The matter of the forthcoming motu proprio liberalizing use of the so-called Tridentine Mass raises other questions regarding the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. If one “brings back” that mass (I put it in quotes because it never left), does one also bring back pre-conciliar views on other Christians and Jews?
A number of articles, particular in Jewish publications, are raising this question, in particular regarding whether this will also reinstate the old Good Friday prayers for “the perfidious Jews.” This phrase, in fact, had already been removed in the 1962 missal, but it isn’t the only problem, as the Center for Jewish-Christian Learning at Boston College points out in its article, Impact on Interreligious Relations of the Potential Wider Use of the Latin 1962 Catholic Missal; there still remain in the 1962 missal prayers regarding other Christians and Jews that do not reflect the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf says (in rubrical red),
AND??? SO???? We are really supposed to make decisions about what we believe or how we pray on the basis of objections of non-Catholics?
Well, the Second Vatican Council thought it good to have a conversation with non-Catholics on this matter. Ecumenism was one of the main reasons Pope John XXIII gave for calling the council in the first place. It invited observers from many denominations (including the Seventh-day Adventist Church) to witness the proceedings–something Traditionalists have always complained about.
But how do we interpret Vatican 2? Do we do so with a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” (i.e., assuming things changed) or a “hermeneutic of continuity” (assume things really stayed the same)? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf explains:
… Above all, the document will make concrete Benedict XVI’s desire for a “hermeneutic of continuity”. A “hermeneutic” is a principle of interpretation, like a lens through which you examine a question. In his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia, His Holiness spoke of a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” used by many after the Council. This resulted in a terrible break with our tradition. For many it is as if nothing good or worth preserving happened before Vatican II. Pope Benedict is working to reestablish continuity with the past, though not uncritically, through a “hermeneutic of reform”. Derestriction of the older form of Mass must be seen as part of his vision for this reform, this rebuilding of continuity with the Church’s tradition.
I came into the Catholic Church believing that things had changed. That was the assumption of every priest I knew, every religious sister I knew, every lay Catholic I knew. The tiny Traditionalist minority said, “The Church didn’t change; The Church can’t change; Vatican 2 is an aberration.” Now that attitude has spread.
Folks like Fr. John Zuhlsdorf say the motu proprio doesn’t represent a reversal of Vatican 2, just a wider permission, a change in hermeneutical perspective; Jews and Protestants don’t have anything to worry about. And yet in his attitudes towards other Christians and to Jews, as shown in this post, he gives evidence to the contrary. Now, he’s just one person. But he’s part of the Vatican bureaucracy at the present. Folks in parishes and diocesan chanceries and seminaries are aghast at many of these things. But many folks were aghast at the changes at the time of Vatican 2–and the tidal wave quickly swept them to the periphery.
It should not be a surprise to Catholics, then, that Protestants and Jews are concerned. There are other reasons for this concern, too, including the failure of the Catholic Church to address the greatest problems with the SSPX–its antisemitism and its rejection of the Vatican 2 documents on religious liberty and the dignity of the human person.