Sunday, January 28, 2007

Two views from Rome on the Motu Proprio; one more rational and one more emotional

I was not going to pass commentary on this, because, to be frank, it doesn't merit being taken seriously in my opinion. However, it seems as though a comment may be worthwhile after all given how public this statement is, and given, no doubt, how it will quickly become known through internet circles and the source of either despair, concern, or anger.

The story originally came through The Telegraph in the U.K. and concerns sentiments coming from Fr. Reginald Foster, often referred to as "the Pope's Latinist". In this piece, Fr. Foster laments what he sees as the imminent death of Latin. Quite ironically as part of this piece, he then moves on the disparage the classical Latin liturgy and speaks contrary to the Motu Proprio to liberalize the usage of the same:

"[Fr. Foster] said reports that Pope Benedict will reintroduce the Tridentine Mass, which dates from 1570 and is largely conducted in Latin, were wrong – not least because of the Pope's desire to avoid more controversies. A speech last year offended Muslims and more recently he gave initial support to a Polish archbishop who was eventually forced to resign, after admitting that he had collaborated with the communist-era secret police.

"He is not going to do it," Fr Foster said. "He had trouble with Regensberg, and then trouble in Warsaw, and if he does this, all hell will break loose." In any case, he added: "It is a useless mass and the whole mentality is stupid. The idea of it is that things were better in the old days. It makes the Vatican look medieval."

Clearly this statement on the part of Fr. Foster can only be dismissed as a partisan and ideological, even emotional, assessment. In fact, the comment rings of desperation -- seen in the fact of intemperately referring to an ancient liturgy of the Church as a "useless Mass" whose "whole mentality is stupid".

Well, there is indeed a problematic mentality here, but it is not within the classical liturgy of the Roman church, but rather in one who would make such intemperate, impious statements about a venerable rite of the Church. This is certainly one of the clearest manifestations of a hermeneutic of rupture we have yet seen.

It would seem that Fr. Foster in his evident state of high emotion about the matter, is confusing his own feelings with the objective facts of the situation.

In this writer's estimation, the comment cannot be taken seriously as far as the motu proprio is concerned.

Illuminating in this regard is the rather different take (from one also no great fan of the classical liturgy) from this past week, by Father Eberhard von Gemmingen, S.J. on Vatican Radio (courtesy of someone on CTNGreg):

"In all probability Pope Benedict will give the permission to celebrate again the traditional or Tridentine Rite. It would however be completely wrong if Catholics started to quarrel over this, some of them full of joy about this reversal, the others full of anger. It is to be noted that the Pope will not on any account reintroduce the old liturgy or even make it compulsory. He is only of the opinion that the prohibition of the classical Rite after the Council is in contradiction to Church tradition, because according to his conviction, Rites can be further developed but cannot be abrogated."

This latter position is more in accord with the objective facts of the situation as we've come to know them. The 1962 Missal won't be reintroduced in place of the modern Roman rite, but it will be substantially liberalized as an extraordinary rite of the Church which has, by virtue of its antiquity and long-standing use a "right of citizenship within the Church" (as Cardinal Hoyos once put it).

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