Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two Important Statements

The New Liturgical Movement today has two letters posted that I consider very important in their implications and in what they indicate about the current atmosphere or direction in the Church.

The first was the rather incredible statement from Cardinal Ranjith saying:
It is my firm conviction that the Vetus Ordo represents to a great extent and in the most fulfilling way that mystical and transcendent call to an encounter with God in the liturgy. Hence the time has come for us to not only renew through radical changes the content of the new Liturgy, but also to encourage more and more a return of the Vetus Ordo, as a way for a true renewal of the Church [...] the time has come for us to be courageous in working for a true reform of the reform and also a return to the true liturgy of the Church, which had developed over its bi-millenial history in a continuous flow.
This is rather astounding, it seems to me. We have a Cardinal calling for the new liturgy to be radically changed (in content, which is to say in the text and rubrics itself, and not merely in the ars celebrandi, as so much of the useless "reform of the reform" idea has focused on before).

But, more than that, he's also essentially saying that the old liturgy is better, more fulfilling, that the "time has come" to basically go back to it, and that it is actually the "true" liturgy of the church (the Latin church, at least; I have my own mixed feelings about a Cardinal from Sri Lanka pushing Tridentinism rather than that region of the world using traditional Indo-Syrian liturgies as would seem appropriate...but that's another gripe for another day).

This is a rather strong statement to be coming from a Cardinal!

The other was this letter from the Institute of the Good Shepherd that outlines their own self-defined role (approved by the Church) as offering "constructive critique" of the modern status quo in the Church (both liturgically and doctrinally), yet in full and regular communion. I once coined a similar idea, "His Holiness's loyal opposition," of which this reminded me.

I've discussed before, in regards to the question of Vatican II and continuity, that if there is to be any reconciliation on these matters (and of the Church with Her own history and tradition) an attitude along the lines of "this is a prudential question, Catholics are free to debate this" is going to be key (on questions such as Church-State relations, institutional diplomacy with other confessions, pastoral approach, theological style, etc). This attitude of the Institut du Bon Pasteur seems like an example of that, a positive development.


Luke Togni said...

A quick read on Christianity in Sri Lanka seems to show that it was introduced by Portuguese Missionaries in 1505, and in the Roman Rite. I'm not sure the Indo-Syrian rites were ever there. More than five hundred years of continual use of the Roman Rite, since the introduction of Christianity to Sri Lanka, seems to obviate a suspicion of "Tridentinism". Had the Indo-Syrian rites been present before that it would be a different story.

A Sinner said...

I suppose my critique is with the existence of the Global Liturgical Imperialism of the Roman Rite IN GENERAL.

It's a tough question, for me, when you have a group which, with colonialist ambitions, violated the geographic patriarchal boundaries...but then have been established with a tradition of centuries.

Of course, you might say, "Any missionary work is good missionary work" but I think there can be a happy medium. Even if the native Indian Christians weren't evangelizing enough, the Westerners who came in to "supplement" could have learned the appropriate local rites rather than important their own from a totally foreign culture. There ARE supposed to be patriarchal boundaries based on geography, after all, and missionaries should conform to the locality rather than expecting the locality to conform to (Western Europe).

In this case, of course, we might be inclined to say "What's done is done." However, the Novus Ordo provides an interesting "opportunity" in this regard. If we're going to have to "go back to" a tradition that is unfamiliar to the people either way...we might as well go back, this time around, to a more local liturgy rather than the old colonialist one.

Anonymous said...

But, is it really the "local liturgy" if it was never used before the Roman Rite was introduced? What were the folks who used the Syro-Indian liturgies doing before the Portuguese got to Sri Lanka? Seems to me that the Malabar coast is a lot closer to Sri Lanka than Portugal is.

When the Portuguese encountered the actual Malabarese/Malankarese and tried to Westernize them, that could be said to be imperialistic. Something similar could be said when we set up Latin Rite dioceses in areas with parallel Eastern Rites (i.e. Ethiopia and Russia). There it makes no sense to set up Latin Rite structures in areas that were never Latin Rite and were historically Eastern for as long as they have been Christian.

However, the Roman Rite is basically the default rite of Catholicism. It is in all senses universal. Had the Portuguese imposed the Bragan Rite on the Sri Lankans, that would be much more akin to liturgical imperialism as the Bragan Rite is completely Portuguese.

It would also seem that these people, even if they are in a "patriarchate" of sorts, do not share anything more in common with that patriarchate than they do with Rome. Why would the Sri Lankans want to conform to the customs of a part of India or why would Nigerians (of which there are two main tribes which don't necessarily get along) want to conform to Ethiopian or Alexandrian customs? The Roman Rite transcends these issues because it is the Rite of the Holy See, to which all patriarchates are subject.


A Sinner said...

"the Roman Rite is basically the default rite of Catholicism"

Well, there you have it. It's this sort of statement that's why I'm sure you and I will never agree on this question.