We all know that during the second half of the John Paul II pontificate a great number of conservative Catholic laity took seriously the call to the “New Evangelization” and started working for the Church. It’s a common story in dioceses and the various offices of national conferences bishops around the world. A great many of these are what we call “Generation X” people who were raised and lived through the post-conciliar period, watching as their parents’ generation of priests and bishops systematically tore down the edifice of the Church – sometimes literally in bricks and stones, but as often in the form of the terrible destruction of our patrimony of Catholic social and moral culture.
The Catholic Twitterverse is alive today with criticism of the USCCB’s decision to sack Fr. Thomas Weinandy, the former head of their doctrinal office. It took a matter of hours for the brave defenders of the status quo to leap into action against the mild Franciscan friar’s polite plea to Pope Francis to defend the Catholic Faith and faithful. Or at least to stop attacking them.
Pope Paul VI’s 1965 encyclical on the Eucharist, “Mysterium Fidei,” was the first place I saw anyone say that the body and blood, soul and complete divinity of Christ was actually present in the consecrated species. Having been raised in Remi de Roo’s Victoria in the 1970s, I had naturally never heard anything at all about the Eucharist. The understanding that Catholics believed what they believe about it came as a bit of a shock.
(Read the full document here.)
It’s not my religion
We continue our conversation over tea with my curate friend from the local parish with the question of the Mass. With obvious pastoral concern, my friend asked me why I felt so strongly about the New Mass. Why was someone my age, who had never seen the Church before the changes, so “attached” to the older form?
I think I rather surprised him when I passed over all questions of aesthetics and replied, “Because it represents a different religion.”
He had agreed with my first premise that liturgy was a manifestation, in actions and words, of theology. Liturgy was theology in motion; as we pray, so we believe, to paraphrase the old Latin expression. I pointed to several places in the new rite where certain specifically Catholic ideas had been either removed or re-written to mean something different, something Protestant or neo-modernist; something, in short, not Catholic.
My friend was rather taken aback, I think, to hear such a blunt assertion that the thing nearly every Catholic in the world assumes is the Mass, is in fact a jury-rigged, banal concoction deliberately engineered in malice by 1960s revolutionaries specifically for the purpose of de-Catholicising the Church.
In the light of recent events, many Catholics are finding the courage to look unflinchingly at the root causes of the current crisis and are looking for answers. Many who have been shocked by Pope Francis are asking, reasonably, how we got into this situation and how far down the roots go.
The official line about Vatican II – steadfastly adhered to by pope and prelate alike for 50 years – has been that there is no break, no discontinuity between the Church of Trent and the Church of Vatican II. Everything’s fine; nothing to see here. But with Francis we have – thanks be to God – finally dropped this absurd, indefensible pretense. Francis himself makes it glaringly clear that his religion is the religion of the Second Vatican Council, and that this is a departure from – indeed a repudiation and correction of the Council of Trent and all that preceded it.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. If I had had more time, I would have thought to steer my young friend to a document that continues to vex and harry the neo-modernist revolutionaries. It’s the one that caused a delay in the promulgation of the New Mass, as the men who concocted the latter struggled to cover their creation’s nakedness.
Ottaviani saw it coming
“It stunned me almost as much as when I first attended a Traditional Latin Mass and found out how much had been removed and changed.”
“I just read it all in one sitting last night. It has completely opened my eyes. I always knew something was drastically wrong, but now I understand what that means.”
“I can only imagine what people would say if Cardinal Mueller had said anything like this about Amoris Laetitia.”
These are some of the recent comments from various comment boxes around the ‘net by people who have read for the first time a document issued in 1969 by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, then-retired head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the theological inadequacies of the new rite of the Mass. Ottaviani, with Cardinal Antonio Bacci, issued a cover letter to a critical analysis by a dozen theologians of the New Rite just before it was officially promulgated.
In what has become known as the “Ottaviani Intervention” the theologians and two cardinals called on Pope Paul VI to reconsider the text of the New Mass that they describe as a “departure” from traditional Catholic theology and, given the parlous state of the Church in our times, “an incalculable error”. The Ottaviani Intervention, in other words, was the first place that the idea appeared that the New Mass was, in effect, embodying an entirely different religion from the Catholicism the world had known to that point. It stands to reason that if theology is the content, the meaning, of a religion, the New Mass was a product of a new, non-Catholic religion.
(A print copy can be purchased here and an online version can be found here.)
The New Rite as a “victory” over Trent
In the first paragraph of his letter, the cardinal comes right out and says it:
“The Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.”
And he wastes no time explaining why that is going to be a disaster: these canons of Trent that had been “definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.”
The essential premise of the Intervention is that the New Rite of the Mass represents an outright attack by the men who created it on the Catholic doctrine of the Mass as defined by the Council of Trent. It removed language that upheld Catholic doctrine of the Mass as an authentic sacrifice, a renewal in “unbloody form” of the expiatory sacrifice of Christ on the cross, a salvific and efficacious action that pours out grace on the world for the salvation of souls.
This specifically sacramental language was systematically removed from the Mass in the new rite, along with many of the physical gestures like signs of the cross and genuflections, and repetitions that bolstered it. These were taken out explicitly in order to make Catholic worship more in line with Protestant ideas, to whom such concepts were non-starters, deal breakers.
This is also not just some wild, “Rad-Trad” claim, but the justification later given publicly by the people who worked on the new rite. Members of the Concilium who authored the New Rite went on to write articles and books bragging about their victory over the “reactionaries” like Ottaviani who had tried to stop them abandoning Trent, the precepts of which they called a “dead end” when it came to “ecumenism;” these were those Catholic doctrinal precepts that required Protestants unequivocally to choose between Protestantism and Catholicism.
The Intervention’s main points:
The fact that most Catholics of our time, now two generations removed from the traditional rites, would find these complaints completely unremarkable is a testament to the effectiveness of the liturgical alterations to deform Catholic teaching; “lex corandi; lex credendi. Bugnini came right out and said in his autobiography that the purpose of the entire exercise was to de-Catholicise Catholic worship, and ultimately Catholics themselves.
The Intervention itself rewards the effort of close and attentive reading, including its footnotes. It has, in fact, helped to “Red-Pill” quite a lot of people, including myself. I will not forget the relief I felt when I realized that my uncomfortable feeling that things in the Church (and consequently the world) had gone catastrophically wrong shortly before I was born, was not just me.
Moreover, there were very straightforward and uncomplicated reasons. The situation we are in now is awful, apocalyptic even, but its origins are not at all difficult to grasp once you have seen the data. The consequences of coming to grips with these facts – of “tradding” – can often be life-changing, but by itself the logic is not difficult, nor the data obscure. The only real difficulty lies in accepting that many of the things you thought were true, aren’t.
I’ll confine myself to commenting on a few points, trusting readers to follow the link above to do the rest of the reading.
Some stand-out phrases from the Ottaviani/Bacci letter:
“The innovations in the Novus Ordo and the fact that all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all, could well turn into a certainty the suspicions…that truths which have always been believed by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine…”
“…fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful…”
For “the best of the clergy,” the New Rite offers “an agonising crisis of conscience.”
Some interesting little factoids from the “Short Critical Study”:
The Intervention’s extensive footnotes are also worth visiting. In one the authors point out that the New Rite and the GIRM are substantially contradicted by Pope Paul VI’s own encyclical on the Eucharist, “Mysterium Fidei”.
Footnote 13: “‘Mysterium Fidei’ amply denounces and condemns introducing new formulas or expressions which, though occurring in texts of the Fathers, the Councils, and the Church's magisterium, are used in a univocal sense that is not subordinated to the substance of doctrine. ‘Not only the integrity of the faith, but also its proper mode of expression must be safeguarded, lest, God forbid, by the careless use of words we introduce false notions about the most sublime realities.’”
The Intervention’s authors conclude with a dire warning:
Today, division and schism are officially acknowledged to exist not only outside the Church, but within her as well. The Church's unity is not only threatened, but has already been tragically compromised. Errors against the Faith are not merely insinuated, but are--as has been likewise acknowledged--now forcibly imposed through liturgical abuses and aberrations. To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries stood as a sign and pledge of unity in worship, and to replace it with another liturgy which, due to the countless liberties it implicitly authorizes, cannot but be a sign of division – a liturgy which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic Faith--is, we feel bound in conscience to proclaim, an incalculable error.
It is noteworthy that when the Intervention was published no one in the Catholic world had ever seen “altar girls,” Holy Communion given out by lay women into the hands of a standing congregant, the priest facing the people, the tearing out of altars and communion rails, balloons, felt banners, giant puppets, “folk bands,” guitars, tambourines or dancing girls. In 1966, even the most prescient had no idea what was coming: a regime of complete chaos, banal secularization, that would, 50 years later, be considered perfectly normal by nearly all Catholics in the world.
The Novus Ordo Mass is, in fact, about you.
The Novus Ordo has succeeded in so erasing the liturgical memory of the Catholic faithful that it is not widely known that the prayers, and even the particular tones of Gregorian Chant used for the parts of the Mass, were strictly prescribed in the old rite. No priest was ever allowed to simply decide what he felt like saying at Mass on a given morning. We often hear from “conservatives” the mantra, “The Mass isn’t about you.” But in fact, with its dozens of options and the abolition of the ordo, the Novus Ordo Mass most certainly is “about” the priest’s personal preferences, if not those of the parish or national bishops’ conference liturgical committees.
There’s more to Catholicism than “the pope says…”
“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” St. Augustine
How many have seen the third Godfather movie? A lot of Catholics really found much of the Vatican stuff in that movie rather laughable and potboilerish, and I think the criticisms of the depiction of Catholicism are pretty fair. But there was one scene towards the end that I think was interesting: it’s where Michael Corleone, perhaps motivated by his poor health and a growing awareness of his mortality, tells his doting sister Connie, “I made my confession today.” Connie is rather shocked by this, and says, “That’s not like you, Michael.”
We might have missed the importance of Connie’s response; as a Catholic woman she understood that Michael having made his Confession meant that he had decided to give up all sin, which would have to include participating in the Corleone family’s criminal operations. He was saying, in effect, I’ve returned to the path of virtue; from this day on, I can’t be a gangster, and if that means I can no longer be the head of the Corleone Family then so be it. In the next scenes, Michael turns over the reigns to his nephew Vincenzo. The film went on to show that, for his sins, Michael’s redemption was not to come so cheaply.
George Soros with his pal, the infamous abortionist and friend of Pope Francis, Emma Bonino, at the "In The Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner 2015"
With the breaking of the news into the English language media-sphere the other day, some thoughts converged, into the form of a question: Why would anyone expect Emma “La Bicicletta” Bonino not to be invited to speak at a Catholic Church in Italy? Catholic editorialists are furious that Bonino was invited to speak at the church of San Defendente in Ronco di Cossato, on July 26, 2017, “World Refugee Day”. But there is an underlying tone of defeated routine in their protestations, as though they are objecting out of a dogged sense of a duty to fulfill rather than any real outrage; let alone shock.