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Posted April 26, 2007

Hold your breath for the next media frenzy:
The Latin Mass document is coming

All Things Catholic by John L. Allen, Jr.

To the growing list of indications that something is imminent with regard to the long-awaited document from Pope Benedict XVI authorizing wider use of the pre-Vatican II Mass, I can add one item this week.

An April 3 letter from Cardinal Walter Kasper, who among other things heads the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, responds to concerns from the International Council of Christians and Jews about the pre-Vatican II Mass, in light of controversial passages it contains regarding Judaism. The last sentence of Kasper's letter, the text of which I have, is the key line: "While I do not know what the pope intends to state in his final text, it is clear that the decision that has been made cannot now be changed."

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Kasper's language clearly indicates that something definitive has happened. It adds to the confirmation given by the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on March 31 that a motu proprio from Benedict XVI, meaning a document under the pope's personal authority, on the pre-Vatican II Mass is coming.

Catholic publishers in Rome, anticipating the pope's decision, have already begun preparing new editions of the pre-Vatican II Mass books, called the "1962 Missal" because that was the last year prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) in which an official liturgical book according to the old rite was issued.

Anyone who has ventured into the Catholic blogosphere recently is aware that speculation about the motu proprio has been at a fever pitch for months. One wag has even posted a list of the Top Ten signs that someone is in the grip of "motu-mania," including: "You have a calendar with all the likely feast days that the motu proprio might be issued marked," and, "You have written 500 blog posts, and 480 of them have been about the motu proprio."

In part, the frenzy has been stoked by a series of over-anxious news reports containing rumored release dates. A partial list includes October 2006, March 2007 (in conjunction with the pope's exhortation for the Synod on the Eucharist), Holy Thursday, and this past April 16 (Benedict's 80th birthday). The hot tip now is April 30, the feast of St. Pius V on the Roman calendar, or May 5, the feast of Pius V on the older calendar.

At the risk of raining on the "motu-mania" parade, however, it's worth noting that many experts believe this breathless anticipation will, in the long run, seem excessive in terms of the document's real-world impact.

For one thing, more than 40 years after the council, many priests are unfamiliar with the pre-Vatican II rite and may not rush to celebrate it even if authorized to do so -- if not for theological reasons, simply because they're already stretched too thin. For another, it's not clear how much pent-up demand for the pre-Vatican II Mass actually exists. Many Catholics enthusiastic for the old Mass already have access to it, in parishes and religious orders who celebrate the old Mass under the terms of a 1984 indult from the Vatican.

Most bishops, pastors and liturgical experts whom I've polled believe that with or without the motu proprio, the normal liturgical experience for the overwhelming majority of Catholics will continue to be the post-Vatican II Mass in the vernacular language. Estimates vary, but many say that they expect no more than one or two percent of Catholics worldwide to routinely attend the pre-Vatican II rite, even if they were given ready access to it.

As one American bishop put it to me, "We wouldn't have spent the last decade sweating blood over a new English translation of the Mass if we didn't think this was going to be the normal liturgical experience for most of our people."

Further, the motu proprio is unlikely to do much, at least in the short term, to end the break between Rome and the followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, founded by Lefebvre, claims roughly one million adherents worldwide, and trying to heal this rupture has been a top priority of both John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Anyone who knows the leadership of the Society of St. Pius X realizes that the older Mass is merely one element of more sweeping reservations about the council. Above all, many traditionalists object to the council's teaching on religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious relations. Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X, has stated that he wants the pope to acknowledge a formal "right of dissent" from the teaching of Vatican II on these points. By itself, the motu proprio will not solve these problems.

In other words, the motu proprio may end up as a classic instance of one of those Vatican documents that unleashes a torrent of debate and commentary, but changes relatively little on the ground.

Be that as it may, there's no doubt the motu proprio will be a media sensation, because the older Mass has become the most potent symbol of tensions over the basic direction of the Catholic Church in the period since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). In the court of broad public opinion, expanded access to the pre-Vatican II rite will be interpreted as a victory for the church's traditionalist wing, however the Vatican explains it.

Among the debates certain to swirl is a set of concerns regarding Jewish-Christian relations. The exchange between Kasper and the International Council of Christians and Jews, based in Germany, illustrates what's at stake.

Servite Fr. John Pawlikowski, an American, wrote to Kasper on March 29 on behalf of the executive body of the International Council of Christians and Jews. Pawlikowski, an expert in Catholic/Jewish relations at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, told Kasper that although the phrase "perfidious Jews" was lifted from the pre-Vatican II Mass by Pope John XXIII, the older Mass still contains other prayers for Jews, Muslims and other Christians that Pawlikowski called "profoundly demeaning."

"The expanded validation of such prayers," Pawikowski argued, "will rightly challenge Catholic integrity in terms of the proclamations of the last four decades," meaning advances in ecumenical and inter-faith relations, especially with Jews.

Pawlikowski's letter does not specify which prayers in the 1962 Missal his group finds objectionable. A Web site sponsored by the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Boston College, however, offers a background document on the older Mass, along with a critical statement from a "Jews and Christians" group of the Central Committee of German Catholics. The two texts cite concerns widely voiced by experts in Catholic-Jewish relations.

For example, the Good Friday litrugy contains a prayer "For the conversion of the Jews," which reads: "Let us pray also for the Jews, that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. … Almighty and everlasting God, You do not refuse Your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of Your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness."

The background document on the Boston College site asserts that the prayer is problematic.

"The references to 'even the Jews,' 'their darkness,' and 'blindness' and for their conversion runs counter to the respect for ongoing Jewish covenantal life throughout historic time that was expressed in Nostra Aetate, 4," it says, referring to the Vatican II document on Judaism and other religions. "Similar problems might be found elsewhere in the Missal simply because it was uninformed by subsequent developments in Catholic understanding."

The document from the German group highlights other objections.

"The pre-conciliar Roman Missal is inseparably connected to the old lectionary," it states. "In its sequence of about 60 diverse formularies for the celebration of Mass for Sundays and holy days, there is no reading from the Old Testament for each Sunday, except in only three cases … This is blatant Marcionism, which devalues the first part of the two-part Christian Bible -- namely the Bible of Israel -- to insignificance."

The German group also questions the underlying worldview of the old Mass.

"Its theology and spirituality … contradicts much that was theologically central to the Second Vatican Council," it says. "This concerns, not least, the unique relationship between the Church and Judaism (see Lumen Gentium, 16 and Nostra Aetate, 4)."

These points, experts say, illustrate the reservations about the 1962 Missal at which Pawlikowski's letter hints.

In his brief reply, Kasper told Pawlikowski that he had already discussed such concerns with Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Vatican's Ecclesia Dei Commission which oversees use of the older Mass. Castrillon is a driving force behind the new motu proprio.

Kasper writes that he expressed the concerns of "many people engaged in the Jewish-Christian dialogue" to Castrillon.

"After a long conversation, it was reiterated that the use of the Missal does not represent principally a new situation," Kasper writes, "insofar as its use has been permitted over time in particular cases."

Kasper said he's not entirely sure what might be done about sensitive passages regarding Jews.

"The 1962 Missal does not have the term 'perfidious Jews.' I was unable to obtain a clear answer," Kasper writes, "with regard to the prayer for the Jews."

Kasper then closes with the sentence quoted above about the pope's decision no longer being open to debate.

Whatever form Benedict's final decision takes, the kinds of controversies reflected in this exchange will continue -- even if most Catholics, on most Sundays and in most parishes around the world, remain blissfully unaffected by them.

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Fiona, Scotland I am

Submitted by Fiona4Scotland on April 23, 2007 - 5:50pm.

Fiona, Scotland

I am astonished at how many commentators above think that the SSPX are in schism. Unbelievable. The Vatican has made very clear on a number of occasions recently that they are not and never have been in schism. That Pope John Paul II pronounced an excommunication on Archbishop Lefebvre says more about him than it does about Archbishop Lefebvre. Pope John Paul II , recall, has protected (and even promoted!) prelates (I'm thinking here of Cardinal Law) who, many think should have languished in prison for their defence of abuser-priests. He's not excommunicated any of the heretics and other scandal mongers dotted around the world (not least in my homeland of Scotland, despite our repeated - unanswered - pleas for help). JPII will surely go down as one of the worst Popes in history. Clearly, the breakneck speed at which attempts are being made to canonise him represent nothing more than a desperate shot at trying to validate the shocking state of the Church during his watch and a less vigilant watch there has never been. So, please, stop perpetuating the lie that the SSPX are in schism. Only the truly ignorant still think that and if you can find a respected Canon Lawyer who believes that the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre was valid, I'll eat my bagpipes.

Who wouldn't want to

Submitted by Charlotte_S on April 23, 2007 - 10:54am.

Who wouldn't want to experience the Mass that inspired Saint Francis and many other saints to take up their vocations? If the traditional Mass is "at variance with what we believe," then the Church has been misled for all but the last forty years of her history. But this is an impossibility. The Church isn't susceptible to sudden reversals. The Church didn't spend a millennium wallowing in error, only to be corrected by the last council. Paul VI described a destructive, post-conciliar self-loathing in which the Church appears to abhor herself and especially her past. Benedict XVI should do everything he can to put a stop to the newfangled, but wrong view that only the last few decades of the Church's promulgations and liturgical practices matter. We today aren't unquestionably superior to our Catholic forbears. We own a rich history, and it's dangerous to see Church doctrine and habits in terms of constant rupture with the past, as if continual change is a value of itself. We need an organic view that reverences the Church holistically and doesn't create a false opposition between ourselves and the Saints and Apostles with whom we hope to share eternal communion. I applaud Benedict's decision and hope for enthusiastic implementation of this forthcoming motu propio.

The article contains quite a

Submitted by moconnor on April 22, 2007 - 10:36am.

The article contains quite a bit of truth regarding the minimal effect of the MP on the Tridentine Mass. Some of the comments about "Rome burning" and that bigger problems are being ignored, are expected, and predictably unthoughtful. In such statements, two things are ignored. First, the Church is not capable of handling more than one issue at a time (all the bishops, cardinals, priests, and laity of the world incapable of multi-tasking). This presumes that ANY attention to allowing the Pre-V2 Mass necessarily prevents work from being done to address sex abuse problems, diminishing numbers in South America, or addressing poverty. Second, it ignores the fact that pastoral matters of the greatest significance (sacraments, aid to the poor, comfort to the wounded) are dealt with every day of the year in parishes and dioceses worldwide. I applaud Benedict XVI (alas, some here would parody his title) for working to weaken the pillars of possible schism. The schismatic organizations will stand to lose members who join for the sole reason that they feel a connection to the Tridentine Mass (as I do) that is missing when they attend a modern Rite Mass. The liberated allowance of this Mass, moreover, does not work against uniformity in the modern Rite. Recall that some religious orders retain their Rites, which already prevents a "universal" liturgy, first promoted by Trent (which btw was not a "translation" but a move to place the Roman curial Rite as the Rite of all Catholics. That didn't even work out as intended).

Michael O'Connor

Having grown up during the

Submitted by Jon Hus on April 22, 2007 - 7:12am.

Having grown up during the Latin Mass era, I don't know why so many are thrilled about its return. It is a language that is not spoken in any part of the world. We didn't understand what we were hearing or repeating. Finally, I don't recall any place in the Gospels where Jesus spoke to the masses in Latin or in a language his followers did not speak or understand.

There is a silly romantic notion that if the Latin Mass is brought back, it will produce a more spiritual experience and bring back the good ole days when churches were were filled. It ain't going to happen. The issues and challenges the Church faces have NOTHING to do with the return of the Latin Mass.

Maybe not with the Latin,

Submitted by here today on April 23, 2007 - 12:30pm.

Maybe not with the Latin, but with the texts of the Rite (Tridentine vs Pauline), absolutely. Look around this sight, there are many who challenge the Sacrificial nature of Christ's death, let alone the Mass. There have been disputes over the Real Presence, the nature of the priesthood, and Holy Orders. In forming the "new" Mass many references to distinctive Catholic teaching were purged: The Sacrifice of the Mass, the intercession of the saints, Mary, the distinction between the priest and the people.

Catholics, if surveys are to be believed, have abandoned the Catholic faith large-scale. The Church is unable to meet the challenges before it because it has become divided against itself. A revival of the Tridentine Missal, in conjunction with the reform of the Pauline Missal to reflect orthodox Catholic teaching will reinforce unity of belief throughout the Church. (and yes, we can have unity of belief with a diversity of rites, provided that the rites are reflections of the same Truth)

There are those who will oppose such solidifying of Catholic belief, but our Church was founded on a Rock, not on sand. Many may well leave the Catholic Church (particularly of my parents' generation) and, as painful as that may be, it is most likely for the best for the Church in the long run.

BTW, this will not silence the Tridentine Mass movement, but give it broad public recognition. It will help keep Catholics from fleeing to independent and SSPX chapels just to avoid the prevalent abuses in their region (Orange County Ca for example). This will strengthen those who are working for continuity and unity, which will increase demand for reverence at Mass, which will improve conditions so that fewer will flee...

For nearly 40 years, those

Submitted by jfeehily on April 21, 2007 - 10:05pm.

For nearly 40 years, those who opposed or had serious reservations about Vatican II have been pressing pope after pope to restore the Tridentine Rite to a place of legitimacy. John Paul II granted concessions to "those who loved this rite" and urged local bishops to be generous in providing opportunities for such individuals to worship as they preferred. These opponents have been responsible for slandering the Novus Ordo at every turn. They have conducted a vigorous campaign among disgruntled Catholics to report irregularities and abominations connected with the celebration of the "new Mass". Everyone knows that Pope Benedict is a classicist when it comes to liturgy and liturgical music. His writings express his serious reservations about some aspects of the reformed liturgy and he has been an advocate of a reform of the reform. His motu propio, I believe, will be his opportunity to extend an olive branch to the schismatics. He may even harbor some hope that in some parts of the world many may rally to embrace what traditionalists (small t) regard as a more reverent form of worship.

From the reports I have read, bishops will determine the circumstances under which Tridentine Rite Masses may be celebrated publicly in parishes. To permit each and every priest to celebrate public tridentine Masses in the place of New Rite Masses in the vernacular would precipitate a schism the likes of which we have not seen to date. This motu propio will establish clearly that there is no pent up demand among the laity for revanchism.

I think the Pope knows what he's doing. The issuance of this document will mark the end of the unrelenting pressure from the right to "restore" the Latin Mass.

As someone who is conversant

Submitted by kainzh on April 21, 2007 - 8:51pm.

As someone who is conversant in Latin I welcome this as an additional liturgical choice, although I doubt if the Latin Mass will ever become available in my vicinity. But the big difference in the pre-Vatican II Mass and the present Mass is not so much in the language, but in the theological symbolism. The former Mass was unmistakably a sacrifice, a reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ; the present Mass is geared to emphasizing the communal aspect and the communal meal, as in most Protestant liturgies of the "Lord's Supper." The sacrificial aspect is still there, but deemphasized. One welcome result of the optional Latin Mass, in my opinion, might be a selective return of some of the beautiful Latin hymns and a diminution of some of the "feel-good" selections from the "Glory and Praise" hymnal used in most parishes.

"...the present Mass is

Submitted by Dennis on April 23, 2007 - 12:04pm.

"...the present Mass is geared to emphasizing the communal aspect and the communal meal...." yes, and in the company of the risen Christ who championed in His sacrifice. It is my understanding that in the early Church Christ "in agony" did not appear on the cross but the "glorious risen" Christ the King. As painful as the "Last Supper" was for Christ it was even in His words the celebration of the victory in and over the suffering and his direction was to celebrate his suffering and death in that context and as communal meal.

Granted balance of the theological symbols and realities may yet be wanting as indeed, the lack of balance was the basis for the need for change. While I would not prescribe unfettered license I would suggest that we must continue to seek ways to unleash the energies of these realities so that they capture the concomitant yearnings in the hearts and minds of today, not just as museum pieces.

I love Latin chants and

Submitted by VOTFCLEV on April 21, 2007 - 1:43pm.

I love Latin chants and polyphonies and often pray the Divine Office in Latin, but I hope that Benedict spends most of his time encouraging the greater use of Latin chants and polyphony in the present rite where it might reach a greater audience that the Trent Rite is likely to have.

The Pope should permit the usage of any previous Western rites provided they have a good scholarly basis. The Trent Rite dominated Western liturgical usage for only several centuries. Prior to that there was greater diversity of Western liturgical usage. There are many recordings based on musical scholarship of the various Western rites including the Old Rome Rite (a combination of Greek and Latin) and various regional rites such as Beneventian chants (Italy), Aquitanian chant (France), Sarum rite (England), and of course the traditions that were allowed to continue after Trent such as Ambrosian chant (Milan) and Mosarabic (Toledo, Spain) chant. Perhaps some of the professional choral groups would like to do this music at an actual Mass.

I am not optimistic that we will get much Latin chant except from professional choarl groups. Several years ago a national group that promotes the Latin Mass had their national meeting here in Cleveland. We celebrated the Saturday Mass of Our Lady in Latin with Gregorian Chant using the Vatican II rite. I was very disappointed. Most of the people who came listened to the out of town seminary choir rather than singing along even though we were given the music and the Mass is a easy one to sing. There were not many people at the liturgy and most appeared to be out of town people. The people who want Latin seem just to want to listen; that don’t seem eager to promote this by learning to sing the Mass.

Solesmes started the Gregorian chant revival in the nineteenth century. For several centuries before there was not much Gregorian chant so we are not even sure the Solesmes way of doing Gregorian chant was the way it was done at earlier times. So the Latin Mass with Gregorian chant a la Solesmes that traditionalists love and revere may be only a late 19th and early 20th century affair. The Solesmes revival had great hope of Gregorian Chant being widely sung. Instead, we ended up with mostly Low Masses.

Jack Rakosky

It makes great sense for the

Submitted by Mike from Down Under on April 20, 2007 - 11:39pm.

It makes great sense for the Church to provide this group with some space to practice their traditional worship, through such a motu proprio.

Like the Anglican Communion, the Catholic Church will always have a group that hankers after a lost past, and which need to have such an outlet in its liturgical life. Supressing it only encourages a sense of persecution. However, the experience of the Anglicans tells us that we cannot expect them to add much to the Church's efforts to engage the wider world in the experience of Jesus Christ. Their internal and traditionalist focus means they generally lack an understanding of the Church's mission to the modern world.

Many of us are rejoicing

Submitted by monkey3 on April 20, 2007 - 8:40pm.

Many of us are rejoicing over the coming Motu Proprio. Finally some light at the end of the tunnel! As a convert 10 years ago, one of the first phrases I kept hearing was "the spirit of Vatican ll. So I purchased the documents. And what they say is quite different from the liturgical and doctrinal nonsense that has been going on in some places since the Council. Praise God for this Holy Father, for the Reform of the Reform which is already taking place, and for the many new religious communities and seminaries that are literally bursting at the seams with vocations because of their orthodoxy! And, by the way, why should we not pray for the conversion of the Jews? The mission of the early Church was conversion, and that mission has not changed.

MMBitz I am totally

Submitted by MMBitz on April 20, 2007 - 6:19pm.


I am totally befuddled. The Vatican Liturgical Commission is fiddling with spatterings of minutia so that all worshippers all over the world will be making the exact same gestures (bowing before receiving the Eucharist, washing the feet of 12 men on Holy Thursday), saying the exact same words ("and with your spirit"), using the same bread (no substantial bread or bread like Jesus used) to show the unity of all Catholics. Pray tell me how this new "allowance" for the 'saying' of Mass in Latin with the priest's back to the people will make for unity of all Catholics. If they are looking to get the Lefebvrites back into the fold by giving them the allowance to do something different, why not allow the Catholics who have left the church because of the "rearranging of the chairs on the deck while the ship is sinking" to go back to washing each other's feet on Maundy Thursday, using substantial bread, using holy movements in the Liturgical celebrations? If the men in Rome want to be pastoral let's begin with people who want to stay within the Church. Or do we have to have a schism in order to be paid attention to?

A Few Thoughts from a

Submitted by Biglsusportsfan on April 20, 2007 - 5:36pm.

A Few Thoughts from a Catholic Convert that came into the Church in during his College days in the late 80's.

I must say I approve of this. There are Countless numbers of Catholics in the US and Worldwide that need this. They are part of the Church too. I welcome it,

To the the people who have been awaiting this day with great hope. Congrats. More than that, congrats to the Church in her wisdom in doing this. But a word of advice. I expect it will not be everything that people want. It is time to accept it. The attitude of the more extreme elements of this movement cannot be the voice that is heard. Vatican II exist and is a fact. I know most Latin Mass Catholic believe this. The Mass as we have it today is Valid and pleasing to God. I know the majority in your movement believe this too.

TO those that oppose this , I hope you will to submit to this in Christian Charity. I am not part of the Latin Mass or Bust Crowd, but I and many people of my generation and younger very much understand where they are coming from. They like we had liturgy that was often a Purgatory to endure. It took us years to realize that even we the Laity had a RIGHT to a proper mass being said. There has been much abuse. The Liturgy became the focal point for Priest X or Group X Theological bent. Gosh, I remember some Matthew Fox Creation Spirtuality Mass lol in my younger days. I laugh now but it took a toll. Things are changing. People might be shocked that many of these people that want a Proper and Beautiful Liturgy have many of the same Social Conserns as you. I think it is wrong to call all these people the Mel Gibson Branch of the Church. It is now time to move beyond names.

Times have Changed. I suspect the average membership of NCR dreamed of us being like Anglican American Chruch. This generation views alliances with the Eastern Orthodox and now dream of possible reunifications. Not likely to happen but our two communions will be more closely aligned in the future. Part of that process is a Liturgical reform of the reform on our part. Also our many Eastern Rites in Communion with Rome approve of this reform of the reform of the Latin rite. These are good days. I will not be attending many 1962 Latin Masses. But I wish them well, as we prepare for the new ICEL Translations of the most beautiful prayer and action on Earth

JH Louisiana

Having rated the posting by

Submitted by Dennis on April 23, 2007 - 11:31am.

Having rated the posting by "Big supports fan" before looking at the "who rated how", I was surprised to see myself in the company of some with whom I seldom agree. Should I be pleased or worried? There are aspects of the old latin rite that I found personally consoling and uplifting. There are however many presuppositions inherent within it that I, for one, cannot simply ignore and "participate" simply and faithfully. I can admire but no longer love. Just before Easter on a visit to another part of the country, I attended Mass at a Basilica. It was the closest thing to the old rite I have experienced since it was changed. The music was beautiful, soloed and isolated. There was still an altar rail with a "golden gate" that opened to receive the bread, wine and money then quickly closed, etc., etc. I do not begrudge those who wish to experience the latin liturgy, I do suspect the motivation of its restorers who will even more vigourously lobby for its wider return. It is medieval art that can be admired but it has, for me, lost its soul. The hope for me is, I think, an unintended consequence. While an admonition to contemporarianism and attempt to restore antiquarianism, it is in fact a recognition of the validity of variation.

Seeking justice and peace

Submitted by oremus79 on April 20, 2007 - 5:21pm.

Seeking justice and peace are both noble and commendable objectives, but there is no reason to change or alter ones theology to do so. This is exactly what was done at Vatican II. I converted in 2005, finally got tired of protesting I guess. I thought I would find the Catholic church, instead I found something that vaguely resembled what I left. The church is not, never has been and never will be a democracy. I just hope those who would descent from the true teachings of the Catholic Church are prepared for the punishment that awaits. I do not reject anything taught by the Church and the Authentic Magisterium, that being said, I will also live according to the teachings pre-Vatican II. This isn't to say Vatican II was in error, because Christ wouldn't allow that. I just say that socialism and modernism have almost ruined the Church in America and Europe, likely most of the world. I wish St. Pius X had know the extent of his concern regarding the curse of modernism and how it has ruined society as a whole.

I think you need to review

Submitted by AnnieO on April 21, 2007 - 8:34pm.

I think you need to review the point of judgment before you decide that anyone who disagrees with you, probably on what is even the definition of dissent (desent?), will be punished. The point of judgment is this, "When I was hungry..."

Remarks like, "the [1962]

Submitted by sulpicius on April 20, 2007 - 4:55pm.

Remarks like, "the [1962] Missal ... was uninformed by subsequent developments in Catholic understanding" and "This is blatant Marcionism" and "Its theology and spirituality ... contradicts much that was theologically central to the Second Vatican Council" demonstrate, once again, the astonishing hubris of modern liberal Catholic thought: "Those poor, benighted pre-V2 Catholics; for well over 1500 years they had it all wrong. But now, finally, in the middle of the 20th Century, we got it right! All those great saints, doctors, theologians, mystics, popes (not to mention the first twenty Ecumenical Councils) -- it's a pity they didn't have us to show them the way." If the theology and spirituality of V2 is at such variance with the Missal of Pius V, then maybe we need to reexamine Vatican 2, or at least our interpretation of it.

padrepadre, The words

Submitted by richdel on April 20, 2007 - 4:52pm.


The words themselves of the Old Mass cannot be said to be at odds with what we believe. That there is a veil and sort of spiritualize blindness in reference to not recognizing Christ is perfectly in accord with what Christ taught in reference to his being "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" and "no one comes to the Father except by" him (Jn 14:6).

The deal here, is rather, being careful not to say or 'ritualize', as you put it, words which others may for apparent reasons be offended. Are we, however, to make fuzzy what we believe in articulating it, so as to put not offending others over preventing our being confusing or too vague with the truth?

"Then the disciples came to him and said to him, 'Do you know the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?' He said to them '...Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, they will both fall into a pit?'" (Mt 15:12-13).

Our being concerned with not offending over others more than with the truth is iteself a sort of spiritual blindness.

YEAH, BUT... "Many Catholics

Submitted by richdel on April 20, 2007 - 4:34pm.


"Many Catholics enthusiastic for the old Mass already have access to it, in parishes and religious orders who celebrate the old Mass under the terms of a 1984 indult from the Vatican."

YEAH, BUT not without usually driving for an hour to an hour and a half to attend a mass usually celebrated in the wee hours of the morning or in the afternoon. Aware of the Bishop of Orange's recent 'generosity' at allowing an indult mass...at 7:30 in the morning?

Re: SSPX: "By itself, the motu proprio will not solve these problems."

YEAH, BUT considering that many are members of SSPX by default of the fact that they want to go somewhere more accessible to attend the traditional mass, that these masses would be more accessible due to the motu propio would not make one's membership in SSPX per se so much a priority anymore. Think SSPX is not aware of this?

I'm a bit disturbed at the

Submitted by shadrach on April 20, 2007 - 2:16pm.

I'm a bit disturbed at the splenetic tone of some of the comments here. People should be less paranoid

A liturgy which the faithful have worshipped with for over a millenium (quite a bit over a millenium) CAN'T be unworthy or sinister.

Any development concerning the liturgy HAS TO BE central not only to the life of the faithful, but to the world - if you believe in the incarnation at all. The mass is the eruption of eternity into the present, it can't be fixed to an orbit around mutable social issues. The classical rite was the rite that Sophie Scholl attended, that was said during the Second Vatican Council and that Dorothy Day knew. The Second Vatican Council while great as only a council of the Church can be was NOT a new pentecost. More Catholics across the expanse of history have gone out to do compassionate and good works from mass said in the classical rite than otherwise... no disrespect meant to mass according to the new order of liturgy.


"More Catholics across the

Submitted by colkoch on April 23, 2007 - 10:38am.

"More Catholics across the expanse of history have gone out to do compassionate and good works from mass said in the classical rite than otherwise...."

This makes perfect sense when one takes in the fact the faithful had no other alternative for almost 500 years.

I'm disturbed by what

Submitted by Fred Dunn on April 23, 2007 - 4:17am.

I'm disturbed by what Shadrach states. "A liturgy which the faithful have worshiped with for over a millenium (quite a bit over a millenium) CAN'T be unworthy or sinister." My education was that the Tridentine Mass came out of the Council of Trent in 1570. It was also decreed at this time by Pope Pius that the Mass be celebrated in Latin. Now 1570 is less than half a millenium away so where does shadrach get his/her assertion from? Nothing like supporting your view with misleading statements.


Fred, I get my assertion

Submitted by shadrach on April 23, 2007 - 2:04pm.

Fred, I get my assertion from the facts. The form of the mass prior to the Council of Trent was basically identical to what was established in Pius V's missal, which was a standardization of the Roman rite. The use of Latin in Mass had been normative in the West from at least the fourth century. Eastward orientation of the altar was de rigeur and Priest and people always faced in the same direction. A liturgy which the faithful have worshiped with for over a millennium and a half CAN'T be unworthy or sinister.


The Mass codified at Trent

Submitted by here today on April 23, 2007 - 11:48am.

The Mass codified at Trent was a continuation (a reform, but consistent with organic development) of the Mass as celebrated for centuries before. It dates, in substance as far back as Gregory the Great, parts even earlier (particularly the Canon). The Mass was celebrated in Latin long before Trent, the issue of language was re-iterated due to the practices of a certain schismatic monk.

Not yet rated.

Sophie Scholl was a devout

Submitted by cashelguy on April 21, 2007 - 5:50pm.

Sophie Scholl was a devout Lutheran, so I seriously doubt that she attended the Tridentine Mass. Yes many saints were produced between the Council of Trent and Vatican II. Saints are still being produced today. We post-Vatican II Catholics have shown far more respect for the pre-Vatican II church than the SSPX types have shown for the post-Vatican church. It is they who have been calling us "heretics" and have rejected all the reforms of the council and not just the new liturgy. Over the last three decades one concession after another has been shown to the arch-traditionalists, and after each concession their arrogance has only grown.


How can one take critics

Submitted by Bruce Barker on April 20, 2007 - 12:32pm.

How can one take critics seriously when they make hysterical remarks about the pre-Vatican II lectionary's Sunday cycle being "blatant Marcionism." No doubt a similar hysteria will arise when the motu proprio is actually issued, especially from those quarters that find anything pre-Vatican II reactionary and Neanderthal -- ignoring the multitude of holy men and women nurtured by the "Old Mass" for fifteen hundred years. Yes, take seriously the concerns about the Good Friday intercessions, but please, a sense of proportion when it comes to things that served millions well for most of the Church's history.

Surely anyone with a sense

Submitted by williampunch on April 21, 2007 - 9:55am.

Surely anyone with a sense of history of the Liturgy of the Eucharist will know that the translations of the Eucharist and therefore the Missal have been dynamic. There has nver been a "once only" translation. The old Missal only went back to Post Trent, and even then was one of many - look at the Dominican rite and Pius V was a Dominican! I cannot for the life of me see why any of this is important. The New Missal was designed to reflect the teachings of Vatican II and relate to the people of today. It has done that more than adequately. Why bother to go back to a museum piece?

Perhaps the attitude of

Submitted by GregY on April 20, 2007 - 11:37am.

Perhaps the attitude of those protesting the prayers for the Jews illustrates perfectly the "hermeneutic of discontinuity" re. Vatican II, which Pope Benedict has stated is incorrect (cf., 2005 Christmas Address to the Curia). While the Church may legitimately emphasize different points after the Council than it did before the Council, its Faith remains one and the same. For example, after the Council, the Church has emphasized the commonalities with Judaism and our respect for the Jewish people as our "elder brethren." No one did this better than Pope John Paul II, who had such a love for the Jewish people. On the other hand, it is nonetheless proper to see anyone who has not come to explicit faith in Christ as being, in a certain sense, "blind." For as the Christian Scriptures emphasize repeatedly, Christ is the Light, and only when we come to explicit faith in the Messiah can the "veil" be said to be entirely lifted, as St. Paul teaches. Therefore, while it may not be politically correct to say such things, they remain part of our Faith. And if we think otherwise, perhaps we have embraced the "hermeutic of discontinuity," which, in effect, could suggest that we have embraced a different religion entirely.

Must be the Alzheimer's

Submitted by JimH on April 21, 2007 - 5:05am.

Must be the Alzheimer's kicking in, but each time I visit this site I have to look up 'hermeneutics' in the dictionary! I just thought I would share that with you all. Still, it's probably good practice for when I have to look up 'consubstantial' each time I come back from Mass.

Jim Houston

Jim, This is a very funny

Submitted by AnnieO on April 21, 2007 - 8:37pm.

Jim, This is a very funny post, and I want you to know how much I appreciated it!

+ Neil,c.s.e.f., abbot to

Submitted by abotneil on April 20, 2007 - 10:53am.

+ Neil,c.s.e.f., abbot to the Interdenominational Community of Sts. Elizabeth and Francis.

Once again, the Caesar fiddles while Rome and the rest of the Church Burns! Perhaps if the real Gospel was proclaimed, and not the imperium of Rome, we wouldn't have the loss of South Americans Catholics to Pentacostalism, perhaps then people would support the Church. Bennie 16 and his jet setters have once again lost contact with what is true and holy, in their mad dash for power and control.

Big headlines in Catholic Diocesan and Public Newspapers about the numbers of "Catholics " Baptized and confirmed at Easter; but I'd love to see the numbers of all those who have left the Catholic Church, out of disgust and disappointment in the last year. +neil, c.s.e.f.

In an earlier column John

Submitted by cashelguy on April 20, 2007 - 10:40am.

In an earlier column John quoted a Vatican insider who said the impending changes to the English language liturgy would stunt demand for greater use of the Latin Mass. He could not have been more wrong. As I posted then, traditionalists' appetite only grows with each victory. Within my diocese there is already an ultra-traditionalist element that consider themselves the true church. Anyone who attends Mass in the vernacular is a second class Catholic in their eyes. This will be a huge victory for them. Their 45-year holdout against church reform has been rewarded. Those of us who believe in the Second Vatican Council have taken one kick in the teeth after another over the last 29 years. If the xenophobic, anti-Semitic passages of the Tridentine Mass are restored, then all the ecumenical progress of the last half-century has been in vain. The Mel Gibson wing will have won out. One can only hope that even in the hierarchy there is a sizable element that believes the restoration of the pre-Vatican II church has gone far enough. Maybe in the next conclave a moderate might actually have a chance.

John Allen says that the driving force behind this new motu proprio is Cardinal Dario Castrillion Hoyos. In John's book Conclave he says the Cardinal literally sleeps in the same bed where Pope Pius XII died! I believe that tells us all we need to know about the Cardinal.

Peace, (or should I now say "Pax,") Steve

Thank you again, John Allen,

Submitted by jaystl on April 20, 2007 - 10:12am.

Thank you again, John Allen, for this sensible report about the minimal effect the document is likely to have in the real world. The number of today's priests who know Latin is very small indeed -- and that includes bishops! So who is going to celebrate all these Latin Masses some are worried about? Even pre-Vatican II the number of priests who really understood Latin was far smaller than most people realize. A 79-year-old Jesuit who has spent his life as a university teacher told me recently: "We mostly didn't understand the words we were saying."

How odd. Because back in

Submitted by Cobalt on April 20, 2007 - 10:29pm.

How odd. Because back in the 40's and 50's, those of us in the pews had missals in both Latin and Greek and had no trouble with the Mass when it was in Latin.

Latin yes. Greek no. Pretty

Submitted by AnnieO on April 21, 2007 - 2:10pm.

Latin yes. Greek no. Pretty much had to have a missal, yes. Read the words, yes. People prayed the rosary, yes. Some people got in the rhythm of the Mass, yes. Many did not, yes.

I'm not sure that "no trouble with the Mass" is the same as praying the Mass...

With all due respect to John

Submitted by acoolmom007 on April 20, 2007 - 10:11am.

With all due respect to John Allen and his knowledge of the Church in Rome, we ARE affected by this. We are again reminded that our only role is to be compliant and subservient. We are again reminded that poverty, the death penalty, sexual abuse by priests, global warming, corporate immorality, war, lack of medical care, losing our jobs to "free trade" etc. are not considered worthy topics for Catholics to look for on how to follow Jesus. Denying Communion to politicians, gays, contraception, whimsical excommunications, when to kneel or bow and the Latin Mass are what our leaders worry about.

I became a Catholic in 1969

Submitted by deaconrb on April 20, 2007 - 9:19am.

I became a Catholic in 1969 and have never experienced the Tridentine Rite, or felt the need to. However, I know people - a lot of them young - who love it. As we're the Universal Church we should be able to cater for different liturgical tastes so I'm not at all worried if Pope Benedict gives permission for it to be celebrated universally. As John said, it will make little difference to most Catholics who will go on celebrating the Missa Normativa, so let's not panic.

Deacon Richard

John B. Larrere I think John

Submitted by padrepadre on April 20, 2007 - 8:41am.

John B. Larrere I think John Allen rightly points out the major difficulty of the motu proprio: the lack of congruence between theology as it has developed under the guidance of Vatican II and the old rite. To ritualize in ways that are at odds with what we believe (about Christians and Jews, for example) seems very unhealthy. Those who did their utmost to renew themselves and their worshipping communities as requested by the Council will be disappointed. Richard McBrien has also pointed out how the minority position at the council has gained ascendency with a perfidious kind of counter reformation led by the minority. It is sad. I suggest reading a study on parishes done in 20 years after the council by the late Mark Searle and others to see how much progress has already been made and by implication what is at stake. http://www.nd.edu/~icl/study_reports/report5.pdf