The “Reform of the Reform” Is Over

So says seasoned commentator Mark Silk at Religious News Service:

The take-away from Pope Francis’ trip to Brazil is that the efforts of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to reverse the course of the Second Vatican Council have come to an end. Francis’s papacy, it is now clear, will be about the Restoration of the Reform.

Read the rest here.

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61 comments

  1. There is certainly an ideological slant or bias in the article linked, but yes, the “reform of the reform” as it was experienced these past 8 years or so is over. It certainly appears that we are now in the “reform of the reform of the reform.” I see Pope Francis’ pastoral theology as progressive, healthy and necessary for the Church. But I also see nothing changing doctrinally. We are seeing a huge pastoral shift and in a positive direction that will help us priests and laity to be effective in the new evangelization. He is calling us to be “evangelical Catholics” as John Allen has described it in one of his books. Streamlining the annulment procedure, which Pope Francis has evidently suggested would help tremendously in this regard, especially with the RCIA. I pray that will happen.

  2. I think FAJM’s comment gets at the heart of the matter – he mentions a “reform of the reform of the reform,” which simultaneously maintains that “nothing changes doctrinally.” Thus while we can’t chalk all these things up to “papal style,” as it were, we are seeing that each papacy is able to be markedly different from its predecessors while retaining a basic core (which I’d call doctrinal, but perhaps there’s a more nuanced phrase for it). Let’s not forget that while A) many Catholics, especially those with an avid connection to other Catholics via the Internet, may not like this or that about a pope’s priority list, they B) all make claims on Revelation, pastoral approaches, the Second Vatican Council, and so on. True, we may not like the interpretation of one or more of those items, but they do seem to have the same job in mind: promote the faith in as authentic a form as possible. Perhaps, then, we ought to focus a little less on finding massive swings between papacies and keep our eye on the prize.

  3. Sorry, but this just seems like ideological bias on parade. The whole idea that John Paul II (or even B16) sought “to reverse the course of the Second Vatican Council” begs the question of what the course of the Second Vatican Council was. Instituting a new code of Canon Law and a new Catechism that quote liberally from the documents of Vatican II does not seem, on the face of it, to “reverse” anything about Vatican II.

    He should just have said, “JPII and B16 developed the Council in ways I did not expect or like; I like Francis better.” That would not, of course, be particularly interesting (after all, why should I or anyone else care about what he expects or likes?), but it would at least be honest.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #3:
      Yes and no, Fritz. I think Silk overstates it, but your statement goes too far the other direction.

      I think a case could be made (and has been made in many, many places) that JP2 and B16 implemented Vatican II in a way that undid some of what the Council intended, and emphasized some parts of it more than others. Think “collegiality” – the increased centralism under JP2, the stripping of authority from national conferences, the authority given to Rome over translations in direct contradiction of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and s forth. And of course Summorum Pontificum allows universal use of a rite the Council did not intend to remain in use.

      So it’s not just the arbitrary preferences of Silk – there are reputable theologians (Richard Gaillardetz, to name one) who would corroborate some of what Silk writes. It’s a bit oversimplified to claim that JP2 and B16 implemented Vatican Ii since they quoted it.

      As to whether Francis will return to the spirit and letter of Vatican II on some of these points – I’m hopeful, but the fact is, we don’t know yet.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #4:
        the authority given to Rome over translations in direct contradiction of Sacrosanctum Concilium,

        Changes in disciplinary norms don’t “contradict” a council in any meaningful sense. We’re not frozen forever on December 8, 1965. Implementing different disciplinary norms decades later isn’t a “contradiction.” They chose different ways of acheiving the goals of the council and the Church.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #12:
        Arguments must be down the hall, apparently this is just contradiction.

        I assume you back all the disciplinary provisions of the Council of Trent then too?

        John Paul II was a father of the second Vatican Council. Benedict XVI repeatedly endorsed it. They may not have interepreted it the way you do, but suggestions that they flat out “contradicted” or betrayed it. That’s the lunchmeat.

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #13:
        Samuel, I never have known you to respond to arguments, except in the sense of nitpicking and getting lost in secondary and tertiary details while missing the larger point. When you write baloney, it is a waste of my time to offer arguments and think it will have any effect on your thinking. Those who read the blog and know the issues can figure out well enough for themselves why I think it’s baloney.
        awr

      4. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #15:
        Samuel, I never have known you to respond to arguments, except in the sense of nitpicking and getting lost in secondary and tertiary details while missing the larger point.

        Come on. You don’t really believe that.

        Perhaps the “nitpicking” is a reaction to your eagerness to engage in slanderous hyperbole. I’ve “never” responded to an argument, eh?

        When you write baloney, it is a waste of my time to offer arguments and think it will have any effect on your thinking. Those who read the blog and know the issues can figure out well enough for themselves why I think it’s baloney.

        Those who read the blog and know the issues well enough to figure out for themselves why you think it’s baloney can figure out that you’re likely to think that without you stating that you think that. So that seems to leave personal attack as the reason for your comment?

      5. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #4:

        the authority given to Rome over translations in direct contradiction of Sacrosanctum Concilium

        And the insistence of many bishops conferences on insuring that all celebrations of the Mass be entirely in the vernacular (God help the pastor. ca. 1975, who dared leave even a Sanctus in Latin), with hardly a whisper of Gregorian chant, is also every bit as arguably in direct contradiction of Sacrosanctum Concilium (#36, 54, 116 et al) – far more, I’d argue, since I share Sam’s view on SC 36 (4). Regrettably, SC 36 (2) and (3) end up becoming the exceptions that swallow the rule, whole and entire. Yet nary a whisper of complaint is heard about this manifest disregard of the SC in these precincts. Only some mumbling about a sensus fidelium and the evangelical uselessness of dead languages.

        I realize the 1998 translation’s rejection is a sore spot for you. But the complaints about process – given ambiguously in what was, after all, a merely prescriptive conciliar document – seem to take away time that could be more profitably spent actually talking about the substance of these translations, since this is what really matters in the end. Yes, you do some of the latter here, too (I even agree with the concerns from time to time). But it’s only half the story when we don’t look at the very profound flaws in the 1998 ICEL, the ones that triggered its ultimate rejection by the Holy See.

      6. @Richard Malcolm – comment #16:
        “Only some mumbling about a sensus fidelium and the evangelical uselessness of dead languages.”
        … or, reference to Sacrosanctum Concilium 14, “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else.” I.e., before Latin, before chant, before the treasury of sacred music.

        Active participation is a basic value of SC.

        Another basic value of SC (and an innovation) is collegiality – at least Joseph Ratzinger thought so when he commented on the text at the time. I agree with him. I don’t think “merely prescriptive” does justice to SC on bishops approving liturgical translations.

        If I think the problem with the new missal is about product as well as process, I refuse to be told that I should only talk about product. I’ll talk about both, since I think both are issues.

        awr

      7. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #17:
        Another basic value of SC (and an innovation) is collegiality – at least Joseph Ratzinger thought so when he commented on the text at the time. I agree with him. I don’t think “merely prescriptive” does justice to SC on bishops approving liturgical translations.

        If this is the case, that the requirement for collegiality in approval of liturgical translation is not disciplinary/ presecriptive/positive law, but somehow more basic than that, the implication is something like: “The new translation is invalidly imposed and should not be used” and puts you alongside those fringe traditionalists who hold that Quo Primum made the Tridentine Missal irreformable, but with a conciliarist, rather than an ultramontanist twist.

      8. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #19:
        The roles of bishops’ conferences and the curia in the process of translation of liturgical texts were delineated by an Ecumenical Council. These were, respectively, executive authority and administrative assistance. Because he pointed this out, you label AWR’s views ‘fringe.’ Nonsense. This is down-the-line Roman Catholic teaching.

        The gradual reversal of these roles by the body charged with providing administrative assistance, and at a time when the executive authority of the Bishop of Rome was effectively incapacitated by a debilitating illness was a complete contradiction of the mind of the Council. It is nonsense for you to claim otherwise.

        Because AWR cited Vatican Two (SC) as the source for such an understanding of how the roles are related, you accuse him of conciliarism. That is a third nonsense. The essence of conciliarism is that it places the authority of a General Council over that of the Bishop of Rome. Where has he made such a claim?

      9. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #17:

        “Active participation is a basic value of SC.”

        And yet: if the Fathers had really thought that the continued use of Latin in any significant measure had become an obstacle to actuosa participatio, why would they have put in such insistence on that same usage in two different places?

        The difficulty is that actuosa participatio is a broad aspiration (one I share, BTW), without explanation given as to what was necessary to its definition. Without such care, it can be used as a hammer to beat down any other provision – any at all – in the constitution.

        And the difficulty is that the same kind of principle can be found elsewhere. “Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” (SC 23) In the hands of (say) a Pope Siri, that provision could likewise have been used to reject almost any change in the Missal.

        Another basic value of SC (and an innovation) is collegiality – at least Joseph Ratzinger thought so…

        Yes, he did; and perhaps with merit. But “collegiality” appears nowhere, in any form, in SC. If a new doctrinal principle were being laid down, it seems quite curious that this should be so. Instead, we get provisions like that in SC 22: “1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. 2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.” The power and authority of the Holy See is still…well, still placed first.

        Otherwise, I think Sam’s point is valid. If there really is a new doctrine of collegiality in this context, MR3 is really invalid. Is it?

      10. @Richard Malcolm – comment #24:
        To answer your first question, the emphasis was on the laity and not on the language.

        As for your second paragraph, SC 30, SC 30, SC 30. And a whole slew of other places. SC 23 hardly gets repeated in official documents at all.

        I think there’s less a new doctrine than a new tone. Pope Benedict XVI didn’t get it. Pope Francis in his ministry does.

      11. @Todd Flowerday – comment #26:

        As for your second paragraph, SC 30, SC 30, SC 30.

        Yes, yes – except for that last sentence… (“And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.” Silence apparently counts all noise under 50 decibels.)

        But SC 30 speaks to the “how,” not the “what.” Which is why I put it the way I did. Not least because the Fathers chose actuosa and not activa (otherwise, Cardinal Spellman might have started taking scalps)…

        I think there’s less a new doctrine than a new tone.

        Perhaps. If so, however, what is the Magisterial authority of a tone? How does it interact with established doctrine and practice?

      12. @Richard Malcolm – comment #28:
        Well, I don’t know about your parish, but I cultivate with psalmists, lectors, music directors, and clergy (especially visiting ones) the importance of silent pauses in between readings and psalms, after Communion, and certainly during devotional time. So, unless you have a specific complaint after having worshiped at my parish, please don’t lecture me about silence. You will do well to move along from that point.

        Active participation pops up all over the non-liturgical and post-conciliar documents. It means what it says it means. It means largely how good liturgical practice has evolved since the Council.

        Not everyone is inspired by doctrine. Sometimes a good example of mercy, gentleness, and even silence, speaks with much more authority. Authority unlike the foils of the Lord, as the Gospels witness.

      13. @Todd Flowerday – comment #31:

        So, unless you have a specific complaint after having worshiped at my parish, please don’t lecture me about silence. You will do well to move along from that point.

        I don’t doubt what you say, Todd; I will only say that I wish more priests and liturgists shared that focus. My comments were general, and not targeted at your parish.

        I would add that silence should go beyond the Mass proper; too often the church is a cacophony of noise right up the moment the Mass begins, and again the very second it ends as parishioners immediately begin socializing right where they are (rather than the narthex/gathering space), making silent prayer and contemplation before or after the Mass very difficult. Whether your parish is like this, I have no idea; I will assume not, unless otherwise informed. But it’s all too common in too many parishes I have visited.

      14. @Richard Malcolm – comment #33:
        Fair enough. But you were addressing a specific comment to “reply” to one of my posts. But if it helps, I’ll just write it off as a change of subject.

        That said, my parish does have a healthy buzz after Mass in the narthex and it does spill in to the nave. I’m less convinced that an atmosphere of “silent prayer and contemplation” is an optimal expectation immediately after Mass. Our building is open up to 17 hours a day, quiet and nearly empty most of the time. I’m not a convert to one-stop spiritual shopping, and we encourage people to return often.

    2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #3:

      I’ve been picking nits, but I would like to address the actual question of the post before I depart for more productive environs.

      I can’t disagree at all with Dcn. Bauerschmidt’s assessment of Silk’s essay:

      He should just have said, “JPII and B16 developed the Council in ways I did not expect or like; I like Francis better.” That would not, of course, be particularly interesting (after all, why should I or anyone else care about what he expects or likes?), but it would at least be honest.

      Undoubtedly Pope Francis has a different tone than Pope Benedict – who can deny it? Yet I’m also struck by his sincere affection or outreach to Benedict, to say nothing of his affirmation of Benedict’s policies (the Ordinariates, the LCWR) and even appointments (Marini the Younger). Perhaps Fr. Z and Fr. McDonald work a bit too hard to stress the continuity between them. But Silk seems desperate to make the most out of every flinch of Pope Francis as a sign of some very new departure (very much like an old departure).

      Is the reform of the reform dead? It’s plain that Pope Francis is not liturgically minded in the way that Joseph Ratzinger was and is; it is not on his radar in the same way. He has a Jesuitical impatience, I think, with it all. To the extent that RotR remains alive, it will certainly receive less of its animating impulse from Rome – how much remains to be seen. Key Ratzingerians remain in key places in the Curia: to take but one example, the interdicasterial commission on the Ordinariate Missal is wrapping up its work unhindered, and on early evidence it certainly embodies an RotR mindset to a degree scarcely anything else in the last pontificate did.

      And many remain out in dioceses and parishes, especially in the U.S. There is enough of a critical mass of such clergy (and indeed musicians, etc.) to ensure that RotR won’t and can’t die. It might adjust and trim, however.

  4. Fr Allan and others who are harping on doctrine just don’t get it. This isn’t about doctrine. It’s all about tone.

    As for a so-called restoration of the reform, I would prefer not to get all weepy for the 70’s. Instead, I prefer “Forward the Reform,” so we can look at the issues of this century, putting the lace and canvas both well behind us.

  5. It’s a bit oversimplified to claim that JP2 and B16 implemented Vatican Ii since they quoted it.

    True, which is why I said that the promulgation of the Code and Catechism “does not seem, on the face of it, to ‘reverse’ anything about Vatican II.” My problem with Silk is that he simply presumes that Vatican II=liberalizing trends and that, since it is self-evident that JPII and B16 were not liberals, it is equally self-evident that they were “reversing” Vatican II. What I want is a clearer argument about what the “course” of Vatican II was.

    On the collegiality question, you make a fair point that this is one area where the promise of Vatican II does not seem to have been realized, and has perhaps be positively thwarted. But I’ve been around institutions long enough to know that there is a different between the proposing of great ideas, like collegiality, and the implementation of those ideas. We should not presume that there is only one way to implement collegiality. For example, are national bishops conferences really the best way to express collegiality, or do they in subtle ways serve to underwrite the hegemony of the nation state? Why is it self evident that the bishops of Canada and the US, or the US and Mexico, should have separate conferences? Could it be that there were unforeseen problems with collegiality that JPII and B16 were trying to correct?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am finding Francis’s papacy immensely invigorating and I found the lack of collegiality expressed in the translation debacle depressing (though, to be fair, the bishops were pretty supine throughout the whole process, so the idea of laying the blame at the feet of the Vatican is a bit one sided — the bishops could have pushed back). But it seems to me that Silk’s rhetoric is as much a relic of the past as the 1962 Missal. Like the 1962 Missal, it contains a measure of truth, but it’s not really suited to the needs of the day (note that Francis doesn’t talk this way) and it’s time to move on.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #7:
      “… the bishops could have pushed back.”

      Like they did in Germany.

      But US bishops since the mid-90’s at least were chosen not only for doctrinal hyperorthodoxy, but also timidity in the face of the curia.

      No, the US bishops are not blameless, but I think the Congregation of Bishops gets a dollop of blame for the sorry state of the American episcopacy.

      I think Silk’s reflections/rhetoric stings in part because it rings true for tone. I think we admit that, then move on.

  6. +1, RMDr.Fritz. It’d be quite a boon to all church geeks if those perpetuating the buzz around the papacy of HHF to give it a rest so we all can take a collective breath, and recollect what has happened over this last half year, and what is actually going on in our own parishes. Lots of folks are viewing and thereby assessing the daily headline splashes of “Francis said THIS”….or “Francis did THAT!” through the media equivalent of beer goggles or funhouse mirrors.
    Has it occurred to us that there are many and diverse repercussions at all levels of ecclesia as a result of the pontifical change? My pastor, an unequivocal supporter and discriminate follower of HHF’s daily homilies et al, has taken his message of pastoral leadership to heart and is exhorting all staff, including liturgical to, in the parlance of our times, “up our game.” And this, to the liturgical ministries translates to deliberate, prayerful and deeper involvement with our preparations and commitment to the right and fit worship of God that is edifying and lasting. Status quo, fashionable or trending do not factor into the equation any longer is what he’s calling for. So, that’s our lens through which we view our calling. Is that not reformation?
    Furthermore, if the media editors of Magister to this article’s writer insist upon a New York Post-manner of headline to attract readership to a very flawed and composite cud-chew article about what HHF “meant,” then they’ve fundamentally ignored the message of HHF and focused upon the the tack of the messenger “He don’t wear no red shoes, he rolls in his Fiat, etc.” Take the latest from the Franciscan IC flap. This, according to their congregation’s spokesperson, is not apocalyptic for SP. Take the remarks about gay priests on the plane presser, did he re-write both the Bible and the Catechism? No.
    HHF is reminding us to reform ourselves first, and then get the heck out there for six days a week, and then to bring the fruits of the those labors to the altar in a profound and meaningful manner on the Lord’s Day and to focus upon “Abba,” He to whom the Son always referred and directed His own prayer towards.
    Thank you for your kind courtesy here.

  7. Is it the standard style of RNS to put certain text in smaller font that other text? Inside that article this is a few points smaller than the rest:

    To be sure, Francis did not omit to offer some conventional warnings about temptations at the progressive end of the Catholic spectrum — of Marxist categorization, of turning the church into another NGO, of psychologizing the faith. But nothing in what he told the bishops suggested anything like his predecessors’ fear of leftist barbarians within the gates.

  8. It’s a formatting problem, FP. I’ll try to correct it. Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed and profited from this exchange. Thanks, everyone.

  9. We shall see what Pope Francis SAYS and writes on the topic of Liturgy.

    He is the Pope and has teaching authority. But for me to stop advocating for chant, the organ, and propers will require Pope Francis to use his teaching authority to explain that those things must be left behind. Until then, I stand by the documents of Vatican II and all of the earlier documents and tradition that state that these things are to be advocated for and used.

    And, as Fr. Turner said in a breakout session here at the convention this morning, a “particular community” is one thing, universal liturgy is another. Fr. Turner’s context was that allowing some things for a wedding or funeral, with mostly all of the worshippers related, might be one thing, but using the same material for general worship is another. I think of World Youth Day as the same type of idea.

  10. How about just aggressively rejecting your line of thought? I’m not aware that Fr. Anthony or anyone here at PTB knows much about you personally to be able to attack you. This is a forum for the expression of ideas. Some are contended vigorously, some less so, some are just ignored. It’s only a blog.

  11. Silk maybe a seasoned commentator but as soon as I read the following words “in a striking slap at a man beatified by Benedict three years ago…” I began to wonder at the value of his comment. Then looking at the use of Newman’s comment in the speech it’s pretty clear that the Pope used the statement because it was such a succinct expression of the feeling the Emmaus disciples had which he goes on to elaborate and which he is pointing out is a perennial temptation for Christians. Furthermore the Newman quote is fully sourced in the speech footnotes so it’s pretty easy to figure out for anyone ‘seasoned’ that Newman made it before he was a catholic and therefore it was hardly his last word – a fact which Francis himself would know if he’s reading Newman’s letters and quoting from them in this way. I’m very impressed that Francis is so well acquainted with Newman but I’m not impressed that some commentator who thinks that the Pope was ‘slapping’ a recently beatified person gets to have their views given any prominence on a site like this.

  12. As for a so-called restoration of the reform, I would prefer not to get all weepy for the 70′s. Instead, I prefer “Forward the Reform,” so we can look at the issues of this century, putting the lace and canvas both well behind us.

    I find that maxim, Todd, to be in synch with the closing advice Rita gave at the Pray Tell Live address yesterday, when she remembered Fr. Diekmann’s slogan sign, “Don’t look back.” Of course, she told of how Frere explained that by saying ” You do remember what happened to Lots wife.” And at that quip, the predisposed audience got quite a chuckle. However, as juxtaposed to the content of the rest of Rita’s talking points, I found it kind of a weak coda as it caricatured (something I know you’re not fond of in these arenas) the process and product of MR3 rather obviously. And much of what Rita dealt with in reviewing 50 years of post conciliar ecclesiology seemed very in tune with your notion of the Lord’s Day encounter being couched in this era’s modem. Namely being, almost exclusively a horizontal emphasis that reflects us, where we are, rather than the more oblique, mysterious, otherworldly constructs and concepts that you all seem to want removed from the equation.
    “Forward the Reform,” a cliche quite similar to MSNBC’s new “Lean forward,” seems not to be at all concerned with anamnesis that extends beyond the last half century, indeed a history and tradition pre-dating Christ’s incarnation and one that confesses communion with saints known and unknown, alive in concert with the Resurrected Lord and heavenly hosts.
    So both your and Rita’s axioms, to this listener, also seem to forget the advice of a post-conciliar, progressivist theologian who uttered these words at an NPM national some decades ago, “REMEMBER into the future.” That, said by the late Pr. Mark Searle, still resonates to me to this day. And it also seems more in keeping with the Church Glorified and the Church Militant of this and all future eras. The…

    1. @Charles Culbreth – comment #22:
      “Remember into the future” has a resonance for me, too. I’m good to retire reform2 and go with it.

      The difficulty, as you and I well know, is that when people don’t share a common discussion, as you and I do, then the axioms, mottoes, and slogans become far less meaningful.

      I’m no fanboy for many of the 70’s gurus, and I’ve butted heads with them more often before the internet era than with conservatives.

      If believers really experience the Sunday Mass in “almost exclusively a horizontal emphasis,” then I place the blame with the leadership, clergy and musicians and others, who haven’t themselves encountered the so-called vertical in their own lives.

      When someone approaches me and says the liturgy helped them to pray, to mourn, to marry, to grieve, to get closer to God in some way, I tend to trust them and not the reform2 naysayers who seem all too frequently to insist it’s all one big orgy and spiritual things can’t possibly be happening.

  13. The problem with Lot’s wife’s fate is not due only to disobedience or whatever error of will and judgment she chose; rather she chose to look back only at the immediate conflaguration, rather than to have listened to the stories of Abram’s hospitality to his visitors and recalled the saving grace of that larger meaning.
    On today’s “livestream” Joe Ballistrieri responded to AWR’s observation that the majority of NPM conventioneers was clearly above 30 thusly, paraphrased: “I was at the CMAA colloquium this year in Salt Lake City and there were many more under 30 in that crowd, than it seems are here.” And four of the five panelists are chant enthsusiasts to some degree. The only thing that bothered me (and I haven’t finished the viewing) is that the concept of chanting wasn’t explicated thoroughly to include the newer manifestations, though Ms. Seah did mention the providence of open sourcing.
    But that these panelists are recognizing the sacrality that is inherent, not infused, in the chant medium is proof enough for me that Searle’s advice lives on.

  14. Richard, “To the extent that RotR remains alive, it will certainly receive less of its animating impulse from Rome – how much remains to be seen. Key Ratzingerians remain in key places in the Curia”

    If the curia is what some fall back on in the hopes that the RotR continues then they may be very sorry.
    From Der Spiegel : “The pope is still getting warmed up,” says the source from the curia. “We are crouching in the trenches, and quite a few are trembling.”
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/pope-francis-shakes-up-the-vatican-and-the-catholic-church-a-912543.html

    He’ll be cleaning house soon…

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #30:

      He’ll be cleaning house soon…

      There are certainly plenty of traddies and RotRers who fear just that. You won’t have difficulty finding them right now. (In any event, that quote did not seem targeted at liturgical or theological conservatives/traditionalists in particular.)

      But if it wasn’t clear, 1) I wasn’t meaning to suggest that Reform of the Reform would be dependent on the Curia, since presumably the whole point was that it would carry through its own inertia once enough folks on the ground were in place, at least in some areas; 2) I’m not really a Reform of the Reform type; I prefer my Roman Rite straight up, no chaser.

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #32:
        “I prefer my Roman Rite straight up, no chaser.”

        Good one Richard, you made me chuckle, made my day.
        A bit of levity in these heady times!

  15. Todd Flowerday : As for a so-called restoration of the reform, I would prefer not to get all weepy for the 70′s. Instead, I prefer “Forward the Reform,” so we can look at the issues of this century, putting the lace and canvas both well behind us.

    Bravo!

  16. From Francis:

    “Christ’s followers are not individuals caught up in a privatized spirituality, but persons in community, devoting themselves to others”

    From Michael Sean Winters:

    “Amidst all the misery and suffering of humanity, it is much easier to postulate a God who is disembodied and calls His disciples to a similar ethereal state. This denies the Incarnation and the Crucifixion and turns the Gospel into Play-Do with which we can make of what we want.”

    From Francis:

    “The Pelagian solution appears as a form of restorationism. In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. It is usually to be found in small groups in exaggerated tendencies toward doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”. It is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past.”

    From MSW:

    The phrase “a purely disciplinary solution” rings true to the ears. So, too, does the phrase “exaggerated tendencies toward doctrinal or disciplinary ‘safety’.” If you are not sure what he is talking about, just tune into EWTN for a couple of hours. The pope is not merely an indictment of the Traditional Latin Mass brigade. The restorationist project, the desire to return to a Golden Age, usually situated in the early 1950s, is about more than liturgy.

    From Francis:

    “Responding to the existential issues of people today, especially the young, listening to the language they speak, can lead to a fruitful change, which must take place with the help of the Gospel, the magisterium, and the Church’s social doctrine.”

    From MSW:

    “…prefer a “safer” culture, a more traditional culture, in which the priest’s authority was unquestioned, and forget that God is active here and now in all cultures….”

    From Francis:

    “The ‘today’ is closest to eternity; even more: the ‘today’ is a flash of…

  17. There is an important theory in financial economics known as “rational belief equilibrium” (RBE). Geeks, see here for a start.

    It could be summarised as saying that “rational people can make mistakes without losing their rationality.” It proposes a model in which agents (economic in this case) act rationally on their beliefs, but have differing views of the data. Over time, the correct data catches up with the agents, and they correct their beliefs, and form new beliefs about future events.

    Something like this, could apply to the “reform of the reform”. The analogy isn’t perfect but it is useful. People – even popes – can act within the law, but make mistakes as they do so: mistakes about how a certain initiative will be interpreted by the people of God, for instance. It seems to me, for example, that the 1973 translators went too far in the direction of paraphrase, especially in their treatment of the collects and other prayers. Their actions didn’t contradict doctrine or discipline, but they were mistaken, in the same way that a singer who misses a high note makes a mistake, or a preacher who drones on for 45 minutes.

    Equally, I think Summorum Pontificum, though legally defensible, was a pastoral mistake. Or that the new translation, including Liturgiam Authenticam and the associated ratio translationis was a colossal mistake.

    RBE also predicts, that mistaken beliefs lead to “overshoot” and “undershoot” in asset prices. Something like that applies here. RotR went way too far in “overshoot” – as with some bishops who seem to want to forbid things that even Pope Benedict allowed in his own liturgies.

    Now, we have a chance for some revised beliefs – “reform of the reform of the reform” works for me. Perhaps we can avoid “undershooting” or advocating a simple return to the 1970s. The people of God deserve lower-amplitude swings of the pendulum than they have been subjected to since the Council.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #39:

      Equally, I think Summorum Pontificum, though legally defensible, was a pastoral mistake.

      I agree to an extent. In some cases parishioners have been alienated from their own home after the arrival of a headstrong priest enamored with the EF. This effect is often compounded by persons who then occupy the parish and displace the previous occupants, many of whom worshiped there for generations. The celebration of the EF in a parish should be undertaken with the consent of the parish and not just the diktat of a priest or the parish clergy.

      However, I am still a Catholic because of SP. For some time before its enactment I had seriously thought of becoming Orthodox. Indeed, I still have reserved this option in the event that a pope resolutely rejects liturgical traditionalism again. SP assures liturgical traditionalists that their piety is a valid and continuing presence in the life of the corporate Church, even if many individual Catholics disagree with the presence of traditionalist culture and piety.

      Certainly Orthodoxy has its share of any number of internal factions and schisms. SP, for at least the time being, permits me to live as a medieval-early modern Catholic within the postmodern order. This is a comfort, but a comfort woven through with peril.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #39:

      Hello Jonathan,

      Something like this, could apply to the “reform of the reform”. The analogy isn’t perfect but it is useful. People – even popes – can act within the law, but make mistakes as they do so: mistakes about how a certain initiative will be interpreted by the people of God, for instance. It seems to me, for example, that the 1973 translators went too far in the direction of paraphrase, especially in their treatment of the collects and other prayers. Their actions didn’t contradict doctrine or discipline, but they were mistaken, in the same way that a singer who misses a high note makes a mistake, or a preacher who drones on for 45 minutes.

      I think RBE has some relevance here, and I think this is a good application of it – one I happen to agree with (but you knew that, didn’t you?). Well – I would argue that at a number of points the MR1 translation played at the margins doctrinally – or went beyond them. But I’ll save that discussion for later. I think your larger point is a valid one, one that has taken many of us a long time to recognize.

      I can also see, working from your premises, why you think that Summorum was a (pastoral) mistake. Certainly if one can say that certain liturgical acts of Paul VI (or tacitly condoned by him) were legal or even doctrinally acceptable but were imprudent or even very profound mistakes, one could say the same of any Pope in theory, Benedict XVI included.

      Which brings me to one other observation you made: “The people of God deserve lower-amplitude swings of the pendulum than they have been subjected to since the Council.” Benedict XVI seemed to agree with that, which seems to be why he declined to take more positive juridical steps that many of his supporters hoped for (and which he plainly supported pre-2005), such as requiring ad orientem or reception on the tongue.

      But we’re in this boat precisely because that pendulum swung so very hard starting in 1965.

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #41:
        I willingly assent to the truth of your final sentence. But our problem is that there’s no way to return to the status quo ante 1965; history gives us no do-overs. So even if one thinks that the post-1965 changes were ill-advisedly radical, the solution can’t be an equally radical correction after 40+ years (and I realize that you’re not suggesting this).

        Funny enough, I would claim that one of the reasons I’m dubious about things like eliminating communion in the hand and standing or celebration versus populum is because I am a liturgical conservative. So long as it is not heretical or spiritually destructive, people should be able to worship in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #43:

        Hello Dcn Bauerschmidt,

        I willingly assent to the truth of your final sentence. But our problem is that there’s no way to return to the status quo ante 1965; history gives us no do-overs.

        Fair enough. Of course, the same objection could be made – could have been in made in 1965 – in regards to the alleged stagnation of the Tridentine Era. Perhaps the Mass was not open enough to organic development, but the solution was not massive, wholesale changes in a very short period of time, changes sure to be disorienting to many of the faithful (however much some may have liked some changes).

        But perhaps this is an idle point now.

        Funny enough, I would claim that one of the reasons I’m dubious about things like eliminating communion in the hand and standing or celebration versus populum is because I am a liturgical conservative.

        I suppose that one point that could be made that conservatism implies something worth conserving; that said, I don’t mean to rehash the objections to communion in the hand, and I do recognize the difficulties of putting this toothpaste back in the tube.

        I think these things could be done pastorally, with a long transition, a lot of catechesis, and permission for either alternatives continuing on, with more focus on formation of new priests and young or new Catholics (and designs of new or renovated sanctuaries), it being unreasonable to force folks who have been receiving in the hand for 40+ years, or priests used to versus populorum for just as long, into new postures.

        I realize that none of this is in prospect, beyond what some individual pastors here and there might do as mere advocacy, such as what Fr. Jay Scott Newman did at St. Mary’s in Greeneville, SC. These might proliferate more, but they will still be exceptions to the norm.

      3. @Richard Malcolm – comment #49:
        “I think these things could be done pastorally, with a long transition, a lot of catechesis …”

        The same might be said of those who favor the 1962 Rite. Give these folks, say, 20 to 30 years, that long transition and lots of catechesis. Then phase out the TLM by, say, 2043. People who like Latin, chant, and high ritual could continue with the MR4 in Latin.

        One subjective viewpoint on this seems mostly the same as the other.

      4. @Richard Malcolm – comment #41:
        But, perhaps it swung so hard in 1965 because it had been locked in place for several hundred years. There was a lot of pent-up energy to dissipate! Perhaps the moral for the future is to allow smaller amplitude changes more frequently.

      5. @Richard Malcolm – comment #42:

        But we’re in this boat precisely because that pendulum swung so very hard starting in 1965.

        As a thought experiment Richard, consider the reforms of 1965 onward as an anthropological reformation and not necessarily a ritual reformation. Those of us who worship at the EF must defend the extreme anachronism of worshiping at a liturgy designed for the nascent nation-states of European societies just beginning to awaken from feudalism. Cardinal Cajetan never met Rosie the Riveter or heard Sputnik.

  18. It’s a special moment to be present at the birth of new sloganeering. It’s a product I might buy, if it comes with an “Improved–Now less sociologically naive!” sticker.

    There’s a real “papalotry” in the reduction of popular movements to the papacy. And, in honesty it must be said, the “reform of the reform” was a movement “from below” before it was adopted as a papal program by Benedict XVI, which inspired a number of undergraduates and seminarians and young religious, and which won’t now vaporize. (If we are going to use the term “reform of reform” as meant by its proponents, it would not be attributed to John Paul II). Does a popular movement end when it loses its papal proponent? Well, as the “Spirit of Vatican II” movement shows, manifestly not.

    It might be possible that any given popular movement only gets the Church “so far,” and in order for the Church to go “as far as it can” different approaches will have to work in concert to engage, inspire, and deepen Catholics around the world. Otherwise, you’re hopping on one foot.

    Might we by divine institution be doomed to some healthy plurality, for the duration?

    Not to embarrass Fritz, but he is also a “reputable theologian” corroborating the fairly clear ideological triumphalism in the article.

  19. Yes, the problem predates 1965. Its roots may be found in the way the rite was fixed in the Tridentine era: an act of modern centralization enabled by modern technology (the printing press and improved global communications).

  20. While no one here is clairvoyant, I suspect that Deacon Fritz is correct about the Ordinary Form remaining as is for the foreseeable future. In fact, there are things that are allowed now, that if only made mandatory, would be all we would really need to do, such as chanting the propers instead of having a fourth option of choosing something else and the option of ad orientem and if celebrating toward the nave a crucifix in the middle of the altar.

    A slight update of the calendar, like the Anglican Ordinariate, and more specific guidelines or GIRM concerning how the Mass should be celebrated would be welcomed, such as the Anglican Ordinariates’ guidelines that went into effect this past Easter. These would satisfy, many but not all, reform in continuity folks minus some of the particular Anglican customs:
    http://www.ordinariate.org.uk/document.doc?id=99

  21. In fact, there are things that are allowed now, that if only made mandatory, would be all we would really need to do, such as chanting the propers instead of having a fourth option of choosing something else and the option of ad orientem and if celebrating toward the nave a crucifix in the middle of the altar.

    I would sincerely doubt anyone here* wouldn’t be willing to take you up on the mandate for using the proper processionals if, huge IF, you and every other celebrant would make every effort to cantillate the orations and collects as specified as among the first order of things to be sung per MS. What are the chances that bargain can be struck?

    *possible exception allowed for my brother Todd. 😉

  22. Jordan Zarembo : @Richard Malcolm – comment #42: But we’re in this boat precisely because that pendulum swung so very hard starting in 1965. As a thought experiment Richard, consider the reforms of 1965 onward as an anthropological reformation and not necessarily a ritual reformation. Those of us who worship at the EF must defend the extreme anachronism of worshiping at a liturgy designed for the nascent nation-states of European societies just beginning to awaken from feudalism. Cardinal Cajetan never met Rosie the Riveter or heard Sputnik.

    Hello Jordan,

    Well, that would be an interesting thought experiment, and it’s obviously one that helped form the Consilium. The problem, of course, is that this anthropological reformation produced a liturgy that was much more anthropocentric. Which, I contend, is the very last thing that modern man needed.

    Obviously, the premise is the problem, in its assumption that the Traditional Roman Rite was a product of 1570. If the liturgy was designed for anyone, it was for western societies of Late Antiquity (ca. 250-600 AD), when the Rite actually gelled. There was development over the next millennium (each of us can come up with a list), but most of what Pius V locked in place in 1570 was already present under St. Gregory the Great in 600. And the latter would have felt very much at home with Pius’s Missal.

    Liturgy, I think should be an anachronism – not tied to a time and place. Culture certainly helps shape it; but eventually, it transcends culture. Some things are open to adjustment (more dialogue, more vernacular). What shouldn’t change is the theology.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #50:

      I see what you mean with regard to historical periods. Perhaps it would have been better for me to say that the immediately previous family of recensions of the late antique rite were edited at a very close of the European feudal era. A sizable portion of propers from the late antique-early medieval sacramentaries survive in the 1970 Missale Romanum and later postconciliar editions. While many of the propers of the reformed rite are composites of material from various sacramentaries, some whole-cloth examples still remain.

      The Latin of the Tridentine family of ritual texts derives from very ancient linguistic structures which predate Christianity entirely. Many of these constructs received a new semantic meaning when grafted onto Christian prayer. Still, it’s not at all accurate to think that the Benzinger edition of the 1962 Missal descended upon Pope Damasus (late fourth century CE) in a Sinai-esque revelation. The sociocultural linguistics of Roman prayer is much more complicated.

      My reference to Rosie the Riveter (as a metaphor for the increasing economic and financial independence of women in World War II and postwar America, with no offense intended) underscores the fine line the reformed missal walks between ancient and (post)modern individual roles and familial structures. The sociocultural environment of the 1570 Missal text is pre-feudal, even if the missal edition arose from the smoldering ashes of late feudalism. Persons who attend the EF even occasionally must grapple with the blatantly paterfamilial language of the ancient sacramentary propers. A paterfamilial society (by the time of the Principate and Pax Romana, theoretically but not in principle) gave a Roman male clan leader life-and-death control over his wife, daughters, sons, and slaves. Catholics who argue that the reformed missal “waters down” the theological nuances of the Tridentine textual tradition must countenance the reality of the perception of postmodern persons that a paterfamilial society is a gross affront to women and indeed the dignity of all persons at any developmental stage. The theological import of Roman prayer cannot be disambiguated from its sociocultural message. Consequently, the Consilium’s decision to modify or remove paterfamilial themes in the Tridentine recension might have sacrificed some theological clarity for today’s understanding of human justice and dignity. However, one would be hard pressed to find an example where the amelioration of paterfamilial imagery in the reformed missal has resulted in heterodoxy.

      Cliches are sometimes useful. Beware for what you ask — you might well get it! A claim that any one Roman textual tradition is “better” than another also carries the burden of honestly discussing the linguistic and sociocultural valences behind each textual recension. Antiquity is not always the best barometer of appropriateness for worship today.

  23. Yes, well said Jordan. And here, more tersely, is Pope Pius XII, in Mediator Dei §63:

    Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

  24. “Antiquity is not always the best barometer of appropriateness for worship today.”

    Jordan —

    True. But it seems to me that some of the ancient texts are still valuable because their existential themes remain relevant to all people whether ancient or new, young or old, male or female. But the existential themes are not enough. We need prayers about more particular, contemporary themes and issues.

    Who should be the ones to say what those new themes should be? I say the people themselves. And how will the liturgists find out what the non=liturgists need? I say the answer is simple: just ask us. Then get the poets to compose the new prayers.

    A bit of background: I used to try to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The Psalms were often glorious, but I found that the emphasis in Psalms about enemies warring against me were just silly as applied to me — I have any enemies except, maybe, some vaguely metaphorical and minor ones. So now I’m looking for some other daily prayers. I sometimes feel the same way about the prayerss of the Mass. They don’t often touch on issues in my own particular life in 2013.

    So I suppose my question is this: how specific should the themes of the Mass be?

    1. @Ann Olivier – comment #55:

      I respect your view that the psalms might not be applicable in your life. Still, I would hope that you not disregard all of the psalms. For my part, I should consider supplementing the psalter with other prayers as well. I’ve long thought that the Psalmist’s references to warfare and a nebulous category of “enemy” permits a very flexible range of interpertation. I often view the inimicus variously as representations of moral failing, pride (in my case intellectual pride), suffering or loss, or even a difficult problem to be solved. I do not at all believe that psalms are to be read literally, as if from a historical perspective first and then as metaphorical verse second. This latter expectation has, I am convinced, placed the psalter at the edge of irrelevance for many Christians. In my view, metaphor is the central expression of the psalter.

      So I suppose my question is this: how specific should the themes of the Mass be?

      Perhaps the place to begin is in an evaluation of the paterfamilial structures within the current liturgy. Christian liturgy requires a language of kinship to replace paterfamilialism. This could be the fictive kinship of Paul, which emphasizes the equality of sex and gender rather than a pyramid scheme which favors a strong patriarchy.

      i am convinced that a very real risk behind a re-evaluation of human relationships in Roman liturgy is atomization. No believer is fully autonomous, even if at times contemplation is a solitary activity. A new model of Christian relationship requires two axes: both the horizonal aspect of fellowship and the vertical aspect of the grafting of believers onto the Body of Christ in baptism. I encourage you to think of a balance between these two axes; I have little clue where to start.

    2. @Ann Olivier – comment #55:
      A perceptive comment. We all have one enemy, at least – the Evil One – but the closed, hothouse environment of a cloistered community-for-life where the Divine Office developed – one where daily spiritual struggle was minutely examined – is not necessarily something that speaks in the same way to people outside such an environment (where there are certainly temptations involving struggle, but for people who are not stuck in place, more choices than obtain otherwise).

  25. All I can say is that Summorum Pontificum weaned me off the SSPX and gave me the opportunity to worship in a way that my ancestors did, in the way that brought me closer to God, within the context of the “mainstream”. “Reform of the reform” brought back beautiful sacred music, reverence in the sanctuary and dignified worship (as I experienced it) when I attended the Ordinary Form. If they crush SP and turn back to polyester/tye-die/burlap chasubles, “Michael row the boat ashore”, and the glad-handing hootenanny I grew up with the ghastly 80’s and 90’s, I may have to find refuge again in the sspx. I grew up in a Church that Catholics pre-1965 would not have recognised. I did not know that Eucharistic and Marian piety still existed, that chant still “had pride of place”, that the Sacrifice of the Mass was still esteemed, that people still prayed for the souls imn purgatory, gained indulgences, fasted, said the Rosary. I was brought up in my childhood parish without this – “retrograde pre Vatican II rubbish”. Heck, when I found out about Humanae Vitae I was surprised! Then I found a Catholic oasis in the SSPX that preserved all this “retrograde pre Vatican iI rubbish”. I was disturbed by their canonical status and thought they went too far and disliked the sectarian spirit, so was overjoyed that what you would term “reform of the reformers” (who also came to implement Summorum Pontificum) revitilised my old parish with their vigorous orthodoxy. If the current trend is to return to the liturgically gloomy days of “the beige Pope” Paul VI, or the silly circus of JPII (both of whom I venerate for non-liturgical reasons), or inaugurate a new era where the Church mimicks the fads of liberal Protestantism and secular society, then I evidently made a mistake. Perhaps Orthodoxy is a solution? The terrible uncertainity as to what *constitutes* Catholicism – what it is – from Pope to Pope – never knowing if your religion will be the same tomorrow, when your piety will be trashed – makes me sea sick and…

  26. Nicholas, it sounds as if you might actually be happier with the schismatics. They claim that church doctrine and practice is fixed and unchangeable, even by Supreme Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils. I’ll take the Church of Jesus Christ which has undergone extensive development of its doctrine and practices including significant deviations from the teachings of the gospels themselves. I wish you well on your journey.

  27. Nicholas Mitchell : All I can say is that Summorum Pontificum weaned me off the SSPX and gave me the opportunity to worship in a way that my ancestors did, in the way that brought me closer to God, within the context of the “mainstream”. “Reform of the reform” brought back beautiful sacred music, reverence in the sanctuary and dignified worship (as I experienced it) when I attended the Ordinary Form. If they crush SP and turn back to polyester/tye-die/burlap chasubles, “Michael row the boat ashore”, and the glad-handing hootenanny I grew up with the ghastly 80′s and 90′s, I may have to find refuge again in the sspx. >>

    Once again the sanctimony of many “traditionalists” finds itself front and center. Terms like “beautiful,” “reverence” and “dignified” are in the eyes and, more importantly, hearts of the beholder, while terms like “glad handing hootenanny” to describe an novus ordo mass are flippant and hurtful.

    If “traditionalist” want respect for their place in the church they need to also extend it to others. They also need to accept and recognize that the church did not begin and end with the Council of Trent, the the church exists and existed in a greater space than 16th century Europe, and that God and the Holy Spirit have been changing the church for 2000 years.

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