Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is Vatican II in Danger? IV The Liturgical issues

In our last episode of “Is Vatican II I Danger,”  I had mentioned that the collect for the Jews in the restored “extraordinary form”  of the Roman Rite granted for use in the the 2007 motu proprio: Summorum Pontificium, caused a huge amount of anger and hurt in the Jewish community even though the most objectionable phrase, "pro perfidies judaeis was not included."  Theologically the prayer differs substantially from that of the 1970 Missal of Paul VI in as that the Tridentine form, edited by John XXIII and again by Benedict XVI, approved for use implies—indeed states—that the Jewish people are in need of the enlightenment of faith and need to come to an explicit acceptance of Christ as Savior, whereas the prayer of the 1970 missal clearly affirms that the Covenant God made with Israel is still a valid covenant, capable of offering salvation to those who keep it.  This is a very sensitive area and one in which the post Conciliar Document, Dominus Jesus, seems to move away from the Conciliar teaching in Nostra Aetate.     The restored (though edited) Tridentine prayer authorized by Summorum Pontificium is only one of a considerable number of areas in which we see the different theologies that lie beneath the 1570-1970 rite and the post 1970 Rite.  I have long thought that the only people who truly understand the Rite of Paul VI, the so-called Novus Ordo, are those who opposed it.  Despite what we were told at the time, the changes are not “superficial”—there is a significantly different theology of the Eucharist (principally as regards “sacrifice” more than “real presence") in the current rite than in the pre-conciliar rite.  But the differences are not limited to Eucharistic theology.  There are substantially different ecclesiologies, theologies of Orders, soteriology,  missiology, and theologies of the Word in the two rites.  This being said, let me necessarily add that I believe that the Rite of Paul VI, the Novus Ordo, is more faithful to the Biblical and Patristic Traditions in as that it is freed of many of the medieval accretions that “deformed” the liturgical development of the medieval rites from which the Missal of Pius V drew.  The relationship of the Eucharistic Body of Christ to the Ecclesial Body of Christ is much clearer in the New Rite for example.  The interdependency of Word and Sacrament is more clear.  There is a stronger balance of the ex opere operantis with the ex opere operato dimension of the sacramentology.  The priestly role of the faithful as complimentary to the unique priestly role of the ordained and their common origin in the High Priesthood of Christ is more clear.  I could go on but I think the point is made.  But these different theologies are—to an extent—problematic.  I say to an extent because there are—and have always been—significant theological variables among the ancient Rites of the Church as well—the eschatological/soteriological question of purgatory being one significant example.    But in any event, I am skirting the boundaries of history here and I don’t want to cross over into theology as that is indeed dangerous turf.   Suffice it to say that in approving an unrestricted use of the “Extraordinary Form,” two theologies are being allowed to stand in the Western Church and that is bound to lead to some tension—tension that can tear the fabric of the Church if the Pope and  bishops are not extremely careful. 
Perhaps more immediately problematic itself is that Summorum Pontificium  which gave a universal permission for the use of the formerly suppressed Tridentine Rite has also done much to create the impression that the Holy See is backing away from the Council.  This decree is troubling for at least two reasons.  The first, and probably more serious, is that it bypasses the jurisdiction of the local bishop in regulating public worship and providing for the pastoral care of his flock.  Supposedly any priest now can decide which rite—the “ordinary” or the “extraordinary” he will use for liturgical celebration.  The rite was supposedly designed to provide the “extraordinary” rite for groups of the faithful that requested it but the application of this norm is dependent on the evaluation of the priest, not the diocesan authorities.   The second problem is that the rite permitted by the motu proprio is the exact rite which the Council mandated to be reformed but Summorum Pontificium permits it to be used not with the reforming norms mandated by the Council but as issued in 1962—the year the council opened.   If the rite was to be permitted at all, it should have been with the explicit modifications required by the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.  To permit the 1962 Rite to be used as is, is to ignore the Conciliar decree on the Liturgy. 

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