Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

The USCCB's Committee on the Liturgy offered a commendably careful explanation of Summorum Pontificum in their June-July newsletter, a testimony to how much the Motu Proprio has already altered the terrain. However, their answers to the question, "What . . . major differences characterize the . . . [two] forms of the Missale Romanum?" strain to to cast the traditional Mass in an unfavorable light. For example, according to the newsletter the Novus Ordo contains 14% of the Old Testament and 71% of the New while the 1962 Missal contains only 1% of the former and 17% of the latter. The Secretariat's number crunchers must not have noticed how almost every page of the 1962 Ordinary is steeped in the Psalms or allusions to the Holy of Holies, Abel, Abraham, Melchizedek, and Isaiah; and they probably forgot to take into account how a traditional sanctuary (which is assumed by the 1962 rubrics) deliberately evokes the Tabernacle and Temple of the old. But more fundamentally, the very idea of quantifying the Scriptures in this way bespeaks an indebtedness to social science models that is alien to a spiritual evaluation of liturgy.

Why does this matter? Because on an EWTN television program, Monsignor James P. Moroney, the Executive Director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy, used these statistics to argue for the use of the 1970 Lectionary with the 1962 Missal.1 The monsignor also stated, however, that "we don't want a mixing of the rites." Hopefully, for common sense's sake, the latter view will prevail.
  1. "The World Over" with Raymond Arroyo, July 9, 2007. [back]

[The present article, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics" was originally published in Latin Mass: A Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition (Fall 2007), p. 19, where it appears anonymously, and is reprinted here by permission of Latin Mass Magazine, 391 E. Virginia Terrace, Santa Paula, CA 93060.]

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