Latin Mass faces fewer restrictions

On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI issued a document, Summorum Pontificum, which eases restrictions on the use of the Latin liturgy of the 1962 missal (its usage has been rare and somewhat restricted since the Vatican II reforms; now permission will not be needed for such a celebration in many situations). The move was no doubt intended to accomodate traditionalist Catholics who insist upon a Latin Mass (some of whom have even broken relations with the Vatican in recent decades), as well as the growing number of young Catholics who are interested in more traditional forms of piety and worship. The resurgance of more traditional beliefs and practices among young people is explored in Colleen Carroll's book, The New Faithful.

Though some were no doubt glad to see the change, many also reacted with skepticism. The Anti-Defamation League declared that the new guidelines would pave the way for anti-semitism because of certain prayers that were aimed specifically at Jewish people and considered anti-semitic. Roman Catholic leaders, however have pointed out that these prayers were not included in the revised liturgy and that the ADL should have read it before mustering their righteous indignation (one is reminded of the accusations of various rabbis associated with the ADL before the release of "The Passion of the Christ" to theaters; yet their predictions that the streets would run red with the blood of Jews apparently came to naught). There are, however, prayers that Jews, schismatics (i.e. Protestants and Orthodox) and pagans and basically everyone in the world would convert to Roman Catholicism.

Regarding these prayers, Rabbi Michael Lerner said that "You cannot respect another religion if you teach that those who are a part of it must convert to your own religion." Now this is a very common sentiment among Westerners of our day. In keeping with the spirit of our age, it subordinates the question of truth to that of respect ("tolerance" or "inclusion" or whatever). The assumption must be that if any of the religions are true, there is really no way of knowing which one, so why worry about it (with regards to our own life or that of others). There is a sort of intellectual despair underneath all our calls for respect and tolerance. As a civilization, we've lost faith in the possibility of knowing the truth - of having true knowledge at all about the most important and fundamental things. This lurks behind the continual assertions of reletivism. Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, like all forms of Christianity, claims to actually bring people to know and share in the very life of the living God - the only true and Creator God, the Holy Trinity, and claims to do so through Jesus Christ who is the Truth that makes this true knowledge possible. It is a much more optimistic worldview.

Whether or not it is true is another question entirely and one worthy of the most scrutinizing investigation. Such an investigation might begin with the historical event of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and N.T. Wright's book The Resurrection of the Son of God is one of the best on the subject.

I'm not much personally offended that the Catholics are praying for my salvation.

Even while easing the restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass, the pope said that the celebration of the Latin mass should nevertheless remain "extraordinary" and the post-Vatican II vernacular should be the ordinary approach.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I guess that Catholic Church not to far from ULL will be happy they can continue having mass in Latin...and even now with more freedom. Hope you had a good weekend in Dallas. Call and update me sometime this week. --bethany

12:09 AM, July 16, 2007  

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