Rorate Caeli

FIUV Position Papers: a reply to critics

I am very grateful to those who have taken the trouble to comment on my posts so far, and particularly on the paper about the Service of the Altar. I am not going to complain about people disagreeing with the papers, in content or methodology, even vigorously. Criticisms always tell you something - though sometimes it might not be what the critics intended to tell you, but something about themselves...

I'm not talking about vulgar abuse, which as I said in my last post should be swiftly deleted from comments boxes, and simply ignored when the abuser has his own blog. By contrast, criticism can be fair or unfair, it can be accurate or misguided, but all of it tells us about how what are doing comes across, what misunderstandings we need to guard against, which techniques we are using work on a particular audience, and what we have missed.

 (I also wrote a follow up post.)

For those who'd rather not join in the fray in the comments box, we have created a special email address for comments on these papers:

positio AT

 So some fairly rapid responses to some common criticisms.

Why aren't we tackling the issues of prefaces and new Saints first?

Mainly for practical reasons. Papers on these subjects need more specialised knowledge than most and they aren't the ones we've done first. It is also true, as one commentator pointed out, that it is hard to respond to proposals which are unknown in detail. Nevertheless, papers on these subjects will appear when they are ready. The topics I listed in my first post are those where I know a paper will be ready within a month or two.

Why are we kicking off with a subject - altar girls - as settled as any aspect of the '62 books could be?

Precisely because we can write defending the tradition with the full authority of the Holy See, on this topic. Because the PCED, with the authority vested in it by the Holy Father, has made it clear that altar girls are forbidden in the EF, this removes many prejudices against the kinds of argument we are going to use. These arguments allow us to establish theological paradigms, parallels, and principles, which are applicable to other topics. What we are going to need for a defence of the integrity of tradition is a really secure understanding of such concepts as the objective tradition and the incarnation of theology in the liturgy (lex orandi lex credendi). If we can find the post-Conciliar Magisterium and respected mainstream theologians articulating these concepts, on any topic, this has great value.

Why aren't we just saying 'No!'?

Because ultimately these matters will be decided by weight of argument, not by polemic or political maneuvering. Which is not to say that polemics and politics aren't important, or that the supporters of tradition shouldn't engage in the struggle at those levels. It is just to say that this particular project is about something different, which is ultimately important: about bringing out the truth, which will ultimately prevail. And this in two senses: ultimately, in the sense that Christ has not abandoned His Church; and less ultimately, though still long term, the weight of argument bears down on attitudes in the Curia, the Episcopate, in Seminaries and Universities, and becomes manifested in policy. The modernists triumphed politically in the 1960s because they had got the upper hand intellectually a generation or more previously. Now the defenders of tradition are winning the arguments, and we are concerned to help that process along.

Are we opposed to all change in principle?

No. Development of the tradition is inevitable and healthy. At the present juncture, however, New Catholic is absolutely correct in saying that what we need is a period of calm, as far as liturgical legislation goes. All the same, there are issues in which change is inevitable (new Saints), and needs to be done with great sensitivity. And there are cases in which undoing some damage to the tradition done prior to 1962 would be positive. But every issue must be addressed on its own merits.

I'm going to try to maintain a pace of publication of at least one paper a month. I would be delighted to hear from people with expertise who would like to offer ideas or even drafts of papers on future topics, with three provisos. Everyone involved must accept:

They can't be offended if little or nothing of what they've contributed makes it to the final version. Keeping the word-count down to 1,500 requires ruthless editing. Keeping the programme running may also mean cutting discussions off before everyone is convinced.

They don't try to claim responsibility for something which involves a team of people and multiple revisions, and is published under the FIUV name only.

They don't reveal internal discussions, early drafts and so on. Internal discussion is frank and confidential. For those outside the FIUV working group, discussion would be mediated by me.

I'd also be delighted to hear from people with language skills, who have the time to devote to translation work, for these papers and other things as well. FIUV has established a translation team but many hands make light work.