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Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

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.

We are an Easter People.

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