media circus, complete with smells and bells. For a handy overview of the controversy, check out this USA Today report. As you would expect, Amy Welborn’s open book has its share of coverage and links to people on both sides.

However, it pays to remember that there is a big story lurking behind this one, only it’s a story that is much harder for reporters to tell.

Truth be told, there are Catholics who would love to torpedo Vatican II and some of them love incense, Gregorian chant and Latin. For them, the return of the old Mass would be a huge symbolic victory — even if it does not result in a crackdown on some of the bizarre version of the liturgy that same modernists and postmodernists have dreamed up.

At the same time, there are many American Catholics, including more than a few who wear purple, who dislike traditional Catholics so much that they have gone out of their way to deny them any use of the old Tridentine Mass or even use of the Vatican’s own original, official Latin-text version of the Novus Ordo liturgy that followed Vatican II (the foundation text for translations into English and other modern languages).

There are Catholic leaders, for example, who are fighting the new liturgical texts in which the Vatican has attempted to restore some complex, ancient language — to reform, perhaps, a few of the spirit-of-Vatican II reforms. Click here for a Religion News Service story about Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., chair of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, and his conflicts with Rome on this issue.

The bottom line: You will find a few of these extreme people, left and right, in most American dioceses. You will usually have one or two parishes that strongly support Rome and like to fly that flag high (and apply pressure for Latin rites). Then you will also have one or two edgy parishes (or “centers” or “Catholic communities”) that oppose — in ways either open or subtle — almost everything that Rome tries to do.

So where is the big story? It’s in the middle there, where the typical Catholic parish offers Masses that are plain, vanilla, often numbingly quick versions of the modernized English rite.

If the people on the left and the right can articulate what their ancient or edgy rites stand for, can anyone find a way to describe for readers the theology of these everyday generic Masses? In other words, what is the theological content of the current state of affairs, of the business-as-usual Sunday Mass in the big, mushy middle of suburban American Catholicism?

That’s a big story. Trust me.

Print Friendly

About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Donna Shanigan

    The older I get the more offended I become by the Catholic Church. It’s bad enough the hypocrisy and cover-ups now they are fighting the female orgasm! I found this story in the Washington Post, about a Parish in Wisconsin that fired their longtime volunteer organist because she helped married couples purchase sex toys! Are we still living in the dark ages? People get more out of sex than babies, and it’s high time the Church accepted that. Maybe if they spent less time worrying about female gratification and more time elightening the clergy there wouldn’t be so much child abuse!

  • Pingback: The Boar’s Head Tavern »

  • J-Tron

    I’m a bit confused. My understanding is that when Roman priests celebrate the Mass in Latin today it’s always just the Latin version of the current Mass, not the Tridentine rite that existed prior to Vatican II. Has this changed?

  • tmatt


    JP II made it easier for priests to APPLEAL to their bishops for limited use of the actual Tridentine. The local bishop still retained total control and, as I said, many banned it (and some have even banned the Latin Novus Ordo, which is supposed to be an ordinary service that does not require special permission).

  • tmatt


    What does your comment have to do with the content of this post? Please try to stay on topic.

    First warning.

  • David L Alexander


    The Missal in current use in parishes of the Latin rite — the Missal of Paul VI, or the “Novus Ordo” as it is often called — is originally and authoritatively composed in Latin, and can be celebrated as such without prior approval, and without using the approved vernacular translation. For that matter, the rubrics (instructions in small red type) presume that the priest is “facing East” — that is, facing the same direction as the people (which is to say, toward God), as was the norm before Vatican II. The council itself never authorized either the elimination of Latin nor “turning altars around,” but instead allowed for those options. Obviously these two options have proven popular, to the point where it is assumed they were authorized.

    The “Latin Mass” referred to in this article is the so-called “Missal of Pius V,” or the “Tridentine Mass,” a colloquial reference to its promulgation in 1570 after the Council of Trent. That missal, in turn, was a slight revision of the one common in and around Rome for over a century prior to that time, one which had been in continual development since the time of Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century. It is THAT older missal (the “Trid Mass,” as it is nicknamed at times) which currently requires permission of the local bishop, and the use of which may be liberalized by the anticipated announcement of Pope Benedict.

    Hope that covers everything. To find out more, you’ll have to become a frequent reader of the weblog “man with black hat.” You could do worse.

  • Seel

    J-Tron: In some cases, you wil find the new mass celebrated in Latin. But, when you hear about an “Indult Mass” or a “Traditional Mass” this usually refers to the mass celebrated according to the 1962 missal. The Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) is one ecclesiastically approved group who does this in many dioceses. It’s a beautiful mass and well worth checking out.

  • Pingback: The Boar’s Head Tavern »

  • Martha

    Oh, Donna, stop being such a reactionary stick-in-the-mud! Sex is only for married couples? Get with the programme! This *is* the Century of the Anchovy, after all!

  • Jerry

    Your basic idea is right: there will be a media circus with both sides yelling about how good/evil the decision is. Meanwhile, the real issues will not be addressed because people are too busy fighting about symbolic issues. My opinion might cause some to be upset, but the whole controversy strikes me as an example of Matt 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

    Being one of them thar individualists, I believe people should use whatever rites and rituals help them fulfill the Greatest Commandment. And that will be different for different people. The problem comes in when an organization decides to forbid or mandate a style of worship that is most true for some people.

  • David L Alexander

    Jerry, you wrote: “I believe people should use whatever rites and rituals help them fulfill the Greatest Commandment.”

    Now, about that Commandment: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord alone.” Then something about how He is to be loved. But then, He dictates how often, and in what instances, He expects His people to use this prayer.

    From this we can assume God has rendered an opinion on how He is to be worshipped. If there is only one God, how would the proper manner be “different for different people,” or is there indeed a “right worship” to coincide with “right belief”?

  • Brian


    News industry commentators of all political, ecclesiastical and liturgical persuasions use Vatican news as occasions to vent on favorite themes. Allen — whose work is top notch — says as much in his NYT piece. In that light, Donna’s comments may be understood as an example of the sort of coverage we can expect on this issue.

  • Dan

    “If the people on the left and the right can articulate what their ancient or edgy rites stand for, can anyone find a way to describe for readers the theology of these everyday generic Masses? In other words, what is the theological content of the current state of affairs, of the business-as-usual Sunday Mass in the big, mushy middle of suburban American Catholicism?”

    I would describe (based on nothing other than anecdotal observation) the theology of the surban Catholic masses (and Masses) as de facto soft Protestantism. The liturgy commonly includes music that to my mind is Protestant-influenced (catchy tunes, clapping, etc.) and cafeteria Catholicism seems prevalent among parishioners and often tolerated (and sometimes even promoted) by the clergy.

  • Deacon Eric

    Brian: very astute point!

    In that vein, I offer some predictions as to possible headlines from various quarters:

    National Catholic Register: “Millions Rejoice as New Day Dawns”
    National Catholic Reporter: “Anger, Shock Greet New Papal Document”
    Associated Press: “Pope Issues Stern Rebuke, Imposes Latin Mass”
    USCCB Statement: “Bishops Eagerly Accept Motu Proprio with Profound and Obsequious Gratitude”
    Society of St. Pius X: “Another Nefarious Deception by Vatican Modernists”
    Catholic News Service: “Opinions Differ on Impact of Motu Proprio”

  • Jerry

    From this we can assume God has rendered an opinion on how He is to be worshipped.

    Indeed yes: Matt 6:5-7. I’m sure there are many ways people interpret those verses, but those verses should not be ignored when considering the current to-do about how the Mass is celebrated.

  • SouthCoast

    I am a member of a parish in California which is, essentially, two parishes, one Anglo, one Hispanic. Frankly, I would welcome a Latin mass, if the Church would also offer Latin classes to go with it. It would be nice to be part of a parish that could unite around a common liturgical language.

  • Alan

    First, biases out: I favor the traditional cause, though I don’t have a huge problem with a well-celebrated Novus Ordo Mass.

    Now, a few points:

    1) Regarding Mr. Allen, I hate to cast aspersions because his reporting does tend to avoid the obvious biases of the rest of the staff at his paper, but many conservative/traditional Catholics don’t exactly take his reports (particularly the more analytical and less factual ones) at face value, as though it were pure, unadulterated fact. There is a widespread opinion on what may be termed the Right Wing of the Church (for lack of a better term) that Allen’s analyses frequently are not so much impartial dissections or descriptions of trends as they are attempts to frame the discussion & reception of a news event in a manner that he would like.

    For an example of the above, see the (quite Traditionalist) news weblog “Rorate Caeli,” responding to Allen’s recent columns in the NCR, of which this NYT piece is a derivative:

    (The post of a year prior referred to can be found here:

    2) Regarding the USA Today piece, well, suffice it to say that, given the all but total hostility of most members of the USCCB and their chanceries toward the traditional rite, I would hesitate to accept the opinion of one Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, as an accurate reflection of opinion on the ground. As a partial qualification of the “widespread disinterest” angle, I offer the following indications of growing interest in the traditional rite, from the weblog of the New Liturgical Movement:

    I should note, though, that no one in traditional circles has (to my knowledge) claimed that the motu proprio will lead to some kind of surge in Mass attendance. But that does not necessarily mean that no one in the mainstream is interested in this.

    3) Regarding the theology of the average white-bread suburban Catholic, I wonder if we might consider David Brooks’ recent NYT column “Catholic, Sort Of” as a possible answer to your question. There definitely seems to be a “do as little as possible to still count” attitude at times. (Incidentally, I don’t consider myself entirely immune to this attitude, so as far as this is criticism it is also self-criticism).

  • Deacon Eric

    Regarding Alan’s comments:

    1. The blog Rorate Caeli cannot be considered a significant arbiter of what conservative Catholics think of Mr. Allen’s reporting. I have seen very conservative blogs and very liberal blogs that all hold Mr. Allen’s commentary in very high regard — there are few in the American Catholic Church about whom one could say the same. Rorate Caeli is not merely “very conservative,” it is essentially a cheering section for the Society of St. Pius X, where commenters fawn over every remark made by that group’s leaders. As such, they believe everybody is arrayed against them.

    2. I too noted the announcements of success at The New Liturgical Movement. However, I did not see any quantification of success. They breathlessly announce that all spaces are filled for Tridentine Mass workshops. Bravo for them. Is that 3 or 3,000 places? In other blogs, announcements of “full” indult Masses rarely include the actual number — in cases where they do it is generally less than 50 to 100. While Alan may not have seen them, I regularly see posts and commentary on “traditional” blogs that offer the Tridentine Mass not only as a magical antidote to falling Mass attendance, but also to every problem the Church has, including lesser number of priests, the clerical abuse crisis, poor preaching ,disinterested youth, financial woes, bad music, insufficient catechesis — you name it, people have claimed the Tridentine rite will fix it.

    I don’t really think it’s fair to say that most bishops have “all but total hostility” toward the Tridentine rite; at least 120 U.S. dioceses permit its celebration in 184 locations. One might offer the opinion that there should be more, but this is hardly “all but total hostility.”

    Quantification issues notwithstanding, it’s ultimately not a numbers game. Even with a tiny percentage of people interested, I have no problem providing the old rite to them. The problem is when they say I should not be able to attend the new rite. And that is where the story will be when the rubber hits the road.

  • Rev.Greg Comella

    Mass in English, mass in latin…is all a smoke-screen and another opprotunity for the Vatican to avoid the deeper issue of ordaining non-celibates, including women, to the priesthood. No matter what language the Mass is in, as long as it’s officiants are just men, the sacramental system remains unjust and unfair. The Vatican struts all over the world crying out against human right’s abuses…as it remains one of the most discriminating, bigoted institutions on the face of the earth. So, let liberals and thinking catholics go for the real issue: the ordination of women….and refuse to go to any mass that is presided over by just an all-male, declining club. While they stop going, take their check books with them.

  • Eric W

    I thought Pentecost and the speaking in tongues in everyone’s native language was a sign that the message of the Gospel was to be given in the language(s) of the people? What’s the point of doing a Mass in Latin when hardly any of the parishioners know Latin? I’m not talking against bringing back the form and actions and words of the Mass as it was celebrated a millenium ago. But what’s the logic in doing the Mass in a language no one understands? St. Paul said he would pray with his spirit and pray with his mind. That connotes understanding, not reciting and listening to a language whose words and grammar remain “unknown tongues” to a person.

  • JPeterson

    Settle down Rev Greg. There are plenty of Anglican masses out there for those like yourself who want Women clergy and approving attitudes toward homosexuality and Gay Marriage, etc. The HOLY Roman Catholic Church will remain anchored in rock and not the shifting sands of popular culture thank you very much.

    I was born in 1970 and attended my first Tridentine Mass this past weekend in St Pete, FL. So, I guess my wife and I don’t count as one of the “widespread disinterested” people.

    The Tridentine Mass was great, truly reverential and sacred. There is certainly nothing wrong with a well done new Mass, but sadly such a thing does not exist in the very liberal diocese of St Pete. We sought out the Tridentine Mass simply as an escape from all the irreverent tomfoolery at the typical Sunday Mass in St Pete.

    We’ll probably attend the Latin Mass again but not every weekend but if I see more and more people attacking and criticizing Pope Benedict and the Latin Mass I’ll be sure to attend every weekend.

  • MaryMargaret

    Rev Greg, I will not respond to you directly, as your comment has nothing to do with the issue on this blog. The point is, how are journalists going to deal with this issue. And, I will admit, to my bemusement, it is going to be a big issue FOR CATHOLICS. It is apparent that you take issue with the teachings of the Catholic Church. My one point to you is–There is no fence around the Church–if you are Catholic, you know where the door is–if not, why should you care? I guarantee you that we don’t care what the Protestants do with their liturgies, other than a general concern for all Christian brothers and sisters.

    For those of us who are Catholic, there are numerous camps: Hate the Tridentine; Hate all Latin Masses; Hate the Norvus Ordo (subset–believe that the NO is invalid); Really don’t care what Mass we attend; Prefer the NO in Latin, Prefer the NO in the vernacular; Would like both rites to be available; and pretty much every shade of the above. This is a real challenge to journalists if they want to report the news (IF this is EVER news). Until the Moto Propio is promulgated, this is just a tempest in a teapot. My personal opinion is, that even if it is promulgated, it is still a tempest in a teapot. (Full disclosure, I fall into the camp that sees no reason that both rites should not be freely available–honestly, why not?) After all, there are already numerous rites available to Catholics–something I have yet to see any journalists acknowledge.) Personally, as this story unfolds (or just folds), I would welcome a piece in the press showing how those in communion with Rome, who are not Latin Rite Catholics, see this issue. That would be worth reading.

  • MaryMargaret

    Eric W, I was a very young child during VII. A girl, growing up in a town where there was no Catholic school. Actually, I was the only Catholic my age in the whole town. I do remember the Tridentine Mass, both low and high. You do realize that the missalettes had both the Latin and the English together? Even at the age of 5 or 6, I could read the English and say the Latin. Everyone who wanted to understand what they were saying and were literate in either Latin or the vernacular could do so–and pretty much every one in my home town was literate in English.

    My personal opinion is that we threw the baby out with the bath water. There are parts of the new Mass that I find appealing–the Old Testament reading; the responsorial Psalm (Pardon me if my memory fails, but I don’t remember this in the older rite); and a few other odds and ends. However, to gain these things, we lost a real sense of worship and reverence (no, not always, but in many Masses), beautiful language, and for many parishes (not mine) beautiful music (our music always stunk). I think I am looking for the reform of the reform of the Mass, but I frankly don’t understand the antipathy on either side of this issue. (Now, THERE’S a topic for a journalist to try to explain. Good luck with that one!!)

  • Dennis Colby


    Can you point me to any links about bishops forbidding the Latin celebration of the “Novus Ordo” Mass? It’s my understanding that the Mass can be celebrated anywhere, any time in Latin, and it would be a pretty big story if any bishop tried to block that.

  • tmatt

    Check out this case:

    I would also suggest that you contact the editors at Adoremus:

  • Christopher Orr

    One thing that always seems to be assumed in coverage of the expected Moto Propio is whether “The Latin Mass” means the Tridentine Mass only in Latin, the Tridentine Mass in any language, or either Rite of the Mass served in Latin. Maybe it is clear to RCs, maybe not; its definitely unclear to this non-RC.

    Since the Roman Catholic Church has a long history of Latin-only services no matter the local vernacular, or at least Trilingualism (Latin, Greek or Hebrew alone), this seems to be a point that should be made much more clear in news coverage.

  • Maureen

    Journalists can have a lot of fun with this issue.

    For example, why does Hollywood consistently portray Mass and Catholic Churches (not to mention nuns) in a much more “high church” style than most of us Catholics these days ever get to see? Why did every non-Catholic X-Files fan assume that Scully went to Mass every week in Latin and lit candles? (And that the church would have votive candles to light?) Why did my singing teacher assume I knew chant? Why is it that the Bureau 13 roleplaying game says that all Catholic priest characters know Latin, NT Greek, and Aramaic, are Biblical scholars, and wear cassocks or clericals except when going undercover — when in actuality, most of today’s Catholic seminaries don’t even teach Latin, and the Vatican is trying to lower the boom and get them to do so? Why is it that people think Catholic schools give you a good and moral education, when so many now do neither?

    In other words, why is it that the images of yesterday’s omnicompetence and “smells and bells” stick, and today’s reality doesn’t?

    OTOH, why do today’s bishops assume that American Catholics don’t understand the word “thwart”, when J.K. Rowling’s bestsellers for kids assume they understand words which are far less common? (Not to mention the touches of Latin, heh!) Why do bishops and liturgists like that assume they can impose all kinds of brand new liturgical changes on us _all the time_ and not be misunderstood, whereas a change back to practices which many of us already know is bound to cause confusion?

    What are people like that _thinking_? Do they just hate us and want to make us sad? I’ve been wondering that since I was old enough to wonder, back in the early seventies, and I haven’t gotten a good answer yet. Good journalists like John Allen are a real help in restoring some kind of faith that some kind of thought process actually does occur.

    Mostly, there’s the larger mystical dimension. If people can speak in incomprehensible tongues, why can’t they speak in comprehensible human languages, like Latin? Isn’t ecstatic glossolalia a form of reaching out for the ecstatic beauty of singing in Latin and Greek? What’s more — isn’t the whole charismatic Catholic movement a reaction to the recent devalueing (by many here in America, not by the Vatican) of actively participating in the Mass with one’s whole mind and heart and body, and an excessive value given to being a visible lay minister in a visible office, like being a cantor or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion? Why is are the faithful so often treated nowadays as some sort of passive herd whose only worth is their wallets and their usefulness as voters and donation sources for social justice, instead of as a crowd of immortal saints in the making, each with individual gifts and value?

    Catholics want to worship God in communion with the Church through time. They are sick and tired of all these stupid political games, and they yearn in their souls for a revival of real Catholicism. Of course we tend to seize on anything that looks helpful. We’ve had forty years of being forced by the theological hierarchy to do things that weren’t.

    The fact that Latin, for even the current Mass, is an issue rather than a normal option that’s nothing to get excited about — well, that’s a measure of how far our rights have been trampled upon. But my mother has been telling me how much she misses Latin since I was a kid, and she’s only been able to participate in three in all that time. She’s been able to go to more Masses in Spanish and Russian than that! Heck, it’s easier to go to Mass in Vietnamese!

    I want my rights, darn it. Even if I never exercise it, I don’t see why my parish doesn’t have and use that option. (Especially with all the elderly people who would really appreciate being able to “go home” to the Mass of their childhood.) If immigrants are allowed to have a bilingual Mass, why can’t us Latin Rite Catholics get a dose of our native tongue? Why is _our_ heritage something to be hidden and be ashamed of?

  • Patrick Kinsale

    Tmatt, thanks for sharing that story in Post 25 above. My archbishop is famous for his love of tradition, and has imported two religious orders that specialize in the Traditional Latin Mass. But none of our 200+ parishes (from what I have seen) offer the new Mass in Latin on any regular basis. Were this done, I think it would solve a lot of problems and lead to more reverence in our Catholic liturgy.

    Given Pope Benedict’s statements in Sacramentum Caritatis, cathedrals should be the center point of this movement.

  • Bruce Tereski

    Certain forms of child abuse are percisely a result of deviant and criminal sexual activity. In justice to those who have been sexually abused, you should not continue the myth that it is a problem of only (a small percentage, albeit) of clergy. Maybe if you read the paper or were concerned for victims more than just looking to knock the bishops, you would see that sexual abuse occurs in the home, school, and many places. It is something society must take seriously and not make light of.

    Concerning the Motu Proprio, it’s amazing how angry some people get when others are given something the former temselves don’t want or don’t want the latter to have. Why not be happy for those who want the Motu proprio. If you don’t want to go to the Pre-Pauline Mass, no one is forcing you. But, there are people who would appreciate it.

    Finally, maybe if people would rule themselves with their mind more their their genitals they would see that there is more to human life gratifying themselves sexually. Perhaps they would think more clearly and be less into bigoted stereotypes.

  • Maureen

    You know, I may have stumbled on something above. The typical American immigrant pattern is that the first generation tries to get the second generation to learn American customs. The second generation usually assimilates so hard that they don’t want to speak any language but English, dress in the old way, or eat non-American foods. The third generation gets mad about being forced to be the same as everyone else, and is crazy hungry for learning the old language, wearing the old style of garb when possible, learning the old dances, and trying to speak the old mother tongue.

    The generation of Americans that created post-Vatican II confusion is also the first generation of American Catholics that seriously wanted (and expected to be totally able) to fit in and be the same as everybody else. Explains everything, including why they’re such pains in the butt.

    The difference is that Christian denominations aren’t ethnic groups. Catholicism belongs by right to everybody who believes or tries to believe its tenets. So if people seriously tried to escape it and “fit in”, they were seriously confused about what they were up to. Yet you constantly see this confusion with ethnic identity among babyboomers who grew up in Catholic neighborhoods.

    The rest of us never had a chance to grow up in a Catholic neighborhood, so the whole concept is a lot different for us. EWTN (and St. Blog’s “Parish”) is as close as we get, and those are belief-oriented rather than identity-oriented.

    So, yeah, there’s a lot for journalists to dig into.

  • Deacon Eric


    You cited as evidence that some bishops are forbidding the new rite in Latin:

    “Now Weinberger is being transferred — against his will — and supporters believe his love of Latin is one reason for the decision.”

    However, isn’t that not quite fair to the bishop to only take the word of these parishioners who are upset? In our archdiocese, pastors get a maximum of two 6-year terms in a parish. That’s it. No appeal. After that they have to go to another parish. An exception may be made if they retire and choose to reside in that parish. So I don’t find it at all suspicious that a pastor in another diocese is moved after 10 years.

    Ordinarily, no priest requires permission to celebrate the new rite in Latin (after all, it’s right there in the back of the Sacramentary for anyone to flip the pages to). In our archdiocese (Los Angeles), there are places where this is done. However, each bishop is free to make his own rules, and it’s not inconceivable that a bishop could require prior notification or even permission for a priest to celebrate the new rite in Latin. If he does, that may indicate there were some sort of problems previously in that diocese that caused him to do so.

  • Dennis Colby


    I appreciate the links, but I don’t know if they justify the assertion that multiple bishops defying the Church’s canon law on Latin. I would point Deacon Havard to the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium, which says (in part), “36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

    2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

    3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

    4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.”

    In other words, the vernacular is the exception to the rule, which is Latin. Writing stories about radtrads, this has been drilled into me many times. I have no doubt that there are bishops and priests who don’t like Latin, but any bishop as a matter of policy actually forbidding the celebration of the Novus Ordo (an inaccurate term, but it will have to do) in Latin as a matter of policy would be on an immediate collision course with the Vatican.

    That’s partly why I agree with Allen: this is really not such a big deal. The Mass can already be celebrated in Latin, everywhere and anywhere, without the express permission of the bishop. Latin is a red herring in this case, but I’m sure everyone – press and public alike – will fall for it.

  • Christopher Orr

    The Mass can already be celebrated in Latin, everywhere and anywhere, without the express permission of the bishop.

    This begs the question as to whether people are discussing and yearning for the same things. Some seem to want Latin, others want the traditional Latin (Roman) Rite of the Mass, others want both. Journalism seems to be eliding the issues in the same way that Roman Rite Catholics are, but is this helpful? is this elision being done purposefully, for cause? what cause?

  • Dennis Colby


    I think many Catholics are probably unaware that the Mass can be celebrated in Latin, and believe the only Latin Mass is the Tridentine Mass. Many people mistakenly believe that Vatican II “abolished” the use of Latin, so people pining for a “return” of the Latin Mass are actually looking for a return of the Tridentine Mass.

    That’s why Latin is a red herring. This is really a debate about other things, particularly Vatican II. Latin is not what’s at issue; at issue is the direction of the Catholic Church over the last 50 years.

  • Charles

    Ah, Dennis.. the direction of the Catholic Church over the last 50 years? How about the direction it’s taken in the last 500? Or 1000? The ironies and paradoxes proliferate. Personally, I think the supression of the wider Western liturgical tradition after Trent/under Pius V is as tragic as the further supression after Vat II/under Paul VI has been. Our organic culture & tradition is recurrently chopped away from us, by Roman fiat. Local traditions, monastic traditions, all annihalated. “Modernists” and positivists have had a field day.

    Most people really have no sense of the deeper history, of the ancient piety and mysteries of which we’ve been robbed. Many see this all as a matter of “accesibilty” or keeping in tune with the Spirit of the Age/Vat II whatever. As being about social justice or (sexual) freedom, as do Donna & Rev. Greg.

    In fact, it’s all about the proper response toward and participation in the mystery and miracle of the Incarnation. This mystery contains all we need to know about what it means to be a whole human person. In this, our tradition (to include scripture) orienatates and informs us. Which is why the Schism, “Reformation” and “liturgical reform” have been so subversive to our culture, causing millions to lose the Faith or be lead astray.

    The Press gets little to none of this (How could they? Given their formation?) The energetic & well read ones may gleefully (or some few, mournfully) note the clash between the Spirit of the Council of Constance, the Spirit of Vatican I and the one that posessed Vatican II, and then mark the innumerable inconsistancies and contradictions between the thought of Pio NoNo (Pius IX) and John Paul II.. but so what, given that everyone’s going to be a secularist, Pentacostal or Muslim in 100 years..?

    Where have you gone, St. Christopher? Are you forever banished to some dusty, sealed vault in catacombs of the jesuitical Louvain, where they banish all inauthentic accretions that offend the sensibilities of our Lords Spiritual?

  • Patrick Kinsale

    Many Catholics want more reverence in their Sunday Mass experience. They are not getting it at many parishes. They believe the only alternative is the Traditional Latin Mass, while many bishops do not take the few steps necessary to bring a sense of reverence to the Novus Ordo Mass.

    As Sacramentum Caritatis states, it should start at the cathedral itself with the preservation of Latin and Gregorian Chant.

  • Deacon Eric

    In regard to Christopher’s questions…

    You bring up a good point. As Dennis rightly notes, Latin is the red herring.

    Some older people are merely nostalgic for Latin, but unaware they can have Latin in the new rite, or simply not nostalgic enough to ask for it. For most of these people, the new rite celebrated in Latin can be done in such a way that they would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and the old rite.

    Others just like Latin! They see the new rite celebrated in Latin — for example during papal Masses on TV — and think that’s kind of cool. They’d like to experience it.

    Others have no problem with the new rite, but simply prefer the old rite, for any number of reasons. They generally attend “indult” celebrations of the old rite permitted by the bishop in their diocese.

    Then there are those — and here is where the problem has always been — who insist the old rite is superior to the new rite. They say the new rite is heretical, Protestant (meant by them as an insult), or even invalid. These are the breakaway groups who feel they are holding fast to “true” Catholicism, no matter what the “heretic” pope says. They are not asking that they be given the option to attend the old rite, they are demanding that everybody else be required to do so as well. These groups have the highest visibility and may even be the majority (?) of those attached to the old rite worldwide.

    So the tough part is, how do you meet the legitimate desires of those in the first three categories? The media, lovers of polar opposites, will inevitably paint any move toward wider availability of the old rite as a “concession” to the extremists of category four. On the ground level, pastors and bishops who have been continually beseiged by the group-four extremists may be hesitant to open the door to the first three categories, dreading that group-four crazies will take over or infect well-intentioned folks of the first three categories with their consipracy theories.

    All in all, not a situation most clergy are looking forward to….and not because they hate tradition or Latin, but because they dread division.

  • Dan

    Dennis Colby says: “That’s partly why I agree with Allen: this is really not such a big deal. The Mass can already be celebrated in Latin, everywhere and anywhere, without the express permission of the bishop. Latin is a red herring in this case, but I’m sure everyone – press and public alike – will fall for it.”

    The flaw in this analysis is that it does not take into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who want the Mass to be in Latin also want the old Mass. There is virtually no one who wants the new Mass in Latin.

    Will the motu proprio be a big deal? I think it is impossible to say. It will be many years — probably several decades — before we know what fruit, if any, it bears. But even if it can’t be assumed that the motu proprio will in the long run mark the beginning of a seismic shift in the Catholic liturgy, it will nonetheless be a major cultural symbol that signifies the degree to which the Catholic Church presently is moving in a direction that is opposite to the direction in which most of the rest of the world is moving. I understand that John Allen is writing a book on “mega trends” in the Catholic Church. I am surprised that he apparently does not see the possibility that the motu proprio is part of a mega trend. It unquestionably is.

  • Dennis Colby

    Dan writes “The flaw in this analysis is that it does not take into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of people who want the Mass to be in Latin also want the old Mass.”

    Which old Mass? The 1962 version or the one that mentions “perfidious Jews”? Because there are plenty of radtrads who won’t accept any Mass other than the latter as valid.

    That’s the point: this isn’t about Latin. The people who say they want Latin mean they want the Tridentine Mass, for a variety of reasons, almost none of which are linguistic. That’s the story I hope the press will cover in the event of a universal indult. Instead, I’m worried people will follow the script preferred by Tridentine advocates and opponents: that “Latin Mass” equals a reversal of Vatican II.

  • MaryMargaret

    I have observed the opposite from many of the commenters. Older Catholics are often more suspicious of the TLM, or anything in Latin. A dear friend of mine, a very observant and faithful Catholic, old enough to remember clearly the old rite, stated, “Vatican II did away with Latin. Why would we go back?” This is, I think, a very common attitude from those who span the gap between Pius XII and Paul VI, who are old enough to remember both. I think I shocked her a bit when I said I would like to incorporate more Latin (and a little Greek–Kyrie, anyone) into my regular Mass without necessarily returning to the TLM. I would personally return to the TLM at least once–just to see if I really remember it. I might go back–or not, but I would really like to have it a little more available than at 8:00 am in the inner city.

  • Julia

    “Older Catholics are often more suspicious of the TLM, or anything in Latin. A dear friend of mine, a very observant and faithful Catholic, old enough to remember clearly the old rite, stated, “Vatican II did away with Latin. Why would we go back?” This is, I think, a very common attitude from those who span the gap between Pius XII and Paul VI, who are old enough to remember both.”

    I’m one of those older folks who was in college during Vatican II and remember well the old Mass. I agree that the additional readings and the simplified calendar were a good idea. But I miss the solemnity of the Latin Mass and the Introits and the Collects and all of us facing toward the Lord instead of looking at each other.

    In my choir we have lost some folks who absolutely HATE Latin and refuse to learn any of the old or new Latin hymns. What a loss. I have Jewish in laws and they certainly have kept their Hebrew. The Muslims have their Arabic. What’s wrong with us keeping our Latin? You can go anywhere in the world and know what’s going on when the Mass is in Latin.

    I’m thinking that having the old Mass available will have some positive effects on the hippy-dippy new version most of us have to attend. Let’s hope so – before we start getting clown Masses on a regular basis.

  • Julia

    Forgot to say that John Allen is not quite right in thinking that Vatican II introduced participation by the laity in Mass. In looking at my pre-Vatican II 1960 Catholic high school yearbook recently, I noted some photos showing us learning the new “Dialogue Mass” where the laity spoke the words usually said by the servers – these responses were in Latin. I think the dialogue Mass also had us saying the Credo (when not sung) and the Pater Noster along with the priest. Only difference now is that we speak these things in English.

    For about 10 or so years, every time you turned around the Mass was being tinkered with. I think that’s why people gave up on buying their own Missals. Why the worry now that people won’t be able to deal with some small changes in the English of the New Mass and the presence of the old Mass? Are people dumber now than when I was coming up?

  • Palladio

    I found the Allen piece extremely disingenuous, as if written by, not for, the execrable Times. The idea that it is “must reading” strikes me as equally so. A few examples. A “Catholic left?” I was not aware that that was really possible within the one true universal and apostolic church. Allen’s worries about inept priests seem justified, until one realizes that these men are servants of Rome, and must obey by re-training (The Latin needed to say the Tridentine Mass could be learned in an intensive summer course). “Scant evidence of a huge pent-up…” How many features does one need to make a straw man? “Leave us blissfully unaware…” Such an open appeal to ignorance (a textbook example of that logical fallacy) sorts ill with a faith born and raised in Greco-Roman philosophy and Judaism–does it not also, if unintentionally, spread the stereotype, beloved of the English from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II and of the American protestant upperclass, of the faithful but stupid papist, impervious to experience and reason?

    To amplify Julia’s last point: a Muslim friend, living in the U. S., is sending his young boys back to his family in the Middle East to learn Arabic and be brought up as Muslims. He and his wife are staying here. The Pope is asking no such thing. To ask for a return to Latin is also to prepare for a religious and cultural renewal, since the essence of Catholicism and America come from Roma eterna, a renewal absolutely required after the decades-long dumbing down of our people by failed schools and failed churches which have turned their backs on–if they are now even aware of–the teaching of Latin, Greek, and Western civilization.

  • Steve Morrison

    I’m actually responding to the first post by Donna Shanigan. Of course a Catholic Church should not have an employee involved in the sex industry or the promotion of it. To suggest that the Catholic Church thinks a husband and wife should not enjoy sexual intercourse is completely wrong and misleading.

    As for the Washington Post story somehow providing supporting evidence for pedophilia in the priest hood?

    1.5 percent of the estimated 60,000 or more men who have served in the Catholic clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse.iii

    Of contemporary priests, the Associated Press found that approximately two-thirds of 1 percent of priests have charges pending against them.

    “about 85 percent of the offenders [of child sexual abuse] are family members, babysitters, neighbors, family friends or relatives. About one in six child molesters are other children.”[1]

    In a survey for the Wall Street Journal-NBC News, it was found that 64 percent of the public thought that Catholic priests frequently abused children.[2]

    You are in good company when you hold this distorted and entirely offensive view of reality. You gleefully malign so many good people by your attitude. I know so many Catholics, and I have studied with Catholic seminarians, taught by Catholic priests, some of whom are now Bishops, and I have NEVER met one who was involved the horrors you discuss.

    1. Dr. Garth A. Rattray, “Child Month and Paedophilia,” The Gleaner, May 14, 2002.
    2.The dates of the study were April 5-7, 2002. It was reported in Roper Center at University of Connecticut Public Opinion Online, Accession Number 0402247. Hart and Teeter Research Companies did the survey.

  • Chirstopher Orr

    I have Jewish in laws and they certainly have kept their Hebrew. The Muslims have their Arabic. What’s wrong with us keeping our Latin? You can go anywhere in the world and know what’s going on when the Mass is in Latin.

    This is an issue I would also like to see addressed in discussions about Latin and the Tridentine Latin Rite Mass. What are the issues behind the use and disuse of Latin?

    For instance, Hebrew and Arabic are languages that are specifically defined as holy languages, the language of God Himself, the language that revelation was given in. This is not the case in Christianity. Jesus did not speak Latin (though as God He could have), neither did he likely speak Greek fluently, though perhaps passably as the lingua franca of the East; he spoke the Aramaic dialect of his region and people. Latin was the common tongue of only one secondary part of the ancient world, the Western Roman Empire, which was quickly relegated to backwater by Constantine. Even in Rome herself, Greek was the language of the Mass, initially, only later changed to Latin. There is no ‘holy language’ in Christianity, as in Judaism or Islam, there is merely heritage – which itself is no small thing given the centuries of monolingualism in the West.

    The Mass is just as easily understood in Latin as any other language around the world IF the same form of the Mass is being used. The real problem lies in the cultivation of enculturation and idiosyncratic liturgics. This tears at the uniformity that should be readily visible in a diverse Church that is One.

  • Deacon Eric

    Christopher, you’re right on. I can understand Mass in Vietnamese or Japanese or Estonian just as well as I can undersand it in Latin (well, maybe not, but that’s only because I personally had six years of Latin). And Christianity has no holy language — or perhaps it would be better to say that for Christians, every language is holy.

    And while Julia may have been fortunate to have learned a Latin dialogue Mass in her youth, this was by no means the case everywhere. We need to recall that ALL the Catholic bishops of the world gathered at Vatican II and decided that a reform of the liturgy was needed. Now one might disagree as to how that reform was to be undertaken, or its exact form, but the fact remains that simply turning back the clock to the way things were done in a typical suburban American parish in 1956 would NOT be an acceptable way to reinstitute the old rite. Sacrosanctum Concilium remains in effect even for those who attend the old rite — no Catholic “gets a pass” from the Vatican Council.

  • http://none Palladio

    I would want to reply to Deacon Eric to say that any argument from sheer numbers “ALL the Catholic bishops…” is invalid.

    To Christopher, surely one strong argument for the Latin mass is tradition; ignorance of Latin, and of tradition, bars the faithful from dialogue with Church Fathers, for example, and therefore from theology indebted to them and from the priests who espouse it. By this argument, of course, Greek would do well, but of course no sensible person would wish to pass on the centuries of truth and beauty already in place for the taking via Latin. To borrow a theme from economics, investment in Latin creates a double dividend, the first spiritual, the second cultural, as it brings that many more people to the language and literature and philosophy basic to the West (need I name names, the influenced and the influencers?) for two thousand years.

  • Deacon Eric

    I would agree with Palladio that appeals to numbers are not generally valid on the matter discussed here, but the fact is that all the Catholic bishops did gather at Vatican II. And it was decided there among them that the liturgy was in need of reform. There was a dramatic consensus. My point is not in the numbers, but in the widespread agreement on the need for reform, and the consquent magisterial action which cannot be simply discarded.

    Now Palladio’s next argument — if I understand it — goes something like this: people who attend the old rite thereby understand Latin fluently and are able to read patristic texts in their original language. Two problems: the vast majority of Catholics prior to the Council were not fluent in Latin. They had a rough understanding of what was being said if they purchased a translation and read along. Secondly, patristic texts are widely available in vernacular languages nowadays. This is yet another of the magical effects people ascribe to the old rite, that it will save Western Civilization in addition to solving every problem within the Church.

  • Michael Bindner

    Even though I am a liberal Catholic, I am also a frequent attender. I like the Latin liturgy, both the N.O. and the Tridentine. As long as the American Church is linked with the Latin Rite Patriarch, it is appropriate to take liturgical direction from Rome, although I question Rome’s supposed monopoly on the teaching of morality and find its authoritarian interpretation of natural law ridiculous. Natural Law, by its nature, is an appeal to reason rather than authority. If you mix them you have neither. This gets to my point, what I would like to see in the 21st Century Church – Tridentine Gay Weddings! Its a natural. Also natural is the eventual establishment of an English speaking patriarchy for the Anglophonic world, which would by definition control its own liturgy and be as closely tied to Constantinople as Rome. The only thing keeping us back from that is lack of courage by the bishops (sadly, nothing new). From what I hear about the new translation of the collect to be used at Mass (the prayers) it will provoke enough backlash to finally give the bishops some spine, since the translation is well nigh unintelligible. The Lord doth move in mysterious ways.

  • http://none Palladio

    I am sorry that I do not follow Deacon Eric’s reply to my initial point: I meant that, logically speaking, the number of bishops is no basis whatsoever for accepting their decision. This is quite separate from obedience to them (not that I had any choice but obedience as a post-Vatican two communicant), and my impression was that the discussion centered on the propriety of that decision re the Latin mass.

    The argument I was making–nor would I be the first to make it–Deacon Eric does not quite capture, I think.

    I do not know what the evidence for the latinity of the laity is for any century in any country, but Latin was once required in Catholic and other schools: the Latin, as such, of the Tridentine Mass is easy. I do know that in the thirties and forties in the U. S., missals contained translations at the back, and I have a hard time imagining that that was not a widespread practice.

    But my point, which echoes my understanding of the Pope’s view, is that no thinking person could wish to keep Catholics in the dark by sundering them from centuries-old tradition of unsurpassed truth and beauty, the tradition of Dante and Chaucer, Palestrina and Michelangelo, Saint Thomas More and Robert Southwell, S. J. In turn, that tradition leads to more truth and beauty, religious and cultural.

    About translations of the Fathers I would like to point out that Migne in many dozens of volumes is nowhere near adequately or completely translated and that major studies and translations of the Greek Fathers remain to be done–need I add, in the original?

    Either one sides with tradition or one does not. The latter case has brought us to a very sad state. Surely the Church must at every opportunity foster the most intimate contact with its own tradition, secular and sacred, beginning with the mass. This contact can come only with knowing Latin and Greek and Hebrew. “Poetry,” for Robert Frost, “is what gets lost in translation.” For nearly half a century, more than poetry has been lost in translation in the Church.

    I do not think that anything “magic” comes of knowing Latin–or other languages necessary to carry on as a literate citizen in the West–but very specific things. Latin is no panacea, but a necessity. In the States, the abjectly low standards of education of Catholic schools and its priests probably derive not only from Vatican II but also from national trends. Roughly, foreign language study in college is down forty percent, using the early 1960s as a benchmark. Liberal arts majors (all three words being Latin and Roman in origin) are down by an even greater percentage, the number for which escapes me. In the place of language in particular and humane learning in general students now pick the study of money and finance (which includes more than econmonics and does not include economic history), pre-professional tracks (the same applicants form the admission pool for both law and medicine!), and (less and less) hard (physics) or soft (psychology) science. Needless to add, even within the humanities the content is wan and recessive at best, just plain awful at worst, an omnium gatherum of isms which make Scotland under Roman rule look like Periclean Athens.

    In a world like this one, currency with the classics, classical tradition, art, architecture, and music would indeed probably seem like magic, but a Latin mass, besides obviously realizing the essential end expressed in the Jesuit motto–ad maiorem Dei gloriam–also brings us closer to Virgil, Milton, Durer, Bramante, and Bach.

    Going back to Christopher’s point, I had not given any thought before to the sanctity of a language, though I wonder if the view “all languages are holy” mentioned in a later post makes any sense at all. Is this perhaps not, finally, a manner of speaking? Worse, a red herring? Should a Catholic look to Latin as holy language which, in the Vulgate, issued from the pen of Saint Jerome? Then, again, I do not think it matters whether Latin meets the standards of the mother religion of Catholicism, and I am sure that it cannot matter with regard to that mass of misinterpretation of Judaism and Catholisism called Islam.

  • Chirstopher Orr

    We often see that translation from an ancient tongue or an ancient dialect of a modern tongue into a modern, colloquial language often goes hand in glove with modernizing. This was true of the Western Confessions moving from the KJV, Douay Rheims and the Latin Mass; we also see it in the Orthodox churches, generally, that have offered translations or updates in the language. The striking exception to this is the Romanian Orthodox Church, which has a history of periodic ‘updates’ to the Romanian used in the Divine Liturgy thus making the modern day, ‘traditional’ Romanian of the Divine Liturgy intelligible and ‘high’ at the same time, without the usual modernizations that seem to go with an update or translation.

    The psychology of this connection seems to go along the lines of, “Well, while we’re at it…” or “Who knows when we’ll get a chance to change anything again, so…”. Interpretation need not be more than simply linguistic translation, one need not get into translating culture, idiom, symbolism, etc. Perhaps the lack of a regular pressure release valve in the incremental changes that language makes sets a church up for polarization. Regular small updates and translations allows for the retention in memory of what used to be there and what it meant without the perceived need to blow it all up and start over, which resulted in the Novus Ordo rather than simply the use of the vernacular in the traditional Roman Rite.

  • Rev.Greg Comella

    I know some border-line Catholics that are looking for a SUBSTANTIVE change, and will endure latin, english, greek or Hebrew to experience a church more inclusive of women’s gifts (ordination) and the recognition of same sex couples in its sacramental/bklessing system. This on-going “language” debate-dialog allows an unjust system to postpone the harder questions. Though i personally think Latin is a wrong step back, i would endure such a tradionalist move, if i could see a woman presiding at the Table..regardless of what language she spoke in.

  • Joe

    Deacon Eric,
    I sorry to suggest that you must have misread what the second Vatican Council really said about the Liturgy in Sacrosanctum Concilium.
    The post-conciliar concilium charged with reforming the liturgy had an agenda to go beyond the Council. If you doubt this, read Bugnini’s own commentary.
    Meanwhile, there is a myth that Vatican II wanted to get rid of Latin. Actually, paragraph 36 actually said, “Particular law remaining in force, [i.e. laws which permitted the vernacular in sacramental rites and missionary areas in 1963] the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”
    The vernacular could be used in “the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.”

    Paragraph 54 says, “In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.
    Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.”

    While we honor the second Vatican Council, let us also remember that it is one of 21. I hope you will reaffirm the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, especially when so many act as if Vatican II somehow is against both Tradition and previous Councils. The lens with which a Council is understood is always through Apostolic Tradition.

  • Palladio

    To Rev. Greg Comella, I don’t think we disagree, except that I think the Latin Mass–which inter alia is said to the greater glory of God–cannot be but a substantive change. As a key to Catholic sacred tradition, moreover, Latin is of course essential. On the other hand, Catholicism is not a reformed church of the sort you seem to be assuming. Nothing, presumably, of the changes you mention–distasteful to me though these may be–could possibly come about without the serious study, by theologians, by the Vatican, that Latin affords. I would also respectfully suggest, not only to you, that Latin adorns what, in the Latin mass, is already beautiful. This is what I mean: today at mass I heard “Benedictus sit deus” (Mozart) sung as if by a choir of angels. “Cantare amantis est,” wrote Saint Augustine: singing is characteristic of the lover. Perhaps the Latin mass in harmony, on any given Sunday, with the religious and cultural patrimony of two thousand years would persuade the most hardened heart that, so far from having to be endured, Latin sung or spoken or chanted is to be enjoyed by all lovers of Christ, which all Christians are. I do not say this lightly, having given up on Catholicism, on God, for thirty years, until a Catholic priest gently but constantly spoke to me (for three years) and showed me the beauty, truth, and unity of the Latin mass. I will not have to say to readers of this website how the grace of God was working through him and the mass he said.

  • Deacon Eric

    “a Latin mass, besides obviously realizing the essential end expressed in the Jesuit motto—ad maiorem Dei gloriam—also brings us closer to Virgil, Milton, Durer, Bramante, and Bach.”

    It is not the function of liturgy to bring us closer to Virgil, Milton, Dürer, Bramante and Bach. These are secular aims. The function of liturgy is to involve all God’s People in the worship of God in thanksgiving and praise. A scholar who is an expert in Virgil has no more weight in the Christian assembly than someone who does not even know who Virgil is, nor should he or she.

    Again, I restate my concern that the old rite is being imbued with such magic powers in so many spheres that its proponents can only be disappointed when its wider use does not bring about the Parousia.

  • errol carrasco

    We need to put aside old customs and traditions and go along with the present times moving forward and not backwards towards the great and awesome day of the Lord befoe which comes the out pouring of His Holy Spirit on all flesh as prophesied by prophet Joel. This should be our main focus.The Church needs a renewal and for this a third Vatican council.

  • Palladio

    There is a difference between magic–a disgusting word to ascribe to the Catholic mass in any language–and slight of hand. It takes no scholar at all to read Virgil’s Latin, just a moderately intelligent person with the right teaching and a modicum of ambition. That person’s standing in the eyes of God is surely for no mere man to say.

    The function of the liturgy is well known, and quite beside the points I have made, but we can imagine a culture (the line between secular and sacred is not one I would wish to draw too sharply) which favors it more or less. Contemporary American culture–the culture of death, to be sure, which I would want to stress because, to judge from the time of the previous posts, the writers seem to be writing on the other side of the pond–is increasingly unfavorable to the mass in any form. But the celebration of communion with God should look and sound like the glorious thing it is, and be the haven and image of truth and beauty which all people need. I want to live in a world inside a church and out nourished by the tradition obvious, for example, in Rome, where all the senses, the mind, and spirit meet with the holiness of beauty sacred and profane.

  • John

    It’s coming back, literally millions who are in and those who have left will return when the “Roman”(Latin rite) Catholic Church finally dumps the novus ordo missae of paul 6 & freemason script writer Archbishop annabale bugnini (inventor of the glorious venacular mass) and the 1700 year old mass commonly referred to as Tridentine Divine Liturgy is again available to everyone dispite the reaction and revisionism of some of the prelates in the USA, Canada France & Germany. AND IT’S THE POST VAT TWO YOUTH THAT DEMAND IT.

  • Joe

    Truly the Latin Mass is returning. Since it is the “official” rite of the church, then I expect any priest celebrating the Mass in Latin will also make any sermon and announcements in Latin also. I grew up with the Latin right, participated as an alter server and never will go back to attending a service the is incomprehensible.