Wrapping Up This Week’s Discussion Question: The Target of Pope Benedict’s Criticism

We had a lively discussion this week on the target of Pope Benedict’s Criticism of liturgical reform – 117 comments! Thanks, all.

The original post is here; for reference, here is the question as I put it:

Pope Benedict XVI, before and since his election, has shown himself to be a critic of the liturgical reforms in the Catholic Church. What are the main targets of his criticism? To what extent is his criticism directed at local liturgists and clergy who have incorrectly implemented the official reforms? Or at Paul VI who entrusted Consilium with the reform of the official books? Or at the Second Vatican Council itself in Sacrosanctum Concilium?

Fr. Allan McDonald was – surprise, surprise – the first to reply, and he takes a positive view – surprise, surprise – of the Pope’s words and deeds (see comment #1). Then there was a spat – surprise, surprise – that went on in several volleys between AD and Bill DeHaas. We’ve become quite the discussion community at Pray Tell, and we’ve come to know each other quite well. That’s mostly a good thing.

Deacon Bauerschmidt (#2) got the discussion rolling with a claim I would like to challenge. Fritz sees the target of the Pope’s criticism as mostly the liturgical planners at the local level, not at the official level as approved by Paul VI:

Does the Pope think the reformed liturgy could have been better and that in some places it went too far? Probably. Does he dismiss it as “a fabrication, a banal on- the-spot product”? I don’t think so. After all, he celebrates it every day.

Jeffrey Pinyan, our go-to document man, helpfully gave us many passages from the writings of Ratzinger/Benedict which show, I think, that the Pope thinks that much of the liturgical reforms approved by Paul VI were mistaken. (See especially #38.) Those reforms made a rupture with tradition, and give the impression of being a creation of scholars, a man-made construct. The Pope sees some good things in the Pauline reforms, and as a man of obedience he accepts them, but he is critical of them. More about this below.

Of course the discussion had to take up “organic development.” As Brendan McInerny said (#12):

Why are the liturgical reforms prior to Vatican II ‘organic’ while those of the council or perhaps after are ‘fabricated’?

As Todd Flowerdayhas said many times at Pray Tell, “organic development” is hopelessly arbitrary, and all to often seems simply to mean “reforms I approve of.” And as he wrote (#32),

Keep in mind that there are those of us who don’t see organic development as the highest principle of Catholic worship. It is a pastoral principle, to be sure. But SC[Sacrosanctum Concilium]  touted a few other more important points.

And as Fr. Ron Krisman (#28) wrote:

Of necessity the reform and renewal of the liturgy after VII had to be “fabricated,” since organic development of the Roman rite had been off limits for a millennium or so. Think of what could have happened had Augustine of Canterbury successfully pleaded for permission to celebrate the divine mysteries in the language(s) of his mission territory! Would a variation of the Roman Rite have developed there just as the Glagolithic Mass (the Roman rite in Old Church Slavonic) developed in the southern Slavic regions?

No, the charge of “fabrication” is an unfair one. The reforms after VII instead were the result of serious study of the sources of our liturgical development. The Church, ever vigilant of the rich store of her tradition, went back to her storehouse and made new some of her ancient treasures.

I was happy that Trent was brought in to the discussion. Karl Liam Saur said (#13, 16):

The problem is that Trent effectively …preserv[ed] the liturgy in amber. (That, btw, was a modern, rationalistic impulse at work in the Tridentine era.)

When you freeze the liturgy pretty much in place, you kill such an ethos. The effect was partly intentional, partly unintended. Once you’ve frozen and centralized decision-making about liturgical change, and decreed that change that does not come from above is not licit, then organic development cannot occur in any meaningful sense of that term. In this way, Trent purchased this problem.

I sometimes wonder to what extent the silly excesses of the 1960s (and since) shouldn’t be laid right at the feet of Trent. If you freeze things that long artificially (with, btw, modernistic centralism and beaurocracy), the thaw is bound to be messy. Or is it meltdown? Following this Blame-Trent-For-The-60s theme, I propose we get in the habit of saying, e.g. “Oh, that potato chip and whisky Mass, isn’t it a shame Trent made that inevitable?” Do ya think?

Of course Summorum pontificorum, the 2007 readmission of the pre-Vatican II Mass by Pope Benedict, had to come up. Jim McKay thinks (#24) thinks SP happened mostly to reconcile the SSPX. I’m not so sure. I think it’s a clever, devious plan to destabilize the postconciliar liturgy and set into force the impulses to undermine it. Or to put it less polemically, to unreform and re-reform it. As Richard Malcolm said (#24),

There’s plenty of evidence that the SSPX was a secondary consideration in his motives for issuing the motu proprio.

Most of the young priests and seminarians that I know – at least in the U.S. – have a serious interest in the traditional mass. I don’t think that the Pope is unaware of that. Or that he didn’t anticipate the development – one which might, in the long run, allow both missals to be, as he put it, “mutually enriching.”

Jordan thinks (#26) SP is both for liturgical reform and bringing back SSPX, but mostly agrees with Jim McKay and thinks it’s about SSPX.

Back to the question at hand: whom is Pope Benedict criticizing? Joack Rakosky writes (#66) of the Pope’s critique,

The critique seems two-pronged. One the one hand, “regulation” by experts is bad because it is not organic. On the other hand, grassroots developments are bad because they are anarchic. It seems as if the idea of organic development is intended to rein in the anarchy without empowering liturgical experts to tinker with the liturgy. I’m not convinced, however, that this gives you anything more than total stasis.

I think Pope Benedict is critical of all three – Vatican II, Paul VI, and local liturgists. His critique is most gentle when Vatican II is at hand, but it’s there. His critique of Paul VI, implicit and explicit, is quite robust. And his rejection of the creativity of local liturgists since Vatican II is thoroughgoing. Elsewhere at Pray Tell, Rita Ferrone has termed “slanderous” the Pope’s charge that the Catholic congregation is sometimes turned in on itself and celebrating only itself.

This is significant, that a Pope is so critical of a predecessor so recent, and that his actions (such as Summorum pontificum) undermine the aims of that predecessor Pope. As Jim McKay said (#23):

There is an old papal saying “What a pope can do, a pope can undo.” Most people do not understand this. In terms of the current discussion, the papacy can fabricate what it likes while Anglicans and Orthodox have to endure an organic process. Fabrication is a neccesary component of papal authority however much it is restrained by tradition and faith. Change can come mor quickly among Roman Catholics because of papal power, and becoming a Roman Catholic entails accepting that capacity for “quick” change in place of the back and forth in less centralized communities.

I’m not sure everything is organic for the Anglicans. But that’s a minor point. This point is more significant: a future Pope can undo Pope Benedict’s liturgical policies. In a highly centralized polity like ours, that’s just the way it is.

As to whether a future Pope will undo Pope Benedict’s liturgical vision, I will note hazard a guess. I simply put out there the possibility. I hope it helps to give some context and perspective to Pope Benedict’s liturgical words and deeds.


  1. The next Pope will likely keep the failed papacy of B16 at a distance.

    B16 has not succeeded in doing much on the sexual abuse scandal. Although a curial insider, he has failed to make it work, and now it seems to be coming apart in public. He has had frayed relationships with Islam, the Jews, Protestants, priests, and nuns. Many Catholics are ashamed of the Church’s leadership.

    No I don’t think the next Pope want to build on B16’s legacy.

    1. But P12 put in place all the cardinals that elected J23. And there were far fewer cardinals so P12 could chose very carefully. P12 spent his whole life, even before becoming Pope building up the papacy’s power. Then J23 at least briefly gave it back to the bishops.

      1. Pius XII had appointed Cardinals only twice, both after the war with the final consistory almost 6 years before the election of Jxxiii. Capped at 70, attrition brought the number of electors to 51, including 12 appointed by Pius XI. These numbers severely limited his ability to influence the choice of his successor. (currently there are 122 electors, 59 appointed by JPii, 63 by Bxvi, who has had 4 consistories in 7 years)

        Except that he succeeded in keeping Archbishop Montini of Milan from being elected in ’58. The electors did not want to choose a non cardinal, so Montini had to wait until John XIII died to become Paul VI. Someone has suggested this backfired – John xiii was chosen as an old man interim pope whose main assignment was to make Montini a cardinal. John did much more than that, and more than the more cautious Montini would ever have done.

        These circumstances in 1958 were extraordinary, which led to an extraordinary Pope whose election was not as influenced by his predecessor as normally.

      2. I think Crystal’s question is not without value – which doesn’t derogate from your point, Jack. Popes can pack the College all they want, but there are no guarantees that they will get their successor named.

        Benedict’s appointments have generally been of a more conservative cast, and he has appointed a majority of the cardinals eligible to vote. At the least, I think we can say it is highly unlikely that the next conclave will elect a liberal pope, unless he turns out to be a real “sleeper.” The next Pope is almost certain to be someone that most of the world would regard as “conservative” in some way. That doesn’t mean it will be, say, Raymond Burke.

  2. As I have stated previously, recent conclaves IMO seem to go in the opposite direction, choosing someone quite different.

    However, and I pray to God that I am wrong, one danger is that Benedict seems to be pushing “creeping infallibility” which might make it difficult to undo what he has done?
    AWR, I pray that I am wrong!

    1. Creeping infallibility has a way of undoing itself. If you want to be infallible, better to use it less not more.

      1. Jack, your statement that creeping infallibility has a way of undoing itself is interesting (and hopeful). But, how so?

      2. It something like “systematic desensitization,” i.e. becoming used to something that one is afraid of. The Marian dogmas did not have much practical impact. The “attempt to define” contraception and women’s ordination have been largely ignored even by most priests who say very little about them.

        Creeping infallibility mainly seems to work positively with bishops who are running for higher office. For priests and people it mainly defines things that are not to be discussed.

  3. I’m not entirely convinced that Ratzinger was/is against Paul VI’s liturgical reforms themselves. Take a look at the following quotes:

    The difference between the Iiturgy with the new liturgical books, as it is actually practiced and celebrated in various places is often much greater than the difference between the old and new liturgies when celebrated according to the rubrics of the liturgical books.

    “An average Christian without special liturgical formation would be hard pressed to distinguish a Sung Mass in Latin according to the Old Missal from a Sung Mass in Latin celebrated according to the New Missal. The difference, by contrast, can be enormous between a liturgy faithfully celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI and the concrete forms and celebrations in the vernacular with all the possible freedom and creativity!” (On 10 years since the motu proprio Eccessia Dei)

    and elsewhere in response to critcisms from Father Pierre-Marie Gy O.P., Ratzinger says this:

    “It is true that Paul VI approved the missal published in 1970 in forma specifica, and I hold to it with an inner conviction, even if I regret certain deficiencies and do not consider each of the decisions made the best possible. I should prefer, on this point, not to get into the question how far, in the preparation of the missal, the wishes of the pope were truly sought out and maintained in detail. That is a matter for future historians to resolve, once all the material is available…. Why did the Pope withdraw his confidence from Bugnini in the end and remove him from the work on the liturgy? That must certainly remain an open question.”
    In the above quote he seems to suggest that missal of Paul VI did reflect entirely the desires of the pope whose name it holds.

  4. I think I am the 9th to reply this time, surprise, surprise! Of course another pope can change what this pope has done, that should be no surprise. I suspect we’ll know rather quickly what his liturgical perspective will be if the “Benedictine” altar arrangement disappears, the portable altar returns to the Sistine Chapel and the kneeler for Holy Communion disappears. But since when haven’t popes undone what other popes have mandated? I think one of the complaints of ultra-traditionalists early on after the revision of the Mass complained that the pope (Pius V?) who gave us the Tridentine revision and consolation of the Latin Rite Mass after Trent made it in perpetuity. Did the Second Vatican Council call into question Trent? Did Paul VI question his predecessors? We have a very long tradition of that, so once again Pope Benedict exercises his hermeneutic of continuity in questioning some of Vatican II and Pope Paul’s perspective on the liturgy. That will happen with the next pope too I suspect. It seems healthy to me.
    But the real question is how much of an effect has Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic and modeling of how he celebrates the Mass had on local parishes. I don’t think very much in my diocese’s parishes except mine perhaps. But we have to admit that for the first time and with this papacy, we have access to how he celebrates the Mass almost everywhere he goes via the internet and you-tube as well as other sites. So his hermeneutic may well catch on as time proceeds, but of course time will tell, surprise, surprise.

  5. I would suggest that the “new priests”, as they have been characterized, will have a lot more to do with the direction of things than the “new pope” will. In the same way that progressive leaning priests (and Bishops) can ignore the wishes of the pope, traditional-leaning priests and Bishops can do the same. It’s all about the local level, and B16 knows that, and that may well be the reason behind SP. A new pope would be quite unable to “un-regularize” the SSPX once that would be accomplished, and it would be equally impossible to remove the increasing numbers of FSSP parishes and ICK parishes. The use of the ’62 Missal WILL be nearly impossible to “undo” now that it is established.

  6. With my pedantic concern for citation, I’ll note that the quotation above from Jack’s post #66 is actually him quoting my post #65.

    More substantively, I would still maintain that the chief problem B16 has with the liturgical reform is the (to his mind) forces of liturgical anarchy that it unleashed, and not so much this or that particular element of the reform itself. It is the cumulative effect of a widespread reform that, to his mind, encouraged a wholesale abandonment of the liturgical tradition on the local level (e.g. people think, “since everything else is changing, let’s also change the music, the vestments, throw out novenas, chuck out the statues, etc.). I don’t entirely agree with his analysis, but I do think that this is more or less what he thinks the main problem is with the reform.

    1. And regularization of SSPX will be widely perceived to canonically bless liturgical pluriformity and pluralism, even if that is not his intent. Regularization will be a double-edged sword in that regard.

    2. re: Karl Liam Saur on June 11, 2012 – 7:16 am

      Thanks for the observation Karl. Might I also add that an unconditional corporate regularization of the SSPX (e.g. as a prelature with full episcopal prerogatives restored to SSPX bishops) will establish not only permanent liturgical pluralism in the Roman Rite but also a theological pluralism with far reaching implications.

      Are we ready as a Universal Church and as Roman Catholics to question not only the primacy (inter pares?) of the post-conciliar liturgical reform but also the magisterial status of the Vatican II documents? Summorum pontificum, although not an apostolic constitution, arguably questions whether Paul VI’s bull Missale romanum maintains the same force of liturgical abrogation as Quo primum. An unconditional readmission of the SSPX without a requirement that the Society’s bishops confirm the dogmatic nature of Vatican II and the magisterial import of each constitution will create a situation where a traditionalist Catholic might attempt to deny individual teachings of conciliar documents in a pick ‘n’ mix fashion. The deeply intertwined teachings of the conciliar documents prohibit this approach.

      While the SSPX rejection of Dignitatis humanae and Nostra aetate are well known, SSPX rejection of Sacrosanctum concilium‘s renewed emphasis on the paschal mystery of the eucharist dovetails with the question of whether or not the 1962 missal must change according to the rubrical prescriptions of SC. A SSPX denial that the eucharist is equally paschal mystery and propitiatory sacrifice necessarily denies the need for a reform of the EF given that SC is steeped in references to the Mass as paschal mystery.

    3. Frtiz,

      I suspect Ruff was looking for whatever I might have said, since I usually have something to say. But I really did not have much to say largely for reasons which I stated in comment #1 of this post.

      If the next Pope is going to have an impact, he will go back to the Council because it has more positive things to build upon. Even Reagan understood that you have to give people a positive vision not just be against the ‘evil empire” or the “culture of death.” Most of JP2’s fame rests on the confrontation with and eventual collapse of Communism. The Future will probably reinterpret him disfavorably in terms of his failure to confront the sex abuse problem.

      The major place for a future Pope to find positive continuity will be V2; of course there is lot to pick and choose from there.

    4. Sorry, Fritz and Jack – I cut and pasted all the comments into a Word doc to make it easier to deal with them… but that no longer made it clear what was a quotation of someone else within a comment. My mistake.

  7. Agree with Jack’s consistent analysis that *leadership* and *ecclesiology* (my input) are the heart of this discussion – liturgy reflects and expresses the divisions and applications of these two *concepts*.

    Along with culture of death we have *affirmative orthodoxy*. Would suggest with Fr. Ruff that Ratzinger’s leadership (or lack of) has led to not only a misdiagnosis but unintended consequences that will take at least a generation or more to sort out.

    Given the valued education from PrayTell, have highlighted four effects from Vatican II:
    – Paul VI did not allow celibacy or birth control to be discussed. Hindsight would tend to suggest that this was a mistake and lack of trust in the Holy Spirit
    – VII laid out in principles a new way to consider *primacy* while re-introducing the key directives on collegiality, synods, and subsidiarity (unfortunately, these ideas were not spelled out as evidenced by the revised code of canon law in 1983 and the re-emergence of curia/papal centrality that neutered collegiality and synods (always smile because almost all writers consistently use the word *exceptional* when saying the *exceptional* Synod of Bishops in 1985 – why exceptional?)
    – affirmative orthodoxy, even JPII’s initiatives, were targeted on what they were most comfortable with – European Catholicism. Would suggest that the questions last week and the questions this week are so far removed from the reality of church in 2/3rds of the world – do you really think these are questions asked in the rural areas of Africa, Brazil, India, China? (IMO, it appears to be more of an intramural, very narrow, and limited discussion)

    From Ouellet’s talk at St. Patrick’s Seminary yesterday on “The Ecclesiology of Church: Fifty Years After Vatican II”: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2012/06/07/address-cardinal-marc-ouellet-international-theology-symposium-maynooth/

    (and assuming that Ouellet is expressing Ratzinger ideas)

    Allow me to highlight:

    1. – Paul VI did not allow celibacy or birth control to be discussed. Hindsight would tend to suggest that this was a mistake and lack of trust in the Holy Spirit.

      Bill, you’re not entitled to your own facts. Pope Paul VI vastly expanded the size of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control (established under John XXIII and continued it’s work.) That he disagreed with its recommendation and didn’t adopt it doesn’t mean he didn’t allow discussion of the issue!

      1. Let me clarify – he did not let this topic be introduced or discussed on the floor of St. Peter’s during Vatican II.

        You mis-read my statement and the context I put it in.

  8. – he starts with – “John XXIII set two main goals for the Council: to bring the presentation of the Church’s doctrine up to date and to promote the unity of Christians.[1] These two objectives were intended to renew the Church’s relation with the modern world and thus to revive her universal mission.”
    – “In order to attain these objectives, the Council Fathers undertook a fundamental reflection on ecclesiology, in the hopes of better defining the Church’s profound nature, her essential structure, and the meaning of her mission in a world increasingly emancipated from her influence and tradition.” (how does SP, Familia Consortio, SSPX, papal orders such as LC, Opus Dei, Neo-Cats, Liturgiam Authenticam/RT, New Translation support these two fundamental goals?)

    Now it gets interesting – Ouellet adopts the term – *communion* and goes on to describe this. (would suggest that the former Dominican Master General use of both communion/kingdom captures VII ecclesiology as a both/and or Dulles Models of the Church keeps this new hermeneutical effort from being an exercise in navel gazing and constantly fighting over *identity*)

    Communion – “The 1985 Synod of Bishops provided this by declaring, “The ecclesiology of communion is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents.”[2] He quotes Ratzinger as asking why VII reforms have been difficult and summarizes – “It is enough to mention liturgical reform, episcopal collegiality, synodality, and ecumenism, to touch on the well-known key points of the ecclesiology of communion and its interpretation.”
    (would suggest that the world’s bishops would not have agreed with this statement – it is a curial/papal Synod that was carefully controlled – it says more about centralized power and authority barely 20 years after the end of the council)

    He quotes – Already in 1982, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote, “To mention only the more important theological results: the Council reinserted into the Church as a whole a doctrine of primacy that was dangerously isolated; it integrated into the one mysterium of the Body of Christ a too-isolated conception of the hierarchy…..” (would suggest that JPII/B16 have now adopted the *old* isolated doctrine of primacy and too isolated concept of hierarchy)

    He quotes from Walter Kaspar a few times: “He agrees wholeheartedly and holds that “eucharistic ecclesiology has become one of the most important foundations of the ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches.”[10] (Kaspar’s approach is no longer in favor)

    “This Letter prompted a number of criticisms, such as that of Walter Kasper, who worried about a vision of the Church that “becomes completely problematic if the one, universal Church is tacitly identified with the Roman Church, de facto with the Pope and the Curia.” According to Kasper, this would be, not “an aid for the clarification of the ecclesiology of communion,” but rather “its abandonment, and a kind of attempt to restore Roman centralization.”[16] This strong criticism prompted a reaction from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who defended the ontological primacy of the universal Church over the particular Churches, against Kasper’s empirical interpretation, which affirmed their interdependence. Once the misunderstandings had been dispelled, the divergences between the two authors remained relatively minimal. (not sure I would agree with his final assessment – IMO, we have seem more polarization than minimal divergence)

    Would suggest that the *unintended consequences* of Ratzinger’s leadership has created a balkanization (as Jordan states above). To use an analogy – in the 70-80’s dealt with lots of parishes and even seminary programs that tried to encompass bi or trilingual liturgies – this was based upon the local church being made up of various cultures, languages, and ethnicities. Not sure that these efforts always succeeded but they were efforts to share authority, to grow community, and to broaden the liturgy. Now, with SP, LA, impetus to TLM/EF/tradionalist priests and even orders we have a new type of balkanization not based upon these elements but new elements – latin, pre-II, Tridentine. And so parishes feel tension when they add EF or a new traditionalist priest.
    At a time when dioceses face significant priest shortages; closing/merging schools/parishes; when they have to import foreign priests –
    When bishops are chosen by a litmus test in terms of *orthodoxy*; continue to fail to respond adequately to abuse or financial shenanigans; and seem so disconnected from the modern world (talk about a new *modernism*) with their outspoken patisan rants on the cultural wars – we seem to be investing our energy in a retrenchment effort that 90% of catholics are not interested in – and we wonder why catholics grow apathetic, drift, stop participating except at major holidays.
    Not sure how this will turn out but unlike the 70’s (clown masses) and its overwhelming positive experience of church and leadership (think the US Bishops’ pastorals on war and poverty), we seem to have a new version of *clown masses* called TLM, EF with side groups such as NLM but we sure are not experiencing this positively or respecting our current leadership.

    1. re: Bill deHaas on June 11, 2012 – 11:13 am

      Bill, please remember that not all traditionally minded priests are intent on creating division. The traditionally-minded priests I know will say the ordinary form Mass facing the people and with a “modern” eucharistic prayer when away from their parish or at diocesan events. One priest I knew who did not want to say Mass from the Sacramentary and facing the people left the diocesan priesthood for an extraordinary form priestly institute. Other than this one priest, I have never encountered a traditionally-oriented secular priest who has publicly refused to say Mass according to the customs of the parish he was serving at the moment.

      An a la carte approach to conciliar theology might allow secular priests to conscientiously refuse to say the OF when pastorally required. At the moment, no secular priest can licitly refuse to say Mass facing the people or refuse to recite a eucharistic prayer of the reformed missal. A readmission of the SSPX on unconditional terms might allow a diocesan priest to refuse to say the OF or face the people when pastorally indicated and remain a priest of his diocese in good standing.

      1. Jordan – again, respect what you say but my observations go way beyond what one or a few priests who like tradionalist liturgies might do or not do. Was speaking to the impact that this brings to parish life in an overall and general way.

        Have been present to enough conversations with various pastors in different major dioceses to know that there are tensions, resistance, passivity, and unilateral liturgical decisions being made by recently ordained priests. No matter how well intentioned, they insert and interject things into the liturgy, parish meetings, planning meetings,etc. that create confusion, division, etc. (am sure you are correct that most would not disobey an episcopal order about the usual form of the liturgy). But, you miss my point that this still creates issues that do not support building up the community or insert *new* issues that many thought long past.

        Richard – you say: “With respect, though, how interested are the laity, on average, in any liturgical reform? How many were really lobbying, pushing for, the Pauline missal, in which unprecedented changes were made – with little popular input – in a very short period of time? How many are that deeply engaged in the mass, even today? To be sure, most seemed to welcome the mass in the vernacular. But at the end the day, they were Catholics, and that means they simply went along with what was on offer. If they really objected, they were out in the cold, and presumably put up with it, or bailed out.”

        Your description ignores history; the significant witness from thousands of folks who welcomed and enjoyed the liturgical changes of Vatican II e.g. RCIA, baptism/anointings during Sunday Eucharist, bible study groups, increased music and participation; increased roles in liturgy – EM, Lectors, etc. Your line – “How many were really lobbying, pushing for, the Pauline missal, in which unprecedented changes were made – with little popular input – in a very short period of time?” is inaccurate and a meme (*very short period of time* – longer than the imposition of MR3) – *lobbying* – really, do you understand the role of the laity in 1962? But, once the council fathers began the reform….then, yes, folks did begin to push for and want to use the reforms, Paul’s changes, directives, etc. You also ignore what happened after the council – as Paul Inwood has frequently reminded us – bishops, conferences began to “lobby” and push Paul VI for more changes, vernacular, enculturation, etc.
        How many deeply engaged – would hazard a guess that fewer are deeply engaged now as compared to say 1975. They went along because they were Catholic – really? Pretty dismissive and how did you reach this opinion? But will say that more are puzzled negatively by the current changes than whatever small, minuscile group you are alluding to in 1965. Your meme about the *terrible* changes in the 1960-70s is just that – a meme.

      2. Bill said: “No matter how well intentioned, they (younger priests) insert and interject things into the liturgy, parish meetings, planning meetings,etc. that create confusion, division, etc. ”

        Bill – your quote above could have been written by a Catholic in 1970 upset with folk music and a tamberine. More to the point, however, is that the “balkanization” you mention began with the implementation of the conciliar reform in parishes and religious communities, not with RS, LA, or SP. Re. the new young priests, you are ignoring the long term problem created by informal but longstanding self-selecting parish communities most prominent in progressive parishes. These new priests are sometimes challenging that improper status-quo in the spirit of evangelization while also welcoming immigrant communities who relfect a more traditional or standard Catholic practice. Catholics living less than a block away from the parish you describe, driven away by the closed circle mentality often seen in self-selecting parish communities, may finally be welcome to return to their geographical parish by standard liturgical praxis & a return to the traditions of the Latin Church.

      3. “At the moment, no secular priest can licitly refuse to say Mass facing the people or refuse to recite a eucharistic prayer of the reformed missal.”

        Is there any reason beyond informal peer pressure why a priest couldn’t refuse to say the EP facing the people or prefer the Roman canon over EPs II-IV not to mention all the other approved EPs? It seems to me that these things really are up to the celebrant.

      4. Shane – you confirm my point. So, have we just re-invented the 1970s but instead of the *usual* meme of clown masses, etc. we now have LTM, EF, assorted accretions justified by SP?

        The differernce is that in 1970 there was a desire to implement the conciliar reforms supported and directed overwhelmingly by both the people in the pews and the episcopal/priestly leadership.

        That is not the case now – balkanization is a borrowed term from history. Use it to indicate that we have serious divisions in the church because of certain papal decisions that have not been supported by conferences of bishops nor by the vast majority of catholics.

        As previous well researched posts on PTB have shown, SP has started an internal division in which,IMO, the unintended consequences are a liturgical mishmash creating unintended consequences, conflict in parishes, and issues that will only continue. You call it *proper* and these traditionalist priests *challenge* – agree, they do do that and all based upon the isolated decisions of one pope – what happens five years from now when the next pope abrogates SP, etc. Your whole comment box is based upon a solitary pronouncement – it imagines continuity (when in fact it is rupture); it justifies itself via a MP (talk about lack of support, historical methodologies, and creepting centralized infallibility) – IMO, a MP that is outside of what the council fathers voted and implemented.

        You continue the meme about an imaginery 1970s person who just rejected the council’s reforms – my question to that is – well, that is sad but the church changes and develops and liturgical changes have happened throughout our history.

      5. Bill: “The differernce is that in 1970 there was a desire to implement the conciliar reforms supported and directed overwhelmingly by both the people in the pews and the episcopal/priestly leadership.”

        Which conciliar reforms do you mean here Bill? You paint with a very broad brush. Do you refer to the exapanded vernacular as in the 1965 RM, the 1967 or 1973? Does your presumed popular desire to implement reform include the architectual, musical & other changes, to borrow your words “outside of what the council fathers voted and implemented”?
        The meme I see is your seeming oversimplification of the way the people reacted to the post 1969 reforms. You seem to prefer blaming HV for the profound drop in Mass attendance following the implementation of the reformed liturgy something difficult to sustain when HV brought no visible change to parish life whereas the liturgical changes often “outside of what the council fathers voted and implemented” did. The long view shows us that the conciliar reforms as implemented are actually the reason why SP was pastorally necessary.

      6. Shane – not going to argue by splitting up the various implementation points during Consilium. You say I oversimplify (actually, I think you oversimplify) – rather, I see Consilium as a conciliar directive that planned changes and implementations (in fact, as you list three years as points in time it indicates that the change was not all at once (which is another traditionalist meme). And Consilium carefully looked and reformed across the board – musically, architecturally, etc. (your example seems to focus on latin missal?) You and I may not agree with some parts of each reform change but the overall direction was there.

        I contrast that to what has been going on since 2000 – no connection to the council; curial/papal driven with little to no input from episcopal conferences (failure to follow VII); little to no input from the people in the pews or even experts. SP has had unintended consequences when you get to celebrating the sacraments (do you think that SP was even intended for that purpose – to do sacraments pre-Vatican II?)It is an ideological change that creates division. It ignores the fact that liturgy comes out of and impacts ecclesiology (just think about a pre-Vatican II confirmation ceremony – why would you do it?)

        At times (look at Fr. Allan) I get the impression that with SP and LA a certain small segment now gets payback for their imagined sufferings during the 1970s. Is that really what liturgy is about – justified by misusing power and authority?

        Some interesting questions – currently, would guestimate that there are fewer than 10% of US parishes that request or implement EF or TLM. Sorry, taking or imposing from that 10% on the other 90% will only create more issues. Interesting thought – if you were a pastor, would you want to follow Fr. Allan when he is transferred to another parish in the future? What if the EF is something that has no appeal to you? or even more, you in conscience feel it is a temporary and misguided effort?

      7. Bill,

        You sidestepped the point of my observation above. You made a blanket point that the laity supported the conciliar reforms, a profoundly broad generalization, because the reforms occurred at different times, involved different elements, and varied considerally in their implementation. A poll suggesting the laity like the expanded vernacular in 1967 does not tell us anything about what they thought about the 1973 ICEL translation, the removal of an altar rail, changes in music, the eventual discard of the Prayers at the foot of the altar, or even Mass facing the people.
        There really is no reason why a priest cannot recite the EP of the OF facing in the same direction as the people beyond popular expectation unless the set up of the altar would prevent him from doing so. I’ve seen it done more than once on certain altars.
        Bill, you also neglect the recent history of the Church which shows us that the desire for SP originated among laity, clergy and religious from 1969 forward. The regularization of the rite has broad appeal with parishes, monasteries, and whole religious communities devoted to its use. Even if your 10% figure were correct for parishes implementing SP in the US, these parishes would outnumber all the individual eastern rite eparchies in the US suggesting that they are pastorally prudent. There is no reason to fear this kind of legitimate liturgical diversity.

      8. Shane, you make some good points about surveys and timing of them as the first changes including the vernacular as it was prior to the 1973 icel debacle and Mass facing the congregation were very well accepted, but what happened in the 1970’s in terms of liturgical experimentation and the iconoclasm of churches, etc created a great deal of strife and ill-will and caused not a few people to leave the Church of that period or to become disengaged psychologically from what was happening so they wouldn’t be driven crazy.

        But I missed Bill’s jab, one of many of course, when he said:

        “If you were a pastor, would you want to follow Fr. Allan when he is transferred to another parish in the future?”

        In my estimation, that priest would be darn blessed to follow me! 🙂

      9. Shane – you continue the revisionist history meme. If you can find any surveys, please provide documentation. As many have said on PTB – there aren’t any.

        Allan – really? a jab given this statement today on your blog?

        “What is interesting is that so many post-Catholic (Christian) Catholics today (those who would read the NCR and much of what is on the Praytell Blog and certainly the LCWR are really secularists) buy into the following two presumptions of our post-christian culture:

        A. The supreme religious authority is the conscience of the individual, not any institution;

        B. An empiricist and rationalist understanding of divinity, according to which the transcendent can only be investigated by reason.

        Why comment here given your unfair, unchristian judgements and slander?

      10. Just love it as you say: “….yes, I take credit for that and my freedom of writing at my blog.”

        Your concept of freedom appears to be very *secularist & individualist* – freedom from only. You do realize that theologically or even civilly/legally freedom is not unlimited. You do recall the old admonition about *yelling FIRE in a movie theatre”. Also, theologically *my freedom* comes with gospel ideas such as charity, solidarity, the common good. Oh well – it follows from your insightful knowledge of history.

        Let’s also highlight this paragraph from the dear Jesuit (as if he has some *holy* position of expert knowledge or infallibility:

        “To be sure, Mucci avoids the question of whether actions by the hierarchy, either historically or of more recent vintage, have contributed to this impasse. His case instead seems to be that even when the hierarchy is on the side of the angels, it’s got an uphill fight to be seen that way.”

        Oh, again, we have another example of *mental reservation* since we avoid the question of whether episcopal/hierarachical actions contributed to this impasse.

      11. Bill,

        You are asking me to produce the polls when it was you who made the blanket claim that the people supported the conciliar reform in the “70’s – see your 6/12 7:14 post, second paragraph. My point was that your claim was too broad and unnuanced. It might even be called a meme.

      12. Shane – my *mem* is based upon the historical record; documented responses from conferences of bishops based upon actual feedback and responses; the recent past and current works of historians who are researching and investigating that period of time and its events.

        Your *meme* is based again upon what? at best, negative comments from a tiny minority that have been recorded and now blown all out of proportion to justify as Allan says the reform of the reform in continuity,…..etc, etc…

    2. I’d like to echo what Jordan says about young traditional minded (diocesan or religious) priests. That reflects my interaction with the ones I know. They’d all prefer a more traditional liturgy, wherever possible; but I know of none who would refuse to celebrate a fairly straight-up versus populorum novus ordo (and their bishops would make their lives difficult if they did).

      Some might, if given their own parish and not enough time to catechize, hope to offer perhaps one weekly mass in a more traditional form, eventually, but only as one option. At the end of the day, most are not keen to trample on pastoral sensitivities.

      Bill says: “we seem to be investing our energy in a retrenchment effort that 90% of catholics are not interested in.” With respect, though, how interested are the laity, on average, in any liturgical reform? How many were really lobbying, pushing for, the Pauline missal, in which unprecedented changes were made – with little popular input – in a very short period of time? How many are that deeply engaged in the mass, even today? How many are theologically educated and formed to be able to give worthwhile input? To be sure, most people in 1970 seemed to welcome the mass in the vernacular; about the rest, it’s harder to be certain. But at the end the day, they were Catholics, and that means they simply went along with what was on offer. If they really objected, they were out in the cold, and presumably put up with it, or bailed out.

      All of which is why I’m wary of seeing popular support or reaction for liturgical reform. It’s not to say that there shouldn’t be a broad consultation and feedback; but past liturgical changes – at least until very recently, have not been, so far as we can tell, subject to a canvass.

  9. Although I did not contribute to an answer to the question, I want to thank all who did participate in this discussion. I found it very helpful and enlightening. Thanks especially to Father Anthony for his summary and the articulation of his thoughts on the subject.

  10. I just wanted to say: Thank you for the succinct roundup of the discussion, Fr. Ruff. And I’m honored to have had a remark make the final cut.

  11. Thank you Fr. Anthony a fine summary and your additional commentary was very helpful.

    One question I have is how Benedict is being viewed here, especially by his detractors, I get the sense that he’s being described as both ineffective in governance (as in Mr. Rakosky’s comments in the very first post), too authoritarian (as in ‘creeping infallibility’ or for really wild stuff, the combox at NCR), and balkanizing the liturgy (but neo-trad vision values uniformity too much)? Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems these don’t make much sense when put together. Of course, on a given issue they might hold, that is someone could be authoritarian in some respects but fail to exercise proper control in certain areas. That makes sense, because people are rather complex, but I don’t get that complexity in the critics. If you wish, please explain so I can understand your position better.

    Further, and speaking only for myself, the ‘failure’ of his pontificate is not at all apparent to me. I’m not saying everything has been done perfectly. Far from it. But ‘failure’ is an evaluation which presumes some standards, and it could be that he has been ‘successful’ by other standards in other areas. Perhaps he is a bad (maybe even horrible) manager (but then he can’t really be authoritarian, except in delusion), but that’s certainly not the only dimension of a pope. I would suggest that Benedict has been quite successful in shaping a vision of the Church’s task of 1) rediscovering herself in her tradition; and 2) articulating that vision in the most positive terms possible to the world while still challenging the world. I think that vision will continue in his successor(s) for some time and not only because he chose them (he didn’t choose the cardinals that made him)
    I’m sure many will disagree with my assessment , and one can also disagree with the ways in which Benedict has framed the issue (a separate issue from critique of my assessment, though…

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