Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Whenever I have occasion to size up the worthiness of particular examples of professional advocacy for "healing" in a "polarized" Church (e.g., here), I have to ask what the advocates do and what they advocate (if only implicitly) with respect to the Traditional Latin Mass. Many lovers of "unity" love little more than to vilify Catholics who are devoted to the Mass as it was celebrated until its reform by committee in the 1960s. The tolerance necessary for unity often runs out when it comes to how Catholics prayed until they were forced to stop praying that way, as Cardinal Ratzinger saw:
For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church's whole past. How can one trust her at present if things are that way? [Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy (2000)].
Opponents of polarization in the Church should ask themselves if they are living in the spirit of openness required by Pope Benedict XVI almost eight years ago in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The current Roman Pontiff's derision of those devoted to the traditional liturgy is too well-documented to need demonstration here, and so the following paragraph from Pope Benedict's remarkable letter accompanying Summorum is more timely than ever for those of us who would seek unity in the Church:
I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.