Monday, February 28, 2011

Priests threaten Mass exodus over changes to liturgy

Bob McClory recently reflected that the New Mass revisions may be a tough sell It seems that many local pastors are resigned that the new liturgy is “a done deal” and “you can’t fight city hall”. One Chicago “married priest” stated “For myself, I haven’t decided if I would boycott the “new” Mass,or if I will simply come out of “forced retirment” as a priest, find a location, and start saying Mass for others who are also repulsed by this change.” Yet in Ireland and Australia there seem to be many canonical priests who would rather fight than switch.

Priests threaten Mass exodus over changes to liturgy

by Leesha McKenny and Barney Zwartz

February 19, 2011

THE Catholic Church is facing open defiance over its new Mass, with at least a dozen Australian priests indicating they will refuse to use it when it comes into force later this year.

Hundreds more are angry about the lack of consultation for the new, more literal translation of the 400-year-old Latin text, which was heavily influenced by a Vatican advisory committee headed by the Sydney Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell.

What supporters say is a suitably elevated and poetic text more faithful to the original Latin is seen by detractors as an outdated, contrived and less inclusive version that ignores modern English and could further alienate Catholics from the church. It has become the latest battleground in the culture wars between progressive Catholics and traditionalists over the direction of reforms stemming from the 1960s Vatican Council, which allowed the faithful to celebrate the liturgy in their own language for the first time.

To be gradually introduced from June, the new Mass will be the compulsory version of the English mass by November.

But Father John Crothers, the parish priest of St Declan's parish in Penshurst, said he could not in good conscience use the text, which he believed to go against the 1960s Vatican Council's spirit of ''aggiornamento'', meaning ''up-to-date''.

''I've no problems with changing things - it's part of my philosophy that you've got to change and grow and develop. It's the fact that this is going backwards instead of going forwards,'' he said. ''I won't be saying the priest part. If the people wanted to do the responses in the new translation, it's up to them.''

In Ireland this month a group representing more than 400 priests publicly denounced the new translation as ''archaic, elitist and obscure'' and urged their bishops to delay the changes for at least five years until the clergy and laity were consulted.

The chairman of the National Council of Priests of Australia, Father Ian McGinnity, said hundreds of its 1600 members were ''pretty steamed up'' at the Vatican's lack of consultation but most had not yet decided how to respond. At least a dozen had indicated they would not use the new English translation, he said.

''We're also very concerned that the language, the idiom, might perhaps estrange more Catholics from participation in the Eucharist,'' he said.
Asked what sanctions a local bishop could apply to defiant priests, Father McGinnity said: "I really don't know. I suppose he could suspend a bloke. But given the [priest] shortage, it's unlikely."

Father Crothers said he had told Cardinal Pell his position at a clergy conference last year.

''I said at the conference, 'I won't be doing it, and where do I stand there?' And he's just said that he expected all the priests will do it.''

Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, the vice-chairman of the international translation committee, said consultation had been extensive but there would have to be ''dialogue and encouragement'' with opponents. ''I think a lot of the criticism is really a fear of what we think the thing is, and when we get to the reality, it's not like that at all.''

The executive director of the National Liturgy Commission, Peter Williams, who has spent the past year travelling the country to explain the new Mass, said it had already been successfully introduced in New Zealand.

''I think that's what's going to happen here. Of course there will be some irritability, but in due course people will have made the change."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Phone Apps and Pink Smoke…

In a NCR blog, Jamie L. Manson moves from the introduction of a “Confession” app for the iPhone to a reflection on the women-priests movement…..

Late last week, a new iPhone app designed to help Catholics prepare for the confessional made its debut. The app tailors its questions to a person’s gender and vocation. So if you punch in both “female” and “priest,” you immediately receive the message “sex and vocation are incompatible.”

The women and men featured in the new documentary Pink Smoke would beg to differ.

This weekend Pink Smoke had its debut as part of the Athena film festival hosted by Barnard College in New York. The film had been screened previously at the national Call to Action conference last November. The documentary chronicles the fight against the injustice of the ban on women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.

The film’s title refers to the action taken by the Women’s Ordination Conference in the days leading to the elevation of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Imitating the Vatican’s symbol of white smoke sent into the air after the election of a pope, the activists burned Pink Smoke to raise awareness of the critical lack of women in the papal election process.

Angela Bonavoglia, Jules Hart, Jean Marchant, and Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois speak on a panel about the documentary 'Pink Smoke' at Barnard College in New York Feb. 12 (NCR photo/ Jamie L. Manson)Attendees at the Barnard screening were treated not only to the film, but also to a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Jules Hart, Good Catholic Girls author Angela Bonovoglia, Roman Catholic Womenpriest (RCWP) Jean Marchant, and Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who received a letter from the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 warning him of excommunication for refusing to recant support for women’s ordination.

These latter three panelists are also featured in Hart’s film, along with a variety of players in the women’s ordination movement. Interestingly, Hart herself is not a Catholic.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Drinking the "Kool Aid"....

Come Advent 2011 pastors and parishes are being asked to “drink the Kool Aid” of the new translation of the Roman Missal. Despite the pleadings of some US bishops (most vigorously, Donald Trautman), liturgists, and theologians with Rome, Catholics are being asked to blindly accept the new translations without critical examination, because it will be “good” for us.

One priest/liturgist who had been called upon to take a lead on the PR campaign across the US for the new missal has backed out for reasons of conscience. He said putting the new missal in a positive light "would require me to say things I do not believe." Anthony Ruff published his open letter to the US bishops in America magazine:

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, With a heavy heart, I have recently made a difficult decision concerning the new English missal. I have decided to withdraw from all my upcoming speaking engagements on the Roman Missal in dioceses across the United States. After talking with my confessor and much prayer, I have concluded that I cannot promote the new missal translation with integrity. I’m sure bishops want a speaker who can put the new missal in a positive light, and that would require me to say things I do not believe.

I love the Church, I love the sacred liturgy, I love chant in Latin and English, and I treasure being involved with all these as a monk and priest. It has been an honor to serve until recently as chairman of the music committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) that prepared all the chants for the new missal. But my involvement in that process, as well as my observation of the Holy See’s handling of scandal, has gradually opened my eyes to the deep problems in the structures of authority of our church.

The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church. When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority, how much deception and mischief have marked this process—and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.

I see a good deal of disillusionment with the Catholic Church among my friends and acquaintances. Some leave the Catholic Church out of conviction, some gradually drift away, some join other denominations, some remain Catholic with difficulty. My response is to stay in this church for life and do my best to serve her. This I hope to do by stating the truth as I see it, with charity and respect. I would be ready to participate in future liturgical projects under more favorable conditions.

I am sorry for the difficulties I am causing others by withdrawing, but I know this is the right thing to do. I will be praying for you and all leaders in our church.

Pax in Christo,

Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B.

Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey and a professor of liturgy and Gregorian chant. He was on the committee which drafted the 2007 document “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship” for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is founder of the National Catholic Youth Choir and blogs at Pray Tell.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lost Generation(s)?

The recent pleading of a third of all Catholic theologians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for honest discussion of “taboo” subjects in the Church has been dismissed as “rebellion in the nursing home.” This is inferring that “loyal” dissidents in the Catholic Church are a dying breed. Cardinal George also feels Catholic liberals are aging and are soon (albeit not-soon enough for his liking) going to be history.

So where are the all the young Catholics who will be the Church of the Future? Except for some who picked up the party-line theology and agenda, most seem to be “lost”. At least this was the premise studied at a forum at Fordham University - “Lost? Twenty-Somethings and the Church”.

In an NCR blog Jamie L. Manson reflected on the forum. (Link below) Jamie received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. In 2010 she won a Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

JPII Beatification and Cheapening Sainthood???

Following up on the previous post, here is another perspective.

Is the honor of being canonized cheapened by John Paul II’s fast-track to sainthood? Normally a person can’t even be considered for the sainthood process for at least five years after death. Nevertheless, Pope Benedict XVI waived this requirement for his immediate predecessor and mentor, despite some lingering questions. Though his strengths were many, one must ask why JP II continued to protect and laud Fr. Marciel despite credible sexual abuse allegations against him. It wasn’t until JP II’s death that it was disclosed Marciel not only abused seminarians, but he fathered illegitimate children and embezzled funds from the Legionnaires of Christ.

One wonders if there isn’t something self-serving about Popes canonizing other Popes. Pope Pius IX declared Popes infallible in 1870, and Pope John Paul II promoted Pope Pius’ sainthood, thereby strengthening his own claim to infallibility. Other accomplishments of Pope Pius IX included: excommunicating all Italian patriots who took away his temporal power; kidnapping a Jewish youngster (Edgardo Mortara) and raising him in the Vatican; condemning nationalism, populism and democracy in favor of the “Divine Right of Kings” with his encyclical Quanta Cura and its attached Syllabus of Errors

No pontiff in history canonized more saints than John Paul II. He ingratiated himself in almost every country he visited by declaring one or more local historic figures to be saints. These canonizations and beatifications carried political as well as theological clout. Often it takes a long time and lots of money to champion a candidate to sainthood, as many religious orders know who have campaigned for their founder’s canonization. Canonized saints have been almost exclusively popes, bishops, priests, religious, martyrs and virgins – implying saints should be untainted with normal human sexuality. JPII canonized 477 saints and beatified another 996 (more than the last four centuries of popes put together), yet only one was a married couple - Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi. They had 5 children (including 2 priests, a monk and a nun), and then after their fifth child was born, they lived celibately “as brother and sister” the rest of their days.

While we are should live good and holy lives, and want to “be in that number when the saints go marching in”… do you think the road to sainthood is a credible process anymore?