Saturday, March 28, 2015

Loftus and the authority of the Holy See

The Editor of the Catholic Times, Kevin Flaherty, tells us that Mgr Basil Loftus provides his readers with 'a loyal summary of 'counsel' coming from the Holy See, and in particular from the Holy Father.' 20 March 2015.

So it will be interesting to have a look at what Loftus has to say about one of the most closely-guarded prerogatives of the Holy See: the authority to regulatge the liturgy, part of the munus of the Holy Father himself, as we are reminded by the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae 8.

Do we read Loftus accepting with docility the rulings of the Holy See, through the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei? Does he seek to understand the reasoning behind their decrees, urge everyone to obey them, and perhaps humbly petition for sensible changes in the future? Well, no.

On the contrary, he regards the insistence of the Congregation for Divine Worship for an 'act of reverence' before the reception of Holy Communion, as an exsample of Stalinist oppressionm imposed by 'rubrical nit-pickers' (19 May 2013). (For more discussion see here.)

We find the same tone applied to a range of issues. I need hardly add that his objections to the liturgical principles at issue are invariably confused and frequently dishonest; I have dealt with them in numerous posts on this blog, since they illustrate many debates in the Church today.

28 July 2013: ‘One of the more incomprehensible rulings from the Congregation for Divine Worship was that the practice is consecrating a single vessel of wine, and then dividing it between several chalices before Communion, was forbidden. Why? Because the single vessel—usually a jug—was not a ‘chalice’ within the meaning of the rubric. This action of distributing the Precious Blood from a single vessel into several, perfectly symbolised the sharing from ‘the one cup’, but tough— ‘no, you can’t’, unless of course you feel that Holy Father Francis’s ‘liturgical emancipation’ covers this regulation as well.’ (For more discussion see here.)

22 August 2014: ‘the latest letter from that Congregation [sc. Divine Worship] ...forbidding the priest from sharing that sign [of peace] with the faithful assembled at Mass.... It makes a nonsense not only of Christ's own example, but of the reminder in John Paul II's Veritatis Splendor that “Jesus' way of acting, and his words, his deeds and his precepts, constitute the moral rule of Christian life” (n.20).’ (For more discussion see here.)

29 August 2014: ‘Seriously unbalanced prejudice, whether it proceeds from a Roman Congregation or from an individual fundamentalist bigot [i.e. someone who prefers to receive on the tongue], is not a “rightful expectation”. A local bishop in those circumstances is the equivalent of the military would call the “field-commander”. He calls the shots.' (For more discussion see here.)

24 Nov 2013, on the PCED: 'The Commission’s sometimes sententious decisions which then followed also inhibit the free discussion among the People of God which helps to build a liturgy, old-rite or new, which is sensitive to the needs of time and place. It is simply arrogant and unjust for altar-girls to be forbidden the Tridentine-rite Masses. More and more there is an unjustified presumption that Communion at such Masses may only be received kneeling and on the tongue.’ (For more discussion see here.)

His biggest hobby-horse of all, when it comes to liturgical abuse, is the indiscriminate use of General Absolution. He never mentions the fact that it is not sacramentally valid unless the penitant intends to go to individual confession as soon as possible, despite calling for its use on 18 March 2012, 14 Oct 2012, and 27 October 2013

Here is a sample, which brings in a few other issues as well.

Today the bishop in the diocese and the priest in the parish are being sent into the world, to evangelise it with a broken pastoral staff. Increasingly, they are finding that centralised doctrinal and legal authoritarianism are of necessity frustrating the very pastoral ethos which they are being urged to practise. Why else are bishops hammering the bronze doors of the Vatican with requests to at least discuss questions of clerical celibacy, Communion for the divorced and remarried, and artificial birth-control?
‘...the bishops asked for permission, exceptionally, to hold services of reconciliation with general absolution, ... they were refused.’ 

14 Oct 2012 (For more discussion see here.)

To talk of Loftus' attitude to the 2011 translation of the Ordinary Form Missal, however, is to enter a whole new realm of invective. I'll do that next.

As a service to the public, I have put together quotations on a range of themes from Loftus' published writings, mostly his Catholic Times columns, in a dossier here, and made one of his most theologically egregious articles, on the Resurrection of Our Lord, available here.

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