Tuesday, April 14, 2015

FIUV 'fundamentalist'?

Spot the suspect ecclesiology: Archbishop McMahon,
then bishop of Nottingham, preaching at an LMS
training conference
27th March, from Mgr Basil Loftus in the Catholic Times:

It is not the liturgy in itself which worries Francis, but the theological errors which underpin the purported 'reform of the reform'. This was made clear well before Francis' time when representatives of one fundamentalist organisation--Una Voce--were received by the Assistant Secretary of State, Archbishop Benelli, in October 1976. He told them that "those who wish to retain the old Mass have a different ecclesiology". 

In this column Loftus demonstrates his inability to distinguish the question of the 'reform of the reform' from the question of the continued use of the old, unreformed books: despite basing the article around remarks of Pope Francis which make the distinction very clearly.

He also falls into the unfortunate trap of assuming that everyone who disagrees with him is necessarily unreasonable: 'fundamentalist'. As a matter of fact, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who had reason to give these things a good deal of thought, had a very different view of the International Federation Una Voce. After discussing the fortunes of the SSPX and Archbishop Lefebvre, and their supporters, he turns his attention to the Federation, with the words (The Reform of the Liturgy p295):

Not all traditionalist groups accepted the extreme conclusions of the most fanatical. Some limited themselves to petitioning that "in the future, as in the past, the so-called Tridentine Order of Mass (in the form published in the Rubricarum instructum) may have its place among the legitimate and universally recognized rites for the celebration of Holy Mass. [Footnote: Letter of Dr. Erich de Savanthen, president of the Una Voce International Federation, to Cardinal A. Tabera, August 31, 1971]

Indeed, the Latin Mass Society's similar petition at the same time, passed on to Pope Paul VI through Cardinal Heenan, did receive a favourable response, as Bugnini describes on the following pages of his book.

Loftus gives no explanation of why he regards the FIUV as 'fundamentalist'. It seems like a serious accusation, indeed a libellous one; this is not a word to be tossed about lightly. As a matter of fact, Erich de Savanthen had earlier been a vigorous opponent of the Nazis: is that the kind of 'fundamentalism' Loftus objects to?

As opposed to the moderation displayed by Archbishop Rembert Weakland, now known mainly for his record of sexual abuse and his raiding of diocesan funds to pay off former lovers, who is quoted approvingly by Mgr Loftus in the same column (Loftus quotes an article printed in America in 1997):

What totally derailed the liturgical renewal, from the point of view of this bishop in the trenches, was the decision of Pope John Paul II, made, I am sure, with great anguish, to grant in 1984 an indult that allowed the Tridentine usage to flourish again.

It never ceases to amaze me that liturgical progressives should think their work is so effectively undermined by occasional celebrations of Mass in a form they don't like very much, particularly at a time when the vast majority of Catholics didn't even know they were taking place. But perhaps they were right: unless the ancient liturgical tradition was totally stamped out, unless the last embers were extinguished, there was always the chance that orthodox Catholicism could creep back.

Here's another question. Mgr Loftus attributes the view that the EF represents a different 'ecclesiology' from the OF to Cardinal Benelli back in 1976; he gives no source for the quotation, but it is a familiar enough idea, if a vague one: I've never seen it properly explained. What Loftus is perhaps unable to appreciate is how dangerous this argument is for supporters of the reformed Mass. For the claim amounts to saying that the 1970 introduced an ecclesiology - a theology of the Church - which is incompatible with the one which had been taught by the Church, through the liturgy and elsewhere, from time immemorial. But the immemorial teaching of the Church can't be wrong, so the claim amounts to saying that the reformed Mass teaches error. Is that what Loftus really thinks? Are other progressives comfortable with that idea?

So where did he get this quote from? Yes, that's right: from an SSPX website.

Bishop Egan kneeling before the Altar before presiding at an EF Mass in his cathedral.
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  1. Joseph Shaw would not say that all need to formally enter the Church for salvation in Britain. This would be the old ecclesiology.Instead he would say that there are exceptions. This is the new ecclesiology

  2. Careful Joseph! I am reminded in these discussions of Godwin's Law, that as any discussion progresses the probability of the Nazi's being mentioned increases.

    We need an amendment to cover the increasing probability of the terms fanatic, fundamentalist and extremist being used against ordinary bog-standard Catholics such as myself only interested in continuing to practise the Faith as my ancestors have done for the past sixteen hundred years.
    Bugninni was right in saying those who wished to retain the Old Mass have a different ecclesiology. Or rather, he should have said that those who pursue the New Mass, have.

    I occasionally manage a Usus Antiquior, the Mass of my childhood and youth. The difference is extraordinary. They can't both be ecclesiastically right, (as opposed to valid, a different matter).

    Fortunately with the, admittedly, very few new young priests, I see a return via the “Reform of the Reform” to the realisation that the old “ecclesiology” must not only be maintained but must be expressed liturgically in the way it has been for centuries.

    I have said elsewhere that curiously enough the crisis in the number of priests will probably hold the solution.

    The Church will slowly swing back to the Mass of Ages. But it will be a tempestuous journey!

    1. I'm not accusing anyone of being a Nazi in this post.

  3. But the immemorial teaching of the Church can't be wrong, so the claim amounts to saying that the reformed Mass teaches error.

    But there is also possible the inverse conclusion: That the Traditional Roman Rite taught error, and that it is the reformed RR which teaches a correct doctrine. Which is, quite frankly, not far off what many Church progressive really believe.

    This even more dangerous* conclusion is often covered by a theological dodge, mustering some Rahnerian language about how doctrine and practices are heavily conditioned by culture and constantly develop. But fundamentally, Loftus and his really do think that the Roman Rite going back to Late Antiquity was a badly flawed mode of worship.

    * "Even more dangerous" because there is never a satisfactory answer to the question: "If the Church has been getting its central act of worship, and its very ecclesiology, so badly wrong for most of its history, why should what you're saying it's teaching now be trusted as getting it right?"