Rorate Caeli

Bermudez, Arinze and the Novus Ordo

(A picture is worth...)

Yesterday I posted a comment about something that Alejandro Bermudez had said. Mr. Bermudez had this to say about my nosy comment:
"Wait a minute Al: Are you saying we should ALL go back to the old Missal? Look, I am supportive of having a freer chance to celebrate it, but at the same time I know many places in which decent priests celebrate the real Sacrifice. I personally attend many of those Masses with great spiritual fruit. And thereare much more than what you can count. It seems you have been only attending Gumbleton’s masses… Drive around pal!"
Of course I just could not let go, and so I went on to say this :
Mr. Bermudez,

No, I don’t think the Traditional Roman Mass should be forced upon anyone, that would be just as uncharitable and agressive as what Paul VI did to the poor old ladies who had to get used to the “polka masses”.

As for driving around, I have. I had to leave my country, my job and everything else to be close to a decent Mass. I’m serious, you have no idea of what is happening outside Rome!

This whole “driving around” argument makes my point: Which of the masses are right? The EWTN mass, the “Adoremus” mass, Fr. Ruttler’s mass, or BISHOP Gumbleton’s mass, Steubenville Mass, Thomas Aquinas College’s mass, Neo-Catechumenal Way mass, Opus Dei mass? What is the standard? Are they all right? Or are you saying that BISHOP Gumblenton doesn’t know how to say a mass?

Maybe someone should say: The King is Naked! The New liturgy is unworkable!


  1. Let's submit them all to "American Idol" and see how it shakes out.

  2. I think if you said that Cardinal Arinze was not a suitable Prefect for the Congregation he heads he would agree with you. He's a humble and good man and a courageous one. His reaction in the US when asked about giving communion to pro-abort politicians is a little masterpiece: Do you really need a Cardinal from Rome to tell you the answer? A well-catechized child could give you the answer. (I paraphrase.)

    I don't know why JP appointed him to head the Congregation. He himself said after his appointment that he knew nothing about the liturgy and had no idea why the Pope had asked him to fill the post, but that he accepted out of obedience. Michael Davies found him ignorant, but kind and holy and willing to listen and learn humbly.

    I suspect--I'm willing to BET--(I can hear the screams and the whiz of the hurled missiles already!) that he will be canonized in my lifetime, as will Pope Benedict.

  3. That is not true. He KNOWS liturgy. He has studied it. It was his main academic interest.

    As for his being canonized, I see you hope to live a very, very, very long life. I do not believe Pius XII will be canonized in my lifetime...

  4. Well, what IS certainly true is that he disclaimed any particular expertise in the liturgy. What is your evidence that he KNOWS the liturgy and studied it when he was in academia? The fact that he wrote a paper on Ibo sacrifices in relation to the sacrifice of the Mass? I don't have a precis of what his courses or papers were, but my understanding is that he studied non-Christian religions.

    Good grief man! Mother Teresa is blessed, John XXIII is too, Jose Maria Escriva is a saint...Terence Cooke's process goes on apace...John Hardon's cause is being introduced...

    I'm forty-seven and there are oodles of figures I remember from my life who are canonized or on their way to being canonized.

    Pius XII is waiting for the archives to catch up...they're still on his predecessor. And the "controversy" over his "anti-Semitism" (like saying George Washington fought for the British!) makes it imperative that they have all the evidence before they proceed. He's a special case. John Paul I and Paul VI are well on their way, though.

  5. Jeff, I cannot say that you are not amusing. You certainly are. Thank you for your comments.

  6. Jeff,

    I hope we all become saints...

    As far as Cardinal Arinze is concerned, the proof is in the pudding: Are Kerry, Ted Kennedy, et caterva, still having communion?


    Our Lord gave Arinze a task, and he has failed Him greatly. There is no denying it, he has no control over the liturgy: priests and laity do whatever they want, and all Arinze can do is go around with that ridiculous mitre?

    Why can't Rome deliver at least one decent NOVUS ORDO mass per diocese in the world?

    What positive impact has Arinze had upon the liturgy?

    The proof is in the pudding!

  7. Well, Al, you may have a point.

    But I would say that the Popes--all of them--from Paul VI to the present Pontiff (if it isn't clear to you yet about Ratzinger, it will become so over the next months) have deliberately chosen a policy which eschews a discipline which would most likely result in massive schisms in favor of slow change. Arinze is following the broad outlines of the Papal policy. There are many reasons for this policy and it can surely be challenged. I once rejected it myself, but over the past couple of years, I have become persauded that it is the right one and it is doing its slow work of saving the Church.

    Cardinal Ratzinger could be faulted for laxness in running CDF; in reality, he was an astonishingly generous and meek Prefect, despite his reputation as a Rottweiler. And I don't know that any of Arinze's predecessors at CDW did any BETTER job of shaping the liturgy up. But the state of the Novus Ordo is much better than it was even five years ago.

    I'd still LIKE to be see the hammers fly, it would feel great to me. All these Popes COULD be weak fools. Or they could be wiser than us. I know which alternative *I* would bet on.

  8. Al Trovato:

    I've posted my answer to your "Battle of the Ratzinger Quotes" challenge to me in the proper post below. But as that post is retreating into history, I'm posting it here as well. If you'd prefer not to have it cluttering up this post, feel free to delete it.

    *** 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. ***

  9. Jeff, I submit your conception of sanctity needs to confront the biography of some great saint such as the Blessed Virgin, St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Ignatius, St. Alphonsus et. etc. etc.

    Those you mention, what heroic virtues did they practice? The are incomparable. As for Mother Teresa, there is yet no undisputed miracle, the one used for her canonization, would never have qualified for one under any pope before John XXII. And he, was beatified for political reasons, as his decree for heroic virtues names no virtue every defined as such by any doctor or saint prior to him. As for Escriva, he falsely claimed for his whole life that he was a member of a noble house. He died falsely claiming that. That puts you in hell (all long with all the other impenitent liars and theives), by every book of moral theology written prior to Vatican II!

  10. Jeff

    The quotes about "Tridentinists" and "THE SO-CALLED MISSAL OF PAUL VI IS NOTHING OTHER THAN A RENEWED FORM OF THE SAME MISSAL..." date from 1986, IIRC. Cardinal Ratzinger's understanding of what the "Tridentinists" were all about certainly developed subsequently. The 1988 experience if nothing else, must have opened his eyes to the inadequacy of his former opinion of the movement.

    In any case the "banal product" quote dates from 1991 - five years after your citation - and the context (Forward to Gamber's book) renders its intention absolutely unmistakeable. Gamber's entire thesis in that book is that the Ritus Modernus (as he insists on calling it, precisely with the intention of distinguishing it from the Ritus Romanus)cannot be understood as a legitimate development of the Classical rite, but constitutes a new rite entirely.

  11. Moretben,

    Could not have said it better myself, and I mean that.

    Thanks for helping me to beat Jeff at the "quotation wars".

    By the way, just the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger chose to endorse Gamber's book speaks louder than the quotation itself.

  12. Mortben and Al Trovato:

    Please see the debate continued below on the post "The Ball is in whose court?" Ratzinger says many of the same things in the 1997 (date of original Italian [the German edition was '98] edition) "Milestones." As you can see, this postdates the 1991 Gamber quote as well as the "1988 experience." And he said some similar things in his 2003 interview with Raymond Arroyo.

    So the case for "development" of his thought rests on one single quote from an introduction (not a place to look for critiques) to the Gamber book, SUBSEQUENT to which he reiterated the basic postitions on the new Mass in his autobiography. I myself could have written a glowing encomium to Gamber's marvellous book, while disagreeing with some of its conclusions, just as I consider myself a HUGE fan of Michael Davies, while rejecting many of HIS conclusions.

    Sounds like wishful thinking to me! It's the one-quote school of exegesis; his other statements are to be disregarded because he's "certainly" developed since then (and back again?). I think you need more than that one quote.

    Don't think I'm beat yet, do you?

    However, I promised New Catholic I'd bow out of the public debate. I was coming off as rancorous, which was not my intention. In the unlikely event that anyone wants to continue this discussion off-blog, my private email is

    [Tips hat and departs the forum...]

  13. No way, Jeff. You are always welcome to comment here on any subject -- we deeply appreciate our most faithful readers. Misunderstandings are common in this fastpaced written venue.

  14. Jeff,

    Not to join the fracus, I think you are right in saying that his thought has not changed, because he himself has said, "I have not changed"!. I see nothing substantially different in say his "Theologican Insights" of 1966 and his speech of Dec. 1995. His thought is nearly identical in practice, even if he eschews the theoretical hermenutics of rupture, he still embraces wholeheartedly that rupture that followed.

  15. Thanks, New Catholic. I am delighted to find Traditionalists as generous hearted as you folks. Charles Coulombe is another.


    I'm sure that this will strike you as small potatoes, but it does seem as though Arinze's letter to the NeoCats is being taken seriously. I would propose that the simple example of OBEDIENCE in liturgical matters goes some way toward preparing the ground for either Reform or Return. Provided this report is accurate, it's at least a small check mark to put in the plus column for Arinze.

  16. That picture of Arinze is wonderful!

  17. There's a happy balance between the clericalism and lay-leadership-ism. We shouldn't have to "Drive arond, pal". Priests and bishop may be leaders, but they have subjects. These subjects aren't there simply because they've been given some Divine gift. They have a mandate to be a pastor of souls. Because of this the laity should be demanding from their pastors what they need for their spiritual good (namely a reverent Mass, and in many cases the Older Rite) ... and the pastors should be listening.

    And by the way ... the Older Rite is the "real Sacrifice" last I checked ... I'll double check and get back to you on that ... yep, still is.


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