Following Pope Benedict or Not?

Damian Thompson at The Telegraph is not shy about stating his opinions. Here he asks why the Bishops of England and Wales are not following the Pope’s expressed desire that there be a crucifix on the altar when the priest faces the people, and that Communion be distributed on the tongue.


  1. If this “expressed desire” is so pressing, then why isn’t an official pronouncement on the subject?

    Lest we need reminded of what the U.S. GIRM has to say on such matters:

    307. The candles… are to be appropriately placed either on or around the altar in a way suited to the design of the altar and the sanctuary so that the whole may be well balanced and not interfere with the faithful’s clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed on it.

    160. The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing.

    I’m sure these items will be dismissed among those on the right as “old chestnuts,” but the fact of the matter is that this GIRM is what governs liturgical celebrations in the United States, not playing copycat to what the Pope seems to prefer.

    If one wants to play the “liturgical abuse” card, would seem to me that those who (at least in US dioceses) seek to spread such “reforms” as a quasi-rood screen made of candlesticks and kneeling for communion are guilty of it.

  2. “If one wants to play the “liturgical abuse” card, would seem to me that those who (at least in US dioceses) seek to spread such “reforms” as a quasi-rood screen made of candlesticks and kneeling for communion are guilty of it.”

    Chase: It for the US GIRM to come into conformity with that which Holy Mother Church directs, desires, and decides — and not vice-versa. There is no such thing as an “American Church,” there is, however, the CHURCH in America. When the Holy Father endeavors to instruct the church universal, we Catholics in the US, too, are obliged to listen.

    1. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but was not the US GIRM approved by Rome? If so, wouldn’t the US GIRM be in conformity with what “Holy Mother Church directs, desires, and decides?”

  3. The GIRM is not the beginning and end of liturgical law. There are interpretations, legitmate custom, and other factors that must be considered. (And while I haven’t looked at these particular cases, the English is often diffferent in meaning than the Latin.)

  4. As with many of Damian Thompson’s pieces, and frankly much journalism from the U.K. this seems rather sensationalist and driven by wishful thinking.
    The papal M.C. refers in the interview to a “proposal made by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, and presently reaffirmed during the course of his pontificate.” Out of this, Thompson derives a papal request that he says the bishops ignore. A proposal is a different sort of thing from a request.
    Speaking as a person in the pew, I prefer the crucifix in the centre of the altar to one pushed to the side, and I would like even more to see priests celebrate facing the same way as the rest of us when celebrating, rather than facing us. I think that even if the intention behind facing the people is to give a clear view of what’s going on, it ends up obscuring important dimensions of the Mass.
    Incendiary, misleading articles such as the one linked to do not help to make the case for this though–they end up reducing everything to politics, and entrenching disagreements.

  5. Over the years, Damian Thompson has marked himself as an inhabitant of the fringe element in Catholicism. I found his entertainment value wearing thin years ago.

    Indeed the US edition of the GIRM must be approved in Rome, which also approved Communion in the hand and other sorts of nonsense years ago.

    What Pope Benedict seems to be fostering, whether he intends to do it or not, is a certain cult of personality not unlike Madonna, or to be less crass, the favorite liturgical music personalities. Young impressionable women wanted to be cool so they started imitating this or that pop star. Is it really so different for some (note: some, not all) people who want to pray like the pope does? Have we (or more accurately, have Catholic conservatives) graduated from guidelines and rubrics (note: “interpretations, legitmate custom, and other factors that must be considered”) to some sort of subjective gnosticism to which only True and Loyal Interpreters of Neo-Modern Divine Tradition have access?

    It should be simple enough to say that authentic Roman liturgy isn’t faddish, and maybe it’s better to have an altar that looks like an altar of sacrifice instead of a holiday dinner table.

  6. GIRM of England and Wales:
    117. The altar is to be covered with at least one white cloth. In addition, on or next to the altar are to be placed candlesticks with lighted candles: at least two in any celebration, or even four or six, especially for a Sunday Mass or a holy day of obligation. If the diocesan Bishop celebrates, then seven candles should be used. Also on or close to the altar, there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified.

    160. The priest then takes the paten or ciborium and goes to the communicants, who, as a rule, approach in a procession. The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated Bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them from one to another. The faithful communicate either kneeling or standing, as determined by the Conference of Bishops. When they communicate standing, however, it is recommended that they make an appropriate sign of reverence, as determined in the same norms, before receiving the Sacrament.

    161. If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying: Corpus Christi (The Body of Christ). The communicant replies: Amen, and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed and if the communicant so chooses, in the hand. As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes it entirely. If, however, Communion is given under both kinds, the rite prescribed in nos. 284-287 is followed.

    I haven’t been able to ascertain whether the conference has voted in favor or kneeling or standing for communion. I suppose it would be seen as a rebuke of the Holy Father’s wishes if they chose standing as the norm.

    I have to admit that after reading the U.K. GIRM, it’s impossible for me to think of the Holy Father’s practices as faddish or to think of him as encouraging the cult of personality.

    1. I missed a relevant section:
      307. The candles, which are required at every liturgical service out of reverence and on account of the festiveness of the celebration (cf. no. 117), are to be appropriately placed either on or around the altar in a way suited to the design of
      the altar and the sanctuary so that the whole may be well balanced and not interfere with the faithful’s clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed on it.

      I have to admit that having a crucifix in the middle of the altar is one thing, having all the candles along the front of the altar is something else. Still, I don’t really think that the candles really get in the way, certainly not nearly to the degree that a rood screen or iconostasis does.

  7. Anyone who has read two lines of Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings on the liturgy knows that both the Cross as the centre of the liturgy and Communion kneeling and on the tongue are issues close to his heart. That’s why he has implemented them himself. And who, in implementing something they believe is important, would not want everyone else doing the same thing?

    But you may have a point here. The shepherds of the Church nowadays are not keen on enforcing things, even when they believe they are of vital importance. They hope that if they speak softly and quietly, somehow everyone will hear them and their enemies won’t bother them. It just doesn’t work that way.

    Our current Holy Father is a soft-spoken man who prefers to ‘lead by example’. That is fine in some circumstances. But as any serviceman will tell you, there are other times when leaders have to bellow out orders to get things done.

  8. My experience with liturgical theology and practice has been very much ecumenical: as an Anglican/Episcopalian, I studied various Roman Catholic authors (conservative and progressive, thank you very much), read the documents of Vatican II, etc., etc. I say this to preface my reflection on Thompson’s article.

    When as a seminarian I did my practicum in liturgical presidency (which involved practice masses as both east and west facing altars), I was frequently blasted by my mentor for looking upward, above the heads of the assembly at the west facing altar. “Haven’t you read the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy?” he asked repeatedly. “Christ is out there [pointing at the congregation] just as much as he’s up there. No need to look away from the assembly to find Jesus Christ. That much, at least, the Council fathers made clear.” — This, from an Anglican!

    I carry the memory of that rebuke with me whenever I celebrate at an altar facing the people. Although I usually fix my eyes on the book during the canon proper, I have learned to look to the assembly with reverence and devotion as a sign of Christ, crucified and risen. To place a standing crucifix in-between me and them would be superfluous. Further, “to place the Crucifix on the center of the altar, in order that all, during the celebration of the liturgy, may concretely face and look upon Lord” (Msgr. Marini) for the benefit of the assembly would seem to be an implicit denial (1) of the priest’s role as alter Christus during the liturgical celebration and/or (2) a denial of the presence of Christ in the sacrament itself (after the Eucharistic Prayer). I know and understand that such is not the intent of either Msgr. Marini or of the Bishop of Rome. But whenever the personal piety of certain celebrants seems to trump liturgical practices that are geared to benefit the entire assembly, the risk is run of diminishing the centrality of the sacrament and the sacrality of the community gathered to celebrate, venerate and receive it.

    1. We need to think long and hard (and pray, too) about what benefits the entire assembly. I’m not sure that removing mystery so that everything appears immediately intelligible is a long-term benefit. Wrestling with mystery is an attribute of mature faith.

      I think that Todd’s comment above on the cult of personality is interesting. Of course, what the pope is doing is trying to remove the congregation’s fixation on the celebrant, attempting to remove the possibility of the cult of personality. Watching the faces of priest after priest over the years during the consecration, it’s difficult sometimes remembering that at the consecration it has been and always will be Christ who is the priest. Perhaps the anonymity of ad orientem posture helps to deflect that tendency. After all, since Christ’s presence is veiled both in the bread and wine and in the priest, there really is “nothing to see here.”

      1. I agree that the cult of personality is lamentable, be it focused on clergy, musicians, or other leaders in the Church. When I visit traditionalist web sites, I see no lack of it, unfortunately. Fine vestments, ritual performed correctly by clergy. All in close-up images more detailed than what the average Catholic sees of her or his priest from the tenth pew.

        Let’s not discount the spiritual striving for visibility. Otherwise, why would we have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a tradition, and the rubrics for showing or elevating the sacred elements during Mass.

  9. I have what may be a stupid question, but the role and powers of the Pope aren’t exactly clear to me as a non-RC. If the Pope *did* state that he wanted a crucifix on every altar and for the faithful to receive on the tongue, kneeling, would priests and bishops be required to conform with the directive?

  10. “Haven’t you read the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy?” he asked repeatedly. “Christ is out there [pointing at the congregation] just as much as he’s up there.

    So where does it say that in Sacrosanctum Concilium?

    The assembly is Christ, mystically, but the point of looking toward the crucifix is to remind the priest of the sacrifice of Christ on Golgotha – something looking intently on Jim and Alice and their gum-chewing kid doesn’t.

    Anyways, Christ is fully and completely present in the host that the priest holds in his hands. That’s where all of the attention should be directed towards.

    1. This is actually the root of my problem with the Pope’s views about the crucifix on the altar. Isn’t the preeminent sign of Christ in the liturgy not the crucifix but the Eucharistic elements, in which Christ is present body and blood, soul and divinity? Should we really let a secondary sign — a crucifix — obscure the congregation’s view of the primary sign? And if the crucifix is large enough to be a focal point for the congregation, wouldn’t it inevitable end up obscuring the congregation’s view of the Eucharistic species, even during the elevations?

      I think the Pope is a very good theologian, but even Homer nods.

  11. >>If the Pope *did* state that he wanted a crucifix on every altar and for the faithful to receive on the tongue, kneeling, would priests and bishops be required to conform with the directive?<<

    Short answer: no

    Slightly longer answer: Not necessarily

    Longer answer: if the Pope issues legislation, Catholics ought to obey it. If, on th eother hand, he says, "I think this is a really, really, really good idea and won't you please, please, please do it". . . well, Catholics are free to ignore his request.

    1. Just like our Heavenly Father, our earthly Holy Father is giving us the free will to follow him or not. Those that follow his lead without being given an order show respect, obedience, humility, and love. Knowing that the Pope has various liturgical preferences, it’s difficult for me to understand why anyone would not want to follow his example, even after being given the freedom to choose.

  12. If the Pope *did* state that he wanted a crucifix on every altar and for the faithful to receive on the tongue, kneeling, would priests and bishops be required to conform with the directive?

    Yes, if the assertion was expressed in a clear and unequivocal manner that would enter into law. This is because the Supreme Pontiff is the supreme legislator of the liturgy of the Church.

    Which means that he has authority to make changes to the sacred rites and their manner of celebration, except, of course, such that would render them heretical or invalid, or change their fundamental structure, which has come down to us from the Apostles. This is most emphatically not the same as saying that he *should* do what he likes with the liturgy – any changes ought to be undertaken with extreme prudence, something which has clearly been lacking in all revisions to the Roman Rite since 1570.

  13. Chase says;
    “If this “expressed desire” is so pressing, then why isn’t (there) an official pronouncement on the subject?”

    I would say- “Be careful what you wish for…”

    And further… there WAS an official pronouncement (and a forceful one at that) on the use of the 1962 Missal and yet that continues to be blocked and disputed by many. The problem is not a lack of pronouncements – it’s a lack of obedience.

  14. Chase is correct in the first comment. There is a US GIRM for such things, as Rome knows (and approves). It is not the case that the bishops work for the pope, nor that the pope legislates every liturgical detail for the universal church. Lumen Gentium 27 says that each bishop is a Vicar of Christ – and this is a dogmatic constitution of an ecumenical council. Damian Thompson needs some Ecclesiology 101.

  15. Out of curiosity, if the next Holy Father expresses a desire that clown masses be celebrated once a month, will we hear the same fervor from the same quarters to uphold the Holy Father’s will?

    Is the point obedience to the Supreme Pontiff or that the current incumbent is inclining the same direction as your preferences?

  16. Dr Olsen makes a very good point. The concept of tradition as a creation of papal fiat is a pernicious consequence of 19th century ultramontanist thinking. And I say this as someone who is generally liturgically conservative, but who also thinks that all of the liturgical reforms of the 20th century should be viewed with a critical eye, including those of Pope S. Pius X. Contrariwise, I suspect that Dom Anthony’s view of the authority of the diocesan bishop might well be changed as soon as we get one that will suppress the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, which I believe will occur at some point during the next ten years.

    The dogmatism of some of the liturgical conservatives is no more palatable than the dogmatism of the liturgical progressives. And vice versa.

    And I think that there is a need to consider many of these issues, first and foremost, in terms of the praxis that they actually generate. I don’t, for example, lend much credence to a particular thinker’s opinions about the celebration of the Divine Office if they are not regular participants in the celebration thereof. I further think that this will be the final front in the “liturgy wars,” and that oases of praxis will win the day over those who merely wish to pontificate, largely irrespective of what side they might theoretically be counted with.

  17. The pope himself has said (before he was pope) that popes and councils do not enjoy 100% control over the liturgy. I wish he had elaborated on that more. It would follow that local ordinaries would not have 100% control either.

    The pope I think has surrounded himself with people who want change and are perhaps hoping that the pope will legislate that change. Pope Ratzinger may prefer to lead by example, not wanting to be too heavy handed. Moreover, even though a distinct note of tradition is heard in St. Peter’s, the pope has gone along with some liturgical progressivism in many of his travels abroad. He wouldn’t have done so if he really thought that such progressive practices were abuses.

    I would be happy if current law were simply upheld more rigidly. I’ve never traveled or lived in a diocese whose bishop was interested in knowing that one of his priests changed or added words during the Eucharistic Prayer, for instance. I’ve heard priests alter the form of sacraments. Maybe before we change law, we should find out whether the effects of enforcing law are sufficient for our needs. We need a safe environment policy for our liturgy too!

  18. “Lumen Gentium 27 says that each bishop is a Vicar of Christ”

    Erm, yes… and the same LG 22 says:

    In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.

  19. Messrs. Olsen & Goings are very right. In the celebration of the sacred rites, is important to be faithful to the entire tradition of the Church rather than the whims and fancies of this or that particular Pope or Bishop.

    And exactly the same holds true for the Faith. Popes and Bishops of the past 50 years could preach all they wanted (non-infallibly, of course) that religious pluralism was a great boon to society, but that doesn’t make it so. 1950 years of unbroken Tradition that pluralism is not a good in itself and that error and falsity can at most be tolerated still holds more weight.

    1. Could be a bit of drift here …

      I think the matter is more the notion of non-uniformity in worship rather than an open aqnd accepting pluralism. I would be among those who would dispute the “unbrokenness” of 19.5 centuries with regard to the witness of pluralism. What is the witness of the Scriptures and the liturgical texts? And have the excesses of unity=uniformity clouded some of the witness against an appropriate pluralism? (I would prefer the term variety.) In this thread, we’ve already seen a certain ideological creep taking us from Mr Thompson’s query, “Why don’t you imitate B16?!” to “error and falsity.”

      That said, the Roman Rite is wise (or at least it has been) to install rubrics to guide the celebration of liturgy, with an eye to the possible local circumstances that might make practices at a particular Mass, or of a particular pope, or a particular place, say Rome, otherwise difficult to impossible to imitate.

  20. Paul Goings :

    I suspect that Dom Anthony’s view of the authority of the diocesan bishop might well be changed as soon as we get one that will suppress the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, which I believe will occur at some point during the next ten years.

    Do you really foresee this happening? I can’t imagine it myself.

    1. Mr Bauerschmidt,

      I think that it will depend on a number of factors, but I certainly see it as a possibility. There are dioceses at present where it is de facto illicit to celebrate the Extraordinary Form. If some form of detente does not prevail, and the situation becomes more polarized, I can certainly imagine the reverse happening, given the incipient traditionalism of many of the younger priests and bishops.

      Paul Goings

  21. I would agree with Paul Goings hypothesis regarding future Bishops insofar as it agrees with a generalized principle more often seen in the political sphere but which has relevance in any kind of institutional environment where competing and opposing views compete for dominance (and make no mistake…there is a battle for dominance of liturgical viewpoints ocurring no matter how much we would like it to not be the case). The image is the “pendulum swing” in which the counter-swing is driven by reactionism. We may like to pretend that we don’t ascribe to labels, but the swing of the previous 40+ years has been, at least liturgically, decidedly progressive. The reaction will be decidedly orthodox and we are seeing the beginning of that. It has nothing to do with the views of an aging Pontiff…the views of the younger clergy and even some in the Episcopacy are far more orthodox and will soon begin to have a greater influence.

    Unfortunately, there could be a lot of destruction in the wake of the ensuing battles that will occur, and as Mr. Goings noted, there will have to be a “detente” of some sort. Those ” recalcitrant Bishops” that today shun the celebration of the Extraordinary Form may well shun the celebration of the Ordinary Form tomorrow.

  22. Especially in matters liturgical, “we correct imbalances with imbalances,” to quote Dom Kevin Seasoltz, OSB. Like some of the commentators above, and trying to analyze things from the outside, I can imagine a day in the not too distant future when the Ordinary Form might be suppressed, with a corrective imbalance of disastrous proportion.

    Schism is never a good thing — especially the kind in which the only sound of dissent is the shuffle of feet toward the door.

  23. Cody;

    You are certainly right, but I am curious about your final statement. Are you suggesting that suppressing the Ordinary form in the same way that the Extraordinary form has been and still is suppressed in many places would constitute “schism”? If so, then would we not be in that position today regarding the Extraordinary form? Given that the 1962 Missal was never suppressed, wasn’t it’s de facto ban exactly the kind of “corrective imbalance” that you are suggesting would be disastrous? If so, I would have to agree with you again…it has been extremely disastrous!

    However, I don’t think it’s “schismatic” as much as it is a clear example of disobedience. Pope Benedict corrected the “imbalance” in July of 2007.

  24. I don’t think suppressing the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite liturgy would be a schismatic act, and I’m sorry if I seemed to imply it. I am afraid that such a suppression would lead to on-the-ground, de facto schism. A mass-exodus (no pun intended!) would ensue–and nothing like what was seen in the 1960s (which I believe was cultural and not related to the introduction of the Missal of Pope Paul VI). I’m afraid that Christians in many liturgical churches are already experiencing the front trickle of this. Go visit your local mega-church (or its Evangelical or Pentecostal equivalent) and count the number of people you used to see in church with you. (I’ve done this, more than once, and a couple of times with Roman Catholic clergy friends. We walked away brokenhearted….)

    Although Summorum Pontificum makes the claim that the 1962 Missal was never suppressed, evidence to support that is hard to come by. In fact, if one reads the documents promulgating the Missal of Pope Paul VI, it’s hard to conclude other than that it was abrogated entirely.

  25. Woah, people, woooooaaaaah! Nobody’s surpressing anything. Yes, eventually, there will be adjustments to the Novus Ordo like there has been to every version of the liturgy, but it probably won’t happen until the last of those who lived through the recent reforms have gone to their eternal reward. Seriously, how many current bishops, let alone voting cardinals, celebrate mass only in the extraordinary form?

    In terms of the canonical surpression of the 1962 rite, I have read that in the mid ’80s a group of theology and canon law experts in the Vatican recognized the surpression of the 1962 rite as faulty, defective, what have you, and priests who were forbidden by their ordinary from celebrating it began to win their appeals to the signatura. I don’t have this on good evidence, but that story has gone around a few times. I’d love to hear about this from a canon law expert. It certainly is in agreement with Summorum Pontificum.

  26. Joannes;

    Well…I wouldn’t say that “Nobody’s suppressing anything”. There are still many Bishops who, despite the very clear language of Summorum Pontificum, continue to prohibit the celebration of the Extraordinary Form. They may not come right out and explicitly do so (although at least two have that I know of), but through special requirements, permissions, examinations and other tactics in violation of SP, they manage to suppress it “de facto”.

    I think the point of the few posts above, mine included, is to pose the possibility that if a specifically permitted liturgy (the EF) can be suppressed in the current environment, is it really that far-fetched that in a different environment, a specifically permitted liturgy (the OF) could also be suppressed?

  27. Just to clarify a few points:

    (1) The versions of GIRM in force in the USA, England and Wales, Australia, etc, were imposed on those countries by Rome. They were not exactly what the respective Conferences had requested, nor do they conform exactly to the Latin original universal document. The mandarins in the Roman Congregation have, for reasons that can only be guessed at (the aftermath of substantial Roman lunches?), decided that the English-speaking territories should all have versions of GIRM that differ in some particulars and which do not concord completely with the Latin. But it is Rome’s choice, not the Bishops’.

    (2) It would be foolish (and I am sure he knows this, which is why he hasn’t done it) for the pope to insist that everyone receive on the tongue, kneeling. Some time ago there was correspondence in The Tablet concerning the problems that would be experienced by those who are unable to kneel due to physical disabilities of one kind or another, and those whose insecure dentures would prove hazardous to reception on the tongue.

    (3) When it comes to obeying the rules, those in the traditionalist camp are very quick to criticise others for what they perceive as disobedience to the pope’s/Church’s wishes. They are not nearly so quick to criticise themselves for breaches of actual rules. From 1969 to date, the various indults in force, and now the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, have stipulated that Masses in what is now known as the Extraordinary Form were to be celebrated according to the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum. Almost without exception, this stipulation has been routinely ignored, the proponents of this form of celebration preferring to use earlier editions of the Missal as a basis for their praxis. (Indeed, it is only in very recent times that general access to the 1962 Missal has actually been possible, thanks to the wonders of the internet.)

    (4) As far as placing a crucifix on the altar is concerned, I would refer us back to the thread about ad orientem and more specifically “ad altarem” celebration. What need is there of a crucifix when the altar is itself the most powerful symbol of the sacrificed Christ? If a crucifix were deemed desirable, it there not a case for saying that it should be a representation of the risen, glorified Christ?

    (5) Knowing that the pope has certain liturgical preferences seems to have no special relevance. We also know that he is an old man now, in his dotage, apparently trying to relive what he sees as the “glory days”. Personal preferences do not make a good basis for universal law.

    (6) I suspect that those places where there is a de facto prohibition on the use of the Extraordinary Form (and it would be interesting to have chapter and verse on this, rather than anecdotal evidence) are those where the Eucharist is being used somewhat as a political tool or weapon, rather in the way that Mgr Lefebvre did. If this is the case, not only is it an abuse but the local Ordinary is quite right to look askance at it. In practice, I think that many bishops are in fact extraordinarily generous in their tolerance of the kind of vitriolic behaviour that would in other circumstances be considered completely unacceptable.

    The fact remains that the demand for the Extraordinary Form remains very small indeed. National liturgy offices report that there has been no noticeable increase since Summorum Pontificum. Indeed, Benedict XVI himself said, in the plane on the way to Paris, that his Motu Proprio had been intended only to help the tiny number of people who were still attached to the old ways and was in no way intended to lead to the replacement of the Ordinary Form.

    1. “We also know that he is an old man now, in his dotage, apparently trying to relive what he sees as the “glory days.”

      Don’t smugly lump me into your “we,” Mr Inwood,or is that the royal we? You’re better than ad hominem attacks. At least I thought you were. Criticize what is said, not the kind of person who says it.

  28. “National liturgy offices report that there has been no noticeable increase since Summorum Pontificum.”

    I can’t speak for National Liturgy Offices, but in our Diocese the number of EF Masses before Summorum Pontificum was 1 each week. It is now 18 Masses each week at 5 locations. I would say that is a “noticeable increase”.

    What are the actual numbers of EF Masses nationwide before July 2007 compared with now? I understand that there is a registry of EF Masses nationwide, although since it is not a “mandatory” registry, it is apt to be incomplete. I recall that there was an effort to track the growth of EF Masses back in 2008, and by mid 2008, the number of EF Masses reported in the US had nearly doubled by then.

    Again, how that is interpreted as “no noticeable increase” I’m not sure… maybe the Liturgy Offices just aren’t taking notice?

  29. Certain Mr Inwood’s objection’s are rather egregiously overargued.

    #3: His allegation that the form of the 1962 is ignored almost without exception. It would probably be much more accurate to note that there are some who have tried to rationalize the use of pre-1962 editions, but the evidence (at least in the US) that this rationalization is widespread is sorely lacking.

    #4: Referring to the Pope as someone in his dotage and speculating on his desire to relive his glory days is an ugly comment worthy of someone like Sarah Palin, and certainly brings shame to us liturgical progressives. This Pope is clearly quite in possession of his wits and physical abilities, more so than many who are younger than he.

    #5 “No noticeable increase” is no more accurate than the opposite implications of some traditionalists that there has been a tidal wave of interest. There has been a noticeable increase, but it remains marginal in large areas of the Church (for example, in the Boston archdiocese where I live).

    Peeved polemic doesn’t pass for argument.

  30. Now, as to the main piece, I would say Damien Thompson is also engaged in overargument that reflects poorly on him (though I understand his column is often deliberately so, in a kind of schtick as we might say on this side of the pond). The Pope is welcome to his arrangement of candlesticks, and local communities are free to emulate or ignore as they deem advisable or helpful. The personal preference of the Pope in this regard does not bind in any way, and doesn’t even require consideration by anyone else whatsoever.

    I do think that those who believe the Pope’s preference in this regard conflicts with the rubrics are reading those rubrics more narrowly than they were intended. So don’t overargue that side of this, either….

    Rhetorical overreach is the bain of these conversations; it acts as more as a shibboleth to identify who is Right Thinking(TM) to fellow-travellers in the choir, rather than to engage and persuade those not yet convinced. It is often done in the erstwhilte name of being provocative, but a surfeit of provocation leads to a situation where nothing is provocative anymore. Humbug, I say! Contributors to this blog should strain to do much better in that regard, and be willing to be critiqued without defensiveness when they fail.

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