Rorate Caeli

First impression

The only previous post in this weblog to discuss the content of the exhortation published today was this one, a translation of an article published by Panorama in December. It stated that the exhortation had been signed (wrong information), but it mentioned three important decisions, all of which are confirmed by the official text:

(1)The Panorama article stated that "the recourse to the ordination of married priests of proven virtue ('viri probati') to face the lack of vocations is excluded." Let us remember that this was the most widely discussed issue in the Synod, which resurfaced last year -- and the Pope was quite clear on it:

In continuity with the great ecclesial tradition, with the Second Vatican Council and with my predecessors in the papacy, I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition. (Sacramentum Caritatis, 24)

(2) The Panorama article stated that "the admission of remarried divorced persons to Communion is forbidden, but it is recommended that the Christian community welcome and value their presence", which is exactly what is written in the official text. Let us also remember the intense pressure which several episcopates have imposed on the Holy See regarding this matter, which leads us to understand that this clear doctrinal link between the Most Holy Sacrament and the indissolubility of marriage is quite welcome:

The Synod of Bishops confirmed the Church's practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist. Yet the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion ...

...where the nullity of the marriage bond is not declared and objective circumstances make it impossible to cease cohabitation, the Church encourages these members of the faithful to commit themselves to living their relationship in fidelity to the demands of God's law, as friends, as brother and sister; in this way they will be able to return to the table of the Eucharist, taking care to observe the Church's established and approved practice in this regard. (Sacramentum Caritatis, 29)
(3) Finally, the Panorama article mentioned that, "the study of the liturgy in Latin and of Gregorian Chant in seminaries is recommended". And that has been the case:

Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant ... (Sacramentum Caritatis, 62)
Therefore, considering what was first reported here, as well as the Final List of Propositions of the Synod, it would be unwise to express any disappointment. Particularly regarding the issue of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church, the exhortation ends the discussion for the foreseeable future; and regarding Communion to divorced and "remarried" persons, the exhortation establishes a solid doctrinal framework which cannot be easily undone.

There are certainly some untenable assertions, particularly regarding what could be described as the rewriting of the Liturgical History of the West - we hope to discuss them soon (and a few highlights, such as note 6); the document is, however, in its general composition, what could have been expected.


  1. Anonymous1:46 PM

    "Re-writing the Liturgical History of the West": that is precisely it.

    As for the grave abuses - no action taken in this document;

    Stiff, harsh, old-fashioned, "the-wrath-of-Almighty-God-and-of-Sts.-Peter-and-Paul-His Apostles"-like condemnation of the Mahonyfests and other liturgical aberrations that take place daily in parishes worldwide due to the protestant "creativity" of prists: entirely absent from the document;

    practical guidelines for a reform of the reform: none whatsoever;

    And the praise of the liturgical reform (cf no. 3) remains!

    This document is merely a restatement of other past documents of the John Paul II era, documents that haven´t worked in practice.

    It contains NOTHING new in the fight against abuses, much less in the correction of the shortcomings of the reformed rite, and, as such, its chance of changing for the better the current landscape of the liturgical crisis is null. Zero.

    QUAMDIU, DOMINE??????????

  2. I will defer to those better informed on this, but is it now the teaching of the Catholic Church that I can divorce my wife, marry and live (publicly)with another, and, as long as I (privately) live "as brother and sister" with her, can receive the Eucharist?

  3. Anonymous1:52 PM

    '... it would be unwise to express any disappointment.'

    I don't know what to make of that statement. Sorry, I'm disappointed.

    Friends, what you see is what you get. Pope Benedict XVI is not a heretic, nor is he a modernist. He is, has been, and always will be a "man of the Council". He interprets Tradition in light of Vatican II, as much as he interprets the latter in light of the former. He is, in a word, a centrist. Expect no "reform of the reform" under this pontificate. Even if the Traditional Mass is "set free", the clown masses in Linz, Mahoneyfest in Los Angeles, and the "musical chairs" gospel at St. Brendan's, all of these abuses and worse will continue to occur with impunity and greater regularity. The MP might even make things worse, by driving a deeper wedge between Traditionalists and those who think that the liturgical reform is grand.

    Disappointment is a valid reaction to this document. Despair would be unwise, not disappointment.

  4. It would be unwise considering what we reported and what we knew. We never expected much more than what was published today, and we never gave credence to any "fantastic" rumor -- so it would certainly be unwise for us to express disappointment now.

    That does not mean that there are not truly untenable propositions, as we have already mentioned.

  5. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Irrespective of what was reported on this blog, I expected more. Silly me.

    As for untenable propositions, we can pretty much stop reading after the lamentable paragraph 3.

  6. Let us place not our trust in princes, but in Christ. He is the Saviour of the Church.

    Humanly, yes, it is disturbing. But - as NC points out, nothing shattering is to be expected. Prof Basto comments correctly as to it being a tie-over from the JPII era. I too detected that sort of approach.

    Stuart, you raise a very good point. This can only cause scandal. My understanding is that such people, should separate. St. Paul reminds us that God always gives the grace necessary for the given situation. I believe to think otherwise is heresy. I suspect that this ambiguous statement is very dangerous.

    Brideshead - confidence! Let us wait for the Moto Proprio. We know it is coming.

  7. Stuart,

    Read more carefully - such an one _cannot_ receive Holy Communion!

  8. Ambrosius,

    I am reading: what then does the passage at footnote 97 mean??

  9. Anonymous2:25 PM

    "This can only cause scandal. My understanding is that such people, should separate. St. Paul reminds us that God always gives the grace necessary for the given situation. I believe to think otherwise is heresy. I suspect that this ambiguous statement is very dangerous."

    This is not a new concept. The society recommends this as well. As the text stated, this is for situations where it is not possible to seperate, such as when there are children involved. In many cases, this would be someone who was not practicing the Faith, or has converted to the Faith, who was divorced and remarried many years ago and has a family with their second spouse. This does not cause scandal because in most cases no one is aware of their situation, expect for maybe those closest to them. It takes quite a bit of virtue to be able to live as "brother and sister" and true devotion to resign yourself to this. I don't think anyone can pass judgement on such individuals without sinning themselves.

    Now where scandal would arise is in a situation where a practising Catholic divorces his Catholic spouse and them marries his mistress. Especially if he stays in the same community. But the text discussed above was not speaking to such individuals.
    Surley yo are all smart enough to figure that out.

  10. Anonymous2:31 PM

    It would be worthwhile to pay attention to the context in which the document was placed by Cardinal Scola and by Bishop Eterovic. Their interventions at the press conference are here (in Italian).

    This is above all a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. This recent bisops' synod was somewhat different from those previous. The pattern for many years for these synods has been to circulate lineamata penned by curial officials, which becomes an instrumentum laboris that the bishops then discuss. Then they submit proposals to the Pope. In previous synods it was complained by some that the post-synodal exhortations simply mirrored the lineamata/instrumentum laboris and failed to reflect the actual discussion at the synod, which discussion was itself rather limited and reined in.

    Benedict seems to have been sensitive to this criticism. In contrast to previous synods, he allowed the bishop participants more freedom of discussion. His unprecedented decision to allow the publication of the proposals, which did not merely re-state the lineamata and instrumentum laboris (also made public), now seems in retrospect to part of a method. In the exhortation everyone can clearly see that it is primarily the synod of bishops speaking, through the Pope, who adds some of his own commentary here and there but mainly sticks closely to summarizing and endorsing the synod's proposals, which were not earth-shattering to begin with.

    So what's the point? Has he capitulated to collegiality? No, but those who have been paying attention know already that he is more collegially-minded than John Paul II was. The point of the exhortation is to drive home that the synod, representing the world's bishops has affirmed the liturgical direction of the Holy See exemplified by Redemtionis Sacramentum.

    In paragraph 3, I think we need to be mindful of this context and pay careful attention to the wording. Speaking of the Synod's expression of appreciation for the postconciliar reform, the Pope writes: "The difficulties and even the occasional abuses which were noted, it was affirmed [i.e., by the Synod], cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored." The bolded section makes it seem ambiguous with respect to whether this is something the Pope would affirm on his own part. We can say that where the Synod very explicitly endorsed the post-conciliar reform, Benedict speaks more ambiguously about the positivity of "the reform called for by the Second Vatican Council." Even when speaking about what the synod says, in place of the synod's very concrete language Benedict talks vaguely about a "liturgical renewal . . . whose riches are yet to be fully explored" without explicitly identifying this renewal with the specific road the postconciliar reform has taken.

    I don't wish to be unrealistic, but I think there is a real question as to whether Benedict has really thrown his weight behind "untenable propositions."

  11. Anonymous2:37 PM

    "I am reading: what then does the passage at footnote 97 mean?? "

    If one is divorced and remarried and living as "huband and wife", they cannot recieve Holy Communion but they can still attend Mass.

    If one is divorced and remarried and unable to seperate, as long as they live as "brother and sister", they can receive Holy Communion because they are not committing acts of fornication when they are living platonically. It is fairly simple to understand. It is what is logical and it makes sense.

    Obviously, those in the second situation would publically present themselves as "husband and wife" to those who do not know their situation to avoid scandal for all involved and they would make perfectly clear to those that do know their situation that they are living without physical contact.

  12. Stuart,the church has always allowed for the brother+ sister relationship.People whoa re invalidly marrried but who cannot seperate for certain reasons e.g.children,can live as brother and sister and receive communion as long as it does not cause scandal This was the practice mentioned by JPII in Familiaris Consortio and was the practice as far as I could remember which would be the early 50s.Back then there usually was a stipulation that the bishop must be consulted and if people knew that you were married outside the church then you would have to recieve communion in another parish.

  13. It's not this or that specific prescription, or absence of same, that's disappointing; it's the same old - ahem - "untenable" genuflections to the fictitious glories of the Revolution that make this document so depressing. I really thought we'd spared all that this time.

    Anybody smell dead-on-arrival?

  14. Anonymous2:59 PM

    It seems to me that if the Holy Father disagrees with the wildly fantastic views expressed in paragraph 3 he had every right and the strongest obligation to correct them or at the very least allude to some other authority. After all, his name is on the document. The truth is the whole document is but a development of the theme first introduced in the soon-to-be-infamous paragraph 3. On first reading I sent the following out to my mailing list.

    "I have glanced over it and find it to be a quite infuriating document
    which proceeds from the false assumption stated in its introduction
    that the abuses of the Novus Ordo are "occasional" and "cannot
    overshadow" the "benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal
    whose riches are yet to be fully explored.", and it would be wrong to
    believe that the happy "renewal" represents a discontinuity with the
    past. As a whole, and I haven't yet read the whole thing and may never
    do so as it doesn't seem to be worth the reading, it appears to be yet
    another in the long litany of "putting Humpty together again"
    documents which assume that one can fix the "occasional" difficuties
    with the ever glorious Novus Ordo by issuing mundane and half hearted
    bureacratic exhortations to bishops, priests and what's left of the
    faithful sort of half pleading with, half instructing them to fix up
    some of the little problems that have arisen. I find no hint in it
    concerning the fate of the long delayed motu proprio which some say
    will soon follow except to say that it represents a view of the
    current state of Catholic liturgy that is so completely divorced from
    reality that it is hard to see how anything good and useful concerning
    the liturgy could issue from the same authority that produced it.
    Quoting from the document which says of the Novus Ordo and its

    The difficulties and even the occasional abuses which were noted, it
    was affirmed, cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the
    liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored.
    Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be
    understood within the overall unity of the historical development of
    the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial

  15. Anonymous3:41 PM

    My favourite bit of paragraph 3 (although I am more accustomed to parliamentary than ecclesiastical blarney) is the clause "whose riches are yet to be fully explored " which made me roll my eyes as I pondered what yet may be in store for poor pew-Catholics in the way of further para-liturgical fetishism.

    Mike Hennessy

  16. Anonymous3:45 PM

    A weak document of a weak, slow moving, pontificate.

    We talk so much about the need for bishops with a spine... hey... we have a spineless Pope. That´s what I now realized.

    We need a Pope with a spine. But it seems Cardinal Ratzinger was just faking the presence of a backbone. Either that or he lost it when he accepted the Chair of Peter.

    This pope is still lying to himself if he holds to the chimeras of the Second Vatican Council. And paragraph 3 is just that. Still the promissed oasis, the acheivements of the Council wildly proclaimed but that no one can see.

    If he didn´t agree with the Synod´s assessment reflected in paragraph 3 of his exortation, then he shouldn´t have included that assesment in his magisterial document in a tacit endorsement.
    Our leaders bury themselves in their parallel realities because they can´t face the fact that the reforms willed by the Council went all wrong, and delievered terrible results.

    Now, we still have a pope that just like John Paul the Weak, his puny predecessor, maintains the House line that the Council was great, in spite of a few *minor* "shadows". And what he proposes to adress the tiny "shadows" -- the same old stuff contained in Spiritus et Sponsa, Ecclesia de mysterio, Mane nobiscum Domine, Ecclesia de eucharistia. All in all, Sacramentum Caritatis is a document weaker than Redemptionis Sacramentum, the instruction that never became a reality in our daily lives.

    So, to adress the massive liturgical drama of our days, the Pope sets out his mediocre plan - more of the same, soft talk, no real action. And the same points adressed over and over again by John Paul II, ignoring several other topics. Isn´t it clear that more of the same spineless talk by Rome will only result in our parishes in more of the same abuses?

    That´s the summa of Benedict XVI´s pontificate - great expectations, legnthy waits, disappointment in results, little effectiveness, maintenance of the present course, no great advancement of Tratition, except for very moderate, timid and mild changes in style.

    All too mild and soft for the massive needs required to face the Liturgical crisis. Stop kidding ourselves - the Holy Father isn´t strong enough to pose a strong resistance against the tide of abuses. He has just proven that.

  17. Anonymous3:49 PM

    "whose riches are yet to be fully explored" (infamous paragraph 3, reffering to the Council) = permanent Revolution = permanent "implementation" of the Council = permanent creativity for new abuses! = further destruction of all Tradition, praised as "riches".

    So far no "riches" have come out of the liturgical reform. How dare the Pope talk about "riches" when Our Lord is villified everyday in protestant-like Liturgies that ignore the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Calvary.

  18. Anonymous4:01 PM

    The highlight of this poor document is burryied in a footnote! (6)

  19. For some reason I keep thinking of that line from The Devastated Vineyard in which Von Hildebrand quotes Padre Pio as saying (in response to a man who was lamenting the problems of the liturgical reform ) something to the effect of “you are right, but He is still in the tabernacle, and He will not desert us.”

    It would have been wonderful if the text of the exhortation were more legislative. Would that it would have ordered a return to the ad orientem posture, mandated the use of Latin outside of the Liturgy of the Word, demanded that the place of Eucharistic Reservation again be the center of the High Altar, lauded more emphatically the Church’s treasury of Sacred Music (Renaissance Polyphony as well as Gregorian Chant,) sought to banish lay interference with the distribution of the Eucharist by underlining more clearly the role of the priest in this action, and abolished the communion-in-the-hand-while-standing practice that has become the pathetic norm in so many parts of the world.

    Indeed, given that the document was intended to bring about greater devotion to the Eucharist, it is puzzling why it did none of these things: none of which contradict the council, and all of which would have been corrections of errors that have crept in sense. Talk, even from Rome, is so profoundly cheap. Acta non Verba!

    For my part, I will take comfort in the words of Padre Pio, and pray even harder for the MP. When will this Lent finally end?

  20. Anonymous4:42 PM

    The Pope's first concern is the correct celebration of the Novus Ordo, which is the rite of 99+ percent of the Latin Church. There is no way that he can bring back the old rite overnight, in the way that some readers seem to think. His policy is: get what we have right, and also allow greater freedom to the old rite. This document is no shocker, but it goes in the right direction. The ship is slowly, but surely, being turned back on course.

  21. Anonymous5:01 PM

    Father Zuhlsdorf was at the press conference. Here is the interesting bit [comments mine]:

    "During the press conference The journalist Marco Politi beat me to the topic of the derestriction of the older Missal in light of liturgy and communion. (cf. par. 15). Politi was interested to know how you can have different rites in light of the desire to create unity. The presenter Angelo Card. Scola responded that were liturgy to become a point of division it would be a contraditio in terminis. He thinks that Latin and Gregorian chant can already help. He made reference to the experience of his Patriarcate of Venice, where the indult was applied already by his predecessor and which has eliminated conflict, in his opinion. Scola said that only about 30 people or so attend the older Mass. [I can confirm that] Card. Scola also said we cannot diminish either the importance of the rite of Paul VI or the rite of Pius V. There was never a time in the past when changes of rites resulted in a total abolition of the preceding. [i.e. motu proprio on its way] Concerning what he might know about a forthcoming derestriction of the older Mass, he was not forthcoming with anything new."

  22. Anonymous5:29 PM

    'The Pope's first concern is the correct celebration of the Novus Ordo, which is the rite of 99+ percent of the Latin Church.'

    Yes, and this document is essentially WORTHLESS in the hands of any priest or layman who would hope to effect change at the local parish level.

    I can hear myself begging lamely at the next meeting of the "Worship and Praise" committee: "But look, the Pope says right here that 'the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities', and, look here, he even speaks of 'the need for a hermeneutic of continuity also with regard to the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council'. Don't you people understand?"

    Of course they don't understand. Their eyes will glaze over and they'll continue with their planning of the next liturgical atrocity.

    Enough subtleties, enough chess games. We need leadership and a clear sense of direction that can be implemented on the ground. I don't see it. I have no confidence, except in the Lord. As St. Pio says, "He is still in the tabernacle [wherever it might be hidden], and He will not desert us." For the time being, Rome has deserted us. It's the Arian crisis all over again, yet in the end all will be well -- although perhaps not in my lifetime.

  23. Anonymous5:44 PM

    You guys really need to stop setting yourself up to be disappointed. Most of these hopes and expectations and yearnings for the Apostolic Exhortation were very unrealistic. I think New Catholic gives us a good example to follow of sober realism and caution.

    As Charles Ryder, might I call to your attention the biblical proverb about the man who answers a matter before he hears it?

  24. Anonymous5:47 PM

    "Eucharistic celebrations in small groups

    63. A very different situation arises when, in the interest of more conscious, active and fruitful participation, pastoral circumstances favour small group celebrations. While acknowledging the formative value of this approach, it must be stated that such celebrations should always be consonant with the overall pastoral activity of the Diocese. These celebrations would actually lose their catechetical value if they were felt to be in competition with, or parallel to, the life of the particular Church. In this regard, the Synod set forth some necessary criteria: small groups must serve to unify the community, not to fragment it; the beneficial results ought to be clearly evident; these groups should encourage the fruitful participation of the entire assembly, and preserve as much as possible the unity of the liturgical life of individual families."

    Maybe this is, in some way, related to the Tridentine Mass...

  25. Anonymous6:19 PM

    Not at all. That's against the Neocats.

  26. Perhaps this holds the only hope of Para. 3?

    Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities.(6)

  27. Anonymous6:58 PM

    'Most of these hopes and expectations and yearnings for the Apostolic Exhortation were very unrealistic.'

    Where, then, are we to pin our hopes (in the temporal realm) for a reform of the Novus Ordo? This document for the most part affirms the status quo. As someone observed recently, Cardinal Mahoney is probably popping a champagne cork about now.

    Again, I was hoping for a document that could be used as leverage in discussion and debate with local liturgical innovators. What we have been given is hardly suited for that purpose. When I point to the paragraphs about the substantive meaning of active participation, the innovators will point to the infamous paragraph 3. In fact, everything points back to that paragraph, and it simply doesn't work to say that the Pope is merely acknowledging the opinion of the Synod -- it is HIS name on the document. As for footnote 6, it's too subtle. The innovators will yawn and continue with their wrecking.

    All of that said, I will pray for the Pope and I mean no disrespect. He is a much wiser and holier man than I, and I do not envy his position.

  28. Anonymous7:39 PM

    Sacramentum Caritatis.

    The hollow words of a feeble Pope.

  29. As people have already pointed out, the "Concretely..." sentence of paragraph 3 appears to represent the Pope's own view, whereas the rest is reporting the conclusions of the bishops.

    There is still room for the Ratzingerian view that a discontinuous liturgy was fabricated in contravention of the "true" spirit of the council. But if that view should find clear expression, it will find it in some other document.

  30. Anonymous8:46 PM

    "There is still room for the Ratzingerian view that a discontinuous liturgy was fabricated in contravention of the "true" spirit of the council. But if that view should find clear expression, it will find it in some other document."

    Exactly Poeta.

    If the liturgy does not correspond to the true intent of the Council, then the liturgy must change back, so as to depart from the innovations and root itself in the traditions of which the Council never intended to depart. BUT THAT´S NOT WHAT THIS DOCUMENT DOES. IT SIMPLY MAINTAINS THE STATUS QUO OF MILD AND INEFFECTIVE WOJTYLAN ADMONITIONS IN THE STYLE OF THE DOCUMENTS ISSUED DURING THE "YEAR OF THE EUCHARIST". We should be past that.

  31. Anonymous9:27 PM

    "De Sacramento Caritatis"---

    How the divine Good Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus Christ, so strongly desires to feed, nourish, tend and defend all His orthodox Roman Catholic flock!

    Unfortunately, the orthodox Roman Catholic Church has been divided in its worship for the last forty years by a liturgical war between the "Novus Ordo Missae" and the "Missa Latina Tridentina." Accompanying all this, orthodox Roman Catholocism has been under grevious assault by the most virulent of heresies i.e. modernism, a veritable synthesis of all pernicious heresies, as predicted by St.Pius X at the beginning of the last century.

    Through modernism's insidious and clandestine maneuvers, as well as its heterdox liberal advocates, it has managed to create this seemingly insoluble liturgical crisis of faith and worship in the historically orthodox Roman Catholic Church. We all know how much Our Divine Lord so wishes to feed, nourish, tend, and defend each and every one of His orthodox Roman Catholic flock. Nor has Our Dearest Lord ever failed in this, His most loving mission-- either in the past or even to this very day. How, we inquire, is this still true in light of the wreckage of this divisive liturgical war that has divided the Church like never before.

    We see a gigantic figure crossing the stage of Catholic history who is humble and unassuming, vigilant for the flock, and dedicated to feeding all of His Master's sheep with theological truth in teaching and liturgical orthodoxy in worship. Like his divine Master, this quiet yet powerful figure, is working like none of his predecessors-- for many, many years --to literally feed, nourish, tend and defend Christ's flock. He is doing this with the nourishment and food of His Divine Master and by tending with a brave hand and mending this gigantic rift of liturgical warfare between the "Novus Ordo Missae" of Vatican II and the centuries old worship of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, the "Missa Latina Tridentina." Soon, very soon, Benedict XVI will release the "Missa Latina Tridentina" as the preferrred worship of the Latin Rite as it has been for ages!

    This document is a thoroughly, thoroughly orthodox Roman Catholic document by the hand of Holy Mother Church and guided by this holy pope, Benedict XVI.

    We must be patient for he will heal this rift in the Church Universal through the hand of the Good Shepherd himself. That he has encouraged Latin again in the seminaries and all priests--celibate-- should study for this end of saying Mass in Latin: the Tridentine Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo Missae is a great blessing and a valiant beginning towards the great restoration about to bloom forth.

    May we continue steadfast in our prayers for this needed pope of our times, Benedict XVI, and be hopeful that he will stay the course with saintly fortitude and fervor in this battle of the Roman Catholic faith today by the hand of the Divine Shepherd Himself ! God bless.
    j hughes dunphy

  32. Anonymous11:47 PM

    'This document is a thoroughly, thoroughly orthodox Roman Catholic document ...'

    At the bare minimum standard of orthodoxy, yes. These times require more than the bare minimum standard.

  33. Two further thoughts:

    1. Pope Benedict (c.f. para 3) notes the liturgy has not been concretely realized. We can conclude that the reform of the reform is still on. I must add that paragraph 3 looks like one of those liberal-conservative patches in Vatican II that sought to please all sides. The key will be if Pope Benedict can put teeth to "concrete realization".

    2. Also interesting to note is the concluding references to the ever-Virgin Mary, unlike previous "ecumenical" undertones of previous documents issued over the years.

  34. Pascendi says: "... paragraph 3 looks like one of those liberal-conservative patches in Vatican II that sought to please all sides."

    I also discern in the remarks about the "benefits" and "riches" of the liturgical renewal an echo of bons mots that go back to John Paul II. In his In his Final Report of the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (7 December 1985), John Paul stated:

    "The liturgical renewal is the most visible fruit of the whole conciliar effort. Even if there have been some difficulties, it has generally been received joyfully and fruitfully by the faithful. ... The active participation so happily increased after the Council does not consist only in external activity, but above all in interior and spiritual participation, in living and fruitful participation in the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ." (II, B, b, 1) These bons mots are repeated in his Vicesimus Quintus Annus (1988 ) on 25th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium (in #12).

    As is often the case with John Paul, his description of the status quo verges toward wishful thinking. If his description were accurate, our Perpetual Adoration chapels would be packed, our Confessional lines would be long, our seminaries would be full, and our liturgies would be an expression of reverence and source of joy and consolation to all. As it is, this ebullient statement is lodged within larger passages acknowledging certain 'difficulties' in the implementation of the Vatican II reforms. Indeed.

    All of which makes me wonder whether Benedict isn't simply offering a retrospective summation of the 2005 Synod rather than using the Exhortation as an occasion for introducing ideas that were no part of the discussion. If there is any grain of truth in this, it may be that we must wait for something more to come later in the Motu proprio and thereafter. -- Back to the Lenten observance ...

  35. "There are certainly some untenable assertions"

    Is it really an insult gently to ask you to reflect on the import of these words and inquire whether a defense of the Holy Father's "certainly untenable assertions" will be permitted?

    Will the Holy Father's magisterial teachings end up not just being disputed, but treated as beyond the pale on Rorate Caeli? I hope not...

  36. They do not carry the full weight of the Magisterium if they are mere assertions of historical events, Jeff. This is the end of this discussion for now -- this is not the appropriate time to discuss some assertions of a historical nature which merit further debate regarding their accuracy.

  37. This is NOT a response to your explanation, but rather some of my own observations about par. 3 of the text which I made prior to reading your post.

    In a particular way, the Synod Fathers acknowledged and reaffirmed the beneficial influence on the Church's life of the liturgical renewal which began with the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (5). The Synod of Bishops was able to evaluate the reception of the renewal in the years following the Council. There were many expressions of appreciation. The difficulties and even the occasional abuses which were noted, it was affirmed, cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal, whose riches are yet to be fully explored. Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities.(6)

    Some things to notice are:

    1. The Holy Father does not endorse these conclusions. He merely notes that "the Synod Fathers" said or thought thus and such. The phrase "there were many expressions of appreciation" verges on the hilariously ironic.* "Oh, were there," one wants to exclaim...

    2. The "beneficial influence" of the liturgical renewal is alluded to, but we are not told that all or even most of this influence was in fact "beneficial." Just whatever WAS beneficial is mentioned. The renewal itself is distinguished carefully from the reception of the renewal, i.e, it's practical working out over time. This reception is NOT endorsed.

    3. The Pope says that the abuses which have occurred cannot overshadow the renewal. BUT, he notes, the renewal, "has yet to be fully explored." The implication seems to be that the renewal is not yet properly achieved and the benefits alluded to might well remain in the future. Even if you thought a rediscovery of the old rite after a passage of fire was the only possible fruit of this renewal, your view could fit comfortably here.

    4. The touchstone for the evaluation of the renewal is shown to be how closely it hews to the spirit and organic form of the old rite, by the insertion of the phrase about "artifical discontinuities". Thus, to the extent that the new rite or its celebration appears new and thus inorganic, it is a foreign body in the life of the church.

    And the last sentence--Notice!--is the only hortatory one in the paragraph. This is the only one containing a prescription from the Pope, rather than a passing DEscription of what the Synod Fathers did and thought. And the Pope is telling us that we have to evaluate the fruits of liturgical reform by measuring them against this strict standard.

    Altogether, it seems to me to be a brilliant paragraph. Anyone who has ears, let him hear.

    * No one should doubt that the Pope is a past master of ironic humor. Remember his recent question and answer session with Italian priests? One priest droned on and on about some personal theory of his own regarding martyrs. The Pope listened and then said, "In posing your question as you did, you answered it yourself. So all that is left for me to say is..."Yes!" The assembled priests burst out laughing. "We will meditate on your words," continued the Pope, causing more hilarity.

  38. People are really grasping at straws in order to make this a good document.

    Do you seriously think that the Pope is using "hilarious irony" in an OFFICIAL ACT OF THE VICAR OF CHRIST? Even if he is, that's a blameworthy thing in itself . . .

    The document has his name on it. Everything in it has his approval. It would be dishonest and, frankly, stupid of him to write things like this about liturgical history if he didn't mean it. No one is going to pick this up, read paragraph 3, and think "well, he's really critical of the liturgical reforms after the Council!" They're going to think that he is overwhelmingly approving of them - the abuses, after all, unfortunate though they were, are nothing compared to the "riches" the reforms brought about . . . .

  39. Anonymous4:23 PM

    Gregg is right. Let's stop trying to turn this document into something that it's not, and this pope into something that he is not. I love the Holy Father. He needs our prayers. However, the unfortunate fact is that he is a neo-conservative with certain traditional affinities, and the former outweighs the latter. We've known this all along. Like many others, I've gotten my hopes up too far. What has become clear to me in the past two days is that without a fundamental theological renewal of the Novus Ordo Mass, nothing is really going to change. Benedict XVI is simply not the man to lead that renewal.

  40. Greg:

    It's called "reading" not "grasping at straws."

    Yes, I think the Pope is being ironic about "there were many expressions of appreciation." Do you think it lacks significance that rather than endorsing and teaching in these areas, the Pope--extremely oddly--simply REPORTS in a neutral tone what the bishops said?

    Do you think it means nothing that in his ultimate sentence he finally DOES express his own opinion and then places all the discussions into a context in which he makes clear that judgment on all "liturgical fruits" are subject to an objective standard of value?

    The Pope is in the business of persuading and rather than simply saying, "You fools! How can you call this desolation a renewal?", he takes the good in what people say and uses it as a tool to direct future thought and contemplation.

    It's an EXHORTATION, not a piece of legislation. Anyone who expected anything substantially different from what this document provides was silly. Now, the motu proprio will have a unitary CONTEXT in which to be set and will appear as one particular action in aid of genuine renewal of the liturgy, rather than an attempt to replace the Novus Ordo.

    Which is all to the good, no matter what you believe about the liturgy.

  41. I do agree with brideshead. I have been saying this on every site since the election of Benedict.

    The Pope is NOT a "traditionalist." He is a Catholic who believes in the Second Vatican council in its essentials, but who sees certain grave problems in its application, especially its liturgical application.

    He believes that the reform of the liturgy went too far and that the liturgical spirit was lost. He believes that revival of the old Mass will help get the liturgical renewal back on track. And he thinks there is nothing wrong with the old Mass and it should be loved, fostered, and encouraged for those who want it and that it has a vital place to play in the life of the Church.

    But he thinks the new Mass as it is on the books is full of good things and can be a perfectly good beginning for liturgical renewal in the Church. And he believes that prayerful patience and an incremental approach is the way to change it. So he happily faces the people and uses all the Eucharistic Prayers when he says Mass so as not to cause a new liturgical breach.

    Not enough? That's the best you will ever get.

  42. Anonymous1:12 AM

    Athanasius has an excellent commentary on the negative comments of the exhortation.

    See Athanasius' remarks

  43. Anonymous6:09 AM

    'The Pope is NOT a "traditionalist."'

    One does not have to be a "traditionalist" in the strong sense to make a strong affirmation of traditional doctrine.

    'If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema.' (Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon 3)

    Sacramentum Caritatis does not deny the essential Catholic truth that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiary both for the living and the dead, it merely ignores it. So too does the Novus Ordo. This is a fundamental problem (more fundamental than the "known abuses" of the reform), and SC does NOTHING to address it, it only perpetuates it.

  44. Certainly the Pope is not a "traditionalist," but (practically alone among the Cardinals of 2005) he perceives that the Church has a need for the traditional Mass. Perhaps he thinks so for Hegelian reasons, i.e., to create an ultimate "synthesis" with the Novus Ordo, but that is not really important.

    If he were to make a statement along the lines of "It is expedient that the Old Mass should be restored for the sake of the Novus Ordo, that the whole Church should not perish," that statement could be prophetic despite the concrete results he might intend. He says it not of himself, but because he is High Priest this year. Let the sacrifice take place, for the good of the nation.

    The Mass itself will instruct the people and the priests of tomorrow.

  45. To avoid confusion with the liturgical constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium" (SC) I suggest abbreviating Sacramentum Caritas not as SC, but as SCa.

    Brideshead, I think you are being unfair. The pope clearly affirms the importance of offering Masses for the dead (SCa 32).

    New Catholic, can you clarify whether it will be acceptable for anyone to defend the tenability of the pope's assertions on liturgical history. I definitely understand if you think this would only stir up pointless and bad-blooded controversy.

  46. Anonymous6:18 PM

    With Peter,

    Point well taken regarding SCa 32. Nevertheless, the salutary reminder that Masses should be offered for the dead ought to have be underscored and framed by a re-affirmation that the Mass IN ITSELF is a propitiary sacrifice. Maybe I'm not being entirely fair (although I have elsewhere pointed out the postive aspects of this document), yet I still see it as a teaching opportunity largely missed.

    By the way, no one seems to be preventing you from defending the tenability of the Pope's assertions on liturgical history, and I see no bad blood as a result, just a healthy debate.

  47. I've gotten into a little trouble with New Catholic in the past. I had a string of posts deleted. I don't hold it the least bit against him. I was indeed stirring up controversy and bad blood.

    You and I are in more or less full agreement, Brideshead. I understand your disappointment, but by the same token, this document disappoints you far, far less than it will disappoint "progressives."

    I think this document is actually a rather huge step because I think it will have a rather profound solidifying effect on the culture of today's bishops.

  48. Anonymous12:16 PM

    'I think this document is actually a rather huge step because I think it will have a rather profound solidifying effect on the culture of today's bishops.'

    We shall see. In any case, I am using passages from the Apostolic Exhortation in a letter to our pastor, in an attempt to effect a little "reform of the reform" close to home.

  49. This document is a very poor document. Actually it did not incorporate any of the propositions of the then Cadinal Joseph Ratzinger in his book the spirit of the liturgy. As to whether Benedict XVI is a traditionalist, in view of his hegelian formation, I must say that he is not. He is a conciliar conservative, although definitely a traditionalist when compared to Paul VI.

  50. Anonymous5:13 AM

    The Apostolic Exhortation does in fact incorporate many of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's propositions in *The Spirit of the Liturgy*, for better (e.g., the value of Eucharistic Adoration outside of Mass) and for worse (e.g., a diminution of the traditional theology of sacrifice). There is much that is good in the document, yet on balance it remains a disappointment.

  51. But none of the pratical recommendations for the mass of the then Cardinal Ratzinger, e.g.: the crucifix in the altar.

  52. A disappointment is something that does not meet expectations.

    Let's set side-by-side these five Eucharistic documents: Mysterium Fidei (1965), Dominicae Cenae (1980), Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), Mane Nobiscum Domine (2004) and Sacramentum Caritatis (2007).

    Which one represents the clearest enunciation of traditional Catholic theology and catechesis?

    This should be the guage of whether traditionalists consider this document a "disappointment."


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