21 February 2014

Ratzinger on Liturgical Law (2)

I believe that Cardinal Ratzinger, the first Anglo-Catholic Cardinal, pioneered a new approach to the concept of what is, liturgically, licit. It is an attitude which has strong links with the views of Anglican liturgists such as Dom Gregory Dix and Prebendary Michael Moreton, with the attitude to liturgical liceity which was held by the grat Anglo-Papalist priests such as Fynes-Clinton, Baverstock, Hole; and is ecclesiologically significant. It appears also to have links with Orthodox ecclesiology. Here are two passages which the cardinal wrote in 1998.

"Pius V ... decided to introduce the Missale Romanum, the Mass book of the Church of the City of Rome, as indubitably Catholic, in all places where it could not be demonstrated that the liturgy was of at least 200 years'a antiquity. In other cases the liturgy in use could be retained, since its Catholic character could be considered certain. There was therefore no question of forbidding the use of a traditional Missal which had been juridically valid until that time ... " " ... It is good here to recall what Cardinal Newman observed*, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy, that is to say, one which expresses the true faith, is never a compilation made according to the pragmatic criteria of different ceremonies, handled in a positivist and arbitrary way, one way today and another way tomorrow. The orthodox forms of a rite are living realities, born out of the dialect of love between the Church and her Lord. They are expressions of the life of the Church, in which are distilled the faith, the prayer, and the very life of past generations, and which make incarnate in specific forms both the action of God and the response of man. Such rites can die, if those who have used them in a particular era should disappear, or if the life-situation of those same people should change. The authority of the church had the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them!"


*Can anyone provide a reference to this?

All italics are mine.

Continues later with my comments on these texts.


Arthur Rusdell-Wilson said...

Pope Benedict is showing himself to be a great Pope of ecumenism. The historical liturgical principles here outlined will be important when the time comes for Ordinariates with Lutheran patrimony (for example) to be erected.

Daphne Point said...

What does "ecclesiologically" mean, Father Gunsight?

Mrs D Point

Mgr Andrew Wadsworth said...

Wouldn't it be more accurate to state that certain Anglican scholars have adopted a Catholic approach in relation to the authority of the liturgy rather than to assert that the writings of the then Cardinal Ratzinger concur with the opinion of these Anglicans?

JamesIII said...


The Catholic Encyclopedia entry covering "Liturgy" indicates that Pius V "abolished" certain practices and regional variants and "details" but not any older or "mother rites" in the 16th Century. Among these, I would presume, are some of the details of our beloved Use at Sarum.

John Paul II seemed to support the enriching of our heritage by the occasional use those beautiful and historic liturgies.

Anagnostis said...

I never cease to be amazed at the Orwellian propensity among Catholics to state flat-out falsehoods with total sincerity.

"The authority of the church had the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them!"

Right. All that fuss during the past 40 years never happened, because it couldn't have happened; because there was always the "Agatha Christie Indult" or some other such derisory legal fiction.

motuproprio said...

I am not sure whether Mgr Wadsworth fails to recognise the dry humour of (currently) Mr Hunwicke, or whether his own humour is even dryer.

JamesIII said...


I fail to see your point. I have been attending licit Tridentine celebrations in the USA since V-II and the reforms of Paul VI. The older forms were never "outlawed" and the choice was regretfully left up to the diocesan bishops; many of whom had an agenda to render mother church in the image of the Episcopal Church here.

The older rites are valid and useable. It is some regional variants that Pius V addressed.

Joshua said...

The invention of the notion of the EF and OF as two forms of the one Roman Rite is a brilliant piece of nuancing a difficult issue.

The argument to the effect that the new Missal of Paul VI replaced earlier forms of the Roman Rite assumes that this was but a question of issuing a new edition of the Missal - yet, given the wholesale recasting, not merely of the collects and chants and readings (as was done in the case of the Neo-gallican missals*, which nevertheless preserved the Ordinary of the Mass almost exactly as in the Tridentine Ordo), but, far more notably, of the very structure of the Mass and the provision of entirely new Eucharistic Prayers, it can well be argued (subject to the authoritative ruling of Benedict XVI) that these were well-nigh substantial changes.

As is known, it was only at the insistence of Paul VI, contradicting Bugnini et al., that the very Roman Canon, not to mention such later and more minor elements of the ritual, as Sign of the Cross and Orate fratres, was retained.

I think it could well be argued that, as the Ambrosian Rite (in its traditional form, not for these purposes considering its own reformulation) is recognisably very close to the Roman, yet is always accounted a separate rite, so too the Novus Ordo (especially when, de facto, not the Roman Canon but a redaction of pseudo-Hippolytus is the main Eucharistic Prayer in use) could be considered a separate rite: orthodox and holy, but not Roman. (Again, I defer to the genius of the Holy Father as to the manner of answering this question.)

On this very point, it is instructive to note that the only Anglican Use yet in use by Catholics, that of the Book of Divine Worship, very significantly appoints the Roman Canon for Rite One, and that same Canon (with the Novus Ordo alternatives) for Rite Two, without allowing even a modified Anglican Eucharistic Prayer. I would argue - and I am not in principle opposed to such, be it said - that having a different Eucharistic Prayer is the hallmark of a different Liturgy, whatever may be the liturgical rite.

Now, if the introduction of the Pauline Missal had been but a matter of bringing out a new edition of the Roman Missal, rather than making very great changes indeed, it would not occasion this sort of debate.

The fact remains that the difference between the 1962 (plus previous editions of the Roman Missal) and the 1969 (plus succeeding editions) is quite striking, regarding words and ritual ceremonies.

(Those who would prefer the pre-'62 forms of Holy Week are merely asserting a like concern for traditional as opposed to committee-made liturgy, by the way. Pace certain esteemed persons, the number of votive collects allowed are minor issues, though they are right to mourn the loss of easily-maintained and very traditional practices, such as the use of the folded chasuble.)

As the Pope himself quite honestly put it, to assume that what was sacred and holy and constitutive of both public and individual piety can suddenly be declared replaced by a new confection, however nice, is a terrible irruption into the Church of legal positivism, or rather of corrosive nominalism.


*I have a facsimile of the Paris Missal of 1738, and I would be pleased to attend Mass offered up according to it, if any such were permissible. Certainly it would look entirely Roman and traditional, though one might wonder at the curious selection of collects, chants and lessons - good, but recognisably not the traditional ones found, not merely in the Roman, but in the Dominican and other missals. It was the Propers that the Neo-Gallicans mucked with.

Anagnostis said...

I fail to see your point

I, on the other hand, am all too familiar with yours: on the basis that you and half-a-dozen others found a means of doing what you wanted, and of some concocted legal fiction aimed at saving the reputation of the Roman "magisterium", what happened to tens of millions of the rest of us is of no account. Stalin must be gasping with admiration.

Julio said...

"I, on the other hand, am all too familiar with yours: on the basis that you and half-a-dozen others found a means of doing what you wanted, and of some concocted legal fiction aimed at saving the reputation of the Roman "magisterium", what happened to tens of millions of the rest of us is of no account. Stalin must be gasping with admiration."

Isn't it always that the Lord Almighty finds ways to save His church? When the whole world was Arian, it was enough that one bishop stayed orthodox. In any, the last thing I want to have is a lecture from a phronema spouting convertodox with a concocted greek name.

Anagnostis said...

Ah, Julio – the familiar acrid reek of cognitive dissonance.

These are the facts - abusing me won’t make them go away: flat contrary to Cardinal Ratzinger’s assertion, the Roman Church indeed pursued a pitiless, papally-instigated 40-year campaign of extirpation against the attenuated remnants of its traditions and the deepest sensibilities of its own flock; the disastrous consequences of which hubristic folly are only beginning to play out. It doesn’t require a covertodox phronema to acknowledge this – just a modest willingness to engage with the truth. Nevertheless, here’s a little bit of ‘phronema’ for you, if you’re blood-pressure’s up to it: there is never, ever, rebirth or renewal in the absence of repentance, beginning with a humble and unillusioned acknowledgement of guilt. Unfortunately, yet again, the overarching requirement to preserve intact the reputation and prestige of the Magisterium by whatever means – up to and including systematic juridical and historical fabrication – renders anything of the kind permanently impossible.

Call me “Lector” if you consider it less pretentious. I was making exactly the same point, in exactly the same terms, several years before it ever occurred to me to follow it to its logical conclusion.

Anagnostis said...

Phronema: the traditional Christian instinct in favour of facts rather than theories.

Julio said...

Ah, Anagnostis- just as I said, convertodox mentality at work. God has His ways with how His Church will go. His will be done and not mine nor yours for that matter.

Anagnostis said...

Perfectly true, Julio, but that’s absolutely not a license to dispense with the necessary means of recovery God has spent the past 5000 years hammering into His people. David did not resolve his “difficulties” with Bathsheba by concocting ingenious, face-saving juridical solutions concerning “ordinary and “extraordinary” forms of the one marital act; the prodigal son did not blandly re-assume the robe and the ring with an insistence that his soujourn in the pig-pen should be understood according to a hermeneutic of continuity.

Julio said...

True, Anagnotis. But He also does not hammer His plans on everyone just like that. Even the evil that we mere humans do He will use for His ends. I just happen to trust His plans and let His Spirit inspire where He might.

Anagnostis said...

Surely the question is not whether God keeps His promises but whether we keep ours: the grace He always supplies requires our authentic co-operation, does it not? We profess the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - not the Mechanic, the Magician and the Fairy Godmother. We can't simply resign our freedom and responsibility to act with integrity and realism and call it "faith" or "trust".

Rubricarius said...


As always - quite brilliant!

Anagnostis said...

Thank you, Rubricarius, though I must decline the compliment - it doesn't require brilliance to detect a Naked Emperor. The problem I have with this entire discourse is that however one admires our host's erudition, applauds his principles and warms to his evident good faith, the whole thing is conducted as though the toothpaste were still in the tube, rather than long-since evacuated down the waste-water pipe and dispersed in the vasty deep.

"My theory is good - it's the facts that are misleading".

B flat said...

Yesterday's posting by Fr Hunwicke refers us back to this one, and I have reread the comments, seeing the later exchanges for the first time.
Anagnostis writes what looks very like the truth, experienced and lived through personal anguish, which is very likely unresolved to this day. I too, am uneasy about the statement that the old rite was never abolished; but then, Cardinal Ratzinger's personal situation (and consequent experience) was hardly that of the typical Catholic layman. Which is where Patricius's arguing against the Pope's right to decide on liturgical matters falls down completely, in view of the behaviour of local bishops towards what is only now beginning to be publicly recognised as the legitimate desire of the faithful to pray as they and their forebears always had. For many, this has come far too late, and even were repentance offered, how would they be helped by it? Much evil was done to the flock by those who pretended to be the shepherds. It remains scattered and despoiled in the West, and the Church has lost the trust of, and its place in, the western world.
In my own case, I was never interested in joining a group marginalised by the Church. What would be the point of that, especially in terms of liturgical prayer, or my confidence of salvation within the Church?
In the Church praying unequivocally with one voice and in One Spirit, seems the only place for a Christian to be.
I agree that Anagnostis writes brilliantly. My word verification for this offering is "dunce"; I publish it, persevering in my foolishness.

Bornacatholic said...

Dear Anagnostis. O, I checked out your Blog and so I now know the source of your antagonism; you've left the Catholic Church and joined the eastern community of christians who reject many infallible teachings.

In one of your posts you identified another write-backer as suffering from cognitive dissonance; but, I detect projection of your part.

Intellectually you know you have committed a serious sin by abandoning the Church Jesus established (2 John 9 is applicable to you) and yet you will that you have done the right thing and that pent-up psychic pain, that cognitive dissonance, is discharged by accusations against he who holds the Divinely-Constituted Office of the Papacy.

In that way, you are in a similar situation to the man who abandons his wife and psychically tries to discharge the natural guilt attending such a perfidious act by publicly attacking her as stupid and ugly (and unworthy of you); that is, like the man who abandons his wife for another woman, you are constrained by guilt to attack your former wife in an obvious attempt to justify your perfidy and now you are doing the same thing in trying to justify your perfidy in abandoning Jesus' Bride.

You do not think the Catholic Church is worthy of you.

C'est la vie.