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.

Advertisements

58 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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

  1. Tony

    I’m not going to argue the toss about the pamphlet David, but I do strongly object to your ad hominem.

    When you reprint ‘Priest Forever’ and use the term ‘Ex Rev Mr Collins’ you are engaging in a level of nastiness that really damages your argument.

    I ask you to imagine someone being critical of your views on another blog and referring to you as ‘Married Forever David’ or something similar because they happen to know something about your personal life (I hasten to add that it is not my intention to offend you, I’m just trying to make the point about how nasty and, in terms of serving the argument, unneccessary these sorts of jibes are).

    I find ad hominem part of the stock in trade of Cooees — I mean what is ‘Cloister Countdown’ if it is not ad hominem directed at Bishops? — but it’s not something that is anything like the ‘gentleness and reverence’ you call for. I’m trying to imagine you passing the ‘port’ to Paul Collins and referring to him in this way.

    These are your codes of on-line behaviour David.

    • Just a question, Tony: Have you ever read “Pride and Prejudice”?

      And I don’t think I will ever have to worry about passing the port bottle to Mr Collins, because, unlike Mr Bennet, Mr Schütz does not expect to ever to have the pleasure of Mr Collins company at his table.

      My own estimation of Mr Collins is that he is, though undoubtably charming and hence appealing for television and radio commentary, a trouble-maker.

      Honestly, I find Brian Coyne more likeable than Mr Collins because I sense in Brian a deep and honest searching which has set him on the path on which he now finds himself.

      Mr Collins on the other hand displays all the bravado of the apostle of the “Brave New Church” – he knows exactly what he is doing and has deliberately set his coutenance against the Catholic Church.

      As I said in this post, he acts and speaks with exactly the same hybris with which Archbishop Lefebvre acted: believing his wisdom to be above that of the Church, and showing far too much willingness, like a new Moses, to lead the people off into the wilderness.

      The “Priest Forever” tag is so beautifully apt, because, despite his reliquishing the office which indeed gave him some degree of authority to speak for the Church, he continues to claim that authority in ever increasing measures. The thing about the authority to teach is, of course, that it comes with the acceptance of the obligation to obey one’s superiors. Unlike Jane Austen’s Mr Collins, ours is an “ex-clergyman”. He is thus relinquished from his obligation to obey his bishop – except in so far as he is obligated as a lay Catholic. However, in relinquishing that office, he also reliquinshed the right to speak authoritatively on the Church’s behalf.

      It may be retorted: But isn’t that what you do, Schütz? To which I answer that I simply seek to “Think with the Church”, and to promote “Thinking with the Church”. In case you hadn’t noticed, that is the title of this blog. Zeal for the Church is the force that pumps the blood through my veins every minute of my life.

      So I must apologise if occasionally my criticism becomes less than “gentle and reverent” when I come across individuals who make it their aim to think AGAINST the Church, and who seek to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ also to think AGAINST the Church

      • Tony

        David,

        I express my concern about your ad hominem using your own standard — and I thought the passing of the port was a metaphor for the tone you aspire to — and your response is to further explain why you don’t like Paul C0llins?

        I’m not going into bat for Paul Collins. It may be that all your observations are true, but so what?

        I asked you to imagine what it would be like for you to be characterised in this way by someone who knew some of your personal history. Are you saying it’s OK as long as they didn’t like you and could articulate why?

        This goes to the heart of how we conduct ourselves in public discourse IMO. If ‘treating people with ‘gentleness and reverence’ is an ideal only for those we agree with or tolerate doesn’t this smack of ‘do not the pagans do the same?’.

        Please let me be clear: I’m not against passionate and well argued views and I understand that we all get carried away. But this post compounds the ‘Priest forever’ jibe of someone else with your own ‘Ex Rev Mr’.

        I know a few men who’ve been through the trauma — and it was a trauma — of leaving the priesthood and these kinds of jibes not only insult them indiscriminately, they contribute nothing to the point you’re trying to make, in fact, ad hominem is often a pointer to a weak argument.

        • I am not having a go at anyone for leaving the ministry. That would really be the pot calling the kettle black!

          What I am objecting to is the way in which Mr Collins continues to capitalise on his former status not only through media commentary (in which his former status is often brought forward as a qualification to speak on issues) but by means of pamphlets such as this.

          My comment below should be quite clear: Mr Collins is obviously a gentleman and a scholar. He is, by all accounts, quite likeable, and I do not dislike him for any of his personal qualities (which are vast by all accounts).

          What I object to – and the basis for my disapprobation – is what he has chosen to do with his great gifts. He is using his gifts to derail a project the success of which is vital to the life of the Church in Australia. A project which, it should be pointed out, is a fait accompli. The new translations WILL be implemented, and all priests and parishes WILL use them. What purpose can there possibily be in publishing such a pamphlet EXCEPT to unsettle minds and hearts, to undermine confidence in our bishops, and thus bring to bring disharmony to the Church?

          My heart goes out to all laicised priests. I know something of their pain and trauma, as well as the ongoing questions they have to face about how now to use their gifts as lay persons which once they exercised as ordained ministers of the gospel.

          My point re Mr Collins is: this is an inappropriate way to use those gifts. As the scripture (Eph 4) says:

          “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.

          • Tony

            David,

            Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to admit that you went too far instead of these rather awkward justifications?

            You may not have meant to have a go at liaised priests, but can’t you see how it could easily be interpreted that way?

            You may have meant to make a serious point, but can’t you see that these sorts of descriptions come over as a sniping ad hominem?

            What I am objecting to is the way in which Mr Collins continues to capitalise on his former status not only through media commentary (in which his former status is often brought forward as a qualification to speak on issues) but by means of pamphlets such as this.

            Surely the same could be said of you?

            What does ‘capitalise’ mean anyhow? He was a priest, he is an academic, he was a journalist, he does have an opinion. I’ve never seen him write or say, words to the effect of, ‘I make this claim authoritively because I was a priest’. He argues issues on their merits not implying that he has some sort of ‘authority’.

            If the media seek him out, that’s the media’s issue not Collins.

            He is using his gifts to derail a project the success of which is vital to the life of the Church in Australia.

            That’s because he has issues with the ‘project’.

            A project which, it should be pointed out, is a fait accompli.

            And?

            The new translations WILL be implemented, and all priests and parishes WILL use them.

            ‘WILL’ David?

            What purpose can there possibily be in publishing such a pamphlet EXCEPT to unsettle minds and hearts …

            Is that some new benchmark for discussions now?

            to undermine confidence in our bishops, and thus bring to bring disharmony to the Church?

            Oh boy!

            Was it not you that suggested that the majority of Bishops were either ignorant or weak in the period following VatII until now re ‘ad orientum’?

            • Okay, I went too far.

              I’m not changing what I wrote though.

              Exits stage left, with his bat and ball and grumbling to himself.

              • Tony

                Exits stage left, with his bat and ball and grumbling to himself.

                Keep the bat and ball David … just leave the port.

                • jules

                  IMO Paul Collins is in deep denial about the rational thinking behind all the “reforms” . Keep up your great work David! And Tony who appointed you Collin’s guard??

  2. Fr Ronan Kilgannon

    After reading Paul Collins’ article on the new English translation of the Missal on Catholics for Ministry I penned a reply in disagreement. I presumed that this would be printed on the Website. However, it must have been directed to Paul for within a couple of days I received a reply from him. I must say it was the letter of a gentleman. He thanked me for writing even though he did not share my regard for the new translations. I have since heard Archbishop Mark Colridge (Paul’s prelate) speak on the work of the ICEL translators and am more convinced than ever that the new translations are a more accurate translation of the Latin original, offer a higher standard of English and also correct subtle (Pelagian and semi-Pelagian) theological errors. I think that the stridancy of Paul’s critique is an expression of the dying plea of a decreasing number of Catholics my own age who remain stuck in the 1970s.

    • Thank you, Father. From what I have seen of Mr Collins, he is (unlike Miss Austen’s Mr Collins) most charming. You have born witness also that he is a gentleman. I have no doubt that he is in fact more of a gentleman than I am. I am sure too that he is better educated. So, a gentleman and a scholar. I acknowledge it and applaud it.

      But he is still a trouble maker.

    • Tony

      … and am more convinced than ever that the new translations are a more accurate translation of the Latin original …

      I think Collins deals with this quite effectively:

      ——
      As the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (issued by the Post-Conciliar Commission on the Liturgy on 3 April 1969) emphasized the translator’s task was to find a ‘faithful
      but not literal’ English equivalent of the Latin and that ‘the unit of meaning [was] not the individual word, but the whole passage.’ Further ‘the prayer of the Church is always the prayer of some actual community assembling here and now. It is not sufficient that a formula handed down from some other time or region should be translated verbatim, even if accurately, for liturgical use. The formula must become the genuine prayer of the congregation and in it each of its members should be able to find and express themselves.’
      ——

      …. offer a higher standard of English …

      Again, I think Collins gives many good examples of where the ‘standard of English’, at least in terms of communicating meaning, is much worse. Some of the phrasing is quite tortured and ponderous.

      and also correct subtle (Pelagian and semi-Pelagian) theological errors.

      For example?

      I think that the stridancy of Paul’s critique is an expression of the dying plea of a decreasing number of Catholics my own age who remain stuck in the 1970s.

      Ahem.

      That’s one of those sweeping statements that can neither be proved or disproved and contributes very little to the discussion.

  3. Gareth

    I am actually opposed to anyone using the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as a ‘common name’ to be associated with schismatics or figures that rebel against the church in the same way that some in the (Catholic) church uses the name ‘Martin Luther’.

    Why?

    Not because I consider myself a follower of Lefebrve, but simply because it is good to remember that he was ‘ex-communicated’ (some would say wrongly) for illegally ordaining four Bishops, not because he was opposed to the ‘reforms’ that happened in the church in the 1960s/1970s.

    In fact, the Society of Saint Pius X were really the 1980s version of the FSSP – they were legitimately allowed to celebrated the Classical Rite in communion with the church – it is just at that stage there seemed no set rules for when other Diocesan priests could also celebrate that form of the Mass. (mainly because no there was no widespread support for the TLM in places like Australia in the same way there is now).

    Marcel Lefebrve was actually a very holy man and one could argue that the fact the EF of the Mass is available today can be traced back to his willingness to speak out for its continuation when it was first put on the scrap heap in the late 60s.

    It is only due to his ex-communication that his name is now held in bad light, not due to his opposition to church reform in the 1970s and willingness to form the SPPX. He was in no way a Luther or Collins figure.

    Note that I am in way a supporter of SSPX or Lefebrve – I simply hate the fact that legitimate dissent or opposition to the ‘reform’ of the errors that have swept into the modern church can be compared to dissent in the form of opposition to the actual teaching authority and magisterial teaching of the church such as what exhbited by Luther or Collins

    • Tony

      And I’m opposed to the comparison too. After all Collins hasn’t been excomunicated nor is he calling for a schism!

    • Peregrinus

      I am actually opposed to anyone using the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as a ‘common name’ to be associated with schismatics or figures that rebel against the church in the same way that some in the (Catholic) church uses the name ‘Martin Luther’

      Why?

      Not because I consider myself a follower of Lefebrve, but simply because it is good to remember that he was ‘ex-communicated’ (some would say wrongly) for illegally ordaining four Bishops, not because he was opposed to the ‘reforms’ that happened in the church in the 1960s/1970s.

      I take your point, Gareth, but ordaining your own bishops is pretty much the definition of schism (which is why it got him excommunicated). I think the association of Lefebvre with schism is a legitimate one.

      Marcel Lefebrve was actually a very holy man . . .

      Indeed he was. But so was Luther.

      . . . and one could argue that the fact the EF of the Mass is available today can be traced back to his willingness to speak out for its continuation when it was first put on the scrap heap in the late 60s.

      Very true. But, equally, many of the criticisms that Luther made were in time taken on board by the church. The majority of his orginal 95 theses, in fact, in time came to represent mainstream Catholic positions. And, had the church been more open to his criticisms at an earlier stage, a great deal might have been avoided. (And you could of course say much the same about Marcel Lefebvre.)

      It is only due to his ex-communication that his name is now held in bad light, not due to his opposition to church reform in the 1970s and willingness to form the SPPX. He was in no way a Luther or Collins figure.

      I’ll maintain silence about Collins. I have no opinion there. To be honest, I haven’t paid enough attention to him to form one. But I think some of the parallels between Lefebvre and Luther are quite striking.

      • Is it possible to be both a holy person AND to take one’s call to holiness so seriously that one feels the necessity to act in a way that is contrary to “Sentire Cum Ecclesia”?

        Let me put it a different way: Is it possible to NOT be a holy person AND to still make it one’s goal to “think with the Church”?

        Indeed, I would see myself in the latter category rather than the first.

        I do believe that Martin Luther was, in many respects, a saintly man. I am confident that his time in purgatory has not been too greatly extended – or at least much shorter than mine probably would be.

        I have no arguements either with affirming either the personal holiness of life of Arch. Lefebvre – or even, for that matter, Mr Collins himself (again, I am sure he is not only a greater gentleman than I and a greater scholar, but also much more saintly!).

        My point here in this post (as it so often is) is our obligation to do all in our effort to train ourselves to “Think with the Church”. That may not be the only virtue, nor even the highest virtue, but it is a virtue to which I aspire.

        • Gareth

          David,

          Interesting questions posed. In answer to one of your questions – yes it is possible to be a very unsaintly person and think in line with the church.

          There are many cases in history where actual Popes have lived very sinful lives in private, but publically have actually put forward theological stances that would put St Thomas Aquinas to shame.

          I am speaking generally here but I am sure people could think of many examples of ‘bad’ Popes , clerical leaders or even church members who actually taught well and were spotless in defending the faith.

          All this proves is that the Catholic Church is actually a divine institution lead by the spirit and into truth (no-matter how unholy its members are)

          Generally though, we can trust that God will bring us leaders who’s personal lives would reflect what they preach as the Pope’s of the last two hundred years seem to be very deeply holy men who I am proud to have as our leaders – who would not argue for Pius X, Pius XII or JPII’s personal sanctity.

          for Martin Luther’s personal sanctity – I would seriously get a second opinion on that. If the vulgar language he used in his written documents towards the end of his life are anything to go by or the fact that he could not stay sober for longer than a few days is proof he was a ‘holy man’– then we are all going to Heaven quicker than we previously thought!

      • Gareth

        Pere: I take your point, Gareth, but ordaining your own bishops is pretty much the definition of schism (which is why it got him excommunicated).

        Gareth: I never have argued that his act in ordaining four priests was actually schismatic (indeed that is a separate and long winded issue), but rather the association that if one is opposed to anything to do with the ‘reforms’ of Vatican II or if anyone dares speaks up against it – they are all of a sudden branded ‘schismatic’ in the real sense of that word.

        What I am saying here is that putting the ex-communication aside, one could could agree with 99 per cent of what Lefebrve had to say in opposing ‘change’ in the church and still be considered a good and orthodox Catholic.

        Pere: Indeed he was. But so was Luther.

        Gareth: I disagree with this very much that Luther was holy or that Lefebrve can be compared with him

        If one was to put aside the ex-communication, Lefebrve was a man that contributed greatly to the church and by all accounts was a man with a very deep interior life who loved the Catholic Church dearly.

        He was not a Bishop and Head of the Holy Ghost Society for many years for no reason.

        Did you know that he actually contributed greatly to the debates at Vatican II?

        In opposing ‘change’ in the 1970s, he always looked to work within the church and the SSPX up until the unfortunate event mentioned was respected in the same sense that the FSSP is now respected.

        His ex-communication should be viewed upon as a very unfortunate event for someone that loved and had served the church so dearly.

        On the contrary we know from history that Martin Luther was a very, very UNholy man (or at least after he left the Catholic Church) and who’s individual lifestyle did not reflect anything to do with Christianity. He broke his vows as a professed religious and caused scandal by marrying someone that had likewise committed an oath to the church.

        He was given a period of time to refract of his errors and return to the Church that Christ established – in which he did not.

        Luther literally died a fat slob in no way sorry for his errors that he spread throughout the world and in no way did he ever show even the slightest repentance for dying outside Christ’s Church.

        He died in bitter hatred for the Catholic Church in which his ex-communication was clearly warranted for a man that wanted to establish his own version of the church with its own sacraments and means to salvation.

        Pere: Very true. But, equally, many of the criticisms that Luther made were in time taken on board by the church. The majority of his orginal 95 theses, in fact, in time came to represent mainstream Catholic positions. And, had the church been more open to his criticisms at an earlier stage, a great deal might have been avoided. (And you could of course say much the same about Marcel Lefebvre.)

        Gareth: Believe it or not, I agree in a certain sense here Pere.

        It is very true what you say (although I would be careful about arguing that the original 95 theses have become mainstream Catholic positions) and it makes every sense – because Luther was NOT ex-communicated for the 95 thesis in the same sense that Lefebrve was not ex-communicated for opposing the church ‘reforms’.

        Luther’s 95 thesis (*I once read the nailing to the door story may have been a fable) were as you say (arguably) valid points in which nothing actually heretical was posted. Luther was actually acting within his means in making them and the church in responding to this action more positively may have avoided the great catastrophe that was to follow.

        BUT, because it was not the 95 thesis that the Church ex-communicated Luther for, the point being made is obscured.

        We know that Luther’s opposition to the church did not end with his 95 thesis. We know it extended from him opposing abuses in the church’s practices to actually believing he had an authority to establish a counter church or counter religion that taught actual teachings opposed to infallible teachings of the Catholic Church or an individual’s means of salvation differed greatly from the traditional Catholic Church’s views.

        Pere: I’ll maintain silence about Collins. I have no opinion there. To be honest, I haven’t paid enough attention to him to form one. But I think some of the parallels between Lefebvre and Luther are quite striking.

        Gareth: Well actually, I think this is way off and wish that people would stop using the comparison

        Luther was a full-blown heretic – that is he ‘crossed the line’ so to speak in that he argued that the Catholic Church’s teaching on ‘justification’ was wrong. This is ‘crossing the line’ in the sense that he is someone that does not accept that the full truth that is contained within the Catholic Church.

        Luther ‘crossed the line’ so to speak (the story is a bit longer than this) in that he did not believe that the Papacy was part of the biblical Church and he went so far as to establish a Church that taught contrary and heretical teachings such as ‘By the Bible alone’ and ‘By Faith alone’ and that there is only two sacraments and the office of the Pope has no authority etc etc.

        Luther was literally a heretic in the sense that his ‘reforms’ were firstly heretical and secondly he established these heretical teachings outside the authority of the church that Our Lord established.

        The only thing that Lefebrve had in common with Luther was that he was ex-communicated under circumstances that were arguable or even due to a misunderstanding in communication.

        Lefebrve opposed the ‘status quo’ or church practices of the time in the sense that he was legitimately allowed to. One could agree or disagree with Lefebrve, but in no stage ever did he ‘cross the line’ in the way Luther did and argue for heretical teaching or seek to establish a church with counter teachings or a counter authority of the church Our Lord established.

        He at all times opposed ‘reforms’ on the basis he was quite able to do so and work within the church, not seek to break it. His arguments are always legit and any Catholic could hold to 99 per cent of his beliefs and remain Catholic.

        In this sense, the comparison with Luther is unfair.

        P.S I am no fan of Lefebrve or the SSPX – I simply do not follow the argument that someone be compared to clear-cut person who had no respect or love for the Catholic Church as above.

        • Peregrinus

          I never have argued that his act in ordaining four priests was actually schismatic (indeed that is a separate and long winded issue), but rather the association that if one is opposed to anything to do with the ‘reforms’ of Vatican II or if anyone dares speaks up against it – they are all of a sudden branded ‘schismatic’ in the real sense of that word.

          It’s clearly wrong to say that all traditionalists are schismatics. They are not.

          But it’s clearly right to say (a) that some traditionalists are schismatics, and (b) that Msgr Lefebvre was one of these. Hence the association of Lefebvre with schism is not unfair.

          What I am saying here is that putting the ex-communication aside, one could could agree with 99 per cent of what Lefebrve had to say in opposing ‘change’ in the church and still be considered a good and orthodox Catholic.

          I agree. Equally, one could agree with much of what Luther had to say in opposing ‘abuses’ in the church, and still be considered a good and orthodox Catholic.

          I disagree with this very much that Luther was holy or that Lefebrve can be compared with him

          If one was to put aside the ex-communication, Lefebrve was a man that contributed greatly to the church and by all accounts was a man with a very deep interior life who loved the Catholic Church dearly.

          He was not a Bishop and Head of the Holy Ghost Society for many years for no reason.

          Did you know that he actually contributed greatly to the debates at Vatican II?

          Yes, I knew all that. I’m a Holy Ghost boy, you know. But all this goes to show that schism is not typically the work of a cartoon-evil figure who rubs his hands and laughs a sinister, hollow laugh. It’s more often the work of somebody who allows a passion for something good and true to eclipse the vision of something else good and true.

          In opposing ‘change’ in the 1970s, he always looked to work within the church and the SSPX up until the unfortunate event mentioned was respected in the same sense that the FSSP is now respected.

          Well, I don’t know about that. There were definite tensions long before the excommunication. The SSPX was in a canonically irregular situation from 1975 onwards, and its priestly ordinations, as well as the later Episcopal ordinations, were conducted in defiance of instructions. Lefbvre himself was suspended a divinis in 1977, and this suspension remained in place until his death. The excommunication was the final break in a relationship which had long been deteriorating, not an unfortunate aberration in a previously harmonious relationshiop. And of course the source of the tensions was not really his preference for the Tridentine liturgy, but his theological views.

          [Luther] was given a period of time to refract of his errors and return to the Church that Christ established – in which he did not.

          That would also be true of Lefebvre, though, wouldn’t it?

          He died in bitter hatred for the Catholic Church in which his ex-communication was clearly warranted for a man that wanted to establish his own version of the church with its own sacraments and means to salvation.

          I don’t think that Luther wanted to “establish his own version of the church”. He wanted to reform the church so that it would conduct itself along the lines that he though was right, not to establish any rival church. The existence of parallel Lutheran and Catholic churches was not in fact something he desired. Something similar can be said of Marcel Lefebvre.

          Pere: Very true. But, equally, many of the criticisms that Luther made were in time taken on board by the church. The majority of his original 95 theses, in fact, in time came to represent mainstream Catholic positions. And, had the church been more open to his criticisms at an earlier stage, a great deal might have been avoided. (And you could of course say much the same about Marcel Lefebvre.)

          BUT, because it was not the 95 thesis that the Church ex-communicated Luther for, the point being made is obscured.

          We know that Luther’s opposition to the church did not end with his 95 thesis. We know it extended from him opposing abuses in the church’s practices to actually believing he had an authority to establish a counter church or counter religion that taught actual teachings opposed to infallible teachings of the Catholic Church or an individual’s means of salvation differed greatly from the traditional Catholic Church’s views.

          I agree (apart from the bit about Luther wanting to “establish a counter church”). My point is that, if the church had been more open, earlier on, to the mostly legitimate criticisms expressed in the 95 theses, Luther would quite possibly never have gone down the road he did, which led him to adopt doctrinal positions more fundamentally conflicting with Catholicism, which in turn led to schism.

          Lefebvre didn’t – or at any rate didn’t clearly – adopt doctrinal positions fundamentally conflicting with Catholicism, but he still led his movement into schism. And this too might have been avoided if some of his concerns had been taken on board earlier.

          Luther was a full-blown heretic – that is he ‘crossed the line’ so to speak in that he argued that the Catholic Church’s teaching on ‘justification’ was wrong. This is ‘crossing the line’ in the sense that he is someone that does not accept that the full truth that is contained within the Catholic Church.

          Luther was a heretic, and his heresy led to schism. Lefebvre was not a heretic, but had other differences with the church which still led to schism, and that’s my point. If people held up Lefebvre as an example of a heretic, or compared him to Luther as a heretic, I think your objections would be well-founded. But if they point to him as a schismatic, I think that’s fair. He was a schismatic – more directly so, arguably, than Luther.

          The only thing that Lefebrve had in common with Luther was that he was ex-communicated under circumstances that were arguable or even due to a misunderstanding in communication.

          No, they were not just both excommunicated; they were also both schismatics, which is the real point of similarity between them. And it is an important one.

          Lefebrve opposed the ‘status quo’ or church practices of the time in the sense that he was legitimately allowed to. One could agree or disagree with Lefebrve, but in no stage ever did he ‘cross the line’ in the way Luther did and argue for heretical teaching or seek to establish a church with counter teachings or a counter authority of the church Our Lord established.

          He at all times opposed ‘reforms’ on the basis he was quite able to do so and work within the church, not seek to break it. His arguments are always legit and any Catholic could hold to 99 per cent of his beliefs and remain Catholic.

          In this sense, the comparison with Luther is unfair.

          You have a point, but I don’t think you can say that Lefebvre was able to “work within the church, not seek to break it”. Once you start ordaining your own episcopate, you really aren’t working within the church, and it’s very hard to argue that you’re not seeking to break it. And it’s that, rather than his traditionalism, that is the problem with Lefebvre.

          I started out above by agreeing that not all traditionalists are schismatics. But there is another truth which must also be asserted; we shouldn’t ignore or downplay schism just because the people who perpetrate it are traditionalists.

          • The only thing that Lefebrve had in common with Luther was that he was ex-communicated under circumstances that were arguable or even due to a misunderstanding in communication

            I have some sympathy with this interpretation – but let us just say that the “misunderstanding in communication” was mighty serious.

          • Gareth

            Pere: Hence the association of Lefebvre with schism is not unfair

            Gareth: I don’t believe Lefebrve actually advocated that the Catholic Church was not the church founded by Christ or that the throne of St Peter was empty – hence his association with schism in the sense that the Orthodox Church is in schism is slightly unfair.

            The act of ordaining a priest without authority from the Pope is a schismatic act, I admit that, but at the end of the day Lefebrve (unlike groups that we traditionally associate with schism such as the Copts or Orthodox Church) did recognise that the Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ and that the Pope is the legitimate successor of St Peter and supposedly would have answered ‘yes’ to desiring to be in communion with this church and dying within its wings.

            Hence the fact that he did not was a slight miscarriage of justice and one has to ask if someone really recognises the above – one has to go to the context of the act in question and ask whether this was also due to a lack of proper communication and proper understanding on behalf of the ‘other side’. There are two sides to every story and I think we are entitled to at least listen to the other side in this case.

            Pere: I agree. Equally, one could agree with much of what Luther had to say in opposing ‘abuses’ in the church, and still be considered a good and orthodox Catholic.

            Gareth: Yes, one can agree with what Luther said about ‘abuses’ because they were said when was a Catholic. But we know the story goes longer than this. Luther (after he left the Catholic Church) actually denied that the Catholic Church is the church founded by Our Lord and that the office of the Papacy no longer had any authority. He argued for heretical teachings such as two sacraments etc, etc.

            If one was to ask Luther personally the questions above as asked to Leferbrve – he would have said a straight out ‘NO’ (he didn’t believe the Christ established the Catholic Church or that the Pope has any authority).

            Pere: He wanted to reform the church so that it would conduct itself along the lines that he though was right, not to establish any rival church.

            Gareth: But what he thought was ‘right’ was heretical in the end. He strayed in so much that he did not just disagree with church practices (which is legit), but he also disagreed with church doctrine (an absolute no-no).

            There are good examples in history of people that wanted to ‘reform’ the church from within such as St Francis of Assisi and St Catherine of Siena. Luther clearly was not in this category – he couldn’t care for ‘reforming within’ and rather took the stance that he would be better forming a church that contradicted the Catholic Church and did not accept Papal authority. Luther became his own Pope and own magesterium.

            Pere: Luther would quite possibly never have gone down the road he did, which led him to adopt doctrinal positions more fundamentally conflicting with Catholicism, which in turn led to schism.

            Gareth: Maybe, maybe not. But the fact is that HE DID and nothing can excuse this – nothing at all. Even after he was in schism, he had no desire to recognise his errors or be in communion with the True Church. Leferbrve at least would recognised the later – we know this from his past statements.

            Pere: Lefebvre didn’t – or at any rate didn’t clearly – adopt doctrinal positions fundamentally conflicting with Catholicism, but he still led his movement into schism. And this too might have been avoided if some of his concerns had been taken on board earlier.

            Gareth: But that is the unresolved question. Was this supposedly schismatic act the result of lack of understanding on behalf of the Vatican? Did they really ‘put themselves in his shoes’. That is the question that legitimately needs to be debated. We just can’t accept a george wiegel view of history.

            Pere: No, they were not just both excommunicated; they were also both schismatics.

            Gareth: Lefebrve committed a schismatic act – it does not follow that he did not recognise the Catholic Church as the true church or that the Pope is legit successor of St Peter. The views that he held about ‘reforms’ in the church are legitimate. His ex-communication quite possibly could have been resolved later down the track in the same way the four Bishops was resolved.

            Luther at no stage desired for his ex-communication to be resolved as he just simply didn’t believe in the office of the Pope.

            Pere: Once you start ordaining your own episcopate, you really aren’t working within the church, and it’s very hard to argue that you’re not seeking to break it. And it’s that, rather than his traditionalism, that is the problem with Lefebvre.

            Gareth: Agree with the above, but one has to look at the ‘context’ in which the event took place. I am not denying Lefebrve did the wrong thing – but one has to question what the ‘other side’ was doing during this time – especially at a time when so many other threats to the church on the other ‘wing’ of the church was seemingly supported.

            In conversation with traditionalists, I can never agree or condone with the above, but am sympathetic with their views that during the 1970s and 1980s, there appeared one rule for them (e.g the Vatican cracked down on them in the name of protecting the Council) but one rule for everyone else (e.g. no-one seemed to care that heresies and church abuses were rift at parish level around the world and the Vatican seemed to turn a blind eye). Where is the consistency?

            • Peregrinus

              Gareth, I’m happy to agree that Luther was a heretic, in a way that Lefebvre certainly was not.

              I take your point that there are “two sides” to the story of the Lefebvrist schism. But schism is a breakdown in relationship; there are always two sides to the story of every relationship breakdown. This doesn’t, in itself, make the Lefebrvist schism radically different from other schisms.

              I accept that Lefebvre loved the church, but so did Luther; why else would he have become so passionately angry about abuses in the church? It was Luther’s love for the church which lead him to reject the papacy; he simply couldn’t believe that an institution which was doing so much damage to the church could be part of God’s plan for the church. Lefebvre didn’t go down that particular road; he was absolutely committed to a post-reformation ecclesiology which definitely included the papacy. (But, then, Lefebvre wasn’t faced with such an appallingly bad papacy as Luther was.)

              Lefebvre’s real problem, I think, was not with the papacy but with the episcopacy; he simply couldn’t stomach a good deal of what the Council taught, and a great deal of the way the world’s bishops implemented that teaching in their churches. He found himself increasing out of step with his brother bishops and even priests. As you said, he took an active part both in preparing for Vatican II and in the deliberations of the Council itself, but the positions he adopted and advanced were all rejected by the Council, which preferred a different line. This must have been bitterly disappointing for him. He quite as Superior General of the Holy Ghost fathers in 1968 when the realised he no longer commanded the confidence of the General Chapter of the Congregation; that, too, must have been a blow, since in earlier years he had been one of the brightest stars in the Congregation.

              I think Lefebvre would say that the church (in the person of its bishops, more than the pope) moved away from him, rather than he from the church, and this may well be true. He never rejected the papacy in the way that Luther did, but his problem wasn’t with the papacy but with the wider church. The contrast between loving the church and watching it walk away must have been extremely painful, and his schism is certainly a personal tragedy for him. But in the end he had to make a choice, and the choice was that he didn’t love the church quite enough to have faith in it, to trust in it, to stick with it and to go where it went.

              I think you perhaps put too much focus on Lefebvre’s excommunication which is not the same thing as his schism, and is not the cause or start of his schism. He wasn’t in schism because of his excommunication; rather, he was excommunicated because of his schism.

              • Gareth

                Pere: It was Luther’s love for the church which lead him to reject the papacy; he simply couldn’t believe that an institution which was doing so much damage to the church could be part of God’s plan for the church.

                Gareth: Ahhh…. There is a where there should be made a clarification. Martin Luther’s so-called ‘love’ for the church (being the church founded by Jesus Christ – the Catholic Church) were legitimate in the sense that he could attack the institution all he wanted in that the institution was supposedly practicing church abuses. That is fine and good – many saints of the Catholic Church have done just that e.g. Catherine of Siena. I never heard anyone argue that Luther had no right to do this.

                BUT Martin Luther eventually strayed off course in that rejecting debatable Papal practices and abuses, he went so far as to argue that the actual institution as whole had gone off course and would actually argue the line that the Catholic Church was not founded by God at all or the Catholic Church was founded by God and now is in doctorinal error and hence he must form a ‘counter church’ with himself acting as supreme authority or his own ‘Pope’.

                Luther was eventually not just opposed to church abuses/practices or wished to reform from within, he wished to implement his ‘reform’ by arguing for a ‘counter church’ or that God was leading him personally to act as a ‘mini-Pope’ with his own version of the church.

                Luther didn’t love the Catholic Church, because he simply did not believe that it was the one founded by Christ.

                Of course, we know this to be a falsehood. The truth is that the Catholic Church is either the church of the Bible founded by Our Lord that will be guided in truth for all time or it is not. One can argue against practices and abuses that occur, but one cannot take the next step and actually argue that it has fallen into heresy and therefore a need to start a counter church (which is ultimately what Luther or Calvin believed)– it is an insult to Our Lord who promised the gates of hell would never prevail against the Church.

                This follows on from my first point in that comparing Luther to Lefebrve is a no-brainer

                • Gareth

                  I wished to respond to the post concerning Leferbrve in a different post.

                  Pere: he simply couldn’t stomach a good deal of what the Council taught, and a great deal of the way the world’s bishops implemented that teaching in their churches.

                  Gareth: But ultimately what Lefebrve couldn’t stomach was simply what millions of Catholics around the world also thought on the matter and probably still think on the matter – it is just as Bishop he had an authority to put his concerns into practice e.g. by forming the SSPX.

                  He was quite able to put forward these concerns by the way – as Vatican II was merely a ‘pastoral council’ ;what Lefebrve could not stomach were simple concerns to departures to traditional practices in the church.

                  Pere: I think Lefebvre would say that the church (in the person of its bishops, more than the pope) moved away from him

                  Gareth: Well actually he would say that the church was moving away from Catholic traditional practice which was ultimately expressed in the form of the Mass– quite a legitimate concern.

                  Pere: I think you perhaps put too much focus on Lefebvre’s excommunication which is not the same thing as his schism, and is not the cause or start of his schism. He wasn’t in schism because of his excommunication; rather, he was excommunicated because of his schism

                  Gareth: I actually have been reading up about the Lefebrve case and have read that Cardinal Hoyos a few years back released a statement that clarified a few things.

                  1.The SSPX are NOT in formal schism in the traditional sense of the word. They are rather ‘informally separated’ and the Vatican is currently working at overcoming this sad separated. To use the term ‘schismatic’ is quite misleading in this case.

                  2. Lefebrve actually did have power to consecrate the Bishops in question. Indeed the Vatican or Cardinal Ratzinger had come to a prior agreement that Lefebrve could ordain one man. It is the disagreement over who he was ordaining that was the issue (e.g four men).

                  3. Lefebrve’s actions are to be considered an act of disobedience rather than schismatic.

                  4. The SSPX one day will most probably likely be reconciled with Rome.

                  It is therefore wise to conclude that Leferbrve or the SSPX are not and should not be compared to being schismatic in the traditional sense of the word.

                  The case is actually a sad story that was caused by a lack of communication and understanding on BOTH sides and it is unwise to heap the SSPX or traditionalists for that matter in the category of people that do not accept the church’s or Pope’s authority.

                  Hopefully one day, there will be reconciliation and we can accept all traditional Catholics that are willing to accept certain terms, as our fellow brothers in Christ.

                • Peregrinus

                  Just to pick up on one point:

                  At no stage did Luther ever found a “counter-church”, or aspire to do so, or believe or argue that “the Catholic Church was not founded by God at all”.

                  He came, over time, to see the papacy as not essential to the Catholic church founded by Jesus Christ, and even as detrimental to it, and this is where Catholics would see him as being in error. But his response to that was not to reject the Catholic church, but to reform it. He was personally directly involved in the reform of the Church in Saxony; he encouraged the reform of other local churches, and hoped to influence those reforms by his example and teaching (and in fact did influence them), but he always saw this as a reform of the church, not as the establishment of a new church or “counter-church”. (Hence, in fact, the term “reformation”.)

                  The situation we ended up with – well after Luther’s death – in which we have parallel Catholic and Lutheran churches existing side by side is more or less a historical accident, and not something ever desired by either side on the original conflict. Whether reform took place in local churches largely depended on the attitude of the local ruler. The result was that in some places the church was reformed along Lutheran lines while in others it was not. When the wars of religion had been fought to a standstill and it was clear that neither side could defeat the other, the status quo was formalised. The church in each territory would be Lutheran or Roman, as the local ruler determined, and in either case the rights of any dissidents who were unhappy with that determination, and the extent to which they would be tolerated, would be up to the local ruler. Initially, on both sides, there was comparatively little toleration of dissenting church structures (although often a good degree of toleration of individual dissenting believers), with the result that in nearly all of the German states the (sole) local church was either Roman Catholic or Lutheran Evangelical in doctrine and government.

                  A later development, with the spread of enlightenment thinking, was the acceptance of “dissenting” church structures, so that Lutheran churches could be organised in Catholic states, and vice versa. It’s only at this stage that we can see Lutheran and Catholic churches existing in parallel, but this was not something Luther ever envisaged, much less desired. In Luther’s time, and for some time afterwards, what we had was Lutheran and Christian believers competing for the control of the same (and only) church, mostly by seeking to enlist the support of the local civil ruler..

                  • Gareth

                    Pere,

                    I don’t pretend to be any expert on the life and times of Martin Luther (perhaps David can actually help us out here) but I find it very, very hard to believe the claim that he only wanted to ‘change the church’ or ‘reform it’.

                    History has given us actual Saints of the Catholic Church who have achieved there the aim of successfully ‘reforming’ the church and staying within its wings; For example St Teresa of Avilia, Catherine of Siena or St Francis.

                    Unfortunately, Luther fits no-where near this category.

                    His conclusions seemed to be in the end that the answer to the (arguably) sinful personal behaviour of the Popes or the clerics of the time was to abolish the Papacy and clerical life altogether or to abolish the church as a whole.

                    In the end his theology meant that he was not just opposed to abuses in church practices, but he wished to set himself up as the Pope himself.

                    In the end, Luther’s theology meant that he believed that Jesus Christ established the Roman Church and had become so corrupted that it had fallen into error to the point that it no longer was the true Church and we needed St Martin to establish a counter church with counter beliefs and Sacraments.

                    But this is opposed to the Gospel. St Paul said the church is the pillar of truth, meaning no-matter how corrupt the people are within in it – that the same church as in the Bible is the true Church which, having once been the true Church must always have been the true Church and must forever be the true Church.

                    As I see it, Luther’s doctorinal errors are to the point that we can judge him in history as a man that is not interested in reforming within but rather that in having such views, he has left and separated from the church and accordingly fell into error.

                    • Peregrinus

                      Hi Gareth

                      I think you’re looking at the long-term effect of Luther’s actions, and assuming that that was his intention all along.

                    • Gareth

                      Gareth: Hi Pere,

                      Like I said, I claim to be no expert on the life and times of Luther.
                      I have always found it interesting that some of what he taught (or what the Catholic Church views as heresy e.g. his views on the real presence) were actually not ‘new’ ideas at all and were actually believed by a number of ‘heretics’ beforehand e.g. John Wycliffe.

                      This proves it was not so much Luther’s heresies that led to such a disaster – it was also due to the political climate of the time that led to these heresies gaining such widespread support as opposed to poor John Wycliffe who taught equally heretical beliefs but was dismissed to the dustbin of history.

                      But getting back to the point. My point is how could a man who’s final beliefs were that the Bible is the sole authority for faith and morals (or more like Luther’s interpretation of the Bible), and who denied traditional Catholic belief in the real presence and deny the seven sacraments and Catholic priesthood etc etc would want to positively work ‘within the church’.

                      To me to hold such beliefs is stepping over the line of opposing church abuses etc to going to the stage of holding beliefs contrary to the Catholic Church as a whole and accordingly working AGAINST the church.

                    • Peregrinus

                      But getting back to the point. My point is how could a man who’s final beliefs were that the Bible is the sole authority for faith and morals (or more like Luther’s interpretation of the Bible), and who denied traditional Catholic belief in the real presence and deny the seven sacraments and Catholic priesthood etc etc would want to positively work ‘within the church’.

                      [Nitpick: I don’t think Luther denied the Catholic priesthood]

                      But the larger point: we [i]know[/i] that Luther wanted to work within the church because that’s what he tried to do. He didn’t found a counter church; he set about reforming the church he was already in. The fact that we have ended up with two churches today is because he only partly succeeded, but of course he didn’t want to only partly succeed.

                      To me to hold such beliefs is stepping over the line of opposing church abuses etc to going to the stage of holding beliefs contrary to the Catholic Church as a whole and accordingly working AGAINST the church.

                      It’s certainly going beyond opposing church abuses, I agree. Luther did hold beliefs contrary to Catholic teaching, but this means he was working against the church only in the sense that promoting any belief contrary to Catholic teaching is working against the church. That’s quite a different thing, though, from wishing to establish a rival church.

                      Luther’s beef was not about the church, or whether it [i]was[/i] the church founded by Jesus Christ – he lived and died firmly believing that it was. His beef was about what teachings the church should profess, and how it should organise and govern itself.

                      Lefebvre also lived and died firmly believing that the church is the church founded by Jesus Christ. He has some beef over teaching – he seems to reject much of what Vatican II taught, for instance – but, I agree, his issues with church teaching are less fundamental that Luther’s were. He also had some beef over organisation and government – he didn’t seem to be at all keen on collegiality, for example – but, again, his differences were much less fundamental than Luther’s.

                      But his less fundamental differences still led him to the same place, i.e. schism. and I think that matters.

                    • Gareth

                      Pere: Nitpick: I don’t think Luther denied the Catholic priesthood

                      Gareth: He had a wrong interpretation of the reference in the Bible to the ‘priesthood of all believers’. He though this meant was there is no ministerial priesthood – a clear heresy.

                      And following from this if there is no ministerial priesthood – there are no sacraments or only two sacraments as he wrongfully taught.

                      The Catholic teaching is yes the whole church are priests in the Biblical sense of the word, but there is still room for a separated ministerial priesthood who need to administer the seven sacraments in the name of Christ.

                      Pere: Luther’s beef was not about the church, or whether it was the church founded by Jesus Christ – he lived and died firmly believing that it was.

                      Gareth: Luther would have believed as I posted before that the Catholic Church was the church founded by Christ but was now in serious error that there was a need for his own version of the church – He literally cut himself off from the branches of the church established by Christ and set his own beliefs as the magesterial teaching of a counter church

                      Pere: His beef was about what teachings the church should profess, and how it should organise and govern itself.

                      Gareth: Which ultimately was with no office of Pope and himself acting as Supreme authority.

                      Pere: But his less fundamental differences still led him to the same place, i.e. schism. and I think that matters.

                      Gareth: Agree with most of what posted about Lefebrve – but ultimately at the end of the day he would have answered yes to the Catholic Church being the true church and yes to the Pope being legit successor of St Peter – hence it is sad that the situation happened as opposed to Luther who would have answered no to both questions and hence freely choose to die outside the church.

                      Leferbre’s situation was an avoidable tragedy and I would personally class it as ‘informal separation’ rather than formal schism.(leave the labeling of schismatic’s to those that actually are – e.g the Russian Orthodox Church).

                      Luther’s case was not sad because that is the way he wanted it – he didn’t believe in the Catholic Church as the church that forever would remain the true church and he didn’t believe in the authority given to the Pope – hence he died in the faith that he held.

  4. Gareth

    Here is what Lefebrve would actually say on the matter that he was ‘schismatic’:

    “At the moment, I prefer to consider the man on the chair of Peter as the Pope. and if one day we discover for certain that the Pope was not the Pope, at least I will have done my duty. When he is not using his charism of infallibity, the Pope can err.”

    “Cardinal Gagnon visited us twelve years after the suspension: after twelve years of being spoken of as outside of the communion of Rome, as rebels and dissenters against the Pope, his visit took place. He himself recognized that what we have been doing is just what is necessary for the reconstruction of the Church. The Cardinal even assisted pontifically at the Mass which I celebrated on December 8, 1987, for the renewal of the promises of our seminarians. I was supposedly suspended and, yet, after twelve years, I was practically given a clean slate. They said we have done well. Thus we did well to resist! I am convinced that we are in the same circumstances today. We are performing an act which apparently… and unfortunately the media will not assist us in the good sense. The headlines will, of course, be “Schism,” “Excommunication!” as much as they want to – and, yet, we are convinced that all these accusations of which we are the object, all penalties of which we are the object, are null, absolutely null and void, and of which we will take no account. Just as I took no account of the suspension, and ended up by being congratulated by the Church and by Progressive Churchmen, so likewise in several years – I do not know how many, only the Good Lord knows how many years it will take for Tradition to find – its rights in Rome – we will be embraced by the Roman authorities, who will thank us for having maintained the Faith in our seminaries, in our families, in civil societies, in our countries, and in our monasteries and our religious houses, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.”

  5. It is a thorough-going rejection of the new translations of the liturgy, calling them an outright “betrayal of Vatican Council II”

    Presumably he just meant that they are an outright betrayal of Paul Collins et al.

    • Tony

      ‘Presumably’ Louise?

      Did you read the Collins document?

      • Gareth

        or rather has Paul Collins ever actually read the documents of Vatican II to make such a wild claim that the new English translastion is an actual ‘betrayal’ of the Council.

        More like a betrayal of his own warped vision of what he thinks the ‘spirit of Vatican II (in which we are yet to establish what precisely means) is.

        If he bothered to read the Council documents, he might actually see

        a) the Council never intended what he thinks it intended

        b) his ‘spirit of Vatican II’ is a non-specific phony term .

        c) he is clutching at straws to claim that the new English translastion is a ‘betrayal’

        Like how – just because he doesn’t agree with them or the intention behind changing the translation to be put behind the past mistakes.

        • Tony

          The same question to you Gareth. Have you read what Collins wrote?

          … or rather has Paul Collins ever actually read the documents of Vatican II to make such a wild claim that the new English translastion is an actual ‘betrayal’ of the Council.

          Not sure, but he references the Council in this and other stuff he’s written, so my bet is yes.

          More like a betrayal of his own warped vision of what he thinks the ’spirit of Vatican II (in which we are yet to establish what precisely means) is.

          An interesting critique given that he never uses the term.

          If he bothered to read the Council documents, he might actually see
          a) the Council never intended what he thinks it intended

          What is it that he thinks was intended?

          b) his ’spirit of Vatican II’ is a non-specific phony term .

          His? You mean yours?

          c) he is clutching at straws to claim that the new English translastion is a ‘betrayal’

          Not really. He backs it up with an argument and uses references from Vatican II.

          • Gareth

            Tony: The same question to you Gareth. Have you read what Collins wrote?

            Gareth: The short answer is no and I don’t want or have to because having read the proposed new English translation of the Mass, I am happy that it is actually not a ‘betrayal’ of the Second Vatican Council.

            The question proposed by myself means the onus is on Collins to demonstrate how he can make the claim that the translation is a ‘betrayal’ of the Council by actually demonstrating specifically from Council documents how the new translation actually does what he claims.

            Hence without any reference to the documents of the Council themselves or a reliance on the non-specific and phony terminology of the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ (what does this mean?)– Collins claims are out of order.

            Collins is claiming something is betraying a document or set of documents, without clarifying this or making any reference to the document itself or putting forward his own warped interpretation of that document.

            • Tony

              The short answer is no …

              And that makes you uniquely unqualified to comment on what he wrote.

              The question proposed by myself means the onus is on Collins to demonstrate how he can make the claim …

              So the ‘onus’ is on him to ‘demonstrate’? By writing for example? If you’re going to come to conclusions about his work without reading it, what point is there in ‘demonstrating’?

              Hence without any reference to the documents of the Council …

              But he does make references to the documents … you’d know this if you’d read the pamphlet.

              … themselves or a reliance on the non-specific and phony terminology of the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ (what does this mean?)– Collins claims are out of order.

              But he doesn’t use or refer to that phrase … you’d know this if you’d read the pamphlet.

              Collins is claiming something is betraying a document or set of documents, without clarifying this or making any reference to the document itself or putting forward his own warped interpretation of that document.

              And yet you haven’t read it?! So your speculation about what he claims or what he clarifies or what he references or what he interprets is just that: speculation.

              Fair suck of the sauce bottle, Gareth!

              • Gareth

                Tony: And that makes you uniquely unqualified to comment on what he wrote.

                Gareth: Good, because I never actually commented on what he actually wrote, but challenged his assertion and ultimate conclusion that he drew from his report that the new English translation was a ‘betrayal’ or ‘rejection’ of Vatican II.

                My argument is this: Mr Collins can’t actually make such a claim without qualifying the statement or more specifically which actual document or statement of Vatican II does he actually mean when uses the term ‘betrayal’ ??

                Instead, as Louise points out, the reader is left wondering that simply he is using the word ‘’betrayal’ to mean betraying his own warped interpretation of the Second Vatican Council rather than anything of what the actual Council said itself.

                Tony: But he does make references to the documents … you’d know this if you’d read the pamphlet

                Gareth: I quickly skimmed it and there appears no documents from the Council referenced.

                Instead the reader is left with vague terms such as the ‘vision of Vatican II’ ‘the views of ordinary Catholics’ and ‘rejecting Vatican II’ without any qualification.

                The reader is still left wondering who’s vision of Vatican II and what precise statements of Vatican II is being betrayed??

                Tony: Fair suck of the sauce bottle, Gareth!

                Gareth: I would say I am putting forward a standard argument –

                Mr Collins can’t make a statement that something is being ‘betrayed’ without actually referencing how specifically.

                Here is an example to illustrate my point: Say I that missed Mass this Sunday and someone made the claim I was ‘betraying’ the Catholic Church. Well, someone can’t make that claim without making reference to HOW precisely I am doing this i.e. the correct statement is I am betraying the Catholic Church because I am not fulfilling my Sunday obligation which the church clearly teaches in the Commandments.

                Collins statement does not make any reference in how precisely the church is ‘betraying the Second Vatican Council’ and his written report certainly does not make any reference either (unless you can care to point it out).

                He just says something is betraying something and expects the reader to know how precisely or reach his own conclusions without any precise reference.

                In my opinion, it is a vague statement without any reference or precise interpretation of what he actually means and it should be dismissed.

                • Tony

                  Mr Collins can’t actually make such a claim without qualifying the statement or more specifically which actual document or statement of Vatican II does he actually mean when uses the term ‘betrayal’ ??

                  But he did Gareth. You don’t have to agree with his conclusions but you can’t credibly comment on them if you haven’t read them.

                  Instead, as Louise points out, the reader is left wondering …

                  There’s no need to wonder, you can find out for yourself.

                  I quickly skimmed it and there appears no documents from the Council referenced.

                  Are you serious?

                  Instead the reader is left with vague terms such as the ‘vision of Vatican II’ ‘the views of ordinary Catholics’ and ‘rejecting Vatican II’ without any qualification.

                  The reader is still left wondering who’s vision of Vatican II and what precise statements of Vatican II is being betrayed??

                  No, the reader isn’t. Such terms fit into a context that is referenced and argued. It’s an argument you haven’t bothered to read but allow yourself to come to conclusions based on that non-reading.

                  Again, you don’t have to agree with the argument but you can’t credibly respond to it, positively or negatively, without reading it.

                  It’s what’s called a ‘no-brainer’ Gareth.

                  Mr Collins can’t make a statement that something is being ‘betrayed’ without actually referencing how specifically.

                  But you don’t know that he hasn’t if you haven’t read it!

                  Collins gives many specific examples.

                  Collins statement does not make any reference in how precisely the church is ‘betraying the Second Vatican Council’ and his written report certainly does not make any reference either (unless you can care to point it out).

                  Why would I do that? If you are capable of sweeping conclusions about a written work without reading it, why would I waste my time restating Collin’s position for you not to read again?

                  • Gareth

                    Tony: But he did Gareth. You don’t have to agree with his conclusions but you can’t credibly comment on them if you haven’t read them.

                    Gareth: Wrong, I can ask him to back up his conclusions (e.g. that the Second Vatican Council is being ‘betrayed)’ with an actual quick reference – is this so hard??

                    If Mr Collins is willing to make a such a wild statement, surely he could have a quick reference that backs his claims – in which there appears to be not and the reader is left wondering just how precisely is something being ‘betrayed’?

                    Tony: There’s no need to wonder, you can find out for yourself.

                    Gareth: And I read the document and could not find it. Can you help me then or point out precisely then how the Second Vatican Council is being betrayed….

                    I am still wondering.

                    Tony Are you serious?

                    Gareth: Yep, I am very serious, where is it?

                    How is the Second Vatican Council being betrayed?

                    Is Collins qualification for the statement on page 23, 17, 11 or 2? Or maybe we are meant to read the his mind??

                    Oh, maybe the answer is because Mr Collins said so we have to believe it or he ‘thinks’ it was – well that is pretty poor academia.

                    In my opinion, Collins whould say either how precisely the Council is being ‘betrayed’ with precise references or he should not make the statement at all

                    Tony: It’s an argument you haven’t bothered to read but allow yourself to come to conclusions based on that non-reading.

                    Gareth: I did read it and all it seems to say is that the ‘vision of the Council’ is being betrayed.

                    There is NO reference to any actual documents to back the arguement up. I am left wondering just who and what vision is being betrayed – Marcel Leferbve’s vision, John XXII vision, Tony’s vision, Uncle Chop, Chop’s vision??

                    It is a legitimate question to ask. What precise document or statement of the council is being betrayed as claimed by Collins ??

                    I am looking for an answer that quotes directly to the Council, not some ‘vague’ reference to people’s ‘visions’

                    Tony: But you don’t know that he hasn’t if you haven’t read it

                    Gareth: No, I don’t know because Collins hasn’t referenced the statement.

                    All he needs to say is the Council is being betrayed because in Section 17 or 45 178 of a certain document of the council says this or that in contrary to the new Mass translation.

                    Instead he does not and just leaves the reader wondering what on earth he is talking about or as Lousie concluded his conclusions are based on his own interpretation of what he ‘thinks’ the Council meant when it did mean that at all.

                    Tony: why would I waste my time restating Collin’s position for you not to read again?

                    Gareth: Alternatively, you can simply reference the document and end the discussion – which you don’t, so I will stick with my conclusion that such a reference does not even exist and am free to dismiss Collins claim as vague nonsense without any precise qualification.

                    • Tony

                      Gareth,

                      Even though I didn’t read your response I’ve decided that the conclusions you’ve drawn — the ones I haven’t read — are completely without foundation.

                      And I’m sticking to it!

                    • Gareth

                      Lol,

                      Is this a diversion to the fact that there is no answer to what was proposed??

                      There appears to be no reference to Collins claim that the Second Vatican Council is being ‘betrayed’ besides his own warped vision of what Vatican II intended when it did not intend it all.

                      If there was – one could quickly reference it. They can’t.

                      So I am safe to conclude that Mr Collins assertion that the Second Vatican II is being betrayed is without any substance and can be dismisses as vague nonsense.

                    • Tony

                      Is this a diversion to the fact that there is no answer to what was proposed??

                      No Gareth. I’m using the same technique that you use.

                      I’ve come to my conclusion about your argument without reading it.

                    • Gareth

                      But I did read it in the end and could not seriously find it.

                      I am generally intrigued as to how someone could argue that something was ‘betraying’ the Council, when they could not even reference a quotation from a council document to prove the point and rather rely on vague notions of the ‘council’s vision’ – which ultimately could be interpreted to mean anything a person wanted it to be.

                      Collins is playing fair ball in offering up his critique and assesment of the new translastion – but it is a bit rich to argue that it is ‘betraying’ the council as a whole – when this seems based on his own interpretation of the council rather than based on the written material or statements from the Council itself

                    • Gareth

                      Remember I was only critiquing the notion Collins statement that the new mass translastion was ‘betraying’ Vatican II, not the actual report itself.

                      I am asking this statement to put into context with a simple reference to how precisely he has reached this conclusion.

                      Because to make such a vague statement without reference really does not make sense.

                    • Tony

                      Remember I was only critiquing the notion Collins statement that the new mass translastion was ‘betraying’ Vatican II, not the actual report itself.

                      But that is what the report was about!

                      I am asking this statement to put into context with a simple reference to how precisely he has reached this conclusion.

                      He has reached this conclusion based on the words he wrote — the ones you didn’t read at first then apparently skim read later.

                      Because to make such a vague statement without reference really does not make sense.

                      It makes immeasurably more sense than responding to an argument you haven’t read.

                      Now, I don’t know if there’s a fault with my browser or there’s a set limit of responses on the blog or David is thoroughly sick of this circular, useless converstation.

                      But we’re not getting anywhere.

                      If you feel ‘safe’ to come to your conclusions without having read what was written then so be it.

                      If you can’t be bothered reading it properly then I’m certainly not going to do it for you.

                    • Gareth

                      Tony,

                      I honestly read the document thoroughly in the last hour – I still have the same conclusions that Collins is making the statement that he believes the new Mass translation is ‘betraying’ Vatican II based on his vague notions of what he thought was ‘envisioned’ at Vatican II rather than quoting from the actual documents themself.

                      I have safe in the knowledge that is wise to conclude that Collins has made a very unwise statement with no actual reference or qualification. It should be dismissed as just that – a vague statement with no actual facts to back them up.

                      Unless you could care to enlighten me on just precisely did Collins have in mind when he argued that the new Mass translastion is ‘betraying’ Vatican II (e.g. I would like to see a quotation from a council document to truly see how he reached his conclusion) – I will stay with my conclsion that this statement is nonsense.

                      Like I said, Collins is playing fair in offering an assesment but to reach a wild conclusion that it ultimately is a ‘betrayal’ is a bit of a stretch of the truth.

  6. PM

    For Tony asking about Pelagianism and the ICEL: There is a consistent tendency to whittle away divine initiative and grace and replace it with the suggestion that all we neeed is a little help. Try googling Eamon Duffy’s article in the ‘Beyond the Prosaic’ volume as a start. There is also a good article by Fergus Kerr OP (no extreme right-winger) in the 1980s which helped launch the debate in England. It is noteworthy that Archbishop Coleridge, a fine Scripture scholar, agrees with this critique and says the present versionis often a banal paraphrase.

    Will we have a Banal English Mass Society along the lines of the Latin Mass Society, one wonders?

  7. Gareth

    But I did read it in the end and could not seriously find it.

    I am generally intrigued as to how someone could argue that something was ‘betraying’ the Council, when they could not even reference a quotation from a council document to prove the point and rather rely on vague notions of the ‘council’s vision’ – which ultimately could be interpreted to mean anything a person wanted it to be.

    Collins is playing fair ball in offering up his critique and assesment of the new translastion – but it is a bit rich to argue that it is ‘betraying’ the council as a whole – when this seems based on his own interpretation of the council rather than based on the written material or statements from the Council itself

  8. Gareth

    Tony,

    I honestly read the document thoroughly in the last hour – I still have the same conclusions that Collins is making the statement that he believes the new Mass translation is ‘betraying’ Vatican II based on his vague notions of what he thought was ‘envisioned’ at Vatican II rather than quoting from the actual documents themself.

    I have safe in the knowledge that is wise to conclude that Collins has made a very unwise statement with no actual reference or qualification. It should be dismissed as just that – a vague statement with no actual facts to back them up.

    Unless you could care to enlighten me on just precisely did Collins have in mind when he argued that the new Mass translastion is ‘betraying’ Vatican II (e.g. I would like to see a quotation from a council document to truly see how he reached his conclusion) – I will stay with my conclsion that this statement is nonsense.

    Like I said, Collins is playing fair in offering an assesment but to reach a wild conclusion that it ultimately is a ‘betrayal’ is a bit of a stretch of the truth.

  9. Mike

    Wow – 51 comments, so I thought I should actually read Collins’s pamphlet this time.
    I wasn’t impressed. I was hoping for more of an argument that the Council was hoping for the kind of Mass we have today, and warding against the kind of Mass we’ll have “towards the end of next year, or the one after that” (as we’ve been told since 2003).

    Mostly I find he assumes, and does not attempt to justify, the principle that his own ideas are those which were intended by the council.

    – He pays lip-service to the argument that many of the reforms were not intended by the council. But then makes no attempt to refute this with evidence. That’s the whole point!

    – “Reactionary Catholics turned the liturgy into a battleground, a symbol of everything that horrified them most about contemporary
    Catholicism”. Trade “reactionary” for “liberal” and “contemporary” for “Traditional” and could you say this same thing today of Collins?

    – p4: “It is really about the acceptance or rejection of Vatican II”. – p 6 “rejection of all the Council represents”.This is the key point. But again no attempt to justify this contention.

    – [of the current ICEL translation] “While remaining faithful to the sense of the original Latin . . ” No, this is precisely what the bone of contention is today. the English is in some cases very unfaithful to the Latin.

    – p7. Accuses Javierre Ortas of having “little sympathy for the Vatican II vision of the church”. Again, justify? What is this mysterious “vision”?

    – P7 – I didn’t like the gratuitous ad-hominem against Medina Estevez. Pinochet has nothing to do with the Liturgy.

    – p8 “wealthy American traditionalists” – that’s just snarky. Plenty of influential “liberals” are as wealthy as anyone else, and there are WAY more of them in positions of power in the Church.

    – p 10 – accuses Ratzinger of “overstating the case and setting up dichotimies “as though we were faced with an either-or choice”.
    And then, goes on, 3 paragraphs later, to do exactly the same thing. “Making sense in English” vs “Literal rendering of the latin”. “Prayer of the congregation” vs “centrality of the Latin Text”. As well as some absurd exaggerations of the new translation – “no care . . for the praying people” and “as though . . .the [current ICEL] prayer of the priest and people goes nowhere”.

    – p 15 reports approvingly someone saying that it was purely arbitrary decision to demand that the English text had to faithfully represent the Latin in the first place” – Huh? Earlier he argued that this is exactly what the OLD translation did. What’s the problem?

    – the pro multis red-herring is just annoying. It’s been dealt with a hundred times since the council of Trent (including in Trent’s
    Catechism). Normally, it’s only hard-core Traditionalists who are arguing that there’s a serious differenece in meaning that could
    result in a heresy. But for Collins to say that “for many” is “incorrect theologically and probably heretical”, is terribly incautious.
    The Bible itself, in every translation I’ve seen, renders it “for many”. Vatican II encouraged Catholics towards a better appreciation
    and love for Scripture, and in those interests this change is decidedly in tune with the Council.

    Just my thoughts. I disagreed with a lot of his conclusions later in the piece, about the pros and cons of the translation, but they don’t really relate to the main contention: is this a rejection of Vatican II or not?

    • Gareth

      An excellent review Mike,

      Indeed who’s vision of Vatican II is Collins thinking of and what actual evidence does he have to refute the statement that Vatican Ii is being betrayed??

      These are are the questions Tony or probably Mr Collins himself could not give an answer to.

      His report doesn’t prove anything besides the fact that the very thing he accuses others of (e.g. being driven by an ideology) is precisely what appears to be doing himself.

      To claim that Vatican II is being betrayed is a large stretch of the truth.

    • PM

      I agree with nearly all of what Mike says. The ‘pro multis’ question is, however, tricky – silly as Collins’ exaggeration is. One approach might be to use the expression ‘the many’ that some biblical translations employ, rather than just ‘many’. That would signal that we are not just talking straightforwardly about ‘many’ in the modern English sense (i.e. quite a few but not all). It is a bit mannered, but then the new translation will be more mannered in any case.

      And that is no bad thing: all talk about God is stretching human language to breaking point, and trying to reduce it to banal prosaic utterences (‘plonking’ statements, as Herbert McCabe OP used to call such talk) sells the mystery short.

      • I like “the many” as a suggestion. We accept that it isn’t there. I think it is quite healthy to have some criticisms here and there of the new translation – it is simply irrational to reject the whole thing holus bolus.

    • Thanks, Mike. Your reactions are mine to a tee. There is nothing particulary rational about his attack on the new translations. The only hermeneutic that makes consistent sense of the pamphlet is that he just doesn’t like the new translation, was never going to like it, and set his face against it from the very beginning. After that, it was just a matter of looking for reasons not to like it.

      He is never, for instance, open to admitting that in some cases the new translations are better. Surely, in the entire sacramentary, he would not have to look far to find such an example? I, on the other hand, could name several things about the new translation that I do not particularly like, despite my overall support for it.

      (For those who are curious, my two complaints are the erratic – though logical – use of the vocative “O”; and the rather awkward form that some of the relative clauses take in prayers addressed in the second person.)

  10. I read Paul Collins paper on the English translation of the Mass at first with some sympathy because I agree with him that a translation need not be literal to faithfully convey the original meaning. I was somewhat mesmerized by his comments on how well the original English translation was received and how meaningful it had become to contemporary Catholics. But when I came to his comments on the Creed I realized clearly what sort of Catholic would reject a literal translation of the original. I really would like to see him debate this with Eastern Orthodox theologians! He says that the new translation is bad because modern Catholics can not understand the philosophical and theological terms in the Creed, so it is better to make it more devotional. He even goes so far as to say that the more literal translation could be heretical, and he makes a very broad statement based on Aramaic linguistics that “pro multis” in the Creed really means “pro omnibus.” There you have it! Contemporary Catholics should not be troubled with the theology of the Creed. They should instead find themselves uplifted by it and their universalist sympathies affirmed.

    • If we take the entire liturgy to be as critical for the accurate teaching of the faith as the Creed is, then I think we can begin to understand the concern that the entire liturgy, and not just the Creed, be accurately translated. As we pray, so we believe.