Daily Archives: September 15, 2009

With the Liturgy, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”

The History of the Church is a funny old thing (if you want to find out just how funny, come to Ballarat this weekend and do this course with me). Today’s conservatives were yesterdays radicals, and today’s true radicals are the ones their opponents call “reactionary conservatives”.

Cast your mind back to the joint introduction of the Novus Ordo and the vernacular translation of the liturgy. It wasn’t accepted without opposition, and the resistance to it never went away entirely – which is why (TBTG) we have Roman Rite in two forms today (the Extraodinary and Ordinary). Of course, for some, it wasn’t just a matter of resisting the new liturgy – it was a matter of refusing it to the death if need be. (Cf. for eg. “The Banished Heart” by Sydney Traddy, Geoffrey Hull)

Now it appears like we are going to see the whole thing over again, but this time with the other mob – the 60’s radicals who have morphed into the cultural conservatives of our day – represented by the one whom the Cooees Mob have dubbed “Priest-forever”, Paul Collins. His pamphlet “And Also with You” can be downloaded from his “Catholics for Ministry” website. It is a thorough-going rejection of the new translations of the liturgy, calling them an outright “betrayal of Vatican Council II”. Which is exceeding odd, since the liturgy of which the new vernacular is a translation is none other than the liturgy that we received after the 2nd Vatican Council, the Bugnini liturgy, the Ordinary Form. The way Mr Collins goes on about it, you would think we are forcing every one back into using Latin (God forbid!).

Every cliche imaginable, from Xavier Rynne’s potted history of Vatican II to the usual bewailing of the fate of the poor old Old ICEL, can be found in this tract. The thing is, that one cannot really see what the Ex-Rev. Mr Collins might be imagining he can achieve with this sort of thing. It cannot work for the building up of the People of God, for it is designed to unsettle them and turn them against all due order and right conduct. It is encouraging the faithful to nothing less than disobedience and to active dissension in the ranks around the very Source and Summit of the Church’s life.

I cannot see how Paul Collins and his mob can differentiate themselves and their rhetoric from that of Marcel Lefebvre and his society. They might appear to be arguing in different directions, but fundamentally their argument is the same. It is what happens when conservatives dig their heels in so deeply against legitimate development, that they end up becoming heretics.

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Another Catholic Reappraisal of Luther

The Catholic Church would “today deal with such a provocation in a different and a better way”, according to Bishop Franz-Joseph Bode of Osnabrück.

According to this story run by Ecumenical News International, he was speaking in regard to the 16th Century challenge presented by Martin Luther,

Unfortunately, however, you don’t get to replay history. Both the Lutherans and the Catholic Church have moved on since 1546, the year of Luther’s death. In some ways they have grown closer together, in other ways they are further apart than ever before. Certainly the issues have changed. The doctrine of Justification, on which the Lutherans based their initial objections to the Church of Rome, is perhaps not such a hot issue any more (except at a level that only very well trained theologians would be able to argue). On the other hand, issues such as those surrouding the priesthood, piety, sacraments, ethics and governance separate the two groups more than ever.

The good Bishop Bode does suggest one point, however, where the two Confessions can say – or should say – a joint “Amen” with an added “Alleluia!”:

The focus on Christ, the Bible and the authentic Word – are things that we as the Catholic Church today can only underline,” said Bode. He noted that especially with the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has been able to understand and address in a new way Luther’s thought and his esteem for the Word of God.

Certainly we have seen this strongly in this current pontificate, an Augustinian like the Reformer, the first German pope since the reformation, and certainly the first pope to have ever seriously read and studied Luther’s writings (in the original language, no less).

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