Newsletter of the District of Asia

 July 1997

From the desk of Father Scott

As the years advance we occasionally hear voices within the Novus Ordo establishment deploring the change of the Mass.  The latest of such voice is no less than that of Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  In his memoirs, “From my Life; Remembrances 1927-1997”, published in the middle of April, he not only criticized liturgical abuses, as in the past, but even in the New mass itself, which, he said, “has entailed for us very serious damage” and the suppression of which marked a “break in the history of the liturgy; the consequence of which could only be tragic.”  Not only did he admit a crisis in the Church, but he goes so far as to trace it back to the abolition of the traditional Mass:  “I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in the church in which we find ourselves today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy. . .  I was dismayed by the ban on the old missal, since such a development had never been seen in the history of the liturgy.” (CNS)

Before you begin to clap with glee - with the recognition of the crisis comes the solution - you might like to ask yourselves why such apparent convictions have failed to produced any fruits in the form of a return to Tradition.  Of course there is a reason, and a very interesting one.  The real reason for the Cardinal’s opposition to the new liturgy is not in fact its heterodoxy; it is not the Protestant and modernist heresies which it favors; it is not the destruction of true Catholic piety which is its consequence.  It is that the New Mass is not a fruit of a “vital process” in the Church.  That is why his answer to the crisis that he clearly admits is not the unchanging and entirely Catholic traditional Mass, nor even the retention of Latin, but rather: “it is dramatically urgent to have a renewal of liturgical awareness, a liturgical reconciliation which goes back to recognizing the unity in the history of the liturgy and understanding Vatican II not as a break, but as a developing moment.”  Hence, for him the defect in the new liturgy is not that it evolve organically; it is not that it is based upon the doctrinal and the pastoral revolution go the Second Vatican Council, but that it applies this revolution as a rupture rather as an evolution.  In fine, his problem with the new Mass is not that as it is deceptive, but that it is not deceptive enough.  It does clearly enough deceive Catholics into thinking that they are doing the same things that Catholics have always done.  It is too clearly Protestant and not ambiguously modernist enough.

The danger inherent in the desire for the traditional Mass without the condemnation of errors of the Vatican II thus become perfectly clear.  It is the attempt to make the revolution palatable by removing the “R”.  And evolution means subjectivism, that is a faith based upon personal experience.  Cardinal Ratzinger’s ideas are clearly apparent in a conference given in May 1996 entitled:  “Relativism is today the central problem of faith and theology”, and analyzed it the April 1997 Courrier de Rome.  In answer to heretics (to whom he falsely gives the honor of theologians) who deny the divinity of Christ on the basis of exegesis, he has but this to say:  “Ecclesiastical authority cannot simply impose (upon theologians) that a Christology of the divine filiation must be found in the Scripture!”  Moreover, in answer to the subjectivists, he refuses to apply the objective, revealed doctrines of the faith, but simply refers back to the Kantian (i.e. subjectivist) principle of conscience as being the criterion for Truth, for, he says, we cannot know by reason, i.e. objectively, that God exists and that we know that he has spoken to us through revelation.

It is consequently despite his respect for the traditional Mass, that one must legitimately wonder how it could possibly be, that the Cardinal Prefect for the Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith, could avoid falling under the First Vatican Council’s condemnations of the subjectivist and revolutionary theologians:  “If anyone shall have said that the one true God, our Creator and our Lord, cannot be known with certitude by those things which have been made credible by the natural light of reason; let him be anathema” (Db 1806) and “If anyone shall have said that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and for this reason men ought to be moved to the Faith by the internal experience alone of each one, or by private inspiration: let him be anathema” (Db 1812).

Indeed the Mass is our banner.  But it is not enough.  We cannot be faithful unless we understand the “R” driving the evolutionary methods of the modernists.  Be not deceived by misleading statements.  If history has made some of Archbishop Lefebvre’s points concerning the Mass manifestly obvious, it is not that the modernists have given in.  They have changed their tactics.  Let us remain fervent in prayer and determined to better understand our Faith and the evil of liberalism which penetrates the new religion, its ideas, its theology and its Mass.

Regina Coeli Report, June 1997

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