Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pope Francis vs Pope Benedict: “Liturgical Reform”

Pope Francis vs Pope Benedict on Liturgical Reform
Pope Francis vs Pope Benedict on Liturgical Reform
For faithful Roman Catholics everywhere who take comfort in the security and the stability of Roman Catholicism over the centuries, one pope has now shot down the deepest desires of a previous pope.

It’s a clear case of Pope Francis vs Pope Benedict on “Liturgical Reform”. One of the key hallmarks of the papacy of “Pope Benedict” was “liturgical reform”. If one recalls, Benedict first started permitting “the faithful” to use “the Tridentine Mass” again – the old Latin form that was universally (by all Roman Catholics without exception) practiced between the councils of Trent and Vatican II.

It only took him six months to do it. And he didn’t even wait for him to pass away.

One priest recently reflected on Pope Ratzinger’s “legacy” in this respect :

Only the future can tell how much the liturgical theology of Joseph Ratzinger will continue to enter into the life of the Church via the Roman Magisterium. That liturgical theology, of course, is itself the heir of the classical Liturgical Movement, applied to the problems of today in such a way as to herald a New Liturgical Movement. This renewal movement, like its early 20th century predecessor, has not been a uniform one by any stretch of the imagination. But it clearly reflects the thought of Joseph Ratzinger.

So the “thoughts of Joseph Ratzinger” have been snuffed out by this new and popular pope. Can anyone say “wolf in sheep’s clothing”?

Let’s take a closer look at what has been snuffed out:

Two Forms of the Roman Rite

The 2007 document Summorum pontificum and its 2011 follow-up Universae ecclesiae introduced a radically new notion into the life, and the law, of the Church. The Roman Rite was henceforth to consist of two forms, an ordinary one (the 1970 Missal of Paul VI) and an extraordinary one (the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII). This declaration is unparalleled in the history of the Church.

But what has it actually done? First of all, it has removed the stigma that ambiguously marked millions of Catholics who were attracted to the classical form of the Roman Rite. No longer second-class citizens, traditionalist-minded faithful all of a sudden found themselves (at least most of them) no longer questioned for their loyalty to the Church. What’s more, the traditionalist critique of men such as Lefebvre and Siri and their heirs has once more began to be heard in the open, and no longer in secret enclaves. Whether this should be the case or not, it is, and a newer generation of clergy and young people are asking questions that were stifled only a decade ago.

Second, it has enshrined the principle that there is such a thing as legitimate liturgical diversity even within the one Roman Rite. This has been used to free other ancient uses as well, such as the rites of the religious orders, and can be applied also to other historic uses.

Third, it puts the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, and the pre-reformed rites, front and center in the Church’s life again. It is no longer marginalized, and cannot be. The steady increase of the older missal’s adoption marks a new stage in the faithful’s expectations of liturgy.

Well, as the Chisea article notes, “In reality, the freedom to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite that Pope Joseph Ratzinger had guaranteed for all with the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” no longer has universal extension today, because it has been revoked by his successor for one religious congregation and consequently also for the faithful who attended its Masses.

Now, keep in mind that “liturgical reform” one way or another isn’t an infallible statement. There has only been one ex cathedra infallible statement since “infallibility” was defined by Vatican I. And that would be the dogma of the Assumption of Mary.

Still, the same pope who defined that dogma, Pius XII, gave some perspective to the force of a non-infallible papal pronouncement:

Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.

Not open to discussion among theologians. But definitely reversible by the next pope.

Read more here


  1. Greetings in Christ, John!

    You should also consider the news story put out by the Register a couple of months ago: Not a Contradiction.

    In Christ,

    1. Pete, I don't care a whit that someone gets to use the old Tridentine mass. But the notion that this is merely a disciplinary action against a group that has grown too attached to it, is just a smokescreen hiding some genuine factionalism. One pope says "it's ok", the other pope says "nuh uh, you're getting too attached". This is, as the original Magister article says, going to have reverberations. It's going to send chills down the spines of people who actually care and believe strongly -- and you know what? They are people who are on your side, not the side of the liberals.

    2. I go to the Tridentine Mass at our parish pretty much every week. The vocations director for our diocese will be celebrating a sung Mass on 9/29/13 if you want to try to make it down for that. Father Michael DeAscanis. Come and see! Lunch at our house!

      In Christ,

    3. Pete, I have seen and I reject it.

    4. My wife’s spaghetti? It tastes better than it looks! :)

  2. This Pope seems to invalidate the argument that the office of the papacy brings unity. It does not. The conservative and liberal wings are in furious disagreement about the Pope's most recent interview statements.

    Put it this way. If the Roman Catholic Church survives this progressive Pope, the next conclave will be picking a pope from European circles again. I think there may be some cardinals regretting their South American adventure at the moment, and not just because they had to dance at World Youth Day - which just looked sad. I don't mean to be nasty, but there you had a bunch of crusty, many (admittedly) fat, middle-to-aged men trying to be cool. And that seems to about summarise Francis' approach to most things.