Magister on Liturgy under Francis

Sandro Magister at Chiesa is quite open about his strong support for Pope Benedict XVI in comparison to someone else you know of. In this week’s column he takes up liturgy under Pope Francis, under the heading “Three Reasons for Alarm.” (Here, scroll down.)

Magister’s three reasons for alarm are these:

1. The ban imposed on the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on celebrating Mass in the pre-Vatican II unreformed rite, although Benedict’s 2007 document Summorum Pontificum gave every priest the unrestricted right to do so.

2. Francis’s recent replacement of all five advisors to the office of papal celebrations with five liturgists of less traditionalist views. (Pray Tell reported here.) And here’s an interesting detail along the way: Francis does not genuflect during the Eucharistic Prayer, though it seems that he is able to kneel.

3. Francis’s blocking of the examination of the liturgical variations made in the Neocatechumenal communities that Benedict had undertaken.

Magister notes that the signals from Rome are mixed, and

there is in Bergoglio an oscillation in appointments, in actions, and in words that makes it difficult to interpret his decisions and even more to foresee his future moves.

But he says wryly of Pope Francis’ defense of the postconciliar liturgical reform “as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation”:

If Bergoglio were a pupil of professor Ratzinger, … he would see these lines of his marked with the red pen.


7 responses to “Magister on Liturgy under Francis”

  1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    Well, we should all remember that Signor Magister was the insider-of-insider journalist during the last pontificate who has been placed at a further remove in the current one and is loyally channeling the concerns of discomfited elder brothers (though probably not of PE B16 himself but those who proclaimed they were channeling his Plan for Everything.).

  2. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    And someone such as Benedict would have found his liturgical decision to be redlined by folks such as Congar, Bugnini, etc. Benedict was no liturgist.

  3. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    If Bergoglio were a pupil of professor Ratzinger, … he would see these lines of his marked with the red pen

    I think Francis is smarter than both JP2 and B16.

    Liberals as well as traditionalists seem to be taken in by Francis humble, down to earth, folksy pastoral style.

    But I think his style is somewhat like Bill Clinton’s folksy style that helped him to avoid being too easily consigned into the category of liberal intellectual, and Obama’s sports and family interests that have help him fend off the Harvard intellectual category.

    Very few things predict leadership. Intelligence is only mildly correlated with leadership, and there is some evidence that people don’t like to have very smart people as leaders.

    Both the Jesuit and more recent interview have shown a very intellectual and well read Pope when he is focused upon more intellectual people.

  4. Ann Olivier Avatar
    Ann Olivier

    I agree that Francis is the smartest of the three. JP II as a philosopher (his trade) had nothing new of major importance to say. Benedict is unquestionably an exceptionally clear thinker who often gets to the heart of what is theologically important. HOwever, though he is a scholar of great depth his interests seem selective or narrow to me. (But I”m not a theologian, so maybe I”m wrong.)

    Francis, on the other hand, also shows great clarity of thought, but he has also shown a breadth of interests that Benedict doesn’t seem to have. And Francis has a genius for analogizing, an ability shiningly evident in his metaphors that say more than many a learned article. He is also acutely aware of contradictions, both in non-Catholics’ thinking and in Catholics’. And he has a heart.

  5. Ameila Snow Avatar
    Ameila Snow

    Apropos of everything, I appreciated Rocco’s exasperation at “both sides’ bloodlust for self-satisfied point-scoring that the ongoing ideological foodfight for “Catholic” supremacy” at Whispers in the Loggia.

  6. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    These ‘which pope is cleverer?’ debates do a disservice to both popes, I think, as do Magister’s remarks about ‘professor Ratzinger’s red pen’.

    I have no knowledge of Pope Benedict’s scholarly work. Some of his encyclicals and addresses are simply brilliant, but his popular publications – mostly those from Ignatius Press – are of extremely uneven quality. They were never intended for a scholarly audience – and Pope Benedict made that clear in writing them.

    But the public confuses, as Magister does, the same person writing as the leader of the Magisterium (as, for example, with Caritas in Veritate), from the one writing as a scholar (Die Geschichtstheologie des heiligen Bonaventura, St Bonaventure’s Historical Theology – which I have not read), from the popular writer (The Spirit of the Liturgy). Each was written for a different audience and to different standards. Recall, also, that Benedict hardly lived a life of ease and scholarly retirement and yet he managed to produce 60-some books, dozens of articles and addresses, encyclicals, etc. The gaffes in some of his popular books should be taken neither as the authoritative voice of scholarship nor as magisterial teaching; and I think they can be forgiven.

    Something similar goes for Pope Francis. He did not prepare his interview either as a papal teaching or ‘in partial fulfilment of the requirements’ for a degree. Setting him in opposition to his predecessor serves little purpose; in any case I think both would deny any opposition.

  7. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Thanks, Jonathan and agree – excellent points.

    If I may add, tho, it gets complicated because not just Magister and others conflate these things; so did and does the curia and bishops. Take the whole Benedict *reform in continuity* fiasco…..think of the hours of time spent on PTB analyzing, parsing, interpreting what he meant just in terms of liturgy.

    So, unfortunately, in both his role as head of the CDF and as pope (forever – 30+ years), his every comment, jotting, etc. was spun by one side and the other. The real disservice, IMO, is that anyone in such positions of authority have to be very clear about what they are doing not only in personal publications but also through apppointments.

    For example, Marini’s new book basically explains a historical reality from 1964-1980….the tension between the curia and VII liturgical reformers & territorial episcopal conferences. Too often, non-liturgy experts, folks with little pastoral experience resisted, delayed, or sabotuaged the reforms. One of the most striking thesis – Paul VI elevated Consilium to become the Congregation of Worship (separate from the Congregation of Rites). This allowed equal authority and reform moved forward with a huge amount of work. But, in 1975 Paul VI merged them back into the other congregation and by 1980 the reforms had stalled to a crawl (because the authority was no longer equal). (compare that to the second pope after Trent who formed the Congregation of Rites that lasted for 400+ years while effecting the Trentan liturgical reforms.

    So, you make an excellent point but would suggest that when you have unchallenged authority – that requires something more than the nuances/differences you elaborate in your middle paragraph.

    (think there is also divided opinion about his lack of a life of ease in writing – one valid complaint was the actual schedule he followed most days as pope which allowed him the luxury of time to write – is that really the role of the papal office?)

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