Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Universal Indult Confusion

I don't get it. If the Holy Father were to grant wider permission for the mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal without serious consensus among the bishops, it would really surprise me. Would the pope really want to circumvent the authority of the local bishop to regulate the liturgy in his own diocese? Okay, okay, before you cry, Bring on the circumvention!, let's examine the principle of doing this. We live in an era in which the prevailing belief in many circles about bishops still seems to be that they should function merely as papal administrators and nothing more. Both Benedict XVI and his predecessor, John Paul II, have often emphasized the teaching of the Second Vatican Council with respect to the proper role of bishops as a college to counteract this erroneous belief. While the pope certainly has the authority to grant wider permission, it doesn't seem likely that he believes it to be prudent at this juncture to do so without such a consensus among his brother bishops. So it also may be a while before Rome and the SSPX are really able to join hands and sing Kum Ba Yah.

But what about the confusion a move like this would cause in the larger church? With Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council spoke rightly of liturgical reform. Can the church soundly educate the faithful around the world that giving every priest permission to celebrate the liturgy according to the 1962 Roman Missal does not mean that it wasn't actually in need of reform? Can it fight the perception that there would not be two coexisting missals, one previously in need of reform, and one that identifies itself as the fruit of that reform?

Of course, if you prefer the Tridentine mass, perhaps you don't care one way or the other. But I think you should. Yes, yes, I understand the need for true liturgical reform, and I am not necessarily an opponent of the Tridentine mass and can sometimes be seen at Cardinal Mahony's weekly indult in Ventura, CA. Yet how can I not see this through the lens of what the Second Vatican Council taught? Somehow I don't see a universal indult solving any of the real liturgical or ecclesiological problems we are faced with today. Or maybe I am all wrong..? It wouldn't be the first time.

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