Wolfe On Paul VI: Ignorant

Deacon Greg linked this NYT Kenneth Wolfe op-ed on his blog. The usual meme: Annibale Bugnini was the antichrist; the pope and bishops were stupid:

How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.

It’s really no wonder Catholic conservatives go off on Bishop Trautman. The people-are-stupid complaint seems to be their home turf. American Catholics voted for Obama: they were ignorant. Two-thousand Catholic bishops adopted the vernacular in the 60′s: they didn’t know better. The pope gets sad over the end of the Pentecost Octave: he wasn’t a liturgist.

About these ads

About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Wolfe On Paul VI: Ignorant

  1. Liam says:

    I thought this was a sop related to the recent unpleasantness. (The Times, pace the protestations of its public editor, does have a major chip on its editorial shoulder vis-a-vis the Roman Catholic Church, and as a result is not really a friend of people who seek reform within because the Times’s advocacy is usually informed more by its bias than its knowledge.)

    Any way, traditionalists are apparently observing today as some sort of mourning for the 40th anniversary of the postconciliar Missal. I am not joining them.

  2. Thanks for putting this so well, so succinctly, Todd!

  3. Sam Schmitt says:

    “The usual meme: Annibale Bugnini was the antichrist; the pope and bishops were stupid”

    And what’s your explanation?

  4. Todd:

    While I do not belong to the “Bugnini was the antichrist” crowd, the following remark of yours does not quite reflect the reality, either:

    Two-thousand Catholic bishops adopted the vernacular in the 60’s: they didn’t know better.

    I remind you:

    Sacrosanctum Concilium

    36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

    2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

    The emphases are mine. I use the emphases to point out that the force of the language in section 36.1 is that of a mandate. The Latin original (which, by the way is the definitive text, not the sometimes-tendentious Flannery translation widely used in the US) uses the “jussive” subjunctive, a “polite command”.

    The language in the part about the vernacular in section 2 is concessive: “may” be of advantage, etc. The force of the text is clearly that of permission, not a mandate.

    In other words, to read the actual text of the Council’s liturgical teaching as “two thousand bishops” adopting the vernacular is to stretch the meaning of that text to the breaking point. The idea that the Council fathers in some way mandated the wholesale adoption of the vernacular and the utter abandonment of Latin is not supported by the actual text of the constitution.

  5. Chris from Maryland says:

    Bravo Fr. Rob! Being 53, I served as an altar boy & choir boy before the radical upheaval of the liturgy by Cardinal Bugnini’s committee.

    I agree with Msgr. Gamber & Pope B16 that organic reforms were in order…not what we have now. The impoverished worship of the NO is signified by erasing genuflection at the “incarnatus” of the creed, replaced by the non-performance of the “profound bow.”
    I’m often “walking out of church…forlorn” per the article here: http://www.thecatholicthing.org/content/view/2363/26/

    Our parish has a ‘contemporary liturgy’ that sets the “Our Father” to a Rolling Stones song – yes – The Rolling Stones.

    The irony is now exquisite – singing a Rolling Stones tune is part of “ordinary” worship, and chanting the Our Father is identified as “extraordinary.” When the Mass devolves to droning the “Our Father” to the Rolling Stones, we are profaning the sacred.

  6. Liam says:

    The problem with Fr. Rob’s analysis is that the act of the council is not self-implementing legislation. What Todd is referring to is the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Council fathers, when they went back to their sees, oversaw in practice the widespread embrace of the vernacular.

  7. Michael says:

    The impoverished worship of the NO

    I would refer to the impoverished worship of the horrid thing that is the old Latin rite. Awful, just awful.

  8. Harry says:

    While I agree that the old Latin rite just doesn’t do much for me (I am in my 60s, remember both very well, and recently attended an “extraordinary form” at the suggestion of a friend devoted to it), neither will I put it down, or the people like my friend who seem to prefer it for whatever heartfelt reasons they have.

    I just wish my friend and people like Chris from Maryland would extend to me the same courtesy.

    As for Father Rob’s analysis, I will echo what Liam said. I have heard the “Vatican II was not implemented the way the council intended” which ignores two things:

    1. The guys doing the implementing were the same guys at the Council. I think they were pretty familiar with the document Father Rob cited.

    2. The change to the “NO” occurred globally, simultaneously, and by church standards, instantly after the Council.

    • “The guys doing the implementing were the same guys at the Council.”

      No, the Consilium was a much smaller body. The Council Fathers — all the bishops of the Catholic Church — did not pool their efforts to revise the liturgy. That was the task of the Consilium. I’ve said on this blog before, and I’ll say it again: if the Consilium’s task was to implement the liturgical reform according to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, they neglected some things and went far beyond the prescriptions in other things.

      “The change to the “NO” occurred globally, simultaneously, and by church standards, instantly after the Council.”

      Did the Bishops have a chance to review and consider the reformed liturgy? (I’ve heard anecdotes, but nothing concrete.) Basically, it seems to me that the Bishops implemented what they were given to implement.

      • Todd says:

        Jeffrey, I think you’ve offered a drastic oversimplification of the post-conciliar period. We covered all that here.

        That said, ICEL and other language groups in the 80′s were much more consultative with both bishops and laity. That was the ideal, or as close to it as we’ve gotten: getting music and language pros to add to the mix. Sadly, that’s all gone by the wayside over the past fifteen years. More poverty in the wilderness, but at least we don’t have to deal with the Missal of 1962.

      • Harry says:

        But who did the actual work of implementing in every diocese on the globe?

        Wouldn’t that be “the Council Fathers – all the bishops of the Catholic Church”?

        Do you recall any bishops saying before that fateful Sunday 40 years ago: “Whoah! This isn’t what we did at the Council!”?

    • Chris from Maryland says:

      Harry:
      It is no discourtesy to anyone to talk plainly about the impoverishment of the current state of the NO liturgy. I have cited concrete examples of such impoverishment.

      Let me hear someone defend why The Rolling Stones are appropriate at Mass, or why it doesn’t matter that Catholics don’t show recognition of the incarnation. I notice no one is claiming things are better now that Catholics wear soccer uniforms to Mass, or that Catholic college students have “pajama Mass”. It is a bad thing that Catholics today are largely and increasingly ignorant about the sacred.
      I admitted the need for reform of the Mass before the NO, and can join those, like Msgr Gamber, who saw great opportunities, some of which were realized, via “ressourcement” theology.
      I can not join those whose standard for the liturgy = “it does a lot for me.” This is itself impoverished thinking…it’s the “me-generation” motivation behind the “spirit of V2″ ideology.

      Harry –
      the very fact that the NO Mass created by the Bugnini committee violates Sacrosanctum Consilium (SC) blows your last 2 points out of the water. It is not clear whether those who implemented the Bugnini committee’s NO Mass were “familiar with” or ignorant of SC. What is undeniable is that those who implemented the Bugnini Mass rejected SC.

      Todd, Harry and Liam:
      The rejection of SC by those implementing the NO Mass is damning evidence of the rejection of V2 by the “spirit of V2 ideology”. The utter rejection of SC unmasks the “spirit of V2 ideology” for what it is, a counterfeit Catholicism.

      • Harry says:

        Let’s turn it around, Chris:

        “It is no discourtesy to anyone to talk plainly about the impoverishment of the current state of the traditional Latin liturgy.”

        Haven’t I just insulted everyone who finds deep meaning and reverence in the 1962 form?

        I happen to find deep meaning and reverence in the “NO” Mass that you so blithely dismiss it.

        I also find the Rolling Stones inappropriate at Mass, and quite frankly, have never attended a Mass with Stones music, so I am wondering how widespread that practice is.

        But then again, I recently attended a liturgy celebrated by Bishop Finn, some 20 bishops, 170 priests, and 20,000 Catholic teenagers in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.

        Guess what? It was “NO” and in no sense of the word was it “impoverished.”

      • Todd says:

        Chris, I can’t agree with your reading of SC36 and the continuing reform enacted after the council.

        I don’t see the nearly universal use of the vernacular as a rejection of SC 36, as much as it is an endorsement of the basic principles laid down in the first several sections of the constitution in which sanctification of the faithful was seen as the undergirding for theenlivening of a liturgy that for most Europeans and many North Americans, had gone dead.

        You seem to be suggesting that Vatican II was intended to be a dogmatic expression, a theological snapshot of the year 1963. If that’s the case, you’ve just knocked the props out from the reform2 movement.

  9. Todd says:

    Fr Rob’s analysis ignores the notion that Vatican II wasn’t and wasn’t designed to be a dogmatic council. Bishops, to a nearly unanimous degree, embraced the vernacular and implemented it with the blessing of the curia.

    Channeling too much Wolfe, who also implied that on that sad Advent day, guitars sprouted from the old floorboards of churches. While he pleaded space restrictions given him by the NYT, that only shows a poor quality of personal editing to go along with his adjusted memories of the times.

    As for the so-called “organic reforms,” you can only find a single reference to that in all of SC. Much, much more on participation, which received a deservedly wider attention.

    Good luck on your liturgy studies, Fr Rob. I’m a bit envious of your opportunity.

  10. Tony says:

    It’s really no wonder Catholic conservatives go off on Bishop Trautman. The people-are-stupid complaint seems to be their home turf. American Catholics voted for Obama: they were ignorant.

    I think you have this completely bass-ackward. This “Catholic conservative” goes off on Bishop Trautman because it appears that he thinks that the laity in the pews (who he refers to as “John and Mary Catholc”) are too stupid to understand the new translation. I disagree with him. I think the people in the pews will have no problem once they are taught what the new words mean.

    • Harry says:

      “I think the people in the pews will have no problem once they are taught what the new words mean.”

      So you think the people in the pews are too uneducated to know what English words mean?

      Can you see the difference, for example, in the response to “The Lord be with you.” “And also with you” or “And with your spirit.”

      You see, language is very vibrant and alive. Phrases translated literally from one to another can not only lose the “meaning” that they were meant to convey in the original language, but can also become quite stilted and often comical in a second language if translated literally.

      • Tony says:

        So you think the people in the pews are too uneducated to know what English words mean?

        I think that depends on the individual person in the pew. Someone with Down Syndrome might have problems with English words, but an English teacher might not.

        You see, language is very vibrant and alive.

        You see this as a positive, however when relaying eternal truths, I see this as a negative.

        Latin is the best ecclesial language precisely because it’s dead. Words don’t change meaning from generation to generation.

        For example think of the difference in meaning of the word “cool” over the last 50 years. How about “knocked up”?

      • Harry says:

        “Latin is the best ecclesial language precisely because it’s dead. Words don’t change meaning from generation to generation.”

        By that logic, why the switch to Latin from the language that Jesus actually spoke?

      • Tony says:

        By that logic, why the switch to Latin from the language that Jesus actually spoke?

        When the switch was made, Latin wasn’t a dead language, and I’d imagine neither was Aramaic (or Greek)

      • Harry says:

        So they switched to a live language in which words could change meaning over time and that translations from the original might have to allow for idiomatic expressions from language to language?

        Thank you.

      • Gavin says:

        Not to jump into this, actually I WILL do just that, but I was wondering, Harry, if you see that there’s a difference between “and also with you” and “and with your spirit”? The Salutation before the Collect is more than just “yo, what’s up” or “pay attention”. It’s an acknowledgment of the priest’s office as praying on behalf of the people. “And with your spirit” conveys a theological reality that “and also with you” does not.

        I don’t want to jump into a macho mud-slinging match over whose language is better than whose, I’m just trying to point out why these distinctions are necessary.

      • Harry says:

        Gavin,

        Actually, if the goal is to acknowledge the priest’s office as praying on behalf of the people, then no, I fail to see the distinction between “And also with you” and “And with your spirit.”

        Is it just’s the priest’s “spirit” that has been ordained?

    • Harry says:

      Also, given that John and Mary were with Jesus at the foot of the cross, I fail to see how “John and Mary Catholic” is an insult.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s