Daily Archives: January 27, 2010

Sandro Magister rapped over the knuckles by Cardinal Kasper

There is an old journalistic saying “publish and be damned”. That seems to be the motto of Sandro Magister on his website www.chiesa.espressonline.it

On Monday he published an excellent article reporting on the current state of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. As the superlative journalist that he is, he sought to give “all the facts” and original sources for his story, including the working document for the current round of discussions of the Joint Coordinating Committee for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. This document, written by Aghios Nikolaos of Crete, is the basis for discussion of this very sensitive topic by the dialogue group, working under the joint chairmanship of Cardinal Kapser and Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum. Its existence was reported by Zenit last October. I immediately searched the net for it back then, but was disappointed to find that it was unavailable for consultation.

Imagine my delight then (and probably the delight of many ecumenists around the world and the equal horror of many who oppose the talks currently underway) when Magister made this document available – in English – on his website. It is an excellent round up of the first millenium situation, and raises many issues that I am sure will provide fruitful dialogue.

Not all were so delighted. The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity “were not amused”, and issued a press statement to say so:

“The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has learned with disappointment that a media outlet has published a test currently being examined by the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

“The document published is a draft text consisting of a list of themes to be studied and examined in greater depth, and has been only minimally discussed by the said commission.

“In the last meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, held in Paphos, Cyprus, last October, it was specifically established that the text would not be published until it had been fully and completely examined by the Commission.

“As yet there is no agreed document and, hence, the text published has no authority or official status.”

To his credit, Magister published this statement as a post-script update to his article. To date, however, he has not taken it off his site.

As long as the PCPCU’s statement that this is not an “agreed document” and hence “the text published has no authority or official status” is kept in mind, I see no danger in its publication. As I said, it is an excellent summary of the topic, factual (as far as I can tell) in all its details.

We on this blog of course pray for the success of the talks and that one day we will have an “agreed document” to share.



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“We’ve Waited Long Enough”

Also just published in America Magazine is this: “Defending the New Missal: A response to Father Michael Ryan” by Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas.

He writes:

I was a freshman in high school when the “vernacularization” of the liturgy began and a junior in college seminary when the process reached its climax. Having majored in classical languages, I naturally was quite interested in the process and flattered when I was invited by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to participate in the translation effort. Frankly, I was also surprised that someone of my thin experience had been asked to take part in a project that would influence the spiritual lives of millions of Catholics for decades to come.

When I first reviewed the translation guidelines sent by ICEL, I was disappointed. Ideology, it seemed, had taken precedence over accuracy. Anima was not to be rendered as “soul,” I was informed, because doing so would set up an unnecessary dichotomy between body and soul. No feminine pronouns were to be used for the church, and common words were favored over precise theological or liturgical vocabulary. The goal was to capture the general meaning of the text, rather than a faithful rendering of a rich and historically layered Latin prose. I tried to work within these parameters, but I found it difficult to do and still remain true to the original text. My translations were evidently unsatisfactory because, upon submitting them, I was politely but firmly uninvited from serving on the commission.

His defence of the missal translation is along the lines that are now as standard as its criticisms, but it includes this:

In his essay, Father Ryan argues that not enough consultation has taken place, and that “we should just say, “Wait’” before implementing the new translations. I disagree. As a Web site set up to defend the new translation proclaims, “We’ve waited long enough!”

Fr Ryan’s “What if we just said wait?” website is now well known (notorious?). It currently has 12704 signatories, 276 from Australia. I don’t know when it was started.

The Website to which Fr Stravinskas refers is We’ve Waited Long Enough, and it was started on December 19. It now has 4175 signatures. Unfortunately, the poll does not gather geographical locations for the purpose of comparison, although it does allow you to indicate your state of life in the Church.

I urge you to sign the “We’ve Waited Long Enough” petition. Just a note though: because he is using the ipetitions website, after signing it you will be put through to the standard ipetitions appeal for money. Such donations do not go to the creators of the petition, but to ipetitions. Just close the window at this point, as it doesn’t give you the option not to pay. But your signature will still be recorded.


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An interesting article on Newman as “Doctor of the Church”

Not quite sure what I think of its main point though.

The article is by Nicholas Lash of Cambridge, and appears in the latest edition of America Magazine as “Waiting for Dr Newman”.


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Retraction on Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

One thing about being a loyal Catholic is that you are always ready to be corrected in one’s theological and moral opinions by the Church’s supreme magisterium. This is a case in point.

In the comment string of a previous post, we got into a discussion of the correct interpretation and application of the dictum “lex orandi, lex credendi”. In those comments, I stated:

legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. Unlike the more commonly used phrase [lex orandi, lex credendi], it cannot be reversed. This is not to deny that there is a relationship which works both ways, but rather to say that this is not a chicken-or-the-egg question. It is so characteristic of Lutherans to put the matter the other way around with doctrine coming first. Remember that for them, there is another principle which precedes even the lex credendi, ie. the principle of sola scriptura. To acknowledge the lex orandi as primary would, in effect, require the acknowledgement of Sacred Tradition as a source of doctrine.

Pastor Mark Henderson has been reading papal encyclicals over the holidays (see this entry on his blog) – something I can only encourage him to keep on doing – and has come up with this from Pope Pius XII’s Mediator Dei:

On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise. Hence the epigram, “Lex orandi, lex credendi” – the law for prayer is the law for faith.

47. But this is not what the Church teaches and enjoins. The worship she offers to God, all good and great, is a continuous profession of Catholic faith and a continuous exercise of hope and charity, as Augustine puts it tersely. “God is to be worshipped,” he says, “by faith, hope and charity.”[44] In the sacred liturgy we profess the Catholic faith explicitly and openly, not only by the celebration of the mysteries, and by offering the holy sacrifice and administering the sacraments, but also by saying or singing the credo or Symbol of the faith – it is indeed the sign and badge, as it were, of the Christian – along with other texts, and likewise by the reading of holy scripture, written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The entire liturgy, therefore, has the Catholic faith for its content, inasmuch as it bears public witness to the faith of the Church.

48. For this reason, whenever there was question of defining a truth revealed by God, the Sovereign Pontiff and the Councils in their recourse to the “theological sources,” as they are called, have not seldom drawn many an argument from this sacred science of the liturgy. For an example in point, Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, so argued when he proclaimed the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Similarly during the discussion of a doubtful or controversial truth, the Church and the Holy Fathers have not failed to look to the age-old and age-honored sacred rites for enlightenment. Hence the well-known and venerable maxim, “Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi” – let the rule for prayer determine the rule of belief.[45] The sacred liturgy, consequently, does not decide or determine independently and of itself what is of Catholic faith. More properly, since the liturgy is also a profession of eternal truths, and subject, as such, to the supreme teaching authority of the Church, it can supply proofs and testimony, quite clearly, of no little value, towards the determination of a particular point of Christian doctrine. But if one desires to differentiate and describe the relationship between faith and the sacred liturgy in absolute and general terms, it is perfectly correct to say, “Lex credendi legem statuat supplicandi” – let the rule of belief determine the rule of prayer.

So I was wrong. More or less. Perhaps less than more. Here is what I posted in Mark’s comment box (writing while sitting next to the Yarra yesterday on my mobile phone, so it is not an extensive commentary):

Well, there you go. Always ready to be corrected by a pope. But as always, in the passages you quote from Catholic authors, I wonder if you have quite understood what the Holy Father is saying.

Specifically, he is writing in the context of defending his own reforms of the Catholic liturgy, which were extensive. He was defending the right of the Supreme Pontiff to make changes to thwe Sacred Liturgy. He was defending the right of the Magisterium in relation to the liturgy over the rights of academic liturgical theologians. He affirms that the sacred Liturgy is a dependable repository for the Catholic faith. He is not suggesting that an individual theologian can make changes to the liturgy on the basis of their own judgement of what is or is not in accord with the Catholic faith.

For all the reasons, to say as Pope that “lex credendi legem statuit supplicandi” in the context of the Catholic teaching Magisterium is quite a different thing to say it in a context where no such authority is acknowledged.

For all that, I remain suitably chastised and have been enlightened by your research. For this I thank you.


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