November 2015

Catholic World News

Is this Rome event trying to revive a liberation theologian?

Rome, Italy, Nov 12, 2015 / 03:18 pm (CNA).- Spanish liberation theologian Fr. Jon Sobrino, whose works were censured by the Vatican nearly a decade ago, is slated to take part in an event this Saturday at Rome’s Urbaniana University.

The gathering is aimed at republishing the “Catacombs Pact,” a document signed after the Second Vatican Council by various future members of the Marxist school of thought. It was condemned in 1984 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed at that time by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Fr. Sobrino, a Jesuit priest born in Spain in 1938, had his works censured by the congregation in 2007. After six years of analysis of his works – “Jesus the Liberator, A Historical-Theological Reading of Jesus of Nazareth” and “Christ the Liberator – A View from the Victims” – the Vatican held them to be contrary to Catholic doctrine.

The Holy See warned at the time that in both works “various erroneous or dangerous propositions that can cause harm to the faithful” had been found.

That same year, theologian Donato Valentino on Vatican Radio also outlined Fr. Sobrino’s problematic theological stance, particularly when it came to the divinity and incarnation of Christ.

Fr. Sobrino wrote that in the New Testament, the divinity of Jesus is only present in “seed form.” He also suggested that there are two subjects in Christ.

“The result,” Valentino warned at the time, “is it’s not clear that the Son is Jesus and Jesus is the Son.”

While the Vatican’s 2007 statement recognized that Fr. Sobrino demonstrates in his works a concern for the poor, something shared “certainly by the entire Church” – it also said that “this option is not exclusive” and therefore “the Church cannot express herself through reductive sociological or ideological categories, that would make out of this preference a partisan option leading to conflict.”

Additionally, the statement recalled that after an initial examination of his works in 2001, the dicastery sent Fr. Sobrino “a list of erroneous or dangerous propositions found in the abovementioned books.”  The next year Fr. Sobrino sent a response that was not satisfactory because doctrinal “errors still remain.”

Fr. Sobrino was invited to participate at the Urbaniana University in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Catacombs Pact, a document which he reportedly would like to see re-proposed this weekend and promoted via conferences, a meeting with the press and a Mass in the Catacombs.

Some local sources voiced concern to CNA that the event this weekend is an attempt to “revive” the ideas of Jon Sobrino, which the Vatican has not lifted its censure of.

In its 2007 statement, the congregation noted that the “does not intend to judge the subjective intentions of the author, but rather has the duty to call to attention to certain propositions which are not in conformity with the doctrine of the Church.”

Catholic World News

Pope Francis encourages Church in Slovakia to welcome migrants

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2015 / 03:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to the Slovak bishops on Thursday, Pope Francis reminded them that the Church is called to welcome immigrants and to reach out to ‘the other’, including by ministering particuarly to the Romani people.

With globalization, he said Nov. 12, “at times we perceive threats to less populous nations, but at the same time elements that can offer new opportunities. One opportunity, which has become a sign of the times, is the phenomenon of migration, which demands to be understood and confronted with sensitivity and a sense of justice.”

“The Church is required to proclaim and bear witness to the welcome of the migrant in a spirit of charity and respect for the dignity of the human person, in the context of the necessary observance of the law.”

Pope Francis spoke to the Slovak bishops, who are in Rome for their five-yearly ad limina visit, at the Vatican. His words on showing welcome to migrants comes as more than 750,00 migrants, many of them from war-torn Syria, have entered Europe this year. The influx of migrants has led to differing policies, and often a lack of welcome, in many European nations.

“Faced with the prospect of an increasingly extensive multicultural environment, it is necessary to assume attitudes of mutual respect to promote encounter,” the Pope reflected. “It is to be hoped that the Slovak people will maintain their cultural identity and heritage of ethical and spiritual values, strongly linked to the Catholic tradition.”

By doing this, the Slovaks, more than 60 percent of whom are Catholic, “will be able to open up without fear to exchange on the broadest continental and global horizon, contributing to a sincere and fruitful dialogue, also on themes of vital importance such as the dignity of human life and the essential function of the family.”

“Today, more than ever, it is necessary to enlighten the path of peoples with Christian principles, seizing the opportunities that the current situation offers to develop an evangelisation that, using a new language, makes Christ’s message easier to understand,” Pope Francis said.

“For this reason it important for the Church to give hope, so that all the present changes may be transformed into a renewed encounter with Christ, that guides the people towards authentic progress.”

He recalled the importance of the lay people in evangelization, saying they are called to animate the world with the leaven of the Gospel, and so “they cannot refrain from opearing within the political process aimed at the common good.”

“To be joyful witnesses to the Gospel in all environments, they need to feel themselves as a living part of the Church. It is your task,” he told the bishops, “to recognize their own role in the live of the ecclesial community, including with respect to the development and realization of pastoral projects.”

Turning to speak of the family in more detail, the Pope said it “faces many difficulties, and is subject to many dangers.”

Slovakia has one of the lowest birthrates in Europe – a fertility rate of 1.33 children per woman, well below the replacement level.

Pope Francis said the Church’s efforts for families need to include “adequate accompaniment for all families, including those where members are not present, especially if there are children. As part of the pastoral care of the family, it is necessary to appreciate young people, the hope of the Church and society.”

Noting young persons’ “strong desire to serve others and to work for solidarity,” he said this must be guided by pastors “for it to become a living encounter with Christ, in a committed project to spread the Gospel.” Youth “need to have from you a clear instructions about doctrine and morals, to build in the city of man, the city of God,” he added.

The Pope encouraged the Slovak bishops to provide continuing formation for their priests, as they are, “for the majority of the People of God … the principal channel through which the Gospel passes, and also offer the most immediate image through which the mystery of the Church is encountered.”

He said the Church, a “sign and tool of the unity of men with God and with each other, is called upon to be the house and school of communion, in which one learns to appreciate and welcome positive qualities in others.”

Thi s attitude, he exhorted, “is very useful also in reference to the good connections which it is necessary to restore in Slovakia between pastors and consecrated persons, better appreciating the valuable contribution of all religious in pastoral care.”

He also reflected on pastoral ministry to the Romani people (also known as Gypsies), who are often marginalized in Slovak society.

“At the same time, the Church in your country must carry forth the pastoral care of the Roma, through extensive evangelisation that seeks to reach all these people who, unfortunately, continue to live in some ways separated from the rest of society.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by conveying his affection to all Catholics of Slovakia, saying: “I entrust your pastoral concerns to Our Lady of Sorrows, Patroness of Slovakia, and I invoke her maternal intercession that the nation may prosper in peace and in conformity to the best values of its Christian tradition.”

Build Your Faith

Why Divine Worship: The Missal is so Important

Divine Worship: The Missal celebrated in Calgary

All over the English speaking world, priests are receiving copies of Divine Worship: The Missal, produced in a handsome volume by CTS in England.  The most recent edition of the journal of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, Antiphon, is dedicated entirely to the new Missal, and offers very useful commentary for those who want to know why the text is what it is.  It is very much worth a read.

But why is this event so important?

1. Divine Worship: The Missal is the first original missal to come out of the Catholic Church in the Latin Rite since the introduction of the Missale Romanum of Paul VI.  It has been 45 years since a liturgical project of this magnitude has been seen in the West, even though there have been significant revisions in some of the Eastern rite books during that time.

2. The Catholic Church has much experience with the integration of liturgical rites and the spirituality of Eastern communities that have been reintegrated into the obedience of the Apostolic See.  The liturgy of the Personal Ordinariates is the first time the Church has seen the integration of liturgical rites and the spirituality of an ecclesial community that rose as a result of the Protestant Reformation.  It is a significant milestone for ecumenism, and the process by which the juridical structure and the liturgy of groups of Anglicans seeking union with the Holy See can be a template for other reconciliations within the Body of Christ.

3. As a result of continual use within the tradition of the Anglican missals and wider Anglican liturgical tradition in Anglican use, Divine Worship: The Missal, the ordinariate use of the Roman Mass, recovers certain elements of pre-Tridentine liturgy, as well as of the liturgy outside of the use of the Roman Curia.  It demonstrates the possibility of recovery of liturgical notions from before the centralization of Pius V’s Quo primum, restoring within the Western Church a greater plurality of uses than has been had since 1570. 

4. The liturgical reform after Vatican II took place in the days of heady optimism and ferment of the 1960s.  This liturgical project takes place with some distance from that reform.  Those who have been involved in the process know all too well the positive and negative effects of the mid-century liturgical reform, and it seems that they have been taken into consideration here.

5. The new Missal is a powerful exercise in the hermeneutic of continuity.   Although the primary purpose is to preserve the Anglican patrimony, it does integrate elements of the modern Roman Rite.  It is incorrect to say that this new liturgy is a throwback to something previous.  But it also recovers elements from the pre-reformed Western ritual tradition in a harmonious way.  It integrates things that will be familiar to Catholics who worship according to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, but also insofar as those things are complemented by pre-Tridentine aspects as well as those which made their way into Anglican sources like the English Missal tradition.  The new book finds itself drawing from the previous tradition in ways which are not contradictory to the general outline and principles of the modern Roman Rite. 

6. Divine Worship: The Missal is clearly the fruit of Pope Benedict XVI’s liturgical, ecclesiological and ecumenical vision to preserve the Anglican patrimony.  In this respect, prescinding from the obvious integration of classically Anglican texts into the Ordinary of the Mass, it could provide a template for a Reform of the Roman Rite in continuity with the tradition which goes beyond aesthetics and ceremonial details all the way to officially approved liturgical texts.

I think for these six reasons alone, the publication and implementation of Divine Worship: The Missal should be interesting to all liturgically minded folk, and should be positively celebrated by those of us who have made the Benedictine liturgical vision the cornerstone of our pastoral practice and ecclesial spirituality.

At the same time though, I do have some considerations about what else needs to be done, and what the potential pitfalls might be with this new Missal.

1. There will be a massive need for liturgical formation of the faithful and clergy, not only of the Personal Ordinariates, but within the Roman Rite as well, of the reasoning behind the choices made which resulted in the book as it is.  The careful process of discernment that resulted in the book has been admirable.  That process has to now be accessible to those who will worship according to it.  It is devoutly to be wished that a critical edition of the Missal outlining the sources for each prayer, rubric and document be made available to scholars and congregants alike.  There will be a great need for a beautifully produced hand missal that can provide a profound, accessible and succinct catechesis to accompany the introduction of the Rite.

2. There is not a highly developed ceremonial accompanying the book, reflecting perhaps a similar lack in the modern Roman Rite.  Will a version of The Parson’s Handbook, Ritual Notes, or Anglican Services follow the publication of the Missal?  Even if it is in no way prescriptive, access to such a document would help to unify the sometimes bewilderingly diverse practices across Ordinariate communities and create a more unified sense of style that will in turn help form a cohesive identity.  The ceremonial presupposes rubrics in a traditional direction, whilst also admitting, for pastoral reasons within a given community, the possibility of celebration in a manner more closely conformed to the present iteration of General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

3. It is clear that Divine Worship: The Missal is the liturgy proper to the Ordinariates.  One must ask the question whether the continued use of the modern Roman Rite in the communities of the Personal Ordinariates makes sense, since there is no need for a separate community to celebrate the Roman Mass with non-textual elements of the Anglican patrimony, which can be done anyway.  On the other hand, if priests of the Roman Rite can celebrate the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite for those who request it, will this new Missal be restricted to the communities of the Ordinariate, and if so, why?  Could it not profitably find a home even in other places in the Catholic Church, thus giving the Anglican patrimony a home in the heart of the Church and not exclusively in small communities circumscribed by the Anglican tradition?

4. Could greater access to the Anglican Ordinariate use even outside the communities established for that reason not be a boon for mutual enrichment?  Should the modern Roman Rite be forced into a position where another form of the Rite cannot influence it at all? 

I say this because I see ample opportunity for growth outside of the confines of the Personal Ordinariate, although it is clear that the new liturgy is proper to it.  To make a parallel, the communities answerable to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei have the right to exclusive use of the 1962 Missal.  But, as we know, the Extraordinary Form is alive and well outside those communities, who have not suffered because of its availability elsewhere, and the two forms of the Roman Mass can coexist peacefully even in the same parish.  I even have been told that there are parishes which have the three formsof the Roman Rite.  Why should there not be more, where there is a desire on the part of the faithful or for the spiritual good of the priest celebrant to have it?

The Church has made a careful and beautiful discernment of what parts of the Anglican patrimony can be united without being absorbed into the Catholic Church and in her Roman liturgical tradition.  Can we safely assume that the Spirit who worked to bring this marvel about could also work wonders unthought of if this patrimony is unleashed in the heart of the Church?   

To learn more check out these links:

The FAQ Sheet from the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter
A video of Archbishop DiNoia and commentary     

An interview with Mgr Jeffrey Steenson about the new Missal
Website of the Principal Church of the Ordinariate in the United States 
Pictures from around the UK Ordinariate 
Fr James Bradley’s excellent resume of Anglican Patrimony and the Missal
Check out the photos of the new liturgy at St John’s Calgary
The good people at the Ordinariate community in Greenville, SC, my neck of the woods