Friday, August 31, 2012


Let's count on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass being the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with all the ramifications of the meaning of the word "extraordinary" or "out of the ordinary." Don't touch it, let it be.

Now, what does a true reform of the Extraordinary Form look like which takes into account what was given to us in 1970, revised numerous times over the years, with a major revision in 2002 and a well received vernacular revision in 2011/12.

My presumption is that the 2002 Roman Missal will not change dramatically. I won't go into issues of the ratio of Latin to vernacular there should be. I'll simply go into the form of the Mass.

The Introductory Rite:

1. The Introit is the Entrance Chant, no substitutions. This is radical folks! The altar is reverenced and incensed and the priest returns to the foot of the altar.

Since in the EF Sung Mass, the Prayers at the Foot of the altar are seen as clerical and not properly belonging to the laity, I don't recommend their return to the Mass proper. Perhaps these should be required prior to the entrance of the priests and servers as their prayer before Mass. Many today do some banal, off the cuff prayers with the servers so why not do the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar with them prior to leaving the sacristy and prescribe it.

2. The Penitential Act at the Foot of the Altar, ad orientem.
a. The sign of the Cross
b. Priest: I will go to the altar of God; All: The God who is the joy of my youth.
C. All: Confiteor
D. Priest: Absolution; All: Amen
E. Priest: I will go to the altar of God...

3. The priest ascends to go his chair for the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect with "The Lord be with you" and its response prior to the Collect.

4. The Liturgy of the Word as usual with the homily.

5. The Credo and Universal Prayers at the chair.

6. The Offertory Antiphon and the Offertory ad orientem using the EF's Offertory prayers and the Liturgy of the Eucharist Ad Orientem

7. The Communion rite as in the Ordinary Form with the Communion Antiphon beginning as the priest receives Holy Communion

8. The reception of Holy Communion, kneeling and by intinction

9. The Post Communion prayer, announcements and blessing and dismissal at the chair

10. Recessional


MY COMMENTS FIRST: This is a fascinating read as it is a time warp written on the eve of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. It lets you know that there was considerable foment prior to Vatican II for liturgical reform and that what the Second Vatican Council recommends did not appear as in a vacuum, but took into account the liturgical movement of the 20th Century.

I would have to say though, that what Fr. Mannion hopes the Council will do is not realized in the actual Council documents but by stealth in the Concilium that devised the new liturgy and I suspect Fr. Mannion may have had some input with Cardinal Bugninni and others, but I could be wrong.

The other things you will note that Fr. Mannion hopes the Council will do, which it doesn't do, but will be done after the Council is that anything that is of the domain of the priest's private prayers and liturgical piety, such as the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel should be removed. It is interested that almost every private prayer of the priest is erased in the new liturgy except for a very truncated Lavabo and his private prayer before his Holy Communion, not to mention the lengthy offertory prayers that are substituted with a new concoction. Enjoy this read:

First, the Liturgy
Posted on August 27, 2012 by Deacon Eric Stoltz

From the June 28, 1962 issue of Commonweal Magazine, a provocative call for liturgical reform by an organizer of the North American Liturgical Week recently held in Seattle in conjunction with the World’s Fair, imagining how liturgy might be celebrated 50 years from now.

By John B. Mannion

Of all the actions likely to be taken by the forthcoming Ecumenical Council, few will affect the Catholic people so directly and personally as the liturgical reforms. For most of us, our principal public contact with the Church is Sunday Mass. And indeed, this is as it should be, for the liturgy is “the chief duty and supreme dignity” of Christians, and takes precedence over any other religious activity—public or private, individual or corporate. For this reason the Mass should be our most meaningful Christian experience. That this is not the case is one of the several motive s which have prompted the liturgical reforms of recent decades. Pope Pius XI’s “outsiders and mute spectators” of 1928 have become Pope John’s “telegraph poles” of 1960.
A first for Seattle and most attendees: Mass facing the people.

Clearly the reforms instituted have not been adequate to the task of conveying to the people the true nature of liturgical worship and their role in it. Perhaps this is because the changes have been within the structure of the Roman liturgy as it was frozen in the sixteenth century.

To the man of the twentieth century, the Mass does not appear to be what it actually is: a formal proclamation of the Word of God, a sacrificial oblation re-presenting “in mystery” the redemptive work of Christ, and a community meal renewing the covenant—the pledge of eternal life and love—between the Father and His chosen sons. This threefold reality is not immediately and directly revealed by the words and actions of the Latin rite Mass, which fact has led to a growing realization of the need for further reform.

A sign which means little or nothing to me is not really a sign at all; it is an enigma.

But why reform? Why not better education in the liturgy as it is? The answer lies in the very essence of what liturgy is. Let us define it here as that complex of rites or sacred signs which contain what they signify and through which God is glorified and man sanctified. No one questions the essential efficacy of the Latin liturgy in glorifying God and sanctifying man. What is in question is its efficacy as “sign,” for insofar as our Mass today fails to signify or communicate to the man of today what it actually is, it fails as “sign” A sign which means little or nothing to me is not really a sign at all; it is an enigma.

What we may hope for, then, is that the fathers of the Second Vatican Council will provide us with a complexus of intelligible, meaningful signs (if the reader will forgive the redundant adjectives). Precisely what changes are called for are well known to anyone who has been observing or engaging in the liturgical movement. The innumerable details need not concern us here; those seeking them are earnestly referred to such recent works as H. A. Reinhold’s Bringing the Mass to the People (Helicon, 1960). Let us be satisfied with selective comments on the broad outline o f reforms, keeping in mind that these suggestions are not the official proposals of the Liturgical Conference or any other body; at the same time, insofar as they reflect the writer’s study and discussion with clergy and laity, scholars and “typical parishioners,” they may be considered representative of a general trend of thought in the Church today.

Taking the Mass in its sequence, it seems imperative that the readings from Scripture should be presented in a manner which clearly demonstrates that this is the formal proclamation, by the Church, of God’s revealed Word to His people duly assembled. This might be accomplished by providing that the lessons be read facing the people, from lecterns or ambos (which would also serve the purpose of distinguishing between the “service of the Word” and the service of the altar).

The cycle of selections from the Bible might be expanded, say to three years, so that more of the Word could be offered the people than is now possible in a one-year cycle.

The cycle of selections from the Bible might be expanded, say to three years, so that more of the Word could be offered the people than is now possible in a one-year cycle. Should not more Old Testament readings be included, perhaps by more frequent us e of three lessons in the Mass instead of two? And, needless to say, all such readings should be in the language of the people (more on this later), and delivered reverently, not hurriedly for the sake of satisfying an obligation. The ancient “prayer of the faithful” or litany of special intentions might be re – stored to use to conclude the first important segment of our worship service.

The offertory can easily be revised to make it clearer that the gifts come from the people. At the same time, care should be taken that the offertory rite does not seem to be anything more than a simple presentation of the materials of the sacrifice; the celebrant’s prayers at this time seem to make more of it by confusing the offering of the bread and wine with the sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood.

Why invoke Roman saints unknown to us?

Some consideration should be given to the prayers and actions of the Canon: why the Preface of the Holy Trinity as the standard Sunday preface? Why invoke Roman saints unknown to us? Why not give more prominence to the concluding elevation and doxology, not delaying the people’s response by the celebrant’s genuflection or coupling it with the Our Father before Communion? And since the Canon is the central action of the Mass, why should it not be celebrated aloud as the focus of our attention?

It would also help if more force were given to the urging of recent Popes that the people receive Hosts consecrated at the same Mass.

The relationship between Communion and the sacrificial act might be more evident if the two were not separated by so much time. Couldn’t the private prayers of the celebrant be eliminated? And shouldn’t it be stressed again that sharing the Eucharistic Food is the proper and normal conclusion of the Mass for all who are present? It would also help if more force were given to the urging of recent Popes that the people receive Hosts consecrated at the same Mass.

The “last Gospel”—like the prayers at the foot of the altar—began as a private devotion of the celebrant, not as prayer proper to public worship. There is considerable opinion that both practices might best be dropped for the sake of clarity.

Among all these changes, however, the central problem remains that of language. If it is a valid principle that changes are intended to make the forms of the liturgy conform more appropriately to their inner nature and purpose and to make them more meaningful to the people, then we cannot lightly dismiss the increasing desire for more vernacular in the rites of our public worship. Since the liturgy is a sacred sign—an external, intelligible signification of an interior, invisible reality—and since words are essential in the sacramental rites, the use of an unknown language obstructs the purpose of liturgy considered as a sign, a means of communication.

Pope John’s recent Apostolic Constitution, Veterum Sapientia, reaffirms a centuries-old tradition that Latin is the official language of the Western Church. This precise, succinct tongue is admirably suited as the vehicle for preserving normative formulations of Church doctrine, against which all vernacular teaching can be judged. It serves an equally valuable purpose as the language of official communications and documents within the universal Church, and of the official books of the sacred liturgy (Missal, Office, Ritual, Pontificale, etc.).

This principle would not be compromised if the Church were to permit vernacular usage in parochial liturgy. It would still be the Latin rite. The Latin texts would be the norm for all vernacular editions. Some parts of the Mass might well be retained—without any threat to intelligibility—in Latin (and Hebrew and Greek), e.g., the familiar greetings and other versicles, and in prayers said silently by the priest. Moreover, the liturgy would be celebrated completely in Latin in monasteries and other religious institutions, in Rome, perhaps in cathedral churches, and at international gatherings.

To ask that Christians, when assembled in their parish churches, be permitted to worship in their own language is not to abuse the honored place of Latin; it is simply to recognize the fact that the people no longer understand that venerable tongue.

To ask that Christians, when assembled in their parish churches, be permitted to worship in their own language is not to abuse the honored place of Latin; it is simply to recognize the fact that the people no longer understand that venerable tongue. Viewed objectively, the loss of Latin as the language of public worship is indeed a loss, but the same objectivity should tell us that we risk an even greater loss if we sacrifice meaningful, sincere worship in favor of thi s or any other matter of liturgical discipline.

These remarks on the vernacular constitute no attempt to exhaust the question. But they are deemed necessary, if only because so many have been led to believe that Veterum Sapientia was intended to banish the possibility of vernacular in the liturgy—which it was not or it would have said so—as well as to stifle any and all discussion of this possibility—which it wa s not or it would not have singled out only those who are “moved by an inordinate desire for novelty.” If not all, then certainly the majority, of those clergy an d laity who call for the vernacular speak from the conviction that they seek only the essential purposes of the Church: the glory of God and the sanctification of man.

The fact that the cry for the vernacular is so widespread among clergy and laity in so many countries (if a vote were feasible, or in order, I would not doubt the outcome) might suggest that the Holy Spirit is active in this matter, again making His inspiration known through the consensus of the faithful. Certainly the fathers of the council, no matter what their persona l preference might be, will consider this a possibility.

Space prohibits any detailed discussion of additional reforms, but a few deserve mention:

It is commonly said that the Divine Office in its present form is not in harmony with daily routine o f the secular clergy in the modern world. Most commentators on the subject urge that the number of “hours” be reduced, that it be recited in the vernacular, that the choral elements be altered for individual use, and that some of the contents be revised.

Lay people would surely benefit if some form of the Office were made available to them—at least as morning and evening prayer, for use individually, in family life, and as a public service in the parish church. In this way, the entire church—not the clergy alone— could share in that prayer which sanctifies the various periods of the day and offers a continuing round of praise to the Father.

At the present time, the Holy See reserves to itself all rights concerning the ordering of the sacred liturgy. It would achieve great pastoral good if the principle of local adaptation were restored by the council. This would allow local ordinaries or the bishops of a country to make adjustments and additions to the liturgy to accommodate local customs and cultures. Consider, for instance, the diverse wedding or funeral customs among such countries as Japan and South Africa, Poland and Indochina, the United States and India. In our own country the local adaptation principle would be more than justified if it resulted in evening Masses regularly, meaningful services for funerals, betrothals, Thanksgiving Day and other American customs, and—most urgently—for wakes, which are uncomfortably empty and un-Christian.

These are but samples of the sort of reforms hope d for among clergy and laity. Unfortunately, they have been articulated publicly only by scholars or specialists, and in books and journals which do not grace every home and rectory library. If our bishops are to engage in the deliberations of the Council with full knowledge of the mind of the faithful, more clergy and laity must speak up.

Such expression of hopes and needs for reform will surely be accepted as a manifestation of genuine concern for the effectiveness of the Church’s mission. Let us hope that no false notion of prudence or false concept of the liturgy as the exclusive province of the clergy will restrain lay people from revealing their legitimate and prayerfully considered aspirations concerning liturgical reform. Informed discussion, conducted with charity, loyalty, and mutual respect, ca n lead to that ordering of the sacred liturgy which permits intelligent and meaningful engagement in the redemptive realities through which we, united to Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit, offer all honor and glory to the Father.

John B. Mannion is Executive Secretary of the Liturgical Conference. This article is part of a special series devoted to the layman’s hopes and desires in connection with the coming Ecumenical Council.

From the June 28, 1962 issue of Commonweal Magazine. Reprinted with permission.



or this?

Rorate Caeli is castigating the bishops of Ireland for their consumeristic advertising campaign that cost mega bucks and has produced no vocations. The heart of the problem in Ireland as elsewhere is the loss of Catholic identity, morality, spirituality and sacramentality not to mention liturgicality.

In 2003, our diocesan newspaper The Southern Cross published an article about my former parish, at which time I was still pastor, The Church of the Most Holy Trinity, founded in 1810, continuing the Catholic presence in Metro Augusta since the 1540's and Georgia's oldest Catholic Church, about the numerous vocations coming from this lowly downtown parish. The following is the article:

Vocation Focus—Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Augusta

Many are asking “what the heck is in the Holy Water at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Augusta?” The reason for the question concerns the numerous vocations that have come from this parish since the early 1980’s.

In the 80’s Father Daniel Munn who was a former Episcopal Priest and a registered member of Most Holy Trinity was one of the first married former Episcopal Priest to be ordained a Catholic Priest at Most Holy Trinity. The national press covered this historic event. A few years later, parishioner Father Steve Harrington was ordained for the Diocese of Dubuque. Later Father Mark Ross, a parishioner was ordained for the Savannah diocese at Most Holy Trinity. His family still attends. Unfortunately, Fr. Steve Harrington died in a tragic accident in 1991.

The 1990’s brought a flood of priestly ordinations and new candidates for the priesthood and religious life. Fr. Timothy McKeown a parishioner was ordained. In the ninety’s Fr. Richard Hart entered the seminary. He was ordained in 2001. As well, Daniel Firmin, Mark Van Alstine, and Aaron Killips all entered the seminary. God willing they will be ordained priests for our diocese within the next few years.

This past year, another Most Holy Trinity parishioner, Dr. John Markham was ordained a transitional deacon at Most Holy Trinity. God willing he will be ordained a priest next June.

Aaron Killips had worked with the Diocese of Savannah Vocation Director, Fr. Brett Brannen as his first Vocation Director Assistant. When Aaron decided to go into the Seminary for the Diocese, another Most Holy Trinity parishioner, Jonathan Bingham took his place as assistant Vocation Director. Jonathan just recently joined the Western Province of the Dominicans as a novice. Fr. Brannen chose yet another Most Holy Trinity parishioner Paul Sterrett to be the new assistant Vocation Director. He has been praying about his vocation for a number of years.

Apart from Jonathan Bingham who recently joined the Dominicans, another former Most Holy Trinity parishioner, Fr. Ronald Schmidt ordained a Jesuit Priest in June returned to celebrate a “first Mass” at Most Holy Trinity. He was also a former choir member. Another Most Holy Trinity parishioner, Aaron Pidell made his first solemn vows as a Jesuit on August 15th in Louisiana.

In addition to all the priestly vocations, Darlene Presley, an active parishioner is leaving in late August to discern her vocation with the Glenmary Sisters. Another young woman in the parish is seriously considering a vocation with the Sisters of Life in New York.

Father Allan J. McDonald, pastor of Most Holy Trinity since 1991 credits the strong faith life of parish families with the unheard of numbers of vocations coming from the parish. He states that a good number of the men who are studying for the priesthood also grew up in the Alleluia Community. However, not all come from Alleluia. Jonathan Bingham’s Dad is a former Episcopal priest and grew up in a strongly religious environment. Jesuit Father Ronald Schmidt is a widowed priest who has three sons. Medical doctor and new Deacon John Markham credits his conversion to Catholicism to his medical work at St. Joseph Hospital in Augusta and the mentoring of Fr. Daniel Munn. Deacon Markham is a widower also and has two children and several grandchildren. Fathers Steve Harrington and Mark Ross who knew each other were active members in the parish and attended the same public high school in Augusta, Westside High School.

Certainly the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and yes perhaps something that is in the Holy Water has inspired all these vocations. Father McDonald stated that if every parish in the Diocese and throughout the world pro-actively encouraged vocations through prayer and invitation, the vocations' shortage would become a vocations' glut. He also believes that a strong parish faith life combined with solemn Liturgies done by the book and with flare contributes to the awareness of the importance of vocations and the need for serious minded and mature candidates. Many of Most Holy Trinity’s vocations were also long time altar servers, serving well after high school.

My comments: (Keep in mind that Most Holy Trinity has also had altar girls since the early 1980's. So the meme that this contributes to the loss of priestly vocations and a decline in the number of boys wanting to serve as altar boys is a myth. What causes a decline is poor liturgies, poor spirituality, poor training and the embarrassment that both boys and girls have when they have no clue as to what they should do when they serve the altar and how they should appear to others in their awesome task.)

Most Holy Trinity is still producing vocations today. The following who have a connection with or are members of Most Holy Trinity are currently in the seminary:

Tim Eyrich, Tony Visintainer and Patrick May! There could be others that I am not aware of!


On August 6 of 2000, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH DECLARATION:

OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH (Which you can read by pressing these sentences).

More importantly, the Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience of June 16, 2000, granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority, ratified and confirmed this Declaration, adopted in Plenary Session and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 6, 2000, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Joseph Card. Ratzinger

Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli

This declaration inflamed the anger of progressive Catholics and other ecumenists around the Christian world. So heated was the debate that Cardinal Ratzinger himself felt it necessary to answer questions about it in a German interview. I reprint it below because it touches on so many things that some who have commented here have raised too. Read it with enjoyment.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

In an interview published on 22 September 2000, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung invited Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to respond to the principal objections raised against the Declaration Dominus Iesus. Even if the questions and answers reflect the German context, the text of the interview offers sound explanations that are also applicable and useful outside this context. The daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano therefore published an Italian translation of the interview, omitting the parts that only concern the German situation. Here is a translation of the Italian version of the interview.

Your Eminence, you head a structure in which "there are tendencies to ideologization and to an excessive penetration of foreign and fundamentalist elements of faith". The reprimand was contained in a communication published last week by the German section of the European Society for Catholic Theology.

I must confess that I am very annoyed by this kind of statement. For some time now I have known by heart this vocabulary, in which the concepts of fundamentalism, Roman centralism and absolutism are never missing. I could formulate certain statements on my own without even waiting to receive them, because they are repeated time and again, regardless of the subject treated.

I wonder why they never think up anything new.

Are you saying that criticism is false because it is repeated too often?

No. It is only that this type of predefined criticism fails to address the various topics.

Some proffer new criticism with the greatest of ease, because they consider everything that comes out of Rome in the light of politics and the division of power, and do not tackle the content.

Indeed the content is somewhat explosive. Is it really surprising that a document in which it is claimed that Christianity is the sole repository of truth and the ecclesial status of Anglicans and Protestants is not acknowledged should encounter such opposition?

I would like first of all to express my sadness and disappointment at the fact that public reaction, with a few praiseworthy exceptions, has completely disregarded the Declaration's true theme. The document begins with the words "Dominus Iesus"; this is the brief formula of faith contained in the First Letter to the Corinthians (12:3), in which Paul has summarized the essence of Christianity: Jesus is Lord.

With this Declaration, whose writing he followed stage by stage with great attention, the Pope wanted to offer the world a great and solemn recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord at the height of the Holy Year, thus bringing what is essential firmly to the centre of this occasion which is always prone to externalism.

The widespread resentment precisely concerns this "firmness". At the peak of the Holy Year, would it not have been more appropriate to send a signal to the other religions rather than setting about confirming one's own faith?

At the beginning of this millennium we find ourselves in a situation similar to that described by John at the end of the sixth chapter of his Gospel: Jesus had clearly explained his divine nature in the institution of the Eucharist. In verse 66 we read "After this, many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him". In general discussions today, faith in Christ risks being smoothed over and lost in chatter. With this document, the Holy Father, as Successor of the Apostle Peter, meant to say: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6:68ff.). The document is intended as an invitation to all Christians to open themselves anew to the recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord, and thus to give a profound meaning to the Holy Year. I was pleased that Mr Kock, President of the Protestant Churches of Germany, recognized this important element in the text in his reaction, which was moreover very dignified, and compared it to the Barmen Declaration of 1934, in which the recently founded Bekennende Kirche rejected the Church of the Reich founded by Hitler. Prof. Jüngel of Tübingen also found in this text—despite his reservations about the ecclesiological section—an apostolic spirit similar to that of the Barmen Declaration. In addition, the Primate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Carey, expressed his grateful and decided support of the true theme of the Declaration. Why, on the other hand, do the majority of commentators disregard it? I would be glad to have an answer.

The explosive element of a political-ecclesiastical nature is contained in the section of the document concerning ecumenism. With regard to the evangelical section, Eberhard Jüngel made a statement, asserting that the document ignores the fact that all the Churches "in their own way" want to be what in fact they are: "one holy, catholic and apostolic Church". So is the Catholic Church deceiving herself by claiming to have the exclusive right, since, according to Jüngel, she shares these rights with the other Churches?

The ecclesiological and ecumenical issues of which everyone is now speaking occupy only a small part of the document, which it seemed to us necessary to write in order to emphasize Christ's living and concrete presence in history. I am surprised that Jüngel should say that the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church is present in all the Churches in their own way and that (if I have understood correctly) he thus considers the matter of the Church's unity to have been resolved. Yet these numerous "Churches" contradict one another! If they are all Churches "in their own way", then this Church is a collection of contradictions and cannot offer people clear direction.

But does an effective impossibility also stem from this normative impossibility?

That all the existing ecclesial communities should appeal to the same concept of Church seems to me to be contrary to their self-awareness. Luther claimed that the Church, in a theological and spiritual sense, could not be embodied in the great institutional structure of the Catholic Church, which he regarded instead as an instrument of the Antichrist. In his view, the Church was present wherever the Word was proclaimed correctly and the sacraments administered in the right way. Luther himself held that it was impossible to consider the local Churches subject to the princes as the Church; they were external institutions for assistance and were certainly necessary, but not the Church in the theological sense. And who would say today that structures which came into being by historical accident like, for example, the Churches of Hesse-Waldeck and Schaumburg-Lippe, are Churches in the same way that the Catholic Church claims to be? It is clear that the Union of German Lutheran Churches (VELDK) and the Union of Protestant Churches in Germany (EKD) do not want to be the "Church". A realistic examination shows that the reality of the Church for Protestants lies elsewhere and not in those institutions which are called regional Churches. This should have been discussed.

The fact is that the Evangelical side now considers the definition "ecclesial community" an offence. The harsh reactions to your document are clear proof of this.

I find the claim of our Lutheran friends frankly absurd, i.e., that we are to consider these structures resulting from chance historical events as the Church in the same way that we believe the Catholic Church, founded on the apostolic succession in the Episcopate, is the Church. It would be more correct for our Evangelical friends to tell us that for them the Church is something different a more dynamic reality and not so institutionalized, or part of the apostolic succession. The question then is not whether the existing Churches are all Churches in the same way, which is obviously not the case, but in what does the Church consist or not consist. In this sense, we offend no one by saying that the actual Evangelical structures are not the Church in the sense in which the Catholic Church intends to be so. They themselves have no wish to be so.

Was this question addressed by the Second Vatican Council?

The Second Vatican Council tried to accept this different way of determining the locus of the Church by stating that the Evangelical Churches are not actually Churches in the same way that the Catholic Church claims to be so, but that "elements of salvation and truth" are found in them. It might be that the term "elements" was not the best choice. In any case, its sense was to indicate an ecclesiological vision in which the Church does not exist in structures but in the event of preaching and the administration of the sacraments. The way in which the dispute is now being conducted is certainly wrong. I wish there had been no need to explain that the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has merely taken up the Council's texts and the postconciliar documents, neither adding nor removing anything.

On the other hand, Eberhard Jüngel sees something different there. The fact that in its time the Second Vatican Council did not state that the one and only Church of Christ is exclusively the Roman Catholic Church perplexes Jüngel. In the Constitution Lumen gentium, it says only that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him", not expressing any exclusivity with the Latin word "subsistit".

Unfortunately once again I cannot follow the reasoning of my esteemed colleague, Jüngel. I was there at the Second Vatican Council when the term "subsistit" was chosen and I can say I know it well. Regrettably one cannot go into details in an interview. In his Encyclical Pius XII said: the Roman Catholic Church "is" the one Church of Jesus Christ. This seems to express a complete identity, which is why there was no Church outside the Catholic community. However, this is not the case: according to Catholic teaching, which Pius XII obviously also shared, the local Churches of the Eastern Church separated from Rome are authentic local Churches; the communities that sprang from the Reformation are constituted differently, as I just said. In these the Church exists at the moment when the event takes place.

But should we not say then: a single Church does not exist. She is divided into numerous fragments?

In fact, many of our contemporaries consider her such. Only fragments of the Church are said to exist, and the best of the various pieces should be sought. But if this were so, subjectivism would be warranted: then everyone would invent his own Christianity and in the end his personal taste would, be decisive.

Perhaps the Christian actually has the freedom to interpret this "patchwork" also as subjectivism or individualism.

The Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Church, is convinced that a definition of this kind is irreconcilable with Christ's promise and with fidelity to him. Christ's Church truly exists and not in pieces. She is not an unattainable utopia but a concrete reality. The "subsistit" means precisely this: the Lord guarantees the Church's existence despite all our errors and sins, which certainly are also clearly found in her. With "subsistit", the intention was to say that, although the Lord keeps his promise, there is also an ecclesial reality outside the Catholic community, and it is precisely this contradiction which is the strongest incentive to pursue unity. If the Council had merely wished to say that the Church of Jesus Christ is also in the Catholic Church, it would have said something banal. The Council would have clearly contradicted the entire history of the Church's faith, which no Council Father had in mind.

Jüngel's arguments are philological and in this regard he claims that the interpretation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which you have just explained, is "misleading". In fact, according to the terminology of the ancient Church, the one divine being also "subsists", and not in one person alone but in three. The following question arises from this reflection: If, therefore, God himself "subsists" in the difference between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and yet is not separated from himself , thus creating three reciprocal othernesses, why should this not also apply to the Church, which represents the "mysterium trinitatis" in the world?

I am saddened to have to disagree again with Jüngel. First of all, it is necessary to observe that the Church of the West, in her translation of the Trinitarian formula into Latin, did not directly adopt the Eastern formula, in which God is a being in three hypostases ("subsistences"), but translated the word hypostasis with the term "person", since in Latin the word "subsistence" as such did not exist and would therefore not have been adequate to express the unity and difference between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

However, I am particularly determined to oppose this increasingly widespread tendency to transfer the Trinitarian mystery directly to the Church. It is not suitable. In this way we will end up believing in three divinities.

In short, why cannot the "otherness" of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be compared to the diversity of ecclesial communities? Is Jüngel's not a fascinating and harmonious formula?

Among the ecclesial communities there are many disagreements, and what disagreements! The three "persons" constitute one God in an authentic and supreme unity. When the Council Fathers replaced the word "is" with the word "subsistit", they did so for a very precise reason. The concept expressed by "is" (to be) is far broader than that expressed by "to subsist". "To subsist" is a very precise way of being, that is, to be as a subject which exists in itself. Thus the Council Fathers meant to say that the being of the Church as such is a broader entity than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject.

Let us go back a step. One is struck by the curious semantics which are sometimes found in Church documents. You yourself have pointed out that the expression "elements of truth", which is central in the current dispute, is somewhat infelicitous. Might not the expression "elements of truth" betray a sort of chemical concept of truth? The truth as a recurrent system of elements? Or: is there not something overbearing about the idea of being able to separate truth from falsehood or from partial truth through theorems, since certain theorems claim to reduce the complex reality of God to a pattern drawn with a compass?

The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church speaks of "many elements of sanctification and of truth" that are found outside the visible structure of the Church (n. 8); the Decree on Ecumenism lists some of them: "The written word of God, the life of grace, faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit and visible elements" (n, 3). A better term than "elements" might exist, but its real meaning is clear: the life of faith that the Church serves is a multifaceted structure and various elements can be distinguished inside or outside it.

Nevertheless, is it not surprising that there should be a desire to make a phenomenon that escapes empirical verification, such as religious faith, intelligible through theorems?

With regard to faith and to making it understandable through theorems, dogma is distorted if it is regarded as a collection of theorems: the content of faith is expressed in its profession, whose privileged moment occurs in the administration of the sacrament of Baptism and is thus part of an existential process. It is the expression of a new direction in life, but one which we do not give ourselves but receive as a gift. This new direction to our life also implies that we emerge from our ego and selfishness and enter that community of the faithful which is called the Church. The focal point of the baptismal formula is the recognition of the Trinitarian God. All subsequent dogmas are no more than explications of this profession and ensure that its fundamental orientation, the gift of self to the living God, remains unaltered. Only when dogma is interpreted in this way can it be properly understood.

Does this mean that from this spiritual perspective one can no longer arrive at the content of faith?

No, the certitude of the Christian faith has its own content. It is not an immersion in an inexpressible mystical dimension in which one never comes to the content. The God in whom Christians believe has shown us his face and heart in Jesus Christ: he has revealed himself to us. As St Paul said, this concreteness of God was a scandal to the Greeks in the past and, of course, still is today. This is inevitable.

One is struck by the ease with which precisely in Church circles people tend to appear "injured" or "full of suffering" regarding definitions of the faith which emphasize content rather than form. How do you explain this moralization of the intellectual clash, which now seems a constant for theologians?

It is not only a moralization but also a politicization: the Magisterium is considered to be a power that should be countered with another power. In the last century Ignaz Döllinger had already expressed the idea that the Church's Magisterium should be opposed by public opinion and that theologians should play a decisive role in this. However, believers at the time rejected Döllinger's positions en masse and supported the First Vatican Council. I maintain that the harshness of certain reactions is also explained by the fact that theologians may feel that their academic freedom is threatened and wish to intervene in defence of their intellectual mission. Naturally, a decisive role is also played by the climate fostered by secular culture, which is more compatible with Protestantism than with the Catholic Church.

I detect a certain irony when you speak of the intellectual mission of theologians. And so what about the academic freedom of Catholic theologians? Might not insistence on the ecclesial nature of theology that is faithful to doctrine be a kind of conditioning? And often is there not a lack of transparency in granting the permission to teach Church doctrine (the nihil obstat)?

For theology, conformity with the Church's faith does not mean submitting to conditions that are foreign to theology. By its nature, theology seeks to understand the Church's faith, which is the presupposition of its existence. In certain cases, moreover, Evangelical Church leaders have had to deprive academics of their mission to teach, because they had abandoned the foundations of this mission. As for us and the nihil obstat, we must first remember that no one has a right to a teaching post. Faculties of theology are not obliged to communicate to individual candidates the reason why they were not chosen or what prompted their decision. We communicate to our Bishops the reason why, in our opinion, the nihil obstat cannot be granted to a certain candidate. How to inform him of this is then up to the Bishop. In a certain number of cases a correspondence was begun with the candidates, whose explanations often made it possible to change the decision from negative to positive.

Peter Hünermann's criticism centres on the following: by reinforcing the obligation to take an oath of fidelity, theologians and clergy are also required to hold as valid teachings that are only indirectly connected with the truth of revealed faith but not explicitly revealed.

I have already addressed in detail the false information on this in my two articles in Stimmen der Zeit in 1999 and in my contribution to Wolfgang Beinert's book, published that same year, Gott - ratlos vor dem Bösen?, so I will be brief. Hünermann directs his criticism at the so-called second level of the profession of faith, which distinguishes teaching that is valid and indissolubly linked to Revelation from true and proper Revelation. It is utterly false to say that the Fathers of the First and Second Vatican Councils expressly rejected this distinction. On the contrary, precisely the opposite is true. The concept of Revelation was re-elaborated at the beginning of the modern era with the development of historical thought. A distinction began to be made between what had been actually revealed and what was derived from Revelation, without being separate from it or directly contained in it. This historicization of the concept of Revelation had never existed in the Middle Ages. The separation of the two levels took conceptual form at the First Vatican Council through the distinction made between "credenda" (to be believed) and "tenenda" (to be held). Archbishop Pilarczyk of Cincinnati recently explained this concept in the document Papers from the Vallombrosa Meeting (2000). Moreover, it is enough to leaf through any theology book from the pre-conciliar period to see that this is what was precisely written, even if details in elaborating the second level were debated and still are today. The Second Vatican Council naturally accepted the distinction formulated by the First Vatican Council and strengthened it. I fail to understand how one can assert the contrary.

The greatest criticism does not concern these distinctions so much as the claim of the highest magisterial authority for teachings which have only the status of "theologically well-founded", in which, despite their good foundations, objections are still raised that have never been completely eliminated.

Of course, with teachings to be held ("tenenda") something more than "theologically well-founded" is meant; the latter are changeable. The literature includes among these "tenenda" important moral teachings of the Church (e.g., the rejection of euthanasia and assisted suicide), so-called dogmatic facts (e.g., that the Bishops of Rome are the Successors of St Peter, the legitimacy of Ecumenical Councils, etc.).

Let us return again to your Congregation's disputed document. Rather than being blamed for failing to emphasize content rather than form, the Declaration Dominus Iesus is often accused of a somewhat tactless approach that irritates the spokesmen of other religions and denominations. Cardinal Sterzinsky of Berlin said that in theological formation it is necessary not to forget in sermons the "when, where and how". In Roman documents, however, it seems that this has been forgotten. And Bishop Lehmann of Mainz said that he would have liked "a text written in the style of the great conciliar texts", and wonders to what extent the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith collaborated with other curial authorities in preparing the document. In this connection, he mentions the Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

As for collaboration with the other curial authorities, the President and Secretary of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Cassidy and Bishop Kasper, are members of our Congregation, as is the President of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Arinze. They all have a say in the matter, as I do. The Prefect, in fact, is only the first among equals and is responsible for the orderly conduct of the work. The three members of the Congregation I have just mentioned took an active part in drafting the document, which was presented several times at the ordinary meeting of the Cardinals and once at the plenary meeting in which all our foreign members take part. Unfortunately, Cardinal Cassidy and Bishop Kasper were prevented by concurrent engagements from taking part in some of the sessions, although they had been informed of the dates of these meetings well in advance. Nevertheless, they received all the documentation and their detailed written vota were communicated to the participants and thoroughly discussed.

Did they get a hearing?

Almost all the proposals of the two persons in question were accepted, because the opinion of the Council for Unity was naturally very important for us in dealing with this matter. Moreover, I can easily understand that the German Bishops are particularly sensitive to difficulties arising from the situation in our country. But there is also another side to the coin. Just recently, for example, on my way home I met two men in their prime who came up to me and said: "We're missionaries in Africa. How long we've waited for those words! We're constantly meeting difficulties, and missionaries are becoming fewer and fewer". I was deeply touched by the gratitude of these two people, who are in the front lines of preaching the Gospel. And this is only one of the many reactions of this kind. The truth is always disturbing and never easy. Jesus' words are often terribly hard and expressed without much diplomatic subtlety. Walter Kasper rightly said that the sensation caused by the document betrays a communications problem, because classical doctrinal language, as used in our document in continuity with the texts of the Second Vatican Council, is entirely different from that of newspapers and the media. But then the text should be interpreted and not held in contempt.

In the discussion of your Congregation's document, the question of the possibilities and limits of ecumenism was raised once again. The problems connected with the ecumenical project do not only concern the existence of a tendency on both sides to tone down what divides and no longer to take seriously the indispensable demand to prevail. In an article 15 years ago in Theologische Quartalschrift, you had already warned against considering "ecumenism as a diplomatic task of a political kind", and in this sense you criticized the "ecumenism of negotiation" of the immediate post-conciliar period. What did you mean?

First of all, I would distinguish between theological dialogue and political or business negotiations. Theological dialogue is not concerned with finding what is acceptable and eventually suitable to both parties, but with discovering profound convergences behind the different linguistic forms and with learning to distinguish what is connected to a specific historical period from what instead is fundamental. This is possible particularly when the context of the experience of God and Self has changed, when the language can thus be confronted with a certain detachment and fundamental insights can flow from passions that divide.

Can you give an example of this?

It is obvious in the doctrine of justification: Luther's religious experience was essentially conditioned by the difficult aspect of God's wrath and a desire for the certainty of forgiveness and salvation. However, the experience of God's wrath has been completely lost in our era, and the idea that God cannot damn anyone has become widespread among Christians. In a now very different context, they were able to seek points that the two sides have in common, starting from the Bible, which is the foundation we share. I can find no contradiction, then, between Dominus Iesus, which only repeats the central ideas of the Council, and the consensus on justification. It is important that dialogue be conducted with great patience, with great respect and, especially, with total honesty. The challenge posed to us all by agnosticism consists in abandoning historical preconceptions and going to the heart of the matter. For example, to go back to a previous point in our conversation, honesty means not applying the same concept of Church to the Catholic Church and to one of the Churches formed according to the borders of former principalities.

So then, after the publication of your document is the ecumenical formula of "reconciled diversity" still valid?

I accept the concept of a "reconciled diversity", if it does not mean equality of content and the elimination of the question of truth so that we could consider ourselves one, even if we believe and teach different things. To my mind this concept is used well, if it says that, despite our differences, which do not allow us to regard ourselves as mere fragments of a Church of Jesus Christ that does not exist in reality, we meet in the peace of Christ and are reconciled to one another, that is, we recognize our division as contradicting the Lord's will and this sorrow spurs us to seek unity and to pray to him in the knowledge that we all need his love.

Occasionally one reads passages from the Pope and his collaborators which relativize the division of Christianity in a dialectical treatment of salvation history. The Pope then speaks of "a metahistorical reason" for the division and, in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he wonders: "Could it not be that these divisions have also been a path continually leading the Church to discover the untold wealth contained in Christ's Gospel and in the redemption accomplished by Christ? Perhaps all this wealth would not have come to light otherwise". Thus the division of Christians seems a pedagogical work of the Holy Spirit, since, as the Pope says, for human knowledge and human action a "certain dialectic" is also significant. You yourself wrote: "Even if the divisions are human works and human sins, a dimension proper to the divine framework exists in them". If this is so, one wonders by what right can the divine pedagogy be opposed by identifying the Church of Christ with the Roman Catholic Church. Are not the conceptual imprecisions deplored in the ecumenical dialogue also found in the speculations of salvation history on God's pedagogy?

This is a difficult subject which concerns human freedom and divine governance. There are no valid answers in an absolute form because we cannot go beyond our human horizon, and therefore we cannot unveil the mystery that links these two elements. What you have quoted from the Holy Father and from me could be roughly applied to the well-known saying that God writes straight with crooked lines. The lines remain crooked and this means that the divisions have to deal with human sin. Sin does not become something positive because it can lead to a growth process when it is understood as something to be overcome by conversion and to be removed by forgiveness.

Paul already had to explain to the Romans the ambiguity stemming from his teaching on grace, according to which, since sin leads to grace, then one could be at ease with sin (Rom 6:19). God's ability to turn even our sins into something good certainly does not mean that sin is good. And the fact that God can make division yield positive fruits does not make it positive in itself. The conceptual imprecisions which do in fact exist are due to the disturbing unfathomableness of the relationship between the freedom to sin and the freedom of grace. The freedom of grace is also shown by the fact that, on the one hand, the Church does not sink and break up into antithetical ecclesial fragments in an unrealizable dream. By God's grace the Church as subject really exists and subsists in the Catholic Church; Christ's promise is the guarantee that this subject will never be destroyed. But on the other hand, it is true that this subject is wounded, inasmuch as ecclesial realities exist and function outside it. In that fact the tragedy of sin and the paradoxical breadth of God's promise most clearly emerge. If this tension is removed to reach clear formulas, and it is said that all ecclesial communities are the Church, and that all, despite their disagreements, are that one and holy Church, then no ecumenism exists, because there is no longer any reason for seeking authentic unity,

The same question can be asked again from another angle: whether the question of religious profession is related to that of personal salvation. Why mission, why the disagreement over "truth" and Vatican documents if, in the end, man can reach God by all paths?

The document is far from repeating the subjectivist and relativist thesis that everyone can become holy in his own way. This is a cynical interpretation, in which I sense a contempt for the question of truth and right ethics. The document affirms, with the Council, that God gives light to everyone. Those who seek the truth find themselves objectively on the path that leads to Christ, and thus also on the path to the community in which he remains present in history, that is, to the Church. To seek the truth, to listen to one's conscience, to purify one's interior hearing, these are the conditions of salvation for all. They have a profound, objective connection with Christ and the Church. In this sense we say that other religions have rites and prayers which can play a role of preparing for the Gospel, of occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to open itself to God's action. But we also say that this does not apply to all rites. For there are some (anyone who knows something of the history of religions can only agree) which turn man away from the light. Thus vigilance and inner purification are achieved by a life that follows conscience and helps to identify differences, an openness which, in the end, means belonging inwardly to Christ.

For this reason the document can affirm that mission remains important, since it offers the light that men and women need in their search for truth and goodness.

But the question remains: since, as you have said, salvation can be achieved through every path, provided that one lives according to one's conscience, does mission then not lose its theological urgency? For what else can be meant by the thesis of the "Intimate and objective connection" between non-Catholic paths of salvation and Christ, if not that Christ himself makes superfluous the distinction between a "full" and "deficient" truth of salvation, since, if he is present as the instrument of salvation, he is always and logically "fully" present.

I did not say that salvation can be achieved by every path. The way of conscience, the keeping of one's gaze focused on truth and the objective good, is one single way, although it can take many forms because of the great number of individuals and situations. The good is one, however, and truth does not contradict itself. The fact that man does not attain one or the other does not relativize the requirement of truth and goodness. For this reason it is not enough to continue in the religion one has inherited, but one must remain attentive to the true good and thus be able to transcend the limits of one's own religion. This has meaning only if truth and goodness really exist. It would be impossible to walk the way of Christ if he did not exist. Living with the eyes of the heart open, purifying oneself inwardly and seeking the light are indispensable conditions of human salvation. Proclaiming the truth, that is, making the light shine (not putting it "under a bushel, but on a stand"), is absolutely necessary.

It is not the concept of Church that irritates Protestants, but the biblical interpretation of Dominus Iesus, which says that it is necessary to oppose "the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition of the Church's Magisterium" and "presuppositions ... which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth". Jüngel says: "The inappropriate revaluation of the authority of the Church's Magisterium corresponds to an equally inappropriate devaluation of the authority of Sacred Scripture".

Fortified by 500 years of experience, modern exegesis has clearly recognized, along with modern literature and the philosophy of language, that mere self-interpretation of the Scriptures and the clarity resulting from it do not exist. In 1928 Adolf von Harnack said, with typical bluntness, in his correspondence with Erik Peterson that "the so-called 'formal principle' of old Lutheranism is a critical impossibility; on the contrary, the Catholic one is better". Ernst Käsemann has shown that the canon of Sacred Scripture as such does not ground the Church's unity, but the multiplicity of confessions. Recently, one of the most important Evangelical exegetes, Ulrich Luz, has shown that "Scripture alone" opens the way to every possible interpretation. Lastly, the first generation of the Reformation also had to seek "the centre of Scripture", to obtain an interpretive key which could not be extrapolated from the text as such. Another practical example: in the clash with Gerd Lüdemann, a professor who denied the resurrection and divinity of Christ, etc., it has been pointed out that the Evangelical Church cannot do without a sort of Magisterium. When the contours of the faith are blurred in a chorus of opposing exegetical efforts (materialist, feminist, liberationist exegeses, etc.), it seems evident that it is precisely the relationship with the professions of faith, and thus with the Church's living tradition, that guarantees the literal interpretation of Sacred Scripture, protecting it from subjectivism and preserving its originality and authenticity. Therefore the Magisterium does not diminish the authority of Sacred Scripture but safeguards it by taking an inferior position to it and allowing the faith flowing from it to emerge.

The Declaration of your Congregation indicates the acceptance of "apostolic succession" as a decisive criterion for the definition of a "Sister Church" by the Roman Catholic Church. A Protestant like Jüngel rejects this principle as non-biblical. For him, the successor of the Apostles is not the Bishop but the biblical canon. In his opinion, any person who lives according to the Scriptures is a successor of the Apostles.

The assertion that the canon is the successor of the Apostles is an exaggeration and mixes up things that are too different. The canon of Scripture was arrived at by the Church in a process that continued into the fifth century. The canon, then, does not exist without the ministry of the successors of the Apostles and, at the same time, establishes the criterion of their service. The written word is not a substitute for living witnesses, just as the latter cannot replace the written word. Living witnesses and the written word refer to one another. We share the episcopal structure of the Church as the way to be in communion with the Apostles, with the whole ancient Church and with the Orthodox Churches; this should give cause for reflection. When it is asserted that someone who lives according to the Scriptures is a successor of the Apostles, the following question is left unanswered: who decides what it means to live according to the Scriptures and who judges whether someone is really doing so? The thesis that the successor of the Apostles is not the Bishop but the biblical canon is a clear rejection of the Catholic Church's concept. At the same time, however, we are expected to use this same concept to define the Churches of the Reformation. It is a logic that I frankly do not understand.

Thursday, August 30, 2012





The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, and its Decrees on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) and the Oriental Churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum), has contributed in a decisive way to the renewal of Catholic ecclesiology. The Supreme Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal by offering their own insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam suam (1964) and John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (1995).

The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of writing in this field. In fact it has become evident that this theme is a most fruitful one which, however, has also at times required clarification by way of precise definition and correction, for instance in the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), the Letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Communionis notio (1992), and the declaration Dominus Iesus (2000), all published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection. Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt. A number of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.



Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?


The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council.[1] Paul VI affirmed it[2] and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: “There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation”.[3] The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention.[4]


What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?


Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”[5], that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.[6] “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”.[7]

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.[10]


Why was the expression “subsists in” adopted instead of the simple word “is”?


The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are “numerous elements of sanctification and of truth” which are found outside her structure, but which “as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity”.[11]

“It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church”[12].


Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term “Church” in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?


The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. “Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds”[13], they merit the title of “particular or local Churches”[14], and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.[15]

“It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”.[16] However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.[17]

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history.[18]


Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

William Cardinal Levada

Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila


I'm back from an excellent seminar with Fr. Robert Barron. What a teacher! This video I found is helpful for those who don't really like the living Magisterium and want to go back to the dead one of the early 1940's or perhaps to the early Church Fathers, or worse yet to their own authority:

This is a good one on judgement and hell:

Now onto liturgical dance! I've written this before, like music that is added to the Mass, the Mass is the music of the Mass, meaning: The Introit, the priest's parts; the other parts that the laity respond and also join the priest in chanting: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Mystery of Faith, Great Amen, Pater Noster, Agnus Dei. The new English missal also offers the possibility of chanting the Orate Fratres and the laity's response as well as the "Lord, I am not worthy, with the priest's Ecce Agnus Dei.

Everything else that is sung is superfluous. These are sung at Mass, but are not the Mass!



The same is true with liturgical dance. The horrible stuff we see in the USA that is called liturgical dance is truly an aberration and superfluous to the Mass, like music thrown into the Mass.

The Mass is the liturgical dance itself. By this I mean a highly choreographed dance, that is prescribed not left to the "genius" of the one dancing or his or her improvisation.

In fact, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has more dance like characteristics than the Ordinary Form. The OF Mass is often sloppily carried out without a thought to the choreography that is required. The problem too is that the rubrics and general instructions of this missal don't have a choreography except in the most general of terms.

Not so with the EF Mass. It is truly choreographed especially in its highest form, the Solemn Sung Mass or better yet the Pontifical Solemn Sung Mass.

It is like the Israelite's dance around the Ark of the Covenant!

It would be quite easy though to bring the choreography of the EF Mass to the OF Mass especially when celebrated ad orientem!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Okay, some of you don't like the Ordinary Form of the Mass compared to the Extraordinary Form because you think it doesn't really follow what Sacrosanctum Concilium truly desired. But worse than that you don't like Sacrosanctum Concilium or the documents of Vatican II and would like to reject these. That makes you a neo-Protestant and like the Orthodox in rejecting an Ecumenical Council and the Magisteriums of all Popes beginning with Pope John XXIII--this is disobedience and the antithesis of the unity that the Holy Father provides to all Catholics who are obedient to him in the areas of faith, morals, canon law and their Magisterium, ordinary and extraordinary.

I think one can certainly prefer the EF Mass over the OF Mass. I have no problem with that. But the rejection of an Ecumenical Council is a mortal sin--serious matter, one knows it is serious matter to reject the Magisterium in its living and current form and one does it with full consent of the will. To die in a state of mortal sin means damnation. But surely we call upon God's mercy to lead you to right praise or Orthodoxy as Catholics.

So let's work on reforming the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in a minor way. By that I mean let's keep the 1962 Missal and its lectionary as the given. Having stated that,then let's suggest the following:

I'm working now off of the Sung Mass and the Solemn Sung Mass:

1. Since everyone is joining the ordained priest by virtue of the priesthood of all the baptized, everyone participates in everything according to their status in the Church whether ordained or lay. The altar boys assist the priest and participate with the laity in the same degree in terms of verbal responses and the laity also join in singing the parts of the Mass that pertain to them:
A. A processional hymn is sung
B. Once the procession reaches the sanctuary, the singing of this hymn ends and the Priest and the laity together say the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar in the vernacular each taking their parts. There is no truncation of these prayers.

2. The Choir then sings the Introit as the priest approaches the altar to reverence it and the laity are invited to join in if able, along with the priest. The priest does not say the Introit but joins in the choir singing of it or simply listens.

2. The Kyrie and Gloria are chanted by all in the Greek/Latin and using one of the chant versions.

3. The Collect is chanted by the priest as usual for the EF Mass. The priest is not robotic in his movements but solemn and natural following the rubrics as written.

4. The Liturgy of the Word is chanted in the Vernacular with the option at the altar in the traditional positions by a lay lector for the first reading, the gradual chanted by a cantor in the choir, and the Gospel changed by the deacon or priest. The option of doing this from the ambo is allowed.

5. After the homily that is integral to the Liturgy of the Word, the Credo is chanted in Latin and the option of a litany that is prescribed is offered as an option following the Credo.

6. The altar is prepared and the offerings brought by the laity to the priest.

7. The Mass continues as usual with the Offertory Chant sung during the procession of the gifts and the actual offertory.

8. After the Offertory, the Mass continues as it would in the 1962 missal with the laity taking their parts for the Sanctus, with the priest joining in singing the Sanctus with the Laity and then the canon said in a quiet voice, but not silently, in other words, following the rubrics which explicitly says, low voice, not silent voice. The Congregation sings the Great Amen which is chanted.

9. the Congregation joins in chanting the entire Pater Noster as well as the Agnus Dei and Communion Antiphon and other chants.

The postures of the EF Mass for the congregation are standardized for both the High, Solemn High and Low Masses:

A. Stand for the Procession
B. Kneel for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar
C. Stand for the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Collect

D. Sit for the First Lesson and Gradual
E. Stand for the Gospel as soon as the Gradual is competed
F. Sit for the homily

G. Stand for the Credo and Litany
H. Sit for the Offertory procession and offertory

I. Stand for the Orate Fratres, Secret, and Preface dialogue and Preface as well as the Sanctus which is sung as a unity always
J. Kneel for the Roman Canon through the Great Amen
K. Stand for the Pater Noster and following prayers
L. Stand for the Lamb of God, kneel afterwards until the laity's Communion
M. After Holy Communion, Stand for the Prayer after Holy Communion
N. Kneel for the Ite Missa Est and Final Blessing
O. Stand for the Last Gospel and Recessional


In the post below this one, the good cardinal says the Liturgy of Pope Paul VI did not revise the Mass as Vatican II envisioned by Sacrosanctum Concilium!

Ao I trust that you have read SC and understand that it should be followed. Without having SC in front of me, let me highlight what I see as indispensable:

1. Latin to be retained, but some vernacular, Pope Benedict models the future with the preface, Canon and Pater Noster in Latin

2. Noble simplicity without useless repetition

3. More lavish use of Scripture, I say SC was implemented in the lectionary

4. Actual participation--the laity must have actual participation in their parts and strict rubrics for their postures

5. Inculturation through art and style of chant but very conservatively

6. Gregorian chant the norm for the Mass parts themselves

So, don't expect the 2002 revised Missal to be dumped but plan to see:

A. The EF Order of Mass restored

B. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar restored but responded to by the laity even in a sung Mass, but without the double Confiteor

C. Restoration of the traditional Offertory Prayers

D. Communion Rite as in the OF (beginning with Pater Noster and through the Mass's dismissal) with the option of the Last Gospel

E. Revised Roman Calendar as the Amglican Ordinariate has done

I think certain musical instruments should be suppressed such as piano, tambourines, snare drums and guitars.

Of course the norm for the Mass would be Ad Orientem as well as kneeling for Holy Communion and intinction the norm for the laity.

All that I write could happen by papal order today with catches is first and implementation Advent of 2013.

So keeping SC 's normative requests in mind how would you revise the Mass keeping in mind that the 2002 missal itself will not be discarded.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



The Mass of Paul VI IS NOT the Mass of the Council
Sacrosanctum Concilium never really implemented
From an interview granted by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller to Vatican Insider and published today. The last answer, on the liturgical revolution that should never have happened and destroyed the organic evolution of sacred worship, is particularly relevant.

The Second Vatican Council was a Pastoral Council that also provided dogmatic explanations. Had there ever been anything like it previously in the history of the Church? 
[Brandmüller:] It does in fact seem as though Vatican II marked the beginning of a new type of Council. The language that was used during it and the completeness of the texts show that the Council fathers was not as much motivated by the need to pass judgement on controversial new ecclesiastical and theological issues, but rather by the wish to turn their attention to public opinion within the Church and the entire world, in the spirit of the annunciation.

Shouldn’t a Council be declared a failure if fifty years on it has not been warmly received by the faithful? Benedict XVI warned against a misleading interpretation of the Council, particularly in terms of the hermeneutics of [rupture]…
[B:]This is one of those cliché questions that stem from a new existential sentiment; that feeling of confusion that is typical of our times. But what is fifty years after all?! Cast your mind back to the Council of Nicaea in 325. The disputes surrounding the dogma of this Council - about the nature of the Son, that is, whether he was made of the same substance as the Father or not - continued for more than a hundred years. St. Ambrose was ordained Bishop of Milan on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Council of Nicaea and had to fight hard against the Arians who refused to accept the Nicene provisions. Briefly afterwards came a new Council: the First Council of Constantinople of 381 which was deemed necessary in order to complete the profession of the faith at Nicaea. During this Council, St. Augustine was given the task of dealing with requests and fighting back heretics until his death in 430. Frankly, even the Council of Trent was not very fruitful until the Golden Jubilee of 1596. It took a new generation of Bishops and prelates to mature in the “spirit of the Council” before its effect could really be felt. We need to allow ourselves a little more breathing space.

Let us talk now about the fruits which the Vatican II produced. Can you comment on this?
[B:] First of all of course the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” in comparison with the Tridentine Catechism: after the Council of Trent, the Catechismus Romanus was launched in order to provide parish priests, preachers etcetera with guidelines on how to preach and announce the Gospel or evangelize.

Even the 1983 Code of Canon Law can be considered a consequence of the Council. I must emphasise that the form of the post-conciliar liturgy with all its distortions, is not attributable to the Council or to the Liturgy Constitution established during Vatican II which by the way has not really been implemented even to this day. The indiscriminate removal of Latin and Gregorian Chants from liturgical celebrations and the erection of numerous altars were absolutely not acts prescribed by the Council.

With the benefit of hindsight, let us cast our minds back in particular to the lack of sensitivity shown in terms of care for the faithful and in the pastoral carelessness shown in the liturgical form. One need only think of the Church’s excesses, reminiscent of the [Iconoclastic crisis] which occurred in the [8th] century. Excesses which catapulted numerous faithful into total chaos, leaving many fumbling around in the dark.

Just about anything and everything has been said on this subject. Meanwhile, the liturgy has come to be seen as a mirror image of Church life, subject to an organic historical evolution which cannot - as did indeed happen - suddenly be changed by decree par ordre de mufti. And we are still paying the price today. [Source, adapted]
New Catholic at 8/28/2012 02:46:00 PM


On Monday, the Atlanta Province Assembly of Bishops and Priests heard Father Robert Barron speak about the priesthood.

He first spoke about worship as adoration which in Latin literrally means "mouth to mouth." We breathe in God's breath and exhale God's praise, a lovely image.

Worship is also reconciliation, which contains the Latin word cilia which is eyelash. We are together with God eyelash to eyelash.

Orthodoxy is also about worship which means right praise. The question each of us must ask is what do we worship? What is the highest worth to us? Sin is falling away from right worship and making something or someone else the center of our praise which is wrong worship.

The most radical thing Fr. Barron said is that Vatican II has yet to be implemented properly. It is not primarily a Council to modernize the Church but rather a Missionary Council. It seeks the "Christofication" of the world, to evangelize the world by speaking to the world that is secular, atheistic, agnostic and religious.

A sign of doing this with beneficial effects is the role of Pope John Paul and the Church in the fall of Communism. Right praise is meant to change the world.

However we are not to compromise ourselves in this dialogue. Vatican II opened windows to let God's light out, to let God's breath to blow into the world. It did not tear down the walls of the Church but maintained and reiterated dogmatic truths from the 20 centuries of the Church.

More to come. I'm posting this from my IPhone so please excuse mistakes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The type of reform James Carroll has in mind isn't what I have in mind!

This is what most think when they think of reform and specifically the reform of the Second Vatican Council:

Is the Second Vatican Council some kind of sacred cow that can't be reformed? I ask this in all seriousness. The reason why I ask this is that we all have been taught since the Second Vatican Council that the Church is always in need of reform. Since a council, specifically the Second Vatican Council is but a small part of the Church, should not that old adage also apply to the Second Vatican Council?

There are FIVE areas where the Second Vatican Council could use some reform. They are:

1. Sacrosanctum Concilium--it needs to be revisited according the the Extraordinary Form and then its "suggestions" critiqued and then applied anew to the EF Mass and in a very conservative way. This will take years to do. Just keep in mind how long it took us to get the new English translation of the Mass--more than 25 years! Of course to facilitate this critque the Holy Father could add to the option of the 1962 Missal, its slight reform in the vernacular of the 1965 missal. That would be a stroke of genius and reduce the years that it would take to reform Sacrosanctum Concilium and give us a more modest reformed Mass.

2. The Church's dialogue with the secular world needs to be nuanced and refined, if not reformed to make clear that the Church is meant to bring Christ to the secular, not the secular to Christ and His Church.

3. Ecumenism and Interfaith relations need to be reformed accord to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith's decrees of recent decades and this which you can read by pressing HERE.

4. Religious Life needs a serious reform of the reform too. The future of Religious Life is not the LCWR and its New Age version of schismatic religious life, but rather of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious who are smaller in numbers, but far, far younger and more vibrant and garnering far more new vocations of young women compared to the LCWR which is moribund. You can read an excellent article on the future reform of Religious Life From USA Today by pressing HERE!

5. There might need to be some nuances in terms of "Religious Liberty" too.

Some odds and ends:

1. I just celebrated a wedding for two parishioners of mind as a "destination" wedding at Amelia Island, Florida, to be specific, at St. Michael's Church, Fernandina Beach Florida. This is the view from my hotel room:

2. His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke has gone to my mom's home town of Livorno, Italy in lovely and romantic Tuscany to celebrate the EF Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Montenero which is right above Livorno (Leghorn) and a wonderful area that my mom and her family would often visit to get away from things. You can read about it HERE.

3. On Monday, August 27 I go to Raleigh, North Carolina for a continuing education conference for the Province of Atlanta. It features Father Robert Barron! I can't wait. I return to the parish in Macon late Wednesday.