Quick Hits: Cardinal Sarah's speech, the Pope and his critics

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 07, 2016

  • Yesterday CWN reported-- and I celebrated -- the wonderful suggestion by Cardinal Robert Sarah that priests should celebrate Mass ad orientem. Today there’s more good news: the text of Cardinal Sarah’s address to the Sacra Liturgia conference is now available online, and there’s more gold to be mined from it. For instance:
    • the liturgical reform envisioned by Vatican II had not been realized, and the “reform of the reform” suggested by Pope Benedict XVI is the necessary corrective;
    • Pope Francis has directed Cardinal Sarah, in his capacity as the Vatican’s top liturgist, to continue pursuing that “reform of the reform;”
    • one main objective is to eliminate abuses and freewheeling liturgies, of the sort described by Cardinal Francis Arinze as the “do-it-yourself Mass;”
    • the Extraordinary Form should be encouraged, and priests should be trained to celebrate the traditional Mass;
    • the Anglican Ordinariate has introduced a beautiful example of authentic liturgical renewal; and
    • “we must sing the liturgical texts…, most especially that music proper to the Roman rite, Gregorian chant. We must sing sacred liturgical music not merely religious music, or worse, profane songs.”

  • Ordinarily these “Quick Hits” pieces direct attention to items that appear on the internet. But today let me comment on an item that does not appear, because its disappearance is a positive development. Yesterday the National Catholic Register site carried a very unfortunate essay by John Paul Shimek, entitled “Should Good Catholics Read Far-Right Catholic Blogs?” Shimek answered that question in the negative, and roundly denounced the “far-right” bloggers—without identifying them, producing evidence of their offenses, or distinguishing between them and more responsible analysts. Today that article has been removed from the Register site, and in its place there is an editorial note indicating that Shimek’s diatribe was unauthorized and does not represent the views of the Register editors. That’s reassuring.
    There are, beyond doubt, some Catholic commentators who have been intemperate in their criticism of Pope Francis. But the fact that they are intemperate does not mean that they are always wrong. More to the point, it does not help matters to be intemperate and unprofessional in criticizing others for the same weaknesses. Finally, to suggest that it may be immoral to read “far-right” blogs, without distinguishing between hysterical commentary and more balanced analysis, is to imply that reasonable debate is impossible. That’s an argument that responsible Catholics will not and should not accept.

  • For those many Catholics who have been understandably dismayed by recent papal statements, Father Peter Stravinskas provides practical advice in his 12 thoughts on the papacy and life in the Church today. He neither denies the problem nor offers a simple solution. But he does put things in perspective, balancing respect for the Petrine office with a healthy commitment to the truths of the faith—offering, as he puts it, “a path through the Scylla and Charybdis of denial on the one hand and vitriol on the other.” This essay (originally a homily) is through, balanced, and ultimately calming. I strongly recommend reading it. But I don’t think Father Stravinskas will object if I suggest reading Cardinal Sarah’s address first.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Jul. 10, 2016 8:28 AM ET USA

    If Cardinal Sarah is intent on priests celebrating Mass ad orientem then he must address the Bishops under whom the priests serve. To tell a priest to do something without his Bishops blessing is not a Catholic ideal. So when we hear of an instruction to the Bishops from Cardinal Sarah that sets the standard for celebrating Mass as ad orientem then I will get excited. Pray for Cardinal Sarah to have the strength to do his job.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 08, 2016 11:03 AM ET USA

    Our pastor advised our congregation that "getting something out of it," our action in various roles etc are irrelevant when it comes to holy Mass. The Mass is a generous, unmerited invitation on the part of our Lord to unite ourselves to his supreme act of love for his father on Calvary. We offer ourselves in union with Christ to God. We adore, thank, petition, and offer atonement to God. The priest and we united with him present to the Father the Son's sacrifice at Mass. This gives us hope.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 08, 2016 1:18 AM ET USA

    I am glad you provided links to the two addresses. The speakers understand that we cannot repair society until we first repair the Church. And that repair should start with proper implementation of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II and with enthusiasm in support of the Extraordinary Form. How many prelates have to lament the abuses of the Ordinary Form before the episcopate finally gets the message? Stop tinkering with the Mass. Offer the Mass for all the faithful, not only for your cronies.