Monday, June 23, 2008

And the Times Online had this to say

Pope says old-rite Latin Mass should be on offer in every Catholic parish
June 17, 2008

The Vatican is writing to seminaries to request all student priests are trained in how to say the Tridentine Mass, a liturgy abandoned for Mass in the vernacular in the 1960s

Pope Benedict XVI wants every parish in the West to offer believers the Mass in the Tridentine or Gregorian Rite, the Latin-language liturgy used until the 1960s by every Catholic church in the world.

The Vatican is now writing to seminaries to ask that student priests be required to learn the rite, which, in widescale liturgical changes following the modernising church council Vatican II (1962-5), was largely replaced by Mass in the vernacular.

The Pope wishes every parish to offer both rites for Sunday Mass, an eminent Vatican Cardinal announced in London on Saturday. Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, said: “The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.”

It was a “gift” and a “treasure,” Castrillon Hoyos said, hours before celebrating a Tridentine liturgy attended by some 1,500 worshippers at Westminster Cathedral on June 14. “This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful – the deepest theologians’ way to express our faith. The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure.”

He attacked claims by Catholics who claim the Tridentine revival is a step backwards liturgically, saying: “Others think that the Holy Father is going against the Second Vatican Council. That is absolute ignorance. The Fathers of the Council, never celebrated a Mass other than the Gregorian one. It [the Novus Ordo] came after the Council ? The Holy Father, who is a theologian and who was in the preparation for the Council, is acting exactly in the way of the Council, offering with freedom the different kinds of celebration.”

He added: "The experience of these 40 years has not always been so good. Many people abandoned the sense of adoration (of God)?

There is (now) an atmosphere that makes it possible for these abuses and that atmosphere must be changed,” he said in English. “It is not a matter of confrontation but of dialogue — fraternal dialogue — making efforts to understand the precious things contained in the new and the old rites.”

Used worldwide in Catholic parishes from 1570 until the 1960s, the Tridentine Rite also differs in key aspects from the modern Catholic liturgy. In the modern Mass, a priest will face the congregants, in the Tridentine Rite, he will pray facing the altar, traditionally placed facing East, towards Jerusalem, and thus the direction of the place from which Christ is believed to have ascended to heaven.

In July 2007. Benedict XVI announced that every priest who wished to do so might celebrate Mass in the Tridentine Rite – without requiring, as had previously been the case, permission from their local bishop.

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos added: “Today for many bishops it is difficult because they don’t have priests who don’t know Latin.

Many seminaries give very few hours to Latin – not enough to give the necessary preparation to celebrate in a good way the Extraordinary Form.”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Latin Days Are Here Again?

Pope Benedict wants to revive the Latin mass in Roman Catholic worship. But what exactly does that mean?
George Weigel
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 11:19 AM ET Jun 19, 2008

Is Pope Benedict XVI determined to restore the Latin mass that many Roman Catholics thought had been consigned to the dustbin of history? The answer, in short, is both yes and no. But neither the "yes" nor the "no" quite fits the conventional speculations in several recent media reports following off-the-cuff remarks to a small Catholic association in Great Britain by a Vatican official. In unraveling this, it helps to begin at the beginning.

As he reminds us in his memoir, "Salt of the Earth," the young Joseph Ratzinger was deeply influenced, both spiritually and intellectually, by the mid-20th-century movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church's public worship--a movement that helped pave the way for the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Father Ratzinger was a peritus, a theological expert, at the council, and like many others, he welcomed the council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: here was a ratification of the liturgical reform movement he had long supported and a blueprint for further organic development of the celebration of mass. In the immediate aftermath of Vatican II, however, Ratzinger became convinced that organic development had been jettisoned for revolution, the liturgical Jacobins being a cadre of academics determined to impose their view of a populist liturgy on the entire Catholic Church.

In the decades between Vatican II and his election as Benedict XVI, Ratzinger became a leader in what became known as "the reform of the reform": a loosely knit international network of laity, bishops, priests and scholars, committed to returning the process of liturgical development in the Catholic Church to what they understood to be the authentic blueprint of Vatican II. Seeing a Gregorian chant CD from an obscure Spanish monastery rise to the top of the pop charts in the 1990s, they wondered why much of the church had abandoned one of Catholicism's classic musical forms. Finding congregations that seemed more interested in self-affirmation than worship, and priests given to making their personalities the center of the liturgical action, they asked whether the rush to create a kind of sacred circle in which the priest faces the people over the eucharistic "table" might have something to do with the problem.

And they reminded the entire church that Vatican II had not mandated many of the things most Catholics thought it had decreed: for example, the elimination of Latin (and chant) from the liturgy and the free-standing altar behind which the priest faced the congregation.

Over the past 40 years, the Catholic liturgical wars have tended to be fought among specialists and activists. The largest post-Vatican II splinter group, associated with the excommunicated French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, certainly had its problems with the new liturgy; but the deeper cause of the Lefebvrists' march into schism was their rejection of Vatican II's teaching on religious freedom, which they deemed heresy. The overwhelming majority of Catholics throughout the world have welcomed the new form of the mass that became normative in 1970, a mass celebrated entirely in English (or Spanish or French or Polish, or whatever language the congregation speaks). Over time, the silly season in Catholic liturgy that peaked in the 1970s--"clown" masses (with the priest vested as Bozo or somesuch), free-for-all prayers that ignored the prescribed rite, dreadful pop music, inept "liturgical dance," a general lack of decorum--began to recede. A re-sacralization of Catholic worship became evident in many parishes. What Ratzinger and other specialists had called "the reform of the reform" was underway at the grass roots, and under its own steam.

It was to accelerate that "reform of the reform" that Benedict XVI issued a decree last summer permitting the widespread use of the 1962 Roman rite, known technically as the Missal of John XXIII. Amidst the recent, fevered speculations that Latin days are here again, it's important to note what the Missal of John XXIII is not. It is not the "Tridentine Rite," because it includes modifications of the missal mandated by the Council of Trent in the 16th century; it is not the "mass of Pius V," which some Catholic megatraditionalists argue is the only valid form of Catholic worship. It is, in fact, the mass as celebrated every day at every session of the Second Vatican Council. (The 1962 missal did contain a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews, which some, but certainly not all, Jews found offensive. After a brief flurry of criticism, Benedict XVI modified the prayer; conversations about its further alteration continue. The modified prayer was used in the minuscule number of Catholic congregations that celebrated Holy Week 2008 according to the Missal of John XXIII; no pogroms resulted, and indeed the argument seems to have died out.)

Some may find it ironic that the "old Latin mass" that Benedict XVI has permitted is precisely the mass as known by Pope John XXIII, hero of Catholic progressivism. But there is in fact something "progressive," in the sense of reformist, about Benedict's strategy here.

Yes, the mass of John XXIII is celebrated in Latin, and yes, it is often celebrated (although it need not be) with the priest and the congregation facing the same direction as they pray--looking together, as classic liturgical theology teaches, toward the return of Christ and the inauguration of the heavenly Jerusalem. But the pope's point in making this form of liturgy more widely available is neither nostalgic nor retrogade. Rather, by encouraging the more widespread celebration of this classic form of the always-evolving Roman rite, Benedict XVI intends to create a kind of liturgical magnet, drawing the "reform of the reform" in the direction of greater reverence in the Catholic Church's public worship. In doing so, the pope is also reminding the church that, as Vatican II put it, the mass is a moment of privileged participation in "that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle." "Going to mass," in other words, is not something we do for ourselves, or something we make up ourselves; liturgical worship is our participation in something God is doing for us.

Will this Benedictine reform-of-the-reform mean that every Catholic parish will soon have at least one Sunday celebration of mass in Latin, using the Missal of John XXIII? It seems unlikely, not least because very few priests today are competent Latinists. But in those places where the Latin mass of 1962 is celebrated reverently and without nostalgic accretions (lace-bedecked older vestments, for example), it will be a source of spiritual nourishment for the minority that prefers this way of worship, even as it introduces a new generation to what will be, for them, a new form of liturgy. In international settings, the use of this rite in Latin may help revive that ancient tongue as a common Catholic language for common worship--no small matter in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic church. Among scholars and parish clergy alike, the more widespread celebration of mass according to the Missal of John XXIII may prove to be the reformist magnet that Benedict XVI wants it to be, encouraging those who are already at work re-sacralizing the liturgy.

And the net result, over time? Almost certainly not "Latin days are here again" in every Catholic parish but rather a more reverent, more prayerful celebration of mass according to a reformed missal of 1970--and according to what the Second Vatican Council actually prescribed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New pope continues traditions

VATICAN CITY -Pope Benedict XVI reinforced his caretaker image yesterday, reappointing the entire Vatican hierarchy chosen by his populist predecessor, John Paul II. At the same time, the new pontiff sought to dispel any impression that he was aloof or dour.

He waved and smiled at crowds gathered along the short stretch between the Vatican gates and his old apartment, where he spent some time in the afternoon. "Viva il papa!" some shouted. The pope, dressed all in white, raised both hands in a greeting.

His schedule also shows hints of the openness and symbolic gestures that were at the heart of John Paul's reign: a meeting with journalists Saturday, an outdoor Mass to formally take the papal throne Sunday and a visit Monday to a church built over the tomb of St. Paul -an apostle who carries deep significance for Roman Catholics and Christian Orthodox.

The Vatican even unveiled new e-mail addresses for Benedict, following an innovation started by John Paul.

In the first days of his papacy, the 78-year-old Benedict has projected two clear styles.

One was expected: The confident and well-prepared Vatican insider who was one of John Paul's closest advisers for more than two decades. His decisions on the top-level posts came quickly -some popes have struggled for weeks -and showed continuity with his predecessor.

Benedict was reported to have told cardinals shortly after he was elected that his papacy would be a short reign.

Friday, April 22, 2005
The Associated Press

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pope welcomes Islamic delegation to Vatican

From: Agence France Presse (AFP)
Friday, June 13, 2008

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday met a delegation of Muslim dignitaries at a Vatican meeting ahead of a high-level inter-faith forum this November. The Muslim delegation represented an Islamic international conference held early this month in Mecca which called for increased inter-faith dialogue, Algerian academic Mustapha Cherif said in a statement.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Roman Catholic Church's point man for dialogue with Islam, was present at the audience with the pope, the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano noted.

The conference titled "Christians and Muslims, Witnesses of the God of Justice, Peace and Compassion in a World that Suffers from Violence" was to continue until Friday. It will lay the groundwork for a high-level Catholic-Muslim Forum set to hold its inaugural meeting November 4-6 in Rome, with a follow-up to be held in a Muslim country in 2010.

The unprecedented forum was scheduled in early March in response to a letter by 138 Muslim leaders in October 2007 calling for heightened dialogue with Christians. The initiative was sparked by the pope's own controversial speech at a German university in 2006, when he appeared to link Islam with violence.

The structure could also be activated in case of a crisis such as the global uproar that followed the publication of cartoons of Mohammed in 2005. The conference in Mecca set up a center to promote inter-faith dialogue, as advocated by Saudi King Abdullah.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Take God Out of the "Parentheses," Urges Pope

If people want to have hope and find meaning in their lives, they need to take God out of the "parentheses," says Benedict XVI.The Pope affirmed this Monday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran when he inaugurated the ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome. The event is under way through Thursday, focused on the theme: "Jesus Has Risen: Educating for Hope in Prayer, Action and Suffering."

The Holy Father referred to the subject of Christian hope, explaining that, "in a certain way, it concerns each of us personally, [...] but it is also a community hope, a hope for the Church and for the entire human family."

"In today's society and culture, and hence also in this our beloved city of Rome, it is not easy to live in an atmosphere of Christian hope," he said. "There is a widespread feeling that, for both Italy and Europe, the best years have passed and that a future of instability and uncertainty awaits the new generations."

"Moreover," the Pontiff added, "hopes for great novelties and improvements are concentrated on science and technology." Yet, "it is not science and technology that can give meaning to our lives and teach us to distinguish good from evil. Indeed, as I wrote in my encyclical 'Spe Salvi,' it is not science that redeems man: Man is redeemed by love, and this applies even in terms of the present world.

"Benedict XVI lamented how "our civilization and our culture [...] too often tend to place God in parentheses, to organize personal and social life without him, to maintain that nothing can be known of God, even to deny his existence. But when God is laid aside, [...] all our hopes, great and small, rest on nothing.

"In order, then, to 'educate for hope' -- as we propose in this congress and during the coming pastoral year -- it is necessary, in the first place, to open our hearts, our intellects and all our lives to God, in order to be his credible witnesses among our fellow man."

The Bishop of Rome mentioned some concrete areas in which the Church will work to better the Eternal City.

"An acute and widespread awareness of the evils and problems afflicting the heart of Rome is reawakening the desire for [...] joint commitment," he said. "It is our task to make our own specific contribution, beginning with the decisive question of the education and formation of the person, but also facing with a constructive spirit the many other real problems that often make the lives of those who live in this city wearisome."

In particular we will seek to promote a form of culture and social organization more favorable to the family and to welcoming life, as well to valuing the elderly who are so numerous among the population of Rome. "We will work to respond to the crucial needs of work and housing, especially for the young. We will share the commitment to make our city safer and more 'liveable,' but we will work to ensure it is so for everyone, especially the poorest, and to ensure that immigrants who come among us to find a living space in respect for our laws are not excluded."

Benedict XVI concluded his address by encouraging young people to make "the gift of Christian hope" their own, using it "in freedom and responsibility [...] to enliven the future of our beloved city."

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Author Notes Secret to Pope's Efficacy

Says It's More Than Benedict XVI's Keen Mind
By Marta Lago
ROME, MAY 26, 2008

Benedict XVI is an effective communicator, not just because every talk he gives is like an "encyclical in miniature," but because there is a secret to his efficacy, affirmed the author of a biography of the Pope.

That secret, says Giuseppe De Carli, is the beauty "that convinces almost more than rational arguments: love, friendship with God, the joy of being Christian. ... Tell me that this is not a Pope who is happy to be Christian."

De Carli, head of the Vatican bureau of the Italian public broadcaster Radiotelevisione Italiana, and a 20-year veteran in covering the See of Peter, has just released "Benedictus: Servus Servorum Dei" (Benedict: Servant of the Servants of God).

The book was presented last week by a group of Church and civil leaders along with the author.
The volume opens with De Carli's description of the Pope as "a man of timid character on the stage of the world." De Carli said he hopes the book "will be at least be placed among those contributions that help in some way to understanding Benedict XVI's personality."

"I made an entirely journalistic attempt to talk about Joseph Ratzinger," De Carli said. "It is the only edition of a newspaper; indeed, it is a newspaper-book. Today there are newspapers that seem like books; I wrote a book that seems like a newspaper."

"We have gone from the communicative and charismatic eruption of John Paul II to a kind of effective communicative minimalism with Pope Ratzinger," the author proposed. "It is effective because it is not supported by the physicality of gestures."

Every talk given by Benedict XVI is an "encyclical in miniature," De Carli said. The Pope's intellectual profile "is that of one who knows how to teach," and "his public, in its many-sidedness, would be surprised by an advertiser."

De Carli suggested: "Pope Wojtyla's style was centrifugal -- he obliged the media to abandon all logic and follow him toward everything and everyone. Benedict XVI's style is centripetal -- he obliges the media to turn toward the mystery that the Church represents with its liturgical tradition.

"From that which has been seen so far, it is a pontificate of concentration and deepening. [...] The fulcrum of the Christian faith is charity, love, it is the only thing that can give a prospect of hope and then rationality and the beauty of the faith.

"I believe that he is a pastor who says much to the people of our time, those who believe and also those who don't believe."