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Benedict XVI: The Pope of the Council

The last few days have been have been amazing for the Church in America. I spent the last few days watching events and reading speeches. With all the hoopla surrounding the papal visit, I wondered if there might be some stories that you and I have missed. After the mass at Yankee stadium, I have spent the last few hours trying catching up. With papal speeches still clinging to my brain, slowly completing the osmosis process, I saw a thread in some of this other news that I might have missed otherwise.

Prior to the Pope's election three years ago, our lovable Pontiff was know as the 'panzer kardinal'. Much of the punditry at the time couldn't have told you much, but the would probably have largely agreed that Joseph Ratzinger was not a fan of Vatican II.

A year ago, in the run-up to and subsequent to the release of Summorum Pontificum there was a blizzard of articles with loudly proclaimed that the Pope was in effect rolling back Vatican II.

During his trip to America, the Pope made several mentions of Vatican II. While acknowledging the disappointments that followed the Council, the Pope repeatedly made mentions the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the Council calling clergy and laity alike to fulfill its calls.

[Homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral]For all of us, I think, one of the great disappointments which followed the Second Vatican Council, with its call for a greater engagement in the Church’s mission to the world, has been the experience of division between different groups, different generations, different members of the same religious family. We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions.

Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear “what the Spirit is saying” to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7). In this way, we will move together towards that true spiritual renewal desired by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.
Here is the thing about Pope Benedict and the Council, these words in his speeches are not mere lip service, he means it.

Pope Benedict has often spoken that the Council, properly viewed, should be interpreted through a hermeneutic of continuity. The Council needs to be viewed in continuity with all that came before. Through this lens, the real Spirit of the council can be discerned.

This brings me to the first of two other stories of the last few days. NLM reported the other day about a response from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei about the potential use of the vernacular for the readings in the Extraordinary form. This question is based on article 6 of the motu proprio which states:
Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.
The response of the PCED to a question that essentially asked "Does this mean what it seems to mean?" Answer, yes.
1. Article 6 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum foresees the possibility of proclaiming the readings in the vernacular without having to proclaim the first in Latin.

2. The Readings may be proclaimed in English according to the translations approved for liturgical use by the Holy See and the Bishops of the United States.
It was unsurprising that some reacted quite negatively to this clarification of the obvious. A sampling of the negative reaction I have seen ranged from "What a disaster!" to "Latin only, no exceptions!" to "Now they are monkeying with the EF!"

These reactions, it seems to me, all proceed from a hermeneutic of rupture. The premise is that any and all reform of the liturgy is bad. This counterfeit orthodoxy claims that Vatican II must be rejected and the liturgy must preserved as a fly in amber. Back to 1955 (or pick your favorite year) or bust! Obviously, Pope Benedict thinks quite differently.

This article of the motu proprio is clear evidence that Pope Bendict does not only not reject the Council, he takes it very seriously indeed. So seriously, in fact, he is actually trying to implement it — properly. Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, calls for just such a reform.
36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.
The Pope is doing exactly what the Council called for. This is not the Bugnini baby out with the bathwater reform that followed the council, but reform based on a hermeneutic of continuity. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the council.

This brings me to the the other story of the past few days. Rorate Caeli reported on a statement by the Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, Bishop Fellay. In the statement, Fellay rejects any accord with the the Vatican because the Pope has yet to reject Vatican II:
The Motu Proprio which introduced a hope of change for the better at the liturgical level is not accompanied by logically co-related measures in the other areas of the life of the Church. All changes introduced at the Council and in the post-Conciliar reforms which we denounce, because the Church has already condemned them, are confirmed. With the difference that, from now on, it is said, at the same time, that the Church does not change…[sic], which means that these changes are perfectly in the line of Catholic Tradition...The disruption at the level of concepts, together with the reminder that the Church must remain faithful to her Tradition, may trouble some. Since facts do not corroborate the new attitude [lit.: affirmation], it is necessary to conclude that nothing [sic] has changed in the will of Rome to follow the Conciliar orientations
This view of the faith and of the Church is textbook hermeneutic of discontinuity. The SSPX will not find it opportune to reach accord with the Holy See until the Holy See rejects the Council. The words and, more importantly, the actions of Pope Benedict clearly show that this sought after rejection will not be forthcoming.

If the SSPX is waiting for this rejection, they will be waiting a long long time. This Pope, and likely all of his successors, will never reject the council in the way that the SSPX seeks. In fact, it is possible, that Pope Benedict might very well be remembered as the Pope who finally implemented the Council. I would not be surprised if a future history would show that after forty years in the desert for our unfaithfulness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the real fruits of the council began to appear under Pope Benedict XVI, the Pope of the Council.

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22 comments:

Michael said...

While our beloved Pope may very well become the one to implement the TRUE Vatican II, as opposed to the heterodoxy that passes as the "spirit of Vatican II", in both his case and in the case of John Paul II I fail to understand why he does not merely replace those bishops and cardinals that have stubbornly over the past 20 years refused to cooperate in that implementation, and who continue to undermine the Holy See at every turn. Fix the Mass, end the nonsense, and if there are only six of us Catholics left in the U.S., so be it. This spirit of collegiality that both of them have to bishops that have overseen the destruction of so much that was holy over the past 40 years should be secondary to doing what is right.

Thankfully, after the train wreck that was the DC papal Mass, Benedict may very well return to Rome and say "enough."

But I doubt it. If Josef Ratzinger cannot fix -- or will not fix -- the so called "reforms" that have undermined everything that was good and right and true about Vatican II, then no one can. And at 80 years old, I'm not seeing much urgency here to do that.

Patrick Archbold said...

Michael,
I gave voice to a similar sentiment in my commentary of the DC mass.

"These rad-trendies will always stick to the talking points and will never be satisfied no matter how crazy things get. Recognition of this fact should give the Pope and the hierarchy the message that there is no satisfying these people. It is time to move on. Put an end to this nonsense once and for all. Reform the liturgy. Now. Let the chips fall where they may."

Clearly, I can sympathize with your point of view. I, for one, am glad the Holy Spirit didn't put me in charge. Patience is a virtue I have yet to cultivate.

Anonymous said...

Here's an alternate resolution within the hermeneutic of continuity: the Church wakes up to the fact that it may have been badly affected by the noxious influences of modernism. It was led down a primrose path. Yes, we have to live in the modern world, but capitulating is not the answer. Now we see where we have gone wrong. (Oh, if only we had listened to Mother). Since Vatican II was only a pastoral council, its actions are not considered infallible. We can repudiate them without rupture of tradition. The last forty years have been a learning experience. We all need them. Now, we can get on with the task of negotiating with the world on OUR terms. Introibo ad altare Dei. No discontinuity here.

Anonymous said...

I think what Bishop Fellay is trying to say is that there is a discontinuity between the what the Church proclaimed in the Second Vatican Council and what the Church proclaimed before it. If this is true, then he would avoid the hermeneutic of rupture by maintaining a continuity with what the Church proclaimed prior to the '60s. I am not sure which concepts have been changed according to the bishop, but surely the information is available somewhere.

Neal

Anonymous said...

The idea that any and all opposition to Article 6 of "Summorum Pontificum" indicates a "hermeneutic of rupture" is obviously illogical. A 'hermeneutic of rupture' would indicate immobilism: the belief that all change in the 1962 Mass is bad, not the view that any particualar change must be good.

In order for there to be a 'hermeneutic of continuity', the change in the present and future should 'continue' to reflect *means* of change in the past. For example, in the past, for many centuries, the Ordinary was left untouched but propers were periodically altered or added to make the entire liturgy more meaningful to those of any given period. Hence we should expect future propers for new saints. I welcome that. I'd like to see one, for example, for the Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

If you consider liturgical development in the Latin Church, there was a formative period in the sixth century (which parallels formative periods in languages, such as that for English from 1400 to 1500), followed by a period of stasis, followed by a period of some reform (1100-1400: addition of Gloria and Roman Offertory, e.g.), followed by a long period of stasis. The general principle has been to leave the Ordinary untouched once it has acquired form and, when necessary or highly beneficial, to add to it but not to take away from it or alter it.

The idea that the lections can be read in the vernacular alone does not follow a pattern of change from the past because no part of the Mass could be said in the vernacular alone before Article 6 of S.P.(since the Sermon is not a part of the Mass per se). So to claim otherwise is a non sequitur.


I wish to make it clear that I am not questioning the right of the Holy See to allow that the lections be said in the vernacular alone. Whether or not this is a good idea is debateable. I think that it is a bad idea but that's just one of many possible opinions.

But whether this change be good or bad, arguing against it does not suggest a hermeneutic of rupture. Sorry, nice try, Mr. Archbold. You'll have to try some other tack. Why not just give up these attempts to cast traditionalists as immobilists? They are not true, so why not just give them up?

P.K.T.P.

Patrick Archbold said...

"The idea that any and all opposition to Article 6 of "Summorum Pontificum" indicates a "hermeneutic of rupture" is obviously illogical."

I am glad you think so as you said it, I didn't. If this is what you think I was saying, I suggest your read the post again.

Anonymous said...

Further to Mr. Archbold's comments:

Mr. Archbold quotes a passage from Sacrosanctum Concilium which finds that the uses of the vernacular may be extended. But an extension of the vernacular is not the same thing as a curtailing of Latin. In the case in hand, the lections could already be said first in Latin and then in the vernacular. How does an optional abolition of the Latin amount to an "extension" of the verncular in this case? It does not, since the vernacular was already there.

Since Mr. Archbold is quick to quote S.C., he might consider Article 23 of that bad document--bad because its non-restrictive clauses have enabled so much misinterpretation and liturgical abuse. According to Article 23, "a theological, pastoral, and historical" investigation should be conducted before implementing any changes and "there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them".

Where is the theological, pastoral and historical investigation to justify Article 6 of S.P.? Does the good of the Church "genuinely and certainly" require omission of lections in Latin when, as one blogger has point out quite correctly, the purpose of the lections is not only to instruct the people but also to direct their worship?

Doesn't look like organic change to me. Doesn't look a 'hermeneutic of continuity' to me. Looks more like a hermeneutic of rupture in which curial legislation replaces organic change.

P.K.T.P.

Patrick Archbold said...

WOW

"But an extension of the vernacular is not the same thing as a curtailing of Latin. In the case in hand, the lections could already be said first in Latin and then in the vernacular. How does an optional abolition of the Latin amount to an "extension" of the verncular in this case? It does not, since the vernacular was already there."

By this logic, it is impossible to extend the vernacular to anyplace where it is not already used? That is clearly not what the council intended and frankly it is a little silly.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mr. Archbold's last comment, let me quote him directly:

"It was unsurprising that some reacted quite negatively to this clarification of the obvious. A sampling of the negative reaction I have seen ranged from "What a disaster!" to "Latin only, no exceptions!" to "Now they are monkeying with the EF!"

These reactions, it seems to me, all proceed from a hermeneutic of rupture."


So, I repeat, Mr. Archbold is suggesting that a rejection of Article 6 as a good idea "proceed[s] from a hermeneutic of rupture". But a rejection any particular change in liturgy need not proceed from a 'hermeneutic of rupture'. That is false. Only a rejection of change per se logically proceeds from hermeneutic of rupture. Traditionalists do not reject all change in the liturgy. For example, because they believe in 'a hermeneutic of continuity', they favour the additions and alterations of propers, for that kind of change is rooted in tradition--it is an established *means* of change.

I am not accusing Mr. Archbold of attempting to misrepresent anyone on this blog. I am merely saying that his statment is mistaken. It is inadvertently mischaracterising the position of some bloggers.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

PKTP
Drinking and blogging don't mix!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Archbold comments"

"By this logic, it is impossible to extend the vernacular to anyplace where it is not already used? That is clearly not what the council intended and frankly it is a little silly."

No, not at all. I am saying that, when the vernacular is already there as an option, abolishing Latin is in no way an "extension" of Latin as called for in S.C.

Whether or not the vernacular may replace Latin where the vernacular could not have been used before is another matter entirely.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! I made one textual error in my last post which is critical. I must re-post with the correction:

Mr. Archbold comments:

"By this logic, it is impossible to extend the vernacular to anyplace where it is not already used? That is clearly not what the council intended and frankly it is a little silly."

No, not at all. I am saying that, when the vernacular is already there as an option, abolishing Latin is in no way an "extension" of the vernacular as called for in S.C.

Whether or not the vernacular may replace Latin where the vernacular could not have been used before is another matter entirely.

Anonymous said...

In the second part of Mr. Archbold's comments, he goes on to mischaracterise the position of the S.S.P.X. Quoting Bishop Fellay, he writes that the Society will not sign an agreement because the Pope "has yet to reject Vatican II". But Bishop Fellay does not ask that the Pope reject Vatican II or all the changes which it entailed. He only asks that the Pope reject those changes from Vatican II which the Church has condemned in the past: "All [those] changes introduced at the Council in the post-Conciliar reforms which we denounce, are confirmed".

Obviously, Bishop Fellay cannot oppose all liturgical and disciplinary change; otherwise, he could not favour the changes of the Gregorian reforms of the sixth century. What he refuses to accept are only those changes from the Council which are not in accord with the principles of tradition and the sound teaching of the past.

I agree with Mr. Archbold that Bishop Fellay's decision is wrong. But I do not see how Bishop Fellay engages in any 'hermeneutic of rupture'. He wants a continuity with the past and liturgical change in accordance with the principles established down through the ages. This does not mean zero change; it means organic change.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

One poster wrote:

"PKTP
Drinking and blogging don't mix!"

True enough. But why do you think that Mr. Archbold has been drinking? I expect that he is sober enough.

P.K.T.P.

Patrick said...

.Mr Perkins
It seems you have problems even understanding the vernacular.

I clearly said "these" reactions which is very different from "any" or "all".

Check Funk and Wagnalls!

P.S.

I have written some of my best posts under the influence. At leat I think I did....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Archbold:

I have no trouble understanding the vernacular. In fact, I teach it. I was referring to "these" reactions too. My point is that 'those' reactions cited by you do not suggest a hermeneutic of rupture because those who wrote them never suggested that all liturgical change was bad. What they suggested is that the particular change in Article 6 was bad. Even the reaction "Latin only, no exceptions!" cannot be construed to mean that the writer is against all liturgical change on principle and is therefore a partisan of discontinuity. What he is against is the use of the vernacular to deliver the lections and, as far as we know, that alone. That does not suggest any hermeneutic of rupture. Traditionalists are not immobilists. That is why we all welcome new propers over the decades.

I have no need for a third-rate dictionary called 'Funk and Wagnals'. Even in America, it is a far cry from the glorious Webster's Second Edition. But Oxford is the cream.

As for imbibing, I am happy to hear that you indulge. I certainly do.

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

In regard to this bad idea of reading the lections in the vernacular only, I think that Mr. Archbold is a good man who means well. He probably imagines that lections in the vernacular may make our Traditional Latin Mass more popular, which is certainly a good thing. According to my figures, some of our Masses are being cancelled on the grounds of poor attendance. This happened very recently in the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi. So I sympathtise with what he is trying to do.

The problem, however, is that many of the gents in control today are not at all pious gentlemen like Mr. Archbold. They are liberal cads, like Cardinal Mahony. If there is an allowance for the lections in the vernacular alone, we shall end up with readings from the Blue Jeans Bible from the pulpit, altered to make sure that God is an It rather than a He. Therein lies the problem.

If the lections be said in both Latin and the vernacular, faithful can read their wonderful Douay-Rheims translations while the priest intones the Latin, and be edified thereby. While he reads the vernacular, if it is a good translation, they hear the Word of God twice, which cannot be a bad thing in itself. If it is a bad translation in feminazi English based on the Blue Jeans text, he can tune it out. But if we end up with the Blue Jeans text alone one day (not too far away, given how fast liberals move), that's not a good thing, and it would drive the faithful away and destroy the traditionalist movement. Perhaps changes such as those in Article 6 are the reason why Bishop Fellay is hesitant about subjecting his priests to Conciliar Rome.

I hope that Mr. Archbold can see that those of us crying "keep the Latin" or even "Latin alone!" are not necessarily partisans of discontinuity. The partisans of rupture are those who want to change the standard and established means of reform. Let change come where it has always come: in additions to the propers. The rest of the Mass is just fine as it is. In the aftermath of a revolution, when there is instablity and uncertainty everywhere, the last thing you need is more change. Read Ecclesiastes: there is a place and a time for everything. The aftermath of a revoltion is the time to resist change, not the time to encourage it. We need fifty year without tinkering right now. There was no change to our Ordinary at all--not even a comma--from 1637 to 1884. That reflected a hermeneutic of continuity for over 240 years. It's a good model for our time.

P.K.T.P.

matthew archbold said...

I don't often agree with PKTP often but his calling Cardinal Mahony a "liberal cad" is something I can wholeheartedly agree with.
I'll pray for the Cardinal's conversion.

Anonymous said...

Matthew Archbold wrote:

"I don't often agree with PKTP often but his calling Cardinal Mahony a "liberal cad" is something I can wholeheartedly agree with."

You don't often agree with me and you are willing to admit this in public? That's taking honesty a bit far, don't you think? Very few people would be willing to admit that they disagree with me after reading my brilliant posts.

P.K.T.P.

David L Alexander said...

"Very few people would be willing to admit that they disagree with me after reading my brilliant posts."

Actually, I've done as much myself. But only after I've been drinking.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Alexander:

Actually, I find that people agree with me even more after they've been drinking. There is this uproarious feeling of bonhomie. Yes!

P.K.T.P.

Anonymous said...

im worried about the rise of hinduism and its impact on christians and their future.most of our brothers and sisters from west are being converted to Hinduism and to other religion.even in countries like russia there have a slow and gradual increase in their numbers....Most of america have hindu temples.its a matter of serious threat to our existence.in india these so called hindus are converting christians and other minorities.they forcefully get into our chruches,rape our nuns,destroy altars and cross,burn bible and create a fear amoung other christian so that we give our religion and get converted to hinduism.even the entire system stand and support these activist.now is the time that we should unite and fight and regan our lost grounds before its too late

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