Ecumenism, Interfaith Dialogue, and the MP

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.

5 thoughts on “Ecumenism, Interfaith Dialogue, and the MP

  1. Priests cant “improvise” with the Tridentine. For this reason many people find it reverential, holy. This is the main reason behind the Latin Mass movement. People want some reverence in their worship, some people want it for sentimental reasons. The MP might make the mass universal but wait until people start asking their priests for it. Most of the priests who try it will make a dog’s dinner out of it and get fed up pretty quick. In my experience many people who want Latin or reverence have no further agenda. The hard core Tridentine people are the ones that cause the problems with ecumenism or inter-Religious dialogue.
    True story, a few years ago I was in a car with three other priests. The two sitting in the back never met each other before. We were talking about some inane point (as priests tend to do when they are together) and one of the priests, a member of the Fraternity of St. Peter, made a disparaging remark about Cardinal Lustiger, it was something like “what do you expect from a Jew!” Well I thought there would be an explosion. What the FSSP priest didn’t know was that the priest he was sitting next to was raised as a Jew. Well he backed down from that one. But it opened my eyes. It made it clear to me that some people within the Church who yearn for the old Mass have a further agenda.
    It would benefit the Church a lot more if She spent more time teaching her seminarians how to celebrate the liturgy with reverence, and o yea spend more time on teaching them how to preach.

  2. I’m curious: “its rejection of the Vatican 2 documents on religious liberty and the dignity of the human person.” When did this happen? To what are you referring?

  3. After taking another look, I thought that might have been the case, so I rewrote that sentence to make that clearer.

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