It is not often I take exception to my friend Liam’s words and attitude, but it illustrates the situation in which the Church finds itself with regard to liturgy. And recently, the matter of the words of liturgy.
I believe it is possible to celebrate a liturgy with faulty tools, namely the words some would describe as accurate and others might characterize as inadequate. Each side has thoughtful reasons or justifications for advocating as they do. Which make the resulting tensions all the more inscrutable. Such tensions are part of any human community. And such tensions have always been part of earthly liturgy, whether we recognized them or not.
Thanks to the initiatives of our two previous popes and especially their liturgical advisors, we are in a situation where many people are dissatisfied with the liturgy. Certainly people of various or even opposing ideologies complain. Conciliar reform was sabotaged. A timeless rite was marginalized. And locally, bishops, clergy, and lay people may have bumbled the implementation.
I think Liam is inaccurate to raise the issue of shibboleth. A deeper dissatisfaction I notice is the belief that the opponents (perceived as well as real) are deaf to sincere concerns. This is a pastoral, if not an interpersonal matter. The dialogue of the deaf isn’t just a phenomenon of CDF vs LCWR. My sense is that it can be cultivated on many levels of church culture.
As a church professional, I’m obligated to adhere to aspects of liturgy for the benefit of a greater cause: unity. But that doesn’t wash away my interior skepticism on a theological point such as many/all in the institution narrative. It also doesn’t prevent me from being critical of a lack of intellectual rigor on one side or the other–even the institution/magisterium. I may well come to accept “many” as better. I just haven’t read a convincing case for it.
It might be that we live in times when church teaching is truthfully presented, but the reasoning is poor or the implementation is faulty. One serious drawback is the inability, or sometimes the outright refusal to incorporate any kind of “loyal” opposition into the effort. In many years of church ministry, I have known many people convinced to support many issues–even one about which they still harbored doubt. Bishops in particular–if they are to be true to their apostolic calling–have a duty to unity, and to draw all the disparate elements of the Church together. The curia of the last few decades has pointedly not done this. It is perhaps where they have abandoned the ministry of overseer or bishop and been seduced by ideology.
As for the liturgical matter of many/all, it seems to me the latest choice is unsatisfactory, and not necessarily because of the decision itself. My post here was focused more on the complaint about it in papal liturgies and then devolved into a discussion of the particular point. That should tell us the matter is far from settled in people’s hearts. And no doubt, suspicions abound. Motives are questioned. Such unrest is not of the Spirit, and shows me that a little more work is required on this point. Until then, we all live in weakness.