Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ratzinger Junior on liturgical reform at Vatican II

From Commonweal.......
After each of the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council, Joseph Ratzinger published a pamphlet with reflections on the events and achievements of that session. These were then gathered together and translated into English as Theological Highlights of Vatican II (New York: Paulist Press/Deus Books, 1966).
Given the discussion in several threads of the possible action of Pope Benedict XVI with regard to the Tridentine Rite, some may find it interesting to know how the young conciliar peritus saw the question of liturgy at the time. (Page numbers are given from that English edition.)
In his review of the first session, he had a number of comments:

"The decision to begin with the liturgy schema was not merely a technically correct6 move. Its significance went far deeper. This decision was a profession of faith in what is truly central to the Church–the ever-renewed marriage of the Church wi8th her Lord, actualized in the eucharistic mystery where the Church, participating in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, fulfills its innermost mission, the adoration of the triune God. Beyond all the superficially more important issues, there was here a profession of faith in the true source of the Church’s life, and the proper point of departure for all renewal. The text did not restrict itself to mere changes in individual rubrics, but was inspired from this profound perspective of faith. The text implied an entire ecclesiology and thus anticipated ... the main theme of the entire Council–its teaching on the Church. Thus the Church was freed from the 'hierarchological’ Congar) narrowness' of the last hundred years, and returned to its sacramental origins" (14).
Ratzinger pointed to five important elements in the liturgical schema. (1) "the return to Christian origins and the pruning of certain accretions that often enough concealed the original liturgical nucleus; examples: priority of Sunday over saints’ days; of mystery over devotion, of "simple structure over the rank growth of forms"; "defrosting’ of ritual rigidity; restoration of the liturgy of the Word; "the dialogical nature of the whole liturgical celebration and its essence as the common service of the People of God; "reduction in the status of private Masses in favor of emphasis on greater communal participation."
(2) a stronger emphasis on the Word as an element of equal value with the sacrament:" new arrangement of biblical readings.
(3) "a more active participation of the laity, the inclusion of the whole table-fellowship of God in the holy action".
(4) "the decentralization of liturgical legislation," which represents "a fundamental innovation." Conferences of bishops now will have responsibility for liturgical laws in their own regions and this, "not by delegation from the Holy See, but by virtue of their own independent authority." This is to introduce "a new element in the Church’s structure, ... a kind of quasi-synodal agency between individual bishops and the pope. This decision may even have "more significance fore the theology of the episcopacy and for the long desired strengthening of episcopal power than anything in the ‘Constitution on the Church.’"
(5) the language of the liturgy. Behind this vigorous debate lay the need for a "new confrontation between the Christian mind and the modern mind. For it can hardly be denied that the sterility to which Catholic theology and philosophy had in many ways been doomed since the end of the Enlightenment was due not least to a language in which the living choices of the human mind no longer found a place. Theology often bypassed new ideas, was not enriched by them and remained unable to transform them" (14-18).
In a talk delivered in October 1964, Ratzinger remarked "that the first real task of the Council was to overcome the indolent, euphoric feeling that all was well with the Church, and to bring into the open the problems smoldering within" (83). An example was the question of the liturgy, which represented a "profound crisis in the life of the Church." Its roots lay back in the late Middle Ages, when "awareness of the real essence of Christian worship increasingly vanished. Great importance was attached to externals, and these choked out the whole." Trent’s reaction to Reformation challenges was inadequate, even if it eliminated a number of abuses. It did not sufficiently deal with Reformation difficulties with the notions of adoration and sacrifice. It did cut back the medieval overgrowth and took measures to prevent it in the future. But the main measure was to centralize liturgical authority in the Congregation of Rites.


Hebdomadary said...

"Trent’s reaction to Reformation challenges was inadequate, even if it eliminated a number of abuses. It did not sufficiently deal with Reformation difficulties with the notions of adoration and sacrifice."

The problem was and remains not with Trent, but with the Protestant Reformation and its heirs. End of argument.

I posted my own comments on this 1964 period-piece on the Commonweal site, so I won't bother reprinting it here. But to summarise, this is a rather immature series of viewpoints from the young Joseph Ratzinger, which he has subsequently moderated in view of the Vat II abuse which commenced right from the moment of the implementation, even before it in fact. His view of the merit and value of some of those "accretions" in comparison to the ideal of liturgical reform (as opposed to the catastrophic reality of the reform as it has unfolded) has become much more balanced.

Hence the climate of forthright criticisms of Vat II now emerging among the Roman Curia. The truth is commencing to be told. I suspect the scales had fallen from Joseph Ratzinger's eyes even before the reality of that first Sunday of Advent 1969.

Vatican 2.5 said...

All this talk about Ratzinger being a conservative is nonsense. He was and in some respects, remains a modernist. Indeed, both he and JPII struggled with the chaotic legacy theologians like themselves left the Church.

The great mystery for me about the council is how the theolgians from countries defeated in the Second World War came to dominate. We tend to forget that the council began less than 17 years after the end of WWII. We are now 45 years away from the J23's opening address.

The historian James Hitchcock makes the point about how naive American bishops with inadaquate, second rate periti were completely hoodwinked by European intellectuals.

This American capitulation parallels their own political/military inertia in 1945 when they had Eastern Europe at their mercy and failed to invade.

It's interesting that our own John Carmel Heenan (on the winning side!) seemed to be more vocal in his criticism of the council. His criticism of Bugnini's Mass for example, is reguarly quoted even in American journals in the absence, it would appear, of comment from American prelates.

I am sure that John Heenan would have regarded this contribution from the young Ratzinger as typical of the rubbish that was destined to empty the Churches of Western Europe and ironically North America. Although what is not always appreciated is that the great apostasy occured post 78 not 68 - a point few people today, for obvious reasons, are prepared to concede.

Fr Ray Blake said...

vatican 2.5
Experience teaches, the young Ratzinger grew-up.

Anonymous said...

Motu proprio alert: Castrillon confirms ruling is coming
18 May 2007

The top Vatican official in charge of use of the Tridentine Mass has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI “intends to extend to the entire church the possibility of celebrating the Mass and the sacraments according to the liturgical books promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962.” Those books contain the last approved version of the older "Latin Mass" celebrated prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), as well as rites for sacraments such as baptism and holy orders.

The remarks from Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, came in an address to the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The older Tridentine liturgy, according to Castrillón, “was never abolished,” and is today the object of both “new and renewed interest.” For these reasons, Castrillón said, the pope believes the time has come to facilitate wider access to this rite, noting that such a request was made by a commission of cardinals in 1986.

For some months now, speculation has swirled that Pope Benedict XVI is planning to extend wider permission for use of the older Mass, in the form of a document called a motu proprio, meaning “under his own authority.”

Castrillón’s speech at the CELAM meeting marks the first time the cardinal has publicly confirmed that such a move is imminent. Castrillón said that under the terms of the pope’s decision, the older liturgies will become “an extraordinary form of the one Roman rite.”

Castrillón did not provide additional details, such as how sweeping authorization to use the older liturgical books will be, nor whether individual bishops will still be able to place limits on their use, as is the case under current church law. Nor did Castrillón provide a specific date for when the pope’s decision will be released.

“This is a generous offering by the Vicar of Christ, who, as an expression of his pastoral will, wants to make available to the church all the treasures of the Latin liturgy, which, through the centuries, have nourished the spiritual life of so many generations of the Catholic faithful,” Castrillón said.

Castrillón also said that Benedict XVI wants the Ecclesia Dei Commission to become a permanent agency of the Roman Curia, with the purpose of conserving and maintaining the value of the older Latin liturgies.

At the same time, Castrillón said, “it’s important to affirm with total clarity that this is not a matter of going backwards, of returning to a time before the reform of 1970,” referring to the introduction of the new rite of Mass following Vatican II.

“The Holy Father wants to conserve the immense spiritual, cultural and aesthetic treasures connected to the older liturgy,” Castrillón said. “The recuperation of this richness,” he said, is united to “the no less precious gift of the current liturgy of the church.”

Castrillón went on to describe a series of communities already existing within the Catholic Church which celebrate Mass and the other sacraments according to the older rites, arguing that they illustrate the potential benefits to be gained from the pope’s decision.