By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Benedict is a Liturgical Pluralist

Finally, I get to see the analysis that matches my own personal intuition about Pope Benedict XVI the liturgical pluralist, not the advocate of neo-Tridentine uniformity. Thanks to our Rhode Island source for this Wall Street Journal link. There are many who have completely misunderstood the mind of the Pope as favoring a neo-traditional uniformity (some of them are my personal friends). Francis Rocca's article today in the Wall Street Journal is a welcome illumination for them.

Here is an excerpt:

An emphasis on uniformity of worship is a relatively recent development in Catholicism, Ms. Rowland [a scholar of Benedict's thought] notes. The 16th-century Council of Trent, which imposed a number of reforms on the whole church to fend off the rising challenge of Protestantism, prescribed the form of the Latin Mass that Catholics used almost exclusively for more than four centuries thereafter. By sanctioning the current trend toward liturgical diversity, Benedict is leading his church forward in the spirit of its oldest traditions.

. . . .

Millions of Charismatic Catholics today, most commonly in Latin America but also in Africa and the Philippines, regularly attend spectacular Masses featuring Pentecostal-style faith healing, speaking in tongues and preaching that echoes the upwardly mobile aspirations of the Prosperity Gospel.

See source link above (emphasis added).

As you can see from the preceding excerpt, Rocca also recognizes the vibrant Charismatic reality in the Catholic Church today, especially in the developing world (also called by some the "Two-Thirds World" because it represents such a large chunk of our planet).

My fuller personal reaction to the full article follows:


Spectacular analysis. It reflects my own intuition about this development. You see the difference between Benedict and the neo-Tridentine uniformists.

The columnist Francis Rocca notes what I also thought about recently: the Anglican use of the ordinary form is a Protestant liturgical development that the Pope has just validated, true to Catholic teaching that the Holy Spirit is active among Protestants (a teaching which some neo-Tridentines hate to admit or even reject outright)--thus, the Pope's move is authentically ecumenical, contrary to some earlier press comments. I am also glad to see the recognition of the charismatic reality of the Church in the column and how obviously traditional the charismatics are. The only quibble I have is that, even with some minor requested changes and adjustments, the Pope did approve the distinctive nature of the way the Neo-Catechumenal Way celebrates Mass in its gatherings. The neo-Tridentines were, in my opinion, taken aback by the Vatican's final approval of the Neo-Catechumenal Way's statutes as an approved Catholic entity, an approval which does not match the neo-Tridentine monomania for liturgical uniformity.