September 2007

Sorry, Pope Benedict!
By Maxwell Lynch

Queensland's Apology to the Pope

Dear Pope Benedict XVI, sorry that you went to all that trouble over that Motu Proprio on the Latin Mass. As far as the Brisbane Archdiocese is concerned you were just wasting your time!

The above is a fair assessment of the reception the Motu Proprio on the Latin (Tridentine) Mass received at the hands of the Brisbane “Catholic Leader” since it was published on the 7th of the 7th month 2007. This was a long-awaited event, on and off again for a year or more as the Holy Father consulted widely and finally in this document published “on his own initiative” reflected the mind and the heart of Mother Church.

It will have a dramatic impact on Catholic liturgical life world wide – it could perhaps in small measure, help bring to an end the sad schism of the Society of St Pius X. I suppose in any unblinkered assessment of what it may achieve, what the Brisbane Archdiocese does or does not do matters very little, except, of course, what Brisbane does the other Queensland dioceses follow in step. (For example, the letter of Bishop Heenan to the priests of his Diocese of Rockhampton on this matter saying: (quote) “I see no immediate change to our current practice”. As far as Bishop Morris of Toowoomba is concerned he has made it a trifle more complicated. Will he ask those Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church ministers he proposed could carry out the duties of Catholic priests to now learn Latin?

What it does do, however, is to still keep isolated the vast majority of this generation of Queensland Catholics from opportunities to experience and participate in the celebration of the Latin Mass of 1962 as proclaimed by Pope Blessed John XXIII. And in so doing the entreaties of Pope John Paul II and now Benedict XVI to learn and explore Gregorian Chant, Polyphony and the vast treasury of Sacred Church Music are thus studiously ignored.

However it would have been gracious if something other than a negative spin on the document was expressed by the “Catholic Leader” with the words: “Pope reaffirms Latin.....but it’s not for the masses” Sorry to disagree but the Latin Mass IS for the masses if the masses request it! Then there is Elizabeth Harrington of the Liturgical Commission of the Archdiocese who downplays as a virtual “non-event” the impact that the Papal Motu Proprio on the Latin Mass will have on the Archdiocese. In one way she is correct. It would be hard to find a parish with an existing strong, stable group of people who are still attached to the Latin Rite of 1962. It is worthy of note that the number in such a group has not been defined in the Papal document. Unless there has been some continuity of celebration of the Tridentine Mass in a parish or centre it can be expected that there will not be, in the beginning anyway, a great flocking of parishioners to their parish priest requesting a regular Latin Mass. This is simply because those who grew up with the Latin Mass in their youth are now elderly. Many, saddened and upset by liturgical abuses, by “wreckovated” churches, and stripped sanctuaries have sadly joined the ranks of non-practicing Catholics One of the gravest impediments to the celebration of the 1962 Rite is the fact of the ‘wreckovation’ that has occurred in most churches: where the High Altar has disappeared, the new Altar turned around, the Altar Rails removed and the general ambience is hardly compatible with the liturgical requirements for the proper celebration of the Latin Mass.

That the Latin Rite has survived at all is the remarkable reality. On a political level it can, perhaps, be compared to the situation that existed for such parties as Australia First and before them, the DLP. They had loyal adherents scattered all over the place but not enough in any one place to make an overall impact. It is worthy of note that the number of persons in a any one parish who wish to have a 1962 ‘Latin Mass’ celebrated was not defined in the Papal document. There is no minimum number specified. The parish priest is required to respectfully consider such requests and do what is possible and practical to meet them,

It must be remembered that there is a sizable, active Latin Mass community in Brisbane. It is not a refuge for elderly folk with nostalgic attachments to the Old Rite but a vibrant, active group composed more and more of young families (who don’t leave as soon as the ‘novelty wears off’ as Elizabeth Harrington claims) who make up a fast growing proportion of regular attendees. With the greater flexibility available under this new Motu Proprio this Brisbane Latin Mass community may have the opportunities for the celebration of weekday Masses and to openly publicise their activities.

There are also Latin Masses said on a regular basis in every Queensland diocese. There still are a number of priests with the knowledge of Latin and the rubrics necessary to celebrate the Mass in accordance with the Rite of 1962. They can teach others.

With some little encouragement, what is now happening spontaneously in the US could easily begin to happen here. Many priests, particularly younger priests, are signing on for classes to gain a workable knowledge of Church Latin and of the rubrics necessary to celebrate the Mass of 1962. It should be realised that Pope Benedict XVI – when Cardinal Ratzinger and Head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments – has always maintained that any liturgical change should always be a flowering and development from the past not a discontinuance from it. This was a strong motivation for him to use every possible endeavour to reach an understanding with the Society of PiusX.

Would be just too much to hope and pray that the Brisbane Archdiocese would accede to the heartfelt aspirations of the Holy Father expressed in this Motu Proprio and take this opportunity to invite the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to extend their apostolate to Brisbane. Perhaps even give them a parish where the church interior is more or less intact with High Altar, Sanctuary and Altar Rails still in place. One such that comes to mind is St Patrick’s, Fortitude Valley where the removal of the ugly, existing attempts of ‘wreckovation’ would be an immediate and welcome blessing. Another, of course, is St. Mary’s South Brisbane. This is a beautiful church where the traditional Sanctuary and High Altar have somehow survived the modernist antics of the present incumbents. Such an invitation, if accepted by the Priestly Society of St. Peter, would no doubt startle the existing congregation but it would rid the Archdiocese of ongoing scandal.

Referring again to the comments of Archdiocesan Liturgy Office Education Officer Elizabeth Harrington, the dismissive tone of her remarks speaks more loudly than her words, she says: “The first requirement is a stable group of the faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition” “This does not mean” she explains to us ignoramuses, “a group in a diocese that goes around to different parishes telling them that they need to introduce a Tridentine Mass, or a few young people who suddenly discover the ‘wonders of Mass in Latin’ – until the novelty wears off!”

So now you know what’s good for you! Ignore Pope Benedict XVI and his thought provoking Motu Proprio that has received critical acclaim from theologians, bishops and laity from around the world. Elizabeth Harrington has spoken!

So also has Fr John Kilinko PP of Zillmere Parish, Brisbane and Fr Kevin Ryan (see his column “Vatican II called for a big change in our worship” CL August 19, ’07). Both, by implication, called into question the action of Pope Benedict XVI in even considering the publication of this Motu Proprio. They appear to be all players in what is nothing more than a concerted archdiocesan-wide campaign to convince the ever diminishing number of pew warmers that Pope Benedict and his instruction that the Latin Rite now comprises the ‘ordinary’ Novus Ordo celebration of Holy Mass and the ‘extraordinary’ celebration in accord with the Missal of 1962, is nothing less than a dangerous mistake that puts the whole of Vatican II in dire jeopardy!

In his Catholic Leader article, Fr Kevin Ryan’s spin on the Council of Trent is a masterpiece of selectivity. He completely ignores the actions of Pope St Pius V who, against all the odds and extraordinary practical difficulties, saw the Council through to reach its far reaching conclusions; saw that, as a result, the Catholic Church and the Patrimony of St Peter survive the Protestant ‘Reformation’, the religious wars in Germany and northern Europe and then launch the Counter Reformation and eventually gain more in the New World than it had lost in the Old; he energises a few Catholic princes and states to cobble together the fleet that defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto, and so prevented the Mediterranean from becoming a Muslim lake threatening all Italy and Spain; he left the Church strong enough to survive the French Revolution and the so-called ‘Enlightment’ ; a Church that in the 18th and 19th centuries was vital enough, faith-filled enough to see the birth of great new teaching and missionary orders, many of which have survived and whose influence is still strong to this day. All this while Holy Mass was being celebrated in Latin and in accord with the authority of the Council of Trent as approved by the great Pope St. Pius V. It encompassed the lives of such great saints and Catholic figures as St John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, St. Therese of Lisieux, St John Bosco, St Bernadette of Lourdes, St Padre Pio, Cardinal Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and many, many others.

It was never abrogated and despite the crude endeavours of Fr Kevin Ryan and Elizabeth Harrington of the Brisbane Archdiocesan Liturgical Office it must have something going for it.

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