Ecclesiology of the new Missal

Fr. James Dallen is a priest of the diocese of Salina, a liturgical scholar, retired University professor, and author of numerous books on liturgy. He has written an essay on the ecclesiology expressed in the new Missal and its current translation. It is posted on the Misguided Missal website.

His thesis is this:

I see it [the new Missal translation] subtly communicating a view of Church, the Counter-Reformation institutional model, that threatens the ecclesiology of communion that is central to both the letter and the spirit of Vatican Council II.

The translation itself, and the way in which it was produced, are presented as examples of how the institutional model is being re-established, to the detriment of the ecclesiology of communion.

It is well worth reading, despite the fact that it covers ground that will be familiar to our regular readers of the Pray Tell Blog. What is distinctive is the ecclesiological focus, which he elucidates by reference to Avery Dulles and others.

You can read it all here.



    1. The Vatican Bureaucracy does not like the messiness of dealing with bishop’s conferences. Bishops do not like the messiness of dealing with presbyteral councils, and parish priests do not like the messiness of dealing with pastoral councils. Monarchs and dictators don’t like the messiness of democracy.

      The issue is not one of the “institutional” church vs. some “spirit” of communion. Conferences of bishops, presbyteral councils and pastoral councils are all institutions. They just happen to be collegial institutions.

      While the New Missal may rankle many priests who have to recite its texts, and a few bishops who feel that Rome did not listen, most of us laity really do not have to listen let alone recite most of its texts. I don’t even pick up the pew card anymore, I just let my more “pray, pay, and obey” colleagues in the pews do the work. Oh, yes, I am letting them do the pay, too.

      The democracy issues for those in the pews have shifted elsewhere. For 13 parishes in the Cleveland diocese it is the stunning reversal of Lennon’s parish and church closings by the Curia. Yes, the Curia! Never has Rome locuta est been greeted with greater joy! Did they really overturn the decisions because Lennon had not listened to people in the parishes, nor the planning process, nor consulted with his priests council? Most likely those were just the legal excuses; the real problem was that Lennon did not feel that he had to explain himself even to the Curia!

      Now Dolan, Chaput and other right wing bishops have launched themselves into an alliance with the Republican party against President Obama and the Democrats, and are invading the parishes with their political messages, The Missal crisis provoked a great yawn from the pews. The parish closings provoked very deep but not very wide resistance from the minority of parishes effected. But politics is another matter. When clergy become politicians, democracy will break loose in the church.

      1. Even Ryan knows where the action is now.

        In an email to NCR, he wrote, “I decided to take a preemptive strike by sending out my email (April 11) thinking that many of my parishioners would either boycott Mass this coming Sunday or that they would arrive in a white heat. The tone of my email was low-key and anything but inflammatory. I have received 115 responses to it — when none were required or even expected! — and fully 110 of them have been strongly supportive of my decision. And I mean strongly supportive!”

      2. The Rise of the None/Others: Obama could win reelection even though he loses majorities of both the Catholic vote and the Protestant vote.

        CARA has a very interesting analysis of how the rise of the None/Others will likely affect the outcome of this year’s election. This is a very innovative analysis. I have never seen anyone else connect the Nones to the Others and show its political implications.

        Today, the None/Other population percentage has risen to 22 percent (… and is expected to continue to grow in the future). This makes it nearly equivalent in size to the U.S. Catholic population percentage.

        Surprisingly, just looking at the polling data and the electoral math, President Obama doesn’t need to win the Catholic vote or the Protestant vote for that matter!

        I’ve run a variety of statistical simulations on the national popular vote as well as state popular votes using exit poll data (accounting for Electoral College votes). The “magic number” coming out of most of these for President Obama is 44. His support among Catholics and Protestants can go no lower than 44% and he will likely win re-election as long as his support among the None/Other vote is similar to what it has been in recent elections (typically above 70% overall).

        It religious implications for Catholicism may be far more profound. People are not going to revolt or leave the pews over Missal language, but they may do either or both over politics. Be prepared to be surprised. Every time JP2 landed in a country and kissed the earth, my Polish father said the same thing: “Do as I say, not as I do.” referring to the JP2 rule against priests in politics.

  1. Thanks for linking to this essay by James Dallen. Certainly much of what it says will be familiar to readers of this blog, but it is also good to have it all in one place. And the setting of the argument within an ecclesiological focus is even more important as we look to the 50th anniversary of start of Vat.II, and the very different theology it promoted.
    I hope this essay gets a wide readership.
    As a footnote, so to speak, recently as we moved through Holy Week, and I was doing some comparison of the way the liturgy has developed I took out an interim translation of the Holy Week liturgy that came out in the UK in 1966. There in the preface I read these words by Archbishop George Patrick Dwyer of Birmingham – not exactly a well known liturgical progressive:
    “It has been the aim of the Committee to produce a version in an English that is recognizably modern yet with a certain gravity of style appropriate to the subject matter. They avoided of set purpose any attempt at an archaic or artificially ‘sacred’ style.” (The New Holy Week Book, Burns and Oates, 1966).
    And finally, would someone care to parse the meaning of the Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter for my congregation, which was made up from people who speak at least half a dozen of the various “Englishes” that are currently spoken around the world. Quick glossary comments would seem necessary for such words as ‘recurrence’, ‘kindle’, ‘bestowed’ and ‘font’, among others.
    The other prayers also contain words not immediately accessible to people whose English is neither of the USA or British variety.

    1. Everyone knows “kindle” is a device for reading and communicating, and that a “font” is a particular set of forms given to letters. Those are not such rare terms.

  2. Today’s collect was unbelievably obtuse. I am growing very weary of trying to make the best of these prayers. The idea that praying these prayers “well” requires preparation should be regarded as nonsense. I know how to pray, the people know how to pray, but the ability to pray of those responsible for these new texts is increasingly questionable.

    1. It also contains an error in punctuation. The comma after “who” in the second line should be removed, or an additional comma inserted after “feast” at the end of the line. I have lost count of the number of times this sort of thing happens.

      1. Both the US and UK editions that I have contain the comma. It sounds as if we may have a new problem: divergences between different editions of the Missal, or between different editions from different publishers. It is known, for example, that after the final text for both those countries went to press, errors were found in footnotes to GIRM in those editions. The printed versions do not include the necessary corrections.

      2. And I now discover that my Liturgical Press chapel edition has no comma, but the UK study edition does have it……

  3. The length is perhaps unfortunate, but this is a wonderful summary of the issue–and the highlighting of the ecclesiological question and its symbolic expression in liturgy surely spot on.

  4. Avery Cardinal Dulles wrote a very insightful article contesting the views of another Jesuit and others in America Magazine in 2003 entitled: Vatican II: Substantive Teaching which you can read here:
    These are but two paragraphs in Cardinal Dulles longer “apologetic” that speaks to Cardinal Dulles proper understanding of ecclesiology and authority in the Church:
    “Curiously enough, the most dramatic doctrinal innovations of Vatican II would seem to run directly against the spirit of egalitarianism. No previous council explained at such length the role of Christ as the author of every grace and as the center and goal of all human history. The council affirmed the necessary role of the church as the instrument used by Christ for his entire work of redemption. It repeated the strongest claims of Vatican I for papal primacy and infallibility and supplemented them with a strong insistence on the hierarchical authority of bishops. The council went far beyond earlier magisterial pronouncements in teaching that episcopal ordination is a sacrament that places bishops in a distinct order, and that bishops have, together with the pope, complete authority over the church, under Christ the Lord, to whom they must render an account of their ministry.”

    “Why is dissent so rampant among younger Catholics? An important contributing cause, I suggest, is the reluctance of their elders, both lay and clerical, to challenge them with the hard truths of the Gospel. Misled by a false spirit of accommodation, parents and teachers take the easy path and advise people to follow their own conscience, as though conscience did not have to be formed in light of the teaching of Christ, which continues to resound through the church. In giving this advice they may think they are obedient to the spirit or style of Vatican II, but they are unfaithful to its substantive teaching.”

    But earlier in his article the Cardinal writes this:

    “The council did… adopt a rhetoric of consensus, service, openness to change and inclusiveness. But that rhetoric did little to prepare people for cases in which consensus could not be reached, or in which people did not want to hear what the Church was to obliged to preach, or in which ecclesiastical institutions are not subject to change, or in which inclusion would destroy the necessary unity of the flock of Christ. By their tone, if not their content, the council documents exuded optimism and perhaps raised unrealistic expectations. The calls for submission and compliance were so muted that readers could easily overlook them.”

  5. Great to see a piece on the core issue of this blog.

    The shocking skulduggery of the Vatican in its silencing of Sean Fagan is of a piece with its liturgical arrogance.

    Ratziner is not anti-modern; he represents the worst modern systems of governance.

  6. It is surprising that a theologian of Cardinal Dulles’s gifts should have fallen into the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ trap. For on its own, it is simply useless as a hermeneutical guide: it gives no clues about what can be seen as legitimate development and what must be rejected. It is, in effect, a refusal to take a stand. In this regard the Lefebvrists have more intellectual integrity than many Vatican leaders today; at least they simply reject the whole of Vatican II – doctrine, liturgy, ecclesiology.

    Fr Dallen’s article is excellent, in my view, even if rather long. Like the Lefebvrists, and unlike Cardinal Dulles and – sadly, this has to be said – Pope Benedict, it takes a stand. That has consequences not only for the vernacular translation of the liturgy, but in many other areas. If you follow Fr Dallen’s logic, there is little case for maintaining the Tridentine Mass as an integral element of the Church’s worship. Increasingly, I believe this to be true.

    If some Internet rumours are to be believed (I pray that they are false), the ‘continuity’ fudge is about to be put to a terrible test, in the potential regularisation of the SSPX. Summorum Pontificum was damaging, the new translation more so. A further step could be devastating to the Church.

    1. Father Dallen’s article is a very worthwhile read. I think he is correct in his analysis and the great majority of the conclusions he points to. However, in footnote 12 on page 31 (on my print-out) I do think that he misconstrues ‘résourcement’ by identifying it in contrast to ‘aggiornamento’. The approach of the ‘nouvelle théologie’ and its theologians was to ‘go back to the sources: Scripture, Tradition and traditional’ in order to clarify what are the essentials for our liturgy and our faith and then to ‘draw the necessary conclusions’ about ‘restoration &/or updating’ them in the life of the Church. The purpose was to ‘work a profound deepening of the spiritual life’ — using the Scriptures, the Tradition and ‘traditions rightly re-centered in the life of the Church’ and especially in its worship of the Holy Trinity. It certainly was not a call to ‘be old fashioned (in some sense); rather it was a call to use the best of scholarship and to take good advantage of its possibilities for ‘re-presenting’ the ‘mysteries’ in the Church. [But I do also think that the evident contrast of approaches that Fr. Dallen is pointing to is obvious — I just think he has chosen the wrong ‘word(s)’ to identify what he is speaking truly about.]

    2. Just want to say per “editor” post – “What is distinctive is the ecclesiological focus”. Some of us have repeatedly stated and documented this focus and emphasis in response to some of the more misguided EF, TLM, etc. justifications. It also goes much deeper than cursory complaints or compliments on LA and the new translation.

      Mr. Day – you might want to put these late in life comments by Dulles in context. Towards the end of his life and after receiving his “cardinal hat”, Dulles published a couple of works that move from his original thoughts and works and come across much more as an “apologia”. They were quickly reproduced by folks such as First Things, etc. to footnote their own Reform of the Reform movement.

      Unfortunately and sadly, his last published works are not consistent with his lifelong focus and did damage to his original thoughts and theses. Like some as they grow old, the human swing to caution, fear, and history seems to impact what was once a spirit that carefully researched and creatively posited ideas and thoughts that moved the people of God. In many ways, the very “late” Dulles reminds us of Newman’s quote about “old age” popes and their pronouncements.

    3. Jonathan, I’m a bit unclear about your statement: “For on its own, it is simply useless as a hermeneutical guide: it gives no clues about what can be seen as legitimate development and what must be rejected. It is, in effect, a refusal to take a stand.”

      Dulles makes clear that “the hermeneutics of continuity” has been around since the American “Synod of Bishops in 1985 recommended this approach to the council documents, it had no intention of denying change. No serious student of Vatican II would wish to say that it changed nothing—…But the council was careful to avoid disruptive change.”

      The stands that have been taken which I clearly understand that many who write and comment on Praytell would not like are the manner in making liturgical decisions as it regards the translation of the Mass–a very clear stand has taken place and many more subtle stands. However Pope Benedict is changing the course of this ship we call the Church incrementally and often by modeling rather than mandating, which is quite disarming for many. His modeling kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue and the so-called “Benedictine altar arrangement” are two such things. But he has mandated SP and the new translation of the English missal. That’s pretty straight forward. The language of the Latin Rite Mass in the vernacular should capture the sentiments, spirituality and theology of the Latin Rite Mass. One may denigrate Cardinal Dulles and dismiss his observations as the ranting of an old man, but he is far from being the lone ranger in his assessment of attitudes concerning Vatican II’s actual documents and what progressives have tried to do in manipulating the texts and the Church according to their hermeneutic.

      In other words, stands have been taken by Benedict and others of his mind and clearly so and this is what makes progressives a bit edgy.

      1. Fr Allan, I have tried to explain my concerns with “hermeneutic of continuity” in a number of places on this blog, including a longish post here.

        Pope Benedict has made some decisions — for example, making the Tridentine Mass widely available. He does certain things in his papal liturgies — for example, administering communion on the tongue.

        But in aggregate he sends an uncertain message to the People of God. Is the normative rite really a “banal, manufactured, on-the-spot product?” Should all Masses be celebrated with the priest facing the apse? Should communion in the hand be forbidden?

        My claim is simply that “continuity” seems to mean almost anything. The beautiful liturgy that Pope Benedict celebrated at Westminster Cathedral was “in continuity”; so are the Masses at my parish, and many other parishes. But the Lefebvrists, who claim “continuity”, would say that all these celebrations were in “rupture” with tradition.

        “Continuity” on its own tells you nothing. What we end up with is a contest of wills.

        To add on another shibboleth of this papacy, “the hermeneutic of continuity” often seems to lead to nothing other than “the dictatorship of relativism”.

      2. Thanks Jonathan for your response. What the Holy Father has done is not forced any issues and I would suspect what he is modeling is for bishops to see if in fact any sort of “mandate” is to be forthcoming either now or in another papacy. But who knows. But in terms of the EF Mass, which I have in my parish on a limited basis, it is no big deal and many people who prefer the OF come to the EF sometimes and they don’t mind kneeling or standing for Holy communion. And those who receive in the hand (and the majority do in my parish) don’t blink an eye at receiving on the tongue as they kneel. And as far a Latin goes, they accept it for what it is in the EF and like moderation for it in the OF. In other words they prefer the vernacular as do I.
        This sound like growth and maturity, compared to the 1970’s when any thing that smacked of “pre-Vatican II” was demonized and the worst insult that could be hurled against a Catholic was, “you are so pre-Vatican II!” That just doesn’t happen today, thank God.

    4. I’ve yet to see a good reason why SP could possibly be considered “damaging.” Evidence seems to support the idea that limiting the EF was more damaging than freeing it up will ever be.

      1. Fr Allan gives an example above, with people accepting Latin “for what it is” in the EF. Unless his congregation is fluent in Latin, prayers that are incomprehensible to them are “acceptable.” That attitude could carry over to the OF, with prayers becoming “acceptable” instead of becoming vehicles for participation ; instead of praying, people can “accept” and drift along in their own spirituality instead of responding as a united Church.

        I am not saying this has happened to Fr Allan’s church, just that it illustrates the different ecclesiology that could impact liturgy in a way that discourages hearing and responding to God’s Word.

      2. Jim, with our EF we take pains to make sure the changing parts of the Mass are provided in a program in the vernacular and we provide “missalettes” with the order of the EF Mass, in Latin on one side and English on the other. The Scriptures are in English.
        I have a rather good cross section of believers from all over the world, although we’re not a huge parish, and to be honest with you not one native English speaker has yet complained about not understanding the revised/corrected English Mass. Now granted, most of my parishioners are high school graduates and many have post graduate university degrees, so that may make them elitists in this regard. My Polish parochial vicar, though, who only learned to speak English five years ago but speaks it fluently now has commented on how much better he likes the reformed English translation compared to the abysmal one recently and mercifully suppressed.

      3. That’s not example – you cherry-picked a word Fr Allan used and created an example that even you admit may not be true.

        The EF is – at least 99.99% of the time – celebrated by people who want it and who are *deeply* engaged with it. It is also much easier to partipate in than those who dislike it wish to let on. It’s way easier to follow than a Novus Ordo celebrated in another language would be, IMO.

      4. in the Church, the Lord always remains our contemporary. Scripture is not something of the past. The Lord does not speak in the past but speaks in the present, he speaks to us today, he enlightens us, he shows us the way through life, he gives us communion and thus he prepares us and opens us to peace. Benedict XVI


        I was only trying to answer the question you asked. Fr Allan describes a congregation that needs printed materials to achieve any comprehension. That removes them from a direct appreciation of Christ speaking comprehensibly in the liturgy by making the liturgy itself a thing of a different place or culture.

        Even with that, Christ can still speak in the liturgy. It might even be less of a problem than familiarity causing people to take the liturgy for granted in the OF. And I cannot say if this happens in Savannah or Tokyo or anywhere else that I have never been. Or where I have been. It just seems to me to be a danger associated with the EF and with the ecclesiology of the abysmal but recently promulgated translation.

  7. While I am no fan of SSPX and certainly their politics boarders on Fascism, I think we should be cautious in attributing to them things that are not entirely true as it concerns Vatican II. The following I lift from the blogs, Chiesa and The Hermeneutic of Continuity:

    “Sandro Magister offered comments and published an article by John R T Lamont (For the Lefebvrists, It’s the Last Call to the Sheepfold.) Lamont uses a response to the Holy See by Fr Jean-Michel Gleize FSSPX to summarise the difficulties that the SSPX has with a few texts from Vatican II. He then lists a number of conciliar texts on the scriptures, the Church, the Eucharist and marriage and points out that in fact the SSPX accept all of these and that far more of the teaching of Vatican II than many theologians in Europe, North America, and Australasia. He then says:”

    “The vast majority of theologians (secular, progressive, elitist Catholics) in Catholic institutions in Europe, North America, and Australasia would reject most or all of these teachings. These theologians are followed by the majority of religious orders and a substantial part of the bishops in these areas. It would be difficult, for example, to find a Jesuit teaching theology in any Jesuit institution who would accept a single one of them. The texts above are only a selection from the teachings of Vatican II that are rejected by these groups; they could be extended to many times the number.

    Such teachings however form part of the 95% of Vatican II that the FSSPX accepts. Unlike the 5% of that council rejected by the FSSPX, however, the teachings given above are central to Catholic faith and morals, and include some of the fundamental teachings of Christ himself.

    The areas where SSPX would disagree with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are based upon their belief that these Vatican II teachings actually contradict previous Catholic doctrine and authoritative papal teachings and these are as follows:

    In a response to a study of the doctrinal authority of the Second Vatican Council by Bp. Fernando Ocáriz, Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize FSSPX has listed the elements of that council that the FSSPX find unacceptable.

    “On at least four points, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are obviously in logical contradiction to the pronouncements of the previous traditional Magisterium, so that it is impossible to interpret them in keeping with the other teachings already contained in the earlier documents of the Church’s Magisterium. Vatican II has thus broken the unity of the Magisterium, to the same extent to which it has broken the unity of its object.

    “These four points are as follows.

    “The doctrine on religious liberty, as it is expressed in no. 2 of the Declaration ‘Dignitatis humanae,’ contradicts the teachings of Gregory XVI in ‘Mirari vos’ and of Pius IX in ‘Quanta cura’ as well as those of Pope Leo XIII in ‘Immortale Dei’ and those of Pope Pius XI in ‘Quas primas.’

    “The doctrine on the Church, as it is expressed in no. 8 of the Constitution ‘Lumen gentium,’ contradicts the teachings of Pope Pius XII in ‘Mystici corporis’ and ‘Humani generis.’

    “The doctrine on ecumenism, as it is expressed in no. 8 of ‘Lumen gentium’ and no. 3 of the Decree ‘Unitatis redintegratio,’ contradicts the teachings of Pope Pius IX in propositions 16 and 17 of the ‘Syllabus,’ those of Leo XIII in ‘Satis cognitum,’ and those of Pope Pius XI in ‘Mortalium animos.’

    “The doctrine on collegiality, as it is expressed in no. 22 of the Constitution ‘Lumen gentium,’ including no. 3 of the ‘Nota praevia’ [Explanatory Note], contradicts the teachings of the First Vatican Council on the uniqueness of the subject of supreme power in the Church, in the Constitution ‘Pastor aeternus’.”

    1. Ratzinger himself cites Dignitatis Humanae as correcting previous Catholic teaching. He has a far more realistic grasp of history and doctrinal development than Jean-Michel Gleize. I feel embarrassed for him having to hold respectful negotiations with such nincompoops.

  8. Sorry, Fr. Allan – what you have posted makes little sense. The latest Papal document to the SSPX was rejected by the SSPX even though it more than bends over backwards to the SSPX. Even the middle road SSPXers reject the principles of VII – so, to try to drill down and say that they accept more than they reject is ridiculous. One must understand that you start with the primary principles and directions of the council (SSPX reject these). So, whether you may or may not agree with lesser regs, statements, etc. is meaningless because you don’t agree with the ecclisiology upon which these documents are built.

    The last four paragraphs all cite earlier pronouncements of popes or councils and describes VII as “contradictory”. That may be a true statement but the SSPX then use that to reject VII changes to earlier statements. This rejects the distinction between “revealed truth” and how “revealed truth” is manifested and lived or developed in the church. It also puts some papal pronouncements over a council – another significant issue.

    1. The latest Papal document to the SSPX was rejected by the SSPX even though it more than bends over backwards to the SSPX.

      Bill, you’re spinning events to your liking.

      The document “The Preamble” has not been made public. Therefore, you can hardly honestly say that it “more than bends over backwards to the SSPX.” We have very little idea what it contains.

      Furthermore, the document was not accepted as it stood, but it’s misleading to say it was “rejected.” It’s not entirely clear what happened, but the process allowed for amendments to be requested. The discussions of the document continued (and are continuing.)

  9. The article was a good read. I only was a bit disappointed by the last section, “What can we do?”. What can we do about the new translation? But also: what can we do about the next steps that will be taken by the Curia? What can we do about the ecclesiology of communion?

  10. I have a question. Isn’t the basis for interpretation of law the good of souls? If the case against the new RM is so strong shouldn’t for the good of souls we suspend its use or modify it?

    1. Yes. I use the votive and reconciliation canons at the back to the missal instead of the four horrible translations of EP I-IV. This is perfectly legal.

  11. saving this for a read later

    Still mind-boggled at the horrible quality of the transliteration as we’ve seen it during Lent and the Easter season. Wow. Yoda never sounded so good by comparison!

  12. We could, of course, solve all of the nettlesome problems of translation by declaring that Mass in the vernacular is a noble experiment that failed and returning to the official language of the Church in all of her liturgical functions.

      1. I would agree. If anything, I think vernacular was the single great success of the post Vatican II liturgical changes.

        I say that as an advocate for Latin liturgy. The total abandonment of Latin was a travesty, and the benefit of vernacular would not have been diminished one bit had a real effort been made to retain Latin.

        They threw the baby out with the bathwater in many ways in the 60s – we need to be wiser today and evaluate the different aspects of the liturgical renewal based on the merits of each change.

  13. “…the vernacular is a noble experiment that failed and returning to the official language of the Church in all of her liturgical functions.”

    You’ve got to be kidding.
    You mean throw the baby out w/ the bathwater?
    Not a brilliant choice.

  14. re: Jonathan Day on April 16, 2012 – 1:07 pm

    Jonathan: “Continuity” on its own tells you nothing. What we end up with is a contest of wills.

    I am convinced that Pope Benedict’s legacy will not be a “contest of wills” but rather the cultivation of two parallel liturgical and theological hermeneutics for the peace and unity of the Roman Rite. One hermeneutic will look to Trent for its belief and spirituality but without necessarily discounting aspects of postconciliar Catholicism. The other will press ahead with the neo-patristic applied scholarship of the Liturgical Movement. Perhaps these separate heremeneutics will develop into distinct rites. Perhaps the hermeneutical division is temporary. As I have understood, Pope Benedict’s support of the EF, ad orientem, and communion on the tongue, among other “traditional” practices, is merely a gesture to keep the liturgically conservative and traditional faithful away from schism. Suppression of traditional aspirations will not quell the desires of the traditional faithful, but merely embitter many and drive them from the Church. Traditional Catholics cannot be made into postconciliar Catholics through coercion. Rather, they will simply sulk back into their catacombs.

    To add on another shibboleth of this papacy, “the hermeneutic of continuity” often seems to lead to nothing other than “the dictatorship of relativism”.

    I recognize that those who have invested their entire lives to liturgical reform are dismayed that a small number of the Roman faithful have all but rejected their scholarship in word and deed. Traditional belief is not a jeering rejection of the scholarship of liturgical renewal. Traditional Catholics are fed by an entirely different liturgical and theological diet. There is nothing more catholic and least relativistic than a pope who offers each one of his flock the specific diet he or she requires for salvation.

  15. Let us not forget that the present pontificate won’t go on forever and that Xt can renew his church at any time.

  16. Jordan, I see Pope Benedict as a liturgical pluralist – ordinary form, extraordinary form, Anglican uses, etc.

    I see the case for pluralism, although combining sensibilities in one parish requires strange mental gymnastics: “Only a priest can touch the host at the 9 am Tridentine Mass, so everyone must receive the Lord on the tongue. And we can’t have female altar servers there, because the severs somehow represent Christ and we know a woman can’t do that. And we can’t have a female reader, because women aren’t allowed in the sanctuary at Mass. But at the 10.30 Mass, we have female servers and lectors, and lay extraordinary ministers, and people receive in the hand.” This strikes me as a version of Orwell’s “doublethink” but apparently it works in some parishes.

    There are more profound problems with this kind of pluralism. As Fr Dallen says, ‘language communicates attitudes and outlooks at a level deeper than the surface meaning of words’ – lex orandi etc. Liturgy, theology and the social order are related. The rad-trads are at least consistent in their calls for Catholic monarchy and the suppression of Protestant sects.

    Pluralism is particularly weird in a Liturgiam Authenticam world, where textual and rubrical exactitude are monitored from the very top – a very non-traditional approach, as Peter Jeffery points out – and where improvisation results in e-mails to Rome and callouts on blogs.

    Fr Allan rightly identified the error in my claim that the SSPX reject all of Vatican II. Richard Williamson does – his latest blast refers to ‘the diabolical ambiguity of that wretched Council.’ No pluralism or doctrinal development in his house!

    But other SSPXers acknowledge that the Council fathers said some true things – barring, of course, those little statements about religious liberty, the Church (including the view of Judaism), ecumenism and collegiality. These are four of the areas where the Council made real progress, and four of the developments that virtually all the SSPX reject. A ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ or one of frozen time? What kind of pluralism can embrace this?

    1. You are well describing Pope Benedict XVI’s attempt to ‘square the circle’ by fiat. It I am afraid has never worked before, and there is little reason to imagine that it will be successful in the present instance. It is like many other ‘good ideas’ in politics, and even in cooking — which are great in the ‘recipe books’ but do not deliver what they hopefully promise.

  17. Our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Churches are a bit frozen in time as I don’t believe they accept any ecumenical councils after the Great Schism or papal pronouncements since that time (about 1000 years ago). Cannot we accept a pluralistic Church in this regard? As it regards the Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church acknowledges the validity of each of their sacraments (and in one case even a eucharistic prayer that does not have the words of institution in it, simply a powerful consecrating epiclesis). We acknowledge their hierarchy and priesthood and a Catholic may receive Holy Communion in an Orthodox Church, although I would suggest respecting their attitude toward Catholics not receiving in their Church.
    I still find it ironic how progressive Catholics will bend over backwards to accept our brothers and sisters in the Protestant communions, many of them very far from the catholicity they reformed and most only having one valid sacrament, Baptism.
    At yet when it comes to our very own SSPX Catholic brothers and sister, there is fear and trembling that the Holy Father might incorporate them back into the good graces and full communion that other Catholics in the Latin Rite enjoy with their bishops and the Bishop of Rome. Now, what kind of anti-ecumenical mentality is that towards our very own, who no doubt need purification and adjustment in terms of their political and ecclesiological attitudes and teachings? Yet, no one on this blog criticizes those progressive Catholics who would bring the Church into a true schism as it concerns natural law, the Sacrament of Matrimony and the Sacrament of Holy Orders not to mention the dogmatic teachings on the Most Holy Eucharist and the doctrinal teachings on morality in particular of the sexual kind, all of which are more central to Catholicism and the true faith than ecumenism, collegiality, religious liberty and the form of liturgy. Praytell, let’s get real.

    1. re: Fr. Allan J. McDonald on April 17, 2012 – 5:16 am

      Fr. Allan, I suspect that a pope’s decision to individually absolve SSPX clergy of their act of schism would not be as controversial as corporate reintegration of the Society. All of us are called to repentance, no matter the gravity of our sins. The possibility that the SSPX clergy will be returned to active ministry within the Church without the direct oversight of each bishop concerns many. If Pope Benedict or another pope readmits the entire SSPX on terms similar to a priestly institute, not only collegiality but also common sense would be gravely impaired.

      A perception that many SSPX clergy display rectitude in certain areas of doctrine and sexual morality does not forgive the bigotries of many in the SSPX. It is impossible to truly live the doctrine and moral precepts of the Church when one is filled with hatred for any brother or sister in humanity simply because of his or her background or religious identity.

  18. Fr Allan, I like the way you go to the heart of many of these issues, even when we see them differently.

    Let me follow your analysis, regrouping terms somewhat. I would put doctrines on natural law, the sacrament of matrimony and sexual morality together. Then we have the teaching on orders and the teaching on the eucharist. With these three, you contrast doctrines on ecumenism, collegiality, religious liberty and the form of liturgy – and I would add, from your original list, on the Church.

    My sense is that “progressives” and “traditionalists” don’t differ that much on the eucharist, although there may be differences in liturgical piety (communion in the hand vs on the tongue, etc.). I see few progressives who would assert that the eucharist is “nothing more than a symbol”. So I want to claim the eucharist as an area of broad agreement and eliminate it from your first list.

    Conversely, both the “trads” and the “progs” disagree on the form of liturgy. We can either add that to your first list, or – better – eliminate it from the second list. It is important to both groups, even though they disagree.

    That leaves two sets of teachings. In the first group we have sexual morality and the sacrament of holy orders. In the second, we have the Church, religious liberty, ecumenism and collegiality.

    Now, I would assert that the second set of teachings is far more important than the first. If the Church were to promote marriage for priests but actively seek to establish a theocracy, I would have trouble remaining in communion with her. I could not pray the old Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews. I find it troublesome that the Vatican even takes time to proclaim that we should refer to Protestant churches as ‘ecclesial communities.’ I detest what looks like a near-exclusive focus on the sixth commandment in some circles, apparently to the exclusion of most of the rest.

    And different views of holy orders? Relatively unimportant.

    1. Keep in mind that the Protestant 6th Commandment (at least in my neck of the woods)is, “Thou shalt not commit murder!” Excluding the others in favor of that one might not be a bad idea! 🙂

      But that really is the point, integration of belief in the areas of faith and morals rather than fragmentation or a “tribal” system of approaching Church teaching, morality and faith. The unfortunate development since Vatican II has been to divide, not unite, first under the banners of pre-Vatican II and Vatican II Catholics, then liberal and conservative, now traditional and progressive. Therein the fatal flaw of misrepresenting the Council and fomenting an ideology of discontinuity and dividing the Church, at least in the Latin Rite.

      Our sacramental system which includes Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders and traditionally understood, one really would have a corrupted view of all the other important issues of Vatican II if the sacramental system is compromised. All the sacraments as well as the faith of the Church fit together to form the whole Church, Head (Christ) and members (the Baptized).

      Liturgical diversity is a good thing in my book not only within the Latin Rite (it has always existed) but between East and West. We should respect our various traditions. I have no problem with the Anglican Use Liturgy or for that matter, maybe one day a Lutheran Use Liturgy or a Presbyterian one. Who knows? I find more liturgical diversity, division and quite frankly banality in the Ordinary Form Mass from parish to parish than I find in the EF and OF Masses I celebrate in my own parish. Here at least, there is some continuity between the two.

      1. You state: “….rather than fragmentation or a “tribal” system of approaching Church teaching, morality and faith. The unfortunate development since Vatican II has been to divide, not unite, first under the banners of pre-Vatican II and Vatican II Catholics, then liberal and conservative, now traditional and progressive. Therein the fatal flaw of misrepresenting the Council and fomenting an ideology of discontinuity and dividing the Church, at least in the Latin Rite.”

        Along with Jordan’s earlier statements about pluralism, you both appear to have developed your own version of the Great Schism liturgically. What you both do in your proposals is ignore the point of Fr. Dallen’s paper – ecclesiology and lex orandi, lex credendi. You actually have provided a perfect example of “tribalism” called EF, TLM, SSPX, etc.

        It is one thing to seek unity with our Eastern half while respecting their 1000 year liturgical rite and, in many ways, their 1000 year ecclesiology.

        It is a whole other matter to construct multiple rites in the Western half that “Balkanizes” the Western church over a very short period of time. What is missed is distinction between Western Rite that is culturally adapted to local needs that are current and present (unity vs. uniformity) versus a newly constructed version of traditionalism blessed and justified by papal fiat because folks focus on “liturgical accidents” rather than our actual living church. So, would we now have a Trentan Rite; VII Rite; Anglican Use rite; etc. every time some group resists development, changes, etc based upon a liturgical form rather than a people’s cultural setting, language, customers, etc. One is “artificially” constructed; the other is a pastoral and liturgical response to current needs. It gets to Mr. Day’s earlier quote – “living history of the dead” vs. “dead history of the living”.

        Finally, have repeatedly posted the work of Fr. Komonchak about B16’s use of continuity. Suggest that some here assume too much about what B16 means – his primary focus is reform that is continuous; not the other way around.

    2. re Bill deHaas on April 17, 2012 – 11:10 am

      From a very young age I have been continuously steeped in the Latin language. As a child I learned chants as part of my Latin education. In high school I prayed the psalter and sang compline hymns in between chapters of the the Gallic Wars. I hold Latin as close to me as I hold my native language. Is not the EF specifically suited for people who experience the Latin language, its prayer, and literature as intrinsic to their lives?

      The Shepherd of Matthew 18 and Luke 15 left the ninety-nine sheep to find the one who strayed. Why, then, would a pope, not only a shepherd but also pontifex maximus, the high priest of ritual, let his small traditional flock become disheartened and go astray for lack of spiritual nourishment? What this small flock seeks was not made profane after liturgical reform, and is still holy fare for those who survive by it.

      Collegiality and, by extension, the worship authorized by bishops in union with the Holy See, cannot be a “church of the ninety-nine” which ignores the one floundering sheep. All the faithful must be accounted for, even if this implies that a small minority of the faithful have not, or might never, be inculturated under an new liturgical ideology. Those who are willing to sacrifice the lost traditional sheep to a wolf rather than forfeit a forced postconciliar liturgical “unity” are sacrificing a true care of souls for an artificial and crushing uniformity.

      1. Jordan – thanks for the respectful response. Agree with your scriptural “spiritual” statement.

        But (I know, there is always a but):
        – guess we could argue about what happened in the years right after the end of VII…will accept that a more sensitive and pastoral approach to the “old” TLM could have been supported by national conferences of bishops (thus, SP’s aims could have been built in from the start)
        – that early permission was there but rarely supported – agreed
        – where I have difficulty reconciling your approach now (2012) is that SP was very late to the game and my experience is that folks are trying to build a Trentan liturgy and even church (specific religious order granted status whose only purpose is TLM) in 2012. By many comments here, we find folks at a very young age being “recruited” to this “abrogated” form.
        – So, am all for reaching out to the “one” but let’s keep this in proper perspective. When resources and ecclesiology are impacted at a time when both need all the help they can get, would suggest that the “one” needs to be supported for a “limited”: time.
        – also, your goal as stated is admirable but not sure how the SSPX experience and SP overlap and damage the goal of SP.
        – do not agree with your descriptions that the VII reformed liturgy is a “forced postconciliar liturgical ideology”. Sorry, we disagree on this point – I see the TLM as an ideology.
        – do not agree that this “ideology” is artifical and crushing uniformity.
        – use of terms such as “pontifex maximus” come from one period of time and reinformce Fr. Dallen’s point about limiting the church to an institutional model adopted from the Roman Empire.
        – find that we support and care for many different types of needs, experiences, etc. And when I look at the pressing issues of catholics in the world, the fact that 60% of all catholics are in the southern hemisphere; etc. then the SP push is all out of proportion to the total needs of the…

  19. Pope Benedict and John Paul II before him have tried to focus on a hermeneutic of continuity. Personally, I see Vatican II in quite a different way. The world had just experienced the greatest single war in its history and was in the midst of a cold war that threatened the very existence of humanity. As a church, the council fathers recognized that if faith was to mean something in this modern world, it did not have the luxury of being able to stand apart. There was a need to bring a new vision to the world because the old ways frankly didn’t work.

    Liturgy that is overly preoccupied with literal interpretations and formality runs the risk of divorcing itself from the people it is meant to lift up.

    I am of an age where I can still remember mass before it was said in English. I was always supportive of liturgical reform, but this new missal is a betrayal of reform. It actually makes me want to go back to the pre-conciliar liturgy.

    1. I am of an age where I can still remember mass before it was said in English. I was always supportive of liturgical reform, but this new missal is a betrayal of reform. It actually makes me want to go back to the pre-conciliar liturgy.

      And according to some, that is precisely the point: to make you want to return to the pre-conciliar liturgy. But returning to the pre-conciliar liturgy also means returning to the pre-conciliar ecclesiology, and that is Dallen’s point. We simply can’t do that.

      Reading some of the latest contributions to this thread, I’m edified by the tolerance and charity that people have exhibited to those who prefer the pre-conciliar way of doing things. But at the same time I’m surprised that no one has raised the problematic fact that Paul VI did indeed abrogate that pre-conciliar usage, in an identical way to that in which other popes before him had abrogated prior practices.

      It seems to me that a substantial and justifiable reason for doing so was precisely that the pre-conciliar usage necessitates and indeed embraces a pre-conciliar ecclesiology from which, by that time, the Church had moved on. Perpetuating the pre-conciliar usage would perpetuate the pre-conciliar eccloesiology.

      Some would argue, therefore, that those who choose like Fr Allan to celebrate in the EF are exhibiting ecclesiological confusion, at the least. This is essentially what Jonathan Day was saying in his post about different traditions in the same church on the same morning. The same church, yes, but the same Church?

      If the recent papacy had been as strict over adherence to the post-conciliar liturgical reforms as Pius V was to those of his own day, we would probably not be having this conversation now.

    2. Those who prefer the EF Mass in my parish and throughout the USA do form a tiny minority. I can’t speak for other places, but those who attend our once a month Sunday EF Mass (they would like it weekly) are some of the most active parishioners I have and don’t mind bringing their faith home and to the public square. But of course these are people who live an “intentional” counter-cultural Catholic life and don’t see the Church as a “commodity” as so many Catholics and Christians of other traditions are beginning to do. In my previous parish, I had a significant number of charismatic covenant community members who in fact could have formed their own parish if the bishop had given them a priest and permission to do so. Their charismatic liturgies would have been quite different than our Ordinary Form Sunday Masses. They too are highly motivated, intentional Catholics. I would caution against making ecclesiology into a god as that smacks of idolatry to me. The question for any of us who are Catholic is what kind of Catholics are we when we leave our worship and churches? What kind of people are we? Have we so “institutionalized and churchified” our laity with a supposed post-Vatican II ecclesiology gone wild that we don’t appreciate the true role of the laity at home and in the public square and that being Catholic isn’t about running a club and worse yet a country club?

  20. If you want to speak of ‘ritual mischief’ in our Church, pay attention to the ‘ritual variants’ claimed by the Neo-Catechumenate folks. It seems that according to what I have read in the past couple of days, that the Pope himself thinks he was ‘blind-sided’ by the document that was prepared and even the document that was published — and the “Neo-Cats” explicit ‘we’re going to do what we want to do’ approach despite or because of this document. Now there is a good example of ”clashing ecclesiologies”. It should be interesting to follow the next moves on this. It is perhaps even more important for the future of the Church than all the dealings with the Lefebvrites (the Society of Saint Pius X and those who think in their way ecclesiologically.)

  21. I would love to see this blog become an avenue for dialogue about creating better Liturgy. What I see here is every topic being hijacked by EF enthusiasts. The original topic here is the ecclesiology of the new missal.
    How did we get to EF, latin, TLM.SSPX, hermeneutic of continuity? Could we come back to reality and perhaps talk about creating better homilies, better music. more fruitful participation in the Liturgy?

  22. Everything is nuanced, I believe Vatican II was the last great hope for renewal in the Church and that any attempt to undo it is not positive. Benedict is the one who initiated this hermeneutics of continuity discussion by focusing on it. The new Roman Missal is totally a product of this mentality, where rigidity is favored over fluidity.

    We have been forced to adapt modern mass settings into words they were never written for and celebrate mass in a way that is disconnected from what we have come to know and love. There is no better about this, only quiet resignation. While I was in active ministry, I was considered by many to be a good homilist and liturgist. I left, was married and was laicized. For some, this means I should keep quiet and ignore what I see, but because I love the Church, I cannot do this.

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