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Pope invokes 'magisterial authority' to declare liturgy changes 'irreversible'

Discussion in 'Church Critique' started by BrianK, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member


    Pope invokes 'magisterial authority' to declare liturgy changes 'irreversible'
    Pope Francis rises the holy host during a Mass prior to the Corpus Domini procession from St. John at the Lateran Basilica to St. Mary Major Basilica to mark the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, in Rome, Sunday, June 18, 2017. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)

    Although acknowledging that more than fifty years after the Second Vatican Council there are still tensions and unfinished business in terms of implementing its vision for the liturgy, Pope Francis in a session with Italian liturgists on Thursday nevertheless invoked his "magisterial authority" to declare, "The liturgical reform is irreversible."
    ROME - Addressing a group of liturgical experts on Thursday, Pope Francis said that after the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and a long path of experience, “We can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

    The declaration came in a speech on Thursday to Italy’s “Center of Liturgical Action,” which sponsors an annual National Liturgical Week.

    By “liturgical reform,” Pope Francis meant the changes in Catholic rituals and modes of worship which followed from Vatican II, the most immediately visible elements of which included Mass facing the congregation, the use of vernacular languages, and a stronger emphasis on the “full, conscious and active” participation of the people.

    Although Pope Francis is often seen as having less interest in liturgical questions than some of his predecessors, this was a lengthy and carefully footnoted reflection, roughly 2,500 words in all.

    He began by highlighting some of the cornerstones of the liturgical movement of the 20th century, a reminder that the ongoing reform is rooted in tradition, and was actually kick-started by two popes often seen as “conservative”: Pius X, who created a commission for renewal in 1913, and Pius XII, with his encyclical Mediator Dei and changes to the liturgy of Holy Week.

    According to Francis, these changes came to fruition with 1963’s Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, the application of which is still ongoing, including overcoming “unfounded and superficial interpretations, partial revelations and practices that disfigure” [the liturgy].

    Quoting Pope Paul VI, the Argentine pontiff added that this process is still ongoing in part because reforming the liturgical books is not enough to “renew the mentality.”

    Also using the words of his predecessor, Francis called Catholics - priests and laity alike - to leave behind “disruptive ferments, which are equally pernicious in one sense and the other,” and to “apply integrally” the reform approved by the bishops who took part in the Council.

    Battles over liturgical practice have been a chronic feature of Catholic life since Vatican II.

    A desire to maintain the older Latin Mass, for instance, was a primary force prompting French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to lead a group of traditionalist Catholics into a break with Rome. During the 1990s, the church in the United States engaged in a decade-long debate over how to translate liturgical texts into English and other matters dubbed the “liturgy wars.”

    There are even sometimes tensions inside the Vatican walls, where Francis and the Church’s top liturgical official, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, don’t always appear to see eye to eye -particularly on the value of the older Mass, celebrated in Latin and with the priest facing away from the congregation, now known as the Extraordinary form.

    RELATED: Vatican squelches rumors of new rules on Mass facing east

    After the Council, Francis told the Italian liturgists, the bishops wanted a liturgy that is “alive” for a Church “fully enlivened by the celebrated mysteries.”

    He then gives three keys to a “living” liturgy: it’s centered in Christ, it involves the people, and works as a “school of Christian life.”

    The liturgy is alive, he said, because of the “lively presence of Him who ‘dying has destroyed our death, and by rising, restored our life.” Without the presence of Christ, Francis insisted, there’s not liturgical vitality, just like there’s no human life without a beating heart.

    Liturgy is also alive because it involves the entire people of the Church, he said, and by its nature it’s “popular” and not “clerical” because “it’s an action for the people, but also by the people.”

    In her prayer, Francis said, the Church welcomes all those who have the heart to listen to the Gospel, without discarding anyone, not “rich or poor, young or old, healthy or sick, righteous or sinners.” Hence the liturgical assembly, he said, goes beyond every boundary of age, race, language and nationality.

    Lastly, he said the liturgy must work as a school of life, “transforming one’s way of thinking and living, not just filling up a bag of ideas about God.”

    The liturgy, Francis insisted, is not simply “a doctrine to understand or a rite to fulfill,” it’s a “source of life and light for our path of faith.

    “There’s a big difference between hearing that God exists, and feeling that he loves us, just as we are, here and now,” he said. In the liturgical prayer, he said, Catholics experience a communion that finds its meaning not in an abstract thought but in an action made “by God and us, Christ and the Church.”

    Towards the end of his remarks, Francis told those gathered that it must be remembered that the wealth of the Catholic Church’s prayer life goes beyond the Roman Rite.

    “The harmony of the ritual traditions, from East to West, by the breath of the same Spirit gives voice to the one prayer for Christ, with Christ and in Christ, for the glory of the Father and for the salvation of the world,” he said.
  2. gracia

    gracia Angels

    What does this mean for the Latin Mass?
  3. Mario

    Mario Powers

    It should be mentioned that even before Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church consisted of 24 united churches including the Latin Church, all under the Holy Father. A classmate of mine, a subdeacon, is a member of the Maronite Church. Though obedient to the Holy Father and faithful to holy doctrine, the churches have a high degree of autonomy in their governance and liturgy. For instance, as far as I know, the removal of all minor orders leading to the priesthood (except deacon) pertains only to the Latin Church. I attended my classmate's ordination as subdeacon. Also, one of my instructors is a priest in the Melkite Church. From what I have seen, they do not like to be designated by their liturgical rites alone, but primarily as churches. Canon Law honors such a distinction.

    Safe in the Barque of Peter!
    BrianK and gracia like this.
  4. Jarg

    Jarg Archangels

    I wonder what is the direction of this, if the next step is substituting the 'This IS my Body' in the consecration by a mantra of ecumenical words.
    sunburst likes this.
  5. Jarg

    Jarg Archangels

    In this whole issue about the liturgy, the talk is always directed to the 'people', even when speaking about God, the people are the question at the center. The 'people' will feel this, the 'people' deserve that, God giving the 'people', the 'people' getting sth from God, etc...

    From one of the greatest French poets of all time, Paul Claudel, and before Vatican II:

    Paul Claudel
    Le Figaro
    January 23, 1955

    I wish to protest with all my strength against the growing practise in France of saying Mass facing the people.
    The most basic principle of religion is that God holds first place and that the good of man is merely a consequence of the recognition and the practical application of this essential dogma.

    The Mass is the homage par excellence which we render to God by the Sacrifice which the priest offers to Him in our name on the altar of His Son. It is us led by the priest and as one with him, going to God to offer Him hostias et preces [Victims and prayers]. It is not God presenting Himself to us for our convenience to make us indifferent witnesses of the mystery about to be accomplished.

    The novel liturgy deprives the Christian people of their dignity and their rights. It is no longer they who say the Mass with the priest, by “following” it, as the saying very rightly goes, and to whom the priest turns from time to time to assure them of his presence, participation and cooperation, in the work which he undertakes in their name. All that remains is a curious audience watching him do his job. Small wonder that the impious compare him to a magician performing his act before a politely admiring crowd.

    It is true that in the traditional liturgy the most touching, the most moving part of the Holy Sacrifice is hidden from the view of the faithful. But it is not hidden from their hearts and their faith. To demonstrate this, during Solemn High Masses the sub-deacon stays at the foot of the altar during the Offertory, hiding his face with his left hand.We too are invited to pray, to withdraw into ourselves, not in a spirit of curiosity but of recollection.

    In all of the Eastern rites the miracle of transubstantiation takes place unseen by the faithful, behind the iconostasis. It is only afterwards that the celebrant appears on the threshold of the sacred door, the Body and Blood of Christ in his hands.
    A vestige of this idea lingered for many years in France, where the old missals did not translate the prayers of the canon. Dom Guéranger protested energetically against those who had the audacity to do away with this custom.

    Today’s deplorable practice has turned the ancient ceremony upside down, to the great consternation of the faithful. There is no longer an altar. Where is it, this consecrated stone which the Apocalypse compares to the Body of Christ Itself? There is nothing but a bare trestle covered with a tablecloth, reminding usdepressingly of a Calvinist workbench.

    Naturally, as the convenience of the faithful was held up as the guiding principle, it was necessary to rid the aforementioned table of the “accessories” cluttering it up: not only the candlesticks and the vases of flowers, but the tabernacle! The very crucifix! The priest says his Mass in a vacuum!When he invites the people to lift up their hearts and their eyes…to what? There is no nothing left in front of us to focus our minds on the Divine.

    If the candlesticks and crucifix were kept, the people would be even more excluded than in the old liturgy, because then not only the ceremony but the priest himself would be completely hidden from view.

    I would resign myself to this situation with the greatest grief, as henceforth, it would appear that not the slightest spiritual effort will berequired of the common people. It seems necessary to stick the most sublime of mysteries in their faces, to reduce the Mass to the primitive form of the Last Supper and in doing so, change the entire ritual. What is the meaning of Dominus vobiscum [The Lord be with you] and orate fratres [pray brethren] spoken by a priest separated from his people and requiring nothing of them? What is the significance of the sumptuous vestments worn by those we have delegated as ambassadors to the Divinity?

    And our churches, is there any reason to leave them as they are?
    DivineMercy, sunburst, Don_D and 2 others like this.
  6. Mary's child

    Mary's child Archangels

  7. earthtoangels

    earthtoangels Powers

  8. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    And lots of faithful believe this is an opening salvo of a focused attack on both the Traditionalist as well as "reform of the reform" movements, which are both gaining strength, fueled by the actions of the prior pope. Summorum pontificum was also "magisterial" though, and the current pope can't put that toothpaste back in the tube.
    Mary's child and sunburst like this.
  9. earthtoangels

    earthtoangels Powers

    IOW another moment in the growing timeline of confusion for the faithful.
    Mary's child, BrianK and sunburst like this.
  10. sunburst

    sunburst Archangels

    :( What next? :cautious:
  11. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    Pope Francis invokes ‘magisterial authority’ to call Vatican II Mass ‘irreversible'


    “After this magisterium, after this long journey, we can state with confidence and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.” he said.

    Pope Francis’ pronouncement this week comes on the heels of Vatican rumors last month that he intends to end Pope Benedict XVI’s universal permission for priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

    The Pope has a history of negativity towards the Traditional Latin Mass. He has criticized the "rigidity" of young people who are attached to the Traditional Latin Mass.

    "I always try to understand what's behind people who are too young to have experienced the pre-conciliar liturgy and yet still they want it," the pontiff said in November 2016. "Sometimes I found myself confronted with a very strict person, with an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else.”

    The Pope’s pronouncement of the reform being irreversible appears to be at odds with statements by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, whosaid earlier this year that Pope Emeritus Benedict’s allowing the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass showed a path forward to rediscovering authentic liturgy.
    Don_D likes this.
  12. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member


    Liturgy, papal infallibility, and terminology
    In what way can a pope declare that “liturgical reform” is “irreversible”?
    August 25, 2017 Edward N. Peters Print

    Pope Francis gives a blessing during an audience with participants in Italy's National Liturgical Week in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 24. (CNS photo/Giorgio Onorati, EPA)
    Some years ago I stated: “The liturgical renewal movement that preceded the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) has been repeatedly and authoritatively recognized as a movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church.”* What catches my eye about Pope Francis’ recent remarks to an Italian liturgical conference is not, therefore, his strong endorsement of liturgical renewal, but rather some of the language he used to make that endorsement, language that one often associates with the exercise of the Church’s teaching office.

    In phrases typically associated with formal, even infallible, teaching exercises, Francis purported to invoke his “magisterial authority” to “affirm with certainty” that the process of liturgical reform was “irreversible”. Such terminology, I suggest, coming from such a figure, predictably occasions questions about, among other things, whether such authority extends to declaring formally something (indeed, anything) about what is actually a process like “liturgical reform”. A blog post cannot, of course, do justice to all of the questions raised here, but it can perhaps contextualize some issues as a service for those interested in looking further into the matter.

    Infallibility is a charism given to the Church by Christ which assures that some assertions, made by some persons, under some conditions, are asserted with the certainty of being without error and should therefore be accepted as certain (CCC 891-892). In itself, infallibility does not admit of degrees so a statement either satisfies all of the prerequisites for infallibility or it is not infallible (however likely or even true it might otherwise be). Infallible assertions, being certain in themselves, require Catholics either to believe the assertion (if it concerns faith) or to hold the assertion (if it concerns matters required to support the faith). See generally 1983 CIC 749-750. Finally, infallible assertions, although they might be clarified over time, are fundamentally irreversible, or irreformable, and so can never be cancelled or contradicted.

    Now, setting aside some important points such as “subjects of infallibility” (briefly: the pope alone per Canons 331 and 749 § 1; the college of bishops—which of course always includes the pope—per Canons 336 and 749 § 2; and even the Church herself per, e.g.,CDF’s 1973 declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, n. 2) and “modes of infallibility (chiefly: “solemn” or “extraordinary” in regard to papal and collegial teaching, and “ordinary” especially in regard to collegial teaching), it is in regard to the “objects of infallibility” that the pope’s rhetoric about affirming with certainty and with magisterial authoritythat the liturgical reform process is irreversible strike me as remarkable.

    As mentioned above, infallible assertions, being certain in themselves, demand, depending on their content (i.e., the ‘object’ of the assertion) one of two responses from the faithful: either the assertion demands belief if the matter being asserted is “contained in the Word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church [and] proposed as divinely revealed …” per 1983 CIC 750 § 1—and no one can think that the liturgical reform process is “divinely revealed” so it is not possible that the pope was implying otherwise—or the assertion must be “embraced and retained [i.e.,] held definitively” if it is “required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith …” per 1983 CIC 750 § 2.

    Examples of infallible assertions that must be believed (credenda) are the points in the Creed, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Our Lady, the foundation of the Church by Christ, the precise number of sacraments, and so on. Examples of infallible assertions that must be held (tenenda) are canonizations, determinations as to which councils should be deemed “ecumenical”, the invalidity of Anglican orders, and so on. While infallible assertions demanding belief and infallible assertions demanding definitive retention are distinguishable from each other, their very close connections are equally obvious. As a result, among the many, many things that the Church asserts with various degrees of authority, relatively few are recognized as being asserted with certainty and, in that regard, as being irreversible. See 1983 CIC 749 § 3 and CDF’s 1998 “Doctrinal commentary on Ad tuendam fidem. But while it is fairly easy to spot matters of belief infallibly asserted (so-called “primary objects” of infallibility), matters requiring definitive retention (so called “secondary objects” of infallibility) are trickier to assess.

    To offer some negative examples, the Church would never declare infallibly that the sun rose in Ann Arbor today at 6:5am local time—even though the assertion is true—because such an assertion is not divinely revealed nor is it necessary to defend or expound the deposit of faith; she would never affirm with certainty that St. Peter’s Basilica is the most beautiful church in the world because such an assertion is not divinely revealed nor is it necessary to defend or expound the deposit of faith (not to mention it being difficult to assign the notion of “most” to any judgment about the beautiful); and she would never affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the New Evangelization is “irreversible” because such an assertion is not divinely revealed nor is it necessary to defend or expound the deposit of faith (not to mention that the New Evangelization is a phenomenon that does not admit of easy categorization and is in part a response to its times).

    And so I think it can be confusing to the faithful for any prelate to “affirm with certainty” and/or with “magisterial authority” that liturgical reform is “irreversible” precisely because such language connotes in Catholic minds the exercise of a charism given not to underscore the importance of what is being asserted, but rather, to identify certainly and without error either what is divinely revealed and thus to be believed or what is required to safeguard reverently the deposit of faith and thus to be definitely held.

    To repeat, with Pius XII, Vatican II, St. John Paul II, and doubtless with Francis, a faithful Catholic may regard liturgical reform (properly understood, and apart from the travesties committed in its name) as springing from a movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church; but whether it is prudent for any pope, in virtue of his “magisterial authority”, to “affirm with certainty”, that such reforms (whatever exactly those are) are “irreversible” (whatever exactly that means here) is, I think, a different issue.

    + + +

    * See my “The Communion fast: a reconsideration”, Antiphon 11 (2007) 234-244. The footnote for my claim records that: The Council itself made this assertion in its constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, when it said: “Zeal for the promotion and restoration of the sacred liturgy is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in his Church.” … [See] Sacrosanctum Concilium (4 December 1963), n. 43, … Just a few years earlier, Pope Pius XII addressing the International Congress of Pastoral Liturgy (1956) had observed: “The liturgical movement is thus shown forth as a sign of the providential dispositions of God for the present time, of the movement of the Holy Ghost in the Church, to draw men more closely to the mysteries of the faith and the riches of grace which flow from the active participation of the faithful in the liturgical life.” Pope Pius XII, Allocution “Vous Nous avez demandé” (22 September 1956) …, [and] Twenty-five years after the Council, Pope John Paul II reiterated this theme, saying: “[W]e should give thanks to God for that movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church which the liturgical renewal represents.” Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter Vicesimus quintus annus (4 December 1988), n. 12.

    Some other good discussions of this matter include those by Phil Lawler and Fr. Zuhlsdorf.
  13. Fatima

    Fatima Powers

    On the flip side one must ask, "why so much apostasy"? Dig, dig this apostasy always manifests itself in spiritual death and it doesn't get any worse than this!!
    Pray4peace and sterph like this.
  14. sunburst

    sunburst Archangels

    He can't do that, can he????
  15. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    He thinks he can do whatever he wants.
    gracia and sunburst like this.
  16. Pray4peace

    Pray4peace Ave Maria

    Why does he dislike the TLM so much??? How can the form that was practiced for over 1900 years be so wrong in his eyes?? The Pope definititely afraid of something....the holiness??...the unwillingness for those who attend the TLM to be ignorant sheeple?? The TLM folks somehow threaten his personal agenda.

    This pope's frequent beratement of the Extraordinary Form only solidifies my desire to switch over from the NO.
    DivineMercy, gracia and sunburst like this.
  17. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    The old Latin Mass doesn't exist in a vacuum. Those who prefer to attend it as well as those priests who are happy to offer it usually have a deep and pre-Vatican II grasp of theology and morality, and aren't usually deceived by this anti-morality he is trying to impose on the Church. They know Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus and don't buy this new indifferentism disguised as ecumenism.

    The homosexual crowd hates it for the same reason; those attached to the old rite still know wrong from right. They are not deceived by syrupy claims that "they just LUV each other and just want the right to marry just like any other couple in luv. Who are you to judge?!"
  18. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    DivineMercy likes this.
  19. Don_D

    Don_D Powers

    What exactly is removing the right for TLM going to accomplish beside further isolating a segment of the Church? Why would this be so important as to proclaim it in this way? Not to mention insulting many people who are faithful.

    I have a feeling that things are going to speed up with the remaining so called reforms.
    gracia and sunburst like this.
  20. earthtoangels

    earthtoangels Powers

    I still don't understand, for all practical purposes, just what he means.....it seems he always leaves people with wondering when the other shoe is going to drop to make sense of what he only "implies". That's not a way to teach. It's more of an "attitude" rather than anything concrete to judge one way or the other. Otherwise he seems to implicate persons who after a conversion want simply to hold on to their conversion and not fall prey again to falsehoods. And that is tempting fate!
    Byron, gracia and sunburst like this.

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