Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Attack Against the Classical Rite: A Clarifying and Unitive Moment?

Fr. Zuhlsdorf comments on a story on his site, The BBC twists the Tridentine issue and pulls no punches.

I've been debating about whether to pass further comment on this issue as this "story" (really, a claim more than a story) spreads through various secular media outlets -- which can hardly be a surprise; its exactly the kind of juicy, controversial thing they love.

After all, it's a juicy (if not also transparent) pitch on the part of those Catholics who have made it, and it touches well into themes of the German Pope (I'm surprised more of this angle has yet to be picked up), hot button issues and labels like intolerance and anti-semitism, and the classic modern theme of "intolerant" conservativism and religiousity vs. "enlightened" liberalism -- never mind the contradictions one could point out in this.

In reality, this is not simply about the classical rite. Really it's about the battle between two opposed worldviews and ultimately about the full acceptance, or not, of very Gospel itself. If the statements can be taken as representative, what is objected to in many cases (perhaps not all) is the very idea of truth and conversion, as opposed to an idea that there are various paths to God, of which there is not one more true than the other. Conversion ultimately seems to be seen as outmoded, because conversion implies that one path is more true than another, which is why one would shift and mould themselves accordingly.

Moreover it seems to be about faith and morals; faith and morals that don't take their cues from the secular world, or adopt its latest fancies and what it deems to be true and right and good -- or those that do.

The classical rite enters into this because it is one form that quite clearly speaks to the orthodox Christian theology and worldview and not to the other, revisionist form given the Gospel and Christianity. Acceptance and widened permission of the classical rite is fought against, I propose, because it precisely is a very public move against this other theology, and it does have the power to help work against it in a general way.

Moreover, it's difficult from the perspective of consistency to raise alarm bells at one and the same time as effectively saying, "not many people are interested in this." What other explanation can there be that this would now only come on the cusp of the Motu Proprio? The permission to use the classical rite has been around for more than 2 decades now, and this grave concern is only raised now?

The issues are clearly larger and timing seems only too convenient. It seems like some of our Catholic confreres are trying to employ fear-mongering to bring to bear external pressure in hopes of manipulating the Holy Father. A laudable concern and goal (unity and peace) is being done a disservice. The good is not being served, but rather ideology.

There is spiritual warfare in this, let's be clear. It is bound to happen. It's only that this particular issue has helped bring it forth that much more clearly. However, this could well be a very providential thing, for it might well be the impetus to show forth our spiritual illness so that we might better serve to bring about spiritual healing.

I believe it also has the possibility to bring together precisely the co-existence and alliances necessary between Catholics most attached to the reform of the reform or the classical rite. It shall hopefully show one precise truth: you are on the same side, operating on the same principles, even if there are particulars you might approach a little different. But those particulars operate on the same principles. Help one another. Support one another. Take note of what it is precisely that you are working against and what is working against you -- and who and what is not. This could be a moment of grace and strength for the movement to promote the Faith. Don't let it slip past you.

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