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Madam, may I strangle that newborn hope for you?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 23, 2004

Feel any flickers of hope at today's publication of the document on celebrating the Eucharist? A rare twinge of satisfaction? Well, the NCR's John Allen will bring you back down to earth in no time. This from a talk he gave on "Five Myths about the Vatican" at Marquette University, reported in the Milwaukee Archdiocesan newspaper:

The myth of singlemindedness. According to Allen, "people will write sentences that begin 'the Vatican thinks — the Vatican hopes.' The forms have a shorthand meaning, but (the Vatican actually) is a complex bureaucracy in which people have different ideas. Only from afar does the Vatican look like the Stepford Wives (dressing alike, thinking alike, acting alike). ... It's not an organization, it's a bureaucracy, rarely of one mind."

Allen gave the example of the tensions between the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Office of Liturgical Celebration for the Supreme Pontiff regarding liturgical dance.

"The Congregation of Divine Worship is much more conservative, sober, Romanesque," Allen said. "The Office of Liturgical Celebration doesn't buy that at all. Their liturgies are more modern, dynamic, expressive." He joked that the liturgical office staff "try to set a record for how many liturgical rules they can break in one papal Mass. These things usually have dance numbers that rival 'Cats.'"

Got that? There are "tensions" between Cardinal Arinze's congregation and the liturgistes who stage and produce the papal celebrations. And of course the "modern, dynamic, expressive" lads win out. The campy humor about Cats-style dance numbers is an exaggeration, but an exaggeration of a phenomenon that's real. Many pilgrims to St. Peter's Basilica have noticed the giggling among the second-tier monsignori that goes on in the periphery, and I suspect Allen did not invent out of whole cloth the line about breaking as many liturgical rules as possible.

So we're back to the old story. A great document issues from the Successor of Peter; defiance or contempt comes back from the bishops; Peter changes the subject and comes out with a book of poetry.

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Show 7 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Apr. 25, 2004 4:10 PM ET USA

    Oh, give us few moments to bask in the glow of this new document. It mostly says what it should say. It is nicely bound and the ink gives off a fresh bouquet. Later, when we're asked to buy the poetry and plays which never would have been published outside of Poland but for the notoriety of the author, we'll sigh and endure the continued clown Masses. But for now...

  • Posted by: shrink - Apr. 24, 2004 8:51 AM ET USA

    Enforcement is part of the definition of law. Without some penalty or reward attached to a law's enactment there is no law--despite the fact that it is 'on the books.' So Peter changing the subject and coming out with a book of poetry, is tantamount to conceding a state of anarachy within the central governing body of the Church. So what do have, the Vatican as just another annex of the New York City Public Schools? No wonder they're in love with the UN!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2004 3:30 PM ET USA

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the Papal Masses after this document. The Pope wanted this document and yet the Pope allows his MCs to continue to authorize or even encourage abuse. It will be hard for orthodox pastors to prohibit even unapparent abuses from taking place in his own parish if the Pope allows unbelievable abuses to take place in his own Masses. I have been to Papal Masses in the U.S. and in St. Peter's. I wont see a communion plate until I'm made a pastor.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Apr. 23, 2004 2:53 PM ET USA

    It must be a work of Buddhist mythology or secret Gnostic teaching that Christ threw the Money Changers out of the temple. Oy vay.

  • Posted by: Fr. Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬) - Apr. 23, 2004 11:52 AM ET USA

    The Wanderer in January '04 had a detailed article about this topic: the tension, indeed the full scale war, between the CDW and Archbp Marini's office (for Pontifical Celebrations). E.g. the CDW fired a new salvo in the Instruction forbiding rites from other religions (par. 79). Remember the pagan Indian "Araathi" rite in Bl. Theresa of Calcutta's beatification Mass? (That was done against the will of the sisters, btw.) Mr. Allen is on target but softened the description of what is going on.

  • Posted by: AveMaria580 - Apr. 23, 2004 11:34 AM ET USA

    At least there are some in the Vatican who do think and that is more than can be said for those who spout contentless liberal sophistry.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Apr. 23, 2004 11:16 AM ET USA

    We've been punked. Again.

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