Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Paul Inwood on Disobedient Traditionalists

Paul Inwood, Director of Liturgy for the diocese of Portsmouth, rarely lets a chance to attack traditionalists go to waste; here he remarks artlessly 'Summorum Pontificum was a reward for disobedience: Discuss'.

Very well. The first thing to note is that if SP was a reward for disobedience, it would have plenty of company. Famously, Paul VI's Memoriale Domini, which gave permission for communion in the hand, was a reward for disobedience; as the document says explicitly, the practice was permitted only because, and where, it had become established by disobedience.

But more generally it is clear that the permission for altar girls, communion under both kinds, Mass celebrated facing the people, etc. etc. were rewards for disobedience, since all these practices were instituted disobediently either during the chaotic period after the Second Vatican Council or before it. Indeed, Paul Inwood might like to consider the permission for parts of the liturgy to be in the vernacular, in Sacrosanctam Concilium itself, to be a reward for disobedience, since disobedient priests had been experimenting with vernacular liturgy since the early decades of the 20th Century, not to say the 16th Century. The practice of breaking rules in the hope of getting them changed was so established among liberals after the Council they even had a special phrase for it: 'anticipatory obedience'.

There is a great difference between SP and many of these other documents, however. In Memoriale Domini Paul VI takes the opportunity to issue what is in effect a final condemnation of the practice he is reluctantly permitting, and urges Catholics to continue to receive on the tongue. The permissions for many other abusive practices take a similar form. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, for example, were permitted only in restrictive circumstances; so was communion under both kinds and altar girls. It is easy to forget these restrictions but there they are. By contrast, there is nothing reluctant about the freeing of the Traditional Mass in SP: it is described (in the accompanying Letter to Bishops) as constituting 'riches' for the Church; even back in 1988, John-Paul II told bishops to be 'generous' in allowing the Traditional Mass, not a word he used in relation to their right to permit altar girls or EMHCs.

But there is something altogether missing from the parallel, and that is the disobedience which SP is supposed to be rewarding. Presumably Paul Inwood means disobedience by priests who were saying the Traditional Mass before 2007. But according to SP, they weren't being disobedient: the Traditional Mass had never been forbidden. Even on the more restrictive interpretation common before SP, they had permission under Ecclesia Dei Adflicta to say the TLM.

Now here is something for Paul Inwood to ponder. The Latin Mass Society and the whole Una Voce movement argued from the very beginning that the TLM had never been abrogated. Anyone can read the argument in Michael Davies' book 'Pope Paul's New Mass' (1981). Our opponents argued that, no, it was only permissible by indult, that is, by special permission. So what was the practical policy of the LMS? We continued to make the argument for the less restrictive position, but acted on the more restrictive one. We always got permissions for the Masses we organised, even though we thought permission was not necessary. This was not disobedience, not anticipatory obedience, but obedience of a heroic, supererogatory kind.

So during the long years of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, what was Paul Inwood doing? Was he obeying the Church's liturgical laws? When he was Music Director of Portsmouth Cathedral (1995-1999) and now he is Director of Liturgy for Portsmouth Diocese (since 2000), did he implement the Council's decree that Gregorian Chant have pride of place in the liturgy, or that Latin be retained? Did he ensure that the rules of successive editions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, forbidding all manner of abuses, were strictly obeyed? Did he enforce the norms of the Instruction Regarding Certain Questions on the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful, in 1997, or Redemptionis Sacramentum in 2004, each of which again condemned countless abusive practices?

Well, not exactly. A culture of disobedience has in fact become endemic across the entire Church since the Council, and it has often been observed that the only people expected to obey the rules are those who want the Traditional Mass - at least this was so when the rules were restrictive. But we now see a new generation of priests coming up who are rebelling against this culture. And what does Paul Inwood say?

He says they are disobedient.


  1. Sirian2:30 am

    Paul Inwood; what a joke

  2. Anonymous12:22 pm

    If you read the post again, you will see that he was quoting another liturgist. These are not his own words.

  3. Joseph Shaw12:54 pm

    I'm perfectly aware of that, but he was quoting them with approval and inviting discussion. So what's the significance of this quibble?