This alleged statement of the Pope is making the rounds

Rorate-Caeli has posted this account of what Pope Francis said to a Czech Archbishop about the Traditional Latin Mass:

 

Yesterday (Friday, Feb. 14), Pope Francis held an audience with the Bishops of the Czech Republic who came to Rome for their ad limina visit.
In the visit, as it usually happens in such cases, other than the formal address, the Pope heard the questions and comments of the bishops. Archbishop Jan Graubner, of Olomouc, told the Czech section of Vatican Radio what the Pope told him:
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[Abp. Jan Graubner speaks:] When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. “When I search more thoroughly – the Pope said – I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: ‘móda‘]. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us.
“No liturgical form . . . can save us,” says Pope Francis.  This reminds me of some of what I heard and read in 50th anniversary conferences and writings about the Second Vatican Council, that the intent of changes in the liturgy was to help Catholics have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.  Jesus saves.  Not the outward form of a liturgy.
One can assess, certainly, whether the changes were successful in helping Catholics find Jesus Christ.  A lot of Catholics I know had the opposite experience and felt they had to leave the Church for a time to meet Jesus because the liturgy and preaching had become so bland and so distant from what they understood as the Gospel.  Now that they have met Jesus and have returned to the Church, they find Him in the Mass, whatever form.
I can understand what the Pope is driving at —that one needs to go deep beyond mediated experiences of Jesus Christ to experience God the Son Himself.  But I can also understand the wariness of traditionalists who warn of indifferentism and subjectivism.
Here’s the thing,  how do you know the Jesus you have met is the real Jesus?  How do you know you are not just getting warm fuzzy feelings in an excited group context?  This is where I believe those who go deep into things are attracted to the form of traditional liturgy, whether it is the Traditional Latin Mass or our Anglican Patrimony Ordinariate Liturgy, which is similar to the TLM only in sacral English.   The liturgy is an outer expression of that going deeper; there is a congruence that one might have more trouble finding when singing “ditties” or repetitive praise songs where the focus is on our feelings about God.
There are assumptions that keep cropping up in some of the Pope’s language about traditionalists that seems to indicate he sees them as idolaters of words and actions, formalists who have missed the point of what they are doing, the way the Pharisees missed the point when they could not see Jesus as the fulfillment of the law.  That betrays a certain prejudice, I’m afraid.    Of course there are those in the traditionalist camp who fit the stereotype—and they crop up a lot in comments sections of blogs. However, if I had the Pope’s ear, I would suggest he meet with many, many traditionalists and make up his own mind, and not judge by what some complainers from those ranks say and do, or what others say about them.
 I am thankful that there are young people who are discovering a much deeper understanding of Who Jesus Christ is and what His sacrifice means and how we enter into that perpetual sacrifice in the Mass through sacred liturgy.
I strongly agree with Joseph Ratzinger’s view that there is something highly questionable about the idea that a Roman Pontiff can do anything especially if backed by a mandate of an ecumenical council. I would contend that what is wrong with that idea is, among other things, its forgetfulness of liturgical auctoritas. And my inclination is to believe that, in many and important respects, the ‘reforms’ went beyond the conciliar mandate (praeter concilium) and, even more problematically, in some cases directly contradicted it (contra concilium). In my view, changes praeter concilium have less auctoritas than those which do rest on a conciliar mandate; and changes contra concilium raise, as Benedict XVI implied, extremely acute difficulties with regard to their auctoritas.ORTHODOX

I expect some Catholic readers may feel uneasy about the path I am treading. This is because the Catholic Church, more than most, has a deeply ingrained sense of Law. This makes it easy for Roman Catholics to underestimate of the force of auctoritas (although Benedict XVI nodded towards it when he wrote “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful”). My impression is that Orthodox, on the other hand, are instinctively influenced in liturgical matters much more by the auctoritas of a Liturgy than by the mere fact that it may have, on its title page, some windy claim to have been authorised by such-and-such a hierarch. As, I suspect, was the medieval West before the invention of printing. The Sarum ‘Rite’ spread in England more because of its auctoritas than because of any legislative enactments.

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14 Responses to This alleged statement of the Pope is making the rounds

  1. Pingback: This alleged statement of the Pope is making the rounds | Catholic Canada

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    You wrote: “No liturgical form . . . can save us,” says Pope Francis. This reminds me of some of what I heard and read in 50th anniversary conferences and writings about the Second Vatican Council, that the intent of changes in the liturgy was to help Catholics have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Jesus saves. Not the outward form of a liturgy.

    Yes, this is exactly right — and very profound.

    You wrote: One can assess, certainly, whether the changes were successful in helping Catholics find Jesus Christ. A lot of Catholics I know had the opposite experience and felt they had to leave the Church for a time to meet Jesus because the liturgy and preaching had become so bland and so distant from what they understood as the Gospel. Now that they have met Jesus and have returned to the Church, they find Him in the Mass, whatever form. I can understand what the Pope is driving at — that one needs to go deep beyond mediated experiences of Jesus Christ to experience God the Son Himself.

    Indeed, but it was not the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council that brought this about. Prior to the council, most Catholics perceived the concept of a “personal relationship” with our Lord to be something distinctly Protestant rather than the essence of true Christian faith. In the same vein, the widespread misperception within the Catholic Church was that the liturgy was something that the clergy did for the people rather than the action of the whole church, clergy and lay. If anything, the conciliar reforms merely exposed the bankruptcy that had long permeated many Catholic congregations.

    You wrote: But I can also understand the wariness of traditionalists who warn of indifferentism and subjectivism.

    This is one area where I agree very strongly with Traditionalists. The problem, however, is that shoddy liturgy is the consequence, rather than the cause, of indifferentism and subjectivism — and, again, this does not depend upon any particular liturgical rite or use.

    You wrote: Here’s the thing, how do you know the Jesus you have met is the real Jesus? How do you know you are not just getting warm fuzzy feelings in an excited group context? This is where I believe those who go deep into things are attracted to the form of traditional liturgy, whether it is the Traditional Latin Mass or our Anglican Patrimony Ordinariate Liturgy, which is similar to the TLM only in sacral English. The liturgy is an outer expression of that going deeper; there is a congruence that one might have more trouble finding when singing “ditties” or repetitive praise songs where the focus is on our feelings about God.

    These are all valid questions — and just as valid for those who prefer to worship with the Tridentine use or the Ordinariate Use as for those who prefer the current ordinary form of the Roman Rite.

    That said, one cannot discount the importance of awareness of one’s feelings and emotions especially for those to whom knowledge of the faith was previously purely an exercise of superficial memorization of answers to a series of questions that appeared in a catechism. Feelings and emotions dwell in the heart, and thus expand one’s encounter with the risen Lord beyond that which existed before. The problem is that, in many places, the process of going deeper stopped there and froze — but, then, many Traditionalists have not yet made it even that far. But in any case, there clearly is a lot further to go.

    Paradoxically, every spiritual writer who describes a journey to a deeper spiritual life always puts himself or herself at the highest or deepest level of his or her paradigm — and this does make sense, as one cannot describe the next level if one has not experienced it. Of course, like an onion, there’s always another layer to peel.

    From your quotation from Fr. Hunwicke: I strongly agree with Joseph Ratzinger’s view that there is something highly questionable about the idea that a Roman Pontiff can do anything especially if backed by a mandate of an ecumenical council. I would contend that what is wrong with that idea is, among other things, its forgetfulness of liturgical auctoritas. And my inclination is to believe that, in many and important respects, the ‘reforms’ went beyond the conciliar mandate (praeter concilium) and, even more problematically, in some cases directly contradicted it (contra concilium). In my view, changes praeter concilium have less auctoritas than those which do rest on a conciliar mandate; and changes contra concilium raise, as Benedict XVI implied, extremely acute difficulties with regard to their auctoritas.

    First, let’s separate the abuses that arose in many places, and that clearly were contra concilium, from the reforms actually directed by the authentic magisterium. Here, the history of the Second Vatican Council in general and of the debate of the schema that evolved into the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum concillium is instructive. The council fathers clearly perceived a need for certain reforms, but they wanted to proceed cautiously and leave room to backpedal if many of the reforms did not yield the desired results. Thus, they wrote with forked tongue. Here are some examples.

    >> The pipe organ should retain its place, but other instruments may be introduced into Catholic worship.

    >> Latin should remain the principal liturgical language, but there should be greater use of the vernacular in parts pertaining to the people.

    >> Without prejudice to the dogma of concomitance articulated by the Council of Trent, the symbol of the eucharist is expressed more fully when the faithful receive it under both forms. Thus, communion may be given to the faithful in certain situations in which it is practicable to do so.

    Provisions of this sort were never intended to impose limits on actual reforms, but rather to provide flexibility to proceed further or to backtrack after the magisterium had a chance to observe acceptance of and response to experimental first steps.

    Norm.

    • Benedict Marshall says:

      One of the stuff about the new Mass was the deal about active participation. I asked a priest friend of my sisters (Young Filipino guy, studied at Leuven, liked Kung, Von Balthazar, Chardin, Scheelebex, etc.) and asked why Latin isn’t being used like it should be used, among other questions. He said “People Don’t Understand Latin”.

      Oh, I guess we lay people are so stupid that we can’t use the internet or read translated missals to learn Latin. It’s soooo hard to say “Et cum spirito tuo”.

      Active participation doesn’t mean having to always be doing something. I learned recently why people go to Mass: 1. To thank God. 2. To Ask God for something. 3. To Be sorry for sins. 4. Give praise to God. We can do this through the priest, who is like the mediator who performs the sacrifice on our behalf and on Christ’s. Without sacrifice, there is no priest, and there’s no point in Mass since “We can do it ourselves.”

      I remember in high school, people would get “participation points” for “participating” and a third of the class was sleeping, the second third had glazed eyes, the other third was doing something stupid like passing notes, and one person kept raising his hand like he’s genuinely interested. The overenthusiastic bongo player in the masses I’ve been to comes across like the church version of that guy in high school.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Benedict,

        You wrote: I asked a priest friend of my sisters… why Latin isn’t being used like it should be used, among other questions. (boldface added)

        The words that I boldfaced represent a serious fallacy in your thinking. As I explained in my previous post, the intent of the doublespeak with respect to liturgical language in the sacred constitution Sacrosanctum concillium was to open the door to more extensive use of the vernacular, initially on an experimental basis, while providing the flexibility either to proceed further or to backtrack. But backing up a step, let’s not forget that the Roman church adopted Latin as a liturgical language to make the liturgy more accessible to parishioners precisely because, at the time, it was the vernacular — that is, the language of the people. Thus, the shift to the vernacular is in fact what’s really true the authentic tradition that bequeathed us Latin in the first place.

        BTW, the notion that certain parts of the liturgy should remain in Latin because they do not “pertain to the people” — the criterion set forth in Sacrosanctum concillium for use of the vernacular — is also fallacious. Rather, Catholic doctrine holds that the entire liturgy is the work of the whole church, both clergy and lay. In fact, the word “liturgy” literally means “the work of the people” — NOT “the work of the clergy” or “the work of the exclusive few.” Thus, the entire liturgy intrinsically meets this test.

        You wrote: Oh, I guess we lay people are so stupid that we can’t use the internet or read translated missals to learn Latin. It’s soooo hard to say “Et cum spirito tuo”.

        There are many people who do not have the intellectual capacity to master foreign tongues. The liturgy must be accessible to all — even to the poorly educated drop-out who works as a farmhand or a laborer.

        You wrote: Active participation doesn’t mean having to always be doing something.

        More precisely, “active participation” sometimes means listening — listening intently to what God is saying to us through the scriptures and the homily, both as they are proclaimed and in the period of silence that should follow each reading and the homily, through the liturgical music and the other texts chosen for the liturgical celebration, and in the experience of the celebration of the sacrament.

        But there’s a compelling argument that listening actually constitutes doing something….

        You wrote: I learned recently why people go to Mass: 1. To thank God. 2. To Ask God for something. 3. To Be sorry for sins. 4. Give praise to God.

        I rather hope that there’s more to it than that. I participate in the celebration of mass primarily (1) to worship God in the eucharistic sacrifice, (2) to be nourished spiritually by the Word of God and the sacrament, and (3) to participate in the fellowship of other believers who constitute God’s people. What you call “asking for things” is completely secondary. I can ask God for things in my home or my workplace or my car, so I don’t need to go to mass to do that. Note what the magisterium says, in the General Instructions to the Roman Missal, about the presence of Christ in the mass (boldface added; internal citations removed).

        27. At Mass — that is, the Lord’s Supper — the People of God is called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord, the Eucharistic Sacrifice. For this reason Christ’s promise applies in an outstanding way to such a local gathering of the holy Church: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20). For in the celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very liturgical assembly gathered in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the Eucharistic species.

        You wrote: I remember in high school, people would get “participation points” for “participating” and a third of the class was sleeping, the second third had glazed eyes, the other third was doing something stupid like passing notes, and one person kept raising his hand like he’s genuinely interested. The overenthusiastic bongo player in the masses I’ve been to comes across like the church version of that guy in high school.

        I’ll bet “that guy in high school” learned a lot more than the rest of the class that you describe, and probably got ahead in life as a result.

        God judges our hearts. The “overenthusiastic bongo player” apparently has his or her heart is in the right place — that is, seeking to serve God according to his or her ability. God rewards this even as you seem to condemn it.

        Norm.

      • Benedict Marshall says:

        That one guy was a blowhard, a know-nothing-know-it-all who constantly plays the teacher’s pet. He got out of college with tons of debt, and has no job. His crap personality never changed, which may have contributed to that.

        That over-enthusiastic bongo player? He’s a sinner like the rest of us, but he like to talk like a saint, if saints smugly talked down their noses about being in the Parish council.

        ————
        About Latin? Yeah, see, this is one of those technicalities that makes me not care about it. Okay, I guess no Latin. I’ll have to sit through those bilingual masses and just ignore the Spanish part.

        I thought “liturgy” meant “celebration” because that’s what my RCIA class told me. I don’t buy that “The congregation makes it happen”- it’s like being told “Believing makes it true” you know?

        If mastering Latin only consists of memorizing “Et cum spirito tuo” and “Amen” then I must be some sort of genius. But to be fair, some folks in subsaharan Africa or some jungle tribe in the Amazon are illiterate. Do we draw the line when they use vulgar language? I’d totally attend an Ebonics Mass for the sheer entertainment of ham-fisted inculturation.

        As for those purpose of the Mass? Listen, I google in that question, and I have 5 different lists that tell me different things. Yours would be #6.

  3. Benedict Marshall says:

    Remember that statement of Pope Francis about how the fascination with the Original Mass of the Roman Catholic Church is just a fashion? I mean who do we think we are, are we so stupid that we can’t see the genius of Annibale Bugnini and the whole 60’s generation?

    As a Catholic who returned to the Church and got confirmed as an adult during the Papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, it’s so unbelievable how old people think they know what people my age experience and want. It’s condescending, really. They don’t speak for my generation. They should try to speak for God and not have a 60’s flashback. All I hear is someone who attended the same sociology classes at grad school as my college professors.

    I’m sick and tired of having to follow what is fashionable, it’s a waste of time and money trying to please people. When that sort of thing occurs in my church, I roll my eyes and just leave, because people with a brain can detect when they’re being manipulated by other people into doing or feeling something, and it’s not a pleasant feeling when it comes from a priest. (“Give a lot of money for the collections, or Baby Jesus would be sad/You add to Jesus’ suffering on the cross/You’re going to Hell, maybe.”)

    They devote their sermons on being accepting and all that, but I can get that from secular sources. Those sources are better at pulling your heartstrings regarding, for example, the plight of anarcho-syndicalist feminist bisexual african-american women and their under-representation in the media. (“It’s a real issue, people!”) I don’t need priests trying to liken the ministry of Jesus Christ to the Occupy X Movement. (Because that happened at the current parish church I go to, and just spent the whole sermon reading the whole Gospel he abbreviated during the Mass.)

    Here is a popular video about how my generation feels, in general.

    • Benedict Marshall says:

      Okay, re-reading this post made me realize how whiny it is. Please delete this if you want, Mr. Moderator. I’m sorry, everyone, especially the elderly, I’m sure some of you were also shocked by the weirdness of the 60’s.

  4. EPMS says:

    Perhaps you are an avatar of a previous 20-something who posted here, but in any event the combination of grievance and condescension is very similar. Anyone who lived through the “Latin Mass Years” will tell you that the service was in no way participative. The frequency of sermons back then on “praying the mass” rather than praying your rosary (at best) was an indication that the majority of people were not willing or able to follow the service, and of course except in a so-called “dialogue mass” they certainly weren’t expected to participate. It is useless to make a retroactive judgement on whether they could have or should have learned Latin. They didn’t, and except for a tiny minority, they won’t. Let it go, Benedict. Liturgy in a “language understanded of the people” is absolutely fundamental to the Anglican patrimony, in any event.

    • Benedict Marshall says:

      Alright, sheesh. Someone said it was a good idea! I guess some folks don’t think so. *Shrug*

    • Benedict Marshall says:

      Oh, also, if you’ve been to reddit, we 20-somethings tend to sound condescending when having a grievance. No need to think we sockpuppet for one reason or another.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Benedict,

        You wrote: Oh, also, if you’ve been to reddit, we 20-somethings tend to sound condescending when having a grievance.

        There’s something about this that reminds me of a famous quote attributed to Samuel Clemens (a. k. a. “Mark Twain”) to the effect that, at the age of twenty, he thought his father to be a complete idiot and that, at the age of thirty, he was amazed at how much his “old man” had learned in just ten years.

        Norm.

      • Benedict Marshall says:

        My old man’s a good for nothing addict. He’s one of those examples of people who believe fatherhood is biological accident, and for a long time I looked for someone to be my father other than that man. Sometimes people don’t change, even if you want them to, or how much they realize they’re hurting themselves or others.

        So, pardon me if I had an idealized vision of a Church that I can invest all I have, to think bishops and priests can be spiritual fathers if not biological, and then to be hurt all the more when they’re only as good as mine. Where does Latin come in? I don’t really know, it just makes things seem smarter, like wearing glasses even if it’s not needed after all. So when I hear these people talk a good game, and I see something great with my eyes like that one time I went to Latin Mass, it was all the more convincing.

        Maybe there’s no such thing as truth and beauty, if it all changes that fast into something I’m too familiar with. So I’m not that attached to it, really.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Benedict,

        You wrote: My old man’s a good for nothing addict. He’s one of those examples of people who believe fatherhood is biological accident, and for a long time I looked for someone to be my father other than that man. Sometimes people don’t change, even if you want them to, or how much they realize they’re hurting themselves or others.

        I’m very sorry for your sake. Clearly you deserve better. The best we can hope is that (1) you found a good surrogate who was willing to mentor you somewhere along the way and (2) your knowledge the harm that your father caused you will motivate a desire to be a good father to your children, if and when you have any.

        What I don’t understand is the social dynamic of the present age. For some reason, far too many young women seem to be drawn to men who are derelict, abusive, and even violent, most of whom have no interest whatsoever in fulfilling the parental role — and it’s these men who father their children, often out of wedlock. The result is that children grow up with terrible paternal role models at best and often suffer abuse and neglect as well. This probably is also the root of the rampant increase in homosexuality over the past several decades: in Western culture, most homosexual women have suffered abuse by a significant male figure (father, lover/husband, or some person in a position of authority) and most homosexual men are victims of emotional suffocation by a well-intentioned mother who sought to shelter them from abuse or neglect by a father or other father figure (stepfather, etc.). Things will not improve until this dynamic of pop culture changes.

        Of course, our call as Christians is to be countercultural….

        You wrote: So, pardon me if I had an idealized vision of a Church that I can invest all I have, to think bishops and priests can be spiritual fathers if not biological, and then to be hurt all the more when they’re only as good as mine.

        Alas, our clergy are human, too. Just as there are adults who are good parents and adults who are terrible parents, there are clergy who are good pastors and clergy who are terrible pastors — and I have encountered plenty of examples of both. All that I can recommend is to seek out clergy who are good pastors wherever you happen to be, even if this means going to mass someplace other than the parish within which you happen to live. Even in the worst dioceses, there seem to be a few.

        You wrote: Where does Latin come in? I don’t really know, it just makes things seem smarter, like wearing glasses even if it’s not needed after all. So when I hear these people talk a good game, and I see something great with my eyes like that one time I went to Latin Mass, it was all the more convincing.

        I tend to believe that most Traditionalist groups do care about the quality of their liturgy, and thus celebrate the Tridentine form of the mass in an appropriate manner. In dioceses where many clergy are indifferent and the quality of most parish masses is lacking, your experience is fairly common. If you find a place where the current ordinary form is celebrated with the attention that it deserves (most Benedictine monasteries are very good at this, and some other religious orders also do very well), however, you will have a very different experience of the present ordinary form.

        You wrote: Maybe there’s no such thing as truth and beauty, if it all changes that fast into something I’m too familiar with. So I’m not that attached to it, really.

        No, there clearly is both Truth and beauty. Seek it out, and demand it of your pastors!

        Norm.

  5. EPMS says:

    Quotation is indeed generally (mis)attributed to Twain, whose father in fact died when Twain was eleven. But the ages are 14 and 20, or occasionally 17 and 23. I guess prolonged dependency produces prolonged contempt.

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