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all your backlash are belong to us

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 03, 2008

Fr. Richard McBrien shares some thoughts on Archbishop Piero Marini's recent book on the liturgy, originally titled As Legs That Are Shaven. We have to stop short of calling McBrien's column a "review," as he does not claim to have read Marini and it's not clear that he's done so. In any event, McBrien is more interested in the ecclesiastical politics that produced the book than in any theology it may contain. Brace yourselves for a good yawn:

There is a small but powerful and determined group within the Vatican who have never accepted the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI. Their resistance is at root ecclesiological in nature.

What they oppose is the de-clericalization of the liturgy. In their minds, the Church is identical with the hierarchy and the priests who serve under the bishops. The laity, on the other hand, are simply the beneficiaries of the sacramental ministrations of the clergy, in a process ultimately controlled by the Vatican.

The problem for the resisters is not so much that the Mass was put into the vernacular, but that the laity could now fully understand it and actively participate in it.

McBrien is here presenting us with an ecclesiastical version of Susan Faludi's 1991 screed Backlash, which tried to explain the waning interest in radical feminism as an "undeclared war" against high-achieving women by sinister factions threatened by social upheaval. McBrien would have us believe that a "small but powerful" group (sound familiar?) is out to undermine the work of the Second Vatican Council, never deigning to notice that, far from championing the Mass given us by the Council, his fellow progressivist clergy could never get excited enough about it to do it right themselves. Nor does he account for the fact that, worldwide, the pews are emptiest precisely where the Marinis and McBriens have had the greatest liturgical clout.

Perhaps his professorial duties do not permit Fr. McBrien the opportunity to look inside a church very often. Even so, a tour of Catholic blogdom would convince him that his ecclesiological wristwatch must have stopped around 1971. Contrary to what he'd have us believe, it's the not the bishops who are leading the "reform of the reform," but those lay faithful who hunger for the God the liturgists have shouldered out of the Mass. Whence Marini/McBrien deserve the same response as Faludi: What's there to be frightened of? It's not that we think you're scary, it's that we think you're goofy.

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 05, 2009 10:57 PM ET USA

    Archbishop Weisgerber displayed all the ascetic discipline of a flighty teenage girl trying to pop a surprise facial zit an hour before prom night begins when he attacked LifeSite News for their expose on the Development and Peace fiasco. He's hit the big time now that he's appeared in the Cross hairs of Uncle Di's tank turret. He has his reward.

  • Posted by: adamah - Nov. 04, 2009 12:45 PM ET USA it comes....