Saturday, February 09, 2008

Liturgical futures

In the latest issue of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Kenneth D. Whitehead has an extensive and interesting discussion under the title of "The Pope's Motu Proprio: What Exactly Did Benedict XVI Decide about the Tridentine Mass?" (FCSQ, 30, No. 4, Winter, 2007). It is a long discussion with many things worth mentioning and several points worth, perhaps, questioning. At the moment, I have time only for two quick excerpts, the first a quotation from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's God and the World (2002), the second, a remark by Dr. Whitehead.

First, the quote from Cardinal Ratzinger's God and the World:
Anyone who nowadays advocated the continuing existence of this [Latin] liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this, we are despising and proscribing the Church's whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don't understand why so many of my episcopal brethren have so such a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reasons, is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliation within the Church."
Perhaps most of you recognize that last line's anticipation of the Holy Father's following sentence in his Letter to the Bishops accompanying his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum (July 7, 2007): "It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church."

Now for Dr. Whitehead's remark. After pointing out Pope Benedict's terminology of 'ordinary' and 'extraordinary' use of one and the same Roman Rite, Dr. Whitehead points out that in his earlier, Ratzinger Report (1985), Cardinal Ratzinger himself nevertheless actually refers to the "new rite." Commenting, Whitehead writes:
Quite apart from the semantics or terminology being employed at the moment, it could well be that the long-term effect of the pope's action in [his Motu Proprio] could well be the legitimization of what could come to be considered a separate "Tridentine rite" in Latin in the Catholic Church. There are, after all, in the worldwide Catholic Church, numerous separate "rites" besides the Roman rite. Besides the historical Eastern rites, there is of very recent vintage, for example, the Anglican Use rite, where the Book of Common Prayer has been adapted for those former anglicans who came into the Catholic Church along with their priests. "Liturgical pluralism" has long been a fact of life in the Catholic Church, in fact, and the Catholic Church is surely big enough to embrace it.

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