Robert Mickens on “The Vatican Implosion”

This is interesting. My friend Robert Mickens from The Tablet (but emphatically not speaking for them) spoke recently to the City Club in Cleveland on “The Vatican Implosion.”

From his introductory remarks:

I’ve chosen to speak to you today about what I’ve begun to call for several years now “The Vatican Implosion.” Now, what do I mean by implosion? Well, I define it as the collapse of an entire system, a structure, an ethos, a culture if you will, of global church governance. It’s the crumbling of what’s as close to an absolute monarchy as anything that ever existed in the world, certainly in the western world. In fact, the Catholic hierarchy, and certainly its center in Rome, could arguably be called the last absolute monarchy in the west today. It is imploding, I think, for a variety of reasons…

Listen to the whole talk:

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86 comments

  1. Your friend is amazingly informed and candid – and I agree with him! I find it tremendously encouraging that someone who is so well informed and respected holds the same opinion as I do (who is not nearly so well informed)! 🙂
    The ancient and obsolete structures need to change, just as the liturgy needed to change. Clericalism is a cancer, perpetuated by the current structures.
    The recent pontiffs have done much to blur, if not obliterate John XXIII’s prophetic vision in the calling of Vatican II.

  2. So, Mr Mickens wants the Church to follow the example of the Anglicans and Episcopalians in terms of governance. He believes, contrary to all visible evidence, that this would go some way to stemming the loss of people. He doesn’t like the SSPX, or “conservative” bishops. All the usual “liberal” shibboleths are mentioned by him, or people ask him questions about them. Not a person under the age of 50 to be seen in the room, but they’re happy to talk about what “young people” want.

    Yawn.

    1. @Matthew Hazell – comment #2:
      Just listened to Robert Mickens’ insightful analysis of the health problems of a church trying to get by with structures from a bygone age, but I can’t say I heard either the speaker or the attenders comment in particular on what young people want. The concern is with what all of us need so that our church can regain life and strength for the work to be done.

    2. @Matthew Hazell – comment #2:

      I did not gather from Mr. Mickens’s presentation that he is a rabid opponent of the EF, even if he loosely and briefly collates the rise of liturgical conservatism with clericalism. Rather, his concern is the way in which movements towards collegiality after Vatican II have not significantly changed the feudal-renaissance heart of Vatican government. I am confident that we can have a less clerical, more accountable church and maintain room for liturgical diversity. The celebration of the Tridentine liturgy in the post-conciliar era does not necessarily entail the maintenance of Tridentine-era forms of institutional governance. I do suspect that not a few EF adherents fear that greater collegiality and even local election of bishops will result in suppression of the EF. I once thought this way as well. However, I would rather see a more accountable pope than one who fulfills liturgical wishes but does not stem systemic and gravely harmful political decisions.

  3. So interesting the dismissal of the notion of democracy. Religious men and women have been fusing the art of discernment and a communal selection of leaders for centuries, and notably, the Benedictines don’t seem to have blown up and gone away as a result of it.

  4. Jordan Zarembo .. I did not gather from Mr. Mickens’s presentation that he is a rabid opponent of the EF, even if he loosely and briefly collates the rise of liturgical conservatism with clericalism.

    I haven’t had a chance to watch the presentation yet, but Mickens is a famously rabid opponent of the EF.

    He proclaimed Summorum Pontificum of “dubious validity,” then labeled it, a “betrayal – of the ‘mens’ of the Council,” and said the ’62 rite “certainly has no place in an ecumenical post-Vatican II Church.”

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #7:
      Well “rabid” is unnecessarily pejorative.

      I wouldn’t say that the Fathers of Vatican II were “opponents” of the 1962 form of Mass. I would characterize their position as respectful critique, with the understanding that it should not continue in use in its unreformed state. To say that the ’62 rite has no place after Vatican II isn’t that “rabid” – it’s the position of the bishops of Vatican II.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #9:
        “That the ’62 rite has no place after Vatican II . . . is the position of the bishops of Vatican II” (Anthony Ruff, comment 9). Does the pope’s “full, supreme, and universal power” allow him to set that position aside? Before “Summorum Pontificum” is judged for its theological quality or ecumenical effects (Todd Flowerday, next comment), a decision should be made on whether it is an act of disobedience to proper ecclesiastical authority.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #9:
        “…it’s the position of the bishops of Vatican II” I think that claim is too broad. It requires nuance. A contrasting but smilarly unnuanced statement would be to state that the Council Fathers wanted to retain Latin ordinaries, Latin collects, and the Latin Roman canon. That was their position but saying that alone without further explaination leaves enough unsaid as to appear ambiguous.

      3. @Daniel McKernan – comment #15:
        On behalf of Father Anthony (without his okay): All right, let’s try it with nuance: “That the ’62 rite, whole and unrevised, has no place after Vatican II . . . is the position of the bishops of Vatican II.”
        The question remains whether this position is binding on the present pope. If it is, “betrayal” may be a needlessly inflammatory characterization of what he did in “Summorum Pontificum,” but “disobedience” describes it straightforwardly, I’d say.

      4. @Paul R. Schwankl – comment #21:
        The only problem with any claim that the ’62 rite has no place after V2 is that so many of the Council’s liturgical constitition’s specific directives are better met in contemporary celebrations of the EF than in most celebrations of the OF. This topic does not lend itself to broad assertions either way.

      5. @Daniel McKernan – comment #32:”Ordo Missae recognoscatur” (“Sacrosanctum Concilium” 50) is quite broad, it seems to me. To continue to use the 1962 ordo, nondum recognitus, is inconsistent with this decree.
        One can argue whether some other new order of Mass would meet the Council’s specifications better than today’s Novus Ordo, but one order that logically cannot meet those specifications is the one that the Council ordered revised.

  5. I haven’t watched all this video, but I didn’t hear Mickens talk about Anglicans or Episcopalians. Instead, he correctly stated that election of bishops and other more “democratic” practices are part of the church’s ancient Tradition. It goes back to the early Christian community. That is more traditional that certain fixations on Trent that seem to be espoused by many commenters on this blog.

  6. I’d also have to say that “rabid” is a caricature. I think it’s very possible to criticize SP as having little foundation in theology, as well as being a chisel in Church unity. The explanation letter accompanying it was twice as long as the document itself.

  7. Todd Flowerday : I’d also have to say that “rabid” is a caricature. I think it’s very possible to criticize SP as having little foundation in theology, as well as being a chisel in Church unity.

    Because the former SSPX adherents now found on Sundays in the parishes of the Archdiocese of New York are now less connected to the Universal Church?

  8. A more democratic church likely would have allowed wider use of the older Missal decades before SP, like how the Episcopalians almost all have early morning “Rite I” services and seem to allow Rite I to be used for weddings and funerals rather freely. There might not even be as many hang-ups about traditional practices being used in the OF (like facing with the people and communion at the rail).

  9. Anthony Ruff, OSB : @Samuel J. Howard – comment #7:Well “rabid” is unnecessarily pejorative. … To say that the ’62 rite has no place after Vatican II isn’t that “rabid” – it’s the position of the bishops of Vatican II.

    I was just using Jordan’s word. Whether it’s technically “rabid,” Mickens’s position is extreme and strident. To accuse the Pope of the “betrayal” of the Council though… if that’s not rabid it is pretty close.

    His position is more extreme than that of Paul VI (who allowed indults for elderly priests and then an indult for the ’65/’67 rite in Britain, the text of the indult making clear that the Vatican considered it an extension of use of the previous Missal vs. the new Missal), John Paul II, Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester and Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond (and no one can argue that those last two were part of a conservative reaction to Vatican II).

  10. I watched the Micken’s presentation and have been a regular reader of his columns in the Tablet. I believe his remarks were cogent and reasonable despite the fact that he does not belong to the reform of the reform movement. His point that nothing in the Gospels or even in the writings of the early post-apostolic period to justify an absolute monarchy should be taken seriously. There is certainly justification for bishops to have an important role in the handing on of Gospel teachings, but not to the extent of ruling out a place in this essential task for other clergy and members of the church. Monarchical bishops did not arise immediately but, in general, only after the peace of Constantine. The first thousand years of church practice bears witness to the autocephalous understanding of local churches. Popes were not issuing encyclicals and moto propios, nor were they appointing all bishops. In fact, the insistence on Papal primacy led to the schism with the oriental churches. They continued the synodal form of governance and the autonomy of local churches from then to now.
    Mickens point is that an absolute monarchy will not survive forever the legitimate aspirations of the lower clergy and laity who comprise 99% of the Church.
    A shift that permits the principle of subsidiarity to operate more freely, in which the counsel of clergy, laity, and religious is sought for all matters pertaining to discipline and practice would be a welcome one and would likely stem the hemorrhaging of members. Restoring a more traditional manner of selecting bishops, even the bishop of Rome, would also be a welcome one. The successor of Peter would continue to preside over the settling of any doctrinal disputes among the local churches and to be the symbol of unity who calls the whole church to unity in holiness. No voting on the doctrine of the Trinity or any other clearly established dogma.

  11. All else aside, the pope, while certainly being the equivalent of a monarch, an example of history’s not uncommon priest-kings, he cannot be called ‘absolute’. He isn’t, and neither he nor his long line of predecessors ever were. If he were, mass as celebrated in all of our parishes to the Novus Ordo in English would closely resemble that of an high Anglican mass, replete with the best of music from chant, to Tallis and Palestrina, to Britten and Howells. (And I would be happy and ‘at home’.) As we all know, it doesn’t and it (defiantly) isn’t going to. If he were, the faithful throughout the world would be as at home with Latin masses as with those in their own tongues, just as Vatican II and successive pontiffs wished. There are other issues which could be brought out to illustrate my point, but liturgy is the one dear to me. Having said all that, I am no friend of the feudal caste system with which we are encumbered. But, what are the alternatives? A very, very long look at the Anglican church should give one pause to reflect: speak of ‘implosions’!!! Then, of course, the de rigeur mention of women’s ordination came up, as though this would be an instant solution to the priest shortage; and, as though that in itself were a reason to embrace something which does present problems of genuine theological validity and would run counter to the example of our Lord himself. Nor are women, contrary to our correspondent’s assertion, by any means denied a voice in church affairs. The last time I noticed there were quite as many, if not more, women in influential positions in parish life as there were men. It’s time to stop whimpering about this. It’s also time to stop grumbling about men AS THOUGH there were something intrinsically regrettable about them. Those who are always on the look-out for any evidence of misogeny seem to have no qualms about its opposite.
    But, back to the Holy Father: absolute monarch? Not by any means!

    1. I apologize for the use of the word “rabid” in this thread, even if I intended to not characterize Mr. Mickens this way. I used this word, perhaps, to forestall comments that his speech was specifically designed to attack traditionalism or ultramontanism.

      @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #17:

      MJO: Having said all that, I am no friend of the feudal caste system with which we are encumbered. But, what are the alternatives? A very, very long look at the Anglican church should give one pause to reflect: speak of ‘implosions’!!!

      Yet the laypersons and clergy of the constituent churches of the Anglican Communion actually speak out and argue about women’s ordination, human sexuality, church/state relations, postchristianity, and many other contemporary issues on individual, parish, national synod, and Lambeth levels. Mr. Mickens’s point about the continued silence of some cardinals about the sexual abuse crisis is quite telling. As Mickens notes, even after all alibis, such as abuse is an “American problem”, are exhausted, curial cardinals continue to ignore the moral and legal tsunamis which continue to threaten their very existence as bureaucrats.

      MJO: the pope, while certainly being the equivalent of a monarch, an example of history’s not uncommon priest-kings, he cannot be called ‘absolute’. He isn’t, and neither he nor his long line of predecessors ever were. If he were, mass as celebrated in all of our parishes to the Novus Ordo in English would closely resemble that of an high Anglican mass,

      No liturgy serves as a barometer of the ethical and moral health of the Church. If Catholic traditionalism continues to stifle any talk about sexuality or even relatively minor topics such as greater vernacularization of the EF, then it will be eventually left to the wayside as the church moves towards accountability. I often found when I was a traditionalist that the more concerned a person was about liturgical orthopraxis, the less explicitly concerned he or she was about the moral, ethical, and social strata which gird an emotionally healthy and vibrant belief, faith, and ritual. The train of the cappa magna and the voices of Terce barely hide the creaking of the emotional floorboards.

  12. “Holy Father”, as the wonderful new English translation of the Roman Missal makes clear in the Eucharist Prayers, is the title used for the First Person of the Trinity.

    It should not be used for the Bishop of Rome.

    1. @Adam Mindenki – comment #18:
      “Holy Father”, as the wonderful new English translation of the Roman Missal makes clear in the Eucharist Prayers, is the title used for the First Person of the Trinity.

      This isn’t how language works.

      “Our Father” is how the “Our Father” starts, but I can still tell my brother, “I got our father a pair of gloves for Christmas,” without it being some kind of blasphemy.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #20:
        Mister Howard,

        Have you read the preface dialogues? God is addressed as Holy Father… I am not talking about the Lord’s Prayer. I may not be an American, but I am not stupid.

  13. A brief continuation…
    Actually, as I listened to Mr Micken’s address I was reminded of a film I recently saw: The Last Emperor, which was the story of Pu Yi, China’s last emperor, who ended his youth by being the all powerful emperor of no more than the Forbidden City as the rest of China descended into the chaos of warlord strife. Even being ‘absolute monarch’ in the Forbidden City, though, was not freedom from bondage to centuries of protocol and custom. Let us hope that there is no parallel here in the Church of our time and of our Holy Father.
    Another thing Mr Micken touched upon was scripture. A Protestant would have been pleased at his observations as to the need for scriptural warrant fo everything in the Church’s complex life. As Catholics, we know that the Church preceded the scriptures and decided on which scriptures were canonical. Authority derives from the Holy Spirit acting through the apostolic order. Scripture is but one, albeit prime, means by which God’s will is revealed to us.

  14. It seems to me that the papal Magisterium and that is a more apt term than monarchy which is a purely secular term gets it from both sides of the great divide of progressives or traditionalists. Both sides expect him to act as a monarch to do this, that or the other in the areas of reform they would like to see but progressives want him in a monarchical way to democratize the Church in the areas of faith and morals and discipline and turn things over the the tyranny of democratic relevancy and vapid politicized religious opinion masquerading with the make-up of faith and inspiration. In the areas of faith and morals, he can only confirm what the Church believes and has no authority to create something new. Thus Pope John Paul II states that he has no authority to change the Church’s tradition of only ordaining men to Holy Orders. Doesn’t sound like a monarch to me, but a magisterial pronouncement that is quite humble. Now of course he could do a number of things from the purely disciplinary point of view, like ask priests and nuns to return to a visible habit or dress, could allow for married clergy modeled after the tradition we already have of married men being admitted to the priesthood, deacons already are as are some married men in the Latin Rite. He could decentralize decision making even more and cause more disunity and fragmentation from diocese to diocese, country to country. I’m just grateful to be a lowly priest and not have to worry about the big picture and rest assured that God will handle it all in the long run or at least until the Lord’s second coming and His Kingship and monarchy is truly and once and for all completely triumphant.

  15. Father MacDonald,

    With all due respect to your higher ecclesiastical learning (Pontifical College Josephine? Mount Saint Marys? Mundelein? Saint Meinrad? Sacred Heart? the Angelicum? Santa Croce?…. ), you should read some church history that predates the Council of Trent. Quote popes all you want. What exactly is the papal magisterium? When did this become the rule of faith?

    I have not doubt that you love the church, but your history of the church is shallow and counter reformation. But you are not to blame. This is what the clericalised system teaches its obedient sons.

  16. Adam Mindenki : @Samuel J. Howard – comment #20:Mister Howard, Have you read the preface dialogues? God is addressed as Holy Father… I am not talking about the Lord’s Prayer. I may not be an American, but I am not stupid.

    I am familiar with the preface dialogue (which does not use the expression “Holy Father”) and with the prefaces that do use the expression, “sancte Pater”/”holy Father”. That familiarity doesn’t change my argument.

    My example is different, but points out that language that is used in one place to refer to God can legitimately be used in another way that does not refer to God. The expression “Sancte Pater” was used for centuries in the liturgy to refer to God (in the Preface of the Most Holy Trinity) while also being used in other places to refer to the pope (most famously in the papal coronation liturgy: “Sancte Pater, sic transit gloria mundi!”)

  17. Mister Howard,

    So you conflate the Bishop of Rome with the First Person of the Holy Trinity?

    This has long been a mutant gene in Catholic DNA. It is called idolatry. Or better Popolatry.

    I

  18. Would suggest that we continue to miss what Micken’s *prophetic* talk is saying. As Fr. Ruff says often – instead, we get lost in secondary issues such as Summorum Pontificum; Anglican governance problems; semantic arguments around rabid or Holy Father.
    Expert theologians in the church have been focusing for 50 years on the *dangers” of over-centralization esp. since Vatican I; the fact that any papal motu proprio can become meaningless (hundreds of motu proprios have been dismissed to the historical wastebin throughout our history); as Fr. Ruff says often – it gets *tiresome* when folks dismiss serious questions by raising the Anglicanism canard; or, as Fr. Freehily says, folks miss that papal primacy created the most significant *ruptures* in our history.

    It is a fact that VII set out directives on governance but left it to the curia/popes to implement. So much for *collegiality* or the ressourcement of *synods*. As Fr. M. Joncas says via Lonergan’s methodology – we have to start by listening and understanding before jumping on our *hobby horses*.

    It recalls for me the words of William Butler Yeats:

    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; the best lack conviction; while the worst are full of passionate intensity

    THE SECOND COMING

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    Additional Mickens material from March, 2012: http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2012/03/robert-mickens-from-the-tablet/

    Summary: “You do not put new wine into old wineskins”

  19. It is worth noting that the generalized ”appointing of Bishops by the Pope/Roman Curia” is mainly a 19th century phenomenon. Prior to the 19th century most Bishops were ‘elected’ (which the Latin on their Bull still says) by some group from their dioceses (canons, other clergy, even sometimes layfolk too). Even the first Bishop of Baltimore, John Carroll was ‘elected’ by the priests of Baltimore. [The Bishop of Rome is still really ‘elected’ by the ‘honorary Pastors of the Diocese of Rome’ (the Cardinals)].

    It was only with the ecclesiastical re-organization of Europe by Napoleon and his armies and the rapid growth also of ‘missionary/colonial Churches’ that Rome established the growing custom of ‘appointing the Bishops’ (while still saying ‘elected’ the only “elector” being the Pope). The conclusion is that the novelty established in the 19th century is the general ‘appointment of Bishops by Rome’ supplanting their ‘election’ by their diocese, with the approval of, for example, the rest of the Bishops in their province.

    There were still in the States and elsewhere “local Councils” with law making authority till the end of the 19th century. These are not ‘replaced’ by ‘Bishops Conferences’ unfortunately. [With some imagination and leadership these long time practices within the Roman Rite of the Church could be ‘restored’ and ‘revivified’ to the general benefit. It would also limit the ‘proper fears’ of the Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox Churches and would be generally beneficial for ecumenism.]

    1. @Philip Sandstrom – comment #30:
      To put a finer point on it, while the Napoleonic Wars laid waste to much, it was the tangling over the constitutional settlement for the creation of the Kingdom of Belgium – where a Protestant king was chosen for a largely Catholic people – that gave significant impetus to the innovation in how bishops now come to be selected.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #31:
        That is an interesting side-light, for there was considerable ‘shopping around’ seeking ‘suitable and willing candidates’ for a King in Belgium in 1830 — there was a final appeal to Queen Victoria who ‘encouraged’ a ‘young widower’ of one of her daughters to take the job – which he did with some ‘reluctance’. He did remarry to a French Catholic Princess in due time. But I do not see the connection with his arrival and the ”election/appointment” of Bishops — except perhaps the ‘revolutionary’ contents of 1830 and 1848.

  20. “Implosion” is an apt descriptive term but hardly an explanation for what is taking place.

    Mickens prediction that things would fall apart after JP2 rings true.

    JP2 was a “good cop.” His extensive world trips and media personality which highlighted the global church against the backdrop of Poland’s struggle against communism made him an attractive figure even if one disagreed with his policies. Then he had a “bad cop” in Ratzinger to keep things under control.

    When he became B16, Ratizinger seemed to understand that he had to become a “good cop” and use carrots rather than sticks as Pope. This has been helped by his obvious desire to write books and encyclicals while Pope. However his placement of his collaborators in many curia positions has not succeeded in keeping the lid on things. It seems to have done just the opposite and stirred up opposition within the curia.

    The implosion of B16’s papacy seems to be a combination of both not being able to play the “good cop” well enough in the papacy relationship to the rest of the world (especially in comparison to JP2) as well as not having effective “bad cops” in Bertone and Levada to keep the internal structures of the church together.

    All governments face both the external challenges of the world scene as well as the internal challenges of keeping things running smoothly. This applies to democracies as well as monarchies, e.g. Jimmy Carter. Maybe B16 is just a “Jimmy Carter” of a Pope.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #34:
      On the surface, it appears like an appalling lack of competence. Practically any ideological extreme and most everyone in the middle has some cause to be dismayed by this papacy and its spinoff soap operas.

      It strikes me as if Pope Benedict and many of his hangers-on have been nipped by a tragic lack of falsification. Thoughts here, and links: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/falsification/

      B16 tries something, like the liberal use of the 1962 Missal, and convinces himself nothing but good can come of it. This, despite, counsel to the contrary from bishops. And indeed, the pope has been hampered/hammered by what seems to be unforeseen turns of events–repeatedly. But are they so surprising? Not to many observers.

      In these judgments of B16, what seems to be lacking is prudence, and the ability to apply a certain wisdom in human interactions to bring nuance to church governance.

      I like Jack’s good cop/bad cop routine. How much have our passive careerist bishops in the US contributed, and even exacerbated this? They imitate the behavior of whomever seems to be in power, and reinforce the bad cop behavior, mostly, much to the detriment of those on the fringes of the Church. The antigospel at work.

  21. Daniel McKernan : @Paul R. Schwankl – comment #21: The only problem with any claim that the ’62 rite has no place after V2 is that so many of the Council’s liturgical constitition’s specific directives are better met in contemporary celebrations of the EF than in most celebrations of the OF. This topic does not lend itself to broad assertions either way.

    I’m sure someone will shoot this idea down by saying the EF doesn’t have the broader use of scripture called for by the council, among other structural changes. I would say the OF and EF are probably even overall when it comes to being faithful to the council.

    I’m of the opinion that the OF was a major rearrangement of deck chairs, though.

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #36:
      The inadequacy of the EF against the teachings and directives of the Second Vatican Council go quite a bit deeper than particular structural things. It is about ECCLESIOLOGY and the nature of the assembly. I was at an Extraordinary Form Mass at St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN some months ago. What struck me as a whole is how much it appeared as an act of the priest at which the people are present – perhaps attentive, prayerful, engaged in their observation of the priest’s ritual. It did not really appear, with very few exceptions, that the liturgy is the work of a community with its ordained priest. So it’s not just a matter of looking at various little issues (is Gregorian Chant preserved? Is the lectionary reformed?), is one big issue. On this big issue, the EF does not withstand the scrutiny of Vatican II’s reformist principles.
      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #37:
        The OF often seems the same way, though – perhaps moreso since the priest faces the congregation like a lecturer in a classroom demonstrating something in front of them as they watch.

        What is it that you see the congregation doing at the OF that is not done at the EF? Personally, I see little difference when one just looks at the people in the pews. Both make the responses and sing. The OF has a few more laypeople in the sanctuary to read, bring up the gifts, and give out communion, but beyond that I’m puzzled (and I recall someone posting a study that claimed your average person in the pew did not feel more connected to the action going on just ebcause another layman was up there helping. I know I didn’t.). It would seem a vernacular EF with lay readers and a restored offertory procession would accomplish the same thing the OF has attempted to do for forty years at much greater expense.

        What is it – specifically – that makes the OF seem more like the work of the assembly? IMO, for being supposedly *designed* to be more of the people, it doesn’t seem very successful in practice.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #37:
        While what you say is true and that the reformed Mass more or less is, well the reform of the EF Mass which SC called for, aren’t we making a bit too much out of both reform and ecclesiology and not looking at what is produced as a gift, which is faith, hope and love, which I believe both forms of the Mass regardless of ecclesiology can produce and have and are producing, all within the full communion of the Church?

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #39:
        Sounds like a great argument for *relativism* or *anything goes* as long as we can agree that it produces faith, hope, and love. (could we use the same process with other issues – sexual issues – contraception; cultural issues – same sex marriage; ordination of women)

        From a book to be published in February, 2013, about the 100th anniversary of the death of Rev. Bernard Haring, CSsR:

        http://ncronline.org/news/people/bernard-h-ring-witness-critical-love-church

        Money quote:
        – “A defensive centralization continues to mark the attitude of the Vatican to any attempts to bring about change. John Paul II recognized there was a crisis in moral theology because many moral theologians today dissent from papal teaching. But the popes have adamantly fought such change and even taken punitive action against those who have dissented on matters that are not essential to the Catholic faith. Meanwhile all of us have seen family and friends leave the Catholic church because of its intransigence. Many people have asked me if I see any signs of hope in the church today. I remind them and myself that hope is not hope if you see it in front of you. St. Paul tells us that hope is hoping against hope. Hope is believing in light in the midst of darkness and life in the midst of death.

        Would suggest that you can replace *moral theology* with *liturgy* and *ROTR* as an example of papal teaching* and his statement would still stand.

      4. @Bill deHaas – comment #43:
        Of course I’m speaking in the context of the parameters of what is allowed by the Church which today and really since the Council has included what is now called the EF Mass, although today it is more widespread than initially after the Council and due to the maturing process that has occurred since the end of the Council which in the early period after the Council tried to impose revised Vatican II pastoral theologies in a pre-Vatican II way.

        However, you have it backwards, the intransigence comes from those who reject the Church’s teachings in the areas of faith and morals, which given their free-will they may well do, just as those who rejected Jesus himself had the free will to do at His so called intransigence. It is never wise to call the Head of the Church (Jesus) intransigent and then cut oneself off from the members of the Church which comprise the Body of Christ, Head and members.

      5. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #37: I can’t help but wonder just what the OF contains that the EF lacks to guarantee that the liturgy is the work of a community? I readily admit assisting at many an OF Mass where to the unschooled eye the people could be seen to be present at an act of the priest celebrant.
        I also think the contemporary EF has been affected by SC specifically and the post V2 liturgical renewal generally. Universae Ecclesiae (2011) indicates some ways the EF has been enriched by SC. New prefaces and feasts of saints are to be added to the 1962 RM. The readings at low Mass may be given only in the vernacular and at other celebrations in Latin followed by the vernacular. The Good Friday prayers have also been modified since V2 and, probably more telling, the sung Mass seems more popular today than in the pre-conciliar period.

      6. @Daniel McKernan – comment #40:
        As to what the OF contains – just look at the rite!
        There’s almost nothing on your list, though you’re speaking of ways the EF “HAS BEEN” enriched – new prefaces have not yet been added; vernacular readings were done already before V2, it is one short prayer in the entire Good Friday liturgy, and there are sung and spoken forms as before. It’s nice that there are more sung liturgies – but keep in mind that V2 reformed the pre-V2 sung form too, so doing pre-Vat2 with singing hardly makes it more conciliar!
        awr

      7. Anthony Ruff, OSB : @Daniel McKernan – comment #40: It’s nice that there are more sung liturgies – but keep in mind that V2 reformed the pre-V2 sung form too, so doing pre-Vat2 with singing hardly makes it more conciliar!

        Sacrosanctum Concilium is pretty clear about wanting increased use of sacred music, the revival of gregorian chant, and increased participation of the congregation in sacred music and promotion of knowledge and expertise in sacred music. This is all aided, promoted, etc. by the increased use of singing in the Extraordinary Form.

      8. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #46:
        And yet, the Low Mass of the 1570/1962 Rite hobbles us in memory and practice with a perfunctory “performance” of red and black. The Low Mass works against everything you’ve listed above. It’s effect is still felt in many parish practices today.

        There is at least a presumption in the modern Roman Rite that one can attend to these matters in a liturgically sensible, sensitive, and progressive way: major feasts, Sundays, holy days, daily Mass, that the previous Missal does not allow.

      9. @Todd Flowerday – comment #47:
        Todd, but isn’t progressive solemnity simply another take on the “low Mass?” I was schooled in “progressive solemnity” and it has taken me about 30 years to overcome it but not entirely. At two of our Sunday Masses (all five sung) everything is sung by the priest and congregation, except, unfortunately, the Credo, but the days are coming for that too, although I don’t sing the “Orate Frates” or “Behold the Lamb of God”–yet that is. I am now perfectly comfortable singing the Mass from start to finish because I do it every week. When I employed progressive solemnity which meant that I rarely sang the Mass from start to finish (with minor exceptions) I felt very self-conscious and uncomfortable and the congregation seemed to think it was odd–but no more, they and I come to expect it and we are no longer awkward about it, especially by me!
        You might ask how do we make things a bit more solemn for more special solemnities? First by adding more torches, incensing the elevations and concelebration with two deacons assisting rather than one and if the deacon can sing, which unfortunately for my parish they can’t, they chant the Gospel.

        The sung EF Mass could be a template for priests and congregations for the reform of the Ordinary Form Mass when sung. Rather than focus on novel new hymns sometimes of questionable quality, why not focus purely on singing the Mass in the vernacular, to include the Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons and create a tradition of the congregation singing these or at least their refrain as in the Responsorial Psalm. Why not start singing the Credo in English? Why not have the priest start chanting from the beginning of the Sign of the Cross to the Final Blessing?
        We don’t need the low Mass or some modification of it in the Sung Ordinary Form Mass, we need the Mass itself to be sung and then selectively choose a couple hymns as filler during the Offertory and Communion and certainly sing with gusto a recessional hymn!

      10. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #49:
        I’m afraid I’m mostly at a loss as to what you’re doing, Fr M.

        For most of us, cramming more stuff, especially more liturgical minister stuff, into an ordinary Sunday Mass just doesn’t cut it. I’ll concede I just hope for a fair attempt at uniformity across the Sunday board. These days I’m just trying to upgrade holy day cantors to small choirs. Sing the psalm at daily Mass.

        As for Sundays, if I were at your parish, I’d be aiming to upgrade Sunday Masses 3, 4, and 5.

      11. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #49:
        A heap of praise and high compliments to Fr Allan for singing in their entirety all his masses. Too, I egg him on into singing the creed as well as everything else. Some here reacted AS THOUGH this were something odd or extra-ordinary, or inappropriate in this. There isn’t. It, along with everything else Fr Allan is doing is supposed to be normative. What is strange (bizarre!) is this silly contemporary notion about ‘progressive solemnity’. Every parish should have a fully solemn mass every Sunday. On solemnities one adds more acolytes, thuriblers, cantors, and even more splendid music. This notion of ‘progressive solemnity’ is, historically, yet another invention of those chic modern ‘liturgists’ and the liturgically lazy clergy who hang upon their every pronouncement. The West, like the East, never heard of spoken liturgy until the proliferation in the late mediaeval era of monk priests who all needed to say their private daily masses in a multiplication of side altars. As public worship, spoken liturgy is a glaring historical abnormality and an affront to what is holy beyond comprehension. Simeon of Thessolonika, writing as the Muslims were beseiging his city in the XI. century, tells us that ‘…It [the sung service] has been so from the beginning. Not anything has been said in the spoken voice, but all has been sung’.

      12. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #37:
        “On this big issue, the EF does not withstand the scrutiny of Vatican II’s reformist principles.”
        If that’s so (and I think it is), it explains why the Fathers of Vatican II NEEDED to abolish the EF.

      13. @Paul R. Schwankl – comment #52:

        It was clearly the intent of the Supreme Pontiff to abrogate the use of all previous missals when he promulgated the Novus Ordo. But Popes are apparently free to beg doubts regarding the intentions of their predecessors. It came as a shock to all but those who regretted the passing of the former rite when Papa Benedict declared it could be used by any priest under certain circumstances. Looking back, this seems to have been a gesture directed to the SSPX in an effort to reconcile them. That effort look to be an utter failure since they stand intransigently opposed to the documents of VII. Popes dont easily back up. Do you remember the hue and cry from curialists when JPII disclosed his plan to make a spate of apologies for past mistakes?

      14. @Jack Feehily – comment #54:
        Jack
        Presumably you refer only to the Roman rite.
        I think that as both Pope Paul VI and JPII permitted some use of the old form one might argue about the intention to abrogate the previous form.

        I am not sure that the sole reason for permitting the use of the older form was to reconcile the SSPX. Perhaps it was intended to dissuade some from joining and to lure others back. it would also seem that the idea of mutual enrichment implies that both forms should be allowed to evolve.

      15. @Peter Haydon – comment #56:
        This issue was treated recently in Worship journal. The language and documentation cited in that article seem to demonstrate pretty clearly that the intention of Paul VI was to abrogate, the decisions of the commission of cardinals notwithstanding. That he had to grant special, exceptional permission strengthens the case – if it weren’t abrogated, this wouldn’t have been necessary. I’m not a canonist and I don’t have the article before me but that is my recollection of the gist of it.
        awr

      16. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #57:
        Father
        Being no more a canon lawyer than you I merely note that the assertion of abrogation is the subject of a fierce debate. I suspect that it is rather like the release of a “new and improved” operating system for our computers that leaves the software supplier baffled as to why some prefer not to “upgrade”. Perhaps Pope Paul did not think that there would later be questions about his intent. If we agree that the use of the EF is now permitted then the status of it in previous years need not trouble us unduly.
        Of more immediate concern is that I think that there were reasons for permitting greater use of the EF other than just an attempt to bring the SSPX back into obedience. Even in that objective I think that there has been some success as a number in that Society clearly seek reunification albeit on their own terms. These talks give the rest of us a further reason to reconsider how we understand the declarations of the council. The process of going through SC, on this blog, seems very wise even if we struggle not to put our own preferred interpretation on each paragraph. So I think it doubtful that there has been a complete failure.

        Note: I am not comparing liturgy to software: it is the surprise to the issuer that some prefer not to follow the change that I compare. There may be a parallel to be drawn about putting new software on an old computer and new liturgy in old churches but that would be another story.

  22. Looking at the OF as celebrated today, one could say that it is not as “conciliar”as some may think. Specific problems can be seen relating to SC #’s: 22.3, 28, 29, 30 (silence), 36, and 54. Other areas found lacking in many OF celebrations can be seen involving SC #’s 101 (Latin for the office), #116 on music for the liturgy, and # 117 which stipulates that even small churches are supposed to use Gregorian chant. SC #120 stresses the pipe organ be used and # 125 proiveds for the continued placement of images in churches.
    Some will say “but the renewal is on-going” and I’d agree by pointing to the on-going enrichment of the EF. Interestingly, all the above references to SC have been clearly retained in the EF.

  23. There is an OBSESSION with the Tridentine Mass here. I don’t what it has to do with the original blog post or the Mickens talk.

    Another thing, it is Sunday. How do you priests have time to be on blogs all day long?

  24. Actually, I’m between Masses at the moment and have a few minutes to read the latest posts and to make a comment. Someone on this blog, either on this topic or another, implied that the tradition of cardinals traces back to the earliest centuries. Not so. Cardinals resulted from the lay investiture controversy dating back to the 11th century. The Holy Roman Emperor thought the selection of Popes should be left to him, while the powers that be in the Church thought this should be a matter for clerics not mere lay people. There were seven Roman churches corresponding to the seven Roman hills and each was assigned a cardinal priest. It was to these cardinals that the election of a new pope would eventually fall. Since their historic role is as electors not as counselors, any faithful Catholic of either gender could be permitted by church law to be named a Cardinal elector. But the 1% of the church’s members who are ordained maintain a stranglehold over the other 99% and want the latter to believe that this arrangement is divinely ordained. What a leap from noting that the role of bishops (overseers), priests (elders or presbyters), and deacons can be found in the New Testament (and thus in the will of Christ) to insisting that to them alone is entrusted all decision making. I hear Mickens saying that this practice will not stand. In the short term, my money is on the hierarchy maintaining their position of absolute power. They have trained the church going Catholics to be compliant or to be otherwise thought of as disloyal dissenters qualified to be tossed out into the darkness.

  25. Walking though the comments, it is stunning how many totally ignore what Mr. Mickens had to say. I would suggest that what Mr. Mickens calls implosion is what others call a move to a smaller, purer Church. If we can not even agree that such an implosion is a bad thing, how can we begin to discuss how to avoid an implosion?

    I notice some replies took the form of snide comments about the Anglican communion. It is true that the main stream Protestant denominations in the United States are seeing falling numbers. Instead of engaging in schadenfreude, should we not ask whether the ongoing collapse within the Roman Catholic Church is having an ill effect throughout Christendom?

    1. @Brigid Rauch – comment #55:
      My comments about the Anglican Communion were not in the least bit snide. As one who was born Anglican and is now an Anglican Use Catholic, I am entitled to reflect, not with snidery, but sorrow, on the direction that the Anglican Church has taken in willful disregard of the other two ‘branches’ of Catholic Christendom. There is no Schadenfreud here. Far, far from it.

  26. In Paul VI’s own words:

    Novus Ordo promulgatus est, ut in locum veteris substitueretur post maturam deliberationem, atque ad exsequendas normas quae a Concilio Vaticano II impertitae sunt. Haud dissimili ratione, Decessor Noster S. Pius V post Concilium Tridentinum Missale auctoritate sua recognitum adhiberi iusserat.

    The new Order was promulgated to take the place of the old, after mature deliberation, following upon the requests of the Second Vatican Council. In no way different did our holy predecessor Pius V make obligatory the Missal reformed under his authority, following the Council of Trent.

    Paul VI’s address to cardinals in the Vatican on 24 May 1976

    Pretty conclusive: one rite replaced the other intended exactly as the previous replacement in Pius V’s time.

    If not… Sarum rite anyone?

    1. @Graham Wilson – comment #58:
      As we all know, there are differing levels of papal teaching and a speech given to cardinals at a consistory doesn’t rank up there in authoritativeness but more so in pious opinion. It seems to me that in this speech, given the fact that in 1976 there was already brewing a season of malcontent as it regarded the direction which the reform of the Mass had taken and even the seriousness with which Catholics, even bishops, were taking the papal magisterium that Pope Paul VI in the midst of his serious health issues that would culminate in his death the following year, was trying to end what would be inevitable anyway, the resuscitation of the Tridentine Mass as we have it today. I believe that Pope Benedict’s Muto Proprio expanding the use of the now called EF Mass carries more weight in papal authority than a speech to cardinals at a consistory.

      1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #61:
        Just love it: you state – “As we all know, there are differing levels of papal teaching and a speech given to cardinals at a consistory doesn’t rank up there in authoritativeness but more so in pious opinion.”

        So true and let’s play this out:
        – any papal motu proprio is on one of the lower levels of authority e.g. Summorum Pontificum, Agatha Christi indult, JPII indult, etc.
        – you and others endlessly quote a *new liturgical principle* that was first stated in B16’s Advent talk (can’t get any lower on the authority level than this) – which you then use to justify all sorts of things e.g. Benedictine order; hermeneutic of reform within continuity; mutual enrichment.

        Really, you and others base your opinions and hobbyhorses upon the lowest level of papal authority and draw conclusions, etc. that many experts aren’t quite sure that Benedict really meant.

        And this is rich – “….in the midst of his serious health issues that would culminate in his death the following year, was trying to end what would be inevitable anyway, the resuscitation of the Tridentine Mass as we have it today.” If this is your attempt to justify this movement, what do we say about the last 4-5 years of JPII which would impact LA, Vox Clara, etc.

        Graham – always amazed at how they stretch to justify most anything. And even if the MP carries more weight than his speech – they both are so much lower than most documents and directives since VII.

        Appears to be a journey in search of a reason, justification, etc. so that certain hobbyhorses can be allowed.

      2. @Bill deHaas – comment #63:
        “Just love it…” which is very true Bill, of your love of my comments and of course my little ol’ blog. I really can’t tell who drives your blood pressure up more, our current Holy Father and the living Magisterium of the Church or me. I’m flattered though to be in the Holy Father’s company in this regard. I know change is hard, for me too, but we must grow or we die. Oh, I forgot, we grow and die anyway! 🙂

      3. @Bill deHaas – comment #63:
        – any papal motu proprio is on one of the lower levels of authority e.g. Summorum Pontificum, Agatha Christi indult, JPII indult, etc.

        OK… so first off, the Heenan/”Agatha Christi” indult was not a motu proprio, it wasn’t even a papal document, but came from the Congregation for Divine Worship, though in virtue of a faculty delegated by Pope Paul VI. The first of John Paul II’s “indults” Quattor Abhinc Annos was a Circular Letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship. The second, Ecclesia Dei Afflicta was an apostolic letter issued motu proprio.

        Second, “motu proprio” is not the level of authority of the teaching in the document. It is a canonical status and for that it is a high one, not a low one. Most decrees issued motu proprio in recent years have been Apostolic Letters and that is their level as teaching documents, not the highest, but not the lowest either. Pope Benedict XVI has also issued documents motu proprio that were apparently not apostolic letters, such as the Motu Proprio “The Ancient and Venerable Basilica” regarding Saint Paul-Outside-The-Walls.

        you and others endlessly quote a *new liturgical principle* that was first stated in B16′s Advent talk (can’t get any lower on the authority level than this)

        Actually you can. A papal “message” is lower in authority level than an allocution. But the point is moot since the idea was taken up again in an encyclical.

    2. @Graham Wilson – comment #58:

      A) In 1976, the Heenan/”Agatha Christi” indult had already been on the books for 5 years.

      B) Pius V didn’t abolish all other Latin usages, but allowed those that were paricularly ancient to continue.

      C) the Sarum Rite was not abolished by Quo Primum, but by gradually falling into disuse during the period that the Catholic Church was illegal in Britain. Priests trained abroad were formed in the Roman Rite.

    3. @Graham Wilson – comment #58:

      My point in quoting Paul VI is to show what he thought he was doing – his intention – when he promulgated the new rite, viz. the automatic repeal (abrogation) of the Tridentine Mass and its replacement by the Vatican II Mass exactly as had happened with the promulgation of the Tridentine Mass 400 years earlier.

      Ironically, Benedict XVI in reversing a decision by the pope of the Council, Paul VI, within living memory by resurrecting the Tridentine Mass (and incidently continuing the LA idiocy with its unintended consequences), has injected not a small degree of liturgical chaos, confusion and pluriformacy into the RC Church AND at the same time helped dilute papal influence — all unintentional I’m sure, but for me, an interesting aspect of the implosion Robert Mickens talks about.

  27. Aside for history debates, I’m not sure why it matters if the old Mass was officially abrogated or not when talking about its use today. Permissions were granted almost immediately and have been expanded since then. It’s not like abrogation comes directly from God and cannot be undone.

    The new missal was meant to replace the old and fell short, thus the old was still needed.

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #59:
      If the setting aside of the missal of 1962 were only an act of Paul VI, there would be room for modification or reversal by a later pope. But if a council led by the pope—the supreme authority in the Church—delegitimized the missal of 1962, Pope Paul’s abrogation merely clarified an existing condition, and Pope Benedict’s “deabrogation” is unauthorized. Or so it all seems to me.
      If the general use of the missal of 1962 is indeed forbidden (despite “Summorum Pontificum”), what point is there in discussing how much the EF advances the larger ends put forth in “Sacrosanctum Concilium”?

      1. Paul R. Schwankl : If the setting aside of the missal of 1962 were only an act of Paul VI, there would be room for modification or reversal by a later pope. But if a council led by the pope—the supreme authority in the Church—delegitimized the missal of 1962, Pope Paul’s abrogation merely clarified an existing condition, and Pope Benedict’s “deabrogation” is unauthorized.

        This is wrong in several ways. First, the Council didn’t publish a new missal. They called for reforms but did not (generally) enact them. The ’62 Missal was not “delegitimized” and Paul VI’s actions didn’t merely repeat the status quo (not to mention that your narrative entirely leaves out the various interim forms.)

        But all this is moot, since the disciplinary rules enacted by a council are not, in fact, higher than the disciplinary rules enacted by a Pope, who has supreme power. This is covered (among other places) in Session IV of the First Vatican Council:

        9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

        If the general use of the missal of 1962 is indeed forbidden (despite “Summorum Pontificum”),

        But it’s not… see above.

      2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #76:
        It’s my understanding that the interim Missal wasn’t even considered a new Missal, but rather the same edition with some modifications allowed. I doubt the entire Church used a “forbidden” Mass until 1970, when the OF came along.

        As for the discussion about how well the 1962 Missal fulfills SC in general, I find it bizarre. Most EF communities really do accomplish the goals of Vatican II better than a shockingly large number of OF Masses. If I were evaluating the success of liturgical renewal, I would focuss on the hundreds of dull and unparticipative OF Masses celebrated every Sunday before I’d focus my attentions on the handful of EF High Masses. I think some “progressives” get hung up on the EF because its an easy way to ignore real problems. If liturgy is part of the reason people are leaving the Church, it certainly isn’t the handful of out-of-the-way EF Masses that are driving them away.

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #76:
        No, Vatican II didn’t publish a new missal. But it ordered that one be drawn up, and its decrees (as in SC 50) precluded use of the old one after the publication of the new one (obviously not BEFORE publication of the new one).
        Pope Benedict has insisted that the 1962 missal was never abrogated. That can mean that no congregation said the precise words “This is abolished” over it. My reply would be that none needed to, since a higher authority had already de facto done so.
        I appreciate your citation of the words of Vatican I on papal authority, but since then another council has taught that the pope “has full, supreme and universal power over the Church” and that “the order of bishops . . . is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head” (LG 22). Does that permit a pope to reverse liturgical decrees of a council, presided over by one of his predecessors? The question needs to be settled by someone above my pay grade.
        In any case, Pope Benedict, in “Summorum Pontificum,” did not claim authority to undo the work of Vatican II. He did say, however, that the Council had “expressed a ‘desiderium’ that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time” and that Paul VI was “moved by this ‘desiderium’” to put forth the new missal. The actual command Vatican II issued was “Ordo Missae recognoscatur,” and its word for what it was doing was “decernere,” which cannot be faithfully rendered as “offer a suggestion” or “express a wish.” (“Decernere” was also Pope Benedict’s word in SP for what he was doing.)
        In my view, the pope’s statement that the 1962 missal was never set aside is false, as is his implication that Vatican II never commanded anything that would prevent him from restoring the widespread use of the 1962…

      4. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #76:
        No, Vatican II didn’t publish a new missal. But it ordered that one be drawn up, and its decrees precluded use of the old missal after the publication of the new one (obviously not BEFORE publication of the new one).
        Pope Benedict has insisted that the 1962 missal was never abrogated. That can mean that no congregation said the precise words “This is abolished” over it. My reply would be that none needed to, since a higher authority had already de facto done so.
        I appreciate your citation of Vatican I on papal authority, but since then another council has taught that the pope “has full, supreme, and universal power over the Church” and that “the order of bishops . . . is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head, the Roman Pontiff” (LG 22). Does that mean that a pope may reverse liturgical decrees of a council, presided over by one of his predecessors? The question needs to be settled by someone above my pay grade.
        In any case, Pope Benedict, in “Summorum Pontificum,” did not claim authority to undo the work of Vatican II. He did say, however, that Vatican II had “expressed a ‘desiderium’ that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time” and that Paul VI was “moved by this ‘desiderium’” to put forth the new missal. The actual command Vatican II issued was “Ordo Missae recognoscatur,” and its word for what it was doing was “decernere,” which cannot be faithfully rendered as “offer a suggestion” or “express a wish.” (“Decernere” was also Pope Benedict’s word in SP for what he was doing.)
        In my view, the pope’s statement that the 1962 missal was never set aside is false, as is his implication that Vatican II never commanded anything that would prevent restoration of the widespread use of the 1962 missal. Maybe, in Robert Mickens’s terms, we have here an example of implosion.

  28. Todd Flowerday : @Samuel J. Howard – comment #46: And yet, the Low Mass of the 1570/1962 Rite hobbles us in memory and practice with a perfunctory “performance” of red and black. The Low Mass works against everything you’ve listed above. It’s effect is still felt in many parish practices today. There is at least a presumption in the modern Roman Rite that one can attend to these matters in a liturgically sensible, sensitive, and progressive way: major feasts, Sundays, holy days, daily Mass, that the previous Missal does not allow.

    In practice progressive solemnity means there is usually no difference between major feasts and Sundays. It pretty much enshrined a low-Mass-with-hymns model as being the ideal and made music at Mass an unimportant add-on. Parishes that are easily able to have a totally sung Mass every week never do so under this model.

    The EF had a sort of unofficial progressive solemnity at least. Despite its flaws, it had a clarity that allowed and encouraged parishes to have sung Mass on a regular basis (once a week may not be ideal, but it’s better than never). There are actually many more options than low vs. High Mass. You had low Mass without music, Low Mass with hymns, High Mass without incense or a lot of servers, High Mass with incense, and finally Solemn High Mass with deacon and subdeacon. Perhaps something in between Low Mass with hymns and High Mass without incense could have been created.

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #65:
      I would see it differently. The Sunday and major feast ideal is the former High Mass, celebrated as optimally as any local community can muster. I’m unconvinced that more music is necessarily better. *Usually* I’m not a fan of singing texts that were not originally meant to be sung, so I don’t see a sung Credo as necessarily an improvement on a spoken one. Ditto the Lord’s Prayer, the readings, and probably the Eucharistic Prayer.

      I’d rather see more care put into the preparation of major feasts, and sometimes (not always) throwing more music into a celebration isn’t particularly helpful.

      As Fr M related, I see his admitted ghettoization of his own community’s Sunday liturgy as part of the problem, and not (much of) a contribution to the principle of progressive solemnity.

    2. @Jack Wayne – comment #65:
      Strange that the missal of Paul VI which is actually more permissive with the use of incense, making it possible at every Sunday, Vigil, and holy day mass, saw with its implementation the near elimination of incense even in places where it had been familiar. This is one of the clear indications that the low Mass culture took even stronger root with the advance of the Pauline missal. So much for the liturgical movement and the way the use of incense points to the common priesthood of all the faithful.

  29. Jack Wayne :

    @Todd Flowerday

    The EF had a sort of unofficial progressive solemnity at least.

    The EF has progressive solemnity built into the rite. The use of more or fewer cantors; the longer and more ornate chant on days of higher solemnity; whether there is just a gradual, a gradual and a tract, a gradual and alleluia, two alleluias; Additional readings on certain days; days that call attention to particular points with extra kneeling; different numbers of candles used; commemorations or lack of commemorations.

    A number of forms of progressive solemnity were removed as simplifications in the 20th century that lots of folks would be happy to have back: removing the requirement of always doubling the antiphons in the office, proper last Gospels for commemorations, etc.

  30. How sad – and after posting the first 17 articles of SC.

    And so you state: “…..It, along with everything else Fr Allan is doing is supposed to be normative. What is strange (bizarre!) is this silly contemporary notion about ‘progressive solemnity’.”

    Actually, if you read Allan’s blog, very little there is *normative* and much of what he espouses is *strange (bizarre or even silly)*.

    You have turned SC on its head and decided that we start with *read the black and do the red* as the *norm* instead of starting with the baptized community, its current liturgical & eucharistic sense, its current values and education and leading it to discern and exercise its liturgical rights; a sense that the liturgical year has its own internal pace that varies the rite from season to season; from feast to feast and Sunday to Sunday. (sorry, this is not a *chic modern liturgist invention* Do we really want every Sunday to be just like Easter?)

    “Spoken liturgy is a glaring historical abnormality and holy beyond comprehension” – really? Feels more like an opinion that is stretching to absurdity to make a point.

    Agree with Todd – “…Allan’s admitted ghettoization of his own community’s Sunday liturgy is part of the problem, and not (much of) a contribution to the principle of progressive solemnity.” It merely replaces the early mostly quiet mass, then a couple of masses with lots of music and choirs, finishing off with a youth oriented mass with guitars (and all of them might just be a variation on the four hymn sandwich approach while throwing in the commons)….by adding an EF mass into the mix. For what purpose?

  31. Going back to the original post for a moment, Fr Ray Blake, a priest of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton, England, offers his take on Mr Mickens’s talkhere.

    For what it’s worth, I agree with Fr Blake’s comments: “very tedious, not very intelligent or nuanced”. The marvel behind what Mr Mickens has to say is not what he says – there’s really nothing new there – but that it’s still being said. For me, Mr Mickens’s talk is emblematic of the final cry of that generation in the Church who still thinks the future is 1968.

  32. To return, briefly, to the video, I think Mr. Mickens is articulating a real ‘implosion’ (not sure that’s the best word, but certainly its workable) that has occurred under the papacy of Benedict XVI. It might be the case that Bl. John Paul II’s power of personality, and length of reign, was such that it overshadowed and contained much of the corruption from within the Church. And now that corruption is publicly visible.
    The main issue I have with the talk, and Mickens is by no means the only culprit, is the use of progressive understandings of history to talk about the Church. “Up to date,” or “getting with the times,” is not a particularly felicitous way of judging how the Church is doing. Simply put, it tends to mean that whatever value derived from some place outside of the Church’s tradition (e.g. the values of democratic governance) the speaker holds counts, and any challenge to that value system does not. (To be perfectly fair, ‘traditionalists’ use the exact same tactic only the reverse). There is no end-point of time by which everything can be judged as either closer to (and more up to date) or farther way from.
    Unless we’re talking Doomsday here (which would make the Church by definition always the most up to date no matter the variables), the whole idea is misleading and doesn’t offer a whole lot for discussion.

  33. Interesting to return to this conversation two days later to see that most of the regular people who write on this blog always say the same thing no matter whatever the main point is. I think this is probably a sign of their insecurity.

    Just because Benedict 16 is Pope now and is in favouring the Tridentine Mass is no sure thing that the next Bishop of Rome will. The comments here show, I think, that people are aware of this. Just my opinion.

    In any case, the conversation is always the same here. But I am glad that Brendan — comment #77 — went back to the original argument.

    Seriously, I do not find anything that Robert Mickens says is very radical. It is all part of the catholic tradition, but before Council of Trent. Nothing new.

    Why are people so defensive here? And why no one will talk about the points in the talk but only their own obsession with the obsolete Mass?

    1. @Adam Mindenki – comment #79:
      I watched more than half of the video. And Mickens just wasn’t saying much that’s particularly new or interesting.

      One part I thought was particularly notable was when he offered a definition of clericalism that basically would (assuming clericalism to be bad) prohibit having clerics or priests of any sort.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #80:

        Sam: One part I thought was particularly notable was when he offered a definition of clericalism that basically would (assuming clericalism to be bad) prohibit having clerics or priests of any sort.

        I gathered that Mr. Mickens was not speaking about certain clerical privileges (i.e. celebration of the sacraments) but rather the “Father knows best” mentality that often still holds sway in not a few American parishes. In particular, Mickens criticized the lack of a canonical requirement for a vestry or parish council. I agree with Mickens that not a few pastors take on an authoritarian way about themselves. Clerical accountability to lay members of the parish is not only necessary for parish finances but also to ensure that the pastoral needs of the congregation are being met. This includes liturgy — sure, the pastor and a number of tridentinistas (including me) might want Solemn EF Mass as the principal liturgy, but placing Solemn Mass as the principal Sunday Mass might not suit many in the parish best. Ultimately a pastor cannot do what he wants liturgically or otherwise and expect the parish to simply acquiesce.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #81:
        Jordan, my criticism was offered on a specific point. Your reply doesn’t really address it.

        Mickens offers a definition: “…Clericalism that is the idea and ethos of a priestly class or caste system separated or raised above the rest of the body of believers, the baptized members of the household of faith.” He says that this has no place in Christianity.

        But read the sample 1969 ordination homily:

        “This man, your relative and friend, is now to be raised to the order of priests. Consider carefully the position to which he is to be promoted in the Church.

        It is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church a priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind. He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successors, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God’s people.”

        Mickens needs to be carefully aware of the fact that clerics are both united with the people of God and “in a certain sense set apart” as Presbyterorum Ordinis (3) says.

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #83:

        When I was in my MA, I lived in a Presbyterian seminary. One of the ministry students, soon to be ordained, and I had a discussion about ontology and ordination. As well known, Reformed theology does not believe in an ontological change when a man or woman becomes minister of word and sacrament. My friend brought up an interesting observation: why do Catholics place so much stress on the ontology of ordination? He knew well the theology of Catholic ordination. His question was pastoral in nature. I couldn’t answer that question well. My ministry student friend, however, knew well that theological nuance girds pastoral work, and not the other way around.

        If lay Catholics can’t understand not just the sacramental but practical aspects of ordination, then they are not informed enough to take up their baptismal role. Mickens might have made his argument clearer. Although I am not a priest, I suspect that a priest who values his ontological state over his pastoral duties is distancing himself from the laity in an unhealthy manner.

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