Austrian Bishop Speaks Out Against the “Reform of the Reform”

 

The bishop emeritus of Graz, Bishop Egon Kapellari, spoke out against the “Reform of the Reform,” Austrian national radio reports. The occasion was a liturgy commemorating the death of Pius Parsch, the pioneer of the people’s liturgical movement. The liturgy was at Klosterneuburg, Parsch’s home as an Augustinian canon.

“I am convinced that there cannot and will not be a general change of the ‘Ordinary Form’ of the Roman Catholic Church as renewed after the Council,” Kapellari said.

Referring to Benedict XVI’s 2007 decision to allow any priest to use the unreformed, pre-Vatican II rite, Kapellari stressed that the two rites, old and new, “should not, indeed may not be mixed together.”

“But one could and should, on both sides, learn some things from one another,” he said. Both sides should “renounce unjust generalizations and polemics.” This is the only way it will be possible to avoid divisions in the Church and not lose “the true and good intentions of the liturgical movement.”

Heilige ZeichenInstead of a “Reform of the Reform,” Kapellari advocates rediscovering the value of a worthy “ars celebrandi,” i.e., the art of celebrating.

He stated that the art of the liturgy is not to be found in a “pronounced liturgical activism,” but rather in “solid preaching, cultivated sacred music in which the worshiping assembly is involved not only by listening, and an attentive treatment of the dramaturgy of the liturgy and its sacred symbols.” Kapellari is the author of Heilige Zeichen: in Liturgie und Alltag (“Sacred Symbols: in Liturgy and Daily Life ”).

Kapellari spoke of a balanced rhythm of “rest and movement” in the liturgy. One should by all means prevent a “tendency toward horizontalism.”

Bishop Kapellari praised Pius Parsch and his legacy as a living treasture of the Church: “His engagement for the people’s liturgical movement is a high point of the entire history of the Klosterneuburg religious house.” Through the Second Vatican Council, this became “a concern of the entire universal Church.”

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17 comments

  1. A couple of things…

    I think there may be a typo lurking in there. In paragraph 2, second line, should that be “unreformed, pre-Vatican II rite”? Your current text says “unformed” which seems like a misprint.

    Also, what is “dramaturgy”? To my knowledge, that’s the first time I’ve heard that term used. I’m not sure that I understand what the Bishop is saying in the latter portion of that statement.

    1. @Paul Fell:
      Yes, typo. Fixed. Thanks!

      Wikipedia says this about dramaturgy: “Dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage.” The bishop is extending the term to include the “drama” of the liturgy.

      awr

  2. He seems to be speaking out against the ROTR while advocating what are probably its biggest tenets.

    I know someone will say that there is a push in the ROTR movement to change the texts and rubrics of the OF, but that is more a peripheral aspect of the movement since it isn’t realistic to do. The primary focus of the movement in practice includes things like “rediscovering the value of a worthy ‘ars celebrandi,” cultivating sacred music that involves both listening and vocal participation, an “attentive treatment of the dramaturgy of the liturgy and its sacred symbols” and working to “prevent a ‘tendency toward horizontalism.'” These are major aspects of the ROTR – the last point in particular.

    1. @Jack Wayne:

      Jack Wayne, that is an interesting comment. Perhaps, as you say, Bishop Kapellari is being a good RotR advocate in his remarks, even though he seems to think he is being the opposite :-).

      As is true with most human conflict, the possibility for bringing about peace between opposing liturgical camps is hampered by a lack of trust between the parties. Folks who hold a stake in the reforms that flowed from the Council tend to believe that the RotR movement really wants to undo those reforms and “roll back the clock” to a preconciliar form of celebration, while folks with a stake in the RotR movement believe their opposite numbers want to diminish or destroy essential characteristics of the Roman rite. Perhaps the bishop’s remarks illustrate (inadvertently?) that there is considerable common ground.

      (Re: the desire to tear up the new mass translations and start again: perhaps we should dub that movement “the Reform of the Reform of the Reform”.)

  3. In my experience, two distinct camps have existed more or less peacefully under the Reform of the Reform banner. One wants the actual changes and documents of Vatican two revised or revoked. The other wants to reform “the way Vatican II was implemented” (“Reform of the implementation of the reform”) and is for the most part happy with the official documents and changes. The camps shared the common ground of being unhappy with the general state of things liturgical and musical. I see a split widening as increasing numbers of “ROTR” priests and musicians come into leadership positions. Many of these are perfectly happy to operate within the bounds of Vatican II and the Roman Missal, and make the Ordinary Form all it can be. As these musicians and pastors begin to make significant progress, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain in unity with colleagues for whom the Ordinary Form itself will never be satisfactory. This tension is part of what makes the ROTR label increasingly unhelpful, IMO.

    1. @Jared Ostermann:

      Re: “the way Vatican II was implemented” – if, as you state, the ROTR priests and musicians who now are assuming leadership positions are happy to operate within the bounds of the Roman Missal, then it seems that their view of RotR is that the “matter” for reform are the pastoral implementation of those books. I’d never minimize pastoral considerations – I suppose they are the subject of most liturgical squabbling. But at the same time, a common commitment to the liturgical books and rules is pretty significant.

  4. As someone who would probably be lumped into the RotR camp, I heartily concur with Jack and Jared’s comments. Using the label “Reform of the Reform” as though it had an agreed upon meaning is ultimately rather unhelpful to productive discourse. Though if clickbait is what one is after then bandying it about shall indeed bear fruit a hundredfold.

  5. My sense is that reform2 is late to the party in many ways. Under that banner, I don’t detect a necessary acknowledgement that the Council was the beginning of reform, not its end. A top-down style seems to persist in a lot of Catholic thinking, even among devotees of Pope Francis. The difference might be in leadership. PF seems less inclined to tell us what to do, and the reform2 sources I’ve read online seem all too eager to tell me what I’m doing wrong and how their gurus can help me fix it.

    My formation as a liturgist and church musician certainly included “a worthy ‘ars celebrandi,” cultivating sacred music that involves both listening and vocal participation, an “attentive treatment of the dramaturgy of the liturgy and its sacred symbols” and working to “prevent a ‘tendency toward horizontalism.’” The difference is that I’m not willing to throw out the baby with the baptismal water. The Roman Rite is still in need of reform. It may always be so. That doesn’t scare people who see liturgy as simply a means to the end of conversion and sanctification. Not preservation, as in a careful weekly dusting and don’t-touch signs posted everywhere.

  6. Suggest that the reality on the ground is much more complicated than these comments represent. Some current experiences:
    – too many US seminaries continue to ordain candidates/priests who, for whatever reason, have been attracted to the ROTR and find their mission to make changes in parishes (usually top down)
    – ROTR, in my experience, violates VII concepts around leadership, committees, getting input before making changes, education prior to changes.
    – ROTR creates different ecclesiologies and lex orandi/lex credendi works both ways – this creates division; not unity with diversity.
    – in my experience, there is usually a very, small but influential parish group that pushes ROTR – too often, based upon poor education; pre-VII ideas, etc. This can undermine any parish liturgy committee, music/liturgy director, etc. and sets up continual conflict.
    – To Todd’s comment – if anything, ROTR efforts stopped continuing liturgical development and reform….that obstacle needs to end….inculturation is part of good liturgy; at the core of VII and is NOT horizontalism.

  7. Interesting.

    If anyone knows anything about the Canons of Klosterneuburg, one would know that they are major supporters of the ROTR, and many, if not most, of the younger Canons have strong traditionalist leanings.

    About 15 years ago, 4-5 Americans became Canons and have returned to the US. They are the pitch perfect ROTR types.

    I wonder if this is really reflective of what the Bishop said, as he also speaks of improved ars celebrandi, which is a central emphasis among the Canons.

    Most of the Canons I have met from there have adopted the downcast eyes, maintenance of the canonical digits, genuflexion before the elevations (see Benedict’s practice), biretta, etc. — Many, if not most of the pre-Vat II common aspects of liturgy.

    1. @Todd Orbitz:

      “Most of the Canons I have met from there have adopted the downcast eyes, maintenance of the canonical digits, genuflexion before the elevations (see Benedict’s practice), biretta, etc. — Many, if not most of the pre-Vat II common aspects of liturgy.”

      It is interesting to compare what is listed here with how Bishop Kapellari characterizes ars celebrandi:

      “solid preaching, cultivated sacred music in which the worshiping assembly is involved not only by listening, and an attentive treatment of the dramaturgy of the liturgy and its sacred symbols.”

      I suppose these two lists are not mutually exclusive. I think my own parishioners, if they were treated to solid preaching and participatory singing every week, would be okay with birettas and extra genuflecting.

    2. @Todd Orbitz:
      That is my impression also of Kosterneuburg’s membership, especially the young people.

      I would say – and this is in response to Jack W above also – that there are two types of RotR – or I suppose it’s a spectrum, but I’ll label the two tendencies, one on each half of the spectrum.

      There is the kind that accepts V2, gets the spirit of V2, gets that there is a paradigm shift, welcomes this and sees it as a gift… but wishes to make the communal, participative, inculturated liturgy of Paul VI richer and more beautiful in appropriate ways that are in line with the spirit of the reform. Great – I’m in that camp in many ways, in all my work promoting Latin chant, organ-led hymns, English chant, beauty in vestments, more incense, etc.

      But the problem is that there is another kind which really doesn’t get or accept Vatican II. They just don’t like it and they want to undo as much of it as possible. That they gravitate to the Tridentine liturgy is a give-away – this is the liturgy not in accord with Vatican II, the one that Vatican II explicitly did away with. They aren’t just being generous in wanting to reach out to troubled people who aren’t yet with the Church and don’t yet accepts the Church’s liturgy – I would support special permission for Tridentine in that sense – they promoted it as somehow better, more Catholic, more sacred, etc. This is what’s incompatible with the Church’s magisterium.

      And the Church’s magisterium has clarified recently that “Reform of the Reform” is to be avoided. I’m pretty sure that means the second type, not the first type.

      It’s all about accepting the spirit of Vatican II.

      awr

  8. Todd Flowerday : Under that banner, I don’t detect a necessary acknowledgement that the Council was the beginning of reform, not its end.

    I think that is precisely what alarms some people.

    But there’s no question that this was, indeed, the understanding of Bugnini and many of the reformers in the 60’s onward.

    1. @Richard Malcolm:
      It does alarm some people – but I’m not sure those people understand or accept Vatican II.

      John O’Malley SJ has shown (at least to my satisfaction) that the “spirit of Vatican II” is found in the Vatican II texts themselves. As for those who rail against this spirit, I’m not sure they get that, have engaged John O’Malley’s foundational scholarship, have faced up to (or inwardly accepted) the implications of what the V2 texts say in their fullness.

      Vatican II as a beginning was the dominant understanding of the world’s bishops who were at Vatican II and then went home to implement it. They had voted in SC 36, but they all (every episcopal conference, I mean) voted in an entirely vernacular liturgy (at least the possibility of it) within just a few years after the close of the Council. Surely their memories weren’t that short. They were there and they got it – it was a new day, a new era, a paradigm shift, and that’s what they had voted in. They understand, or came to realize, that this didn’t mean holding literally to the various particular prescriptions of the Council. That would have been to miss the point of the Council.

      Meanwhile, some of the same people who rail against the “spirit of Vatican II” and allege it was all hijacked – sometimes these are the same people who support a Tridentine liturgy which the Council fathers said very explicitly would not continue because it no longer expresses the nature of the true church (as they put it).

      And some of these same people quote about 5 or 6 phrases of SC over and over, but ignore the rest.

      I didn’t always think this, but I’ve come to believe that these people really don’t accept Vatican II and want to undo it as much as possible.

      It’s a good sign that Pope Francis has picked up Vatican II where it got stalled out, and has said he wishes to implement “the other half” of Vatican II.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:

        The problem here is you create a double standard. When one vision of VII conflicts with the texts, accepting VII means overriding those texts. When the other vision does the same, it is a rejection of VII.

        Nor can the post VII implementation by the Council Fathers provide an objective guide here, as that would equally mean Pope Francis would be in the wrong by trying redo that implementation by going back to the source.

        We can’t wrap ourselves in the mantle of the council while moving away from it. The honest approach here would be to admit VII no longer speaks to our immediate problems, and these questions need to be debated on their merits.

    2. @Richard Malcolm:
      I think that change alarms people. I think sometimes people are alarmed by others with whom they disagree. But the intent of SC and other conciliar documents is pretty clear. There was no intention of using Vatican II as a stepping stone to another long stasis that followed Trent.

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