Thursday 26 January 2012

Summorum Pontificum 5 years on: have the detractors like Fr Jay Scott Newman apologised?

Well, we are now 5 years down the track from Summorum Pontificum (long enough time to beatify Blessed John Paul II) and there is still no sign of any apology from Rev Jay Scott Newman for his intemperate and disloyal remarks made against it, and the Pope, at the time the decree came out.

That is, I suggest, is a little ungracious.

It may be instructive to repeat now what I said then, in August 2007, on the Roman Christendom blog.

Here it is repeated:


“Before the motu proprio was issued Fr Jay joined in with the 'Latin Questions' discussion on his blog and made this unhelpful comment:

"...The long-rumored and still invisible motu proprio notwithstanding, there is simply no interest in the Church beyond the statistically insignificant world of specialists and bloggers in retrieving what 99.999% of the Catholic people (and hierarchy) consider a noble part of our heritage but not a living part of our future (think of the papal navy!)..."

Where does he get his stats? Wake up and smell the coffee, Father!

And this:

"...All of which leads to my conclusion that those who harbor hope that the general liturgical life of the Church will be improved by a few more celebrations of the Pian Mass have simply and profoundly misunderstood the situation of the Church in our time..."

Yep. Pretty offensive and ill-informed stuff. It's not the Pian mass. It is much, much older. He has simply 'profoundly misunderstood'!

Someone replied to him thus:

'Your over-emphasis on numbers might lead an observer to think that you put a higher premium on popularity than truth or right practice...

If you want to get with what is 'serious' then you need to concern yourself less with numbers and more with truth and tradition.

Otherwise you may find yourself numbered with those disciples who got with the numbers by running away, rather than with those who stood at the foot of the Cross.

I know it is difficult for a priest these days to give any favour to the traditional rite without incurring trouble with his bishop but do not let that skew your vision or compromise your intellectual impartiality.'

He got cross with that and replied:

'...Based on 20 years of experience, I believe that such folk will be sadly disappointed, no matter what the yet-to-be published (or even seen) motu proprio may or may not say...'

Someone replied to him beginning:

'I catch a glimpse of a straw man in your last comment...'

Well, indeed!

There were other replies to Fr Newman but - mysteriously - they were removed from his blog.

US-style "free speech"?

See how it works?

I am free to say whatever I like but if you say something I don't like, I just erase it.

This is called "free speech". Apparently!

But then, all of a sudden, and within only a few weeks, out came the motu proprio.

Whoops! Now the boot was on the other foot. The 'long-rumoured and yet invisible' and the 'yet to be published (or even seen)' had suddenly been seen, published and hugely exceeded the expected minimalist concessions that unnecessarily aggressive Novus Ordo priests like Fr Jay had expected.

And it came from the Pope himself!

Golly! What to do, now? Um, err, aaah....

You guessed it - back-peddle. Fast! (But without apologising to anyone - never apologise, never explain, apparently!).

Here's an extract from Fr Jay's very grudging back-peddle:

'In any event, last Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI threw a spanner in the works with his long-awaited, much-rumored, and oft-debated Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which more or less (kinda, sorta) gives any priest of the Latin Rite the choice of which Mass to offer: the Mass codified by Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent or the Mass codified by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council. It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this document will have on the life of the Church as it is lived in parishes, religious houses, seminaries, etc...'

Get that, folks? The Pope 'threw a spanner in the works'.

The Pope did it!

And this from a priest who thinks himself a papal loyalist. And Paul VI apparently only 'codified' the new mass - no new Eucharistic prayers or anything like that...err...

But let's read on:

'In February 1962, Pope John XXIII promulgated an Apostolic Constitution called Veterum Sapientia, mandating very specific requirements for the teaching and preservation of Latin in the Church, but because of the radical changes taking place in the world at the time, this authoritative document was Dead On Arrival and had zero effect in the life of the Church. Today, if this document is read at all, it is usually read with mirth. Well might we all mourn the passing away of Latin from wide use in the Church, but pass away it has....'

Oh really?

So we should rejoice in our ignorance of our own history, culture and the language in which most of our theology is written, should we? We should think it's all 'DOA'? And we should read 'with mirth' the writings of a beatified pope, should we?

More papal loyalism? Err, sorry Father, I don't think so!

But there's more...

'Will Summorum Pontificum be DOA in the same way as Veterum Sapientia? I honestly don’t know, and to tell the truth, I don’t much care one way or the other...'

'Don't much care...'!

Does this sound like loyalty to the Pope? I doubt that many would see it that way!

So whilst Fr Jay has been forced to back off he has done so with singularly bad grace. That is a great shame because he is a priest who made much of his loyalty under Pope John Paul II but is acting rather differently under Pope Benedict. But even more so because he is not a bad guy. Indeed, he is basically a good guy but he has allowed his thinking and theology to get sloppy and complacent.

Come on now, Fr Jay. You're basically a good priest but you can do better. Don't cheat yourself or your parishioners!"


Fr Jay for a long time refused to receive any further comments on his blog. He clearly wanted it all just to go away. Of course, burying your head in the sand like that does no-one any good.

His penultimate post was, aptly but sadly, entitled "Liturgy Wars". But the simple truth is that it was not traditional-rite Catholics who started the war. It was anti-traditionalists who started it.

There should, of course, be no wars over liturgy. We should all be on the same side, not divided internally.

Unfortunately, it is the kind of statement that appeared in Fr Jay's Parish newsletter that can sometimes tend to prolong the war. I publish it below as it is in the public domain and a commentator has sent it to me.

If any priest is going to claim to be loyal to the Pope and to say "Where Peter is, there is the Church", then he needs to be open and willing to implement the motu proprio, and should avoid minimising it by suggesting that it "kinda, sorta" gives wider permission for the traditional rites.

The reality is that the motu proprio gives extremely wide and extensive permission for the use of the traditional rites.

But here is Fr Jay's advice to his parishioners on 1 July 2007, just before the publication of the motu proprio:

"When this document is finally published, there will no doubt be a circus of media attention of the most sensational kind, but please do not be confused or disturbed by what you read in the papers or see on television. Whatever else may be the case, there will certainly be no changes made in the present way we celebrate the Missal of 1970 in our scheduled liturgies, and pending a careful study of the document, I do not anticipate that a regularly scheduled Tridentine Mass will be celebrated here at St. Mary’s. For now, simply know that a document will probably appear this summer, and when it does, we will study it together."

To be fair to Fr Jay, he clearly did not anticipate the breadth and width of the rights granted by the motu proprio and, I suspect, is still slightly in denial about it all. On his blog, he certainly admits to being a bit confused by it all.

I had hoped that when he had had time to digest it all, reflect upon it all and pray about it, he would take a more balanced view.

No sign, I’m afraid.

He remains, it seems, stuck in his arrogance toward those whose only “fault” is to want to preserve the traditions of prayer of the Roman Catholic faith.

I also wrote this then which I believe is still apposite:


“I cannot help recalling that Cardinal James Knox, when he was still alive, brutally and carelessly ordered a forward altar and mass versus populum at the Chiesa Nuova in Rome despite the strong opposition of the protectress of the Church, Princess Borghese, and the strong feelings of the Faithful, not to mention the Fathers (they are Oratorians).

This was all too typical of those times - brutal, senseless, unjust and uncharitable actions were all too common in liturgical matters. That is partly why Pope John Paul II felt it necessary to apologise for them in 1988 and after, and the present pope likewise in Summorum Pontificum.

Too many of those with authority rode roughshod over the deeply-held traditions, and religious beliefs and sensibilities of all too many of the Faithful without a word of apology or sympathy.

Those of the Faithful who had been deeply loyal and loved the Church to the uttermost, politely asked if they could worship as they always had and were brushed aside like so much chaff. Heedless of age, sex or sensibility, decent and humble people were arrogantly treated.
No wonder so many people left the Church!

The sheep looked up to be fed and what happened?

They were clouted on their snouts even by their own shepherds!

It was particularly odious to witness the ill-treatment of elderly people who often had the greatest difficulty adapting to the liturgical changes. What did this behaviour say about the attitude that Christians should have to old people?

Personally, I think it added to the general decline in proper behaviour toward the elderly in our society. It was a scandalous bad example.

Thank God we have had two popes who finally understood and sympathised with the Faithful who have been so bruised, battered, scandalised and horrified by the senseless uncharity of so many of those in authority in relation to liturgical issues in the recent past.

Still, there are too many who, whilst abusing and insulting those whose tastes are for the traditional, nevertheless accuse them of being sour, cross and abusive.

They never seem to stop and think about the insults, calumnies, detractions and abuse that the Faithful who love the traditions of the Church have had to put up with over the recent past.

If, as the calumniators claim, the Faithful who love the traditions of the Church are but a small number of disaffected people, then why abuse and insult them?"


In fact, of course, the traditional movement is now inundated with youngsters. The movement Juventutem is but one example of many new traditional youth movements filled with youngsters who want the authentic and ancient Catholic tradition, not mere pap and pope music from the 1960s.

I say to all priests your loyalty should be primarily to JESUS CHRIST and the long traditions of His Church. If you abandon the past then you abandon the present also, for, as St Thomas Aquinas teaches us:

“It is absurd, and a detestable shame, that we should suffer those traditions to be changed which we have received from the fathers of old"
The Decretals (Dist. xii, 5) cited in the Summa Theologica, II, I, Q. 97, art. 2.

To do so is to follow the traditions of men, not the traditions of God, something St Paul expressly warned us against:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle"
2 Thessalonians 2:15

"Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me: and keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you."
1 Corinthians 11:2

So, my dear Fathers. Don’t dissemble, dissent or detract but, instead, keep the traditions handed on from of old. That is your noble task. Be worthy of it.



Jay Scott Newman said...

I have nothing for which to apologize, and that's why there has been no apology. Before the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum (SP), I expressed my thoughts on the matter of a wider use of what is now the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and all in the Church were free to do do. Since the promulgation of SP, I have neither written nor spoken on the subject, precisely because I am obedient to the Roman Pontiff. Would that we could say the same for the bishops and priests of the SSPX.

And by the way, I always publish under my real name so that I am accountable for everything I write. I suggest you try the same.

Jay Scott Newman said...

"Tribunus", if you visit my blog, you'll see under the Comments Policy that Rule 2 stipulates no anonymous comments will be published. That is why none of your comments appear on my blog. Give you real name, and that will change. Until then, may the LORD be gracious to you.

Jay Scott Newman said...

You attack my character, hide behind the shield of anonymity, and then refuse to post my reply to your charge. If you do not post my first comment from earlier today, I shall be forced to conclude that you are either a coward or a man of no honor. Please post my first reply, or take down your attack on me.