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Sunday, 9 August 2009

Catching up on the latest Tablet nonsense

I have been rather busy with the Faith Conference, the Evangelium Conference and a parish Sunday, and I am taking a few days' holiday next week in Lourdes but there is just time to have a quick look at the Tablet's desperate attempt to claw back some ground, after its internet drubbing over the Blackfen affair, with its editorial article: The old rite put in its place.

Essentially, the Tablet is attempting to use Archbishop Nichols in support of its opposition to the usus antiquior which it persists in calling the "Tridentine Rite" - a dated and inaccurate expression now quite properly abandoned by other commentators on the subject, whatever side of the debate they take.

The editorial rightly notes that the Archdiocese of Westminster has sponsored the training course offered by the Latin Mass Society but instead of drawing the obvious conclusion that the usus antiquior is therefore entering the mainstream of ecclesiastical life in England, it presents this as a "control" issue; a claim that the Archdiocese of Westminster might find mildly insulting.

There is a note of that insecurity often found in the shrill opponents of the usus antiquior whereby they accuse its supporters of considering themselves "more Catholic than thou". In the case of the Tablet, one does not need to try hard to be more Catholic - supporting Humanae Vitae and the papal magisterium generally would be enough to set you a good distance from it in that respect regardless of whether you like to attend the usus antiquior or not. Supporters of the usus antiquior do need to be respectful towards those who are of orthodox faith and prefer the Missal of Paul VI, and in my experience they generally are. Their point would not be to claim any kind of superior holiness on their own part but simply to invite others to experience a form of Sacred Liturgy that they have found immensely helpful in their own life of faith. Like Philip to Nathanael, they would say "Come and see."

Other commentators have adequately pointed out the clichéd and ignorant depiction of the laity at the extraordinary form as "spectators". Many priest will have found, as I have, that those who participate in the older form of the Roman Rite show a remarkable degree of full conscious and active participation. To say so is not to denigrate those who attend the new rite but simply to rebut an insulting but commonplace slur against those who go to the extraordinary form. What particularly amused me was the rallying cry against women being "banished from the lectern" at the "Tridentine Rite". Errr, how to put this? There is no lectern in the extraordinary form.

In the conclusion, the editorial claims the support of Archbishop Nichols for the view that the "Tridentine Rite" is "necessarily marginal". Again, other commenters have chortled at the Tablet's going in for marginalising people: I would just point out that there is a hint of desperation here. The usus antiquior has become far less "marginal" since Summorum Pontificum and it is slowly but inexorably claiming what Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos called its "right of citizenship" within the Church.

The real problem for the Tablet is that if what they call the "Tridentine Rite" is now part of the legitimate provision of the Church in parishes - whether specifically set up for the usus antiquior or offering it as an alternative to the Missal of Paul VI - then the claim that Vatican II necessarily commits all Catholics to participate only by saying responses out loud, doing readings and giving out Holy Communion, is doomed.

OTHER COMMENTS
Fr Zuhhlsdorf's trademark fisk The Tablet’s little scream

Summorum Pontificum blog has a couple of important quotations from Cardinal Ratzinger.

Will Heaven's Telegraph blog: The Tablet’s juvenile editorial is an insult to Archbishop Nichols

Some important observations from an expert canonist can be found at Fr John Boyle's blog Caritas in Veritate.
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