Benedict on the new liturgical movement

The prescient John Allen says a moto proprio on marriage is forthcoming, in which the Holy Father will comment also on liturgy, if briefly.


  1. The striking thing is that the Holy Father speaks of ‘continuity’ in a highly idealistic, even fictituous way – let’s sketch out a vision of continuity with 1965 as if the last 45 years never happened; let’s dream about how the reform should have happened but didn’t. I think it would be more helpful to speak of ‘continuity’ primarily with respect to where we are in 2010. We would ask, for example, whether a change in translation has good continuity or whether it is a disturbing disruption in the Church’s prayer life. To be sure, the Pope does do some of this when he say, for example, that we shouldn’t turn all the altars back around because it would disturb people at this point. If we were clearer across the board that continuity starts with 2010 and not 1965, we could talk about which changes might be helpful retrieving of things from the past, or which might be helpful new things based on new insights and needs. Things new or old would be integrated, carefully and with as little disruption as possible, into what we have now.

    1. The more telling omission from those comments in Milestones is the failure to acknowledge that it was the liturgical reforms of Trent that led to this pass, in the sense of the freezing of liturgy as of the late 14th century, which meant that future developments would no longer be organic in any meaningful sense but would have to take place in the realm of pontifical legislation. This aspect of Trent was very much of a piece with the rationalism of the early modern era.

    2. “Things new or old would be integrated, carefully and with as little disruption as possible, into what we have now.”

      This is what was supposed to happen in 1969, but it didn’t, and many viewed it as rupture, not continuity. Pope Benedict’s focus on continuity now is not going to forget, I don’t think, the ways in which it has been lacking or ignored in the “liturgical development” of the past 40 years.

      1. My reading of the documents, conciliar and afterward don’t lead me to think of continuity as a primary value. I suspect that many bishops were already seeing the erosion of Christianity in Europe before and after the Council, and judged that a radical change was needed.

        While I agree that continuity is an important value, it does not trump the urgency of the Gospel. When people convert to Christ, sometimes their transition is gradual. But the witness of the saints is sometimes way different. Saul was slapped off his horse, blinded, and totally changed his life. He didn’t remain a Pharisee and only partially persecute Christians. Peter saw the tent with unclean animals descend in a dream and he didn’t suggest that Christians still keep kosher on certain days or in certain seasons.

        I suspect the “hermeneutic of continuity” is, for some, a disguise for the “hermeneutic of obstruction” where reform is concerned.

        Given the serious situation of the Church at present, I can’t concur that continuity should be foremost in our minds as we address inactive believers and their issues, liturgical or otherwise.

        That doesn’t even touch upon the nature of the spiritual life. Sometimes we discern to drop everything to follow Christ. Continuity is fine enough as a pastoral value, and we should be mindful of it when introducing reforms and changes. But it’s not the driving force some make it out to be.

      2. In fact the liturgy constitution is quite clear that “active participation” is the one value more important than any other, including, I presume, continuity. The call for organic growth (which implies continuity) is there, but it’s certainly not very strong in the liturgy constitution. I wonder why this whole “continuity” agenda has arisen lately – it must be about something going on in the Church today (or, more likely, something going on in wider culture), since it’s not securely rooted in the liturgy constitution.

  2. What I have found peculiar is what Pope Benedict models that is allowed but most places have “legislated” a different paradigm. For example, kneeling for Holy Communion, certainly this is allowed, but the norm by legislation in our country is to stand. So who is the Holy Father modeling this for, local priests or local bishop or national conferences of bishops? Should we have a kneeler available for those who desire to kneel? I think most could still stand and receive over the kneeler. Just a question.
    As well, with ad orientem worship, or the “Benedictine” altar arrangement. This is purely the pope’s personal choice for himself, but not legislated as to be a clear option for anyone and the anyone would be whom; Bishops’ Conferences, local bishop, local priests? I know I would have high blood pressure attacks if my associate or a visiting priest decided to celebrate a Sunday Mass here ad orientem or rearranged the altar decorations. I know my bishop would tell me to return to facing the people if I decided to do otherwise. So where is all this leading? But what I would like see recovered are introits, antiphons and perhaps a clearer choreography that is highlighted as in the 1962 missal and clearer rubrics for various customs now optional or discarded–but that’s just personal preference, I could live either way. But alas, the new translation–I’m in favor of it although imperfect and think in the long haul of things it will prove to be a turning point in liturgical renewal.

    1. Father McDonald,

      Your bishop would not have the right to tell you not to say Mass ad orientem. Saying Mass ad orientem is a legitimate option that was never forbidden by the Second Vatican Council or any other decree since. In fact, the Church has reiterated this fact in the last few years, and Pope Benedict has publicly celebrated Mass ad orientem a number of times over the years.

      Pope Benedict is providing an example of how he believes good liturgy should be celebrated. He is not imposing his personal views on the Church; rather, he is suggesting them as any good father would do to his grown children. Out of respect for him and out of deference to him and his office as the Supreme Pontiff, I do believe his opinions and suggestions should take precedence over our own personal preferences and ideas. As Catholics, we are to look to him for guidance and direction on all matters related to the Faith.

      “Where is all of this leading?” Hopefully in this very direction.

      1. The Pope’s most zealous supporters readily accept and even defend such things. But many other people, including devout Catholics, find it silly. Some find the luxury of it scandalous.
        Is the Pope so far removed from the contemporary world that he is unaware of how he is perceived? Or has he backed himself into a theological corner in which such perceptions don’t matter in principle? I’m not sure which is worse.

    2. Tisk, tisk about the Prada comment, hopefully this blog can rise be above this type of cynicism and promoting urban legends. And who was the designer who designed the new Franciscan Habits for the monks in Assisi? Perhaps the Benedictines should follow suit.
      But in terms of following others in the area of liturgy and dress, what names could we drop from the progressive wing in terms of modern designer clothes, and relevant liturgy? How many workshops have we gone to and came home to implement immediately the latest fashion? Are ultramontane papists the only sycophants?

      1. Wow, it sounds like something struck a raw nerve, almost like you take this personally. This isn’t about who’s conservative or who’s progressive, so I don’t know why went there. And even if it were, what some ‘progressives’ do hardly justifies what a ‘conservative’ Pope may do. All that is irrelevant. The question is – how do people in our day and age perceive the symbols being revived in this papacy? Whether or not the red shoes are from Prada (thanks for the factual clarification, BTW), they still say “Renaissance prince” to many people today. I regret that B16 revived them, after JP2 had stopped wearing them.
        Note that I didn’t give my own perception of these things – rather, I reported on the perception of many other people. That the perceptions are out there is fact, not cynicism. That L’Osservatore Romano had to publish a theological defense of the Pope’s finery only corroborates my point: contemporary people in fact do mock and ridicule these things, hence the need for a response from the Vatican. As for the editorial itself in Osservatore, I honestly felt sorry for the people who wrote and published it. Do they think that an editorial in the Vatican newspaper will change how contemporary people view symbols from aristocrat court culture of old? Their misreading of contemporary culture (and the influence of their editorials) is rather pathetic. It hardly helps the Church’s evangelizing mission.

      2. I guess I hit a nerve evidently. I usually pride myself in noticing and remembering detail, even from my childhood and teenage years, but for the life of me I did not realize that Pope Benedict wears different color shoes than Pope John Paul, and that these are antiques from the Renaissance! I wish my shoes would hold up as well! 🙂
        I wonder how many rank and file clergy and laity have noticed this other than commentators in the media and blogs? I think most think this is the way popes dress, and don’t think more about it other than that. At any rate, where Pope Benedict is having the most impact is precisely where most modern liturgists are having a meltdown. It is on the liturgy. Isn’t that reason why Pope Benedict chose the name Benedict? Aren’t Benedictines suppose to be on the cutting edge in terms of liturgical renewal and hopefully in both forms? I know they had that reputation prior to the Council, I’m not sure afterwords though,you’ll have to educate me. If Catholics who need re-evangelization are the Pope’s target, and evidently it is in Europe and here, then the liturgy is where to start. Those who won’t listen to the pope, any pope, won’t listen to that pope in Renaissance shoes or modern flip flops, not to mention the Cappa Magna or surfer shorts. They hate Catholicism, not for papal clothing but for her moral teachings on sex and marriage and promoting certain hot button non-changeable Traditions especially as it concerns ordination. I guess if the pope changed those teachings, he’d gain the whole world even in his antique clothing, but in gaining the whole world, he would have allowed the Church to lose her soul and what gain would that be?

      3. As I sift through your long comment, I think you’re saying that people don’t notice, people don’t care, and you like it or at least don’t mind, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

        Maybe it’s helpful if I try to state clearly and briefly some possible pastoral reactions to the issue.

        1. Deny that at least some people – loyal Catholic, ecumenically minded Protestant, skeptical non-believer – are bothered by all the the papal finery.
        2. Admit the critiques (both serious and mocking) but dismiss it because there will always be some who aren’t loyal to the Pope and are swayed by other ideologies.
        3. Admit the critique, take it seriously, and seek to change opinion by means of theological defense.

        L’Osservatore Romano has done #3. If I understand your comments correctly, I think you’re doing some combination of #1 and #2.

        I don’t think any of these three are helpful reactions. We can’t make issues go away by denying, or dismissing, or labelling the problem as lack of obedience or faithfulness.


      4. Actually, I haven’t addressed this to anyone in any situation over the past 30 years, so it has been off my radar screen. But what I have had to address is the teaching on papal infallibility, that the pope can have opinions and I’ve pointed out that even in his book on Jesus, that he wrote as pope, he said people were free to differ with what he wrote, how novel! I can really say that no one has ever commented negatively to me on how the pope dresses, acts or comports himself nor have they mocked our liturgical wear, which I presume you wear when celebrating Mass, that comes to us from antiquity. I hope that you try to explain to those who have an antipathy towards the papacy and our liturgy’s antiquity, that there’s more to it than meets the eye. I’m shocked though, in an ecumenical setting, that someone who is not Catholic would make this a point of contention, how unecumenical!

      5. I think you’re arguing no. 1 again: it has never come up for you, no one in your immediate circle has ever raised it… point being, the problem doesn’t exist? Just look on the internet and you will find mocking ridicule; you will also find serious critique based on Gospel values from Catholics. As for Protestants, I have in mind those friends in the ecumenical movement who, with loving respect, state the difficulties they have with greater union. I don’t find this shocking or inappropriate. Do you remember when JP2 invited Protestants to help him re-shape the Petrine office by stating their criticisms?
        What I find most troubling is that any criticism of the papal office, even the ceremonial externals, is so troubling to you that you get rather defensive, or try to deny that the criticism is out there, or say the critics have no right to speak. Not helpful, in my view.

  3. According to an article by Joseph Komonchak, Pope Benedict has never used this phrase “hermeneutics of continuity”.

    “Pope Benedict began by contrasting two ways of interpreting the council. (I take it that he did this for rhetorical reasons; there are, of course, more than two contesting interpretations of Vatican II.) The first he called the “hermeneutics of discontinuity.” In two short paragraphs he describes this approach as running the risk of positing a rupture between the preconciliar and the postconciliar church, thus ignoring the fact that the church is a single historical subject. This hermeneutic disparages the texts of the council as the result of unfortunate compromises and favors instead the elements of novelty in the documents. It may see the council along the lines of a constitutional convention that can do away with an old constitution and construct a new one, when, by contrast, the church has received an unalterable constitution from Christ himself. That is the entirety of the pope’s treatment of the “hermeneutics of discontinuity.”
    One might have expected Pope Benedict to call the position he favors the “hermeneutics of continuity,” and careless commentators have used that term to describe his view. Instead, he calls it the “hermeneutics of reform.” He devotes the greater part of his talk (85 percent by word-count) to explaining what he means by the phrase. And the greater part of this explanation sets out why at the time of the…

    1. “The ‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in … continuity.”

      “Here I shall cite only John XXIII’s well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes ‘to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion.'”

      Sounds like continuity to me.

      Anyway, Pope Benedict (or someone else) does use the phrase in Sacramentum Caritatis, paragraph 3, footnote 6: “I am referring here to the need for a hermeneutic of continuity also with regard to the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council: cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (22 December 2005): AAS 98 (2006), 44-45.”

      1. Jeffrey, very good…but the quotations you give are rather low on the hierarchy of teachings, they’re not from the Second Vatican Council. And the first quotation says that doctrine should not be distorted or attenuated; it doesn’t say that external forms should be in continuity. I don’t think it would be a very obedient Catholic position to charge that the reformed liturgy attenuates or distorts doctrine (not that you claimed this), especially since all of it was expressly approved of by the Pope.

      2. Dom. Ruff, I was simply trying to set the record straight, to show that Benedict had, in fact, used the phrase.

        I am still irritated by your uneven application of “obedience” in your comments. It makes me feel like there is a deck stacked against me, like there are rules I must abide by that other Catholics don’t. It discourages me from commenting at all, really.

        If continuity doesn’t rank very high on your list, why bother with it at all? Sorry, I’m just awfully frustrated with this blog… not because it often presents a contrary viewpoint, but because I feel like it’s stacked against me.

      3. Jeffrey – good point, and your comment does document that the Pope has used the phrase “hermeneutic of continuity,” which is helpful for the record.
        I’ll keep trying to be even-handed, and please do call me on it if I fall short.
        I suppose I play the ‘obedience’ card with someone like you because of my sense that you value obedience to the Pope, and so my comment might be persuasive to you. I don’t think that tack would work with those Catholics who see themselves as prophetic dissidents or the loyal opposition. I can see how that would seem unfair to you, but that is my way of thinking. I’ll keep thinking about it.

      4. Dom. Ruff, I’ll address this issue (“charg[ing] that the reformed liturgy attenuates or distorts doctrine”) then.

        There are people here who implicitly (or explicitly) say that the un-reformed liturgy attenuates or distorts doctrine. Take the two-branch theory proposed above: “an X-hundred-year-old blind alley.” Apart from me disagreeing with that opinioin and his view of Vatican II in general, he’s certainly not speaking favorably of the development and growth over the past several centuries.

        My personal opinion about the O.F. is mostly positive (or else I wouldn’t go to it and exert energy developing catechesis on it), however I do see some inadequacies. (I also see a see inadequacies in the E.F.) Most of it has to do with the shift in language in the Latin prayers (to which Fr. Z draws attention regularly). One example which I mentioned in comments here is the November 2 prayers, which no longer explicitly mention the souls of the faithful departed.

        See, this is where I agree with some of the commenters here: maybe the underlying Latin isn’t necessarily good. Although my perspective is different from theirs…

        Now, I’m off to Birmingham for a week-long pilgrimage at EWTN. Prayers for safety on the road would be greatly appreciated.

  4. “Out of respect for him and out of deference to him and his office as the Supreme Pontiff, I do believe his opinions and suggestions should take precedence over our own personal preferences and ideas.”

    Frankly, this would be something rather novel for the Catholic world to do, and perhaps not always the best thing. I’m of course not necessarily talking about our current pope (whose liturgical writings I have always read with substantial agreement) but of any pope. His teaching office is one thing. His “opinions and suggestions” are quite another. Respectful consideration they deserve, indeed. But precedence? Not necessarily.

    As history has taught us, papal opinions, suggestions and preferences “related to the Faith” have in a few instances included even things contrary to the authentic faith. Let the Holy Father use his teaching office as the Holy Spirit guides him.

    1. If you are referring to the anti-popes of the past, that is a different “kettle of fish.” This Pope is hardly an anti-pope, and yes, his opinions do deserve precedence because he is the Vicar of Christ and speaks for Him on this earth. We aren’t. In short, when it comes to all matters related to the Catholic Church, his suggestions should be followed as closely as possible because he is the Pope, and quite frankly, you and I aren’t and never will be. Indeed, let the Holy Spirit use the Holy Father as his instrument.

      1. No, I was not referring to the anti-popes, or I would have indicated so. I was actually referring to those quite legitimate and actual popes who in the past have even espoused heresy (few though they be, thank God), such as the popes who held and promoted Arianism, for one example. Recheck your church history notes for other examples.

        If you really believe the argument you espouse, then you are prepared, I presume, to bend your thoughts and affections to those of whatever pope comes along. So if the next pope prefers versus populum worship, increased inculturation and vernacular, and the letting go of certain liturgical styles, you’ll have no difficulty with that. Wow, good for you. Too bad the Lefebvrites don’t see it your way. They would come back today (they never would have left).

        I am well-aware and most comfortable with the fact that the pope is the Vicar of Christ. But if he speaks for Our Lord in even his personal suggestions and whims, why are there recognized different levels of his teaching authority?

        Simply put, you won’t find your espoused belief here in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and for obviously good reasons.

      2. If that happened many on this blog would be brushing the dust off the word “obedience” and adding it back to the vocabulary.

  5. As far as the so-called hermeneutic of continuity is concerned, what if the reforms of Vatican II were, as I believe, intended to bring the Church back down an X-hundred-year-old blind alley and reorientate it into a better perspective? Imagine a tree with a large trunk and two large branches splitting off it. V II invites us to return to the splitting-off point, many centuries ago, and move up the other branch, perhaps so far comparatively undeveloped, instead of the branch we’ve been on.

    I believe that BXVI has not realized that this is what V II was trying to do, hence his incomprehension of the true spirit of the Council. He is trying to push us back onto the first branch, because he cannot see the second one or because he is afraid of it.

    In my opinion, this is the root cause of so much of the current dissension, including on this blog. People who participate here are on two different branches. The same goes for others on other forums. Now that some of us have moved some way up the second branch, some folk are insisting that we return to the first branch. But we can’t do that without jumping and falling to our death.

    What is the solution? In the end, we can only really get in touch with each other when we agree to descend our branches and look again at the point where the splitting-off occurred. I see no sign of any willingness to do this.

    1. It would save us all a lot of time and energy if someone would just publish “The True ‘spirit of Vatican II: what the Council really, really intended to say” so we can stop wasting time on what is not important, like what the Council did say.

      Your tree analogy does give something to think about. Even more so that soon after I saw you post on my Droid I happened to open my “CSLewisisms” app (which is free!) and this quote came up:
      “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back the soonest is the most progressive.”

      Coincidence? Providence?

  6. Of course the world synod of bishops (1985) already provided us with the interpretation of V2 and its spirit. The Constitution on the Liturgy presupposes continuity and manifests in many places that are sometimes disregarded because they are so obvious. The call to employ Latin and Gregorian Chant/polyphony are three examples. The hermeneutic of reform/continuity goes back to John XXIII in my opinion and is echoed in the synod of bishops under John Paul II. I cannot agree that the past 45 years of liturgical development carries the same weight as more than 500 years that preceded it. Reform in continuity is clearly a sign of the times.

    1. You don’t think the past 45 years (guided by the magisterium) carry the same weight as the previous 500… but you think the recent statements by Church officials on V2 carry more weight than anything the Council itself said? This seems inconsistent. The point made, which I don’t think you’ve addressed, is that the Liturgy Constitution says that ‘active participation’ is the concern above all others in the reform, and it emphasizes ‘active participation’ some 14 times. The Liturgy constitition does not speak of a “hermeneutic of continuity.” The issue here is what the liturgy constitution really meant, and its text seems to indicate pretty clearly that ‘active participation’ is a bigger concern than the individual calls for Latin, chant, and polyphony. What ‘active participation’ means is another question, btw, so I don’t want that dispute to muddy the waters until we deal with the issue of what V2 actually said about active participation and continuity.

      1. We could have had the Tridentine Mass in English, somewhat made more nobly simpler and we would have had the type of active participation we have today. In fact, if we had a translated into English Tridentine Mass, gave people the order of the Mass with their spoken and sung parts this very morning, in terms of active participation it would be no different than the Mass I just celebrated at 9:30 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time in terms of active participation, these are not mutually exclusive. Active participation should be the continuity in the hermeneutic of continuity that is well under way. For those who like Latin, they can participate just as well too verbally.

      2. I am more than happy to let a synod of Bishops provide an interpretation of a Council, and I think the 1985 synod did a good job of providing an authentic interpretation of the Council.

        Has it occurred to you that the Council Fathers may have believed that “active participation” can coincide with Latin, chant, etc., which is the reason they included mention of those things? The Council Fathers, building upon the definition of “active participation” found in documents from popes Pius X-XII (and reiterated in 1967!), felt the faithful could actively participate via these traditional elements of the Roman liturgy (thus maintaining continuity, not only within the liturgy itself, but within the Church’s view towards participation).

        Even though this doesn’t mention the word “continuity” (much like Jesus never mentioned the word “homosexual”), SC 23 does seem to address the issue:

        23. That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress Careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

  7. H V Morton (a non-Catholic), A Traveller in Rome (1957):

    I watched with a feeling of enchantment as if the gates of Time seemed to have been thrown wide….” (p. 14)

    “One’s first thoughts on seeing the Pope must be historical. It is with awe that one looks at a man whose sacred office extends back to the days of imperial Rome.” (p. 112)

    “The Pope approached us in turn, a spare, erect, cool and remote figure in spotless white….I made my reverence and found myself looking with interest at the most beautifully made red velvet shoes I have ever seen….I felt I was in the presence of a beautifully dressed hermit….when I answered his questions, he drew a beautiful cross in the air and moved on. I knew that I had spoken to a holy man.” (pp. 184-185)

    Our present Holy Father, as those before him, teaches us from above the very bones of his forebear Saint Peter, to whom Christ Himself entrusted His Flock. Not everything the Pope does or says is infallible but surely he is deserving of more respectful language than I have seen far too often here.

    1. That attitude towards the person of the Pope as a demi-sacred figure is something that is really dated to the 19th century, particularly from Leo XIII onward – in other words, after the Popes ceased to be secular rulers in any meaningful sense. For many centuries, Popes were the regular objects of satire, ridicule (eg, pasquinades) and criticism by Catholics; and often they were ignored when they could be. The faithful reserved their greatest respect for Popes in their capacity as guardians of apostolic blessings and indulgences, but those things were never dependent on the personal character of the Peops in question.

      Over the course of the 19th century, the Popes, like the British monarchy, have relied on the advent of modern communications media to foster a certain newer relationship with The People. But that comes with risks and costs, as Betty Windsor and some popes have learned.

  8. As moderator of this blog I must make a clarifying statement. Pray Tell is a place to discuss ideas freely, and no commenter can declare the Holy Father off limits. If there is a specific case of disrespectful language (about the Holy Father or anyone else) which is contrary to our Comments Policy, report it and the Editorial Committee will examine it. If, on the other hand, someone is not comfortable with free discussion, including the office of the papacy and how it is exercised, then this blog is not the place for them. If you stay, don’t expect others to follow your particular scruples.
    Fr. Anthony, OSB

  9. The term “tradition” seems to appear many more times than the term “active participation” in SC. I don’t know what that means beyond the probability that “active participation” can only be interpreted within the light of our already existing Tradition. This seems to follow the thought of the bishops’ synods.
    Surprisingly, I don’t see any more focus being given to active participation in V2 than what St. Pius X gave it in the early part of the 20th. c. Pius XI and Pius XII also used the term when they wrote on the liturgy (Divini cultus, Mystici corporus & Mediator Dei). The Council Fathers seems to be reiterating what the Magisterium was already saying. Very interestingly, the 1985 World Synod of Bishops went to great pains to define “active participation” the same way that Pius XII did. I guess that brings us back to continuity.

    1. But “tradition” doesn’t mean the past! It is ongoing and ever-evolving.
      There is a wide consensus that Vatican II made advances in the area of active participation – even the conservatives concede that. See, for example, Fr. Colman O’Neill in the proceedings of the 1966 CIMS congress in Milwaukee/Chicago from a very conservative perspective. Pius X used the term “active participation” once in his 1903 – we’ve travelled quite a bit farther by the time of Vatican II. No one can claim that V2 simply repeats Pius X.

      1. One of my favorite quotes has come to be: “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

      2. Dom. Ruff, and what about Pius XI and Pius XII? Read the description of “active participation” in Musicam Sacram of 1967 and compare it with the description found in De Musica Sacra of 1958. There’s continuity there too.

  10. Karl, it seems that the writings of St. Ignatius on the papacy predate the 19th c. as did the old custom of obeisance toward the pope (kissing his feet-even Charles V did it but so did Justinian and Charlemagne) so I doubt that we can seriously presume that the reverence toward the person of the pope began in the 19th c due to the presumed excesses of the ultramontanists. It is true that Protestant writers & secularists have been carrying most of the load in subjecting the popes to satire, ridicule, and criticism. They’ve been quite good at it. We Catholics, by respectfully reciting his name in the canon(s) of the Mass tend to give him the respect due him because – as Vatican II called us to recognize… he is Christ’s vicar and “religious submission of mind and will must be shown … to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra …(and it must be) acknowledged with reverence….” (LG 25).
    My thought is that the advent of modern communication increases the peoples’ direct access to the popes in a way that was impossible previously.

  11. Fr. Anthony,

    I think the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 was more than a mere assembly of Church officials discussing V2. The World Synod of Bishops, something created by V2, expresses the consensus of the ordinary Magisterium with their head. In fact, it can be said that the 1985 synod buried the discontinuity spin on the last ecumenical council.

    1. Robert, you’re repeating what you’ve already said, and what you just wrote does not reply in any way to my last comment. This blog is a place for dialoging with others and learning from them, not simply repeating one’s preconceptions over and over.

    1. But it doesn’t reply to that either – it just repeats your assertion that the Synod of Bishops trumps Vatican II.

      Please learn how to reply to a given comment so that your reply is indented under it – then we’ll know what you’re (allegedly) replying to.

  12. An important distinction…I never said the synod of bishops trumped V2, only that they provide the authoritative interpretation of V2.

    1. OK, good point. I suspect we’ll see many authoritative interpretations of V2 in the next 50-100 years.

  13. I have found the book ‘Still Interpreting Vatican II: Some Hermeneutical Principles’ by Ormond Rush helpful for trying to get some a handle on some of the issues of interpretation of the council.

    Rush advocates the idea or micro ruptures and macro ruptures:

    ‘… it was clearly not the explicit intention of the bishops to break with the great tradition… therefore, as I have suggested, a distinction must be made between a ‘macro-rupture’ and a ‘micro-rupture,’ the former consisting a fundamental break with the great tradition and the latter constituting a break with a particualr period or style within the tradition. In no way can the spirit of the Concil be conceived as a desire for a macro-rupture with the tradition. However, a case can be made for the claims by various interpreters that VII explicitly intended what I am calling certain micro-ruptures.’ (p 25)

    He gives examples in the book of micro/ macro ruptures. I found it put a lot of things in perspective.

  14. Do people really see Renaissance prince when they see red shoes? I suppose if he was walking around with jewel-cross encrusted slippers, but I would think that red shoes would be to an average person just another, if odd, part of a ‘Papal uniform’.

    And while I agree that perceptions matter (tiara, anyone?), I seriously doubt that the Pope ordered his secretary to go out and buy him Gucci sunglasses. More likely than not, it was presented to him. I suppose the line between that deliberately dressing down is a hard one, but I don’t think people are scandalised by that – or would even know that they were Gucci, if they weren’t told.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.