Papal remarks on liturgy and homilies in conversation with the priests of Rome

Zenit reports on a two-hour meeting Pope Francis recently held with the priests of Rome. The following will give a flavor of his remarks on the liturgy:

“In addition to several phrases reported by a few Italian news agencies this morning, the 78 year old Pontiff touched upon the theme, for example, on the “traditional rite” with which Benedict XVI granted to celebrate Mass. Through the Motu Propio Summorum Pontificum, published in 2007, the now Pope Emeritus allowed the possibility of celebrating the Mass according the liturgical books edited by John XXIII in 1962, notwithstanding that the “ordinary” form of celebration in the Catholic Church would always remain that established by Paul VI in 1970.

Pope Francis explained that this gesture by his predecessor, “a man of communion”, was meant to offer “a courageous hand to Lefebvrians and traditionalists”, as well as to those who wished to celebrate the Mass according to the ancient rites. The so-called “Tridentine” Mass – the Pope said – is an “extraordinary form of the Roman Rite”, one that was approved following the Second Vatican Council. Thus, it is not deemed a distinct rite, but rather a “different form of the same right”.

However, the Pope noted that there are priests and bishops who speak of a “reform of the reform.” Some of them are “saints” and speak “in good faith.” But this “is mistaken”, the Holy Father said. He then referred to the case of some bishops who accepted “traditionalist” seminarians who were kicked out of other dioceses, without finding out information on them, because “they presented themselves very well, very devout.” They were then ordained, but these were later revealed to have “psychological and moral problems.”

It is not a practice, but it “happens often” in these environments, the Pope stressed, and to ordain these types of seminarians is like placing a “mortgage on the Church.” The underlying problem is that some bishops are sometimes overwhelmed by “the need for new priests in the diocese.” Therefore, an adequate discernment among candidates is not made, among whom some can hide certain “imbalances” that are then manifested in liturgies. In fact, the Congregation of Bishops – the Pontiff went on to say – had to intervene with three bishops on three of these cases, although they didn’t occur in Italy.”

The entire article can be found at:


  1. Money quote:
    However, the Pope noted that there are priests and bishops who speak of a “reform of the reform.” Some of them are “saints” and speak “in good faith.” But this “is mistaken”, the Holy Father said.

    Wow! The Pope just said that the Reform of the Reform is a “mistake.” This is huge.


    1. @Anthony Ruff – comment #1:

      Such a manner of quoting as this leads — where only tiny, less-than-sound-byte pieces are cobbled together — leads one to wonder what the Holy Father actually said. It’s not very good journalism, especially once you consider that those out-of-context words are a translation of the original — I expected better from Zenit.

      Do we have the entirety of the talk? Do we have any context for these fragments? What did the Holy Father really say? Those would give us more definitive answers. As John rightly points out, what is considered as “Reform of the Reform” is quite a broad category. Also, if we are talking mainly about the “traditionalist” seminarians (whatever that means here) who were kicked out of other dioceses, then this is a very different statement – one that should not be terribly surprising to anyone.

      Such a statement coming from the Holy Father isn’t nothing… but without context, it still begs belief to think it is, in itself, “huge”.

      For a lighter view on how this telephone-game phenomenon continues to be playing out all-too-often with Pope Francis:

      Edit: Having gone and read the Italian version as well, the Holy Father’s comment is equally unclear, because the quotes in the Italian version are equally cobbled-together.

      1. @Matthew Morelli – comment #6:

        You’re right, we’re reading tea leaves here without as much evidence as we’d like. But I’m going with Zenit probably getting it right in the little tidbits they quoted. To be honest, it feels a bit like “damage control” to try to limit the importance of what the pope said, or to pick away at accuracy issues.

        I too would like to have a transcript, in original language and in accurate translation, of the whole talk. We won’t be getting that. But what we do have – it fits pretty well in the trajectory of everything I’ve heard the pope say and do the last two years. Truth be told, I expected him to say something like this eventually and wondered when he would. Now he did. It fits with the whole picture.


      2. @Anthony Ruff – comment #8:
        Fr Anthony

        Even if your intuition on this is correct, my sense of Pope Francis is that he is likewise not keen on people extrapolating and running with his casual remarks (George Weigel, please pick up the red and gold courtesy phone). Fwiw, I have a sense that his predecessor got tired of having his carefully precise language cherry-picked and spun by his own erstwhile fan-boys and fan-girls, as it were, and I doubt Pope Francis would welcome it any more. If anything, Pope Francis seems keen on fingering how people use rationalization to seem to be doing good while avoiding confronting their own sinfulness and limits.

      3. @Anthony Ruff – comment #8:
        I don’t think it’s reading tea leaves to say that, as quoted, Francis’s remarks don’t make a whole lot of sense. What exactly is “mistaken”? What does Francis mean by “reform of the reform”? I suppose the remark is interesting, but I’m at something of a loss as to what it means.

      4. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #15:
        It seems Pope Francis was stating this in the context of bishops who accept candidates for the priesthood who have serious psychological issues which are hidden behind a pious (reform of the reform?) facade and in fact have been rejected by other religious orders or dioceses. Who could argue with that? It also happened quite frequently in the period I was vocation director (1986-98) that applicants for dioceses who were rejected by other dioceses/orders were then accepted by new bishops/orders. These were not ultra-traditionalists in the least! But had similar issues but hidden by a progressive facade and post-Vatican II “showmanship” with Pope Francis condemns as well.

  2. It seemed kind of Francis to mention the so-called extraordinary form of the Latin Rite in a positive way, offering praise to his predecessor. But notice that he reaffirms what Benedict had said about for whom it is intended: LeFebvrites and traditionalists. In further clarification he states the RoTR is a mistake. Perhaps this doesnt rule out further “editions” of the 1962 Missal that would include a new lectionary and perhaps even some use of the vernacular. All celebrated of course with the greatest reverence and beauty.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #2:
      Benedict also talked about mutual enrichment.

      Summorum Pontificum: “The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.”

      Some would call that reform of the reform.

    2. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #2:
      Pope Francis is more inclusive than just traditionalists and Lefebvrites, this is what he actually says:

      “a courageous hand to Lefebvrians and traditionalists”, as well as to those who wished to celebrate the Mass according to the ancient rites.

      Many of us who love both forms of the one Latin Rite and are not Lefebvrians or traditionalists, but simply wish to celebrate the Mass according to the ancient rites should be overjoyed by Pope Francis magnanimity. It should also remind priests who are stingy and clericalists in terms of preventing the legitimate desires of stable groups of lay Catholics who wish the ancient rite too to allow it.

  3. The Holy Father also speaks of the “recovery of wonder” and the allurement of wonder which he does not say is a mistake but needed. Of course Pope Benedict never spoke of the “reform of the reform” but simply reform in continuity. Technically, the revised Mass of 1970 is this if only celebrated properly and with the recovery of “wonder” as Pope Francis encourages, which means looking at what was lost in the transition from what is now the other form of the one Latin Rite.

    It is quite important to note that Pope Francis explicitly makes clear that the Extraordinary form i.e. Tridentine Mass, is accepted now as a part of the post Vatican II development:

    “The so-called “Tridentine” Mass – the Pope said – is an “extraordinary form of the Roman Rite”, one that was approved following the Second Vatican Council. Thus, it is not deemed a distinct rite, but rather a “different form of the same right”” (rite).

    This is huge too!

  4. “Reform of the reform” ranges from people who just want the OF with propers and those who want the EF with new saints to be the norm. Without more, I will interpret the pope’s words to refer to the latter “rad trads.”

    As for the rest, it should not be controversial to say that booted seminarians should not be so readily accepted at other dioceses. It is controversial to say so in the context of traditionalists but I can’t disagree. There are plenty of great traditionalists. There are also many crazy conspiracy theorist trads, including some priests. In contrast to crazy modernists, crazy trads do actually knock on the doors of seminaries.

  5. A few thoughts:
    1. Agree (no.6) that it’s silly to make too much out of third-hand reports, especially given this particular pope’s habit of speaking off the cuff in ways that require subsequent ‘clarification’.
    2. The pope is entitled to his opinion. Doesn’t mean he’s right; doesn’t mean we have to agree with him.
    3. When Paul VI imposed his new liturgy on the church, only 2 bishops that I can think of had the courage to stand up against it. That will never happen again—there would definitely be more resistance now if any pope tried to suppress the liturgy or foist his ideology upon it.
    4. There’s something inherently ridiculous about the notion that a reform can’t be reformed. Any ‘reform’, even a legitimate one, requires admission that future correction may be necessary. Indeed, one of the big defects of Sacrosanctum Concilium is that it contains no ‘Plan B’—what to do if the ‘reform’ fails. (Possibly because SC proposed relatively minor changes—nothing like the radical Pauline changes we ended up with.)
    5. I for one do want very much for those who are attached to the Novus Ordo to have the option to continue to celebrate it. They should not be treated the way adherents of the traditional rite were treated…that would be unchristian. But realistically, it’s likely that the NO will wither away as more and more Catholics in the spirit of Christian freedom opt for the ‘extraordinary form’ (in Latin or the vernacular).

  6. I think it’s worth checking out the Catholic Herald version of this story too – which has more on the homily questions which strikes me as far more important in the long term – and in its reporting on “The other extreme, he said, is “if I am a showman, the protagonist” of the Mass, “then I do not enter into the mystery” either.” Puts the comments about traditional people into a more complete context

  7. This is amusing – can hear voices crying in the background – “the sky is falling”.
    In response to comment #3 – sorry, playing fast and loose with what was said.
    Francis recalled a presentation he gave on the eucharist years ago. A couple of cardinals/bishops brought him some criticisms around his *emphases* in that talk and that he had not included any focus or aspects on *wonder*. Francis said that he appreciated that feedback – nothing more and nothing less.
    First, this Eucharistic talk had no connection to SP, Benedict, Tridentine liturgy. It was merely a talk about the usual Eucharistic liturgy as celebrated by Francis (he doesn’t use terms such as novus ordo, ordinary, or the mass of Paul VI, etc. He is a priest of VII, period.
    So, Francis did not compare or contrast – he did not nor would he say that ordinary rite has less wonder and the extraordinary rite had more wonder. For him, there is ONLY the ordinary rite. (#3 suggests and implies some type of comparison or implies that the extraordinary brings more wonder – that is not present in this talk; rather, it is manipulating and interpreting to fit someone’s skewed views)

    He also clearly lays out why he thinks SP happened and for him it was both an outreach to a schismatic group and a compassionate outreach to a small group of traditionalists (doubt he would split that description in all the ways that some commenters here have?). That being said, for him these groups are very small, on the periphery, and put SP into a context that does not allow for SP to be manipulated, re-interpreted, or used to justify some equal liturgical rite. It is a compassionate exception, period. And he clearly says to act outside of that exception is a MISTAKE. That is the context of Francis’ talk – he does not EXPLICITLY bless the extraordinary form; he admits that it is a current practice as an exception. Nothing more, and nothing less.
    Sorry, #3 repeats the usual reform in continuity mantra – if only the commenter actually believed that rather than his own personal and skewed version of what Benedict said in that Advent talk which he posts about on various blogs.
    Finally, he takes the “wonder* aspect to a ridiculous extreme when he tries to put words in Francis’ mouth and says that the 1970 rite only has wonder if celebrated correctly. Really? Would have to say that this applies to all forms of the rite – if the presider does a poor job, then there is no wonder….why only apply it to the ordinary form? (yep, bias at work again). One only needs to think about serving a private mass on a side altar at 6AM on a weekday (in ten minutes and in 1960) while the main altar liturgy was going on – not exactly an experience of wonder.

  8. Will ignore KLS’s snark.
    Here is another just posted column by Grant Gallicho at Commonweal. He changes the focus from the reform of the reform and liturgy aspects to what he thinks was the more emphatic section of what Francis said:
    Gallicho’s point connects the Francis talk to some earlier posts this past week about young priests, traditionalists, etc. Interesting thoughts.

  9. As for Pope Francis’s reference to bad apple seminarians, I take his word for it and support his judgment. I don’t think he’s referring to all Catholics who follow the EF or a more conservative interpretation of the Ordinary Form as maladjusted. In my experience, there are young priests who will arrive at a parish and almost immediately begin to deprecate the orientation of the altar, the organist/music minister and his or her program, the celebration style of other priests, etc. The parish is not “pure” enough, not Catholic enough. No parish is Catholic enough. I see myself in this position sometimes, since I am often critical of PTB participants and especially those who deprecate popular piety. I have to remember that the Church takes all kinds, including me, into a grand insane morality play.

    Pope Francis has referred to the Church as a field hospital for sinners. A surgeon wouldn’t walk up to a patient with a gross wound and refuse to treat this wound because the surgical aprons are the wrong color. If a seminarian isn’t willing to give his last ounce to saving souls in this hospital, then perhaps he’s not cut out for the job. Favoring one liturgical philosophy against all others doesn’t show a willingness to put in that last ounce.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #16:
      View from the pew:
      Yup. Look to the bishop(s) who orient the seminaries to train the students as you describe. Somewhere these bishops got the notion that it is ok for the new priests to purify all those that are not themselves.

  10. The pope is understandably careful when he speaks on matters about which his predecessor has dedicated great time and energy. I would not expect much movement on liturgical rites and translation policy while the former pope still lives among us.

  11. I appreciate the pushback from Karl Liam and Fritz. OK, so I’m making more of this than is there because I hear the pope saying something (I think) that I like. People are saying here and elsewhere in the blogosphere that it’s difficult to tell just what on earth he meant. But still, he did say that the “Reform of the Reform … is mistaken.”

    We don’t know exactly what he means by RotR, or by ‘mistaken,’ and I suppose we can question what ‘is’ is. Still, his remark is significant – the successor to Benedict XVI said, using a phrase affirmed by B16, that the RotR is mistaken. Surely this is not nothing and it has some significance, even if we don’t know what that significance is. Even imprecise and hard to comprehend words from the pope are data, and they must mean something or the other.

    I think that’s true, even if Anthony Ruff should hold back from projecting a whole program onto his off-the-cuff remarks. I’ll try to do that. 🙂


  12. I don’t think it’s so hard to understand what is meant by “mistaken.” Of course the pope hasn’t pronounced on every single point of the liturgy, but the idea that the liturgy has to be reformed all over again because the reform that followed the Council either failed or was unfaithful to the Council is THE basic idea of Reform of the Reform, right? Isn’t it? That’s what all the literature says.

    That idea is mistaken.

    We don’t need to do the reform all over again. The reform that followed the Council was neither unfaithful to the Council nor did it fail. That’s the plain sense of what this means.

    You can argue about the details of what it implies, of course, but it’s the basic notion that we have to re-do the reform that is mistaken.

    Why do I think he doesn’t want to re-do the reform? Because he celebrates the liturgy along the main lines of the reform and its mainstream interpretation without a problem, without stress, and without a troubled conscience.

  13. I find it astonishing that now that the Holy Father has said that the Reform of the Reform is mistaken, no one knows any more what the Reform of the Reform is.

    Up until this minute, all the discussants knew what the Reform of the Reform was. I can’t recall a single thread where people expressed uncertainty about what the Reform of the Reform is. There are books written about it, blogs devoted to it, people who wear that label proudly.

    Why so much confusion now?

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #20:
      #19 & #20: Exactly. There is more than a little spin-doctoring going on in some of these comments. Oddly, my take on the comments the Pope made is that the Pope did not set out to make a proclamation on the rites specifically, but rather the comments grew out of another discussion he was having with this group of priests. If I have read that correctly, it is hard to make too much of them one way or another. It is not unlike dicta in a court ruling.

      But, he has made similar comments at other times since his election that have been consistent with these comments and my sense is that for His Holiness, the EF is something to be tolerated rather than endorsed. (It seems to me he actually said as much a year or so ago, and the reason for the tolerance was Christian charity.) What I think he would really like is if there were fewer disputes about rites and more action in other areas of forming our faith.

      I also think that while the EF may be permissible the Pope does not think that it is more beautiful, more faithful, more appropriate, more reverent, more…anything. That’s enough for me.

      Let’s put less effort into reforming the reform, and more into being one body in Christ.

    2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #20:
      I’m long been puzzled by what people mean by “reform of the reform”–some seem to mean an actual reform of the rites and a retrofitting of features like the prayers at the foot of the altar and the Last Gospel into the liturgy,others seem to mean making use of what a currently legitimate options but which most people associate with the pre-conciliar liturgy: celebrating ad orientem, making use of the propers, wearing a biretta or a fiddleback, etc. So I guess I’m just wondering what Pope Francis exactly thinks is a “mistake”? Given that he himself has done some of the latter things (using propers, celebrating with his back to the people in the Sistine Chapel) since becoming Pope, is he simply saying that we don’t need a further reform of the rites?

      [edited to add:um…more or less what Aaron said immediately above me.]

      As to his commentary on how in some places candidates unsuitable for the priesthood are given a pass because they are liturgical conservatives or perceived as doctrinally orthodox…sure. I’ve seen it happen. Grant Gallicho’s series on the Commonweal blog documents one particularly egregious case.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #28:

        Deacon Fritz: As to his commentary on how in some places candidates unsuitable for the priesthood are given a pass because they are liturgical conservatives or perceived as doctrinally orthodox…sure. I’ve seen it happen.

        Again, shouldn’t read too far into the tea leaves, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pope Francis is alluding to a smaller number of seminarians who interpret ROtR and EF celebrations as liturgical theatre rather than celebrations of the Eucharist. It’s as if the sanctuary has become a stage for an Arts and Crafts era bombastic explosion than a tasteful but sober liturgy (much like the Holy Father’s Masses). If a seminarian wants to camp it up, he should investigate summer stock rather than the priesthood. Unfortunately there are a few websites which promote this mindset. Also, there are a number of prominent churches in major cities which cater to Catholics who want the theatrical treatment. Pope Francis is helpless to tell these seminarians and priests to cut it out, but I suspect he would say something if he were to attend a Mass celebrated in this style.

  14. A few more thoughts:

    1. When a person’s made something their life’s work, it must be hard to be told they’ve wasted their time, or worse. Human nature being what it is, all sorts of mental barricades will be erected. We need to keep this in mind during discourse with liturgists who are in large part responsible for the current state of liturgy. The same no doubt applies to many priests and bishops. The vast majority, I’m sure, meant well.
    2. I think no. 12 and 19-20 are right about Francis, in other words, (though they probably wouldn’t put it this way) Francis just doesn’t ‘get’ the liturgical situation in the church. JP2 was similarly naïve when he permitted Cdl Mayer to say, in ‘Quattuor Abhinc Annos’, that on the basis of a survey of bishops (!!) “it appeared that the problem of priests and faithful holding to the so-called “Tridentine” rite was almost completely solved. Since, however, the same problem continues…”
    The hierarchy, who (see point 1 above) were well invested in the Novus Ordo, really wanted to believe that the ‘problem’ of adherence to the old rite was confined to a few fringe groups. They couldn’t or wouldn’t realise that these fringe groups spoke to the hearts of countless Catholics who stayed in the church in spite of the prevailing liturgy. Not could they admit that countless others who had left the church would return if the church allowed a return to its traditions.
    3. There remains something inherently ridiculous about a ‘reform’ that is beyond reform itself.
    4. Why is the issue of married priests so ‘difficult’, in Francis’s view?

  15. The Holy Father’s talk to the Roman Clergy was based on a very long presentation His Holiness gave to the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2005. It is printed in this week’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano but not translated as far as I can tell into English. It gives more insights to Cardinal Bergoglio’s thinking 10 years ago.

    In terms of the “reform of the reform” there is no unified, practical definition and certainly one would not find one by reading the various blogs that promote it. One would find a thousand different interpretations.

    The fact remains that Pope Francis showed more of his hand in this less than magisterial talk concerning the Extraordinary Form and making it clear, even off-the-cuff, that it is one form of the same Latin Rite. This is important for those who read and write on this blog, like it or not. He does not expand its application, which is “extraordinary” but recognizes that there are those who desire it who are not on the periphery but in the mainstream (although I think He is still concerned about he periphery in is various aspects).

    To say as Pope Francis says that a recovery of “wonder” for both the clergy and laity in the celebration of the Mass (it isn’t just a clerical thing) is important can only be interpreted as having been lost in the post-Vatican II period of the actual “art of celebrating” the Mass. This has little to do with the Missal itself, but rather how rank and file dioceses and parishes, clergy and laity, to include bishops, celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass. To say a recovery of “wonder” is not a form or another mode of the “reform of the reform” would be to stick one’s head in the sand. It has nothing to do with revision of books or getting rid of the Ordinary Form.

    However, I still contend the Anglican Ordinariate’s new Roman Missal approved by Pope Francis is a very powerful form of the “reform of the reform” especially its appendix of options.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #23:

      “To say as Pope Francis says that a recovery of “wonder” for both the clergy and laity in the celebration of the Mass (it isn’t just a clerical thing) is important can only be interpreted as having been lost in the post-Vatican II period of the actual “art of celebrating” the Mass. This has little to do with the Missal itself, but rather how rank and file dioceses and parishes, clergy and laity, to include bishops, celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass.”

      People who support a Reform of the Reform should take heart from the Pope’s implication here that a sense of wonder has been lost: surely that is one of their chief claims regarding what ails contemporary liturgy. So if it is a negative that Francis seems to have characterized the Reform of the Reform as “mistaken”, then it would seem to be a counterbalancing positive that, at the very same event, he acknowledged one of the Reform of the Reform movement’s primary diagnoses.

      Fr. McDonald, to your point that a recovery of wonder can “only” be interpreted as a criticism of how we do liturgy – I am not sure to what extent I agree. My own pastoral sense, for whatever it’s worth, is that we live in pretty dis-enchanted times, and people bring their lack of enchantment (and even lack of faith) to mass. I just don’t think there is any art to celebrating mass that can, on its own, fix that ailment. Of course, the sacramental life has *something* to do with addressing the problem, whether its forms are ordinary or extraordinary.

      I don’t expect that Francis would look only to liturgy to address the underlying malady; I expect he’d also want his pastoral leaders to bring the Good News to the people, to listen to what they tell us, to bind their wounds however we can – all of this will help awaken and strengthen people’s faith, and their sense of wonder. And that revitalized faith will manifest itself, in a renewed sense of wonder in our liturgy.

      1. @Jim Pauwels – comment #30:
        I agree with what you have written in terms of revitalized faith and the wonder that this brings to the Mass. I’ve been a pastor in a parish that had a large charismatic community within it and certainly they experience what you describe and while there are elements of traditional piety, they also find this wonder in pentecostal or charismatic way in the Mass.

        The elephant in the room though which I have commented on before is the fact that in places like the Archdiocese of New York and other northeast and Midwest dioceses, only about 12 % of Catholics actually attend Mass, meaning 88% don’t. To call any reform in the Church, whatever that reform, liturgical and otherwise a success, is laughable. It may be working for the 12 % but the 88% are still missing. I have no easy solutions to help them return and be committed, faithful Catholics except reliance upon the grace of God to see us through.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #32:
        View from the pew:
        Regarding: “To call any reform in the Church, whatever that reform, liturgical and otherwise a success, is laughable. It may be working for the 12 % but the 88% are still missing.”
        – As a parishioner living my parish’s neighborhood I notice that those baptized catholics who do not attend regularly or not at all do not attend because of issues not related to liturgy. For instance: Pastor X was demeaning to my spouse who was raised in another church; I needed help with X and I was told to get lost; I wanted to marry in my parish but the deacon totally ignored my concerns; I was told that confirmation was required, and it is not — I do not know why I was told something that is not true; and so forth. Almost never is the lack of quality in the celebrant’s homily ever the issue, or that wonder is missing from the Eucharist is a sufficient stumbling block to send the baptized elsewhere.
        – I am not a cleric, so I probably do not hear those parochial commentaries that verify that 88% find liturgical reform so insufficient that disinclination in participating in the Eucharist is an appropriate response.

      3. @Charles Jordan – comment #37:
        Charles, I agree with you about people leaving because of everything but liturgy, as you describe and worse. Usually even a change of pastors can cause some people to stop going to Mass or something the pastor said or did, benign or malignant.

        But…if one actually believed what the Mass accomplishes, apart from all of the external differences available today, in terms of priests’ personalities and abilities, the beauty or ugliness of the church, the ornateness or plainness of the liturgy and accoutrements or the amount of active or inactive participation, language,who does what, friendliness or unfriendliness etc., that in fact in the Mass one encounters God through Jesus Christ in His spoken Word and His Word made Flesh sacramentally, experiences the grace of the one Sacrifice of Christ and the real presence of Christ can be received under the form of Bread and Wine, it seems, as you might have heard in a homily, that people would be crawling on their knees to Mass to experience God in this way. Nothing would stop them from attending. If there is no “wonder” about the faith realities of the Mass, then there is no wonder 88% don’t go to Mass for whatever so-called valid or invalid reason.

      4. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #40:
        View from the pew:
        Nothing that you write is incorrect. However in what you wrote you have pointed to the problem, that is: one is not born to belief in the profound purpose and necessity of the Eucharist Celebration. How pastors and ministers and other christians behave is of primary importance in terms of evangelization which precedes belief that the consecrated elements are the Body and Blood of Jesus. Evangelization and subsequent catechizing do not occur if the People of God are not where the pastors and ministers prefer them to be.

  16. Seminaries – and Bishops – make mistakes. As I know only too well, many a seminarian is dismissed on (spurious) “psychological” grounds when there is actually nothing wrong with him, apart from an inclination towards the Extraordinary Form. Conversely, many a student sails through the seminary course without serious challenge simply because does or says only that which he thinks the seminary professors want to hear. It is these … ahem … “little monsters” who often turn out to be worst type of control freak, imposing their transitory and febrile enthusiasms on a succession of parishes before settling down to a life of disappointed mediocrity, or leaving the active ministry altogether. Of course, it does not follow from this that a Bishop should not consider very carefully whether or not to accept a candidate who has been rejected elsewhere. After all, traditionalists have their own neuroses just as much as anyone else. But it is idle to suppose that a seminary “human development” programme can be uniformly successful in detecting and weeding out those who are psychologically unfit for sacred orders, especially if those conducting it are unaware of the extent to which their own narrow minded and unacknowledged vision influences the assessments they make of those under their charge.

  17. Rita Ferrone : I find it astonishing that now that the Holy Father has said that the Reform of the Reform is mistaken, no one knows any more what the Reform of the Reform is. Up until this minute, all the discussants knew what the Reform of the Reform was.

    Certainly you know at least enough about liturgical issues, Rita, to know that there have ‘always’ been at least two different tendencies within the RotR movement, one of them emphasizing discriminate use of the options already on the books to achieve continuity without legal change, the other promoting emendation of liturgical law itself. Within each of these tendencies there are a plethora of views as to what and how much precisely ought to be reformed. If you’ve been following discussions in which all parties agreed as to precisely what RotR entails, then you’ve missed out on the bulk of the conversation.

    Let’s acknowledge that multiformity, then, in reading the tea leaves of the pope’s laconic references to RotR. Do we think the pope is calling to the carpet those who prefer always to use the Confiteor and Roman Canon (as opposed to say, Form C and EP III)? It seems much more likely that he is disagreeing with proponents of actual legal change.

  18. I appreciate very much the comments of Rita, Aaron, and Fritz.

    I suspect, as it seems the others do, that Pope Francis is probably not interested in reforming the rites. He fully supports the reformed liturgy of Paul VI, and is open to the various ways people celebrate it including with more Latin or ad orientem though that’s really not his agenda either.

    But all this is just my suspicion, we don’t have a clear manifesto from him on it.


    1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #29:
      Father Anthony,

      About a year ago, you were so dismissive of reports about Francis agreeing with Benedict on how to interpret Vatican II saying that you believe that Francis tries to agree with everyone, that we shouldn’t take it at face value, etc.
      Why is it that when Francis says that we need a “reform in continuity” in the manner proposed by Benedict that’s nothing, but when he says that the “reform of the reform” is mistaken, then that’s huge?

      1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #36:
        SK wrote:
        Why is it that when Francis says that we need a “reform in continuity” in the manner proposed by Benedict that’s nothing, but when he says that the “reform of the reform” is mistaken, then that’s huge?

        I so wrote because I’m Anthony Ruff and not Stanislaus Kosala. Popes agreeing with their predecessor is hardly newsworthy. A pope repudiating a key concern of his immediate predecessor is. It’s huge, in my opinion.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #41:
        AND — there is a venerable form of papal rhetoric that begins by extolling the virtues of one’s predecessors (normally “of happy memory”) and then going on revise, if not repudiate, what those predecessors said and/or did.

      3. @Ann Riggs – comment #47:

        Look at this report of a meeting that took place between pope francis and the Franciscans of the Immaculate:

        According to the report, Francis said that

        “One question concerned the interpretation of the II Vatican Council. Francis once again expressed his appreciation for the work of Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, defining it as “the best hermeneutic” of the Council. He then responded to the objection according to which Vatican II would only be a pastoral council, which has damaged the church. The Pope said that although it is has been pastoral, it contains doctrinal elements and is a Catholic council, reaffirming the line of the hermeneutics of reform in the continuity of the one-subject church, presented by Benedict XVI in his speech to the Roman Curia in December 2005. ”

        Marchetto’s reading of Vatican II is firmly against the bologna school of interpreting the council and on the side of Benedict. Here Francis is firmly taking sides in a controversy.
        I don’t think that we should look at this meeting that just happened last week, without looking at other such meetings.

  19. To Aaron and Fritz,

    I understand that you both are pointing to the fact that individuals with diverse opinions have identified with the movement that calls itself the Reform of the Reform. But that diversity does not eliminate what everyone agrees on, which is what I said above: that the Reform of the liturgy after Vatican II was either a failure or unfaithful, and has to be undertaken again. That is agreed upon by all parties, no matter what their particular strategies may be.

    In addition, Cardinal Koch said this, and that it reflects Pope Benedict’s own thinking is pretty much certain: the “mutual enrichment” of the EF and the OF would result in a new form, one form, for the whole Roman Rite. That’s the end point of the Reform of the Reform. What that rite would look like was never decided, precisely, by anyone, because it hasn’t gotten to that point. But the theory was there for all to see, and it has been referred to in numerous discussions here and elsewhere.

    Fritz, thank you for clarifying. I see that your question is a theoretical one, again about what the ideal liturgy would look like. But the absence of the vision of what the results would be has not stopped anyone from lining up to agree with the premises I’ve listed above and attack the official reform and re-do it.

    Aaron, it’s disingenuous to say that because people don’t agree on the details, they are not part of the same movement, or that the movement did not coalesce around a particular agenda.

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #31:
      Before we can begin to answer the question implicit in Rita F’s comment–‘Were the Pauline liturgical changes a failure?’–we have to answer the questions, ‘Is it in fact possible that the changes could fail?’, and then, ‘What metrics shall we use to judge success or failure?’

      But if someone cannot even bring himself to acknowledge the possibility that the liturgical changes could fail–that they were, in effect, infallible–then it is difficult to have a meaningful conversation.

    2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #31:

      I never intended to dispute that the two major distinctions within the RotR are part of the same movement; the language of my comment acknowledged as much. But your line of thought seems to be “because the third-hand sound bite offers no distinctions, the pope must necessarily every possible permutation of this movement without exception.” I consider the difference among the two tendencies of RotR to be significant enough, on the other hand, that I do not consider it ridiculous to ask whether a terse criticism of an unspecified “RotR” is indeed directed at every possible instantiation.

  20. #33.

    I resent your comments about elaborate liturgy being just a fancy show played out for Catholics “who want theatrical treatment” or “liturgical theatre”.

    I’m a music student at the University of North Texas, and last night I attended a performance of the monumental Biber Requiem. It is a profoundly moving and wonderful setting of a Requiem Mass. It was written a few hundred years ago to be performed in the context of a solemn Tridentine Mass. I was commenting to my friend about how wonderful and spiritually fulfilling it would be to have this great work done in the context of a Traditional Mass instead of on the concert stage. Certainly if this wonderful music was good enough to be performed in Mass 200+ years ago, it should be fine today.

    Many of us know if certain “liturgy” parishes that exist in big cities, for example, St John Cantius in Chicago or the Brompton Oratory in London. I would imagine you would consider Mass at these places “liturgical theater” (maybe not, not trying to put words in your mouth). However, many people who want “tasteful but sober liturgies” don’t realize that more elaborate, pre Vatican II liturgies can profoundly move certain people on a deeply spiritual level. For me it is a very intellectual but deeply meaningful way to worship God. I’m very thankful that there are some Catholic parishes that “cater” to more Catholics like me. The sober liturgy you describe does work for a lot of simple people, but not for everyone.

    1. @Beau Baldwin – comment #35:

      The sober liturgy you describe does work for a lot of simple people, but not for everyone.

      Some of the most important saints of the post-Reformation period were quite simple. Once St. John Vianney entered his parish church to find a farmer staring at the tabernacle. The Cure d’Ars asked why. The farmer said, “I look at him, and he looks at me!” This impressed Vianney so much that he has recorded it in his journals for prosperity.

      In my 20 (wow!) years of being a traditionalist, I’ve seen almost every example, good and bad, of the EF. I’ve heard indult Masses with crypto-Lefebvrists, whose missa de angelis might pass for a new form of sonic warfare. I’ve been to the large city churches’ orchestral Masses. I’ve stood around niches for fast low Masses. I’ve been to OF Masses with the most stellar preachers, whose homiletic presence enlivened the Holy Sacrifice without any need for musical accompaniment. “I look at him, and he looks at me!”

      If this last point is not grasped, then every Mass is theatrical. Sentiment and movement must rest on a solid faith which can “see” past the trappings of culture and anachronism towards the heart of the theology of the Mass. Otherwise, what is beautiful sound is merely sound which can be just as easily reproduced in a recording studio or a concert hall, played on CD or carried around on a MP3 player. Is this decontextualization the Mass? Can it be sentimentalized as it would be at a Mass?

      For some, the Mass can be well understood within a liturgy laden with motets, polyphonic pieces, and even an orchestral composition. An appreciation for the Mass and these historical expressions of liturgical music are compatible. However, for I and the simple farmers (and might I daresay Pope Francis is simple), the Mass is grace and spiritual strength. Without the sacrament of the Mass present, even the most laden choir loft produces sound in vain.

  21. In his posting of 20 January 2015 (republishing an earlier piece) Fr Hunwicke wrote:
    “The Pope’s remarks to the Latin American religious who went to see him were, I presume, very definitely non-Magisterial. They claimed he hinted rather heavily that they should not lose too much sleep about CDF interventions. But … those worthy religious who went half-way round the world to Rome did not do so because they have a private hobby of chatting to emeriti Argentinian bishops. They went to see, to question, to hear, the Pope qua Pope.”
    My guess is the Pope Francis has not fully considered this and so is given to making on the spot comments. My guess is that we can pay little attention to these: they do not represent formal teaching. With Pope Benedict we got used to carefully considered speaking. We may benefit from a period with little formal teaching. There is lots to digest from recent Popes.

  22. I don’t think anyone here has claimed that that the postconciliar liturgical reforms are, by definition, perpetually irreformable, or that they could not have been less than perfect. The myth of an irreformable “Mass of all time” belongs elsewhere.

    I have just come from a Mass, celebrated in the normative form, in Latin except for the readings, homily and prayers of the people, with beautifully sung, unaccompanied Gregorian chant, the sung propers (we use an English entrance hymn outside of Lent and Advent), incense, bells and simple solemnity. A newly ordained deacon joined an experienced priest at the altar; this was his first Mass in Latin, of this solemnity, but he adapted seamlessly … you might call it “continuity”. Everything done was in accord with the GIRM and the instructions given by the bishops of England and Wales. The Mass bore many similarities to the one celebrated by Pope Benedict when he visited Westminster Cathedral, though with a bit less pomp — only four altar servers, for instance.

    The claim is not that “reform of the reform” is impossible. It is that it is unnecessary. The reformed liturgy may not be perfect (nor is the extraordinary form); but it is fit for its purpose: giving God glory and praise.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #44:
      My own parish liturgies are far from what you experienced today, though there is continuity between yours and our all-vernacular liturgy, except for the Greek Kyrie, and Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei which we do during the season of Lent. We do pay attention to detail, use incense at two of our Sunday Masses and bells at all and vesture is more in keeping with Pope Francis’ taste than Pope Benedict’s. We try to make sure all lay ministers are well trained and take care in their appearance.

      I suspect, and I could be wrong, that in the many, many parishes today in the USA and maybe elsewhere, the liturgy is very far from yours and mine and more of the banal, desacralized “showmanship” rather than the overly pious, rigid, ornate style. The small minority of Catholics who actually attend Mass probably don’t think anything is amiss in the way they experience the Mass although an extremely small minority of that minority might.

      I think of “reform of the reform” on many different levels, mostly the care that is necessary for the Ordinary Form, which you describe very well in your parish today. That is a reform of the reformed Mass, doing it well and in the manner you experience.

      Other reforms to the Ordinary Form might be what is allowed to the Anglican Ordinariate in terms of the Ordinary Form they have with a slightly revised calendar and more options for the Penitential Act (to include the EF’s Prayers and the Foot of the Altar, as well as the EF’s offertory prayers and clear options for ad orientem and kneeling for Holy Communion), all the while remaining an OF Mass in substance and lectionary.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #44:
      Lovely. The OF is capable of many styles of celebration, that’s one of its great merits … it can express the diversity within the church.
      Our own celebration this morning at our “family Mass” had no chant, no Latin, guitars and keyboard with plentiful full-voiced congregational singing, including all the bits that have to be sung. Two servers carrying candles to accompany the Gospel (usually more, but terrible weather kept them snug in bed) the littl’uns returning from their own liturgy of the Word to share their learning with us all. Eucharistic ministers who ministered to the assembly and then sent out to take communion to the housebound and sick. And all done with great care and respectfulness. A special blessing for a couple on their 60th wedding anniversary. A beautiful hour with the Lord.

    3. @Jonathan Day – comment #44:
      Jonathan, what you just described is a RotR liturgy – celebrating the OF in robust continuity with the EF. One theory being propounded here claims that Pope Francis just condemned your celebration as a mistake; well-intentioned, perhaps, but mistaken nonetheless. I happen to disagree with that theory, but we can’t get away from the fact that while you think a “reform of the reform” is unnecessary, you still fit squarely within the broad movement sporting the umbrella name RotR.

      1. @Aaron Sanders – comment #48:
        Aaron, I don’t think that anyone at our Mass would regard it as “reform of the reform”, or “in robust continuity with the EF”. Do come visit, though, when you are in London: 11:00 every Sunday.

        The parish has been celebrating one Sunday Mass this way for decades: before Pope Benedict, before the Lefebvrist consecrations, before the rise of traditionalist bloggers – before any bloggers. If it ever was the product of a ‘movement’, that is long forgotten. If there is any ‘robust continuity’ in this Mass it is with the family Mass that precedes it and the simple Mass that follows it on a Sunday: all of them by-the-book, run-of-the-mill Novus Ordo Masses. The only difference is that one of them is in Latin, with more ceremonial.

        A good number of the ‘identity marks’ of the reform of the reform movement are missing here. We have female altar servers and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, which most communicants receive standing and in the hand. A freestanding altar was added in 1992, with the step constructed so that it is impossible to celebrate facing the apse. There are no birettas or fiddleback chasubles. We exchange the peace, in a dignified but warm fashion. Now and then the celebrant leaves the sanctuary during the peace, to greet a parishioner or family on a particular occasion – a bereavement, for instance. For much of the year, the Mass begins with an English hymn.

        No reform of the reform here, because no need. You will find liturgical “showmanship” and an “overly pious, rigid, ornate style” (quoting Fr Allan here) elsewhere in London, in at least once place that is explicitly following a “reform of the reform” programme, with birettas and all that.

        But in at least half a dozen local parishes here, including Westminster Cathedral, you’ll find a solemn but simple Latin Novus Ordo Mass that has no “reform” agenda at all.

        I don’t think Pope Francis would condemn what we are doing as a mistake; in fact, this is more or less how he would celebrate a major public Mass.

      2. @Jonathan Day – comment #50:
        If you attended the Mass I attended in south Florida last weekend while on vacation (somewhat rank and file for that region) you would indeed describe yours as reform of the reform compared to that south Florida Mass even with all the elements which your parish and my parish have to include altar girls. Perhaps yours and mine are “reform in continuity” although yours more so than my parish’s typical Sunday Masses. In fact yours is far more EF than mine! I am jealous! 🙂

      3. @Jonathan Day – comment #50:
        What you describe would be a dream come true to a lot of RoTR folks, though. It sounds more RoTR than most American RoTR parishes.

        I suppose what one would classify as RoTR depends on how warm you are to the movement. I’ll mentally put any Mass that has a little chanting, or Latin, or incense, or nice vestments, or careful celebration into the RoTR category.

  23. I find it patently absurd to suggest that the declining percentage of Catholics at Sunday Mass is a result of a poorly executed or ill informed reform of the liturgical rites. In the parish I serve I see upwards of 90% of participants week in and week out. I wouldnt think to ask “where are the rest of the Catholics living in my parish boudaries?” Many are catholic in name only, having failed due to a variety of factors, to internalize the gifts received through the sacraments. Some have chosen one of the neighboring parishes. Some long ago abandoned the notion of being obliged to attend Sunday Mass, they drop in from time to time. Many are suffering from addictions and can no longer bear living the double life of a churchgoer. I highly doubt there are more than a few whose personal expectations of liturgy are not being met. Finally, there are those who dont show up because they find the Mass too challenging to the lukewarm manner in which they practice the faith. No one comes to the parish to hear Mass. They come with great fidelity because they want to do a better job of turning away from sin so as to make progress in becoming saints. They give praise and thanks to God through a full throated singing of the Mass and by their both reverent and enthusiastic participation. No bells, no smoke, no birettas or maniples. But in Lent a Kyrie, Laudate Dominum, and Agnus Dei.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #53:
      I can’t speak to your parish, but I’ve never heard anyone imply they stopped attending (OF) Mass because it challenges them too much. I have heard many many people say it is boring and lifeless.

      I don’t like it when so much blame is laid on the faithful. Perhaps those who are “Catholic in name only” and who didn’t “internalize the gifts received through the sacraments” ended up that way because they were never taught what the sacraments were, what they do, or were given liturgical rites that clearly communicated those truths.

  24. Thanks, Fr. Jack – agree, that mantra is either delusional or writing revisionist conspiracy theories to fit an ideology.
    It ignores:
    – western society over the past 50 years underwent a significant paradigm shift away from *just accepting authority* to *questioning authority* (sorry, this isn’t relativism nor is it anti-Christian)
    – the damage done by the papal HV decision (which only reinforced in the minds of most a hypocritical, hierarchical authoritarianism and biologism that the western educated reject)
    – sexual abuse scandal that continues to reverberate in the church
    – societal changes in terms of women, marriage, sexual gender roles, etc. (talk about not addressing VII’s signs of the time)
    – AIDS/HIV and the hierarchical church’s response
    – Catholic Social Thought (it is not just prudential)

    Some questions esp. for Georgia – appears that the TLM experience attracted a small cohort and that this group has not grown and, from time to time, is actually smaller (so, wouldn’t the ideology suggest that more and more people should be attending?)
    Diocesan annal records suggest that this parish has lost membership subsequent to the TLM implementation – neighboring parishes did not?
    So what’s up?

  25. Jack Wayne : I’ve never heard anyone imply they stopped attending (OF) Mass because it challenges them too much. I have heard many many people say it is boring and lifeless.

    I too have heard people say that they no longer come to Mass because it is boring and lifeless. But those who have gone on to find a church home elsewhere seem to have found it in evangelical mega-churches, so I suspect they would find the EF equally (if not more) boring and lifeless.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #56:
      Perhaps, perhaps not. I know many people who find they EF quite gripping, but would describe the OF as boring. I myself don’t advocate the EF as a cure-all for the problems in the Church – too many people have grown up completely disconnected from their own liturgical heritage that to throw them into it would be a disaster (in fact, the only people I ever met who said they didn’t like a Mass because it was too challenging were speaking about the EF).

      However, I think most people find Mass boring because they honestly don’t know what is going on, what its purpose is, and what it accomplishes. When the beauty of our sacramental system is downplayed for generations, and our handling of scripture is also lackluster, then it’s no wonder people will go find evangelical churches that are able to do one of the two better.

  26. If the old Latin Mass brings people back, then why not make wider use of it?

    Regardless of whether it’s said well or poorly, the old Latin Mass seems more uniquely Catholic than the “new” Mass. The “reformers” of the 50s-70s junked a uniquely Catholic aspect of the Church. How could anyone have been surprised that many laymen (and clergy) didn’t like the changes? Arbitrary changes made in an un-pastoral manner aren’t likely to strengthen the Church.

    1. @Sean Peters – comment #57:
      Sean, the Second Vatican Council pretty emphatically took a position on what is “more Catholic,” and they laid out a whole program for how the church would become more Catholic by renewing herself, by going back to her most authentic traditions, by pruning away developments in the course of history (liturgical accretions for example) that have obscured the “Catholic” nature of the church.

      I take it to be the teaching of the Church that the reformed Mass is more Catholic. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal begins with a strong apologetic for the reformed Mass as authentically Catholic.

      Setting up the unreformed Mass as “more Catholic” sounds dangerously like rejecting Catholic teaching, rejecting the teachings of the magisterium, rejecting the liturgical reform which Church authorities have strongly defended as faithful to the Council. Frankly, I don’t think your comments are the Catholic view of things. Part of being a Catholic, part of “thinking with the Church” (sentire cum ecclesia) in our day, I am convinced, is being formed by the spirit of the reformed liturgy and undergoing conversion (as necessary) so as to see why it is reformed the way it is.


      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB (#62): [T]he Second Vatican Council pretty emphatically took a position on what is “more Catholic”…

        Errm… I don’t know whether it did, considering a) that such a declaration is never explicitly made in the documents, to my knowledge, and b) what SC says about the other non-Roman Catholic rites (cf. 3-4).

        Also, the Council’s self-declared aims were “to impart an ever increasing vigour to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church” (SC 1). I don’t see anything in that which requires one to hold that the Pauline Missal is somehow “more Catholic”.

      2. @Matthew Hazell – comment #66:
        Hi Matthew,

        I stand by what I said, and your comment allows me to clarify what I mean. No, the council never said in so many words, “This is what we think is more Catholic, we want these reforms because we think it was less Catholic or inadequately Catholic before.” Councils don’t talk that way. So if we’re searching for proof texts on either side of the question, we won’t find many.

        Rather, the above statements, though not ever expressed explicitly, pervade the entire Council from beginning to end and are implicit in everything the Council decreed. They wouldn’t have called for the reforms if they didn’t think it wasn’t for a deepening of the Catholic spirit, refining of the Catholic faith. Obviously they thought it was “more” of something good (ie Catholic) and not something “less” of it, or they wouldn’t have called for it.

        What they said about other rites is an entirely different question. And their respect for a variety of rites did not apply, in their minds, to respect for the ongoing celebration of the 1962 rite, since they did not intend that it would ever continue, and they decreed that it would be replaced by the reformed liturgy.

        I realize that my claims here are “meta” – they touch upon the purpose of the council and the hermeneutical question of how to interpret it. And of course there is much discussion about that!


      3. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #67:
        All the more reason why it should matter that Pope Francis has explicitly endorsed Agostino Marchetto as “the best interpreter of Vatican II.” Now THAT is huge.

        Though I do see why you would want to ignore/dismiss that inconvenient little fact.

      4. Father Anthony, you write at #67: They wouldn’t have called for the reforms if they didn’t think it wasn’t for a deepening of the Catholic spirit, refining of the Catholic faith. Obviously they thought it was “more” of something good (ie Catholic) and not something “less” of it, or they wouldn’t have called for it.

        Father, for a small minority of Roman Catholics the reforms have not improved their spiritual lives. Quite the contrary — traditionalists have been not only been alienated from their faith and folkways but also mocked for their reverence for the Latin language, adherence to a peculiar semiotics, and premodern ecclesiological perpsectives.

        I used to think of Pope Paul VI as as Godzilla-esque villain, spawned from a modernistic prefabricated liturgical heritage. P.M. Godzilla gleefully trampled over the Tokyo of our liturgical treasury, stomping around and torching what is sacred with no care to his destructive force. I now understand from reading his audiences that he held the Latin heritage of the Church in great esteem. He knew the grave stakes, and chose the vernacular even if Latin were to forever slip away.

        Why? Because in the main the liturgical reformation is designed to recognize the rights and uniqueness of the individual, where the medieval liturgy views persons as classes. cf. Fortescue. An attempt to erase classism is very much at the heart of reform. The emphasis on populus and ekklesia (as opposed to congregation) are very much class-negating concepts. While I don’t mind clacking my rosary in a remote pew, for others this is a stifling of their individuality as if their identity is only a random person in a pew, a person classed “congregant”.

        Traditionalists (and especially those from post-industrialized countries) live in the sum-total of post/modernity. Perhaps some go to the EF to play-pretend-escape to faux-feudalism. I would like to think that most traditionalists have more principled reasons for attendance, but sadly this might not be true. Traditionalists cannot be blind to the almost infinite facets of reform, and must justify their adherence against these reforms.

      5. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #70:
        Surely one person clacking their rosary at the back of church during Mass is the epitome of denying the communal nature of the church’s celebration of the Eucharist by concentrating on their own individual devotions. For me it is the perfect example of me-ism……. my rosary taking precedence over the church’s liturgy.

      6. @Alan Johnson – comment #73:
        How do you know the person praying the rosary is doing that? Is someone unable to do more than one thing at a time?

        The liturgy isn’t an elementary classroom where everyone must have their eyes locked on teacher to prove they are paying attention.

      7. @Jack Wayne – comment #79
        The Liturgy is also not a private function. There is a difference between personal or devotional prayer such as the Rosary and public liturgical prayer. I don’t know how you can do both at the same time.

    2. @Sean Peters – comment #57:
      Who says the Old Latin Mass brings people back? I know that its proponents make this claim often, but aside from their little group, how real is this claim? Are there any actual studies with data to support (or not) the claim? I don’t know, but the way this statement gets made as if it were axiomatic troubles me.

  27. Those “reformers” included two successors of Peter, and more than 2000 successors of the apostles. The Mass is not magic. It does not achieve its end merely by reciting all its words and following all its rubrical gestures. As Jesus told the woman at the well, God is seeking worshipers in spirit and truth. As to the folks who no longer come because it proved too challenging to their understanding of being a Catholic….who of them would openly admit that they don’t come to Mass because they don’t get it. They’re more likely to speak of all those hypocrites who go to Mass regularly. They don’t even know the difference between a sinner and a hypocrite.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #58:

      Jack: The Mass is not magic. It does not achieve its end merely by reciting all its words and following all its rubrical gestures.

      Jack, I’m fluent in ecclesiastical Latin. I’ve studied it for 20+ years now. I can understand the EF as the priest speaks the collects. The line “the Mass is not magic” wears quite thin after a while. I’m tired of this game, frankly.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #60:
        Good for you.
        And what of the 99% of the members of the church who don’t understand Latin. Not to mention the priests who do not have sufficient fluency to know what they are mumbling?

      2. @Alan Johnson – comment #61:

        They use a Pew Missal for a while that has Latin on one page and English on the other. I happened to find an old St Joseph’s Daily Missal at a thrift store. They’re quite handy and remind me of my own pew missal that I’ve used from time to time. With a bit of self-training and patience, most of the Ordinary becomes familiar after not much time. Eventually, folks only need the pew missal for the Propers. I’m at the point where I can get away with staying at the Propers until the Offertory.

        It really doesn’t take much more than intentional pursuit to get to that point. Regardless of whether it’s the OF in Latin or vernacular or the EF in Latin, I think most of us would agree that being intentional about learning the Mass is better for the congregation than just floating along, which is the temptation for something too familiar or too banal.

        I know I’m probably in the minority here, but one of the things I love about the more recent translation of the OF is how much more readily I can discern the form of the Mass, with or without the missalettes or tri-fold bits explaining things. Imagine my delight when I could finally say, “Ah-hah! There’s the Introit! And there’s the Gradual! And there’s the Offertory Sentence! And a post-communion Collect! My, my! It really is the Mass!” Now, if only they wouldn’t make the Agnus Dei all happy-clappy sounding before the Fraction. Ah, well. De gustibus. 😉

      3. @Shaughn Casey – comment #63:

        I know I’m probably in the minority here, but one of the things I love about the more recent translation of the OF is how much more readily I can discern the form of the Mass, with or without the missalettes or tri-fold bits explaining things. Imagine my delight when I could finally say, “Ah-hah! There’s the Introit! And there’s the Gradual! And there’s the Offertory Sentence! And a post-communion Collect! My, my! It really is the Mass!” Now, if only they wouldn’t make the Agnus Dei all happy-clappy sounding before the Fraction.

        “And there’s the Gradual! And there’s the Offertory Sentence”. Really? If you can find a Gradual in the recent translation of RM3, you’re cleverer than most people because there is no Gradual in the Roman Missal (the Lectionary contains a Responsorial Psalm instead). And the Offertory Verse [sic] has not been part of the Order of Mass or Missal since 1969.

        I must confess, I’ve not come across a happy-clappy Agnus Dei for over 40 years, though I have occasionally encountered an ill-advised boisterous “Sign of Peace” song.

      4. @Paul Inwood – comment #78:

        Eh? The GIRM clearly states in #61 that a Gradual may be sung from the Graduale Romanum. No issues there. You have me on the offertory sentence (no sic; it’s what my pew missals call the thing), I suppose, but that’s a minor error of memory. My points, which didn’t really get a response, are that I find the form of the Ordinary to be much more readily apparent in the present translation of the Mass, and that this greater clarity is a Good Thing — especially for those who argue for continuity between the present Mass and the EF.

        As for the Agnus Dei being happy clappy, the chapel at my current assignment is the first place I’ve encountered it, and so it’s fresh in mind. I just play Healey Willan’s setting in my head during that part, complete with alternating parts. If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it.

  28. Isn’t this somewhat old news, as far as RotR is concerned? I have personally never been comfortable with the label “RotR” because to me, at face value, it implies that the official reforms themselves were flawed and need to be replaced. Yet, many of the things I personally advocate in terms of making the Ordinary Form “all that it can be” have primarily been advocated by those who label themselves “RotR”. Which has left me somewhat ambivalent about the label. At any rate, its seems to me that the hardcore faction of the RotR movement already saw the writing on the wall with Pope Francis’ election: the post-conciliar liturgy itself (in its rubrics) is not likely to change. The revelation to me was seeing this “faction”, if you will, publicly state that reform of the reform is dead, and then give up on the Ordinary Form for all intents and purposes. I’m having a Groundhog Day image here – briefly, during the reign of Benedict XVI a certain group came out to see if winter was over, and with the election of Francis went back in, resigned to four more (decades? centuries?) of liturgical winter. Maybe that group just anticipated this papal statement a bit before he said it.
    I don’t find the statement shocking or worrisome, since I have never advocated, or hoped for, a change of the rubrics themselves. I take the Pope’s words as simply: “the Ordinary Form is what it is – let’s focus on celebrating it well and move on.” Which is what I’ve been saying for my whole career.

  29. Why does this always feel like the movie, Groundhog Day – the tit for tat, etc.
    Here you go:

    “While the letter might make for a nice addition to the archbishop’s personal archives, it’s not particularly newsworthy. Based on the way some conservative Catholic commentators are treating it, however, you would think that Pope Francis just signed the Oath Against Modernism.”

    “As for Pope Benedict, while history will judge him most favorably for liberating the traditional liturgy with Summorum Pontificum, his “hermeneutic of continuity” program, even after a seven year pontificate, failed, and it will continue to fail no matter who is at the helm precisely because it attempts to establish continuity in areas where it simply doesn’t exist (e.g., the Council’s treatment of religious liberty, collegiality and ecumenism).

    As such, looking upon Benedict XVI, and likewise Archbishop Marchetto, as quasi-messianic figures relative to the interpretation of Vatican II, is to deny reality, the latter’s claim to fame extending no further than bashing “Bologna School” liberals who see the Council both as a rupture and as a cause for celebration.

    In any event, the very notion that this one solitary letter from the pope to a retired prelate somehow trumps the witness of the last eight months is just plain ludicrous.”

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #69:
      Where have I said that one solitary letter trumps what we have seen of Pope Francis, or that Benedict XVI and Marchetto are quasi messianic figures, or that the letter represents a repudiation of the council? Where have I written any of those things? I’m simply pointing out the following two facts:
      1.There is a debate over interpreting the Council.
      2. Francis has voiced an agreement with one side of that debate.

      Maybe Francis is lying, or maybe his actions don’t sink up with his words, sure. I’m only going by what he says.

      For the record, it’s not just one letter. Take for example, the following meeting that the Pope has had with the Franciscans of the Immaculate:

      1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #71:
        It’s interesting that Pope Francis has commended Marchetto’s interpretation, but I wonder what kind of commendation it really is. (And please note, this is not about infallibility.)

        Pope Emeritus Benedict is a scholar, a renowned theologian. When he speaks as a scholar, his views are wide open to debate. In some areas, his grasp of the relevant documents and thinkers may be unparalleled. If he were to write on chemical engineering, on the other hand, his status as a theologian, holder of the “habilitation”, professor, etc., doesn’t go very far. Nor does his having been prefect of the CDF or pope. The same is true on more closely-related areas. When he wrote that the old Mass had never been abrogated, that sure sounded like a statement of historical fact, and therefore open to challenge: if someone were to discover a letter, for instance, from Pope Paul VI, indicating his intent to abrogate the older rite, would Pope Benedict’s statement require Catholics to believe that the letter was a forgery?

        Pope Francis’s statements about Marchetto don’t even have the scholarly weight of a Benedict, who himself made factual and philological errors when he went outside of his areas of depth — e.g. in the Jesus of Nazareth books.

        Pope Francis’s words about traditionalist seminarians strike me as closer to a pope’s natural domain of authority: faith and morals. Even there, he was speaking about specific cases. Hardly a blanket condemnation of the traditionalist / reform-of-the-reform movement(s).

        That’s why I don’t see the Marchetto comment as particularly important.

      2. @Jonathan Day – comment #74:
        The pope’s words about Marchetto are relevant insofar as they show where he identifies along a certain spectrum concerning a controversial issue in the church today. They are evidence that when he references Benedict’s “reform in continuity” program, he is not simply paying perfunctory lip service to his immediate predecessor.
        It’s also relevant that the Marchetto comment appears in a talk to seminarians who have most likely assimilated much traditionalist anti-Vatican II literature. He seems to be telling them how to go about the task of reconciling Vatican II with tradition. I think that it is significant that Pope Francis says that Marchetto is the best “interpreter of Vatican II” rather than the best “historian of Vatican II”.

        Having said that, my intention isn’t to speculate about the pope’s view about Vatican II here. Rather, I would like to point out a certain inconsistency on the part of viewing the pope’s off the cuff remarks here:
        1. The pope says “the reform of the reform is mistaken” in an off the cuff meeting with priests gets the following result here: it gets labeled as “huge”, those people who say that it’s not clear what the pope meant are said to be spin-doctoring, denying the plain meaning of the pope’s words etc. it’s clear that this is a repudiation of Benedict, etc.
        2. the pope says “Marchetto is the best interpreter of Vatican II,” in an off the cuff meeting with seminarians gets the following result here: oh well, who knows what he really meant by that, surely he can’t be agreeing with Benedict, he certainly can’t mean what the literal meaning of his words convey, etc.

        I find this inconsistency on the part of many here to be baffling, and that’s one reason as to why I’m bringing it up.

  30. When Cardinal Levada brought this opening for two rites through, he spoke about the need for reconciliation. Reconciliation implies hurt…who got hurt, what needed to be reconciled and now most important…who decides whom is hurt the worst. The Pope is trying to deal with a problem where the Church was dragged into a liturgical whine fest that some called the reform of the reform.

    He grew up as a priest with the Paul VI words and stance. To me, I think he sees this as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We need a meaningful prayer experience and all the equipment is there to inspire the faithful. The issue is not the words, the issue is the leadership in prayer and preaching.

    When that corrects itself, the Pope will probably then ask “do the poor have the Word of God preached to them?”

  31. Marchetto’s is the best book he has read on Vatican II? It probably means he hasn’t read John O’Malley’s yet.

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #80:

      Or he has. That judgement can undoubted be made after reading both.

      John O’Malley’s book is now 7 years old, and has long been translated into Spanish (as well as, at least, French, Italian and Polish). And Marchetto’s book is not that much older (10 years old maybe).

      And if he went to the effort of reading Marchetto’s book, which was certainly no higher profile than O’Malley’s, that would be an interesting data point on his views in itself.

      Particularly since support for Marchetto is not required – Cardinal Tagle, the Asian Pope Francis as we keep getting told, for example is associated with Marchetto’s opponents Alberto Melloni and Giuseppe Alberigo (i.e. the so called Bologna School).

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #82:
        Gosh, I didn’t want to mention it, it being Lent and all, but actually, I sent the Holy Father MY book on Vatican II. Got a nice note back (no phone calls, yet) saying thanks and he’d get to it right after reading O’Malley. Faggioli’s book is on his desk too. So much to read! So little time. 🙂

      2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #84:

        Whimsy aside, the context of the Pope’s comments regarding Marchetto’s book was clearly that he had read a number of books regarding Vatican II, that he was a reasonably avid reader of these types of works (which he would need to be to have read Marchetto work – It was hardly required reading for a Cardinal). And given O’Malley’s book came out prior to Francis becoming Pope, he may well have had time to read it, if he considered it an important work on the subject.

        I find the undercurrent here, that when the Pope that says something you disagree with he must be ignorant, most unfortunate. It shows the same regrettable attitude exhibited by right wing types when the Pope speaks on economics, and is no more defensible.

      3. @Scott Smith – comment #86:
        Sorry — I was called away to the phone. That was the Pope, saying my book is the best book he’s ever read on any subject! 🙂

      4. @Rita Ferrone – comment #87:

        So you now consider your comments at #20 to be mistaken? Because otherwise you have trying to have your cake and eat it too – The Pope only means what he says when you agree with the reported comments.

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