Rorate Caeli

The ball is in whose court?

Alejandro Bermúdez has some interesting comments here regarding the meeting of February 13 (he does not offer true news, though, and his main point is related to the very same prelate who has been showing up repeatedly in the past few days...).

Anyway, after mentioning the pope's epoch-making speech of December 22, 2005, he ends up with this: "much of the ball in this is now on the Lefebvrists’ court."

Well, at first, I could agree. But while this blog was (I am pretty sure of this) the one which covered most extensively the epoch-making speech of December 22 (not less than 7 different posts on it -- see here), it has hardly been commented upon by its direct listeners (the Roman Curia), nor has it been echoed by the ordinaries around the world. It was completely ignored by the liberal (and even the moderate) Catholic media and blogs, but it has been widely praised by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (see it mentioned here, in the interview of its Superior General; and in this extensive comment of the newsletter of the FSSPX District of France) -- so one can hardly say they were not responsive to the speech.

I agree that the address was also intended as a compte rendu to Traditional Catholics; but it was particularly intended as a warning to those people who regard themselves as "the true Spirit of Vatican II". They are the problem, they have taken the Church to the brink of the current abyss; their liturgical reform (and not only its "bad implementation") was the one which a certain Cardinal Ratzinger called "a fabrication, a banal product of the moment". If the "Lefebvrists" are truly "schismatics" and out of the Church (I will avoid answering this either way, each reader has his own view of the matter -- I use it as an argumentative point), then it is certainly not their fault that "the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far [has been] so difficult" (the Pontiff's own words).

So, there are two reasons why the "ball" is at this moment far from the FSSPX's "court". First, because while the conditions for dialogue are (apparently) close to their implementation, we will only know that for sure after the papal-curial meeting of late March and afterwards. Second, because, as far as Vatican II is concerned, the message of Benedict XVI, the message that the Council was no "rupture", that one does not have to "accept" Vatican II as something which changed the Faith, because the Conciliar "Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one" (Papal words), has to reach those huge portions of the Church completely drowned in the "Hermeneutics of Rupture".

At least the first part has to be implemented: in a few months we will know what, if anything concrete, was offered and then we may finally assert that the "ball is in their court".


Jeff said...

It's only fair when quoting Cardinal Ratzinger about the "banal" product, one should mention the favorable things he has said about the Novus Ordo. He has expressed gratitude for the alternative Eucharistic prayers (he used 2 and 3 constantly as Cardinal and uses them pretty often as Pope, too), for the variety of prayers and prefaces and other features as well. He has expressed himself in favor of the vernacular as the liturgical standard, while favoring the return of SOME Latin only.

Moreover, he has strongly criticized the Restorationists in "Feast of Faith" and other places for misunderstanding the very NATURE of the liturgy. He has treated the notion that the liturgy before Vatican Two was healthy by pointing out that, if it had been healthy and prized by Catholics, it wouldn't have vanished without a peep in most areas of the world.

As usual, Ratzinger's approach is a bit different from everybody else's and satisfies no one single liturgical party. It comes closest to the party of Reform of the Reform, a la Adoremus. That only makes sense, since he is the originator of the phrase.

New Catholic said...

Jeff, that may be true only insofar as what is the current liturgical mess in the Latin Church and what are the options available to the hierarchy TODAY. It is NOT true regarding his opinion of the Liturgical Reform ITSELF and its position in the History of the Roman Liturgy, which is exactly the one I indicate: disruptive and ahistorical. I flatly reject your observation, therefore.

Jeff said...

Then read his books and interviews and don't just extract a quote or two, here and there, to serve the purpose of the moment. "Flat rejection" should be on the basis of substance, not temper.

To say that Ratzinger is a strong critic of important aspects of the new liturgy is true. Taken in toto, it is WAS "ahistorical" and "disruptive." To infer that therefore he was satisfied with the old liturgy and would like its general and integral return (as opposed to freedom for its use for those who prefer it) or that he doesn't see elements of the new liturgy that he admires and prefers to the old is just indulging in wish-fulfilment. One can't come to that conclusion based on what Ratzinger has actually written and said as a whole, though one can, of course, "flatly reject" his ideas.

Misunderstanding Ratzinger is going to be the basis for much disappointment and pain. I already hear people saying in some quarters, "What happened to him? Where did the old Ratzinger go? Who's this who has taken his place?" Just a quick read through "God and the World", "Truth and Tolerance", "Feast of Faith", etc., will quickly disabuse anyone of the notion that he is a Traditionalist, in biblical exegesis, theology, or even liturgy. He is a Reformer who nevertheless loves and respects tradition and wants to preserve its ESSENTIALS...but only its essentials. He only looks Traditional in contrast to the Radicals.

New Catholic said...

Give me a break, Jeff. You are reading too much into my own words: Ratzinger thought the liturgical reform itself was problematic and was a RUPTURE (key word). Period. This does not imply that he thought there was nothing good whatsoever in the new rite or that the Traditional Rite could not be changed one iota. What I flatly reject are your extravagant observations, not his precise words.

Jeff said...

Ah, well, it's probably just that tone of mine that seems to sneak into much of what I write in comments without my meaning it to!

I'm not sure exactly which observation you find extravagant, but I'll gladly let it slide. The thrust of your post as a whole is correct and unexceptionable. I meant my comment as a COMMENT, a minor proposed adjustment of a subsidiary point.

New Catholic said...

Thank you for your comments, Jeff.

Al Trovato said...


Lately I've come to agree with almost everything you say, and here again you might have a point.

But do you have text to contradict the "fabrication" charge against the new liturgy? Did Ratzinger ever take that back?

I mean, that is a very straightforward statement:

(...)What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place
of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned

the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and

replaced it—as in a manufacturing process—with a fabrication,

a banal on-the-spot product.(...)

(From Cardinal Ratzinger's preface to the French edition of Gamber's "The Reform of the Roman Liturgy")

Do you have something -- equally straightforward -- that Ratzinger said that actually contradicts that statement?

Br. Alexis Bugnolo said...

The more fundamental question, is now that he is pope, will he formulate a policy based on all his personal observations over the years, or craft a middle road among the various camps of bishops and cardinals.

The new appointment of the Nuncio to Egypt, gives credence to the idea that he is going to clearn house; because that Archbishop was a notorious upholder of the outrageous conference in Portugal, which basically said that you had to jettison the evil teaching of the council of Florence regarding conversion.

But I think that Jeff's analysis is mostly right, because, whatever Ratzinger said in toto or in specie, he still only says the NO, personally.

Jeff said...

I'm abashed at what you say; praise coming from two such admirable writers of what has become one of my very favorite blogs is heartening indeed. I wouldn't put TOO much stock in what I have to say. It really is just offered as commentary, as part of a conversation initiated by you all and under your direction. Any hardness of tone should be read the way you might read a slight exaggeration for effect over a beer and not as hectoring snottiness. That's how it's intended anyway.

I don't have "Feast of Faith" in front of me, but I could go and get exact quotes from his recent EWTN interview if you like. It's very much worth listening to, if you have any inclination and it's free online at their site.

Still, I think you'll admit that if Ratzinger said ANYTHING LIKE what I've suggested--if I'm not just royally misrepresenting him--that there's some kind of reconciliation that needs to be made in order to come out with something consistent.

I would suggest that "banal, on-the-spot product" refers to the liturgy AS IT EXISTS IN CONCRETE TERMS and not necessarily to the text, or at least certainly not to all aspects of the text. That's not to say that Ratzinger doesn't see serious problems with the text, but that this overarching representation does not apply to the Novus Ordo per se and in toto.

In the EWTN interview, Ratzinger also suggests that much of the problem with the revision of the Mass was simply in the way it was PRESENTED. It shouldn't have been PRESENTED as "Novus Ordo" as something "New". It should have been presented as a revision of the same thing, which is what it really is. I propose that that also places the quote you bring up in a slightly different context.

Here's a parallel. Louis Bouyer actually participated in a major way in the composition of the three additional Eucharistic Prayers. In his book "Eucharist", he analyzes and praises them. But he also said, after the Novus Ordo came out that there was no longer anything worthy of the name "liturgy" anymore in the Roman Rite. It's the last quote that Traditionalists like to pull out because its a powerful one. But a straight reading of it applying to the text of the Mass would make a nutcase out of Bouyer, who was partly responsible for major parts of it.

I didn't provide your quotes, did I? It's a fair request and I'll get them if you want them. But I hope the alternative reading I've proposed is helpful in elucidating what I'm getting at. I've been reading A LOT of Ratzinger recently and he's a rich and deep thinker. When I think I've got him pinned down on something, I usually find that he's gone deeper than I thought or meant something a bit different when I read something else. He's very big on PATIENCE and LISTENING and trying to find and incorporate the true bits even from heretics and schismatics and neo-pagans in a new synthesis of Christianity for modern man. That's stuff I need to hear. By nature, I'm IMpatient and I like the cut-and-dried and the old-tried-and-true.

That's why you'll find me at the INDULT mass every Sunday! But when I watch Ratzinger say the New Mass--the funeral of JPII and the installation Mass are still available online from the Washington Post, I am overwhelmed by it's beauty and spirituality. If I had the choice of my indult mass or a Novus Ordo said by Ratzinger, even if he weren't Pope, I don't know which I'd pick.

Br. Alexis Bugnolo said...


I would caution you not to get your hopes up to much. Ratzinger the man is still an anti-scholastic theologian; and that will color and divert much of the good he could do.

As for the NO, that it never should have been presented as something new: that's the whole point. Bugnini took Dom Odo Casel's novel theory of liturgy and recrafted the whole Roman Rite accordingly. That is the reason why, in the end the NO as we know it, will disappear; because it is based on a philosophical eror: see this article for more on this.

bedwere said...

Another point of view on Dom Odo Casel

Jeff said...


Thank you! The SSPX drivel about Dom Casel is barely readable. Dom Casel didn't know what the dictionary definition of "mystery" was, hmm? And so he's a LIAR...

My God.

This kind of stuff shows the problem that is rampant in that group. (Though not universal.) Following their own incompetent teachers, they end up with a whole nonsensical false magisterium of their own and drift further and further into kookdom and factionalism. This is always the punishment for schism; in a few decades you become unrecognizable, but you yourself don't recognize the drift you've undergone. While the Barque of Peter, which may SEEM to move on the surface of the Sea, is really an unmoving Rock to which we must CLING.

Let's hope the SSPX can find the wisdom--some of them anyway (I despair of the Williamsons)--to climb back on board the Barque and simply Trust the Holy Spirit! That may be difficult at times, but it's easier than trusting the author of that silly article on Casel and people like him.

Odo Casel, Servus Dei, ora pro nobis!

New Catholic said...

Dom Odo and the Magisterium are quite distinct, Jeff. Many items in Mediator Dei were undoubtedly directed against Dom Odo's ideas.

Jeff said...

New Catholic:

Of course, I'm not saying that Dom Odo Casel is the Magisterium, for crying out loud. I'm decrying the air of certainty in condemnation that one finds in SSPX docs like the one cited, in which primitive misunderstandings are presented with an air of absolute authority.

E.g., Casel is "lying" because he doesn't accurately reproduce the Webster's definition of mystery. Of course, Casel isn't trying to give a dictionary definition, but to capture the essence of what St. Paul means when he uses the term Mystery in a special sense about the Salvific Action of Christ. If the fellow who wrote the SSPX screed can't understand that, maybe he should give up reading and take up some other work for which he is better fitted. The poor sops who don't know any better will read this "reliable" SSPX schlock and decide that Odo Casel is a heretic. THAT functional substitute authority of the SSPX is what I'm decrying. SSPXers turn to their own stuff rather than to the real Magisterium for their guidance. Am I making myself clear now?

Odo Casel and Maria Laach were foundations for the Liturgical Movement of which Louis Bouyer and Joseph Ratzinger were prominent members. Ratzinger praises him in his autobiography "Milestones" and cites him numerous times--never critically--in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" and "Feast of Faith." Casel and Maria Laach are in large measure responsible for the widespread us of printed Missals with translations and for the whole attitude toward Liturgy--the Sacramental rite per se--as fundamental to the Christian life--both of which are fundamental to Traditionalists' concerns. They are fundamental too to Mediator Dei which Dom Casel greeted with unparalleled delight as a vindication of his life's work!

Let me put it this way: Do you see the prayers and rites of the Liturgy as a fundamental, perhaps THE fundamental way we encounter the saving grace of Christ in our Catholic lives? Or do you see it as a hallowed, but essentially juridical set of rules to be followed because everything needs rules? If the first alternative is to your taste (it is to mine!), then you can thank Odo Casel, who was in large measure responsible for the Theology of Liturgy that Traditionalists rely on (three cheers for them!) The juridical concept is at the basis of the functional, pastoral constantly-changing, rules-based approach that says everything is changeable as long as the proper authority does it. THAT notion is responsible for the WORST features of the Novus Ordo and the notion of constant tinkering that results in open-ended change and locally based pastoral variation and control.

Odo Casel is not, of course, beyond criticism. But it's absurd to claim he was some sort of modernist demon. He should be a hero to Traditionalists.

Jeff said...

Okay, Al. Here's my quote finally to set against yours--or better to show what it does and doesn't mean. The capitalization for emphasis is mine:

"Lest there be any misunderstanding, let me add that AS FAR AS ITS CONTENT IS CONCERNED(apart from a FEW criticisms), I am VERY grateful for the new Missal, for the way it has ENRICHED the treasury of prayers and prefaces, FOR THE NEW EUCHARISTIC PRAYERS and the increased number of texts for use on weekdays, etc., quite apart from the availability of the vernacular. But I do regard it as unfortunate that we have been presented with THE IDEA of a new book rather with that of continuity within a single liturgical history.

"In my view, a new edition will need to make it quite clear that THE SO-CALLED MISSAL OF PAUL VI IS NOTHING OTHER THAN A RENEWED FORM OF THE SAME MISSAL to which Pius X, Urban VIII, Pius V and their predecessors have contributed, right from the Church’s earliest history. It is of the very essence of the Church that she should be AWARE of her unbroken continuity throughout the history of faith, expressed in an ever-present unity of prayer."

This is after he has criticized Traditionalists:

"[T]hose who cling to the "Tridentine Missal" have a faulty view of the historical facts."


"We must say to the "Tridentines" that the Church’s liturgy is alive, like the Church herself, and is thus always involved in a process of maturing which exhibits GREATER and lesser changes."

"Feast of Faith", pp. 86-87.

So, to sum up: the "banal product" referred to in your quote cannot be the New Missal itself. Ratzinger's complaint is against the concrete liturgy that resulted from the way the reform was IMPLEMENTED, especially the MANNER of PRESENTING the Missal of Paul VI as something NEW rather than the legitimate development of the old which it IN FACT IS. Changes, sometimes GREATER changes, are of the essence of the liturgy. Complaints about the Novus Ordo itself from Ratzinger are FEW. "Tridentinists" don't understand the nature of the liturgy.

New Catholic said...

"Casel and Maria Laach are in large measure responsible for the widespread us of printed Missals with translations and for the whole attitude toward Liturgy--the Sacramental rite per se--as fundamental to the Christian life--both of which are fundamental to Traditionalists' concerns"

Solesmes and Dom Guéranger first of all; and Saint-André, Maredsous, and Keizersberg (Mont-César) are responsible for that -- not Maria Laach, which boarded the train much later.

New Catholic said...

Your quotes do not disprove that Cardinal Ratzinger believed that there was a serious discontinuity between the pre-renovation and post-renovation Missals. "I do regard it as unfortunate that we have been presented with the idea of a new book rather with that of continuity within a single liturgical history." It is not simply the "idea", which you present as if it is something not real, but the "concept" -- he regretted that it all changed and that it all came packed as a NEW book.

Now, that is what he wrote in 1981. He certainly decided to make a clearer and more direct criticism of the new missal later (which you seem to love so much, even though you go to the Traditional Mass -- see, Jeff, to some of us it is not mere aesthetics, but a matter of conscience and faith, which you should know how to respect).

More than 15 years later, he recalled his utter shock in "Milestones". In the same period, when he wrote the preface to the French edition of a book which destroys the MYTH, the RIDICULOUS MYTH, of the new missal as "continuity", Klaus Gamber's "Reform of the Roman Rite", he is VERY CLEAR about his views of the new liturgy, the new books AS THEY STAND, not their mere application:

"What happened after the Council was altogether different: instead of a liturgy fruit of continuous development, a fabricated liturgy was put in its place. A living growing process was abandoned and the fabrication was entered upon. There was no further wish to continue the organical evolution and maturation of the living being throughout the centuries and they were replaced -- as if in a technical production -- by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment."

If you cannot live with that view, tough. I completely agree with it and it beautifully shows how he decided to be more forthright in light of the terrible crisis the revolutionized liturgy helped to CAUSE in the Church.

Jeff said...

It's not a question of "more forthright." If you want to claim that he CHANGED HIS MIND, you'd be on PLAUSIBLE grounds, though still shaky ones. But words like "grateful", "enriched", etc., especially in light of the rather harsh sounding criticisms of the "Tridentinists" give the lie to any idea that he is talking about the Missal itself, rather than the way it was introduced.

And your reference to the 1998 "Milestones" doesn't quote any development in his views, because it can't. The discussion on the revised liturgy is on page 148-149. He says the new missal is in many respects a REAL improvement over the old and an enrichment(do you agree? I don't think so). But he says that the problem was that it was "SET[] AS a new development" over against the old (not it WAS a new development.) It made the liturgy "APPEAR TO BE no longer a development," not that it WAS no longer a development. The "IMPRESSION had to emerge" that the liturgy was "constructed", not that the new liturgy WAS constructed. And from this flows the harmful notion that the community and not scholars are the arbiters of liturgical change, he explains.

Thus the same views are expressed in 1998.

I don't quarrel with your evaluation of the new missal; I'm happy to respect it. And my own criticisms of the New Missal probably go further than those Ratzinger expressed. I do quarrel, however, with pulling one quote out of a lifetime of work and commentary and making it mean what one wants. You and Ratzinger disagree; that's perfectly fine. He's a private theologian. You may be right, he may be wrong.

But that there is a disagreement is perfectly plain for anyone to see. Are you grateful for the new Eucharistic Prayers? Do you think they represent an enrichment? Do you think those who 'cling' to the Tridentine Missal have a faulty view of historical facts? Do you think the new missal is an improvement in many respects? I doubt it.

You can claim (with no evidence) that all of the like things Ratzinger has said over the years are diplomacy. But the claim can equally well be made that in the SINGLE QUOTE from the intro to Gamber he accents his agreements with the author and downplays his disagreements. Admiring and appreciating a book doesn't mean that you endorse its every conclusion.

The POINT is: one should expect Ratzinger to act like a person who is respectful and appreciative of the old Mass, but not one who wholeheartedly embraces it or completely rejects the new. If one expects Ratzinger to act like a "Traditionalist", one has a misconception and will inevitably be disappointed by what he does. Better to be prepared than to foster self-illusion in onesself and others.

So, I can happily "live with" your consciencious views in the Missal Wars. I have many friends that share them. I am sometimes persuaded by them myself. I also think its fair to criticize them and challenge them, don't you? But neither of us can credibly claim that your views are those of Pope Ratzinger.

New Catholic said...

And I have not said that "my" views and the views of then-Cardinal Ratzinger are the same. Your whole criticism is based on this assumption, which I never professed. Do not read too much into what is said; sometimes, what is said is just what is said.

New Catholic said...

Let me just complement: you seem to establish a contradiction where there is none. One may say that the new "eucharistic prayers" are "good" or that the 1969-1970 missal had "enrichments" while at the same time making clear that it was a BREAK, a RUPTURE (key word, key word) with the Liturgical Tradition of the Church, by itself, in its development, and in the way it was mercilessly imposed to the priests and to the faithful. It is pretty clear that this was the view of then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

Now, why do you insist in establishing a confrontational attitude where there is no need for such?

Jeff said...

I think perhaps we're misreading each other.

My first comment was along the lines of, "Let me mention this shading which balances out what you said. It provides a fairer view than the quote you gave by itself."

I think you took that as some kind of rebuke when it wasn't meant that way. Then you responded, "I flatly reject your observation."

Like any red-blooded debater, I read that as a challenge and took it up; especially because I thought I was right!

As I said before, my written tone sometimes comes across as harsher than intended; perhaps others have the same problem occasionally as well.

So, I think we've set forth our respective positions. I'm content to let you have the last word!

I think that there are many Catholics who like both missals to various degrees and don't feel themselves part of either Rejectionist camp. I know lovers of the New Missal who like to frequent the old Mass occasionally. I go to the Indult Mass with many people who like the old Mass better than the New, but accept the new with varying degrees of enthusiasm or lack thereof. If we're about the business of respecting consciences, they shouldn't be derided: even if you disagree with them, they are your allies at least in the matter of things like negotiating with the SSPX and freeing up the old Mass. They (we) have consciences too and are trying to do their best according to their lights. Occasionally, we will have disagreements about this or that matter, minor or major. But there's no reason why we can't return from battle as, essentially, comrades-in-arms. At least I don't see any.

Signing off on this topic for now...