Thursday, 23 August 2007

The Motu Proprio: Fr Dwight errs but censors his critics...

The US Catholic Bishops Conference’s English version of the whole Motu Proprio is "unofficial" but many US priests are using it as if it were official. That is probably because the USCCB’s Liturgy Office published guidelines based on the unofficial translation.

Now Fr Dwight Longenecker (regular all-round good guy but a bit muddled on this issue) has used it to argue why the traditional rites should not be offered freely in his parish of St Mary's Greenville, South Carolina (and you can be sure that there are other priests arguing the same).

Here's what he says on his blog Standing on my Head in answer to an enquirer who, quite reasonably, asks him if the traditional rite will be celebrated at St Mary's:

"I therefore would need to consider what my bishop thinks of the matter, and consider the pastoral concerns of the whole community and not just those who are asking for the Latin Mass. This is difficult because to impose the Missal of Bl. John XXIII on the whole community would be pastorally unfair, but to celebrate a regular Mass for a separate group of the faithful would foster disunity. Tough one.

The most interesting word in the ruling is the word 'stable'. It says if a 'stable' group of parishioners asks for the Latin Mass their request is to be considered. But what does 'stable' mean? Must they be stable as a group? Stable as individuals or stable as families? Does this mean emotional and mental stability, spiritual stability or stability in their commitment to the parish?

This is a very important consideration. In some places there are groups of people who are not emotionally or spiritually stable, but more important than that, there are others who are not stable in their commitment either to the Pope or to their local parish. They trot off to whatever celebration of Mass they deem best. For example, some people forsake their parish (even when they have a good conservative priest celebrating the Novus Ordo reverently) for SSPX masses, or they drive hundreds of miles to attend a Fraternity of St Peter Latin Mass. They are entitled to do so, but it is arguable that such individuals, families and groups are not stable in their spiritual lives or their parochial commitment, and I expect many parish priests would not wish therefore to take their requests seriously."

Well, sorry, Fr Dwight. You are once again wrong.

The word "stable" simply does not appear in the document.

Even if it did you have no basis whatsoever for the fantastical conclusions that you draw in the above. And it is particularly unfair that you single out as "unstable" those who, through no fault of their own, through their loyalty to the traditional rites and despite their polite requests for it addressed to their PPs, are forced to go outside their parish to have their legitimate desire for the traditional rites met because the PP unjustly refuses it to them in defiance of papal decrees.

However, the word does not appear in the document.

One could be forgiven for thinking so initially. But Fr Dwight's correspondents put him right in a series of comments in a total of 26 at last count.

Yet, having been pretty comprehensively put right on this, as on a number of other crucial issues, Fr Dwight disdains to amend his blog or even add an update or rider.

When he's wrong he's right, perhaps (to quote from a previous post)?

More than that, he then goes on to censor out those responses which point out his more egregious blunders.

Here is part of one response that was "edited" out by Fr Dwight:

"...You continually say that you are willing to learn, having nothing against the old rite, wish to follow the MP, do not wish to enter into liturgy wars, respect people's love for the old rite etc etc etc....

The popes issued Tres Abhinc Annos, Ecclesia Dei and now Summorum Pontificum in order to get priests to be generous to the Faithful who prefer to worship with the rites that their ancestors used for at least 1700 years and yet there are still priests - like yourself - finding more and more excuses why they should continue to oppress those Faithful and deny them what the Pope has repeatedly said they may have.

This oppression has gone on for 40 years. Now is the time to stop. It is the Pope who orders it and you want, instead, to quibble.

All your quibbles have been more than adequately addressed and laid to rest by your various correspondents and yet.... still you quibble.

Where is the generosity? Where is the pastoral care? Where is the pastoral love of the flock? Where, Father, is your sense of justice?

Your later posts do nothing to re-assure me.

You write that 'this really is a marginal issue: in terms of numbers, those who wish for the Latin Mass are relatively minute.'

Which Latin Mass? Or have you once again overlooked the fact that the Novus Ordo Missae is a Latin rite and that the vernacular was NOT demanded by Vatican II? We have been round that one again and again and again. You just ignore it!

Where do you get your stats from? I question them.

But even if you were right, would it be surprising? Latin, whether in the traditional or new rites, has been virtually strangled to death for the last 40 years. Moreover, only the faithfulness of a minority have kept the traditional rites alive. Now you use that against them. A good is suppressed then a complaint made that the good is no longer seen. Really, Father, what sort of argument is that?

It is abundantly clear from his writings that the Pope thinks this near-total suppression of both Latin and of the traditional rites was a grave mistake and he plainly wishes to reverse the situation.

It is also abundantly clear that he thinks that wide celebration of the traditional rites will vastly improve and enrich the way in which the Novus Ordo is celebrated.

...Once the Holy Father begins to be obeyed, you will find that more and more people are attracted to the traditional rites. That has been our over-whelming experience here in the UK.

Denying people the traditional rites is a self-fulfilling prophecy: you will get less people simply because the rites are, and have been these 40 years, very difficult to find.

To accuse people of being 'unstable' because they travel far to find the traditional rites is yet another extraordinary statement.

The Faithful have had to do so precisely because of the quibblers. Having denied them their rights, the quibblers then accuse them of 'instability' for going elsewhere to find what they have been unjustly denied. A more crassly unreasonable argument would be hard to find.

You write: 'With a shortage of priests it is difficult to justify too many special masses for a handful of people who want mass the way they want it.'

No, Father, it is Mass the way the Holy Father wants it...That is what he has now ordered. And the shortage of priests is not a reason for refusing to obey the Pope. These are not 'special' Masses, they are a right.

...You, have, with great respect, quite some way in this thread to go before you can honestly say that you are really being fair and objective about the traditional rites, as you claim.

Will you now do better?"

Fair question, isn't it?

Or is ignorance bliss?


Anonymous said...

This passive-aggresive obstinance and disobedience to the Holy Father is really starting to tick me off. There seems to be a cabal of these priests who just want to observe the bare minimum. It's legalism, it's Pharisaism. A parish isn't one's own little turf or kingdom. These priests are responsible to God and their parishioners. I wish they'd starting acting like it.


Tribunus said...

Well said Janice.

Alec said...

You say that SP doesn't contain the word 'stable'; but Art 5 uses the word 'continenter', which I interpret as 'abiding' or 'unbroken'. Fr. Longenecker's argument is strained (to say the least!) as the adjective is applied to 'coetus', the group, rather than to the members of that group.

I have no great attachment to the JXXIII Missal as opposed to the PVI missal; but I wish it were easier to find Latin Mass in the Novus Ordo, and the approach used by Fr. Longenecker can only make that harder.

Tribunus said...

Hi Alec and welcome to the Fuddle!

"Continenter" is an adverb meaning "continuously" (or possibly abidingly or even, at a push, unbrokenly). It is not the adjective "stable" and so it remains true that the word simply is not there.

You are, of course, quite right that it qualifies "coetus" and not "fidelium" and so Fr Dwight's claim to apply it restrictively to "unstable" people is strained at best.

I also agree that his approach makes it harder to get the NOM in Latin which I also agree is a pity.

But, on the other hand, I think he is on a learning curve and we must give him a bit of time and space to get thre in the end.

Thanks for your input and happy blogging!