Monday, July 30, 2007

Contra Summorum Pontificum

Well, a certain sector of Catholic opinion is getting more aggressive, it seems. Commonweal has published what is an open dispute with the Pope's decision to permit the free choice to offer the old form of the Roman Rite. They believe that this is a secret plot to dismantle and finally bury the new form and implicitly undermine the Council that preceded the new form's promulgation. The article takes issue with a number of aspects of the older use, and praises the new by comparison, which is certainly their right. Nothing about the Motu Proprio requires anyone to prefer old to new or new to old. It broadens choice.

There are a number of aspects of this article that are striking. First, the liberal spirit of the Motu Proprio is nowhere noted. One could easily get the impression that the Pope has imposed something when in fact he has broadened the options and put to an end the coercion that enforced the monopoly of the new form. Second, the article nowhere grants the incredibly obvious fact that aspects of life under the new form, because of its imprudent leap into unchartered territory, has led to the alienation of many and artificially cut Catholics off from so much of our holy tradition. Third, the article adopts the paranoid style in imputing secret motives to the Pope, whereas the motivation of the Pope is clearly presented in a personal letter, and it has nothing whatever to do with dismantling a church council, for goodness sake.

How these people can be called liberals is beyond me. The old-style Catholic liberals of the 19th century believed in freedom, the right of conscience, and a papacy that led by example and persuasion rather than imposition and the sword. Benedict XVI stands with this older liberal tradition, and against those whose agenda is dependent on the use of ever more dictates and ever narrower liturgical options. (Thank you, CIC)

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