Saturday, September 13, 2008

An Act of Tolerance

These are thrilling comments by the Holy Father, from a 10-minute press conference given on his way to France. The comments about the old and new uses of the Roman Rite are most interesting. He refers to Summorum as an act of tolerance. Precisely. It is a reversal of a highly regrettable intolerance that came about after the promulgation of the new form -- which had more the character of an imposition, and it destabilized the Catholic world in wholly unnecessary ways. Summorum is a liberalizing act, one that permits what should have been permitted all along. He also offers a challenge to people exclusively attached to one of the other use.

I include the first paragraph because of his brief reference to the contribution of Solesmes, so of course I cannot resist quoting that! Here is the link the full text.

Q: You love France. What unites you most especially to France, to its authors?

Benedict XVI: I would not dare say that I know France well. I know it a bit, but I love France, the great French culture, above all, of course, the great cathedrals, and also the great French art, the great theology beginning with St. Irenaeus of Lyons to the 13th century -- and I studied about the University of Paris in the 13th century-- St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas. This theology has been decisive for the development of Western theology; and naturally the theology of the century of Vatican Council II. I have had the great honor and joy to be a friend of Fr. Lubac, one of the greatest figures of the last century, but I have also had a good working relationship with Fr. Congar, Jean Danielou and others. I have had very good personal relationships with Etienne Gilson, Henri-Irenee Maroux.

Therefore I have really had deep, personal and enriching contact with the great theological and philosophical culture of France. It has really been decisive in the development of my thought. As well the discovery of the original Gregorian Chant with Solesmes, the great monastic culture and naturally the poetry. Being such a baroque man, I very much like Paul Claudel, with his joy for living, as well as Bernanos and the great French poets of the last century. So it is a culture that has really shaped my personal, theological, philosophical and human development in a deep way.

Q: What do you say to those in France who are worried that the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" is a step backward with regards to the great institutions of the Second Vatican Council?

Benedict XVI: It is baseless fear; because this "motu proprio" is simply an act of tolerance, with a pastoral objective, for people who have been formed in this liturgy, who love it, who know it, who want to live with this liturgy. It is a small group, because it supposes an education in Latin, a formation in a certain type of culture. But it seems to me a normal requirement of faith and pastoral practice for a bishop of our Church to have love and forbearance for these people and allow them to live with this liturgy.

There is no opposition between the liturgy renewed by Vatican II and this liturgy. Every day, the council fathers celebrated the Mass following the old rite and at the same time they conceived a natural development for the liturgy throughout this century, since the liturgy is a living reality, which develops and keeps its identity within its development.

So there is certainly a difference of emphasis, but a single fundamental identity that excludes any contradiction or antagonism between a renewed liturgy and the preceding liturgy. I believe there is a possibility for both types to be enriched. On the one hand, the friends of the old liturgy can and should know the new saints, the new prefaces of the liturgy, etc. But on the other hand, the new liturgy emphasizes the common participation, but it is not just the assembly of a particular community, but rather it is always an act of the universal Church, in communion with all the believers of all time, an act of adoration. In this sense, it seems to me that there is a mutual enrichment, and it is clear that the renewed liturgy is the ordinary liturgy of our time.

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