Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Church reaffirms what it has always believed, or rolls back Vatican II

On the heels of the Motu Proprio and the ensuing rollback of Vatican II, the job continues with a new document from the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (read: Inquisition). This document, a series of questions and answers, reiterates the Church's position with regards to other Christian and non-Christian religions. Apparently there have been enough erroneous theology that they needed to issue a mass clarification.

First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

So, the Church doesn't change. Surprised yet?

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community"5, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.6 "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him"7.

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church8, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.9 Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.10

So, other Christians are okay, but not as cool as us.

Third Question: Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity"11.

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"12.

Defective Church? They don't make them like they used to!

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery19 cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense20.

We'll see how this one goes over.


Motu Proprio Reflections

The Holy Father, some days ago issued a much anticipated Motu Proprio entitled Summorum Pontificum. An official English version has not yet been issued, and so I will be referring to the version located in the Catholic Culture Library. I find it interesting that the letter accompanying the Motu Proprio (of which there is an official English version) was just as long as the Motu Proprio itself.

The Pope first lays out the history of the liturgy, from Gregory the Great to Pius V, to the present. Then we get to the legal parts.

The Paul VI (1970) mass is the normal Rite and order of mass to be used. The use of the 1962 edition of the Missal is, however, allowed as an "extraordinary form of the liturgy of the Church".

Masses without people can be celebrated using either Missal. Community celebrations within religious communities (orders or whatnot) can habitually celebrate the 1962 liturgy if their superiors allow it. The exception here, which I don't really understand is that such permissions don't extend to the Triduum for masses without the people. I find that odd.
"Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§ 2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held.

§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

That article is the one that does the real action. In other words, if there is a group who really wants daily mass (or a Sunday mass) in a parish using the 1962 missal, and a priest who is qualified to say such a mass, they can have it. The bishop is given power here to make sure people follow the rules and don't go off the deep end, or create a rift. I find section 2 interesting; that there can be one such celebration on Sundays is interesting. I don't think this will affect parishes who already celebrate more than one old mass, because they will have special permission from their bishop.

And so, Motu Proprio.

The news coverage is interesting. I'm not sure why liberals are outraged (as the media reports) because they will probably never see a Tridentine mass, and won't have to if they don't want to. Jews, apparently are outraged, and the Anti-Defamation League has even issued a statement. There is one prayer for the Jews on Good Friday, in which the conversion of the Jews is prayed for. The Church prays for everyone's conversion, even (or especially) Catholics. Jews are God's chosen people (still) and play a special role in salvation history. We love the Jews, and want only the best for them, I don't see how this is offensive, nevermind that it is only once a year.

The letter from the Pope has a lot of good insight in it as well.
News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.
I am even a little guilty of this, though I did discuss what aspects of a plan I would not like, not that I'm opposed to the Motu Proprio.

This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

Then, after discussing the love many had for the liturgy, the truth comes out about this:
Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.
Greater truth hasn't been told in a while. Not following liturgical norms really harms people and really causes them ill feelings. My own grandmother left our home parish (her parish of probably 60 years running) because of this reason (the priest refusing to ring the bells at the consecration was the straw that broke the camel's back).
In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.
Ha! This apparently is the complaint of the so-called liberals I saw on the news. They neither know Latin nor are well formed liturgically, and therefore will not even have a claim to request a 1962 mass.
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
I wonder if the Dominican Rite, or the other particular missals of the Latin rite will be brought back some time. I think I would like to experience them as well.

I think that the traditionalists will be happy, and I think now the Bishops will have the job of making sure the faithful can get these masses if they want them, and likewise making sure that people stay faithful and don't become traditionalists. The liberals won't notice any difference, neither will the Jews.