Thursday, 1 August 2013

Liturgy and praxis: some common errors (traddie and otherwise!)

Over the last week or so the traddie vs neoconservative war has escalated considerably, as the stakes have gone up in the context of the intervention in the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Inevitably, both sides (and some purporting to be in the middle) have made some shall we say 'interesting' claims.

So I thought it might be helpful to try and point out what, on the face of it, seem to me to be highly contestable or outright unsustainable claims, and put some suggestions as to what is and isn't open to debate.

1.  Claim: The Vatican intervention was justified because the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate were sipping the 'rad-trad cool aid'.

One of the claims made about the Vatican's intervention in the Franciscans of the Immaculate is that it was justified because the Sisters were coming under extreme traditionalist influence.  CNA/EWTN for example reported:

"Fr. Bruno pointed to a “small group in power” within the religious congregation that is being influenced by Mother Francesca Perillo, who is “very close” with Lefebvrist groups. He is worried that Mother Perillo, who is in charge of those sisters who live in hermitages, and her followers could fall into “heresy and disobedience.”

But here is the thing.  The Sisters are technically a separate Order with their own hierarchy, and the Vatican Decree, as far as I can see, does not apply to them.  Indeed, they have apparently indicated that if the Friars can't get permission to say the EF Mass for them, they will look for other priests who can.

Once upon a time of course there was such a thing as a double order, with one overall head of it.  Those days ended not long after Trent, and today, while male and female branches of a particular charism can be very closely associated with other (in ways recognised by canon law), they are legally separate entities.  So if the problem was the sisters (who appear to have gone over to the EF entirely!) why was the intervention only imposed on the friars?  Or is there more to come?

2.  Claim: Sipping the rad trad cool aid justifies Vatican intervention in the Order

Dr Taylor Marshall gives us a summary of alleged rad trad crimes that may have been at work here.

Frankly, if those are the things that really what prompted the Vatican intervention, we should all be very worried indeed, because an awful lot of his list are things that seem to be more about style and opinion than outright heresy or schism.

Several of the points he lists (Amish dress/isolationism, Rorate Caeli's rhetorical style, etc) are not features of traditionalism I like.  I do wish the fringe would move on from them.  But they are, in the main, legitimate positions open to hold (the views of members of the Patheos/Catholic Answers and friends neo-Inquisition notwithstanding).

Some seem to have been tossed in just because others make the claim.

Other points in his list (such as scepticism about the charismatic movement) are views that will be shared by many way beyond the 'rad trad' fringe.

And as far as I can gather the issue is not, in this particular case, as Dr Taylor suggests, outright denial of Vatican II's legitimacy, but rather the extent to which criticism of it is permissible.  There is a big difference.

3.  ClaimThe leadership of the Franciscans of the Immaculate were attempting to impose a form of the liturgy on its members that they didn't grow up with or want, causing division.

You need to read the whole thing, but here is a taster of an excellent response from Creative Minority Report:

"Imagine for a second that you are a priest or a religious or even a lay person attending mass. When you joined the order you has no idea whatsoever that the liturgy which you have used all your life would be suddenly changed. This wasn't the mass you had in mind when you signed up...

Where can you be heard?

So with no other recourse, you turn to the Vatican for a hearing. You turn to the Vatican in hopes that everyone can take a deep breath and not just impose this on everyone whether they want it or not...

Now imagine it is 1970..."

Yep, somehow or other it is OK to impose the fifty year old Novus Ordo on everyone - but not the far more ancient Traditional Mass that was used universally for centuries.  Explain that one to me.

4. Claim: Using different forms of the liturgy is divisive

The Roman Rite, whether in its Extraordinary or Ordinary Forms, is only one of many recognised as legitimate by the Church.

Before the Council of Trent, many dioceses and countries had their own rites and uses.  In order to counter the heretical liturgies that had strung up as a result of the Protestant Revolution, the Counter-Reformation Church, under Pope Pius V, made the Roman all but universal.

And despite claims to the contrary by some who should know better, there is no inherent requirement that we all use the same liturgy, whether the Tridentine Rite or Novus Ordo Roman, or any other legitimate rite, in order to justify our claim to be Catholic.

Indeed personally, being a devotee of the fourteenth century English mystical tradition,  I'm still hoping to see a full-blown revival of the Sarum Rite, which was used in most of England before the Henry VIII's break with Rome.

More to the point, as Pope Benedict XVI said in Summorum Pontificum, both the OF and EF are expressions of the Church's Lex orandi.

5.  Claim: The TLM is only permitted for Ecclesia Dei Orders, or those who have been through a 'testing' process for its use

Well no.  Summorum Pontificum specifically provided otherwise:

"Summorum Pontificum Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage...It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church....

Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues."

6. Claim: The Extraordinary Form can never be abrogated

Pope Benedict's decree Summorum Pontificum makes it clear that the Extraordinary Form had not been abrogated:

"It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated..."

But could it be?  The answer remains unclear I think.

In SP, Pope Benedict traced the history of the Roman Rite, and the interventions of various Popes to conserve, and on and modify it, from Pope St Gregory the Great to Blessed John XXIII.  The implication was quite clearly that this is an area where Popes can legislate, albeit within limits.

What are those proper limits?  In a talk he gave back in 1998, the then Cardinal Ratzinger suggested the Church never forbids a rite outright, but can and does define and limit the use of them.  But that wasn't of course Ordinary Magisterium.  And how do you explain, then the Pius V's suppression of rites less than two hundred years old?  Moreover some of those subsequent 'limits on the use' looked awfully like outright suppression to those at the time, and to most historians!  Still, I think you'd probably have to say the  so the question remains open.

PS On the Jesuit inspired heresy of anti-liturgicalism!

And on the nature of the liturgy more generally, don't miss reading Fr Ray Blake's latest post on the Jesuit legacy when it comes to liturgy.


R J said...

Has there been any allegation (I've not seen such an allegation, but this isn't even remotely a rhetorical question; I'm just asking) that the Franciscans of the Immaculate were indulging in obsessive anti-Jewish nuttiness? It's not exactly a state secret that the Richard Williamson mindset on the topic of the Joooooooooooooooz is still - despite RW's own falling-out with Bishop Fellay - rather more widespread in certain SSPX circles than one would wish.

Kate Edwards said...

Aside from Dr Taylor's list, I haven't seen any suggestion at all that Holocaust denialism or anti-semitism is an issue in the case of the FFIs.

I'm just going on the public comments on various Friar's blogs and public comments, but the debate seems more to centre around whether whether V2 was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or instead follow the kind of criticisms made by Fr Gherardini.

You can read about Fr Gherardini here:

The FFI published his latest book I believe.

And this triggered enormous dissention, of which you can get a flavour here:

On the face of it, it is just another variant of the American neocon vs traddie war, but this time being aided by the notoriously pro-liberal Congregation for Religious, and apparently, a Pope who regards all traditionalists as pelagians....

The Loon said...

The Usus Antiquior organically developed from the first century. Does it not than come under immemorial custom? Can an immemorial custom be revoked?

Kate Edwards said...

Loon - I'm not disputing that certain elements were passed down through those early years of development of the Mass that can't be changed.

The question though is at what point they coalesced into the distinctive Roman Rite. Most claim it 'received its final form' under the changes made by Pope Gregory I, not earlier.

And a timetable of fourth to sixth centuries for the emergence of the 'roman rite' lines it up with the emergence of the Roman Office - which one might also have thought constituted an immemorial custom, save for the fact that it was de facto suppressed by Pius X and a n entirely new version substituted in its place...