Monday, September 26, 2005

Universal Indult in the works?

In the interests of stirring the proverbial bucket with more liturgical discussion, you can go here to read Karl Keating's recent ruminations on the question of a Universal Indult.

Keating makes the important point that current attendance at Indult Masses is not necessarily a reliable indicator of interest, given that the Mass of St. Pius V endures step-child status in most dioceses, having been relegated to crypt chapels in the mid-afternoon in many cases. However, his use of the economic analogy leaves something to be desired. Ultimately, neither popular opinion nor the law of supply-and-demand should guide what is done regarding the Liturgy: Truth must take the day!

Nevertheless, the faithful do have a part to play in the ongoing debates over the Liturgy and authentic renewal. The actions of the faithful can assist the bishops in discerning the deepest desires of their flock (e.g., beauty in the Liturgy matters, as indicated by the fact that people travel from around the Chicagoland area to get to St. John Cantius parish and others like it).

The vaticanisti, at least, are reminded of Cardinal Newman's perceptive analysis in his classic article, On Consulting the Laity in Matters of Doctrine.


Blogger David L Alexander said...

man with black hat: Critical Mass: When is an indult not an indult?

9:07 AM  
Blogger Deo volente said...

Papabile calls attention the fact that CWNews has a subscriber only feature which buttresses this story:

Story on Universal Indult on CWNews

The story quotes Cardinal Medina Estevez who has been out of the loop for some time. Therefore, Rocco of Whispers dismisses this story somewhat.

I am interested to see what happens.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous orthodox observer said...

My wife and I are Greek Orthodox. Originally, my wife was Catholic. When we got married a few years ago, we had to make a decision about whether she should convert to Orthodoxy or I should convert to Roman Catholicism. At first I wanted to convert. I had been interested in Catholicism for a number of years because of a couple of theology classes that I had taken in college. Also, Catholicism just seemed more mainstream and maybe it would be easier to find religious schools for our children and such when the time came. Eventually, however, we decided on Orthodoxy because of the Liturgy.

Though I knew a little bit about Catholic theology at the time, I had no familiarity with the Catholic Mass. I had been to a couple Catholic weddings that I thought were kind of silly, but I assumed that those were bad because of the people involved. Later, however, I found out that all Catholic services are like that. When we were engaged, my fiancé took me to a number of different Catholic churches in the Bay Area (we’re from California), and they were all equally awful. I guess I just always assumed the Catholic Mass and the Divine Liturgy were quite similar because everybody always talked about how Orthodoxy and Catholicism were practically the same. First of all, there was no chant at any of these Masses. There was either little or no music or there was this really folksy, sing-songy crap that sounded like children’s hour. Also, I am used to thinking of the altar and surrounding area as the Holy of Holies. Instead, in the Catholic Church, there is virtually no separation between the sanctuary and the rest of the church. In most of these churches, there was not even a communion rail to indicate the sacred space where the rites are to be carried out by the priests. I had always been taught that Catholics believed the Mass was a sacrifice, but there was nothing in the atmosphere of those services that would suggest that kind of belief. The altars looked more like tables, people were milling around the altar like they didn’t know what they were doing, and there were women all over the place up there.

There was no way I could imagine spending the rest of my life going to those kind of services. Also, there was virtually no Christian imagery in any of these churches – no crucifix, just a plain cross, and virtually no statues. It didn’t look like the Catholic churches I’d visited in Europe, or like the missions, or the churches you see on tv. It was awful!

Later I learned more about the history of Catholic liturgy and about how the liturgy had changed so much after Vatican II. What I can’t understand for the life of me is why Catholics put up with this loss of their own tradition. However, except for the traditionalist extremists – whom everybody seems to hate – nobody in the Catholic Church is fighting for a return to traditional liturgy. The whole thing leaves me mystified and my wife too, who has really taken to the solemn beauty, chant, and severity of the Orthodox ways.

It seems to me that the Catholic Church has really lost its way. In Newman’s “Apologia,” he says that one of the steps in his conversion of heart from Anglicanism to Catholicism was being open to the possibility that the truth lied with “the extreme party.” Sometimes – surely not always – the truth is being defended by a group that appears marginal or one-sided. That is what I would say is my assessment of the Catholic Church today, the truth lies with the extreme party, not because its extreme but because it is the only party defending Tradition in your church.

Look, think of the Anglicans and what they did to change the liturgy in order to bring that church gradually in a Protestant direction. Duffy in his book “Stripping of the Altars” and Christopher Haig in his book called “English Reformations” both point out that the English government and Church hierarchy realized that the English people could not stomach an outright rejection of the Catholic Faith. So they conspired to introduce liturgical changes that would gradually bring the church in a Protestant direction. What were the changes they recommended? Basically, Mass in the vernacular, turning the priest to face the people, eliminating the reserved sacrament or removing it to a remote location, reducing or eliminating references to the sacramental nature of the Mass in the rubrics, changing the altars to look like tables and referring to them as tables rather than altars, eliminating sacred art, encouraging people to receive communion without confession and eliminating confession.

You people need to wake up if you have any interest in preserving your Catholic tradition! You need to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that the “ecumenical” approach to liturgy that was introduced by Paul VI’s commission on the Mass put your church on the fast track to protestanization. Honestly, does anybody at a regular Catholic church blieve that ceremony is the sacrifice of Christ? I’ll be damned if I saw anybody who looked like he believed that.

Different people will have different opinions, I’m sure, about which one of the changes introduced after Vatican II has done the most damage. I can say, from an Orthodox perspective, that the way all the Catholics receive communion seems to me the most likely to erode belief in the “real presence,” as you call it. I know that Newman, for example, took that as one of the chief signs that the Anglican communion lacked credibility as an apostolic church – the fact that everybody received communion. At my church, I would say that only 20 – 30% of the adults receive communion on a given Sunday. There are a lot of serious issues about whether people are living in line with the Holy tradition, and we respect holy communion enough not to receive if there is something unchristian in our life. Except for divorced and remarried couples, Catholics seem to have no sense of this.

I don’t know whether the Catholic church is a true church or not, but the way you people carry on I can’t imagine your church is going to have any credibility for much longer - at least not among anybody except the liberal protestants.

I like how pro-life the Catholic Church is, and your new Pope seems like a really cool guy. But all the Catholics I know - and I know a lot of Catholics - its like none of them see Christianity as being primarily about savlation. I admit it - I can't figure your church out!

4:26 PM  
Anonymous orthodox observer said...


But don't you care about inculcating in people's hearts the right attitudes so that they can be saved? When the Mass looks like a sacrifice, doesn't that help to remind people of the atonement?

4:59 PM  
Anonymous orthodox observer said...

It seems like Catholics are the liturgical equivalent of the culinary palate of American kids raised on junk food, pop, and bad music. When you habituate people to like crap, that's what they love, and you can't get them to want anything else. That goes even for the smart ones too. For them, protestant liturgy is just terra firma. No?

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: Sad Bay Area Catholic

Orthodox Observer,

Of course everything you've said is true. But.. once upon a time there was a real and inspiring liturgy. You would have appreciated it I'm sure. You may have even become a convert.

Alas, the bishops of the SF Bay Area hate this liturgy and do everything they can to stamp it out. In Santa Clara County where I live, it is only permitted on one Saturday night per month at 7:30.

In Oakland however there is a weekly traditional Mass at St Margaret Mary Church. For years it was said by very modernist priest who used every opportunity he had to demean the Mass and the parishoners. The good news is that he has been replaced by a Priest from the Institute of Christ the King who will only offer the Traditional Mass. If you have any remnant interest in attending a "real" Catholic Mass and not the protestant wannabe version, you could check it out.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous amused observer said...

Your readers may also be interested to see the summary of the working document for the upcoming Eucharistic congress, Intrumentum laboris - which can be found here on

It would seem to respond to some of the concerns voiced here. I find all of this vaugely amusing, however. It seems like Catholics get really worked up about these issues, lamenting documents are prepared by church higher-ups, then things continue on the path they are already on. On the operational level, the church is controlled by the barbarians, no?

8:07 AM  
Blogger Podatus said...

Deo Volente,

As has been established over at Papabile, Cardinal Medina Estevez is very much IN the loop on this issue. Rocco slipped up on this one.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Arch Episcopus said...

Yes, Medina knows a little something of the loop, Rocco should get that there is one and he is not in it!

Either way, the mass remains invalid. I'm off to elect my next pope!

10:03 AM  
Blogger TM Lutas said...

orthodox observer - You can get an orthodox style liturgy inside the Catholic Church. There are several Eastern Catholic Churches that are in full communion with Roman Catholicism. If the form of the liturgy is what stands in your way, this might be an option.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Inquisitor Generalis said...

Let's not miss Orthodox Observer's point, though. He's absolutely correct about the disastrous deforms of Vatican II and what they did to our liturgy. It destroyed our patrimony.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous fbc said...

orthodox observer:

Your comments are dead-on perfect!
Thank you for your observations.

There are more traditionalists than you might imagine, and not all of us are extreme kook-types.

I converted to Catholicism in 1996, and quickly became disillusioned with precisely the same things you mentioned in your article. It seemed to me then that all of the things that attracted me to Catholicism, were the same things that Catholics reviled or ignored.

Two years later I was invited to attend an indult Traditional Mass. I was finally home!

Thank your for your comments.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous jim n said...

dear orthodox observer:

as a born roman catholic i deeply understand your puzzlement over the decay of the moder roman liturgy (btw, in this week's synod, one of the bishops suggested using the liturgy of saint basil in roman catholic masses!). but as a westerner i found, find, the eastern rite to be non-authentic for me-- as if i am play acting--so i found an anglo-catholic parish (yes, they do exist, even within the anglican communion...) that celebrates the western liturgy with its full sense of transendence and, yes, beauty. like one of the poster said when he found the tridentine mass... when i attended mass at my church i wept because for the first time God, not man, was the central actor in the drama and He was to be worshipped and glorified.

i pray for the strong establishment of western orthodoxy (antioch and oca are in the lead here).

all blessings.

4:51 AM  
Blogger John said...

Well I guess then I and all of my family and friends are in the minority according to your blog, as well as those that I work with or many for that matter who are educated even enough to know about Vatican II, as the church basically banned the Traditional liturgy for 2 decades like a disease, while allowing all other abuses in the New Mass.

Just remember Lex Orandi Lex Credendi-and the New Mass just does not cut it unfortunatly, not talking or saying valid or not, just not Catholic and does not promote reverence.

But the current crop of priests and Bishops are old Vatican II holdovers and it will take another 40 years before sanity is restored. Until then we make the 30 mile trip to the begrudgingly allowed indult or attend an independent Traditonal Mass and give my children the Baltimore Catechism and not the 1983 wishy washy version to help defend them from the evils in this world

4:36 PM  
Blogger Richard Cox said...

To Sad Bay Area Catholic:

Anyone who really wants to attend a traditional Mass may do so. There are several offered in the Bay Area. One is just a few blocks from the San Jose Diocese Chancery on 1298 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA 95050.

Mass is offered every Sunday at 8, 9:30 and 11am, also every Tuesday at 10am and every Friday at 6:30pm. The parish priest, Fr. Pedro Ottonello, OSA, has a Celebrit from Cardinal Mayer, when they were briefly being issued from the Vatican. The traditional Mass was never abrogated and any priest has the right to use the traditional Roman Missal. A bishop does not have the right to supress these two things. The Catholic laity have permitted their bishops to pull the wool over the eyes of the laity. Technically, an Indult is not needed but a clarification as to the status of the Traditional Mass needs to be stated, Universaly.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Bulldog Catholic said...

The Vatican has been dangling this universal "Indult" or should I say "Insult" mass for the longest time

As "Orthodox observer" stated, the New Mass and Vatican II are and never will be Catholic. They may be "Valid" as Paul VI was the Pope-but they are not Catholic and the only ones left who actually go to church are those raised to believe this is the only way to worship, as those like my family left the church when the changes came, became born again or went to SSPX or SSPV as they refuse to let their children nor would I learn their catechism from some liberal old lay person or some femi nun

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Cincture said...

Fascinating converstaion! Here in Scotland it's virtually impossible to find (At least in most dioceses) an 'official' Tridentine Mass, though there is a weekly one celebrated by a FSSP priest in Edinburgh.

As an Anglican who tried his hand with the Orthodox for some time, I would totally agree with the comments from Orthodox Observer - but would point out that (and I know the OCA IS different) Orthodoxy in the West still has the old ethnicity problem. I gave up on them, in some disgust, because they had no real desire to spread the Gospel among my countrymen - just to act as a sort of chaplaincy for ethnic Greeks and those who wished to adopt a Greek mindset. Until they change this, they are not much use.Alas!


4:52 PM  

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