Saturday, June 24, 2006

Vatican liturgical official seeks recovery of the sacred

See article

Vatican, Jun. 23 (

Vatican, Jun. 23 ( - The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship has conceded some "negative results" of liturgical changes since Vatican II, and voiced his support for reform of the post-conciliar liturgy, in an interview with the I Media news agency.

Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don told I Media that the Council fathers had hoped to reinvigorate the sense of an active encounter with God through the liturgy. "But unfortunately," he said, "after the Council, certain changes were made rapidly, without reflection, in a burst of enthusiasm, in a rejection of some exaggerations of the past." The result, the archbishop said, was quite different from the Council's intent.

Asked to provide some examples of the negative results, the Sri Lankan prelate listed "the abandonment of the sacred and the mystical," the confusion between the common priesthood of all the faithful and the ordained ministry, and the concept of the Eucharist as a common banquet rather than a representation of Christ's Sacrifice.

These changes, Archbishop Patabendige Don said, have produced negative consequences for the Church even beyond the liturgy. In the face of a growing secular trend in society, he said, the Church urgently needs to cultivate a deeper sense of the sacred and a more active interior life. Fortunately, the archbishop said, there is a growing sense among Catholics of the need to recover the sense of the sacred. He said that the work of the Congregation for Divine Worship entails helping bishops and episcopal conferences to refine the liturgy by incorporating the strengths of the past.

Asked whether he was hinting at approval of the use of the old Missal of St. Pius V, the Sri Lankan archbishop said that the requests for the use of the pre-conciliar liturgy have become more common. But the question is in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI, he said. "The Pope knows all this," he said; "he knows the questions, he is very conscious of the situation, he is reflecting, and we are waiting for his indications."

Archbishop Patabendige Don adds that the use of the Tridentine rite "has never been abolished or banned." However, he said, because of the split in the Church caused by the traditionalist followers of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, the old Mass "has taken a certain identity that is not right."

Whether Pope Benedict will now encourage the use of the Missal of St. Pius V, or call for a reform of the 1962 Missal-- "what some people call 'the reform of the reform'"-- is not yet known, the archbishop said. What is established, he said, is the need for a liturgy that is "more beautiful, more transcendent." The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship cautioned that it is imprudent to press for quick decisions, running the risk of falling into new errors because of haste. "We have to reflect a great deal," he said; "and above all, we have to pray for the Holy Father and the Church, and listen to what the Lord wants of us."

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Ad Orientum Stretches Its Rosy Fingers

The new Secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, gave this first public speech since his appointment. (This comes from Sandro Magister) It is a speech on the occasion of the publication in Italian of Father Lang's book, "Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer."

The Ignatius Press book had a foreward in English written by the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

"by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith

Fr. Michael Lang’s book “Turning towards the Lord” – which is now being published in Italy – traces the Church’s reasons and practices, since the first centuries, relating to the direction of liturgical prayer.

The book’s objective and lucid approach will certainly make it a helpful tool for those who want to deepen their understanding on the subject. It demonstrates how the orientation of liturgical prayer as established by postconciliar reforms does not reflect the Council documents, a surprising fact.

In fact, in the preface to the book Benedict XVI, writing when he was still the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asserts:

“To the ordinary churchgoer, the two most obvious effects of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council seem to be the disappearance of Latin and the turning of the altars towards the people. Those who read the relevant texts will be astonished to learn that neither is in fact found in the decrees of the Council. The use of he vernacular is certainly permitted, especially fro the Liturgy of the Word, but the preceding general rule of the Council text says, ‘Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36.1). There is nothing in the Council text about turning altars towards the people; that point is raised only in postconciliar instructions.”

Sacrosanctum Concilium did not call for foolhardy attitudes in this area, but for an objective and deliberate implementation of the reform. Furthermore, liturgical reform did not begin only after Vatican Council II, but had already been in motion to some extent since the time of Pius X. Both in the process of reform preceding the Council and after it, as the Council itself intended, liturgical changes were supposed to emerge organically, and not in sudden haste. But, unfortunately, not everything went as it should have. And now some are speaking of corrections, or of a reform of the reform.

Leaving aside this reform of the reform, Fr. Lang’s book can be considered a catalyst for further improvement in the current liturgical practice of the Church. Maybe this is the reason why, in the preface, the pope expresses his hope for attentive, objective, and passionate study of this topic. In his view, we must be able to see the positive value in what happened in the past, and listen to everyone, including those who do not agree with us, without becoming partisans labeled as “preconciliar” or “postconciliar,” “conservative” or “progressive.” Objectivity is the key. Benedict XVI affirms this when he says: “The quest is to be achieved, not by condemning one another, but by carefully listening to the internal guidance of the liturgy itself.”

And the Church has always understood that its liturgical life must be oriented toward the Lord, and brings with it a profoundly mystical atmosphere. It is in this reality that we must find the answers. For this reason, instead of a spirit of “free fall” that leaves everything to creativity and innovation without roots or depth, we must bring ourselves into harmony with the orientation mentioned above, and bring it to full blossom.

The pope affirms the importance of this dimension when he says that the natural direction of liturgical prayer is “versus Deum, per Jesum Christum [toward God, through Jesus Christ],” even if the priest does in fact face the people. It is not so much a question of form as of substance.

Fr. Lang’s book shows how throughout its history the Church has understood the importance of always directing its prayer toward the Lord, in terms of both content and gesture.

In order to grasp the profoundly spiritual and practical value of the Church’s liturgical life, we need not only a spirit of scientific or theological-historical research, but above all an attitude of meditation, prayer, and silence. Those who study the historical journey of the liturgy and strive to contribute to its progress must place themselves in a posture of humbly listening to the evolution of the Church’s liturgical traditions down through the centuries, and of the important role of the magisterium. They must also pay attention to the gradual development of these traditions within the ecclesial community, and arm themselves with a spirit of intense prayer and adoration of the Lord. This is because what happens in the Church’s celebrations of praise is not simply an earthly and human reality. And if these mystical aspects are not betrayed, everything will become a source of edification rather than disorientation and confusion. Arbitrariness, haste, and emotional excitement should have no place in this search. The conciliar constitution on the sacred liturgy affirms this point when it says:

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

This is why this same conciliar constitution offers clear and stringent norms on who is truly competent to make decisions on liturgical innovations, asserting, among other things, that “therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22).

This great sense of reverence toward what is being celebrated stems not only from the fact of the centrality of the liturgy in the Church’s life, affirmed by the principle “lex credendi, lex orandi,” but also from the conviction that the liturgy is not a purely human act, but a reflection of what is happening, as Sacrosanctum Concilium itself says, “in that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims.”

The liturgy is also that which is given as a gift to the community of the Church, the bride of Christ and the heavenly Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, for various reasons, which are sometimes well-intentioned, there are priests and bishops who introduce every sort of experiment and change, diminishing the sense of the sacred and mystical nature of what is depicted in the Church’s liturgical celebrations. The temptation to become the leading actors in the divine mysteries, and to seek to control even the action of the Lord, is strong in a culture that divinizes man. In some countries, the situation is or is becoming truly dramatic. Every trace of the sacred often disappears in these so-called “liturgies.”

One of the most beautiful of flowers, the lotus flower, grows in Asia. But it grows in the mud. Even though mud is not beautiful, the flower grows out of it and orients itself toward the sun, spreading its petals and imparting beauty to its surroundings. I see a comparison to human life in this. What truly liberates man is not what keeps him immersed in the slime of his weaknesses and decisions, but the capacity he acquires to liberate himself from these and direct his life toward the infinite and toward his Creator. It is not by lowering the sense of the divine to the human level, but by seeking to raise ourselves to supernatural levels that we will succeed in making contact with the divine mystery.

The liturgy is not what man decides it is, but what the Lord brings about within him: an attitude of adoration toward his Creator and Lord, liberating him from his slavery. If the liturgy loses its mystical and heavenly dimension, what will help man to free himself from the mud of egoism and slavery? If the Church does not insist upon the mystical and profoundly spiritual dimensions of life and the celebration of life, who will? Is this not our duty to a world that is closed off within itself, becoming disoriented, insecure, locked in its own prison? If man presumes to understand everything that the Lord does, then it is not God who judges history, but man himself. Is this not the ancient idolatry denounced by the prophets?

The Church, which must reflect the constant presence of Christ in the world, is placed at the service of humanity in order to help it to free itself from the prison of being closed in on itself, to discover its vocation to the fullness of life in the Lord, and to open itself to the joyous embrace of the infinite. Its intimate communion with its Spouse, which is reflected and nourished above all in its liturgical life, becomes the powerful manifestation of the infinite freedom that humanity always has the possibility of reaching through it.

For this reason, preserving and enriching the spiritual mysticism of the liturgy is no longer an option for us, but a duty. If the world falls into the pit of human self-sufficiency, thus becoming more thirsty for the infinite, the Church cannot help but offer the liturgy, because in Christ humanity is raised up into the divine presence. It is not by lowering itself to superficiality that the liturgy will motivate us to reflect the values of the infinite to the world, but by affirming these mystical and divine dimensions more and more. Today more than ever, this becomes a reflection of the prophetic role of the Church as well.

Thank you, Fr. Lang, for this book which will help us to turn our gaze ever more toward the Lord."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cardinal Mahoney on Latin in the Mass

"On Friday, March 31, 2006, hosted an online chat session with Cardinal Roger Mahony from the main Exhibit Hall at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, Calif. Here is an excerpt:

See conversation

Joe: Hello Cardinal. With the growing interest in traditional worship of the Catholic Church are we going to see a more generous use of the Traditional Latin Mass?

Cardinal Mahony: It is not correct to say "traditional worship" in our Church. For a small slice of Church history, Latin was the language of Mass. But the Council moved us beyond that to a new Roman Missal. We must continue forward with the Church. However, it is important to bring with us our Latin hymns and other treasures from the past ages."

Wow. Thanks your Eminence, I thought Latin was more than a languaged used for a "... small slice of Church history." I thought Latin had been used in the "Latin Church" since the earliest years. All those years pouring over latin texts... wasted... guess they were making it all up.

See larger article

"The first great turning point in the history of the Roman Canon is the exclusive use of the Latin language. Latin had been used side by side with Greek, apparently for some time. It occurs first as a Christian language, not in Rome, but in Africa. Pope Victor I (190-202), an African, seems to have been the first Roman bishop who used it (supposing that the Ps.-Cyprian, "De Aleatoribus", is by him; Harnack, "Der Ps.-Cypr. Tractat. de Aleatoribus", Leipzig. 1888). After this time it soon becomes the only language used by popes; Cornelius (251-53) and Stephen (254-57) write in Latin. Greek seems to have disappeared at Rome as a liturgical language in the second half of the third century (Kattenbusch, Symbolik, II, 331), though parts of the Liturgy were left in Greek. The Creed was sometimes said in Greek down to Byzantine times (Duchesne, Origines, 290). The "Ordo Rom. I" says that certain psalms were still said in Greek (Mabillon. Mus. Ital., II, 37-40); and of this liturgical use of Greek there are still remnants in our Kyrie Eleison and the "Agios o Theos.", etc., on Good Friday. Very soon after the acceptance of Latin as the only liturgical language we find allusions to parts of the Eucharistic prayer, that are the same as parts of our present Canon."

That "small slice" of Church History seems to be most of its history. Besides the Council said that "6. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites."
see Constitution on the Liturgy

But that really is not the point of the question to the good Cardinal. The question was more about whether the Cardinal would allow more Tridentine or Latin masses in his See according to the wishes of Pope John Paul II -

In 1988, Pope John Paul II issued his binding instruction Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. The Pope ordered: "Respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued by the Apostolic See." See Ecclesia Dei document

Furthermore, the good Cardinal would do well to read His Holiness' reflection on attempts to create a causura between the time before and after the Council. We have been hearing for years about the Church before and the Church after the Council. In fact, there is one Church history that the Council did not try to obliterate but merely to comment on in a Pastoral Way without adding anything to the dogma of the Church.

See speech

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.

These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.

The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.

Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord's gift. They are "stewards of the mysteries of God" (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be "faithful" and "wise" (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord's gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator: "Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs" (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).

These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord's service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.

The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council's conclusion on 7 December 1965.

Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". And he continues: "Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...". It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...", retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.

However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.

In his Discourse closing the Council, Paul VI pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing.

In the great dispute about man which marks the modern epoch, the Council had to focus in particular on the theme of anthropology. It had to question the relationship between the Church and her faith on the one hand, and man and the contemporary world on the other (cf. ibid.). The question becomes even clearer if, instead of the generic term "contemporary world", we opt for another that is more precise: the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era.

This relationship had a somewhat stormy beginning with the Galileo case. It was then totally interrupted when Kant described "religion within pure reason" and when, in the radical phase of the French Revolution, an image of the State and the human being that practically no longer wanted to allow the Church any room was disseminated.

In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church's faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the "hypothesis of God" superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.

In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution.

The natural sciences were beginning to reflect more and more clearly their own limitations imposed by their own method, which, despite achieving great things, was nevertheless unable to grasp the global nature of reality.

So it was that both parties were gradually beginning to open up to each other. In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity.

Catholic social doctrine, as it gradually developed, became an important model between radical liberalism and the Marxist theory of the State. The natural sciences, which without reservation professed a method of their own to which God was barred access, realized ever more clearly that this method did not include the whole of reality. Hence, they once again opened their doors to God, knowing that reality is greater than the naturalistic method and all that it can encompass.

It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer. First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.

Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.

Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance - a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.

These are all subjects of great importance - they were the great themes of the second part of the Council - on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.

It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church's decisions on contingent matters - for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible - should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.
On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.

The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience. A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all.

At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples.

The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.

The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues "her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God", proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).

Those who expected that with this fundamental "yes" to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the "openness towards the world" accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.

They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly.

In our time too, the Church remains a "sign that will be opposed" (Lk 2: 34) - not without reason did Pope John Paul II, then still a Cardinal, give this title to the theme for the Spiritual Exercises he preached in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. The Council could not have intended to abolish the Gospel's opposition to human dangers and errors.

On the contrary, it was certainly the Council's intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.

The steps the Council took towards the modern era which had rather vaguely been presented as "openness to the world", belong in short to the perennial problem of the relationship between faith and reason that is re-emerging in ever new forms. The situation that the Council had to face can certainly be compared to events of previous epochs.

In his First Letter, St Peter urged Christians always to be ready to give an answer (apo-logia) to anyone who asked them for the logos, the reason for their faith (cf. 3: 15).

This meant that biblical faith had to be discussed and come into contact with Greek culture and learn to recognize through interpretation the separating line but also the convergence and the affinity between them in the one reason, given by God.

When, in the 13th century through the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aristotelian thought came into contact with Medieval Christianity formed in the Platonic tradition and faith and reason risked entering an irreconcilable contradiction, it was above all St Thomas Aquinas who mediated the new encounter between faith and Aristotelian philosophy, thereby setting faith in a positive relationship with the form of reason prevalent in his time. There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.

Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.

This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council: if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church."

Sorry for the long excerpt but it is worth reading over and over again.

Of course, out in LA, they are a long way from Vatican City.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

... more on the Una Voce Conference

This was an original commentary on the Conference

Providence brings Bishop Rifan to Una Voce conference

Brian Mershon

November 30, 2005

From the December 1, 2005, edition of The Wanderer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Amidst buzz in Catholic circles about the possibility of an imminent freeing of the classical Roman rite of Mass, Bishop Fernando Rifan offered a Solemn Pontifical Mass from the throne and delivered the keynote address, highlighting the tenth anniversary conference of Una Voce America in Providence, R.I., November 18-20.

And on Saturday morning, he treated Mass attendees with his musical playing ability by slipping down from his chair near the altar to play the organ during the communion of the faithful, as well as for the recessional — to the delight of those assisting at Holy Mass.

Bishop Rifan is currently the sole bishop in the world with the permission from the Holy See for his diocesan priests to offer the Holy Mass and sacraments exclusively according to the Missal of 1962. He said that the cause of tradition was very hopeful in the new pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and is currently much brighter in the U.S. than perhaps many realize.

"You have four bishops who allow all their diocesan priests to offer the Traditional Mass [privately] at any time," Bishop Rifan said. He specifically cited Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb.; Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill.; and Bishop Alvaro Corrada, SJ, of Tyler, Texas, who have been generous in the Ecclesia Dei indult application, as requested and emphasized repeatedly by the late Pope John Paul II.

A spokesperson from the Diocese of Lincoln explained that Bishop Bruskewitz requests a "courtesy" from his priests prior to offering the Mass publicly, as it is traditional for the bishop to have jurisdiction over the Masses offered in his diocese. For instance, Spanish, Vietnamese, and all regularly scheduled public liturgies must be offered with the bishop's knowledge and consent.

Bishop Rifan, the superior of St. John Mary Vianney Apostolic Administration in Campos, Brazil, offered the Holy Sacrifice from the throne with the permission of Bishop Thomas Tobin, and gave encouragement to Una Voce leaders from all over the U.S. and Canada who attended the three-day conference at Holy Name of Jesus Church in downtown Rhode Island.

"Una Voce is a force in the Church now," Bishop Rifan said to an audience of 200 laymen and women and 10 priests in his keynote address on Saturday, November 19. "We have many hopes with the new Pope, and we must pray for the Pope," Rifan said.

And perhaps due to the uptick in rumors about a possible pending universal indult for all priests to offer the classical Roman rite, Bishop Rifan emphasized the need for patience. He said that sometimes bishops know things, but the laity must understand they cannot disclose everything confided to them by the Pope.

"I will defend you always, especially Una Voce, when I speak to the Pope," Bishop Rifan said.

The newly elected president of Una Voce International, Fra Fredrik Chrichton-Stuart, president of Una Voce Holland, gave attendees reason for additional hope. He said that Bishop Rifan meets with the Pope often to discuss the concerns and spiritual needs of traditional Catholics, and quoted Msgr. Camille Perl, secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, who recently told Una Voce International leaders:

"There is a new wind blowing in the Church," with Pope Benedict XVI in office. Msgr. Perl also told the Una Voce leadership in an October meeting in Rome that the Ecclesia Dei Commission has been shown a new level of respect since the new Pope has been in office.

Fra Chrichton-Stuart also added that he is aware of many younger priests in the Church who are attracted to the classical Roman rite of Mass. But he also emphasized the need for patience and for praying for the Pope during these early stages of his pontificate.

Both Pope Benedict XVI and Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation of Clergy and president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, have told Bishop Rifan that traditional Catholics such as the Campos apostolic administration, priests and lay faithful, as well as Una Voce members, are seen as a model for the rest of the Church.

"You are the example in preserving the tradition in full communion with the Holy See," Bishop Rifan stated Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos told him.

Bishop Rifan said that Catholics had the right to criticize certain problems with the new rite of Mass, and developments after Vatican II, but "with charity and from within the Church." He also cautioned against a tendency toward over-criticism, especially toward bishops, who represent the apostles and are vested with authority from Jesus Christ.

The Search For Holiness

Fr. Joseph Wilson, associate pastor from St. Luke's Church of the Diocese of Brooklyn, began the conference with some hard-hitting analysis and questions. "Forty years ago, there were a lot of optimistic books looking for the golden age of the future," he said. "If the past 40 years has been a renewal, I would really like to see what a disaster looks like," he said.

Fr. Wilson explained that perhaps in the pursuit of attempting to become more palatable to the world, the Church lost track of its primary mission. He suggested that self-affirmation and the search for sexual autonomy replaced the search for holiness, then this helped to contribute to the current crisis in the Church.

"The Orthodox fast for nearly half the year," he said. "We have taken many traditions and have decided to ignore them — to take the easy way out," he said. He recommended a return to reading the fathers of the Church, and to recapture many of these lost traditions, which the Orthodox have maintained. "We decided the old wisdom no longer applied," he said.

He explained that the Church leaders, many laity, priests, bishops appear to "have lost the ability of self-reflection." The "signs of the times" that Gaudium et Spes emphasizes, have not been read well in the past 40 years, according to Fr. Wilson. He encouraged people to read an article headlined "The End of Gaudium et Spes," by Dr. James Hitchcock, from a previous issue of Catholic World Report.

"How did we lose the ability to criticize ourselves?" he asked. He also said that an accurate reading of "the signs of the times" is necessary in order for the Church to find its way out of the current crisis.

Bishop Rifan indicated that in recent meetings with both Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, he stressed the importance of providing Catholics the full use of the traditional sacraments and devotions so they could conserve the traditional Catholic way of life. "Personal parishes [traditional] are needed," Bishop Rifan said.

Become A Saint

Other highlights of the conference included Bishop Rifan outlining numerous points on what it means to be a traditional Catholic, as well as an emphasis on the centrality of devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He repeatedly stressed the theological virtue of charity.

Reaffirming the proper and rightful place of traditional Catholics within the Church, Bishop Rifan quoted Pope Benedict XVI from the Cologne World Youth Day: "Only saints can restore mankind. The Church does not need reformers — it needs saints! We will reform the Church by becoming saints," he said.

"Martin Luther tried to be a reformer," he said. "St. Athanasius was a saint," and through the process of becoming one, he reformed the Church.

He also cautioned attendees from paying too much attention to rumors and conspiracy theories. "In my 30 years in the priesthood," Bishop Rifan said, "I have offered only the Traditional Latin Mass." He said that because he is a bishop in the Universal Church, he sometimes must attend Masses offered using the Missal of Pope Paul VI.

"However, just because I attend these Masses occasionally, does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything that goes on," he said.

This may be a reference to some Catholics associated with Society of St. Pius X, currently in dialogue with the Holy See in order to possibly resolve their canonical irregularities (but "not in formal schism," according to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos). Some Catholics and web sites sympathetic to the Society of St. Pius X have repeatedly accused Bishop Rifan of "selling out" traditional Catholics due to his occasional attendance at concelebrated Masses with other priests and bishops.

Among other suggestions to Una Voce leaders, he encouraged them to defend "correct ecumenism." According to Bishop Rifan, this means that with charity in our contacts with non-Catholics, we should "ask them to return" to Christ's Church, and also pray for their conversions. He said that in Campos, as part of the New Evangelization, his priests and laity engage in door-to-door missions while handing out tracts, and they politely invite those they encounter to consider the truth of Jesus Christ through His Church.

Focus On The Supernatural

Msgr. Michael Schmitz, the U.S. vicar general and provincial for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, gave a rousing closing talk Sunday afternoon on the importance of tradition. "Many times people have come to me and told me, 'Father, I know I must become Catholic because I have been to Mass,'" he said.

Msgr. Schmitz also agreed with Bishop Rifan's positive assessment of tradition in the United States. "American society is much more traditional than European society," he said. "In Europe, the traditions have been almost destroyed."

"Tradition in the Church is supernatural, and therefore, we should not speak of the Traditional Latin Mass," he said. Instead, "we should speak of the Mass because it is God's Mass; it is the Mass God wants us to celebrate," Msgr. Schmitz said.

"Many believe that tradition is something dusty — that the word should be avoided," he said.

He explained that all people, regardless of their religious, or even political, leanings, have a routine, a custom, a tradition they follow on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis.

Simply speaking, according to Msgr. Schmitz, tradition is "some worthwhile learning that is received by us by someone who gives it." This "handing on," is traditio — the Latin root for tradition. All learning takes place through the use of tradition.

"Education at every level is traditional — even if sometimes the contents are not worthwhile," he said. But when tradition is applied to divine Revelation, then tradition's importance is increased — "in the realm of God." Msgr. Schmitz said that Catholics should try to permeate their daily life with tradition through the use of sacramentals, devotions, holy water, and other things to keep the focus on the supernatural.

With regard to Tradition and divine Revelation: "Everything is reception. Everything is gift. Everything is Tradition," Msgr. Schmidt said.

Bishop Rifan emphasized this same theme during his keynote address the previous evening. "To be a traditionalist means to defend the doctrine of Christ as King!" Bishop Rifan declared. "To be a traditionalist means to be attached to the Traditional Latin Mass because it better expresses the Catholic doctrine on the Holy Eucharist," he said "To be a traditionalist is a Catholic way of life: It is not just the Mass," he said.

The Reform Of The Reform

Fr. Thomas Kocik, from the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., and author of The Reform of the Reform, published by Ignatius Press, said he believed the 1962 Missal must be the starting point for any reform of the 1970 Missal of Pope Paul VI. "When you are doing a complicated math problem, and it comes out wrong, you go back to the original place where you began to go wrong," he said. Fr. Kocik said he believed the coexistence of the classical rite of Mass was vital for a proper reform of the current normative rite of Mass.

Fr. Kocik also raised the question as a possibility of the Campos, Brazil, apostolic administration being used as a model diocese, and possibly eventually applied to traditional Catholics throughout the entire Church.

When asked if he thought Pope Benedict XVI would publicly offer the classical Roman rite as Pope in St. Peter's Basilica, he said he "did not know." When asked if he thought the Pope should offer it, he said that based upon the Pope's own positive previous writings about the classical rite, "I think he should."

Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective. His trade is in media relations, and his vocation is as a husband to his beloved wife Tracey and father to his six living children. He attempts to assist his family and himself in attaining eternal salvation through frequent attendance at the Traditional Latin rite of Mass, homeschooling, and building Catholic culture in the buckle of the Bible Belt of Greenville, South Carolina.

© Copyright 2005 by Brian Mershon

Una Voce Conference in Providence

I am really sorry I missed the Una Voce Conference in Providence. Here are two articles that talk about the conference. Here are Bishop Bruskowitz and Bishop Corrada talking about the Tridentine mass and the way in which the Novus Ordo mass can be improved over time. (note: this does not constitute an endorsement of the site "renewamerica" I am only referring to these articles)

Bishops Bruskewitz and Corrada expect 1962 missal to play important future role

Brian Mershon
February 1, 2006

"We're in the middle of the disintegration of the Latin rite" — Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

Bishop Fernando Rifan of the Apostolic Administration of St. John Marie Vianney, Campos, Brazil, said there were four U.S. bishops who allowed their diocesan priests full approval to offer the Classical Roman rite of Mass while delivering the keynote address for an Una Voce America Conference held November 18-20 in Providence, R.I.

His words of encouragement to U.S. traditional Catholics at the conference, coupled with those of Msgr. Michael Schmitz, U.S. provincial superior, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, made it clear that the growth of traditional communities in the United States is being recognized in important corridors in the Church. It is also perhaps of significance to note that Msgr. Schmitz was ordained a priest by Pope Benedict XVI, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in 1982.

Bishop Rifan specifically cited Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis; Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb.; Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, Ill.; and Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, of Tyler, Texas, as having been generous in the Ecclesia Dei indult application, as requested and emphasized repeatedly by the late Pope John Paul II.

As a followup to the December 1 issue of The Wanderer, which covered the conference in detail, both Bishop Bruskewitz and Bishop Corrada agreed to explain why they have been so generous to both their own diocesan priests and laity whose spirituality is centered in frequent access to the Classical Roman rite and sacraments.

Q. The December 1 issue of The Wanderer, had a quotation from His Excellency, Bishop Fernando Rifan of the St. John Mary Vianney Apostolic Administration in Campos, Brazil, citing you as being among four bishops who allow your diocesan priests wide and generous access to offer the Traditional Roman rite of Holy Mass. Is this accurate?

Bishop Bruskewitz: Bishop Rifan is a very wonderful bishop, and he has come to visit me. We are good friends. While I haven't given "blanket permission" for the celebration for the Tridentine Mass in the diocese, it is, however, a permission that I give very readily, and has never been refused for those who have requested it.

The reason I require a request is that, first of all, the priest has to assure me he knows the rubrics and knows how to celebrate the Mass in the Tridentine rite. And secondly, that he has some familiarity with the Latin language that would be adequate for celebrating in the Tridentine rite. And third, that there would be some pastoral need for it, either the people calling for it, or the priest's own personal devotion would be in that direction.

[To summarize], they have to know how to do the rite. Number 2, there has to be some familiarity with Latin. And number 3, there has to be some reason for it.

Now, a priest who wants to celebrate the Tridentine rite individually, personally or privately without other people present, I grant that readily. I have never refused any request [by a priest] to do this. I have several priests who do this quite regularly, the Tridentine rite, who don't belong to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), who do this regularly. We have their presence in our diocese as well. We have no difficulty with that.

Another provision I am always a little leery about is the mixing of rites — the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine rite. Priests are not authorized to use a little of one rite and a little of the other in the same liturgy. It has to be a clear, unequivocal celebration of the Tridentine rite or the Novus Ordo.

I do have a blanket permission for any priest who wants to celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin, they can do that, just as they do in Spanish or Vietnamese and other languages in our diocese.

Bishop Corrada: I have given permission, and I will give permission, to any priest who wants to say the liturgy according to the 1962 missal. One thing that I would want to see would be, 'Are the priests ready to do so?' So I would require proper training for it in both the Latin and the rite itself — the Latin and the rubrics.

The reason is that I think the Mass according to the 1962 missal, especially with John Paul II opening it up, it should be a normal thing for any priest who wants to do so, and is trained to do so, to make it available to the faithful and for himself. So it [Bishop Rifan's statement] is accurate in that sense. I would be open to that. [This comes] from Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.

The Fraternity of St. Peter has the privilege to say Mass exclusively according to the 1962 missal. But my diocesan priests also are required to say the Novus Ordo because of pastoral reasons.

Q. You mentioned the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) having a presence in your dioceses. How long have they been there? What has been your experience with their priests?

Bishop Corrada: Yes, we have a mission that will eventually become a parish. As a matter of fact, next week [January 2], they will have a place of their own we are buying. It is a Baptist church we are converting into a parish. It is a mission, but it is their own place, and I want it to be arranged just for Mass according to the 1962 missal with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar and the Communion rail and everything else.

They have been here for two to three years. I am very happy with them. I came to that decision because when I arrived here, I met for several months with a group of families who wanted to have Mass according to the 1962 missal. After discussions with them, I realized that it would be better for them to have a priest from the Fraternity to come to establish a mission. I have the Mass in another parish in the southern part of the diocese by a priest who was ordained in the Novus Ordo, who most generously says the Mass, and knows how to say the Novus Ordo and the 1962 missal.

I also have a couple of other diocesan priests who have also been trained to say the Mass. They can back up the Fraternity of St. Peter priest when he is on vacation or on retreat, or if there is an emergency [and he is not available to say Mass].

It is a normal way of life. The priest from the Fraternity of St. Peter participates in all of the life of the presbyterate and the other priests in the diocese. As a matter of fact he doubles as a part-time secretary to me because we don't have many priests who have the skills necessary to help me. His name is Carlos Casavantes. [Editor's Note: Fr. Casavantes was ordained by Pope John Paul II].

Bishop Bruskewitz: In our diocese, we have St. Francis Chapel in Lincoln, where the Priestly Fraternity priests preside and they have the Tridentine rite entirely and totally and use the 1962 missal and calendar. They do have significant numbers who attend Mass there, which is fine. As a matter of fact, they may eventually evolve into actually being a full-fledged, non-territorial parish, but right now, they don't think they are ready for that step. I think they have 90 households or something like that, or 100 households.

But they also have people who frequent it who might not be registered, and of course this is not unusual.

In the Diocese of Lincoln, the Novus Ordo Mass is done with great care and rubrical exactness. And as a result, we don't have large numbers of people, as they do in some other places, who want to frequent the Tridentine rite. For instance, where I lived in Milwaukee, I think that huge numbers who attend Mass in the Tridentine rite are really refugees from liturgical abuses they have found in other areas.

There are some people who are antiquarian who like the ancient rite just for its own sake. There are others who are aesthetically inclined. They love the polyphony and Gregorian chant and the atmosphere of the Latin language, and other kinds of things. Then there are others who simply like the more quiet, restrained and devout and meditative, contemplative aspects that sometimes are absent in some of the celebrations of the Novus Ordo.

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has been a real blessing to our diocese, and we are delighted to have them in our midst. Their seminary appears to be flourishing and seems to be prospering quite well. That is — Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary — they own and operate here. It is a joy to have been able to welcome them here. I think they [FSSP priests] are very widely, and well, accepted by everybody in this area.

A Corrective To Abuses

Q. Bishop Bruskewitz: You mentioned there are few widespread abuses in Lincoln; so perhaps not as many Catholics have sought refuge in the Tridentine rite as in some other dioceses?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I am not opposed at all to the Novus Ordo. As a matter of fact, it is the other way around, I think there are many pastoral advantages to it. But like in every human enterprise, there is a lot of room for improvement. And I think the Tridentine rite can serve as a corrective to abuses sometimes [for the Novus Ordo].

Q. Bishop Corrada: How many families initially approached you for the Classical Roman rite liturgy and sacraments?

Bishop Corrada: Forty to 70 families. This diocese is comprised of 33 counties, so there are many other families we are not serving at the moment because we only have one Mass in the southern part of the diocese, and one here in Tyler, which is the center. We will have to open up one more in the north and also to serve other people [elsewhere], and I am open to that.

Q. How many diocesan priests celebrate the Classical Roman rite of Mass regularly either publicly or privately? Do you have any plans for training your diocesan priests or seminarians in the liturgy of 1962?

Bishop Bruskewitz: Of all the priests, there are at least three who offer the Tridentine rite with a reasonable amount of regularity. There are others who have done it sporadically when it has been requested or for a special occasion. But once again, I have never refused a request by any priest who wants to celebrate the Tridentine rite and have never found a reason to refuse such a request.

Bishop Corrada: I already have some of my priests who are learning the Mass. And I know of at least one seminarian who has trained himself to say the Mass. The vicar general is able to say the Mass now, and we have at least two or three other priests who are training themselves to say the Mass in order to substitute for the priest of the Fraternity.

Q. Why are you so generous in allowing the Classical Roman rite? Is it because of Ecclesia Dei Adflicta and "wide and generous application" requested of bishops by the late Pope John Paul II?

Bishop Bruskewitz: We are very happy, of course, to conform to what the Pope said about being generous and in making use of the indult. But there are other motivations as well as that. I have an affection for it. I was ordained of course in the Tridentine rite, and in my first years as a priest celebrated that way. So I don't have a disdain for it. I can see some pastoral disadvantages due to the language and some other areas. So I think the Novus Ordo does have some pastoral advantages.

On the other hand, people who find the Tridentine rite to be more devout — or a way for them to be more devout — I guess I would put it — that would be a way to accommodate such people.

I think also the fact there was present in the Diocese of Lincoln some time ago a schismatic group associated with Archbishop Lefebvre's group from Econe, Switzerland. They were in the diocese, and they had one of their priests come and say Mass at a pagan cemetery chapel. To make it possible to accommodate people who might be being led astray into schismatic — or separation — from the Church of Christ, it served its good purpose because these people have disappeared now, or they have come back into the Church of Christ through the Tridentine rite.

I think where the Novus Ordo is done reverently and correctly, and with the proper amount of devotion, and with proper aesthetics, it can serve a wonderful purpose. I think that especially the way this Holy Father offers Holy Mass provides a lot of wonderful and correct inspiration and example for the whole world. I think he recently spoke to the Sistine choir explaining how the Papal Mass must be exemplary because of television.

I think that once again, we have to be frank. For many young people, Latin is as strange as Chinese or something. They don't know anything about it. They don't really have an affinity for it. Unless you have done some studies and have some acquaintance with Latin and the classical and historical heritage of the Church and Western civilization, it doesn't mean much. The language is always a problem.

I'm not entirely delighted with the vernacular translations. Thank goodness there is some effort to improve them, both in the liturgical books as well as in the Lectionaries — in the biblical readings. I think these flaws are becoming more apparent as time goes on. There were flaws in the celebration of the old rite sometimes, but the people didn't notice them because they didn't understand the Latin and they didn't see the priest and they didn't know if he was saying the words clearly. So I don't think we can adopt just one thing or the other.


Q. What has influenced your thinking with regard to the sacred liturgy?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I think Msgr. [Klaus] Gamber's books about the reform of the liturgy and what the Holy Father himself has written, as Cardinal Ratzinger, about the liturgy, are extremely important.

There was a lot of paraliturgical stuff that was not part of the [Second Vatican] Council, but it sort of derived from it. I think a lot of those things lent themselves to distortions. Things that became possible in a short time became necessary, and then became imperative. So there became a sort of evolution in that direction [newness] that I don't think always was the best.

Q. Bishop Corrada: Many bishops and priests cite possible "divisiveness" as one of the primary drawbacks against traditional Catholics. Yours is a missionary diocese? What has been your experience in a region heavily populated by Protestants?

Bishop Corrada: I also encourage converts through the Fraternity parish. They are baptized and received into the Church to follow the 1962 missal. So we have some converts coming in because this is a missionary area. There are many Protestants. If they want to enter and go to the Tridentine Mass, the information is given for the sacraments of initiation there as well.

In this diocese, they are received, and every one is part of the Latin rite. And in the Latin rite, we can have the liturgy according to the Missal of 1962 or the Novus Ordo. I make no distinction with that. And all of the sacraments and everything should be equally received and participated in. Some families have more preference for this [1962 missal and sacraments], and I am very open to that.

Q. There was nothing in any document from the Second Vatican Council or after it authorizing the priest to offer Holy Mass versus populum (toward the people). But there are but a handful of places in the entire U.S. where Mass is offered regularly facing God in the Novus Ordo liturgy. This is simply amazing. What is your reaction to this?

Bishop Bruskewitz: It causes at least to some extent, a distorted liturgical view. The coram populo altars....[In Rome], they had both kinds. I was ordained a priest in Rome in 1960. The catacombs, some went this way and some went another way, and it made no difference. The major point is that they were oriented toward the East.

Facing coram Deo, before God, if you face that way, you have the correct impression — that the priest is standing in the person of Christ mediating between God and the congregation — exchanging words and gifts with God on behalf of the congregation. That is a clear thing. The temptation when the Mass is coram populo is that one thinks the personality of the priest has to come through or that somehow or another, a priest is talking to the people when he's addressing God. It's exacerbated because you have some of the prayers to God and then you are talking to the people: "Let us offer each other the sign of peace."

The people get the impression the priest is somehow entertaining them or addressing them, which is a misunderstanding of what is going on.

So I think there are a lot of difficulties in that regard. That is one good example, and with Msgr. Gamber, I think that stuck in his craw pretty high. And I can't disagree with him that it would have been better had there have been a more gradual evolution. There has not been a historical liturgical development — the sudden eucalyptus from Mt. Olympus that changes the whole element.

On the other hand, we have to live with where we are now. You can't cut down the oak tree to get back to the acorn. And so I think that is the major pastoral problem confronting the hierarchy of the Church — how to take what we currently have, and where do we go from here?

Q. What role do you think the Classical Roman rite can play in this regard?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I do think that adjacent to the Novus Ordo Latin rite, it is helpful to have the Tridentine rite as a sub-rite of the Latin Church. It calls us back to roots, and I think it has certain internal kinds of corrective possibilities to keep the Novus Ordo from going off the wall on the other side.

Q. What do you think the Pope will do? Universal indult, personal apostolic administration, territorial traditional bishops, or some other structure for traditional Catholics?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I've heard speculation about all those things and I have no special information about them because nobody has consulted me about them. There is talk about a kind of prelature like Opus Dei. There is talk about Bishop Rifan who has a floating diocese in Brazil, so there may be some indications along those lines.

Being a bishop myself, I can see where some of the bishops are nervous about divisiveness. As I said, you can go from virtue to necessity very fast. And people say suddenly something is permitted, and then all of sudden it becomes necessary, and then the other is not permitted. I think that is largely what happened with the liturgy on the other side. It was permitted to have a coram populo altar, and then all of a sudden, it was necessary to have it. And so I think this may be what some conscientious bishops might be nervous about.

There are those that are simply adamant about it. They feel we have discarded this and we shouldn't try to recover it. I would say that the bishops out in the trenches who might be a little bit more leery about a universal indult might worry about a divided presbyterate or people being at loggerheads with each other.

Once again, my reservations would be along the same lines of what I mentioned earlier with my priests. I would want to make sure whoever is celebrating Mass in the Tridentine rite knows how to do it. Because I have seen it done poorly, sloppily, and incorrectly. They would have to know some basic Latin on how to pronounce the words. I've heard them mispronounced frequently. And I could see where it could be very startling for people to go to Mass on Sunday and all of a sudden hear a priest speaking a language they never heard, and doing things they've never seen. "What is this?"

Without adjoining catechesis and very careful instructions to any kind of indult that is granted would pastorally be a mistake. People would say, "Obviously, they don't know what they're doing." I have a certain sympathy for doing whatever we're going to do very slowly and not precipitously.

Conciliation And Reintegration

Q. What do you think about the possibility of a canonical structure similar to the Eastern rite Catholic churches in U.S. dioceses for Traditional Latin-rite Catholics?

Bishop Bruskewitz: I think that could serve a very good pastoral purpose to have some kind of arrangement, where there would be in the words of the Pope, this generous opportunity.

I think part of it, though, is there is a lot of ideological division. There are those who feel that the Tridentine rite, Ecclesia Dei indult is merely a transitional stage until these people get over it. There are those people, including even in the hierarchy, who feel that this is just a temporary expedient.

I disagree with them. There are even other more conservative people who say that once we get the Novus Ordo cleaned up, we will have no need for this. This puts a heavy burden on the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and others. I don't think the Church should be held hostage, for example to the Lefebvrite demands — "You must do this or else." I don't think that is very sensible in any way.

On the other hand, I think that conciliation and reintegration into the body of the Church for the Tridentine rite [is desirable and possible].

For years the Latin rite has had sub-rites. There is the Ambrosian rite in Milan. There is a Mozarabic rite in Toledo in Spain. The religious orders had all kinds of rites. The Dominicans had their own rite. And they were all little variants that arose because the evolution of the liturgy took place and these things were maintained in orders. So I don't see that it is not possible to have a sub-rite. As a matter of fact, it might be one of the reasons we don't understand what's going on right now.

We're in the middle of the disintegration of the Latin rite. You have drum beating in Africa and you have lots of bowing in Japan. This inculturation is really making a sub-rite division of the Latin rite. For centuries, rite depended primarily on language. You had the Byzantine rite divided into the Serbian, the Russian, and all the different [other languages]. I think the fact we have vernacularized means there is a division. The unification of the Latin rite, if it is going to be maintained as a unit, will probably depend largely on the Tridentine rite, indult-type celebrations.

Q. Your Excellency, isn't it ironic that as Catholics now frequently have the ability to travel more often throughout the U.S. and the world, where once all Catholics worshiped in unity universally, now a Catholic can walk into a church in any place in the world and not even recognize what is going on? What is your reaction to this?

Bishop Bruskewitz: You don't even have to travel. Sometimes in one major city you can you can go from one church to another. You have to wonder, "What is this about?" There are many people who are throwbacks to the 1960s who are making war against [what they call] rigid rubricism. They have never outgrown their initial distaste for this.

It is an American thing. People say, "If it is new, it is therefore better." And this kind of fallacy penetrates the culture. "We do it this way today which is so much better than it was done yesterday," which is kind of foolish.

It really comes from the commercialization of our culture; this is what we are told. People transfer this easily into the religious realm.

Q. Pope Benedict XVI has addressed this very issue in his writings on the liturgy. Liturgy is something that is supposed to be given by, and received from, our fathers in the faith, rather than something we create or innovate.

Bishop Bruskewitz: Absolutely. It is not created.

And furthermore, the laity has a right to a proper liturgy. Pope Paul VI emphasized this. It is not the priest's arbitrary bestowal upon the people, but it is the people who have a right to the Church's liturgy as it is supposed to be done. That certainly deserves emphasis.

Q. In view of the large Spanish-speaking segment in your diocese, do you see any advantage to having Mass in Latin, whether it is the Classical Roman rite or the Novus Ordo missal?

Bishop Corrada: The situation of so many Hispanic immigrants in the United States goes beyond the liturgy itself into welcoming the Hispanics, and all sorts of other immigrants, into the life of the parish. So that requires a lot of participation in Spanish programs, catechesis in Spanish, as well as in English. So that [Latin Mass] will not, in itself, take care of the Hispanics.

This article will be published in the February 9 issue of The Wanderer.

Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective. His trade is in media relations, and his vocation is as a husband to his beloved wife Tracey and father to his six living children. He attempts to assist his family and himself in attaining eternal salvation through frequent attendance at the Traditional Latin rite of Mass, homeschooling, and building Catholic culture in the buckle of the Bible Belt of Greenville, South Carolina.

© Copyright 2006 by Brian Mershon