Gibson: Pope Francis is unsettling – and dividing – the Catholic right. Ruff: Was conclave 2013 a referendum on Benedict?

RNS has this story by David Gibson – it’s the best summary I’ve seen of the various reactions to Pope Francis from conservatives: “Pope Francis is unsettling – and dividing – the Catholic right.” I see they quote some guy named Jeffrey Tucker, among others.

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I’m reading Andreas Englisch, Franziscus: Zeichen der Hoffnung (“Francis: Sign of Hope”) these days. Englisch is said to be one of the top German Vaticanista, but as far as I known not too well known to English speakers. He is gossipy and tends to present his speculation as factual reporting – which is to say I enjoy him immensely.

In Englisch’s telling, this guy from Buenos Aires was the bête noire of the Italians and the curial cardinals, known for years to be a royal pain in the neck. When Bergoglio started attracting votes, sweat broke out on the brow of Bertone (how does Englisch know that detail?) Surely it can’t be. Surely the dislike of the Roman curia would not be so strong among the cardinal electors that they would even consider such a horror from Argentina. Bertone’s efforts became frantic to rally support for someone – anyone – but Bergoglio. It was supposed to be an Italian, but if they couldn’t get Scola, they could compromise on Scherer (from Latin America, but at least a European). In vain – as the name “Bergoglio” echoed repeatedly through the Sistine, as he got more votes even than Ratzinger in the 2005 conclave – an unspeakable catastrophe came to pass. Everything the curia wanted was lying in ruins.

Back in 2005, it seems that continuity was the goal of the cardinal electors. The entire world was mourning the passing of a magnificent hero, John Paul the Great. The crowds were chanting Subito santo (a saint immediately) in St. Peter’s Square. Who would best carry forward the vision of JP2? Ratzinger was known to be the man behind the throne, and so he was the one.

The cardinal electors voted in, in broad strokes, the man who would continue in the path of JP2, without necessarily voting for all his particular views on liturgy, his idiosyncratic theory about the hermeneutic of continuity, his hankering for the pre-Vatican II Mass and his rather one-sided and off-balance view of what Vatican II really meant. All that just came with.

2013 was different, very different. Was the vote a referendum on Ratzinger? Was Bergoglio the anti-Benedict, and is that what the cardinals wanted?

Yes and no, I would say. Then as now, liturgy was probably not the main question on the minds of the cardinal electors. It’s probably hard for Pray Tell readers to fathom, but some cardinals no doubt find the Vatican Bank scandal and Vatileaks to be more pressing questions than what style of chausible and crosier the celebrant uses and whether it’s EP1 in Latin or EP2 in vernacular. The cardinals didn’t vote out Benedict’s liturgical views and vote in simplicity (and tackiness) – at least not directly.

It seems very likely, though, that the cardinal electors were responding to the severe problems that overtook the curia under Benedict’s watch – not all of them his doing, but all of them his responsibility. The cardinals had to sense, as we all did, that the Catholic Church had a massive worldwide PR problem, that the Roman curia was the laughingstock of the world and the butt of late-night comedians’ jokes. The Vatican seemed pathetically unable to respond to scandals, to speak to the modern world with credibility. Someone in the Vatican bank (I have this second hand) said last November that Benedict’s handling of the bank scandal was so dithering that if he didn’t pass away within the year, he suspected someone would assassinate him.

I wonder how much the cardinals also sensed that Benedict was divisive, that his ministry was demoralizing and depressing not just to liberals, but even to moderates in full-time church ministry. (Think new English Missal.) I don’t know how much the cardinals sensed this – they move in very different circles than I do.

Be that as it may, the cardinals clearly wanted a change, a break with the past. They knew that the church needed a better image, something less stuffy and antiquated and irrelevant and out of touch. They needed someone to shake things up. I have the distinct impression that, of the 115 available candidates, Bergoglio was the biggest contrast to Benedict available, and that is a big part of why the cardinals chose him.

I wonder how much the cardinals realized how different the style would be under Bergoglio. I wonder if there now is any “buyers’ remorse” among some of them. We’ll probably never know.

Yes, 2013 was a referendum on Benedict. Not on his entire liturgical program per se. But certainly on his overall style. After elegance and erudition and depth (and exotic pretentiousness), we now have zip and zest (and sloppy, imprecise language). As it turns out, a massive change in liturgical style comes along with this.

It will be interesting to see what all comes next.

awr

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92 comments

  1. De Gustibus I know, but I still find it odd and sad to see altars cluttered by challices. The altar looks like a table in a church rummage sale. ONE Bread ONE Cup got thrown out and the result seemed to me to be tacky. Benedict had his own problems with taste. France, even moderate places rejected that and kept the old directives in favor of better taste and theology.

  2. I think – from my very very remote standpoint – that the speed with which the Conclave was concluded is the main supporting evidence for the broad thrust of what Englisch seems to be saying; it does rather hint at even greater dysfunctionality within Benedict’s Curia than was widely known. Whether Pope Francis has chosen to take this issue up as his special ‘mandate’ or not is a moot point. As a Jesuit, he will not be partial to the examination of structures and hierarchies in the sort of minute detail that is required. But choosing the right henchmen for the job of Curial reform will be the crucial factor.

  3. The greatest crisis in the Church for the past 50 years hasn’t been liturgical upheaval as difficult as that has been, but the sexual abuse scandal that reporters from the Boston Globe revealed in 2001(and the NCR in the early 80’s who did it first) and continues it trickle down as non stop reporting to this day. The Church for the most part railed against reporters reporting this (rather than thanking them) and found its peak when revelations spread to Europe and Cardinal Sadano defended Pope Benedict before the world of “gossip” at the prelude of an Easter Sunday Mass. So it is refreshing that Pope Francis is shifting the paradigm in a very radical way by courting reporters and marvelously so rather than going to war with them. The same article referenced in this post quotes writer Elizabeth Scalia who “explained in the conservative journal First Things, that Francis may be manipulating journalists in order to insinuate traditional Catholic teaching into mainstream press reports.”
    There is no doubt that tone and emphasis have changed with Pope Francis and he’s making liturgy boring and helping the poor exciting and he is striving to bring back charity (love) to Catholicism where because of the scandals and other things people seem to be seeking revenge rather than justice and judgement rather than mercy. In my liberal days under the tutelage of one of the Suplician Scripture scholars who taught me, he suggested that when Israel (and the Church) became/become obsessed with liturgy/worship over love and service, this becomes sick religion. Certainly Pope Francis has shifted his emphasis away from the splendor of the popes and liturgy and back to the basics. It seems to be having an effect on the media and those marginally engaged with the Church, in and outside of her boundaries. Yet, keep in mind, he still demands fidelity to the pope and bishops (Magisterium) calls the Church, Mother, refers to the devil, promotes the return of popular devotions and has exalted our Mother Mary to the nth degree. He has done this in a way no modern pope has done and perhaps even more so than Pope Pius XII. But in a world with fickle people and a Church with pickled peppered faces, how long will this novelty last and when will it wear off rendering the papacy fad driven and the ones who hold the office as one in a line of idiosyncratic personalities driven by the cult of the personality?

  4. I know it is becoming something of a cliche, but I really do think that the left-right spectrum just doesn’t do justice to the reality of life in the Church.

    Particularly in the case of JPII, the picture is extraordinarily complex and memory among soi disant progressives seems highly selective. True, JPII’s leadership style was in some ways autocratic (but in other ways not autocratic enough — trusting too much in the curia) and he held a hard line on doctrinal issues. But the meetings at Assisi and the “purification of memory” associated with the turn of the millennium — not to mention his liturgical style — drove traditionalists crazy. Add into the mix JPII’s social encyclicals and the promotion of philosophical pluralism in Fides et Ratio (OK, I’ll admit that one is insider baseball for theologians) and the label of “conservative” really doesn’t stick very well.

    I really think that we need a more complex narrative of these things — one that is not structured around a left-right dichotomy.

    PS
    The comments on Gibson’s article are simultaneously a hoot and hair-raising (if I had hair to raise).

  5. My Religious Explanation for Francis

    Every once in a while, e.g. John XIII & Francis, the Holy Spirit slips a good pope past the corrupt politicians of the Church. Octaviani spoke well for the corrupt politicians : “We have no need of the Holy Spirit, we have the hierarchy.”

    If we Catholics are smart we should have faith that God is with us, but recognize that church politicians like most politicians are on the corrupt side of things, and not place our hope in them.

    My Sociological Explanation for Francis

    It is simply the shift in power to the Third World, more specifically Latin America, the part of the Third World which is also part of the Americas which are the New Christendom. The only thing amazing about it is that it is taking place now; I thought it would take place in a papacy or two more down the road. Francis has a good chance of making this shift away from Europe permanent.

    Francis is carving out an interesting coalition: the poor, immigrants, the youth, and the elderly. That is close to the majority. His major challenge will be to integrate women into this. It reminds me a lot of the Democratic strategy under Obama; the only thing left for conservatives is a minority of rich, and middle aged men.

    I am amazed at how much of the analysis of Francis is looking through the rear view mirror, rather than future oriented.

    Recently Francis shipped the guy Benedict had promoted from Ecclesia Dei to Archbishop and Papal Almoner back to Ecclesia Dei. The traditionalists wondered if this was good or bad for the SPSS and the Reform of the Reform. Well it is really that Francis found a more like minded ceremonial assistant and promoted him to Almoner

    http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/almoner-konrad-krajewski-27019/

    Francis, the Pope of the Poor, last week continued his outreach to the poor and needy by appointing a humble Polish priest, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, as his almoner, that is the one who will give alms or charity to the poor in his name.

    Though his nomination has gone largely unnoticed, it is not a simple bureaucratic appointment. Pope Francis has specifically chosen Mgr. Konrad for this post to which he gives some considerable importance. He chose him because he had come to know, what was already well known throughout the Roman Curia, that for some years now this good priest from Lodz in Poland used to regularly distribute food to the poor and needy on the streets in the area around the Vatican.

  6. One thing I find interesting is how certain bloggers for the Refom of the Reform who have an almost breathless rhetorical tick of promoting their worldview by trashing what went before them (what I would call a low rent Jack Welch spin in corporate “reengineering” argot, but in this context it comes out as *We* Have The Solution to End Our 40/50 Year Babylonian Exile….) suddenly find that very same tick a problem with this shift in papacies. This should serve as an opportune moment for self-examination.

  7. For 35 years the Catholic right’s mantra to Catholic progressives and even moderates was that if you don’t like what the pope does they should leave the church — a smaller church is a more faithful church, don’t you know. Now, suddenly that we have a pope who is changing the tone and even direction of the past 35 years in a way they don’t like you have people like cardinal Chaput saying that pope Francis will “have to care for them, too.”

    I’m not saying the Catholic right should take their own advice — I believe the church should be big enough for everybody — but it needs to recognize its own inconsistency here.

    1. @Norman Borelli – comment #7:
      “This Church ain’t big enough for the both of us” is a pretty common line from both progressives and conservatives. Progressives are as good at lording power and trying to drive people away as anybody. Both sides really need to get over the idea that they must be morally superior to those they don’t agree with.

      1. @Jack Wayne – comment #8:
        Whether or not progressives are “as good at lording power and trying to drive people away as anybody” is debatable. Even if I grant you the premise there is a degree to which it is still difficult to accept. Progressives have not had the kind of “power” in the church over the 35 years of JPII and BXVI.

        I also don’t really recall conservatives saying the church was big enough for everybody. What I have heard over the years from them has been if you did not like what the pope says or does you should leave the church. What I heard from conservatives was not “the church is big enough for everybody” but “a smaller church is a more faithful church.”

        Certainly if any liberal or progressive Catholci would to say that they foound Joon Paul or Benedict “annoying” as Jeffery Tucker said about Francis in this article the wrath of the right would have been unmerciful.

        I make no attempt to tell conservative Catholics to leave if they are unhappy with Pope Francis. It would, however, be nice to be on the receiving end of a little understanding and empathy and perhaps even an apology now that the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. Not that I’m holding my breath or anything.

      2. @Norman Borelli – comment #13:

        Progressives have not had the kind of “power” in the church over the 35 years of JPII and BXVI.

        Perhaps not in the papal office or certain dicasteries.

        But for the most part, progressives dominated most theological faculties, seminaries, schools, religious orders, parishes and diocesan chanceries, especially in the developed nations of West, along with most of Latin America and Asia. That’s started to change a little of late, especially in parts of the Anglophone world. But just because apparent “conservatives” held the papacy from 1978 onward doesn’t mean that this was reflected in most of the other levels of the Church.

        All that said, I share your view that it’s not desirable for people to leave the Church. It exists to try to save all souls, even if it doesn’t always succeed.

    2. @Norman Borelli – comment #7:
      And we should be big enough to recognize it would be very human for it avoid that recognition. I would hope none would seek a Catholic version of Maoist struggle sessions and reeducation camps. That said, the louder the barker and the higher up the clerical chain he is, the more likely I would be to expect a better standard (in this, I betray my American sensibility rather than a Roman sensibility that would posit a very contrary presumption (that is, that the higher up someone is, the more indelicate it is to expect such a thing).

  8. Mr Gibson quotes Ms Hernandez, “How can I love a Pope who doesn’t even want to be Pope?” I had to laugh. Does she mean the one who resigned?

    Some Catholics have gotten infected with not only the values, but the tone of secular politics. Maybe they’re still figuring out how to react to something their political selves would take as a “thumpin’,” in the words of the 43rd US president.

    As we gaze on the inconsistencies of the Right, perhaps it is opportune for us to keep a close watch over our own blind spots. At the end of the day, the pope doesn’t make nearly as much of a difference in our lives as our loved ones, our colleagues and neighbors, not to mention our addictions, illnesses, and other challenges.

    What can all of us take from Pope Francis? Maybe a close look at the serious Ignatian disciplines that he applied in his own life.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #10:
      “As we gaze on the inconsistencies of the Right, perhaps it is opportune for us to keep a close watch over our own blind spots. At the end of the day, the pope doesn’t make nearly as much of a difference in our lives as our loved ones, our colleagues and neighbors, not to mention our addictions, illnesses, and other challenges.”

      GOAL!

  9. +1 Thank you Fr. Ruff for your perceptive analysis.

    It’s probably hard for Pray Tell readers to fathom, but some cardinals no doubt find the Vatican Bank scandal and Vatileaks to be more pressing questions than what style of chausible and crosier the celebrant uses and whether it’s EP1 in Latin or EP2 in vernacular

    Well, certainly a few cardinals enjoyed pope emeritus Benedict’s “exotic pretentiousness”, as you put it (Cdl. Burke, call on line one; it’s Cdl. Pell). I suspect that the curia okay’d Abp. Bergoglio in order to keep their pieds-à-terre.

    Still, I maintain (perhaps like Fr. Ruff, given my interpretation of his blogpost) that Pope Francis isn’t going to usher in a warpspeed advancement of liturgical reform. He does not seem to mind SP so long as the unreformed liturgy isn’t used as a wedge between members of a religious order. Pope Francis has demonstrated an indifference to anglophone liturgical concerns. Will he shake up his “cabinet”? I do hope so, but that might be all that Pope Francis will accomplish given his age.

  10. Todd Flowerday : Mr Gibson quotes Ms Hernandez, “How can I love a Pope who doesn’t even want to be Pope?” I had to laugh. Does she mean the one who resigned?

    A fuller reading of Ms. Fernandez (not Hernandez) shows a real spiritual struggle (that she’s lived quite in the open) to reconcile a personal preference for the style of PBXVI and a deep loyalty to the office itself, which PF has taken in a different direction. For readers on her blog, it’s been quite candid, obviously emotional, and required admitting less-than-appealing tendencies that we all have. Certainly worth more than a cheap laugh in a combox.

    1. @Michael Skaggs – comment #14:
      I think a laugh isn’t the same as a cheap laugh.

      Any of us who blog are fair game for misspellings (my apologies) as well as wearing our faith or emotional lives on our sleeves, whether we intend to do it or not.

      I do think it somewhat … remark-able that a person who concedes a preference for another pope would criticize the one with whom she struggles with a comment more applicable to the one she favors.

      It’s one of the reasons I don’t blog about my dreams.

      In all seriousness, I can respect Ms Fernandez for her struggle. She and I have a commonality, though separated by eight years.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #19:

        All fair points. I felt the need to speak out, though, because Ms. Fernandez’s blog is one of the few that frequently, and openly, admits that the things we often hold dearest are ultimately ephemeral and point to our own need to rethink our approach. When other blogs spend most of the time declaring absolutely that the afterlife will surely look like their preferred local parish, it’s a relief to see some self-deprecation and honest soul-searching.

        I know neither you nor Ms. Fernandez beyond the screen in front me, so in a real sense I’ve got no skin in it at the end of the day. But the level of discourse we usually see in Internet Catholicism tends to hover somewhere between dockside sailor talk and bridge club gossip; I can appreciate it when an Internet personality can acknowledge that our own preconceptions deserve a healthy ruffling every once in a wahile.

  11. Fritz Bauerschmidt : I know it is becoming something of a cliche, but I really do think that the left-right spectrum just doesn’t do justice to the reality of life in the Church. Particularly in the case of JPII, the picture is extraordinarily complex and memory among soi disant progressives seems highly selective. True, JPII’s leadership style was in some ways autocratic (but in other ways not autocratic enough — trusting too much in the curia) and he held a hard line on doctrinal issues. But the meetings at Assisi and the “purification of memory” associated with the turn of the millennium — not to mention his liturgical style — drove traditionalists crazy…

    I think these are excellent points.

    John Paul II defies a lot of easy categorizations, and this is illustrated by how much reserve and even disdain that his pontificate generates among *both* progressives and traditionalists. But this may be of a piece with the long-held narrative of the Council, which too often reduced it to two factions. JPII was not a traditionalist, but neither was he a Concilium progressive, either.

    Likewise, Pope Francis defies some easy categorizations as well, and not just because he comes from South America, with its unique religious and cultural milieus. Dcn Fritz has made this point before, but Francis really is, in many ways, a low church conservative, at least by Catholic standards. His liturgy and ecclesiology are low, but he retains a strong line on moral doctrine – even if he casts it in a more benevolent light. In this respect, the parallels with JPII are strong. He seems to share with the latter the sense that, today, this balance is the best way forward for the Church. I myself think this is almost certainly a mistake; but I try hard to assess him as objectively as possible, and to give him a fair hearing.

  12. Hello Fr. Ruff,

    I always try to find points of agreement between us, so…

    Why did the conclave elect Cdl. Bergoglio? We can only speculate. But I agree with *most* of your gloss:

    The cardinal electors voted in, in broad strokes, the man who would continue in the path of JP2, without necessarily voting for all his particular views on liturgy, his idiosyncratic theory about the hermeneutic of continuity, his hankering for the pre-Vatican II Mass and his rather one-sided and off-balance view of what Vatican II really meant. All that just came with.

    Some caveats must be made:

    1) It’s really hard to conclude that Ratzinger had a “hankering” for the TLM, even if he did celebrate it a few times in public post-1988 (such as at an FSSP ordination) – too many of his writings on the liturgy make clear that he was, and remained, enthusiastic for major reforms in the Roman Rite, even as he seems critical of some of the changes here and there, and the process by which the new missal was created. His February talk on the Council makes clear that, even today, liturgical reform was a cause near and dear to his heart; not for him was the retention of the Roman Rite as it existed in 1962, unaltered. Unquestionably he *did* have some real sympathy for traditionalists (like Michael Davies) who felt this way; but that is not the same as a “hankering.” I think this point is important to recognize.

    2) It’s true that Benedict coined the term “hermeneutic of continuity.” But I think it is unfair to call it “idiosyncratic.” JPII never employed it, but clearly shared this sense of continuity. And plenty of bishops in the broad middle seem to think the same, however they express it.

    All that said, I tend to agree that the cardinals were voting for a change, and the change they wanted, above all, was genuine curial reform. Motives are almost always mixed; some may have had other motives, too – that Bergoglio would put a better face on the Church, etc. But I think the mess in the Curia was the key.

  13. Good conversation here. It reminds me of people who have perhaps tried to grapple with the moral of the most memorable homily I’ve ever heard, a single-sentence homily given by a priest over 40 years ago who, after proclaiming the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, paused at length before saying a single sentence, to the effect: I wonder how many of us are thanking God we are not like that Pharisee. (And then sat down while letting that thought detonate in the subsequent silence.)

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #21:
      As sportscasters in Pope Francis’s homeland might say, “Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!” on that homily.

      It gives me hope, perhaps a countersign to the onset of decay to personal old age, that it is possible to get better, and thus regard Archbishop Chaput’s suggestion for pastoral care with some seriousness.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #22:
        I’ve relayed that homily more times than I can recount, because it never ceases to yield more and more fruitful self-examination as the years roll on.

  14. I can’t remember who said it, but there’s a joke (hopefully not too offensive to quote here!) about how when a woman ask for a man’s opinion, she doesn’t want to hear what *he* thinks; she wants to hear what *she* thinks in a deeper voice.

    I think that a lot of Catholics — whether ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative’ or ‘traditional’ or whatever — are like that. They don’t really want to hear what the Pope is teaching or what the Holy Spirit is perhaps teaching through him. They just want to hear what they already think echoed back in a more magisterial voice.

    1. @Jonathan F. Sullivan – comment #25:
      I agree with Mr. Tucker – the most important thing is that we can think independently. I would add – informed and independent. We each have to evaluate our own situation, chose priority, and set the best course… What ever we do, we need to have enough good reasons – the pope said so is never a good enough one. Not for the 21st century at least.

  15. Was visiting with friends, and their young daughter was in the playroom with her little friends playing “House” with her doll house. It was cute to watch future homemakers and hostesses mimic roles they had seen in their own moms or on TV. But, in time, a squabble over domestic rubrics was brewing until one little girl finally blurted out, “That’s not how you play House!”
    Oft times someone yells out: ‘That’s not how you play Church!” Grumbles about rubrics, disagreements about vesture, music, vessels and all the rest. To an outside observer Catholicism might appear to be no more than performace art. Worshipping the earthen vessel rather than the Treasure it contains.
    Pope Francis is enunciating the Faith, calling us to unity. Francis is being Francis (or maybe Jorge), as he should be. God didn’t create him to be anyone else. We may not share his ‘taste’ in all things at all times but we dont have to, and he doesn’t have to cater to our whims, either. He is being as a Christian-priest-bishop-Pope should be. We should be a little educable, a little more flexible and alot more charitable. Mostly, we should stop shouting out, “That’s not how you play Church!” The Church’s Director blows where He will.

  16. oh yes, the usual *blame the media* approach.

    And yet, he ends with:

    “To be sure, there are aspects of this Papacy’s liturgical style that I would like to see improved but, in saying that, we have to remember that his predecessor worked extremely hard in this precise area and made enormous progress.”

    “…enormous progress” – sounds like another narrative and opinion. Would agree with Fr. Ruff, that however well intentioned, Benedict’s decision created division and mistrust.

    “…..Benedict’s legacy lives even as Francis works out a new history.”
    Seems, IMO, that most writers are trying to capture and explain this New History and not worry about Benedict’s legacy. Would suggest that this is a stubbling block for Tucker.

    At least he acknowledged that liturgy isn’t the highest priority (or did he?); liturgy flows from our shared mission and expresses that mission to the periphery. Anything else, in the words of Francis, is self-referential. (and yes, the one liner from the homily above does strike a note here in terms of Tucker’s clarification)

  17. Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air, I guess the Holy Spirit has found someone who is willing to open those windows again.

  18. Fr. Ruff, your theory about 2013 seems right. There was an unprecedented (in modern times) meltdown taking place. Priests were unwilling even to wear clerical dress in public. They feared for their safety in large cities. The drain from the parish was intense. You are surely correct that this was a much bigger factor than liturgy. Absolutely. It’s so easy to forget all this — and, as Catholics (oddly enough), we tend to overlook it all. I know for sure that my non-religious and protestants friends thought about the subject of the priest sex scandals far more than I did. They would ask me about particulars and I mostly didn’t know. So there is a sense in which the Cardinal electors were very wise here. They were seeking to stop a serious meltdown — not that B16 had anything to do with it of course. It was a tragedy of timing. All that said, it’s wonderful and hugely important what Francis is doing to shape up the image of the Catholic Church. Digital age, universal knowledge distribution, and all that — this are just features of the world in which we live. In any case, thanks for this perspective.

    1. @Jeffrey Tucker – comment #29:
      Jeffrey, don’t you know that your purpose is to be the evil twin of everything Pray Tell? By saying things like, “it’s wonderful and hugely important what Francis is doing to shape up the image of the Catholic Church” you’re messing with our simple binaries. We’ll never get through the mirror stage (in the Lacanian sense) if you keep acting this way.

    1. @Jeffrey Tucker – comment #32:
      The main dissent I have from your argument is understating the cover-up scandal, and the deep blindness to it in Pope Benedict and most (it seems) bishops. how does good liturgy help us confront the truth that we need to see, yet still miss?

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #34:

        The main dissent I have from your argument is understating the cover-up scandal, and the deep blindness to it in Pope Benedict and most (it seems) bishops.

        Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict was almost the only one who *wasn’t* blind to it – at least in his latter years. I concede that he was slow to realize the gravity of the situation at first.

        But in John Paul II’s final years, he was almost the only actor in the Vatican to do something; to resist the blandishments of Maciel.

        The Vatican played a role in the sex abuse scandals, to be sure, but mainly as accomplice, and passive overseer. The real acts, the real conspiracies, took place mostly in the chanceries, where the most power and awareness resided. I would that Benedict (and JPII) had been much more aggressive removing bad bishops – but that cut precisely against their conciliar commitment to collegiality.

      2. @Richard Malcolm – comment #36:

        “…but that cut precisely against their conciliar commitment to collegiality.”

        Can’t remove bad bishops because of collegiality but mention female priests and collegiality goes out the window.

      3. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #39:

        Hello Dale,

        Can’t remove bad bishops because of collegiality but mention female priests and collegiality goes out the window.

        I’m clipping this, but I’m also responding here to Todd and Norman, who have also raised the concern that a conciliar respect for collegiality didn’t stop John Paul II or Benedict XVI from whacking bishops who dissented on doctrine.

        To me, Toowoomba and Seattle only underline how reluctant the last two pontificates were to discipline or remove bishops. Both faced several years of ongoing investigations with plenty of opportunity to respond and clarify, and Hunthausen was never even removed (only saddled briefly with a co-adjutor bishop (Wuerl) that he and his officials promptly proceeded to ignore); Morris was given numerous opportunities to respond, and, later, to resign (six times!). To my knowledge, only two bishops in 35 years have ever been expressly removed for dogmatic dissent: Morris in Toowoomba and Gaillot in Evreux. Only two! And only after years after back-and-forth!

        Catholics have a right to bishops who will deal swiftly and openly with priests or staff who face credible allegations of abuse. Catholics have a right to bishops who are open and accessible to them, and respond to communications in a timely manner. Catholics have a right to bishops with transparent governance. And Catholics have a right to bishops who will ensure proper provision of the sacraments in accordance with Church law, and sound teaching in union with the rest of the Church – bishops who will protect them from the wolves, not be wolves themselves.

        Neither Morris nor Hunthausen upheld any of these grave duties. Doctrines of the Church were repeatedly and publicly flouted. The sacrament of penance was often impossible to obtain, in favor of general absolution abuses. Morris was embarrassed by multiple abuse suits against his schools. And Hunthausen faced over a hundred suits relating to his tenure.

      4. @RIchard Malcolm – comment #44:
        Richard, the matter of Toowoomba was of a bishop suggesting a conversation on married clergy, a matter not of doctrine but of administrative policy.

        In the hyper-charged political atmosphere of the curia, perhaps you get excommunicated for mentioning “female” and “priest” in the same paragraph. But that argument will get no traction among parents of abused kids, or parishioners who saw millions bilked by a pastor who kept a mistress and a vacation home in another state.

        Bishop Morris never advocated the positions for which he was removed.

        But Cardinal Law did more to further the antigospel in Massachusetts than any women’s ordination advocate.

        This was the curia’s and Pope Benedict’s John 9:41 moment. They failed it. Not only didn’t they see, but they failed to hear. Even Helen Keller was more perceptive in her pre-Anne Sullivan days.

      5. @RIchard Malcolm – comment #44:

        To me, Toowoomba and Seattle only underline how reluctant the last two pontificates were to discipline or remove bishops. Both faced several years of ongoing investigations with plenty of opportunity to respond and clarify, and Hunthausen was never even removed (only saddled briefly with a co-adjutor bishop (Wuerl) that he and his officials promptly proceeded to ignore); Morris was given numerous opportunities to respond, and, later, to resign (six times!). To my knowledge, only two bishops in 35 years have ever been expressly removed for dogmatic dissent: Morris in Toowoomba and Gaillot in Evreux. Only two! And only after years after back-and-forth!

        snip

        Doctrines of the Church were repeatedly and publicly flouted. The sacrament of penance was often impossible to obtain, in favor of general absolution abuses.

        I am sorry, Richard, but all the above is absolute nonsense, You shouldn’t believe everything you read on other blogs. Really.

        Hunthausen was reinstated to full powers without a stain on his character, and without so much as a word of apology from Rome for the disgraceful way in which he had been treated. And Morris did no more than speculate publicly on what he would do if things in the Church were different — rather different from “dogmatic dissent”. As a result he suffered an inequitable investigation in which he was not allowed to know what the charges were against him, let alone respond in a reasonable fashion.

      6. @Paul Inwood – comment #46:
        Paul
        May I ask you to clarify. Richard Malcolm in comment 44 says that very few bishops have been disciplined or removed and only two expressly for dogmatic reasons. I suspect that many of those removed for other reasons were ones who failed in their own actions or in supervision of clergy and in these cases also their removal was never hasty. You say that this is absolute nonsense.

        I may be misreading what you say and invite you to clarify if so.

        Leaving aside whether more or fewer bishops should have been removed for dogmatic reasons, and also leaving to one side whether the reasons were appropriate, I think that Richard is right. Would you be able to mention other bishops removed for dogmatic dissent? Indeed were there some removed for other failings with inadequate justification?

        Many thanks
        Peter

      7. @Richard Malcolm – comment #36:
        Cardinal Ratzinger indeed had the nose for (or rather, against) Fr Maciel, which placed him where the Catholic laity was in the 80’s. But a world where Bill Morris is a greater threat to the faith than Bernard Law? Please. Talk to some people from Boston.

        Pope Benedict and most of the other bishops are still clueless as to why there is so much disillusionment and resentment toward the episcopacy. Scotland and Slovenia may be signs of things to come. What may be worst of all is the arbitrary exercise of either authority or passivity. Under JPII and B16 both, it seems that upper crust churchmen, including the popes, do what they want first, then look for the justification later. They act like piddling adolescents. And some wonder why some hold them in contempt, or why Pope Francis, by doing very little yet, can inspire such significant hope.

        Bill’s observations about inconsistency are spot-on. We all suffer from it on occasion. The danger is when it gets institutionalized and excused by some theology-of-the-month.

  19. Fritz Bauerschmidt : @Jeffrey Tucker – comment #29:Jeffrey, don’t you know that your purpose is to be the evil twin of everything Pray Tell?

    Again I say you are PTB’s breath of fresh air, FB, keeping it real with a fragrance of joy and mirth, something that HHF (as well as JP1, B.JP2, PE.B16) enjoys and encourages.
    I pray tell that this airing out will finally affect the folks here, at MSF (and maybe joints such as RCaeli) to actually stop thinking it necessary to demonize one another with their ever-dour and sullen polemics. It’s gotton so silly at times I sometimes wish that the cartoon image of the Almighty from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would hover above our little frays and rebuke us with how tired He is with all our groveling and caterwauling. Thanks, Fritz!

  20. Nice work Jeffrey! The closing sentence was especially powerful for me, and I think it applies whichever side of the “liturgy divide” you sit on:

    Those of us who have been granted or consciously adopted this special concern [liturgy] also have an obligation to carry through — not with a need for unrelenting pats on the back from the Vatican as if we are dependent and insecure children but rather with a determination and confidence that sustains itself based on the value of truth and beauty.

  21. Of course the right doesn’t want to use liturgy or B16 and the RotR as the reason for electing Francis. If they did then the choice of Francis is an indictment.
    We must remember that B16 chose over half of the electors and they went in the opposite direction, they actually chose someone who was Benedicts contender in the last conclave. That is itself remarkable. The sex abuse scandal was an important factor in choosing Francis but they knew Francis was not keen on liturgy and would be a bull in Benedicts liturgical china closet. Being good “yes men” with some loyalty to the man who chose them for the red cap (B16) they couldn’t come out and blame liturgy but to say it wasn’t a factor is to bury one’s head in the sand. The sex abuse scandal and Vatileaks made a good cover. There were several reasons for the choice and liturgy was among them.
    It’s not even 5 months since his election and the right is trembling. I think they know something. The days of arguing over the proper length of fiddleback chasubles are over.

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #35:

      Of course the right doesn’t want to use liturgy or B16 and the RotR as the reason for electing Francis. If they did then the choice of Francis is an indictment.

      It depends on which “right” you have in mind. Harder edged sorts, mainly in the SSPX (or over at Rorate Caeli), would single that out precisely to illustrate just how rotten Conciliar Rome is, and what a failed project Benedict’s RotR effort really was. “Back in the bunkers, boys, and ride out the storm.”

      But I think Fr. Ruff is mainly in the right of it: Liturgy likely played little role either in 2005 or 2013. Motives are rarely unmixed; but the electors mostly had bigger fish to fry. In 2005 they wanted continuity after a very long and very famous pontificate inhabited by a larger than life Pope, and in Ratzinger they also had, famously, the most approachable man in the Curia. In 2013 they realized just how bad things in the Curia had become, and they wanted a change. And yes, Bergoglio bade well to put a more appealing face on the Church, regardless of whether that’s fair to Benedict.

      This is not an unalloyed good for traditionalists like myself or Mr. Tucker, since it means there was probably less of a mandate for liturgical reform in 2005 than we liked to credit, at least among the cardinals; in all likelihood, many voted for him almost in spite of some of these views. But it’s not like my esteem for the College, then or now, has much room to sink deeper.

      I can’t speak for others, but I don’t much care about chasuble lengths. I do care very much what collects we’re praying, and how we’re praying them, and how we receive the Eucharistic Lord in the midst of them.

    2. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #36:

      It’s not even 5 months since his election and the right is trembling. I think they know something. The days of arguing over the proper length of fiddleback chasubles are over.

      Church progressives and Church traditionalists both have their respective “fiddleback chasubles”. Each persuasion knows the exact length it prefers for its vanity.

      1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #75:

        No, actually I don’t know what you mean Dale. I do know that radical religious movements will often have times of great successes. These great successes are often followed by great defeats, however.

        There’s a reason why I mentioned my pal Cornelius earlier. Read the history of the heyday of Jansenism in 18th century France. Jansenism as a formal heresy and a social movement was not necessarily defeated by endless roundabout debates with Jesuits or even the Jesuit introduction of the Sacred Heart devotion. The Jansenists believed that their movement was not only doctrinal but also deeply social. Their goal was to also reform Catholic liturgy and culture in their mould. There the movement failed, as it over-reached.

        No liturgical movement in the Church’s history, either from the periti of Trent or the Consilium, will maintain an ideological monopoly forever. Often, the undoing is in the desire for totalization. The Tridentine obsession with systemization and an unsustainable uniformity ultimately became onerous for many Catholics. Similarly, the reformed liturgy must eventually discover and cope with its limitations.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #78:
        “Similarly, the reformed liturgy must eventually discover and cope with its limitations.”

        I think there are many of us who are pro-reform who are quite aware of the limitations of various aspects of Catholic liturgy–major and minor–over the past forty years. The main difference is that we have generally always been willing to look at improving reform, and by extension, the Roman Rite. Traditionalists seem more eager to convert the rest of Catholicism to their way of worship, less willing to address their own limitations.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #79:

        Traditionalists seem more eager to convert the rest of Catholicism to their way of worship, less willing to address their own limitations.

        Todd, you are exactly correct. This will be the subject of my next article. With thanks.

      4. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #78:
        Jordan – would suggest reading O’Malley’s book on Trent. The periti of Trent – ?? really, and who were these? Trent covered a couple of decades and the main sessions were organized so that theologians presented the issues (pro and con) and then the bishops/cardinals/archbishops weighed in and voted. There were no periti – in fact, Trent is a good example of how theologians and clerical leadership partnered together (rather than the typical scenario you see today). And when it comes to liturgy – very few decisions or even directions were voted on at Trent….it was left to successive popes to implement what we now call the Tridentine Rite (and again, that happened over decades). So, the closest you can come to linking or comparing VII Consilium with Trent is the second pope after the end of Trent and his implementing the original CDW – this codified the liturgical reforms, which, as you say, eventually led to the 19th/20th century and VII reforms because of the ideological stance. One other point, the Tridentine liturgical reforms took years to both formulate and implement by region, nation, etc. (e.g. France wasn’t impacted until more than 70 years later). So, what does this say about VII/Consilium and the fact that we are just coming up on 50 years of SC (would suggest that much of this ROTR, like pre-Trent, was reactive and eventually was subsumed into the total movement of the council’s direction).

      5. @Bill deHaas – comment #84:
        Very interesting, Bill, especially your last sentence. I wonder what elements of ROTR you see as subsume-able into the ‘movement of the council’ (setting aside the question for the moment of who can claim to be of the council). And how do these elements relate to the liturgical style of those in the ‘total movement of the council’? By ‘subsume’ do you mean ‘disappear’ or do you mean to suggest that the ROTR will provide something more permanent to post-VII Catholic liturgical practice and theology? If so, what?

        I’m particularly interested in your thoughts here because, though I could be mistaken (and likely I am, I can never really sort out what qualifies as progressive, conservative, traditionalist, ROTR, etc), I had always thought ROTR folks were explicitly ‘in line with the council’ and saw their critique aimed at what they saw as practices which were out of line with the council, however much those practices claimed the council as their justification. I’m interested because if ‘both’ camps take VII into their vision of liturgy (that is, neither group wishes to ‘overthrow the Council and its teachings on the liturgy) then ‘both’ camps are engaged in the common effort to ‘do liturgy well’ in light of Catholic tradition and the Church’s recent teachings. That strikes me as a very fruitful common ground in which the camps are actively working to promote and explain concrete practices rather than a party platform.

        Of course, that depends on whether or not my understanding of the ROTRers (and progressives, etc.) is accurate. I’d appreciate being corrected if I am off so I can sort out just who the heck is out there and what their vision of liturgy really is. And then when terms like ‘authentic’ and ‘inauthentic’ start being thrown around, my vision of the field gets very blurry indeed…

      6. @Brendan McInerny – comment #86:
        My hope is that the reform efforts envisioned by VII will continue (not just in liturgy). IMO, too many ROTR folks took Benedict’s statements and used them to justify their own biases, ideologies, liturgical preferences, etc. Find most ROTR to be on the *restoration* side of the liturgy wars.

        My references to history above are that all conciliar reforms go through a period of implementation, acceptance, actualization (usually averages 50 years). My hope is that we will now begin to move beyond the *reactive* phase and begin to actually implement what SC and VII council fathers called for. Yes, in some sense, this means taking the best from the ROTR and the best from the VII reforms and moving forward. (OTOH, don’t find much ROTR suggestions to be in line with this (e.g. foot of the altar prayers, last gospel, etc. – too often, they start with revisionist history, restoration of forms that VII voted to reform; rejecting the sacramental theology that VII council fathers approved; re-arguing points settled at VII and too often not being aware of the original VII context, votes, discussions, and compromises. This only leads to some of what Todd is describing in his comments. Reality – as Fr. Ruff says over and over – much of this is about ecclesiology and the ecclesiology of most ROTR is not what VII council fathers voted on).

      7. @Bill deHaas – comment #89:
        Thanks for the response. It’ll be interesting to see how others here would describe their impressions of the ROTR. I wonder if all would so comfortably set ROTR and the reforms of VII over-and-against each other.

        Granting that you do set them over-and-against each other (if I’m wrong with that reading, please correct me), I’m extremely interested in reading what you see as ‘the best’ of the ROTR practices that might remain.

      8. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #75:
        You’ll need to explain it better, since I read it the same as Jordan and thought his response was spot on. Liturgical progressives seem very concerned over seemingly unimportant aesthetics and have their own endless list of shibboleths. Many just seem mad that traditionalist voices were actually heard and taken seriously.

      9. @Jack Wayne – comment #81:
        I think you’ve hit on the essence of the tussle: it has more to do with the human condition, and less on the ideologies–the shibboleths if you will–that we hide behind. All believers struggle with perspective: the sins we commit, the enlightenment we avoid, the blindnesses we cultivate. That’s why unity is so important. No because we present some pretty package to the Father, marching in lockstep unison, but because the exercise of community in all its diversity makes it less tenable for us to persist in individual mindsets.

      10. @Jack Wayne – comment #81:
        Can you please list those shibboleths by progressives Jack? I mean actual sites and comments and their sites so I can visit them?
        Any shibboleths by progressives are outnumbered by 1000% by the shibboleths and obsession by traditionalists for liturgical perfection and their knack for nastiness with anyone who disagrees with them. They’ve left 5+ year paper trail. I don’t think that anyone here at PTB falls into that category so I’m not blaming you or Jordan, but they’re out there.

        And, yes, they actually argued about the length of fiddleback chasubles over at NLM. I can list 1/2 dozen trad sites if not more with hundreds of nasty comments by them. Can you say the same about progressive sites?
        And per my original comment, they know that change is in the air.
        To be sure, Pope Francis won’t argue about the length of fiddleback chasubles.

      11. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #87:
        I was talking about about real life and not the internet. But you really don’t ever see rude comments from supposed progressives and bullying here at PrayTell?

        I actually attend the Latin Mass and know a lot of traditionalists, so I find it insulting how you like to remind me that the nice ones are a rare exception and the bad ones rule the day because you saw an argument about vestments on a blog or can site some websites.

      12. @Jack Wayne – comment #92:
        My intent was not to insult you. But I still maintain what I commented. It’s not just one site, there is a big paper trail. What progressives state here at PTB pales in comparison.
        As an example, on the other post here at PTB, concerning the Bishop of Meath Ireland, “Knock it off with the eulogies” please read the comment section from the original Irish article/ site.
        Here is the link, read the comments if you have a full stomach:
        (BTW, I think you are one of the nice ones, you should take no offense at what I commented Jack, I apologize if you did).
        http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/08/14/bishop-issues-rules-for-funerals-to-stop-dumbing-down-of-mass/

  22. Here’s an inconsistency – judgments such as vernacular implementation was a huge mistake, etc. fall upon Paul VI and Consilium. Yet, these same folks would scream bloodly murder if the same is said about Benedict and SP or anything negative about the legacy of Benedict.

    Doubt that folks such as John Page would agree with these opinions – opinions that, as Mr. Malcolm says, come from traditionalists with an ideology and an agenda. The vernacular implementation was not perfect but it was a worldwide effort, never done before on this scale or magnitude and it involved much more in terms of enculturations, etc. Don’t get a strong feeling that most folks in the Third World share these *traditionalists* opinions – they are focused on their mission.

    Sorry, historians will not whitewash Benedict and sexual abuse nor Vatileaks, IOR, curial mismanagement, etc. Benedict had and could have had an impact on the abuse crisis dating back to the 1980s – he failed and slowly and passively began to change the narrative. (guessing most historians will describe his legacy as *too little, too late*) And his retirement decision (dynamic, bold, and correct) only supports his own feelings about these issues.

    Mr. Malcolm – you, at least, do clarify and agree that the 2005 election had little to do with SP, liturgy, etc.

  23. “I would that Benedict (and JPII) had been much more aggressive removing bad bishops – but that cut precisely against their conciliar commitment to collegiality.”

    Tell that to Archbishop Hunthausen.

    1. I particularly like this part of the The third article in this series referenced by
      @Andrew rex – comment #49:

      If I have authority, I relate to others in a different manner than if I did not have any. Why? Why? The other and I are still the same person. Therefore, how do we rebuild this kind of love in our relationships?

      We need to return to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word and the Paschal Mystery.

      They are the two mysteries that show us what love truly is. We need to recover in all our institutions, even among us bishops, the second chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, chapter 2:5-11. Begin with the fifth verse and not the sixth:

      “Have in you the same thoughts that were in Christ Jesus, who though in the form of God, did not hold on to divinity as something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself.”

      This is the Incarnation. The Mighty One became small so as to be understood by humanity, who is small. There are no human persons unless we are small before God. This is relatively easy for us, for it is at the heart of our spiritualties. But to be small before others!

      But you say, “You must be joking. The other is a limited human being.” And thus we do not seek to relate with the other because we do not drink from the font of love which is God. If I want to find and relate to the other, I have to become small. Whom do you serve?

      The pope has said that our power cannot be one of domination, but one of service. We have seen this year how the popes have given us this rich example. Again, to connect with the other, it is necessary to be small.

      Up to what point, you may ask? Up to the point of giving one’s life for the other. Herein is the Paschal Mystery. Before we can speak of what is true, we must be ready to give of our lives for the other, to offer our lives for others.

  24. Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious, made his comments in May in Rome during a talk at the triennial meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), a membership group for approximately 2,000 leaders of Catholic sisters around the world.

    While the cardinal’s remarks to the sisters, first reported by NCR, garnered wide attention at the time, the full text of Braz de Aviz’s talk was never made public until now (in three sections).

    http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/vatican-religious-prefect-new-attitude-needed-nuns

    From what we know, there are 1,500,000 consecrated men and women in the world — at least from what we know. The Holy Spirit, however, knows more than we do

    Charisms great and small must surely live. They live through our lives of testimony through the ages and in time. Herein lies the difficulty. After each charism has achieved a great number of followers — 3,000; 2,000; 5,000; 9,000 people — they later become small in number, and they almost disappear. We think that if there is only one person who sincerely lives that charism, the charism exists.

    The question of ars moriendi — the art of dying — is true, but it must be well understood. One should prepare oneself for death only when God wants us to die, not when we think we should. This is important to know, for we are not the owners of the charism.

    Moving away from our charism, we declare the death of that charism. We decree that death, not God. Between charisms and works, we must choose charisms and let go of works.

    The first thing necessary is to return to the [Second Vatican Council] in order to return to the Gospel. The council is not merely a suggestion, a good intention. It is something very significant that we have yet to realize fully

    When we become Christians at baptism, we acquire a dignity, a unique dignity as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters of one another. This is our dignity. There is no other dignity. The pope, the cardinals, the religious do not have more dignity or worth than a mother or father of a family, than those who work in offices or on our farms.

    This is a serious problem for us because we have transformed the church, and even our congregations, into something that is not according to God. Many times, I am greeted by others but others with me are not greeted simply because they are not cardinals. This should not be so.

  25. This section contains Braz de Aviz, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious, comments about the LCWR which were widely reported. It is helpful to read the details. However he also comments about the New Evangelization.

    http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/vatican-religious-prefect-lcwr-must-address-doctrinal-issues

    At first, evangelization was linked with sword and cannon. All we have to do is look at history and realize that such is the case. Sword, cannon and Gospel came together for many of us. Is it not true?
    Therefore, it has been very difficult to distinguish the Gospel from the cannon and the sword. Many great people have done much harm in this.

    The new evangelization has created a society in which no one can be truly human, even in the most developed countries, if one claims to be superior to the other. We all have the same dignity. This is most important for Christianity. We can no longer dominate others in order to change them.

    Only when we say that the other is equal to me, when I am a true brother or sister, when I talk about the experiences that form us, only then can I communicate the Gospel. We need to learn how to speak about our experiences.

    We need to continue to work more faithfully, without fear, proclaiming whom we follow with our lives and our words while at the same time respecting and valuing those of other cultures.

    Even I as a cardinal feel that I am not ready. I have not mastered this. I have to prepare myself with the values and life of the Gospel. If I don’t do so, then I will not succeed in continuing our task in the midst of difficulties and sufferings.

    Others need not only our money or material support. They need to feel that people are close to them, [that they] understand what they are going through and share in their hearts that same experience. They are part of our hearts.

    You superiors must have care and allow the other to speak, because the first time that the true issues surface is when we allow the other to speak. Do not approach the person with a solution in hand.

    I think that we need to change our way of operating, including myself as well.
    Going out to the periphery. This is fundamental, even for us here at the Vatican

  26. As Cdl. João Braz de Aviz has remarked,

    The new evangelization has created a society in which no one can be truly human, even in the most developed countries, if one claims to be superior to the other. We all have the same dignity. This is most important for Christianity. We can no longer dominate others in order to change them.

    And yet, Cdl. Braz de Aviz also states,

    Going out to the periphery. This is fundamental, even for us here at the Vatican. What does this mean for us? For example, to see each piece of paper as important, not merely as a canonical case, but as seeing each person that such cases represent as important.

    For us, it means going to those places or parishes where we have been assigned, each one of us following our unique charism. In this manner, the church reaches out to the poor. We are to have no fear in going out to the poor.

    Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, “Vatican religious prefect: LCWR must address doctrinal issues”, NCReporter, 9 August 2013

    Braz de Aviz’s two statements are contradictory. Note that I do not find the cardinal himself to be inconsistent — these quotations are not contiguous. Hence the accusation that I have misrepresented Cdl. Braz de Aviz is quite fair.

    Still, if all the faithful are brothers and sisters in Christ, then there are only two options. Either no periphery exists, or all of the faithful are on the periphery. Even the notion of “the poor” connotes a superior/inferior relationship between persons. If charity is radical, then it is given for its own sake and not because any person’s privation is pitiable or a foil for another person’s pretenses.

    Yes, I am guilty of wielding Latin as if it were a divine revelation eminently suitable to sifting sheep from goats. However, an objectification of “the poor” and their crosses is similarly pernicious, so far as a “poor” person’s identity depends on the person who grants material comfort.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #55:
      I don’t get any of your post, my friend. The two statements are hardly contradictory; they just have two different contexts. And I sure hope that what you’re suggesting is that domination is the only way to effectively evangelize people. Remember that the Vatican pulled the Jesuits back from 17th century China mainly because they couldn’t dominate them. See where that’s gotten Christianity in Asia. One nation (that happens to be the most religious in the world) and a smattering of outposts among Buddhists, Hindus, and communists.

      A materialist would see the poor as inferior. You might have a conversation with a missionary. Or, if you prefer, a community organizer. A person steeped in Western secularism might endorse the poor as an inferior class. Authentic Christianity would reject it.

      The very notion of human salvation endorses the idea that people are in need of redemption. Do you know the Judaic tradition behind that term? Ever read the book of Ruth?

      The premise of the Incarnation is that all humankind was and is in need of redemption from a fairly sorry state of ignorance, sin, and wallowing in our own bad instincts. Do Christians effectively witness to Christ by emphasizing their superior standing? Too often it looks to me like the elder brother of Luke 15 boycotting eternal life because he can’t get the Father’s mercy into his head. Or his heart. I don’t think we believers want to go there.

      Granted, there are believers who indeed objectify the poor. But I don’t see that in the missionaries I know, nor do I detect it in Cardinal Braz de Aviz.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #56:

        I don’t get any of your post, my friend. The two statements are hardly contradictory; they just have two different contexts.

        I wrote earlier that I knew I had taken the quotations out of context, and realize that what I have written is a misrepresentation. I am trying to grasp Cdl. Braz de Aviz’s point of discussion. I see that he is eager to work with religious sisters with charity and respect for individual dignity. The cardinal’s “language of dignity” is curious, however.

        Let me briefly clarify my point. If the integrity of the Body of Christ is to hold, then “going out to the periphery”, as Cdl. Braz de Aviz puts it, is a call to go to a place that might not exist in Christian anthropology. Either all Christians live in the periphery of a society metaphorically (through bearing our individual crosses) or in some state of physical danger (Iraq, per the cardinal), or the notion of “periphery” does not exist. If a periphery exists, then all Christians live in the periphery and serve one another in peripheral marginalization. If not, then service does not have a particular metaphorical or literal (historical, contemporary) locus.

        I am convinced Jansenius and I would have been fast friends. Since it is not the time of year to plant tulips, especially in New England, I can shake off my pessimism about human moral action for a few moments. All belief and ritual is, on some level, political. Even in postmodern democracies, the few who vocally confess their faith on moral and social issues inevitably collide with legislators and legislation. Isn’t the conversion of persons by the sword or musket merely a predecessor to public lobbying as a sign of confessional unity? When considering mission and periphery, the question is not the moral corruptibility of humans from without. Rather It is the movement out of the tendency to sin towards charity which is more pertinent.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #63:
        This helps.

        I think my faith worldview is oriented somewhat differently. Secular politics are almost gone from my personal radar.

        One periphery I perceive is the universe. Even if there is no intelligent life out there (and I don’t believe there is) part of the spreading of the Gospel to the farthest boundaries is bringing Christ with us to the moon, Mars, the rest of the solar system, the universe, etc.. But that’s fodder for a whole other discussion.

        I perceive social peripheries for the Church as among young adults, college students, academia–a bit past the boundaries of the mainstream parish, but people I see, meet, and know as a campus minister.

        The mission apostolate would be another boundary. Or if we want to stay in our neighborhoods, divorced and remarried Catholics. People who, as my pastor terms it, sit in the back pew, or people who avoid sitting in church entirely.

        Alienation might be rooted in moral issues, to be sure. But morality is far from the only, or the biggest reason.

  27. @ 55 & 56

    Gutierrez in his course at ND on the spirituality of the poor said that the “preferential love of the poor” should be seen as a sign of God’s love for all humanity.

    One economist has argued that the mentally ill are the poorest people of the earth. In the USA they usually have to remain economically poor in order to receive Medicaid treatment for their illness. They often experience psychological impoverishment because of their thinking and emotions. And they are often social impoverished, living ghetto lives mostly with other persons with mental illness for social support.

    Yet in my own interactions with them, many were very bright, intelligent, and creative and had even become wise because of their experiences. They were able to exhibit these virtues because I listened to them; they were so used to people treating them thoughtlessly that they instantly recognized anyone who was listening.

    The leadership development program for persons with mental illness did not train them to be leaders, or empower them but rather gave them the opportunities to discover their own leadership abilities. The literature on leadership is very clear. Leadership is very situational; some people are good at being leaders in some situations but not others. Personality characteristics account only a small part of the variance, e.g. intelligence and sociability each for 5%. I knew that I had hired the right college professor for the program when he told me that athletic department sent its “ dumb jocks” to his course to learn that they can do more than athletic competitions.

    We are all far more equal than our education oriented, status seeking world would have us believe.

    In regard to Braz de Aviz and Pope Francis, like Andrew Greeley they understand that religion functions more like poetry than prose. A great adjustment for pope admirers from philosopher JP2 and theologian B16.

    O’Malley has argued that the spirit of Vatican II was a change of style to emphasize among the Four Cultures of the West the culture of the humanities (the Good) rather than of arts (the Beautiful) or the sciences (the True) or revelation (the One). In that sense I think we are going back to the style (spirit) of Vatican II.

  28. “In regard to Braz de Aviz and Pope Francis, like Andrew Greeley they understand that religion functions more like poetry than prose. A great adjustment for pope admirers from philosopher JP2 and theologian B16.”

    This is an intriguing analysis. It has the ring of deep truth.

    And it is indeed interesting that Pope Francis would be put into this camp (though I would agree with the diagnosis) because of the $%#& Jesuits sometimes get for being anti-liturgists.

    It is something of an indictment of reform2 to suggest that their approach is more head than heart, but I think that for many traditionalists, they indeed inhabit more their heads than their hearts. The ars celebrandi is very focused, structured, and accurate. Artists, especially poets, are used to working through structure to color outside the lines as it were. There is where inspiration is to be found. Not following human rules.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #58:
      “Artists, especially poets, are used to working through structure to color outside the lines as it were. There is where inspiration is to be found. Not following human rules.”

      Yes and no. The greatest tend to be high masters of form and structure; it takes such mastery to appreciate when to transcend formal limits. Form and structure are not the enemy of inspiration, and I would hope that we avoid reviving that baleful assumption.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #59:
        Agreed. I could have made that more clear. Artists work through the given structure, thus finding amazing amounts of freedom. I have a deep admiration for the sonnet. My first reaction, when introduced to it in 9th grade English was, “Really? Who would want to write in this format?”

        On the other hand, if development of a structure were the only inspiration, Western music might well have ended with JS Bach.

        The key discernment seems to be: when is it time to move to further boundaries and take one’s trusted tools to build there?

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #58:

      You could very well be correct in a problem within the RotR crowd, but I find many (not all) in the ‘progressive camp’ to be more prone to a heady approach. The tendency toward aesthetic minimalism, the elimination of anything seen as an unfortunate accretion, and the vigilance to avoid anything that might appear superstitious seems very often justified on the grounds of the intellectual superiority of a progressive/enlightened/authentically modern liturgist.

      The openness to move beyond existing boundaries for the sake of the heart seems oddly coupled with a disregard for much that makes ‘traditionalist’ structures and practices speak to the heart.

      But of course, we might not make the same mental associations when we each use “progressive,” “RotR,” “traditionalist,” etc.

  29. Father Thomas Reese, SJ has an analysis of the three temptations of the Church as Pope Francis understands it. There is plenty of guilt there for all camps of the Church, although the progressive (liberal) wing seems to be the most problematic, the gnostic branch, as Pope Francis describes them, rather than the ultra-traditionalists which he might describe as Pelagian.

    Under the heading “Making the Gospel Message an Ideology,” Fr. Reese devotes seven paragraphs as to how the progressives accomplish this and which affects most parishes throughout the world, and many religious orders, primarily women’s orders.

    Then there are two small paragraphs devoted to the “ultra-traditionalists” and these have to do with their desire for the EF Mass, granted them by Pope Benedict and restorationism. But really, how much does this vocal group of “Pelagians” really affect most rank and file parishes and religious orders in the world compared to the Gnostics?

    The Gnostics influence is much more pervasive and detrimental compared to the Pelagian influence to say the least and especially in South America, the Pope’s point of reference.

    http://ncronline.org/news/spirituality/pope-francis-and-three-temptations-church

  30. Find #62 and #64 to fall into simplistic definitions. (Jordan – #63 – you get it) Reese missed the original meaning and context of Francis’s use of both terms – pelagian and gnosticism.

    Here is a better and fuller explanation:

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/pope-francis-pelagians-gnostics-and-cdf

    To relegate either of these to traditional or progressive is to miss the point (and our good pastor really re-interprets to fit his ongoing ideology and fears)

    Key points when Francis met with the leadership of CLAR (that alone shows the inaccuracy of our dear pastor’s comment e.g. LCWR, 1970s seminary profs, etc.)

    “The second [worry] is over a gnostic current. These pantheisms… they’re both currents of elites, but this one is of a more formed elite. I knew of one superior general who encouraged the sisters of her congregation to not prayer in the morning, but to give themselves a spiritual bath in the cosmos, such things…. These bother me because they lack the Incarnation! And the Son of God who became our flesh, the Word made flesh, and in Latin America we have this flesh being shot from the rooftops! What happens to the poor, in their sorrows, that is our flesh.”

    MSW says – “Again, he discerns a current trend and places it within the context of history: This spiritualizing of nature and self are a form of gnosticism. He is also, as in the case of pelagianism, identifying not just a historical link, but identifying a perennial spiritual threat: All but the holiest among us have our pelagian moments and many, perhaps not most, have a certain tendency to gnosticism in our spiritual lives.” (much of the ROTR strikes me as ignoring both the incarnation and creation to *restore* some ideal spiritual past.)

    MSW – “…we encounter the Incarnation, the flesh of God, amidst the poor. Against the fuzzy spiritualities of gnosticism (think hermeneutic of continuity in reform), Francis reminds his interlocutors about the tactileness of our Creed.”

    Progressives I know are involved with outreach to the poor (not very heady but definitely hard work). Don’t see traditionalists spend much time on the poor – they are more self-referential.

  31. I find a strong strain of gnosticism in traditional Catholicism: Latin, repetitions, obtuse peripherals in worship. I don’t think traditionalists escape the accusation of pelagianism, either: the notion that correct application of intellectual things are good hoops through which to jump.

    I certainly have seen troubling tendencies among my progressive friends. Why I find conservatives and traditionalists more annoying is that they often wrap themselves in the mantle of virtue as they present themselves to other believers.

    Brendan, my experience of authentic progressive liturgists is that we definitely do not tend to aesthetic minimalism. But I think among some pastoral progressives outside of worship (pastors, DRE’s, youth ministers, etc.) you are correct.

    Jordan, I’ll get to your post later.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #66:
      Todd,

      Thanks for your response. I wonder though what all fits under the modifier ‘authentic’, and whether a traditionalist or a reform2er might not point out that our criticism of them only applies to inauthentic versions. Once again, the lack of defined terms tends to encourage our faulty spontaneous associations.

      Bill,
      I’m sure you can explain, but I don’t understand how my comments were simplistic, or at least anymore simplistic than any other combox discourse. Moreover, a concern for the poor and heady liturgy need not be exclusive. Indeed, the tendency to make liturgy a predominantly didactic event to remind us of social justice obligations and nothing more is an obvious form of headiness.

      1. @Brendan McInerny – comment #68:
        Brendan, I might have written “professional” liturgists, but my intent is to communicate people who are knowledgeable about and experienced with liturgy. Fr Andrew Greeley’s classic duo of the DRE and the associate pastor inviting penitents write their sins on a slip of paper and burn it in a bonfire doesn’t quite cut it for me. I’m sure catechists feel the same way about the suggestion all they did in the 70’s and 80’s was to have kids make cut-out dolls.

        I have no problem engaging knowledgeable, articulate, and theologically grounded traditionalists on serious levels. I just find so few of them.

        And Samuel, I read quite a bit online, and I’m aware of the blogging presence of many conservative Catholics. So yes, I have a fairly broad experience with traditionalists. Is their worship different from their “catechetical” face on the net? I hope so. But I haven’t seen the evidence for it. Likewise conservative Catholics criticizing mainstream Catholic liturgy. They claim to have seen it on YouTube. Does that count?

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #71:
        Likewise conservative Catholics criticizing mainstream Catholic liturgy. They claim to have seen it on YouTube. Does that count?

        “Tu quoque” is a fallacy. But most “traditionalists” and “conservative Catholics” I know have attended dozens or hundreds of “mainstream” Catholic liturgies.

        And Samuel, I read quite a bit online, and I’m aware of the blogging presence of many conservative Catholics. So yes, I have a fairly broad experience with traditionalists. Is their worship different from their “catechetical” face on the net? I hope so. But I haven’t seen the evidence for it.

        You’re willfully ignorant of any potential evidence. “Read[ing] quite a bit online and being “aware of the blogging presence” (which amount largely to the same thing) is laughable as a claim to broad experience. On that basis I could claim broad experience with Orthodox Jewish worship despite having only ever been to a synagogue service once… and that in a reform synagogue, which would clearly be erroneous.

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #83:
        “’Tu quoque’ is a fallacy.”

        Of course it is. Whether it comes from you or from me.

        I don’t have to experience traditionalist gnosticism in order to see strains of it in my reading.

        But I would certainly agree that most traditionalists aren’t gnostics. Just as most modern Roman Catholics aren’t pelagians.

  32. Brendan – my reference was to exclusively allocating Francis’s two concepts to either progressive or to traditionalist. My comments weren’t in direct reference to a liturgy or style of liturgy – rather, to the gospel message of mission and Francis’ focus on the periphery. IMO, folks who are serious about the gospel message and the seamless garment in terms of life issues, start with what they see and experience (not heady). From these experiences, they are moved to see, judge, act rather than the all too often response from some that starts with *truths from the catechism, natural law, magisterium* – heady, abstract concepts are not incarnated and rarely are experienced as truths by the poor and needy.
    Look at the historical record in China or South America or even Africa – too often the institutional church came with the *truth* while ignoring the obvious insults to human dignity, the baptismal call and worth of individuals, etc.
    Didactic event – sorry, this happens at either extreme and what is a latin EF when celebrated in a third world community that understands little of both latin or the Tridentine history/rite – talk about heady.

    As Fr. Ruff stated on an earlier post, too many on PrayTell ignore the fact of *culture* on liturgy in an effort to restore some *ideal* past. Until you start with the actual needs of folks (lack of water, food, housing, jobs) any talk of spirituality falls on deaf ears and often the mission is to witness by your own lifestyle – no overt preaching, evangelization, etc. This can take years.

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #70:
      Thanks for responding. I’d just point out that my comment was only in response to Todd, not a commentary on Francis or the (in)adequate manner of assessing him or anybody else.
      I would agree that breaking everything into a binary is inadequate, but saying that doesn’t mean we actually get over an us-them view of the world in which everything I like is good and everything I don’t couldn’t possibly apply to me.

      1. @Brendan McInerny – comment #72:
        Understood.

        But penitence is enough of a struggle for me with regard to my own sins without taking on the mantle of what other people think I’ve done. Taking responsibility, owning up, admitting fault and error: these demand specifics.

  33. Progressives have no more a monopoly over helping the poor compared to traditionalists just as the Catholic Church doesn’t have a monopoly in this regard. Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and agnostics and atheists all have and do help the poor in one way or another. The Salvation Army seems to do it in a splendid way. It would be great to restore what we have lost in terms of the great schools that religious orders, mostly women’s groups opened for the poor and marginalize children of America and elsewhere who lived in the periphery of society. Most of these are shut now. The same with hospitals they built to serve the needs of the poor, most of these shut or sold to for prophet corporations (two in the Diocese of Savannah have done this) and those that remain Catholic but with no presence of religious are not always geared to the poor.
    We might also think of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement inspired in great part by the Tridentine Mass and spirituality of that age and its popular devotions, the Saint Vincent de Paul societies, completely lay organized and run and the Legion of Mary in terms of outreach to the fallen away based upon home visits and visiting the entire neighborhood door to door no matter what faith.
    The traditionalists as this post’s heading implies may feel divided and insecure with this new papacy for theirs is a history since Vatican II of being made to feel marginalized and shunted by progressives, made to feel inadequate and oh so pre-Vatican II. So there is some inherited paranoia here. But when one reads Fr. Reese’s take on Pope Francis, the real object of his scorn is liberal gnosticism born of the enlightenment, exactly what progressives have embraced. This post should be renamed, “Pope Francis is unsettling – and dividing – the Catholic left. Ruff: Was conclave 2013 a referendum on Modernism?” To date there seems to be a psychological denial about the facts concerning this Pope and his disdain for the Modernism already condemned by a predecessor which has returned with a vengeance in a new form of Catholic liberalism born of the Enlightenment but in the post-Vatican II era.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #74:

      “To date there seems to be a psychological denial about the facts concerning this Pope..”

      Sounds like your quote can more aptly apply to you Fr Allan.

      Oh, and watch how you describe your fellow Catholics.
      You state and I quote :”…liberal gnosticism born of the enlightenment, exactly what progressives have embraced”, really, I’ve embraced that?
      That is no different than someone saying Traditionalists (like you) have embraced post WWII neo Facism. Doesn’t sound too nice does it?

      Since Bill isn’t taking you to task anymore you’ve really gone off the rails.

  34. Thanks, Dale….not allowed to challenge his *off the rail* musings that resemble *dithering* in the dark.

    Can you really believe an educated person casting aspersions on the Enlightenment? But, of course, the enlightenment ended the age of ignorance, superstition, magical thinking, etc. according to many historians. And like every period of historical time, it had both good and bad aspects. And the broad judgments – know lots of Vincent dePaul Society folks and national/international leaders (none of whom I would put into the category of traditionalists); and catholic hospital systems (geez, based upon two SC hospitals he paints with a rather borad brush, condemning lots of folks who dedicate their lives in healthcare to the poor (may be I can get Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, to call and educate him?); or his complete ignorance in terms of one of the fastest growing catholic efforts to educate the poor in large urban or rural areas – Cristo Rey schools; various religious orders’ lay volunteer organizations (think Jesuit or Maryknoll Volunteers); Teach for America. My experience with any number of these would not be traditionalist in liturgy or spirituality – they begin with the culture of the folks they serve.
    Lastly, some minor league psychology – no one can *make* you Feel Marginalized, etc……you choose to act and feel….blaming others really shifts the responsibility and moves from an adult sphere to an adolescent sphere.

  35. Not sure of *best*

    Rather, many of the PTB posts have raised questions, concerns,issues that are shared by ROTR folks.
    Examples:
    – use of antiphons, chant
    – prayer of the faithful
    – four hymn sandwich
    – use of silence
    – place of choir/cantor
    – enculturation (most conferences have pending liturgy issues)
    – creed
    – lack of using options (entrance rites; eucharistic prayers; asperges; preparation rite; baptism/confirmation/marriage/sacrament of the sick in eucharist, could go on)
    – use of deacons and ministers
    – other rites – RCIA , marriage, funerals (e.g. place of eulogy, cremation) confirmation (age, preparation, pastors, theology – age related stepping stone or part of baptism), communion for divorced/remarried; ordination/commissionings
    – vernacular translations (methodologies); impacts liturgy, sacraments, scripture
    – episcopal conferences make liturgical decisions per SC

    This is just a partial list but too much of the ROTR has delayed or impeded needed liturgical reforms.

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