I defend Holy Mother Church and the Mind of the Church. Always have, always will. I defended Blessed Pope John Paul II (soon to be a saint); I’ve defended Ven. Pope Pius XII (the outrageous charge of collusion with the Nazis), and Pope Francis (my latest book). Now I have to defend Pope Benedict XVI: ironically over against those who regard him as their champion and hero (because he was particularly a liturgical reformer).
They show no qualms about seriously disagreeing with Pope Benedict XVI, and going down (wholeheartedly or partially) the road of not just preferring the Extraordinary Form / Tridentine Mass, but doing so while “bashing” the other form.
[see my paper on the definition of radical Catholic reactionary and book on the topic]
My own preferences and practices in worship have been made clear again and again. I absolutely detest; loathe liturgical abuses: as much as any “traditionalist” or self-identified “liturgical reformer” on the face of the earth. I also note that an abuse of a thing is not the thing itself (and that is a fundamental mistake made, that we will examine below). I’ve written a lot about legitimate “traditionalism” (see my page for that overall topic), and about the liturgy and related issues (see that page).
My position on freedom of Catholic worship has always been identical to Pope Benedict’s (thus making it an easy and natural task for me to defend him and his views on this score): the Tridentine Mass ought to be freely available and is a wonderful, venerable liturgical tradition. That’s been my position since 1990 when I converted. My parish has been one of the few that offer the extraordinary form in the archdiocese of Detroit. I’ve attended there 23 years. I have attended it several times, but I myself prefer Novus Ordo Latin, in the very traditional way my parish offers it, with excellent traditional musical accompaniment as well.
I detest prejudice against those who prefer the Old Mass and also prejudice against the New Mass (which I’ve defended at great length) and those who prefer that (the topic in this paper). I detest folks creating divisions where there ought to be none whatsoever. Live and let live. Worship and let worship. What is so complicated about that? St. Paul detested contentiousness and division, too. It’s a perfectly acceptable Christian position to take. The devil divides and conquers. Catholics ought to be unified.
One must always start with these proclamations and disclaimers, because I know from experience that one’s “credentials” are always brought into these discussions, and if I didn’t do this I’d be accused immediately by some, of being a “modernist” or a “neo-Catholic” and of “not caring about liturgy” etc. etc. ad nauseum, ad infinitum. So I nip that in the bud at the outset.
Pope Benedict XVI placed both forms of the Roman Rite Mass on an equal footing. The very framework he placed them in (“ordinary / extraordinary”) shows full well that one is the norm or usual occurrence and the other is equally highly regarded, but is extraordinary (i.e., less often, which is the literal meaning of the word: “separate from the ordinary”).
The apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI: Summorum Pontificum (7 July 2007) stated:
. . . the Second Vatican Council expressed the desire that with due respect and reverence for divine worship it be restored and adapted to the needs of our age. Prompted by this desire, our Predecessor the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI in 1970 approved for the Latin Church liturgical books restored and partly renewed, and that throughout the world translated into many vernacular languages, have been welcomed by the Bishops and by the priests and faithful. . . .
Art. 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Catholic Church of Latin Rite, while the Roman Missal promulgated by St Pius V and published again by Blessed John XXIII as the extraordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) and on account of its venerable and ancient use let it enjoy due honor. These two expressions of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church in no way lead to a division in the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Church, for they are two uses of the one Roman Rite.
In his letter to the bishops on the same day, on the same topic, the Holy Father elaborated:
. . . it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.
. . . in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.
In other words, the pope is careful to distinguish corruptions and abuses (“arbitrary deformations”) of the New Mass from the Mass itself, as promulgated by the Church, in a way that RadCathRs often do not do. For them, it is intrinsically corrupt and inauthentic. For Pope Benedict XVI it is as legitimate as the older Tridentine Mass.
. . . the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching . . .
The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.. . .
Again, it is disharmony with “liturgical directives” that is a problem, not the New Mass itself.
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
Pope Benedict XVI made the following related statement in an interview on 12 September 2008:
Fr Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy See Press Office: What do you say to those who, in France, fear that the “Motu proprio’ Summorum Pontificum signals a step backwards from the great insights of the Second Vatican Council? How can you reassure them?
Benedict XVI: Their fear is unfounded, for this “Motu Proprio’ is merely an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim, for those people who were brought up with this liturgy, who love it, are familiar with it and want to live with this liturgy. They form a small group, because this presupposes a schooling in Latin, a training in a certain culture. Yet for these people, to have the love and tolerance to let them live with this liturgy seems to me a normal requirement of the faith and pastoral concern of any Bishop of our Church. There is no opposition between the liturgy renewed by the Second Vatican Council and this liturgy.
On each day [of the Council], the Council Fathers celebrated Mass in accordance with the ancient rite and, at the same time, they conceived of a natural development for the liturgy within the whole of this century, for the liturgy is a living reality that develops but, in its development, retains its identity. Thus, there are certainly different accents, but nevertheless [there remains] a fundamental identity that excludes a contradiction, an opposition between the renewed liturgy and the previous liturgy. In any case, I believe that there is an opportunity for the enrichment of both parties. On the one hand the friends of the old liturgy can and must know the new saints, the new prefaces of the liturgy, etc…. On the other, the new liturgy places greater emphasis on common participation, but it is not merely an assembly of a certain community, but rather always an act of the universal Church in communion with all believers of all times, and an act of worship. In this sense, it seems to me that there is a mutual enrichment, and it is clear that the renewed liturgy is the ordinary liturgy of our time.
[see also, along these lines, Dr. Jeff Mirus’ excellent article, “The Mind of the Church on the Novus Ordo,” Catholic Culture, 13 August 2010]
Professor of theology and philosophy, Peter Kwasniewski recently posted the article, “The Growing Realization of the Irreparable Failure of the Liturgical Reform” (21 Feb. 2014, New Liturgical Movement). Now with the background of Pope Benedict’s opinions, let us proceed with our critique of some current rumblings and alarming trends among the “liturgical crowd,” which seem to be gaining traction, and are encapsulated in this article, and another that it cites.
. . . it seems we are entering a phase of great honesty and frankness in assessing not only the false principles behind the Pauline liturgical reform and the worldwide damage it has wrought . . .
The new and more realistic phase to which I refer is captured succinctly in Fr. Thomas Kocik’s recent article at NLM, “Reforming the Irreformable?,” which has attracted a remarkable amount of attention. In essence, the conclusion is this: a “reform of the reform” is not, in fact, possible. The Pauline rite is so radical a deconstruction and reconstruction of the Roman liturgy that it does not exist in the same tradition of organic development. It is a new departure, a new thing, not a revision of the old thing that had been handed down over the centuries. As an artificial liturgical entity constructed out of pieces of the Roman heritage combined with modern scholarly inventions, any future reform of it would be no more than a variation on the new theme.
This is, right off the bat, radically contradictory to Pope Benedict. Dr. Kwasniewski never even bothers to cite any of that (as if it didn’t exist). But — true to form for virtually all such critiques — he cites pre-papal writings of Pope Benedict. I guess they are considered magisterial, whereas what he actually promulgated as pope in an Apostolic Letter (issued Motu proprio: a very high level of authority) is not. Dr. Mirus dealt with this particular common ploy in the article I linked to above.
For Kwasniewski, the Novus Ordo / New / Pauline / ordinary form Mass is “so radical a deconstruction and reconstruction of the Roman liturgy that it does not exist in the same tradition of organic development. It is a new departure, a new thing, not a revision of the old thing that had been handed down over the centuries.”
For Pope Benedict, it is (all from the above quotations): “the ordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Catholic Church of Latin Rite,” and “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.”
Pope Benedict says there is no rupture; Kwasniewski disagrees and says that there is one. Pope Benedict says there is organic liturgical growth; Kwasniewski denies it. Pope Benedict says that the two forms of Mass are ” two uses of the one Roman Rite.” Kwasniewski (apparently in possession of “inside information” that Benedict didn’t have) thinks it is “a deconstruction and reconstruction.”
The only way forward is . . . to return steadfastly and stalwartly to the Catholic and Roman liturgical tradition embodied in the preconciliar Missal.
That isn’t how Pope Benedict saw things. We have a choice: follow the pope, or follow those who want to dissent against his directives and the Mind of the Church that they embody. Pope Benedict said that the Old Mass was great and that the New Mass was great, and that they were two forms of one Roman Rite. “Both/and”; not “either/or.” But a lot of folks prefer to play the “either/or” game.
For them, to worship in one fashion appears to mean that the other fashion is intrinsically inferior, less pious, less orthodox. And I’m here sounding the warning against it: shouting against it from the housetops.
Fr. Kocik’s bracing honesty was the long-awaited and necessary announcement that “The Emperor has no clothes.”
I see. The problem is that the pope has no clothes, either, since he took the view that Fr. Kocik, in his “bracing honesty” rejected.
. . . people perk up when an educated priest who has specialized in the study of the Roman liturgy and who, for a long time, defended and promoted the reform of the reform, finally cashes in the chips . . .
Obviously they do! On the other hand, I perk up when an educated pope who is known and admired for his liturgical reform efforts and who has specialized in the study of the Roman liturgy and who has always defended and promoted the reform of the reform (not stopping irrationally and reversing himself at this point), made it clear that the Pauline liturgy is an organic development of the Roman Rite and not to be disparaged.
Ya pays yer money and ya makes yer choice . . .
. . . and says, “The only long-term solution and path into the future is to celebrate everywhere the usus antiquior, with full, active, and conscious participation.”
. . . whereas Pope Benedict’s view was that the Tridentine Mass is to be available for anyone who prefers it, while the Pauline Mass is also to be preserved. Direct contradiction, folks! To paraphrase the Bible: “Choose this day whom you will follow. As for me and my house, we will follow the pope!”
Dr. Kwasniewski then follows the time-honored (but quite unphilosophical) tradition of looking around to see who agrees with him, so as to provide an air and effect of “this is the big trend and move of the Spirit, so join us on the bandwagon!” He takes a head count of those who agree with him. Isn’t it better to follow the guidance of the Holy Father rather than the “magisterium of scholars / priests / bloggers”? I am, of course, a lay apologist and non-scholar, myself, and my opinion in and of itself carries no weight.
But this is the whole point. I’m not asking folks to follow my mere opinion, but rather, the expressly stated magisterial opinion of Pope Benedict XVI in an Apostolic Letter issued Motu proprio. I defend him and his teaching, not that of some priest or scholar or collection of same. This is what good Catholic apologists do, or should do: defend Holy Mother Church and her Mind.
Dr. Kwasniewski cites Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman of Dominus mihi adjutor, and his article: “The Lament of a Liturgical Loner” (described as “very remarkable” and “soul-searching”):
So much of my reading the past year or more has shown my foxhole [i.e., the reform of the reform] to be filling with mud, slowly but ever more surely. It is not a tenable position in the long-term. . . . [I]t is hard not to conclude that the structure and the rubrics of the new Mass lend themselves to such a [cavalier, creative] practice and attitude. . . . In other words, there is a disjunction between what we are taught happens at Mass and what seems so often to be happening. There is an incongruence between the words and the actions. It is possible to do the new Mass properly; but the new Mass seems to have the inherent flaw that it is so easy to do improperly.
Same bad “throw the baby out with the bathwater” thinking; same massive contradiction to Pope Benedict’s view . . . Continuing his dirty laundry list, Dr. Kwasniewski cites Fr. Richard Cipolla, writing at the notorious RadCathR site Rorate Caeli, which recently sunk so low as to attack Tolkien’s Catholic credentials, and savaged Pope Francis on his first day in office, on the basis of the report of a Holocaust denier (I have a chapter about it in my book, Pope Francis Explained):
This [article by Kocik] is indeed “Tract 90” for the “reform of the reform” and sounds the death knell of any serious attempt to hold onto the fiction of continuity between the 1970 Missal and the Traditional Roman rite. Just as Tract 90 marked the end of Newman’s attempt to find a Catholic continuity and a Via Media in Anglicanism, so does Fr. Kocik’s public articulation of the abandonment of his attempt to find a liturgical and theological continuity between the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Roman rite mark the end of the Reform of the Reform movement. What must be done now—and this will require much laborandum et orandum—is to make the Extraordinary—ordinary.
The sheer breathless absurdity of such comments compels me to (with Jesus and Paul) necessarily resort to sarcasm and the reductio ad absurdum, since rationality seems to no longer be in play with this sort of melodramatic nonsense. Who cares what Pope Benedict thinks!? We’re way beyond that . . . the old pope must have been senile in 2007. He didn’t get it, or he was pressured by the “gay lobby” at the Vatican to write what he actually didn’t believe. Everyone has their blind spots. So the former pope went a long ways and we love him for it but he doesn’t fully get it, as we do, so we’ll play the “Newman and Tract 90” game and fill in the blanks that he didn’t grasp as much as we do.
Continuing on with his counting of non-magisterial heads, Kwasniewski brings to the “stand” one Nicholas Postgate (great name, not so great reasoning):
The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Missal of Paul VI, is irreparably broken. Due to the false principles, exploded assumptions, and rationalistic method behind its composition, it was wrong from the first day, and it remains wrong, no matter how well it is celebrated. Its very prayers and rubrics embody a hermeneutic of discontinuity that cannot be cured without a complete reworking that would bring it substantially back into line with the preceding liturgical tradition. . . . the Ordinary Form does not so much need to be reformed as it needs to be retired, so that the genuine Roman Rite may once again occupy its proper place in the life of the Catholic Church, as it had done for centuries before.
I need not note the massive, ubiquitous contradictions against Pope Benedict again. Most of my readers, from what I can tell, think logically and don’t need to be led by the hand in that regard.
We have come a long way since the optimism of the 1990s, when it seemed as if one might somehow restart the process of organic development from within the Novus Ordo.
1. Pope Benedict was quite “optimistic” in 2007, as pope.
2. The premise is false: there is no restart. It’s a development of what came before, with several aspects being able to be traced to the early Church (as I have done in my defense of it).
3. The only lack of “organic development” here is in the minds of these naysayers who think they can stop on a dime, reverse the proclamation of a pope and Church documents for fifty years, and say that the whole thing is rotten to the core, rather than that widespread abuses of it have occurred (which everyone who talks about the topic readily agrees to). That is no development of what came before. It’s a corruption. How ironic, huh?
No one thinking with the mind of the Church disagrees for a moment that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should always be celebrated as beautifully, reverently, and solemnly as possible regardless of the form in which it is offered . . .
Finally, something I can agree with . . .
. . . it is no longer necessary to pretend that, with a certain yet-to-be-found alchemy, we can transmute lead into gold.
That’s right. There is no way I can transmute the wood, hay, and stubble found in this article into “gold.” How sad that Dr. Kwasniewski feels this way about a form of Mass that is sanctioned by the Church. Now I’ll move on to Fr. Thomas Kocik’s recent article, “Reforming the Irreformable?” (NLM, 9 Feb. 2014):
It could be evidence of exemplary patience on the part of NLM editor Jeffrey Tucker that I am still counted among the contributors to this blog.
New Liturgical Movement also posted a hard-hitting article today that takes a much different view (basically the same as my own, and — I would argue — Pope Benedict’s). I will discuss that below.
I have the impression that whatever can be said in general terms about the ‘reform of the reform’—its origin and aims, its scope and methodology, the various proposals advanced in its interest (if not in its name), its proponents and critics—has pretty much already been said.
That’s a very clever thing to say (whether consciously so or not): that all that can possibly be said in defense of the reform of the reform has been said, and exhausted. So now we move on to the greener pastures of flat-out rejection of Pope Benedict XVI’s thought. One sort of takes the wind out of the sails of the opposing view at the outset, and leaves the impression that it is an old, tired, timeworn, outdated, outmoded opinion.
Once again, Summorum Pontificum is totally ignored (yet it is the most relevant recent magisterial document on this matter), while many other books and documents are cited. Fr. Kocik has no qualms about, e.g., citing Fr. Anthony Cekada in his footnote 10, despite the fact that he is a sedevacantist schismatic (one who thinks there is no sitting pope). Yet he chose not to cite a magisterial document from a pope, from less than seven years previously: precisely on the topic at hand.
Long before Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, he was critically evaluating the reform of the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council, . . .
The pre-papal Cardinal Ratzinger is cited, while his papal decree on the topic is ignored . . . arbitrarily selective thinking . . .
As pope it was in his power to remedy the deficiencies—the “erroneous orientations and decisions”—of the reform on a universal scale not only by his teaching and personal liturgical example but also by legislation. He accentuated the liturgy’s beauty, promoted the liturgical and musical treasures of the Western Church (including of course the usus antiquior of the Roman rite), and introduced more tangible continuity with tradition in the manner of papal celebrations (e.g., the ‘Benedictine’ altar arrangement, offering Mass ad orientem in the Sistine and other papal chapels, administering Holy Communion to the faithful on their tongues as they knelt).
Yes he did. He also wrote Summorum Pontificum. Why, then, isn’t it mentioned, and agreed or disagreed with, along with reasons for same?
. . . the ‘reform of the reform’ is not realizable because the material discontinuity between the two forms of the Roman rite presently in use is much broader and much deeper than I had first imagined.
What about what Pope Benedict thought about this? Doesn’t that amount to a hill of beans? Instead, we have, in effect, a “magisterium of scholars who dissent from Pope Benedict”. Who would be silly and foolish enough to follow them rather than the Holy Father!? It seems directly contrary to how our system works. Why have a pope at all if his magisterial statements are so disregarded?
Whatever else might be said of the reformed liturgy—its pastoral benefits, its legitimacy, its rootedness in theological ressourcement, its hegemonic status, etc.—the fact remains: it does not represent an organic development of the liturgy which Vatican II (and, four centuries earlier, the Council of Trent) inherited.
Pope Benedict XVI (2007):
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. . . . the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
But László Dobszay and Lauren Pristas and others have convinced Fr. Kocik otherwise, so apparently in his mind they overcome Summorum Pontificum. In an earlier article about Pristas (4 August 2013), Fr. Kocik wrote:
The necessity and magnitude of a liturgical “reform of the reform,” as well as the validity (from a liturgico-historical perspective) of the notion of “one rite, two forms,” depend largely on the question whether the reformed liturgical rites—in this case, specifically the orations of the Missal of Paul VI—are in substantial continuity with the preceding liturgical and theological tradition.
Pope Benedict XVI says that it is in continuity. Fr. Kocik says no. I follow the pope. But Fr. Kocik says: “László Dobszay (†2011) and Lauren Pristas, have opened my eyes to the hack-job inflicted by Pope Paul VI’s Consilium on the whole liturgical edifice of the Latin Church.” Thus, we have a magisterium of liturgical scholars rather than the papal and conciliar magisterium.
To draw the older and newer forms of the liturgy closer to each other would require much more movement on the part of the latter form, so much so that it seems more honest to speak of a gradual reversal of the reform (to the point where it once again connects with the liturgical tradition received by the Council) rather than a reform of it.
The twofold desire of the Council fathers, namely, to permit innovations that “are genuinely and certainly required for the good of the Church” and to “adopt new forms which in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23) could indeed be fulfilled, but not by taking the rites promulgated by Paul VI as the point of departure for arriving at a single, organically reformed version of the ancient Roman rite: that would be like trying to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.
In other words, we stop on a dime, “diss” the “reform of the reform” altogether, reverse course, and now believe the opposite of what the Church and Pope Benedict XVI have been saying?
The good news is that New Liturgical Movement posted today (2-24-14) a fantastic, pro-magisterium article by Bishop Peter J. Elliott, entitled “Reform of the Reform – Not Impossible”. What a breath of fresh air. Finally, someone mentions what Pope Benedict XVI said on the topic!:
I have become uneasy with the words “reform of the reform”. It is hard to find a better expression, “enrichment” perhaps. But now that the concept and project of the reform of the reform is under attack in NLM, let me speak frankly. Permit me to offer counsel to those who announce the total failure of the post-conciliar liturgical reform, claiming that a reform of it is impossible and insisting that the Extraordinary Form is the only answer.
. . . I do not want to see the gains of the reform of the reform project, fragile as it often is, broken or derided by triumphalist rhetoric, or pushed aside by an impatience that dismisses the whole Paul VI reform as beyond salvation.
. . . the integrity of the two forms needs to be preserved and respected, even as the two are meant to influence each other in these times.
. . . Please let us keep this important conversation realistic, patient and moderate. The gift of Summorum Pontificum and Pope Benedict’s vision should not be compromised by loudly proclaiming the total failure of the Paul VI post-conciliar reforms. Sweeping claims and an imprudent triumphalism do no credit to some advocates of the Extraordinary Form. Nor is the Ordinary Form respected or supported by those who grumble about the new ICEL translations and others who draw absurd conclusions from a simpler papal liturgical style.
Polemics also demean and discourage those of us who are still working to enrich the liturgy that is celebrated in most Roman Rite churches around the world. However, to maintain Pope Benedict’s Pax Liturgica, we all need much patience, and often that is hardest virtue on the Christian journey.
Bravo! And on that positive note, I shall end.
* * * * *
Fr. Hugh Somerville-Knapman, who was cited in Dr. Kwasniewski’s article, responded in comments to this article. I replied back. Here is the exchange (his words will be in blue):
I shall be brief, and leave the others attacked to defend themselves should they care to. However, it seems fair to say that all those you attack esteem Benedict XVI highly, and have read such of his works as The Spirit of the Liturgy and others that do offer a searching critique of the current OF Mass.
Dear Fr. Hugh,
Thanks for your response.
Of course they esteem him highly. That’s precisely why the critique has force and “hits between the eyes”: because it highlights the tension between respecting him and contradicting what he decreed as pope.
Benedict XVI clearly confirmed the OF Mass as the norm, the status quo. He rarely raved about it.
As for my supposedly throwing the baby out with the bathwater, even from the section of my post that you cite it is explicit that I believe the OF can be done well, and in fact that is something I try to do every day being someone who celebrates the OF Mass exclusively.
Yes, but that is a separate issue from whether it is intrinsically deficient or not. You think it is. I do not, nor does (it seems) Pope Benedict. In the section cited you refer to “the structure and the rubrics” and “the inherent flaw.” That goes beyond abuses, to the thing itself (“baby” rather than just “bathwater”).
You said more along the same lines in the same article cited:
If you remove so many of the sacralizing elements of a ritual, of course it is going to end up secularized.
Here probably comes the nub of the issue: the new Mass has the inherent quality that it allows the celebrant to take over. He is “president” (an awful word in liturgy), and too easily he becomes star of the show.
If a priest wants to be a “star”, that quality resides in his heart and soul (Sermon on the Mount). It has to begin there first, and is an ego problem. It’s not created by one form of liturgy or another. He had to make that choice of making himself the center of attention.
That doesn’t come from, e.g., merely looking at the people [as he alluded to in his article] (otherwise, popes at St. Peter’s would be subject to the same corruption).
In one of your comments under your post, Father, you again went after inherent qualities of the New Mass:
You confirm my intuition that the old Mass inherently tended to the sacred, despite the priest be he good or otherwise, and that the new Mass inherently tends away from the sacred, despite the quality of the celebrant.
And you critique it as “Protestantized”:
You touch on what is very much a sore point for some people; namely, that the new Mass seems to be a wide-ranging adoption of Reformation principles and tenets. Scarier still is the admission on the part of Annibale Bugnini, the architect of the liturgical reforms, that they were made with a view to removing barriers between us and Protestants.
Then you appear to contradict your own rhetoric against the ordinary form:
The danger is when we start saying one rite/form is holier than another. Since all the various rites and forms of the Catholic Church have been sanctioned by the Church they certainly convey grace, to those properly disposed, when they are celebrated according to the mind of the Church (reflected most surely in the rubrics).
Now that, I wholeheartedly agree with, because this is Pope Benedict’s position and the Mind of the Church.
Nor does the New Mass necessarily have to become secularized. Priests make that choice. We have celebrated a perfectly traditional reverent Latin Novus Ordo Mass in all respects at my parish all along. I’ve been there 23 years.
Whether it becomes corrupt or secularized is due to the priests who conduct it, and decide not to follow the rubrics and the proper spirit. Every clown up on the altar was there because some priest decided to allow it. It’s not inherent in the form; otherwise the way it is celebrated at my parish could never have happened.
If there is anything reactionary it is to be found in your tone, which has none of the quiet and reasonable politeness of those you attack. Indeed you come close to ranting.
The paper was in the style of what I would call “polemic / prophetic”: utilizing reductio ad absurdum. I utilize that style when I think something is particularly objectionable. Granted, that is a judgment call. But that’s why and when I do that.
[note: on 1 March 2014 I went through the paper and changed quite a bit of it: that to me read as too polemical and too often rhetorically over-the-top, so I grant to considerable extent Fr. Hugh’s point]
No one likes to be critiqued, and above all, they hate it if it is in a more polemical or condemnatory tone, because they deny that their position deserves such treatment. Thus, it comes down to how serious the error is in the first place. I think it’s extremely serious.
You have a high concern about my tone. I have equally a high concern about the dangerous ideas that I critiqued, and the direct contradiction of a pope. I think what I am critiquing is very insulting to the New Mass.
If you want to convince me otherwise, you’ll have to make arguments, not merely denounce my style.
I did, however, look over the paper again and modified a few things that I thought were too harsh, upon reflection a day later, while not altering anything essential, or the overall argument made.
[and now I’ve done so again, several days later]
How this serves the Faith I do not know.
It jars people and wakes them up to the seriousness of the error. It is “proclaiming from the rooftops.” You think it is not error at all. I think it is very serious error, with dire consequences of possible schism and division in the Body of Christ, the more it spreads. Thus, my “prophetic” tone in condemning it.
That style of rhetoric may have worked in the protestant world, but it only alienates many otherwise sympathetic readers. In all things, charity: this should at least be our aim.
As in all such efforts, some (like yourself) are turned off (because they agree with what is critiqued) and others are jolted into realizing the seriousness of what is critiqued. When Jesus went after the Pharisees and scribes, they didn’t like it, got pretty angry and offended, and decided to kill Him.
But the ones who accepted His message went on to transform the world. Radically different responses. This is all to be expected.
You have my site on your blogroll. Certainly if you have read much of my material (presumably you have, if you decided to add it to your blogroll), you know that I’ve engaged in hard-hitting and sometimes sarcastic rhetoric before, when I felt it was necessary (in a minority of cases). But it didn’t offend you enough to remove my site from your links.
[again, I grant a large part of this criticism, because after reading through my paper again, I think it was too harsh, and so I have revised it more thoroughly. It may still be “prophetic” in style, but it need not be unnecessarily offensive and abrasive.]
May God bless you in all things, Father, as you serve Him in the priesthood. Despite our strong disagreements, I do thank you for taking your time to respond.
* * *
Dr. Kwasniewski also responded with a one-and-a-half page letter, after he and Fr. Kocik were informed of this paper. I shall reproduce it in its entirety (at his reasonable request), and then respond bit-by-bit, as is my usual custom (to highlight the aspect of dialogue and side-by-side comparison of views):
February 25, 2014
Dear Mr. Armstrong,
Thank you for the courtesy of notifying us of your article. I read it with mild enjoyment of the rhetoric and with, not surprisingly, profound disagreement with your take on “what is the mind of the Church,” which is a concept that, in general, I think you treat in a simplistic way. If I could say a lot in a few words, it would be that your position derives from an extreme and undifferentiating ultramontanism, such as one finds (ironically) in 19th century European traditionalist circles, and it is as unhistorical and uncatholic now as it was back then.
Two hundred and sixty-six Popes have said many things over the 2,000-year history of the Church, at many and varying levels of authority. (And that is not even taking into account popes who have not lived up to their office, who have set a bad example, made horrible prudential judgments, or waffled on doctrinal matters, as did Pope Honorius I, condemned by the Third Council of Constantinople, or Pope John XXII, who preached a false opinion about the beatific vision. Yes, we can argue that this or that letter or sermon was not part of the papal magisterium, but once one is willing to go that far, one is no longer an ultramontanist.)
The papal and conciliar teachings that are de fide, as well as the errors that are anathematized, are fairly few in comparison to the sheer volume of magisterial utterances. Indeed, as you well know, even Vatican II offers fairly little traction in that regard, though I don’t deny for a moment that it teaches doctrine on faith and morals. For its part, the received liturgical tradition has more inherent auctoritas (as Fr. Hunwicke of Mutual Enrichment has recently been discussing at length) than this or that particular act of the ordinary Magisterium. That is to say, a pope is not an absolute monarch with regard to the liturgy, nor can he erase discontinuity by just saying it isn’t there. We’ve seen that technique used for the past fifty years to deny the massive crisis in the Church: “We’re in a new springtime! A second Pentecost! Everything’s chugging along beautifully!”
As for your interpretation of my take on the rupture between the OF and the EF, I largely agree with what John Gerardi of Ethika Politika has written at your Facebook page. There are many traditionalists who have explained patiently and carefully why they critique the highly controversial work of the Consilium, while yet not denying the validity of the Pauline Missal and without even necessarily disagreeing that it can have a proper place in the life of the Church, at least for a time. I do not feel that it is necessary to enter into a lengthy controversy with you on those particular arguments — they can be found by anyonewho is willing to read such authors as Dobszay, Pristas, Nichols, Reid, Davies, and Mosebach, to name some of the better known, all of whom are (or were, requiescent in pace) Catholics in communion with Rome.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but there are two factors relevant to this conversation that I wish to mention.
First, the traditional movement is growing, slowly but surely, and it will not be possible to hide forever from the Catholic faithful the discontinuity in structure, text, ethos, spirituality, and theology between the preconciliar and postconciliar Roman Missals, Divine Office, and sacramental rites. The differences are there; they are plain; they are profound. You would argue perhaps that the differences are complementary; “vive la differance!” And you would maintain that Pope Benedict has officially determined for us that they are and must be complementary. In an ideal world, this may be true; it may express a fond hope; it may be a kind of papering-over of the embarrassing nitty-gritty details that don’t lend credibility to the position. But Pope Benedict was smart enough to know that, in reality, there is not just one Roman Missal, but two; not just one Divine Office, but two—something that has never happened before in the history of the Roman Church, and something that this Pope allowed precisely BECAUSE they are essentially different, not just accidentally so. Were they different only accidentally, the later Missal and Office would have naturally supplanted and definitively abrogated the earlier one, as had always happened before. (For more commentary, see Joseph Shaw).
Second, the longstanding abuse of the OF in all churches around the world (except for those few privileged to be like your parish in Detroit) has become a kind of custom that, like all customs, now has the force of law — if not de jure, then de facto. Your position will become much more credible when the Pope and the bishops finally demonstrate that they are aware of the predominant state of abuse, take disciplinary (not merely hortatory) steps to correct it, and welcome the restoration of precious elements of our Roman Catholic tradition the loss of which has been a bloody wound in the Body of Christ.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Thank you for the courtesy of notifying us of your article.
You’re welcome. I try to remember to extend such courtesies, especially since I so rarely receive them myself, when my views are being critiqued (or — too often — savaged, as the case may be).
I read it with mild enjoyment of the rhetoric
Glad you liked it!
and with, not surprisingly, profound disagreement with your take on “what is the mind of the Church,” which is a concept that, in general, I think you treat in a simplistic way.
I agree with Dr. Jeff Mirus’ conception of it (he is describing the work of his apostolate):
Expressed another way, our goal was to help others to “put on Christ” (Rm 13:14) by adopting the authentic mind of the Church. This mind of the Church is not to be ascertained by what any given member of the Church says or does in his own person. Rather, it is the collective wisdom of the Church, distilled and clarified through Tradition, articulated and explained through the Magisterium, and exemplified in the lives of the saints, which is the clearest and most precise guide to thinking, acting and living according to the mind of Christ Himself.
(Instilling the Mind of the Church: An Unchanging Goal, Catholic Culture, 27 June 2008)
Dr. Mirus is no slouch. According to his biographical blurb, he has “a Ph.D. in Intellectual History from Princeton University in 1973, with a dissertation focusing on Dominican Reform and the Defense of the Papacy in the Renaissance.” More specifically, I concur with Dr. Mirus’ thought on our topic, in an article I already linked to in my paper:
So even if some of Cardinal Ratzinger’s remarks seem very negative in isolation from his entire body of work—or indeed even if it were possible to argue that his whole outlook on the Novus Ordo was negative (which was not the case)—this would tell us nothing about the mind of the Church. No, to learn the mind of the Pope (and therefore something of the mind of the Church) on such matters as the liturgy, we need to look to what the Pope has said while in office.
Second, while in office, Pope Benedict XVI has made his approval of the Novus Ordo clear. He has also made clear that his serious criticisms do not apply to the rite itself but to the false interpretation of the Missal of Paul VI. . . .
My advice to those who seriously dislike the Novus Ordo is this: Admit your personal preference for the Extraordinary Form if you like; true Catholics should not criticize you for it, even if they prefer the Ordinary Form. Combat abuses of the Novus Ordo where you can; the Church will thank you for that. But do not denigrate the rite itself, as if it is something unworthy or profane, and never imply that the billion Catholics who use and have come to love it are somehow inferior in their Faith.
It is possible to debate the merits and demerits of any liturgy, but it is not possible to cite either Pope Benedict XVI or the mind of the Church as being anything less than in favor of the prescribed use of the ordinary form of the Roman Rite.
(The Mind of the Church on the Novus Ordo, Catholic Culture, 13 August 2010)
The Church’s attitude or policy in matters of faith or morals not explicitly taught in official pronouncements. Where specific doctrine or direction is absent, it is the Church’s intention behind her teaching or regulation. To act “according to the mind of the Church” is a mark of Catholic loyalty and frequently urged on the faithful by the modern popes.
If you regard that opinion as “simplistic” so be it. I think it is “simplistic” to try to “spin” Summorum Pontificum and related documents and sentiments as anything other than what they plainly are: as if a development can be declared null and void in one day and abandoned.
If I could say a lot in a few words, it would be that your position derives from an extreme and undifferentiating ultramontanism, such as one finds (ironically) in 19th century European traditionalist circles, and it is as unhistorical and uncatholic now as it was back then.
Being classified as an ultramontanist is almost a boilerplate response to anyone who critiques these sorts of things. It’s untrue, as I will show. But it’s very common to reply to defenses of a pope or papal authority by making out that one supposedly agrees with absolutely everything he says or does, or that his color of socks or what side of bed he gets out are magisterial matters, etc.
This has never been my position, as I’ve explained many times. But if it is thought that it is, then I can be potentially (or actually) dismissed as a muddled, simplistic irrelevancy, without my arguments being fully engaged. Nice try, but no cigar.
Above, I was put in a box as a mere ranter, and now I’m an ultramontanist. Neither is true. The truth is that I write differently according to occasion (just as Jesus and Paul did, and St. Paul urged all of us to act: “be all things to all people”) and that I am obedient to popes (as an apologist) without being legalistic and extreme about it or claiming that they can never ever be critiqued at all.
As most know, who read anything of mine, I am a huge devotee of Cardinal Newman. I edited The Quotable Newman (Sophia Institute Press, 2012). His Essay on Development was the key that persuaded me to become a Catholic back in 1990. Now, since the 19th century was brought up in this regard, it was Newman who fought most valiantly against that mindset: opposing those such as Cardinal Manning and William G. Ward (also sometimes known as Neo-Ultramontanists). Cuthbert Butler, the historian of Vatican I, described Ward’s view as follows:
He held that the infallible element of bulls, encyclicals, etc., should not be restricted to their formal definitions but ran through the entire doctrinal instructions; the decrees of the Roman Congregation, if adopted by the Pope and published with his authority, thereby were stamped with the mark of infallibility, in short “his every doctrinal pronouncement is infallibly rendered by the Holy Ghost”.
This has never remotely been my view. Before I converted, as a card-carrying evangelical, I opposed the notion of infallibility itself tooth and nail; despised the view as hopelessly naive and false to history. It was my biggest objection: infinitely more so than Mary or things like tradition or infused justification. I read Dollinger, Kung, and George Salmon in order to try to disprove it. Thus, I was not at all predisposed as a young convert, to ultramontanism. That would be the very last thing likely to happen. In fact, if that were what Catholicism required, I highly doubt that I would have become a Catholic at all. I follow Cardinal Newman (as I invariably do). He wrote (and I totally agree):
To submit to the Church means this, first you will receive as de fide whatever she proposes de fide . . . You are not called on to believe de fide any thing but what has been promulgated as such — You are not called on to exercise an internal belief of any doctrine which Sacred Congregations, Local Synods, or particular Bishops, or the Pope as a private Doctor, may enunciate. You are not called upon ever to believe or act against the moral law, at the command of any superior.
(The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman [LD], XX, 545 [in 1863], edited by Charles Stephen Dessain (London: 1961-1972), in Ian Ker, John Henry Newman: A Biography, Oxford University Press, 1988 [764 pages], 530-531)
I say with Cardinal Bellarmine whether the Pope be infallible or not in any pronouncement, anyhow he is to be obeyed. No good can come from disobedience. His facts and his warnings may be all wrong; his deliberations may have been biassed. He may have been misled. Imperiousness and craft, tyranny and cruelty, may be patent in the conduct of his advisers and instruments. But when he speaks formally and authoritatively he speaks as our Lord would have him speak, and all those imperfections and sins of individuals are overruled for that result which our Lord intends (just as the action of the wicked and of enemies to the Church are overruled) and therefore the Pope’s word stands, and a blessing goes with obedience to it, and no blessing with disobedience. (Letter to Lady Simeon, 10 November 1867; my italics)
I wrote in a paper, dated 29 March 2004:
Vatican I wasn’t even (technically) “ultramontane” in its conclusions — truth be told. The ultramontanes (people like Cardinal Manning) wanted an even broader range of papal infallibility, to include virtually everything the pope said. What was passed was quite a moderate form of papal infallibility. The “moderates” won the day, not the radicals. And that was precisely because they took a realistic view of history: the Honorius and Vigilius and Liberius incidents, for example, made a broader definition impossible because it would not be true to the facts of history. . . .
Vatican I was a quite moderate position, given the true ultramontanism of the time. The more radical position lost, and it lost decisively, because once the ex cathedra definition is given, it is irreversible. So what some consider the triumph of this radical papalism was actually its profound defeat. The pope’s infallibility was strictly limited.
Apparently you think I accept every jot and title of everything popes say. This is untrue. Five minutes spent at the search box on my blog (which contains over 2,500 papers, so that none of my views are exactly secrets) would have easily disproven this notion. But we’re all busy. Or one could hit “Catholic Apologetics” at the top, select my Papacy page, and see the section there, entitled, “Disagreeing with Popes.” Instead, because I accept Summorum Pontificum in what I think is its plain meaning and intent, and say that it is in line with the Mind of the Church, I’m told that I simplistically apply that concept and am an ultramontanist: even of an “extreme and undifferentiating” sort.
Now that one has arrived at this section of my blog, he can see the first paper posted, entitled, “Laymen Advising and Rebuking Popes.” This was written in 1997 (the year my website went online). In it, I write things like the following:
Pope John XXII was soundly and successfully rebuked by the masses when he temporarily espoused belief in a false doctrine. St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Francis of Assisi rebuked popes, and their advice was respected and heeded . . .
The pope does not act in isolation, as some sort of arbitrary dictator. That is a caricature of Catholic doctrine. He works closely with bishops, priests, nuns and monks, synods, Councils, and the laity. . . .
I posted another paper in November 2000, with some additions in 2001: originally in dialogue with Mario Derksen, whom I was trying to dissuade from a radical Catholic reactionary position. He subsequently became a sedevacantist. I tried. This was entitled, “Are All Catholic Laymen & Non-Theologians Qualified to Freely & Frequently Criticize the Pope’s Opinions and Prudential Judgment?” I wrote there:
Yes, one can conceivably question the pope — especially his actions (we are not ultramontanes), yet I think it must be done only with overwhelming evidence that he is doing something completely contrary to Catholic doctrine and prior practice. It is not something that a non-theologian or non-priest should do nonchalantly and as a matter of course . . .
In any event, if you want to take one particular view of what is prudent for a pope to do, that is your perfect right. . . .
Even Protestants observe the ludicrous exercising of private judgment against a pope, since any moderately informed Protestant knows that a Catholic ought to be obedient to the pope in all but the most extraordinary circumstances (that is surely how I would have perceived your spirit in this, when I was still Protestant. I would have immediately determined that RadCathRs of this sort were liberal or radically inconsistent Catholics). . . .My point is not that a pope can never be rebuked, nor that they could never be “bad” (a ludicrous opinion), but that an instance of rebuking them ought to be quite rare, exercised with the greatest prudence, and preferably by one who has some significant credentials, which is why I mentioned saints. Many RadCathRs make their excoriating judgments of popes as if they had no more importance or gravity than reeling off a laundry or grocery list.
Even if they are right about some particulars, they ought to express their opinion with the utmost respect and with fear and trembling, grieved that they are “compelled” to severely reprimand the Vicar of Christ. St. Paul showed more deference even towards the Jewish high priest than such people do to popes (Acts 23:1-5) . . . we have both St. Paul and our Lord Jesus expressing the most vehement criticisms of appointed religious leaders, yet Paul showed quite considerable deference when he found out who he was criticizing, and Jesus commanded obedience to the very same people whose hypocrisy He excoriated [Matt 23:1-3].
I took up the topic again in 2008, this time providing two examples where I actually differed from popes, myself. The paper was called, “Is It Dissent Against the Pope and the Church, and Downright Disobedient For a Catholic to Favor the War in Iraq?” I stated:
To be in favor of this war is not at all a position in dissent against the pope, because in these areas of prudential judgment of nations he is only an advisor: albeit one who should be listened to with the utmost respect. The pope also doesn’t have all the secret intelligence that nations have. Pope Benedict XVI, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote on 5-2-03 (exactly five years ago):
The Pope expressed his thought with great clarity, not only as his individual thought but as the thought of a man who is knowledgeable in the highest functions of the Catholic Church. Of course, he did not impose this position as doctrine of the Church but as the appeal of a conscience enlightened by faith.
(Interview with Zenit on the Catechism)
The present Holy Father again wrote in June 2004:
3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
(“Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion – General Principles” — L’espresso [link] )
. . . So a “real Catholic” has every right to disagree with even popes’ opinions in matters of war, as long as the war is not manifestly opposed to Catholic principles of just war altogether. Pope Benedict XVI said so. . . .
As the pope noted above, Catholics in good standing can differ on the death penalty. I happen to think that it is a wise policy to oppose it, and agree with Pope John Paul II, but on the other hand, we mustn’t get legalistic when it is not an absolute requirement to oppose the death penalty. I continue to favor it in instances of mass murderers and terrorists, in the face of overwhelming evidences of guilt.
Two hundred and sixty-six Popes have said many things over the 2,000-year history of the Church, at many and varying levels of authority. (And that is not even taking into account popes who have not lived up to their office, who have set a bad example, made horrible prudential judgments, or waffled on doctrinal matters, as did Pope Honorius I, condemned by the Third Council of Constantinople, or Pope John XXII, who preached a false opinion about the beatific vision.
Indeed they have, as I have written about innumerable times. I am an apologist, after all (a published one for over 21 years, and full-time for 12): do you think I’m not confronted with these sorts of issues all the time: especially as one who has debated many scores of Protestants? As you can see above, I mentioned Pope John XXII along these lines in my 1997 paper. What you say here is great and informative, but a bit late in my case. I learned of and then knew all this stuff in 1990, back when Old Man Bush was the President, before the Internet, and before I became a parent (that happened in 1991). But I’m sure it’ll be helpful to many others reading, so all is not lost.
Yes, we can argue that this or that letter or sermon was not part of the papal magisterium, but once one is willing to go that far, one is no longer an ultramontanist.)
That’s right. I’ve never been one. Thus, all of your reply so far is perfectly irrelevant with regard to my position or thinking. Perhaps if you decide to reply again, we can actually discuss at greater length the issues at hand, rather than wasting time on straw men? That would be nice.
The papal and conciliar teachings that are de fide, as well as the errors that are anathematized, are fairly few in comparison to the sheer volume of magisterial utterances.
Yep. I guess you thought I didn’t know that, either. But, from this it doesn’t follow that we have a free ticket to dissent from the pope at the drop of a hat. Lots of nuances and fine distinctions in authority: absolutely! Freedom, therefore to dissent often (and publicly), whenever we get the urge to do so? Absolutely not! I dealt with this years ago: again, in discussion with radical Catholic reactionaries or rather hard-nosed “traditionalists.”
Here is the paper: Vatican II: Is it Orthodox and Binding? / The Infallibility and Sublime Authority of Conciliar and Papal Decrees / Different Levels of Church Authority (vs. several “traditionalists”): dated July 30, 1999. In it I cite fellow wide-eyed “ultramontanists” like Fr. William G. Most (“Four Levels of Church Teaching”), Fr. John Trigilio and good ol’ Ludwig Ott. There is as much nuance and fine distinction in this long paper as anyone could ever want or hope for.
Note that even Fr. Most’s fourth level of authority (lowest of the four), derived from Lumen Gentium, requires significant submission: the very thing that radical Catholic reactionaries are far too often unwilling to give, because they think they know better than the pope and the Church:
Religious submission of mind and of will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the repeated presentation of the same doctrine, or from the manner of speaking.
We note all the qualifications in the underlined part. The key is the intention of the Pope. He may be repeating existing definitive teaching from Ordinary Magisterium level – then it is infallible, as on level 2. He may be giving a decision on a previously debated point – as on level 3, then it falls under the promise of Christ in Lk 10. 16, and so is also infallible. Or it may be a still lesser intention – then we have a case like that envisioned in Canon 752 of the New Code of Canon Law:
Not indeed an assent of faith, but yet a religious submission of mind and will must be given to the teaching which either the Supreme Pontiff, or the College of Bishops [of course, with the Pope] pronounce on faith or on morals when they exercise the authentic Magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim it by a definitive act.
If they do not mean to make it definitive, then it does not come under the virtue of faith, or the promise of Christ, “He who hears you hears me.” Rather, it is a matter of what the Canon and LG 25 call “religious submission of mind and of will.” What does this require? Definitely, it forbids public contradiction of the teaching. But it also requires something in the mind, as the wording indicates. This cannot be the absolute assent which faith calls for – for since this teaching is, by definition, not definitive, we gather that it is not absolutely finally certain . . .
If one should make a mistake by following the fourth level of Church teaching, when he comes before the Divine Judge, the Judge will not blame him, rather He will praise him. But if a person errs by breaking with the Church on the plea that he knew better – that will not be easily accepted.
Ludwig Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma) teaches the same. I cited him in this paper (my italics):
The ordinary and usual form of the Papal teaching activity is not infallible. Further, the decisions of the Roman Congregations (Holy Office, Bible Commission) are not infallible. Nevertheless normally they are to be accepted with an inner assent which is based on the high supernatural authority of the Holy See (assensus internus supernaturalis, assensus religiosus). The so-called “silentium obsequiosum,” that is “reverent silence,” does not generally suffice. By way of exception, the obligation of inner agreement may cease if a competent expert, after a renewed scientific investigation of all grounds, arrives at the positive conviction that the decision rests on an error.
Fr. John Trigilio concurred in his 1995 article, “A Discussion of Infallibility”:
According to Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis and Vatican II in Lumen Gentium #25, even non-infallible teachings are to receive the submission of mind and will of the faithful. While not requiring the ASSENT OF FAITH, they CANNOT be disputed nor rejected publicly and the benefit of the doubt must be given to the one possessing the fullness of teaching authority. The heterodox concept of a dual magisteria, i.e., the theologians, is not based on scriptural nor traditional grounds. Some have gone as far as to propose a triple magisteria, the body of believers. While it is true that as a whole, the body of believers is infallible in that SENSUS FIDEI is that the Church as the Mystical Body cannot be in error on matters of faith and morals, the TEACHING AUTHORITY (Magisterium) resides soley with the Roman Pontiff and the College of Bishops in union with him. [capitals in original]
Indeed, as you well know, even Vatican II offers fairly little traction in that regard, though I don’t deny for a moment that it teaches doctrine on faith and morals. For its part, the received liturgical tradition has more inherent auctoritas (as Fr. Hunwicke of Mutual Enrichment has recently been discussing at length) than this or that particular act of the ordinary Magisterium. That is to say, a pope is not an absolute monarch with regard to the liturgy, nor can he erase discontinuity by just saying it isn’t there. We’ve seen that technique used for the past fifty years to deny the massive crisis in the Church: “We’re in a new springtime! A second Pentecost! Everything’s chugging along beautifully!”
One need not deny any crisis in order to note that there are many positive developments going on in the Church. It’s massively different from 1990 when I was received. The apologetics sub-community that I am a part of is one such thing. Where were the Karl Keatings or Scott Hahns in 1990? The only current Catholic apologist I was aware of in the late 80s was Peter Kreeft. Keating was just starting out (I actually wrote to him in that year and he graciously replied). Now there are massive enterprises of apologetics and scores of apologists and Catholic radio and EWTN, etc. We have significant numbers of converts. It’s not either/or. The existing modernist crisis is the worst in the history of the Church (as Fr. Hardon taught me). Lots of positive things are also going on, so we can point to a true springtime. Rome wasn’t built in a day. All revivals have to begin (by definition) when things are still very bad. But they still exist.
As for your interpretation of my take on the rupture between the OF and the EF, I largely agree with what John Gerardi of Ethika Politika has written at your Facebook page.
And I agree with how I refuted it. After he tried (on my Facebook page) to drive a wedge between Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter, I showed how continuity was part of Summorum Pontificum also:
I object to the blanket statement that the Pauline Mass is a complete break from liturgical tradition and that, therefore, it can’t be redeemed.
In Summorum Pontificum itself: not the corresponding letter, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, citing the GIRM (2002), Pope Benedict wrote:
Since time immemorial it has been necessary – as it is also for the future – to maintain the principle according to which ‘each particular Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as regards the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, because the Church’s law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith.’ (1)
Now, later, he wrote,
Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the “Lex orandi” (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite.
Thus, he establishes the principle of uninterrupted apostolic tradition, including the law of prayer, or Lex orandi, and then says that the Pauline Mass expresses same.
Therefore, there can be no fundamental break. It has to be seen as an organic development of what was before.
The words can be legally parsed and played with all you like, but the main gist of what he is teaching here is plain as day: both forms are to be accepted, and neither looked down upon.
But since that’s not de fide, you can dismiss it, as of no particular import? That’s what Catholics on both the right and the left of the spectrum do: play legal games and look for every possible, conceivable loophole they can find, and then drive a Mack truck through it. In fact, an apostolic letter issued Motu proprio is of very high magisterial authority: certainly no material (per the discussions above of authority) to be almost casually dismissed, as you and others of like mind are doing. An EWTN paper on “Categories of Documents” clarifies (again citing LG 25, as we saw above in similar discussions):
Papal addresses and documents may also contain teachings which come from the common teaching of the Church, but which cannot yet be said to be de fide, and even new insights and explanations which manifest the mind of the Magisterium. Such authentic teaching has a presumption of correctness and deserves the reverence and submission of Catholics. By doing so peaceful communion in matters of the faith is maintained throughout the Church, properly gathered around the principle of unity in faith given by Christ to the Church, Peter and his successors. . . .
A document issued Motu Proprio is from the Pope on his own initiative, and not in response to a request or at the initiative of others. Its legal determinations carry the full force of papal authority, though it does not derogate from existing laws unless specifically stated. It can be any category of document.. . .
Letters of less solemn authority than an encyclical, they may be written on a doctrinal matter (e.g. Pope John Paul II’s Letter On the Beginning of the Third Millennium). They may also announce a papal act such as declaring a person Venerable (heroic virtue) or declaring a church a Basilica.
There are many traditionalists who have explained patiently and carefully why they critique the highly controversial work of the Consilium, while yet not denying the validity of the Pauline Missal and without even necessarily disagreeing that it can have a proper place in the life of the Church, at least for a time. I do not feel that it is necessary to enter into a lengthy controversy with you on those particular arguments — they can be found by anyone who is willing to read such authors as Dobszay, Pristas, Nichols, Reid, Davies, and Mosebach, to name some of the better known, all of whom are (or were, requiescent in pace) Catholics in communion with Rome.
Nor do I wish to have such a conversation. Habitually in these sorts of matters, I critique the overall view; the spirit of it, and the premises that lie underneath it (per my socratic method). Validity played no role in my critique, anyway, so that is irrelevant.
I don’t know what the future will hold, but there are two factors relevant to this conversation that I wish to mention.
First, the traditional movement is growing, slowly but surely, and it will not be possible to hide forever from the Catholic faithful the discontinuity in structure, text, ethos, spirituality, and theology between the preconciliar and postconciliar Roman Missals, Divine Office, and sacramental rites. The differences are there; they are plain; they are profound. You would argue perhaps that the differences are complementary; “vive la differance!” And you would maintain that Pope Benedict has officially determined for us that they are and must be complementary.
Yes he has. But if people don’t want to submit to the judgments of popes (as a general approach), they won’t. One can always play games and parse words and spin and look for as many loopholes as possible, and do the legalistic thing (looking at the DNA of the bark of one tree rather than at the forest), and obsess with the equivalent of “tithing mint and cumin,” to get out of the plain implication and force and indeed, “spirit” and overall thrust of the pope’s declaration.
If you want to declare a liturgical rupture at the level of essence (not just the level of abuses) where there is none, and eschew the wise and magisterial “both/and” counsel of Pope Benedict: the great hero of “traditionalists” and radical Catholic reactionaries alike, you do so at your own peril and that of the Church: fostering attitudes that may very well (5, 10, 15 years down the road) lead to more SSPX-like schisms. Or if not that, at the very least a great deal of ugliness and division among Catholics who mutually distrust and frown upon each other because two warring camps have been set up.
Those who think as you do say Pope Benedict is their hero and champion. But it seems that he’s really my champion and hero more than yours, because I heed what he says and I don’t play with it in order to dismiss it and replace it with my own notions. I accept his authority by giving assent and submission to it and defending it. You call that “ultramontane”. I call it “Catholic.” I call your view “radical Catholic reactionary”: which I have carefully defined after long thought and experience with the mindset for 17 years.
In an ideal world, this may be true;
It’s not a matter of an “ideal” or “fantasy” world vs. the real world, but of papal authority and whether one accepts it or not. We have a pope for a reason. He is a unifying figure. If we dissent from him as a matter of course, why bother having a pope? Why be a Catholic at all, for that matter? When I was a Protestant, I functioned fine without a pope. But I was an evangelical, and it wasn’t part of my system. I wasn’t a Catholic acting as if papal authority had little effect on me except in ex cathedra cases.
We can’t be Catholics and “play Protestant” (in the case of papal authority). We cant pick and choose. We have to accept the whole ball of wax. If I treated popes the way you do, I wouldn’t have bothered to convert at all, since if the pope had no effect on my beliefs (in this instance of liturgy), what is the need for him to be around? You don’t grant him the final say; precisely as I believed as an evangelical.
it may express a fond hope; it may be a kind of papering-over of the embarrassing nitty-gritty details that don’t lend credibility to the position. But Pope Benedict was smart enough to know that, in reality, there is not just one Roman Missal, but two; not just one Divine Office, but two—something that has never happened before in the history of the Roman Church, and something that this Pope allowed precisely BECAUSE they are essentially different, not just accidentally so.
So now we’re into speculating about the intent behind the pope’s apostolic letter: the “inside information” game. They are not essentially different. If they were, the entire gist behind Summorum Pontificum is a huge fallacy; indeed a lie. But those of your bent don’t want to go that far, so instead we get death by a thousand qualifications and second-guessing the pope. You wanna have your cake and eat it, too. You desire to go leap off the [liturgical] cliff and supposedly take Pope Benedict with you. But he’s not going with you. He rejects what you are arguing now, with your “death of the reform of the reform.” What you do, if you insist on going this route, you must do without him and, yes, apart from the Mind of the Church which the popes have represented.
Were they different only accidentally, the later Missal and Office would have naturally supplanted and definitively abrogated the earlier one, as had always happened before. (For more commentary, see Joseph Shaw).
Second, the longstanding abuse of the OF in all churches around the world (except for those few privileged to be like your parish in Detroit) has become a kind of custom that, like all customs, now has the force of law — if not de jure, then de facto.
Abuses are able to be corrected.
Your position will become much more credible when the Pope and the bishops finally demonstrate that they are aware of the predominant state of abuse, take disciplinary (not merely hortatory) steps to correct it, and welcome the restoration of precious elements of our Roman Catholic tradition the loss of which has been a bloody wound in the Body of Christ.
Laypeople have the power to demand better (both theologically and liturgically), as I have argued for many years. When I hear horror stories of parishes, I encourage people to first respectfully, charitably bring up the matter to their priest and/or bishop. If that fails, I say that they should “vote with their feet” and find a better parish. That could be done on a wide scale. Priests who are failing in terms of liturgy or otherwise would get the message real quick. But people are inadequately catechized.
That’s where I come in. I’m trying to help them learn and defend their faith. And one of the elementary things I advise new Catholics (or any Catholic) to do, as part of Catholicism 0101, is “follow the pope.” I hope you will come to realize that this is in your best interest also, and one major way that the Holy Spirit wants to guide all Catholics, including even professors and other highly educated people.
[see also the accompanying Facebook discussion]
Go to Part II