Liturgical stereotypes and a voice from the middle

U.S. Catholic applauds Fr. Anthony’s open letter. I too greatly admire what Fr. Anthony has done−not just this open letter but his entire body of work in the field of liturgical music and commitment to the long history of our liturgical practice. Those who are regular readers of Pray Tell know his deep love of “traditional” liturgy, that is, liturgy that expresses the wide breadth of our tradition, ancient and new. So it saddens and angers me to read some comments at America and at U.S. Catholic in the comboxes that interpret Fr. Anthony’s courageous and prayerful discernment as a weakness in his vows or yet another attack by “liberal” Catholics bent on the destruction of anything sacred or dignified in the liturgy.

You and I know that you can find all kinds of extremes in opinions in comboxes today and that too many people are too ready to write uncharitable things. So you have to read these comments with tough skin and lots of prayers for supernatural generosity of spirit. But I am tired of the stereotypes some of these commentators heap on one another and, now, on Fr. Anthony who has done so much to advocate for vigorous, intelligent, and respectful dialogue from all sides of an issue. These stereotypes portray those who agree with the translation as rigid Catholics who’d like nothing more than a complete reversal of Vatican II, and those who don’t agree as happy-clappy Catholics who simply want balloons and clowns at Mass.

These stereotypes often describe the extremes of a reality that doesn′t really exist, yet they are often the images that are so readily used to describe those who hold even a slightly different opinion. But the great majority of us stand in the middle. I know no one who stands more in the middle than Fr. Anthony.

On the first day of a class led by Fr. Thomas O’Meara, OP, his first question to us was, “What is theology?” Cricket…. Cricket…. “What is theology?” he repeated. My hand crept up as I ventured a guess. “Faith seeking reason?” I peeped. “Wrong!” he boomed. “It’s the act of standing in the middle.” He continued to describe how a theologian is one who stands in relationship between God and God’s people and helps to interpret, communicate, and facilitate the great story and history of the relationship between the two.

We need more voices from the middle to communicate a truer image of the complex reality of who we are: individuals with likes and dislikes, with expertise in some things, innate wisdom and shared experience in other things, and unawareness in many things, yet the good majority of us striving to be intentionally and consciously faithful to Christ.

Richard Gaillardetz, at the most recent convocation of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, said that in the church today, we have entered into a “politics of demonization” in which we “impute the worst of intentions upon another.” Then he asked, “Can we get anywhere if we start with the assumption that the other person is an idiot?”

My current job requires me to do what some call, “drink the Kool Aid” of the Roman Missal. I agree with some things in the translation process; I disagree with other things. Up until the final vote of the U.S. Bishops, my own bishop sought consultation with me and others on the many drafts of the translation that came across his desk, asking for recommendations for changes and affirmations of what was good. I did not like most of what was being changed, but I did see much good and some sense in the process and need. Then 2010 came as we awaited recognitio, and in the months afterward, I and so many others felt left in the dark. And now, in these next ten months, my Bishop has given me the task of helping him prepare his diocese for a translation that is different than what he and the other U.S. Bishops had voted on.

There is courage in what Fr. Anthony did, and we need more people of his expertise and experience to speak up. I think there is also courage among us “in the trenches” who, like Fr. Anthony, work hard to find what is good and build upon that; who, in workshops and deanery meetings, over dinner and in parish hallways, bear the blessing and the curse of being “the messenger” and hear all the possible kinds of responses and opinions people we meet have about this translation, all the while, trying to respond with charity, act with wisdom, foster hope, and do our best with what we have and what we have been given.

My prayer for 2011 as we navigate this part of our Church’s history is that we who stand in the middle will speak up when liturgical stereotypes and extremes dominate the conversation. In defense of Fr. Anthony and his community of Benedictines, I responded to one such comment in the combox at U.S. Catholic. I hope I did so with conviction as well as humility. In these restless times, I pray you will continue to speak your convictions too with force and passion as well as humility, responding with charity, especially wherever it is lacking.


  1. Why is it that anyone who disagrees or criticizes Father Anthony, agrees with the direction the Holy Father is taking with the liturgy, or questions those who publicly disagree with the Church are labeled “uncharitable”? It seems to me that those taking public stands against the new translations are the uncharitable ones.

    With the exception of the LeFebvrites, those who advocate “traditional” liturgy are not longing for a “reversal of Vatican II.” They are longing for the correct implementation of the Council as wished for by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. There is no “middle ground” here.

    It is not our place to publicly agree or disagree with the quality of the new translations. While we may certainly do so privately and wish things could have been done differently here and there, the Church’s will is more important than the opinions of insignificant you or me.

    1. The Church is Christ at full stature: head and members. While one may trust the leadership of the Church, in its role of representing Christ the head, to discern what is best for the whole of the Church, the body cannot thereby be discounted. The members of the Church contribute to its “will” as much as its leadership.

      Looking from the outside in, I cannot help but see a major disconnect between those who today claim to know the “correct implementation” of the Second Vatican Council, and those Bishops who were present at the Council, who knew its will because they formulated it, and who oversaw its initial implementation according to that will in the first place. I also cannot help but believe that, had the Liturgy Constitution been written after Lumen Gentium, it would have been far more forward-looking (progressive, dare I say “liberal”?) than it is. I suspect that many of its loopholes, which have allowed the more conservative reading its been given in the last eleven years or so, would not have been there: ad orientem celebration, use of Latin in stead of the vernacular, etc. On such a reading, the current — and, God willing, short-lived — approach is a “reversal” of what the Council intended, what its Fathers themselves implemented.

      But things are as they are, and all involved must work within the present structures and framework. Father Anthony is working within those structures respectfully and honestly — and those very structures ensure him the right to disagree with the status quo openly. The missal translation is not, after all, infallible: its acceptance without critique is not (and cannot be) binding de fidei on any conscience.

      I do not believe that those who have raised critical questions are uncharitable. No one can be obligated to show charity to faleshood, and the received translation is a falsehood: an artificial rendering of the Latin into very poor English, based on principles of translation that are more ideological than they are linguistic.

      Finally, I do not believe that the Bishop of Rome is entirely aware of the quality of the translation or the reaction to it of many of the Church’s best minds. He knows what he is told by his advisors; and I suspect if he knew otherwise, he might personally involve himself in a closer examination of things. His own linguistic skills are enviable, his theological acumen is undoubtable (if at times disagreeable to some): but what Pope has time to do a detailed study of the sort that would be required for personal intervention? I think, frankly, he has better things to do.

      1. Cody, ++Lefebvre voted in favor of SC, I don’t know if I would presume that his reading of SC was the same as some of the more progressive commentators here. The document’s specific directive that Latin remain the norm illustrates how conservative the document really is.
        Reversal of SC in the new translation? Not the case at all. This is the first time since 1965 that we are being given something close to a true vernacular translation of the Roman MIssal sans paraphrase. This is what the vernacularists at V2 were calling for. I agree, however, that the Council Fathers at V2 were looking for more Latin to be retained in regular parish worship. It is a goal to which we can work in order to see the full implementation of the council.

      2. Jack, while I agree that SC calls for more Latin in the liturgy, I want to be clear: SC would have been very different from what it is today if it had been the last and not the first document. By the end of the Council, I am quite certain that the fathers intended the vernacularization of the liturgy, etc., as came to be represented in the first three instructions on the implementation of the reform.

        The fifth instruction (Liturgiam Authenticam) is an attempt to repeal the first three, an affront to the memory of the Council fathers, and an interpretive move of a later generation grounded neither in orthodoxy nor sound liturgiology, but nostalgia and little more. And I find it amusing that the principles it lays out have been, in the new translation, observed mostly in the breach.

        The example of Abp. Lefebvre is hardly representative of the mind of the council in toto — and such extreme examples serve neither to further the discussion nor to foster a spirit of mutual understanding.

      3. Father Unterseher, How true. I especially agree with your remark about the pope even knowing of the final translation. This terrible missal has been foisted by those who normally expect unquestioning obedience from the faithful, knowing full well Pope Benedict may never so much as crack a page of the final product.

        How they have so terribly miscalculated the world’s reaction (even Huffington Post has joined the chorus) and embarrassed themselves and Pope Benedict. He needs to clean house big time now.

      4. Cody,

        I agree with you when you said “… I cannot help but see a major disconnect between those who today claim to know the “correct implementation” of the Second Vatican Council, and those Bishops who were present at the Council, who knew its will because they formulated it, and who oversaw its initial implementation according to that will in the first place.”
        Progressive liturgists have long had to contend with the actual texts of the council. For example, J. Peter Nixon points out that the Council Fathers who voted on SC never would have envisioned the eclipse of Latin in the Mass (Commonweal blog).
        That is why I don’t understand your objection to the example of++Lefebvre who was present at the council, who helped formulate the text, and who signed the docs. themselves. His confreres, in the Coetus Internationalis Patrum included hundreds of bishops. They successfully petitioned Paul VI to declare Our Lady Mother of the Church in late 1964. The late Pope’s declaration shows that their influence was greater later in the council than in its early stages. As late as 1965 Pope Paul had still not given permission for a vernacular canon.
        I fail to see how LA repeals anything in SC in particular or V2 in general. LA is replete with footnotes to the actual text of V2, I just don’t see any contradiction btw. LA and the text of SC.

    2. Irene,

      When you write: ‘the Church’, do you really mean: ‘the Holy See’?

      And why are opinions about quality of the translations appropriate in private but not in public?

      1. Where there is Peter, there is the Church.

        Publicly disagreeing with the Holy Father and the Church is not only disrespectful but also adds fuel for the fire to non-Catholics who love to find
        fault with us and malign us.

      2. Disagreement does not equal disrespectful, except in dysfunctional families. (St Paul the Apostle seemed to understand this, btw, with regard to St Peter.)

        The fuel to the fire argument is rather hoary and dated. Omerta in the service of making nice is not a virtue, and can be* (note: I didn’t write “is”) a vice masquerading as virtue.

      3. 777 The word “Church” means “convocation.” It designates the assembly of those whom God’s Word “convokes,” i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.

        Also: except for a few friends from other denominations who have ecumenical worries, the rest of the world couldn’t care less about the new translation of the Missal. This is a strictly Catholic issue. Criticism of the new Missal does not add fuel for the fire to non-Catholics: it is below their radar.

    3. It is not our place to publicly agree or disagree with the quality of the new translations.

      These are pretty hollow words if you judge the earlier translation as an incorrect implementation of Vatican II. Years of complaints about the earlier translation paved the way for years of complaints about the current translation. I am far more comfortable with those who see the new translation as building on and improving the earlier approved translation, but that view is pretty rare.

      If the new translation is as bad as I think it is, the proper ones to object are the bishops, who approved one text and are getting another, and their advisors. Fr Anthony counts as one of the latter, and I think it is appropriate for him to comment from that perspective.

  2. Diane: Very well written and kudos to you. May we all pray for reconciliation with our brothers and sisters in Christ who, even though they may disagree with me, I need to foster a spirit of charity and respect and cooperation with them. “Come, Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with your love.”

  3. Irene: Have you read the responses and words used against “the other side” regardless of what side you are on? I am ashamed at the lack of tolerance and charity that has been shown by all who “know best.” Since when is it appropriate to silence the call for justice and openness. Blessed John Paul II called for transparency and openness within the Church and this process has not been transparent nor has it been open. To suggest otherwise is to deny the work of countless servants of the Church who worked in vain to provide a translation that is worthy of the people of God. Yes, there are positive aspects about the new translations, one cannot deny the weaknesses in syntax and grammar and inconsistencies with Liturgicum Authenticum.

    To deny people their rightful voice to cry for justice is to deny the prophetic ministry each of us has through baptism.

    1. First of all, in the words of Archbishop Charles Chaput:

      “We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty — these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.”

      That said, we are not a democratic Church; we are a hierarchical one. As a result, the bottom line is this: if the Holy Spirit is indeed guiding the Church , it is guiding her through the Holy Father and the bishops. They are the ones who have been called by God to lead the people of God, not the other way around.

      1. The Holy Spirit does not only work through prelates. And the people’s role is not only to pray, pay and obey.

      2. Your church history, Irene, needs a bit of brushing up. Think Constantine, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Thomas More, St. Joan of Arc, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, St. Therese of Lisieux, They lead the People of God, by God’s grace and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, at times when some prelates simply wouldn’t.

      3. That said, we are not a democratic Church; we are a hierarchical one. As a result, the bottom line is this: if the Holy Spirit is indeed guiding the Church , it is guiding her through the Holy Father and the bishops.
        I would disagree with your first sentence. Hierarchy is not at variance with democracy and consensus building. We are not talking about a pipeline from the Holy Spirit dripping through the bishop of Rome, to the episcopate, and then through to the faithful. Historically, no such pipeline can be demonstrated from our reading of early church history.

        In the east, such an idea is totally foreign and always has been. A good example of this would be the reaction to the failed reunion at the Council of Ferrara-Florence. It was believed then, as it is believed in the east today, the Holy Spirit spoke through the lower clergy and the laity.

  4. Can we have specifics? There’s been a lot of talk and commentary on Fr Ruff’s letter, but so far I have seen no specifics, just emoting. Can someone or can Fr Ruff point me to where I can see what would drive him to publicly denounce the new translation as being a product of “deception and mischief.”

      1. Thank you for bringing this article back to the fore. This sort of recollection of once-gathering consensus may provide a telling (and perhaps archtypical) counterpoint should Fr. Anthony be hung out to dry.

  5. I thought the faith and the liturgy comes to us from the Apostles. Are we to all tinker with it now? This is a sincere question.

    The reason I’m asking it is, some are saying that there is no transparency and openness… Well, from what I can tell, what know who was performing the translation–who the groups were, Vox Clara, ICEL, etc.– we know what the texts are… we know they were approved—we know well in advance when we are to use them….

    What else do folks want? I really don’t understand what is lacking in transparency and openness about the whole thing. It sounds like code for “someone didn’t get to do what he wanted to the Missal, so he got his feelings hurt.” Is that what this is all about? If so, it’s hurting the Church. And no, I don’t mean it’s hurting “The Hierarchy.” It’s hurting all of us.

    1. The liturgy of the Roman Rite did not spring, Athene-like, from the mouths and pens of the Apostles. It developed over many centuries, and is not ossified.

      1. I am asking whether it is the right of every Catholic to tinker with the liturgy, or whether we still owe deference to God-given apostolic authority? I can study liturgy. Does that mean the Pope should listen to me?

      2. If you reach a point wherein you know more about the liturgy, its history, theology and celebration than the pope. . . after all, promulgation is done by the pope on the opinion of others. Unfortunately, those whose opinions are properly formed by critical study were not listened to in the present case.

      3. Deference does not equal suppression of disagreement, except in dysfunctional families.

        I have decried efforts to use agitprop to excuse or justify non-implementation,. so do not over-interpret me on this point.

        There are many people how grew up in families or cultures were disagreement could not be understood to coexist with family harmony; disagreement is in those situations always seen as dissonance. But it’s not necessarily so. In fact, the ability to disagree well indicates the presence of trust, and therefore of love.

      4. “Unfortunately, those whose opinions are properly formed by critical study were not listened to in the present case.”

        This comment sounds strikingly close to the Ottaviani Intervention. Perhaps you would agree with Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci?

  6. Having already been labeled as an evil conservative I will make this my last post on the blog. So I’ll say my peace and stick to orthodox blogs. I can list any number of personal experiences with so-called progressive liturgists that dwarf anything written about Fr. Anthony. It is a little bit like the recent calls for political civility…but only after 8 years of bashing Bush. It rings hollow. For example I remember a parishioner asking a pastor about a common liturgical abuse there and he was told if he didn’t like it he could leave the Church. Not just the parish, but the Church. The pastor fulminated against those “conservatives” and was never without a snide remark about the Pope.

    I suggest that “progressives” take a leaf out of Pope John Paul’s book. Why not undergo a purification of memory? You could apologize for the mistakes, sins, and liturgical errors since Vatican II. You could humbly ask forgiveness from the many traditional Catholics who were shouldered aside, relegated to the margins, or outright told to leave. You could cease the constant drum of dissent and reaffirm your loyalty to the magisterium. Why not gracefully accede that maybe it is time for a more traditional approach to the liturgy? You have had your chance. You can fight, but that will just create more casualties and you will still lose in the end. How about justice for the oppressed who begged for an end to experimentation and a greater fidelity to the Church’s tradition? If you had been more responsive then you have had more say in the process.

    Often I look at those who say they are in the “middle” only think they are in the center. In fact they are still on the Left. They still view those on the “Right” as the problem. Instead maybe we could just be with the Church. My prayer is that traditional Catholics will no longer be demonized and ignored. Some of them in the past showed great courage and suffered for it. Those who call for charity had better be able to show…

    1. Fr JIm

      And you should understand that some of those progressives you chafed under were reacting to the suffering they experienced from others who were once in authority over them.

      I am a progressive. I’ve certainly spent quite a bit of time privately and publicly considering where I individually and progressives more at large have made mistakes, committed sins, and where I and we need to learn more from those who disagree with us. And I am not alone.

      You assume folks like me don’t exist, and haven’t. We’ve been around for a long time, and have been chatting on the Internet in public since the days of the Usenet. We don’t always agree among ourselves, but your depiction of what you view as progressives, while true to your experience, should not be universalized.

      I will add that the Internet is a poor medium to seek validation for personal grievances from across the aisle, as it were, because the people you deal with on the Internet are typically not the same people who were involved in your personal experiences. Kinda elementary, but it seems a lot of people forget it these days.

      And I will add that, if the shoes were reversed (that is, if you were a progressive coming onto a traditionalist site and communicating in a similar vein), and this were Fr Z’s site, the buzzer would have been hit a lot sooner. I am glad it wasn’t here, btw.

      1. Fr Jim

        I don’t have a final point in mind, because the vision I have involves more bottom-up discernment as part of the mix of equation, and we’re not in a place where that is being done well.

        “Progressive” in terms of liturgical praxis has commonly meant someone who supported the idea that the liturgy of the Roman Rite was in need of reform. I think it did, and we are still working out the reform. I am not part of the party of people who believe that liturgical reform was misbegotten or mistaken.

      2. If this were Fr Z’s site we would have been reminded constantly to donate toward the monthly $2000 goal, send free new Latin Missal reprints, go to his amazon wishlist, buy birdseed for his feeders, buy Monk’s Coffee through his co-op arrangement, and butt out of things only priests and bishops should comment on (not you laypeople or even you deacons and seminarians!). Nice recipes and travel tips, however, and a more exciting life now than he had as an obscure Lutheran I suppose.

      3. Fr Z.’s quirky habits are irrelevant to the discussion, if I may say.

        Yesterday I advocated against removing comments, but the counterpart of that is that we have to point out when something seems to be, well, not constructive to the discussion. (I’m waiting for the backlash against my condescending comments.)

      4. As former (and soon to be again) moderator of PTB, I’d like to put in a good word for removing unconstructive comments. Each blog has its character, and various people like various approaches and are drawn to different blogs. A strength of Pray Tell is that the commbox is not a complete food fight. Readers are spared, for the most part, egregiously uninformed and uncharitable voices. I know that many readers like this – they’ve told me so. I know that some readers think we’re too kind in allowing the uniformed to keep posting. They say it wastes their time, and they’d prefer that we weed out more chafe to provide quality control.

        Yes, there are dangers in our policy. While any blog can have a bias and most do (especially in liturgy), and PTB is free to have its bias, there is a danger that we hamper the conversation if the convictions of the moderator bring a bias as to which comments deserve deleting. I’m willing to run the risk, because I think it makes PTB a better site.


    2. You are right about many things Father. I agree that it all depends where one perceives the status quo to be. The ladies at the Woman’s Ordination Conference see themselves as somewhere near the middle, others see “America” or the NCR there. Still others see EWTN as the middle when compared to EF only Catholics.
      We stand with Peter and leave the high Church, broad Church, and Low Church designations to our separated Christians.

    3. Father Goodwin, who are you talking to? That rant is coming seemingly out of nowhere. You say : “You… you… you”: who? Is it all self-identified progressives and all who self-identify as being in the middle? Is it Fr. Ruff? Is it the author of this post? What has she said in this post that made you so angry? Is there a hidden context that the rest of us don’t know? If you could be specific as to who exactly you are talking to and what exactly it is that they wrote and that got you started on this, it might help. I can’t make any sense of this comment. I would respond, but don’t know where to start.

  7. cont.

    it. If you chafe under the current situation remember that is how we felt for decades. Just for a moment consider that the Holy Spirit is leading the Church in a different direction. Maybe it is time for you to follow. I hope I have made my point and just for once I hope you listened.

    1. I respect Fr. Ruff’s conscientious statement even though I disagree with almost everything that he supports. He’s a priest and man of integrity. End stop. We must, at the very least, respect each other’s human dignity. I have bashed “the liberals” many times myself. None of us who take church polity seriously are sinless with regards to snide criticism. We can start over every new day with a new resolve for charity.

      The Latin Rite of “Mother Church” now has two children that are at each other’s throats. Still, it’s important to remember that we are just fifty years from the start of the Second Vatican Council. Jansenism raged in the Church for at least 200 years. The Council of Trent did not fully satisfy both those Catholics who wished to retain a Thomistic outlook and those who wished to move in a more Augustinian-Reformed theological direction. Some Jansenist-influenced liturgical and theological issues were left undone even at the start of Vatican II!

      The liturgical and theological rupture/internal schism caused by Vatican II cannot be realistically resolved in 50 or even 100 years. I am convinced that most of us will not see a substantial “ceasefire” in our lifetimes. The smoldering influence of Jansenism in the post Counter-Reformation Church should remind us that sharp differences require years of mediation. This flame of controversy will certainly burn brightly throughout my lifetime.

      All of us can be a little bit Pensees and Sacred Heart at the same time. Is there any other way to reconciliation?

    2. Was the Holy Spirit asleep or absent from 1962 to the late 1990s? The “hermeneutic of continuity” here seems curiously selective.

      1. Why can’t there be a double stranded post-Conciliar hermeneutic? The Holy Spirit illuminates both the traditional and progressive Catholic. It’s possible for two interpretations of the postmodern liturgical reforms to coexist within one rite. Progressives and traditionalists are still struggling to establish a liturgical Act of Uniformity that excludes the other. The only way to stop this strife is through a mutual respect that lets either side worship separately and in common doctrinal and political union with Rome.

        The “new springtime” of the Church has bloomed into two separate gardens. Why can’t this be celebrated rather than deprecated? Or, perhaps George Orwell’s “boot” will sadly prevail. We still have time to avert the latter dread possibility.

  8. The lead statement to this article is hardly written by someone who stands “in the middle.” I mean for someone to advocate the “middle” by comparing “birettas and cappa magnas” to “balloons and clowns at Mass” shows a mind already biased. Birettas belong to a form of the liturgy, clowns and balloons are an abuse and certainly do not. Hopefully, the author of this post does not think reference to an abuse should be a measure for the middle!

    1. Bruce,

      Cappa magnas may very well belong to a litugical form, but to some good Catholics they make their wearers look clownish and out of place, especially in a Church that identifies itself with the Beatitudes.

    2. Even good Catholics can make mistakes, wrongly judge others, or act “holier than thou.” Perhaps those who are always harshly judging traditionalists (or trying to kick ’em out the door of the Church) do too, even if they are otherwise good Catholics.

      I second Bruce’s point. Cappa Magnas and Birettas, regardless of one’s opinion of them, aren’t really comparable to clowns and balloons at Mass.

      1. Perhaps those who are always harshly judging traditionalists (or trying to kick ‘em out the door of the Church) do too, even if they are otherwise good Catholics.
        From most of the Catholic blogs I read, traditional, somewhere in the middle, the shifting middle, and liberal, I’ve found efforts to kick ’em out the door” come more often from those self-styled
        “orthodox” Catholics against their supposedly left-wing, “Obama voting” Vatican II “apologists” , and critics of cardinals Burke and Pell, or archbishop Chaput etc.
        Often telling others if you don’t accept “Summorum Pontificum”
        you should simply leave the Church, and “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.
        I’ve yet to come across one of those Vat2 defending types to invite traditionalists to leave the Church. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places.

      2. I was speaking more of the world outside the internet. The “Vatican II” types you speak of don’t need to invite folks to leave on blog comboxes – they still have enough power in most places to make it happen through their actions.

        I’ve said before that some traditionalists need a good dose of charity, but progressives need to own up to their own massive failures too.

    3. Just to clarify, no, I do not think reference to an abuse should be a measure for the middle. That measurement is made only from the standpoint of understanding the history, tradition, line of liturgical documents, and wide breadth of how that tradition and those documents have been and are implemented in a particular time and place. I believe it’s the middle ground of CSL 37. We are to know and cherish our Church tradition and highlight the best of that tradition and the practices that have pride of place. We are also to incorporate the best of the tradition of our local time and place that are in line with the authentic spirit of the liturgy.

      My use of the images of birettas, cappa magna, clowns, and balloons were not meant to be actual measuring points on the wide spectrum of liturgical practice. Nor did I mean to measure one against the other as if they were equivalent in nature. I meant them to serve as literary symbols representing the kinds of arguments and attitudes that are based solely on false preconceptions of “the other.”

      I hold no bias of one over the other. I would never advocate for clowns, balloons, or cappa magnas. Maybe birettas if the solemnity of the occasion and the disposition of the assembly called for this option. My bias, however, is always for simple, dignified, liturgy according to sound attention to the rubrics and wise use of the options made available in the documents in order to draw the assembly deeper into the life of Christ.

      Mr. Tereski, I believe if you had a chance to know me more, you would see that I am much more “in the middle” than what you assumed by your comment.

      1. Father Goodwin, I’ve usually found those quick to remind us to “say the black and do the red” in the liturgy are extremely unforgiving of even the slightest infractions against the GIRM and the”Caeremoniale Episcoporum”.

        For example, generally speaking, most bishops today wear their pectoral cross OVER the chasuable at Mass, and many priests wear their stole over their chasuable. Both here in the U.S. and elsewhere.
        It would appear to be a direct violation of liturgical law. Many
        have defended this practice using a variety of arguments from the cross is a superior icon of episcopal authority, central to the bishop’s office as defender of the Resurrection, and it trumps the chasuable which in Rome, until the 10th century, was worn by all clerics. There are other arguments advanced too.

        Now critics rarely assume a prelate may have received an indult from the Holy See beforehand. They just jump to the conclusion the bishop is a deliberate law-breaker.

        For rubricists and canonists on the more conservative sites,the bishops have, as a body, committed an extreme act of disloyalty and are out to humiliate the pope. This radical view becomes more prevalent as it is permitted to stand unchallenged other than from a perfectly legal standpoint.

        Wearing the stole or pectoral cross over the chasuable generally is dismissed on more liberal to moderate sites, as excessive rubricism, to the stage of bordering on phariseeism. Certainly there is plenty of evidence of a lack of charity on all sides. The bishops are left out to dry, condemned and hanged.

  9. Rightly or wrongly, the fact of the matter is that liturgists, whoever they might be, like bishops, are not trusted by the majority of clergy and laity. That’s a fact of life and Fr.Anthony is feeling it I suspect by some of the negative, uncharitable comments written at America and U.S. Catholic, not to mention this blog. Both liturgists and bishops have a long way to go to rectify what has transpired since 1965. In doing so that may well inspire a more harmonious, committed and charitable Catholic clergy and laity who follow Jesus in truth and in worship; at least that’s my prayer.

    1. Quite right, Father. And firing Fr Ruff and Fr Griffith for their critique, spoken out of years (Fr Ruff) and decades (Fr Griffith) is not the way to get this charity fest underway. Sending a letter to the world’s bishops, as Cardinal Pell did introducing the Vox Clara Missal guide (see Adoremus) by quoting Liturgiam authenticam’s directive that “the Latin text must be translated in the most exact manner,” when it is widely known that Cardinal Pell is the one who stepped in to change “stand in your presence” to “be in your presence” so people wouldn’t use a more literal translation of adstare to support standing during the Consecration and this blog has pointed out all the non exact translations isn’t really the way to build up truth in the Church I don’t think.

  10. The one comment I would like to add is I for one have grown out of the present missal. I for one am tired of the rewritten hymns to satisfy a politically correct publisher. I am tired of being told that anything that is played at mass is liturgically correct especially when they are chosen with someone with no liturgical training. I am wanting a more HOLY liturgical worship service. I cant help to think that every time I read a remark of the dissatisfaction of something that hasnt happened yet I cant help but think of the first time a 3 yr old is served broccoli.

    1. I am wanting a more HOLY liturgical worship service.

      The big problem for 41 years is no consensus has been achieved on how to accomplish that objective. Certainly, not because liturgists and discussants on either side of the liturgical civil war haven’t tried. If I had a dollar for every book and article written on this very subject, just since 1969 and just in English, attempting to sell his or her idea of the perfectly “holy liturgy”, I’d be sitting in my seaside house in Greece or the south of France now.

  11. To Fr Jim et al…

    As one evil conservative to another: I recall a great observer of such things once noting that the thinnest book in history would be “Great Moderates in History and Their Influence”.

    Its good to consider all points of view, but the so called “moderate” or “center” view is really nothing more than a repackaging of the Left’s view.

    Perhaps someone here could outline what would be the moderate or center viewpoint on the new translation, a view that would not rely on the assumptions of the left or the right, and which would not propose the same way forward as is proposed by the Left. I’d really be interested in hearing that.

  12. My thanks to Fr. Anthony for this blog. I have been following it for the last several months. You are doing our Church a great service.

    I applaud and support your open letter to our Bishops. I admire your courage, but above all, your integrity. I share your pain and your struggle.

  13. As a conservative, I can completely sympathize with Fr. Anthony’s position. There ARE some issues with what happened to the missal in its final stages, and if I were in his position I’m sure I would be upset.

    When it comes to liturgy, from my experiences I would say that Fr. Ruff is actually to the right of the middle! However, when one starts rumbling about “structural” and “power” problems with the Church “hierarchy,” he is using “liberal” terms (in “America” no less, a decidedly liberal publication). Given this, it’s very difficult to assert that the statement is coming from the middle.

    I think much of the vitriol from the “right” about all ecclesial matters stems from the way we have been treated by the ecclesial “left” since Vatican II. Because theologians and seminary formation (especially in the US) tended toward a more progressive interpretation of the Council (following Rahner and, more radically, Schillebeeckx and the rest of the Concilium school), liberals have acted for fifty years like they were completely unaware of the other school of interpreting the Council, the Communio school (following von Balthasar, de Lubac, Wojtyla, Ratzinger…). We have been treated like rabid anti-Vatican II traditionalists, when in actuality we simply interpret it with a different, less progressive school of theology.

    1. No matter where you stand on matters liturgical or theological, though, firing otherwise loyal workers (Fr Ruff and Fr Griffith) for pointing out that the last minute tampering of the text in fact VIOLATED the directives of the Holy See (Liturgiam authenticam and Ratio translationis) does appear more in the spirit of Hosni Mubarak than of Jesus Christ.

      1. If I may put on my teacher’s hat for a moment, I find the comparison to Mubarak to be distracting from the point made. Not helpful.

  14. What to do when the Holy See makes a decision that is wrong?

    Extreme conservative: That’s a contradiction in terms. Christ has told the Church that he will always be with her. Peter is there to guide her. The Holy Father cannot be wrong. Just do what is decided, without worrying about whether it is right or wrong: if it comes from the Holy See, then it is right.

    Extreme progressive: Just follow your own conscience and do what is right. Remember the Inquisition. Remember slavery. The Vatican has lost its way. Why do you even worry about what they say? We, not they, are the Church.

    Yes, it can happen that the Holy See is wrong, but our duty of obedience is primary. For the sake of unity, of respect, and of avoiding scandal, you have to follow their decision and not question it other than in private.

    Yes, we owe obedience to the Holy See, but our conscience is primary. For the sake of integrity and truth, you have to withhold following their decision until you have dialogued with them and reached consensus.

    For the sake of obedience, follow their decision but for the sake of the truth, publicly express your concerns with it.

    The “middle” way could also be called the schizophrenic way, or the anguished way. It’s a difficult, painful, unstable position to hold. To find peace, people are pulled one way or the other, or need to find an escape.

    Escapist #1 (Anesthetized): Whatever. That decision is not important anyway, and I can’t do anything about it anyway. For the new Missal: not important, because people don’t listen anyway.

    Escapist #2 (Creative): For the new Missal: I won’t go along with a wrong decision, and I won’t disobey. Instead, I will simply say the Mass in a different language.

    1. Claire,

      Nice typology. I’m probably somewhere between “Middle” and “Conservative” on this, inasmuch as I am somewhat selective in the fora where I make my public criticisms. In my parish, I will focus on the positives of the new translation (and I really think there are some), though if someone asks about negatives I will answer honestly.

    2. Claire;

      For the sake of obedience, follow their decision but for the sake of the truth, publicly express your concerns with it.

      I appreciate the attempt, but this “middle” point of view you are enunciating seems to assume that the new translation is defective, or needs to be “spoken the truth about”. Would it be a “middle” or “moderate” point of view to say “For the sake of obedience, follow their decision and for the sake of the truth, proclaim openly the beauty and wonder of the new translation”. The only difference between those two “middle” views is that your “middle” assumes that the new translation is defective and needs to be opposed – a decidedly “left” position. Your proposal isn’t the middle, it’s just the current view from the Left with the added admission that the new translation will be implemented regardless of individual opposition. What choice does someone who opposes the new translation have but to adopt this position you propose?

      Wouldn’t it be the ‘middle’ also to say “For the sake of obedience, follow their decision but for the sake of the truth, understand that you have an objection to it that is not universally held, so it would be best to keep that to yourself.”

      Why does the “moderate” point of view have to include objecting and speaking out against the new translation when that is clearly not a view that is “between” the liberal and conservative views, but is rather just the left’s position. That’s my question… we all talk about a center, but what would it really be?

      1. Here was my premise:
        “What to do when the Holy See makes a decision that is wrong?”

        Except for the couple of comments in the end, it was not specifically about the new translation, but general, for any situation where people are caught between two conflicting duties.

        If you find the new translation beautiful, wonderful, and not defective, then you don’t have a problem. Wherever you fall in the “conservative” to “progressive” spectrum, if you and the Vatican are both in agreement on something, then of course you’re going to do it. There is no conflict for you.

        Finding the new translation to be of defective quality is not necessarily a hallmark of left or right; for example, see the “Areas of difficulty” leaked reportfor a harsh criticism that I think cannot be labeled either way. What smacks of “progressive” or “conservative” in that assessment?

  15. Karl, I felt that chafing…from “progressives.” Those in authority, the liturgists, abused that authority. Now they demand civility and listening from those of us that are fed up. I feel your pain because I have experienced it from your camp. You want what your side did not give. I don’t think liturgical reform was mistaken, but that doesn’t mean everything that was done was according to the Council. I am a Vatican II fundamentalist. Follow the documents.

    Jeremy, you give an excellent example of the disdain, uncharitable, and snide “progressive” that I have been talking about. Thank you for your excellent illustration of how to insult those you disagree with and dismiss their valid concerns. I bet you want us to listen to you don’t you? Fat chance. I notice that no one remonstrated with you about your lack of civility on a thread about the alleged lack of civility to Fr. Anthony. You got a pass on the same behavior they are condemning.

    Claire, read my post to Jeremy. My point is that this post was about Fr. Anthony being attacked for his views. Meanwhile people who have the opposite view are attacked and on one seems to consider that a double standard. You want civility and charity? Then give it. You want to be listened too? Then listen yourselves.

    Jonathan, the Holy Spirit has been with us, but as Pope Paul VI said the smoke of Satan was there too.

    Mike, you are pretty much on target.

    Once again I say to all: if you don’t like how Fr. Anthony has been treated then don’t treat others, that includes traditional Catholics, that way. Much of the current rancor is blow back from how many of us were treated in the past. It would be nice if “progressives” acknowledged that and apologized for the liturgical abuses and how they mistreated others. I won’t hold my breath.

    1. Fr Jim

      Understand that many of those who implemented the liturgical reforms learned at the feet of people who had oppressed them since the Modernist purges earlier in the last century (not because they were Modernists but because a hermeneutic of suspicion had been cast far wider than necessary, making many afraid to espouse things even like vernacular in the liturgy). The cycle has deep roots.

      My uniform advice to anyone who is tempted to cultivate resentment against those who have aggrieved them in matters liturgical is: while it’s OK to be open about that, it’s entirely up to you whether to nurse and cultivate the resentment and continue the cycle, or stop defining the ego by its hurt and moving on. The temptation to nurse grievances is not of Christ, and should be a warning flag that you’ve gotten into an area that is not spiritually healthy to dwell overmuch on. I’ve said as much to fellow progressives on this site who’ve been using the translation episode as fodder for their own nursing of grievances. I don’t think all complaints and critiques are nursing grievances, of course; it’s a matter of degree, tone and obsessiveness – peevishness, grandiosity and universalization are among the many red flags of self-serving of the ego is ruddering things.

      * * *

      If you are a Vatican II fundamentalist whose documents only include SC, then you’re treating it like American Constitution, which it most definitely is NOT like. (Roman law is very different from American law in the prerogative it gives to the executive to act; people from the Anglosphere have a very difficult time when they project legal culture models from our world to the Roman world. I’ve been saying this to fellow progressives for years, and now find myself having to remind traditionalists about it.) You have to include all of the implementing legislation, including all the ritual books, and their praenotanda, et cet., as part of the documentary array. That’s 50 years worth of documents.

      Some progressives have offered a systematic study of these documents. Todd Flowerday’s blog has been doing this for the better part of a decade. Right now, he’s just started the General Introduction to the Lectionary. (Obviously, it’s a process, not complete.) You will find there are progressives who take even more care than some traditionalists in paying attention to the documents. They just know there’s a lot of documents to keep in mind together. SC is a beginning, not an end, point.

    2. “I have been hurt. Therefore it is OK (or at least understandable) to hurt back. I won’t be civil until others are civil to me first; I won’t listen until I am heard.”

      Am I reading you correctly? Is that what you are observing… an ecclesiastical equivalent of Republicans and Democrats, Israel and Palestine… or are you advocating such a way of being Church?

      Please tell me, when the ecclesiastical pendulum swings back in the other direction (as history shows it eventually does), will the camp currently on the defensive be justified if it, too, decides to retaliate? To misuse power? To target individuals for revenge? To assign the most negative of motives to those with whom they disagree? To reject civility in the name of “blow back”?

      In which Gospel would I find justification for such an approach (from either side – past, present, and future)?

      How is such an approach attractive (enchanting, inviting, welcoming) to those within as well as outside the Church? How does this uncharitable behavior (by both sides; whether past, present, or future) evangelize… give witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ?

      What drives such rancor? Have we made our liturgical (and broader ecclesial) agendas (both sides of the spectrum; often couched in terms of what is “best” for the people) into idols–so much so that we fail to see (and live from) our common faith in Christ? That we are part of the same Body? That not any one of us has a monopoly on the truth (that is, not one of us is God)?

      In our disagreements (which are inevitable in the life of any community), might we at least begin with assuming the best in others, and that they might have something important to say to us? That we are the ones who might have to change?

      When does the verbal violence — the tearing down instead of building up — stop?

    3. Father Goodwin, it’s not “us” against “them”.

      I can apologize for sexual abuse by the church, because I belong to the church, I am ashamed of its actions, and in a corporate sense I feel that I share some of the responsibility, just like someone can be ashamed of the behavior of a family member even if they themselves have no personal responsibility.

      But “progressives” are not a group, a clan to which one should have some kind of corporate loyalty. I surely count as a “progressive” with regard to attitude towards authority, but why should I apologize for liturgical mistakes made before my time by some people who have nothing to do with me? I don’t even typically like “progressive” liturgy! We are not in an “us” versus “them” framework.

    4. Fr. Goodwin,

      I’m sure we all understand by now that you don’t mind attacks on Dom Anthony because you’re still bitter about your having been attacked in the past. I’m more curious to know what you think of the substance of Dom Anthony’s letter.

      Do you think that the forthcoming translation is an exact one? Do you think that it accurately reflects the Latin? Do you think that it is intelligible English? Have you read the forthcoming texts? How well do you think the texts approved by CDWDS in 2010 compare to the texts approved in 2008 by the USCCB? Do you think that the translation process was a model one?

      If you can’t answer these questions completely honestly, perhaps you should make your way through the links in the featured post, “Missal Translation Directory,” on the homepage of this blog:

  16. Fr. Jim, what happened to compassion and forgiveness and have you exhibited it to those who have sinned against you in your own eyes? To quote those who are in favor of the new translation and don’t understand the angst of those who are disappointed in the new translation, “let it go!” You are perpetuating the same ill will that you are complaining about. Fr. Ruff has served the Church well and does not deserve this, nor do other liturgists who have followed the documents faithfully. (I’m not talking about clown masses either, as they aren’t worthy of comment.)

  17. Karl, I am a canonist among other things. One of the first things they teach you is “what does the canon say?” and “read the canon!” I have no problem with liturgical law as it is written. Follow the GIRM and the rubrics, amen. My problem is with those who use the term “spirit of Vatican II” to cover their violations of liturgical law. Similar to my problem with those who demand civility, but refuse to give it. But I can certainly agree that we should follow the law.

    Frank, so when I ask for justice and equity I am being unreasonable? Am I reading you correctly? This last pendulum swing led to your side acting like the Inquisition, with none of the Inquisition’s mercy. Now you want us to play nice, until you have your chance to do it again? I notice no mention in your post about your sides abuses of power and lack of charity, as if it never happened. That’s what drives the rancor.

    Claire, believe me I didn’t expect any apology. I have been around too long to expect that. You don’t see that your side did anything wrong. It is us vs. them. Just read the posts about Fr. Z. That’s why the fighting will continue and you can’t understand why the “progressive” liturgical establishment is not trusted and why there is so much anger.

    Brent, so I am supposed to forgive? But who is asking me to forgive them? They don’t think they have done any wrong. When someone admits wrong and asks for forgiveness let me know. I am pointing out that the ill will toward Fr. Ruff is a shadow of the ill will toward people like Fr. Z. Ask Fr. Z about his seminary experiences. What about the angst of people who did not enjoy the last missal? Look at the log in your own eye before pointing at the speck in mine.

    1. Um, the Inquisition comparison is so not apt. You’ve not served your argument well by employing it. If you wish to compare it to the Modernist purge, that’s one thing, but the Inquisition was allowed to employ physical coercion. Foul ball.

    2. I read Fr. Z regularly and enjoy his recipes , little anecdotes, and delight in reading his favorite causes and pet peeves.

      I think he can take care of himself. He gives as good as he gets. I find any “progressive” ,or one who is perceived by him as one, is usually mercilessly ridiculed and quickly impaled upon Fr. Z’s red marking pen. That’s his privilege, his constitutional right, and his right as a Catholic under canon law.

      It helps to make his blog not only popular, contentious, instructive, but thoroughly entertaining. I rarely agree with him and think some of his opinions are downright absurd, but I defend his right to be so, e.g. the priest-celebrant wearing his alb and stole only for Mass is simply showing up in his underwear. Liturgists of all stripes and historians of ecclesiastical costume will definitely take issue with this.

      Let’s stop whining and weeping into the towel for Fr. Z and his largely devoted band of followers. From what I can see, he’s adept at taking care of himself admirably.

      By the way, I believe someone earlier called him a former Lutheran. It was my impression from an earlier post on his site that he is a former Anglican. Now, I may be wrong and stand to be corrected.

    3. Father:

      Respectfully, no; you are not reading me correctly. (In case you were wondering, I was asking an honest question; not making a “snide” remark. I do not want to ascribe to you a position that you, indeed, do not hold. My question stands: are you making an observation or advocating a course of action?)

      Please do not claim to know what “my side” is; that seems presumptuous and disrespectful to me. I, personally, find such labels as progressive/traditional or liberal/conservative as open to sterotype, stifling of true dialogue, and, in the end unhelpful.

      Also, if you read my post carefully, you will see that I was explicit in expressing my concern that individuals from both “sides” (I apologize for oversimplifying a complex issue like the liturgy into a dichotomy) have acted in this destructive way, currently act in this way, and may very well continue to do so into the future – no matter who has the “upper hand.”

      The fact that anyone — regardless of theological opinion — is treated with contempt or disrespect by those who bear the name of Christ is shameful, scandalous.
      The fact that our critiques and comments – whether justified or not – are seasoned more with venom and pride than with charity and humility is shameful, scandalous.
      The fact that we fail to listen, really listen, to each other is shameful, scandalous.
      The fact that we have managed (on both sides) to turn the liturgy – that which should unify us – into a source of division is shameful, scandalous.

  18. I really don’t think this is going anywhere. That seems to be typical of “dialogue” which to “progressives” is often defined as “assimilating my way of thinking into your life.” It is like I am speaking a foreign language. I honestly don’t think some of you understand or even can understand.

    Let me try once more, for a second take the way you feel negatively about the hierarchy/magisterium/pope and then consider that is how some of us feel about you. You may think we are wrong or mistaken, but that is how we feel. As long as you ignore that, attack us, but then turn around and complain about Fr. Ruff being criticized then you just don’t get it. You want to stop negative attacks? Then YOU stop attacking others. You want to be heard? Then YOU hear others. You want civility? Then YOU be civil. You want to be included? Then YOU include others. I can’t make it more clear. This is my final post on the thread and the blog. Pax

    1. Father, I am sorry that you experience “dialogue” with “progressives” as “assimilating my way of thinking into your life.” My experience of dialogue with “conservatives” has been similar at best; rather more often like confrontation with a fleet of Vogons (see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

      An unfair comparison? No, I don’t think so. In my experience, many conservatives/traditionalists base their claims on appeal to authority, with nothing to be gained, or to be changed from discussion. Many progressives look to other venues: history, scholarly theology, ecumenical experience, etc., for models of understanding what liturgy is and how it should be celebrated (including lessons learned from bad examples). These come to the table for discussion and are quickly run over by authoritarianism in a championing as de jure divino of the present top-down approach (only since after Trent, and not much successful before Vatican II), often coupled with an anti-intellectual approach to history and constructive theology and a refusal to recognize that change and diversity have been historically normative for the liturgical life of the church. For these, there seems to be little to be gained by engagement with any ideas but their own.

      I come to the table as a ceremonially traditional, architecturally and musically eclectic, theologically conservative, socially liberal and historically suspicious person — a real mix, usually written off as “progressive.” When I can, I enjoy and find fruitful engagement with persons both more monolithically conservative and monolithically progressive than myself. I try to give slow and careful consideration to reasonable ideas on all sides, and I’m in no hurry for resolutions. Even when I run into walls, as I suspect you have, I do not refuse to engage others’ thoughts — not necessarily assimilating them, but giving them due consideration and not writing them off because I disagree. I do, however, refuse to go on the defensive or claim the victim-martyr’s part, and I absolutely will not resort to an ad hominem attack on character or morals (including obedience), logic (including doctrinal orthodoxy) or motivation — which, in my experience, is the first and preferred approach of more conservative types.

      In my experience, progressives are far more open to critical intellectual engagement than conservatives, who — again, in my experience — tend to dismiss what they find disagreeable, often treating an issue as authoritatively settled and beyond further development, consideration or debate.

      My experience — not necessarily yours — respectfully submitted for consideration.

    2. If your expectation of dialogue is that it means people are converted to your point of view, then you have a false expectation.

      I consider that I have been dialoguing with you, learning about your experience, even validating it at certain junctures, but I have no such expectation that you will come out of the experience thinking like me or agreeing with me. It’s not frustrating if you don’t bring the false expectation to it.

      I am curious how a canonist can be a SC fundamentalist, though. (I assume I am misunderstanding your intention behind using the term “fundamentalist” – I took that to mean the typical American Evangelical Protestant approach to textual literalism and staying entirely within the text in question.) Tell me more about that, if you would please.

  19. He’s a canonist.

    Now he’s taken his Code and gone home.

    Please, dear God, don’t let him become a bishop.


  20. This sums it up well: “…..Karl, I am a canonist among other things. One of the first things they teach you is “what does the canon say?” and “read the canon!” I have no problem with liturgical law as it is written. Follow the GIRM and the rubrics, amen. My problem is with those who use the term “spirit of Vatican II” to cover their violations of liturgical law. Similar to my problem with those who demand civility, but refuse to give it. But I can certainly agree that we should follow the law.”

    To be fair, canon law is a “tool”; it expresses the faith of the church. It is not the end or the goal of our faith journey. It also changes as the church’s understanding of itself changes. Liturgical law is the same – it is not liturgy. Would suggest that your emphasis is creating the issues.

    You use the term “spirit of Vatican II”. Here is a link to an article by an expert on Vatican II – Rev. Joseph Komonchak –

    He does an excellent job of being objective and also of explaining (correcting) those who interpret the remarks of the current pope on the “hermeneutic of reform” which many continue to change to continuity or discontinuity.

    One comment of Komonchak’s: “Perhaps the pope’s counterpoised hermeneutics represents what sociologists call “ideal types,” possibly useful tools for setting out the important questions, but not to be taken as literal descriptions of positions actually held by anyone. A hermeneutics of discontinuity need not see rupture everywhere; and a hermeneutics of reform, it turns out, acknowledges some important discontinuities.”

    Note his final section on traditionalists!

    Also echo what some historical theologians see as a constant pattern in the church – after every church council there have been efforts to change the council’s direction. History indicates that it takes roughly a hundred years for that council’s direction to…

  21. As I read “American Grace” recently, I was struck by the survey result that what we would describe as “salt and light” activity by Christians in the world stems in large part from the bonds of charity developed in their respective parish or congregation.
    If the New Translation is successful in building up those bonds and strengthening our community, we shall all be winners. If it succeeds in tearing those bonds apart and weakening that same community we shall all be losers.
    I really don’t see how there can be any happy outcome where one part of the community wins and the other loses – certainly not as it applies to our witness to Christ in the world.

  22. Yes, Fr. Jim, according to the Gospel, you are to forgive, even when people don’t ask for forgiveness. Ironically, it comes in the same passage of Gospels you refer to in my removing my own log. You label me as a liberal and from your suppositions, you think I enjoy clown masses every week. Those who know me know otherwise. And to be fair, I don’t see you as being willing to dialog. I was actually thinking of your approach as being more Borg like (Fr. Untersehr).

  23. Jack Nolan said ++Lefebvre voted in favor of SC

    Another example of misinformation spread around the internet. Lefebvre did not vote in favour of SC. He was one of the “abstentions”.

    1. It’s a Mass where people dress up like clowns. Apparently it’s happened a few times in the past, and traditionalists tend to harp on about it way too much considering how far removed it is from the vast majority of people’s experience of the Novus Ordo.

      It’s got nothing to do with cappa magnas, but I assume you actually do know that.

  24. By complete happenstance I just came across someone else describing cappa magna liturgies as clown masses. Extremes meet, indeed.

    1. Just goes to show that even deacons can be uncharitable people. Ridicule is a pretty easy way to control others, I suppose.

      I don’t even like the Cappa Magna.

  25. I would observe that before Fr. Goodwin flounced (a technical term for announcing — typically on several occasions — that one is leaving an internet forum) he was, with one or two exceptions, engaged with in a quite civil manner by various “progressives.”

    I myself would not happily accept the label “progressive” (I am far too Augustinian to believe in anything like progress), so I can’t really apologize to him for past hurts inflicted by progressives. But I am a Christian who frequently sins against charity, so I would like to extend to him my apologies for hurts inflicted by my fellow sinners.

  26. But shouldn’t Christians believe in progress? The vision of the Kingdom of God is joyful news — it is not just about containing original sin. When Paul VI called for no more war, was that not a Gospel cry?

    That is why I am nervous about the anti-Englightenment noises made by Radical Orthodoxy and others. What we need is a richer, broader Enlightenment, taking fully on board all that was good in the 18th century one.

    Teilhard de Chardin was one of the most visionary theologians of the last century, and he believed in progress to his fingertips, and what progress!

    1. Honestly, Joe, you have every right to be nervous. When we are still experiencing all the bad things about the 18th C. Enlightenment, we may start asking whether the presuppositions of an Enlightenment that lost its moorings in the Christian faith still ought to be valid.

      I needn’t remind you that the same capitalist system that is failing your country in particular was also a result of that Enlightenment.

    2. Fr. O’Leary,

      This might be a discussion for another forum, but I guess my reading of history simply differs from yours. “Setbacks” are the norm, not the exception. The kingdom will come like a thief in the night.

      I agree about Teilhard, however. He certainly was visionary, and I’m happy to see his optimism as a dialectical counterpart to my own Augustinian pessimism. The Church and world would be dreary places if they were made up entirely of people like me.

      1. Yes, “progress” is not linear or Hegelian. As they say in recovery circles, expectations are premeditated resentments.

  27. The Prophets were not Hegelian or even linear — but they did encourage us to look for a future of peace and justice. This is scotched, rather scandalously, in the Pope’s Jesus book, which makes an almost Marcionite cleavage between the temporal hopes of the Prophets and the spiritual message of the Kingdom.

  28. Re: Claire #63–what concise types! These may seem unpleasantly reductive at first but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone who escapes some characterization this way. Afterall, can we transcend ideology, inasmuch as it is a relative comparison of differing perspectives? The fact that we ALL live in a Church as “Totus Christus” full of saints and sinners on a journey should quickly dispel this simplistic recurring notion of “just be Catholic” (a paraphrase of Irene in #1 and #8 among others). This idea is as possible as it is substantial! It presupposes a uniformity and monolithic stasis that simply doesn’t characterize the actual history of the Church or Liturgy according to extant documentation. We’re human beings and even our faith will be expressed in the mode of our particular culture and context, naturally appearing in contrast to those who disagree. Thanks for articulating this spectrum!

    @ Cody #80–I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Building on an idea that popped into my head following my Theology class this morning: anti-intellectualism frequently forces us to an impasse. As one Jack Nicholson character said once: “you can’t handle the truth.” I fear that when the heavy-hitting scholars in the Church today have labored to uncover and articulate the truth both in contemporary issues and in the Liturgy historically, their work falls on deaf ears–perhaps for all its inconvenience.

    What is the “Spirit of Vatican II”? John O’Malley, does a comprehensive rhetorical analysis of the official documents and suggests an answer (not the straw man follow-the-spirit-exclusive-of-the-letter BXVI definition)

    Does Liturgiam Authenticam actually advocate true precedent or, in fact, fiat something radically new? Peter Jeffery wrote several articles (later compiled in a book) that systematically exposes the alarming ignorance of this document.

    Two examples, among many. In a soundbite world of anecdotes, footnotes are my antidote.

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