What's it all about?

Well, you can read that in the header to this page.

We trying to redress the balance and put the other side.

Crittenden's Religion Report program, needs to be read with this corrective.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How he stirs the pot II

In our second piece, we look at the Religion Report Program from two Wednesday's ago (that preceeded our first posting below).

Stephen Crittenden got the...sorry...got a "Catholic view" of the issue of the change by Pope Benedict XVI of the Good Friday prayers for the conversion of the Jews in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite of the Mass.

So that we know who the interlocutor is, he is one Father John Pawlikowsky, whom Crittenden describes as "one of the most senior figures in the church, involved in dialogue with the Jews. In fact he's the international President of the Council of Christians and Jews". Okay, so we have a pretty good idea of where this is likely to take us, don't we...let's see:

Well you may remember the debate in the Catholic church last year when Pope Benedict reintroduced [Wrong. See our comments on the last post. "Liberated" / "confirmed the non-abolition of" would be more accurate. Or, to use the words of the Holy Father from the Apostolic Letter to the Bishops: "I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted." ] the old [note the common implication of the Modernist (i.e. Regressivist) mentality...anythiny OLD is BAD, anything NEW is GOOD] pre-Vatican II Latin missal [Presumably, Crittenden doesn't know - why doesn't he know?? - that all the official text of the Missal is in Latin because that's the normative language of the liturgy!] of 1962 in an effort to build bridges with Catholic traditionalists. [It's not entirely clear from the text, but if the implication here is that this is solely a sop to the Society of St Pius X (who, presumably are the "traditionalists" he refers to, given that the only traditionists really in existence are at the fringes of the church not in the heart of the Church...), then that's wrong too. More on that later. At this point the Pope's words are interesting: "We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church." Sounds like the Pope things there are traditionalists in the heart of the Church, too and, wethinks, he ought to know]

Critics were quick to point out that the old rite contained at least one prayer [To our knowledge there is only one prayer (consisting of two parts) that is in issue. Is it possible that Crittenden is reverencing somethingelse (eg the Office)?] , a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews, that used language which was really no longer acceptable. [Note how Crittenden simply imposes a judgment: of course, it's no longer acceptable because the views of the anti-Catholic within and outside the Catholic church deem it to be so, and this uncritical, irrational position, should and will be accepted by you, Dear Listener, because Crittenden saith it is so] This is it. [Gird your loins, Listeners...]

'Let us pray also for the Jews, that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts [Fr Z in the post below, reminds us that this is a direct biblical allusion. Not that Crittenden would INFORM you of that, of course.] and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. [would have thought that's fair enough] Almighty and everlasting God, you do not refuse your mercy even to the Jews [Clearly the "even" gets the Modernist's goat: it's better translated into English as "also"]. Hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people [a further direct biblical allusion. Not that Crittenden would INFORM you of that, of course.], so that they may acknowledge the light of your truth.'

Well that kind of language went out with [Crittenden's contempt is obvious, no?] the Second Vatican Council's declaration on the church's relation with non-Christians, called Nostrae Aetate. Mainstream Catholics [Behold, the men and women of straw have arrived. Those nasty traditionists couldn't possibily be "Mainstream Catholics" , could they dear Listener. No they do weird things like actually believe that the consecrated bread and wine are actually the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Shameful] these days [As opposed to the "Mainstream Catholics" of 1963 and any before who clearly had the wrong end of the stick] say a completely different prayer for the Jews on Good Friday that makes no mention of conversion. [Right, so Crittenden wants you to believe that Catholics no longer prayer for conversion in the Novus Ordo, the New Order of Mass. The prayer is:

"Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption."

So, it's clear to anyone who stops for a second that the prayer in the Novus Ordo is phrased in language that is seen as the diplomatic and open-ended. But, deliciously vague and open to interpretations that fudge the issue. You could argue with some validity: "No, Catholics don't pray for conversion" and much as you could that "Yes, Catholics still pray for conversion of the Jews." Except of course, the Pope reckons we still do. Catholics believe the "fullness of redemption" is Christ. Therefore Catholics pray that God will bring Jews to recognise Christ; how and when, Catholics don't presume to know. What Catholics do NOT do is force Christ upon anyone. That's not what Catholics understand Faith to be. Not that Crittenden would INFORM you of that.]

Well now Pope Benedict has dumped ["dumped", Listener] the prayer from the old Latin rite and written a third prayer, minus the offensive [yep, offensive. Bear in mind what Rabbi Rosen said about that in last week's blog entry: that it's not offensive, properly understood] language, but the language of conversion is back. [Oh, dear. Where did it go in the first place?] Now this may seem like a tiny technical matter, [yeah, right. Is this bloke the full quid?] only of interest to a few diehards [So, the vast majority of Catholics in communion with the Pope and faithful to the 2000 tradition of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, are "a few diehards" in Crittenden's view, with all the negative connotations that accompany that word. Whereas the "liberal" Catholics are okay, because, well, they're aren't TOO Catholic. And being TOO Catholic, is a problem for everyone else] who want to hang on to the Latin. [Crittenden wears his ignorance and idiocy on his sleeve] But it also opens an extremely interesting theological can of worms.

Father John Pawlikowsky is one of the most senior figures in the church, involved [We imagine the transcript inserts this comma where it don't belong] in dialogue with the Jews. In fact he's the international President of the Council of Christians and Jews. He says the way the Pope has addressed the Jewish prayer is quite inadequate. /font>

John Pawlikowsky: With some serious reflection, it could have been handled far better because any number of Jewish and Christian groups and inter-religious groups wrote to the Vatican well in advance, and there were also cardinals and bishops who wrote saying there was a problem here that needs addressing, if you're going to restore the prayers of the '62 missal. [So, even the Catholics are mis-representing the liberalisation of the 1962 missal, so what credibility should we attribute to the Rev Fr Pawlikowsky have on issues of the Ancient Rite of Mass? Evidently he knows something about relations with the Jewish Faith, but does he know diddly squat about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass? Let's see] And unfortunately he was very late in the game when they even began to take serious notice of the concerns.

Stephen Crittenden: Is the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the old Latin rite from 1962, just one small sign of what was wrong with the old rite, [And, dear Crittenden, what were the others? That it isn't Protestant enough? That it is too Catholic because it very clearly reflects a belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?] and why it needed to be reformed? Does the Jewish prayer reflect in fact, a mentality that's characteristic of the whole rite? [After much deliberation, we think Crittenden is trying to say that the Extraordinary Form is inherently offensive to the Jews, and - because he only wants to hint at it, without saying the A-word - is, in some fashion Antisemitic; is that it? Is that what he's saying?? If so, say so, in order that we know precisely where you stand]

John Pawlikowsky: Well it certainly reflects a theological position [The Rev Fr isn't going to be so ballsy is he?] with respect to the Jews and also I would say to other Christians and to people of other faith traditions, including Muslims and so on.
[If Rev Fr means that Catholics would only prayer for others conversion, then he is being misleading. Catholics pray for their own conversion first and foremost.
] There is a significant theological difference between the theological approach of the old rite over against the '70 missal. [Yep: the Tradtional Form is Catholic and the English translation of the 1970 Missal is so poor and unfaithful to the official Latin version of that same Missal, that you can make a case for just about any interpretation you care to] There are a number of articles in the international press by liturgists [DBe very wary of reading anything by a person who calls themself a "liturgist", Rev Fr, they usually have no understanding of what the Mass really is] who have pointed out that you can't blend the two, they're really quite distinct, and obviously Vatican II saw some problem with the old one or else they wouldn't have changed it. [Wrong, Rev Fr. Shouldn't you point out that the Fathers of Vatican 2 did not want the Mass completely re-written; the revision of the rites that the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy talks of is much more restrictive than what actually occured when Archbishop Bugnini took a sledge hammer to the Mass. Re-writing the evolving tradition of the Mass - what Pope Benedict calls a "fabricated" liturgy - was the role assumed by the Consilium lead by the Bugnini. NOW THAT, CRITTENDEN, WOULD be a story you could break: Crittenden exposes what really happened following Vatican 2 : the Men who highjacked the Council and ensured its wishes were never implemented] They wouldn't have voted to change it if they didn't think there was some difficulty. [The misrepresentation here is astonshing: presumably the reference to people "voting", refers to the Constitution the Fathers of the Second Vatican council voted for and adopted. They also wanted Latin to be retained in the Latin Rite, Gregorian Chant to have pride of place in liturgy all other things being equal and said nothing about ripping out high altars or turning the priest to face the congregation (ie away from the East). But, hey, those kinds of facts would distroy the illusion, so let's not tell anyone about that, but keep the laity in the dark, because they don't and shouldn't read the documents of the Second Vatican Council for themselves should they]

Stephen Crittenden: So what's your response then to this new prayer that the Pope has created for the updated Latin rite? [We don't think Crittenden would get the irony of this phrase]

John Pawlikowsky: Well first of all, I personally can't see any need for it. We have a Latin version of the '70 prayer, it would have been the most simple thing in the world to have used that. [Make you're job a little easier, eh, Rev Fr? Might the Pope just see that it fudges the issue and wants to clarify it. Stay tuned, because the '70 prayer might change too, before too long. No wouldn't that throw the cat amongst the proverbial] That prayer, one has to say, has a certain ambiguity [No, it's a "fudge", Rev Fr, a "fudge"] which reflects the ambiguity of even Nostrae Aetate [ah, is the Rev Fr using "even" ironically here?? "even the Jews"?] [So, is the Rev Fr implying there is virtue in avoiding the issue??] regarding the whole question of you put the Jewish-Christian relationship together, theologically, from a Catholic perspective, and how mission might fit into that. [Wethinks Rev Fr is trying to say: Catholics don't know whether they should require, seek or pray for the conversion fo the Jews. On that score, he'd be right]

Stephen Crittenden: Some people might say [those famous weasel words] that's the genius of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews in the modern rite, that it sidesteps the question so neatly. [And there is also an argument that the "genius" is the folly of the modern prayer. Let's see what the Rev Fr thinks?]

John Pawlikowsky: Well I think what it did was Vatican II was not in a position to solve that issue. [But, Father, that's not Crittenden tells us? He said V2's Nostrae Aetate changed all that old understanding and opened the doors for the modern world to come into the Catholic Church!] What it did say very clearly and decisively is that the old theology was no longer acceptable. [If he means that an unauthentic (mis)interpretation of Catholic Theology was unacceptable, he's right, and it remains unacceptable. But it's a bit misleading to say one illinformed racist view, constitutes the "old" theology of the Church] Now what kind of new formulation of the Jewish Christian relationship theologically, should replace it, is a matter I think that theologians have to work on over a number of years, and in a sense, the ambiguity of the '70 prayer, left that open as a possibility, [Well, a bit more than "a possiblity" Rev Fr, because most Catholics and non-Catholics seem to think that we don't pray for conversion of the Jews anymore, so the drafters of the 1970 prayer were very successful in their aim] but it's a much more positive, appreciative prayer for the Jews, recognising what Nostrae Aetate did say very decisively, that Jews remain a part of the covenantal tradition. [Rev Fr, that's a bit simplistic ain't it. See the text of Nostrae Aetate below for yourselves] This one though, the terrible language [Rev Fr, you should know better than this] of the '62 prayer has been eliminated by the Pope and that is a step forward. Nonetheless, its whole emphasis is on conversion, and that is such a sensitive issue with Jews. [And here, finally, is the issue: Some Jews, don't like the fact that the Catholic Church prays for their conversion and always has, as it is has been part of Catholic faith from Apostolic times. That, of course, is not to dismisss that huge sensitivies felt by many Jews about what conversion means, and the "forced conversions" and other sordid episodes in both Church and World history that remain so clearly in Jewish memory. However, there are ways to address this, without inventing a new theology that is not what the Church has inherited.]Frankly, many Jews see that as a way of ultimately killing off the Jewish community. [WELL, has the Rev Fr gone just a little over the edge or what?? Is the implication here that Catholics are killers of the Jews??? Or, are we not to take the REv Fr's words literally, but interpreting it to mean the Catholic Church has sought to kill Jewish faith and culture? If the former, then we suggest this Catholic who is "International President of the Council of Christians and Jews" should spend a little time disabusing such Jews of such outrageous interpretations. If he hasn't, why not?]

Stephen Crittenden: Let's go back [No, please don't press the Rev Fr on the outrageous claim he just made, Crittenden, please don't do that] to the point you just made a few moments ago, that the Pope could have used a Latin translation of the prayer that mainstream Catholics [again] say on Good Friday in the modern rite. But he didn't do that, in the end he wrote a third prayer. It seems obvious that he was up to something; [Of course, Crittenden wants you to think the the Pope and leader of the Church is plotting behind the backs of the real church: ie the modernists, protestants and pseudo-Catholics who make up the real church. Oh, please, Crittenden.] what do you think it was he was up to?

John Pawlikowsky: Yes, and you know, Cardinal Bertoni, the Secretary of State, towards the end of the Summer, had given us some hope ["Us" Catholics, or "Us" with modernist agendas?] that that would be the solution. That didn't happen, as you say. Look, I can't read the Pope's mind and heart, I don't know exactly what he had in mind here. [Right, so why speculate, then? In any case, does the Rev Fr speak to anyone in the Vatican, perchance, especially given his important position in the Church? Does he read any commentary on the issue or speak to anyone, perchance, given he is "one of the most senior figures in the church, involved in dialogue with the Jews". You get the feeling that the Council of Christians and Jews is a voluntary interest group with no official status within the Church from this commentary] I think the general feeling [Ah yes, the General Feeling; She's a first cousin to Some People Might Say, dear Listener] is that the people who are in favour of the '62 missal don't really regard the '70 missal with great admiration, and therefore simply do not want anything taken or imported from the '70 missal into the '62 missal. [Here the Rev Fr is partially right, but not for the reasons he thinks (or at least implies). A big issue is whether the Holy Father's decision to change the Good Friday Prayer is a good thing for what it implies about change to the venerable liturgical tradition represented in the Extraordinary Form. Commentary by bloggers on Fr Z's site for instances indicates a worry that if the Pope changes this kind of prayer, what else could be changed by Popes who are less inclined to fulsome understanding of the Church's liturgical tradition. Yes, Listeners, there are some of those too!!!] Now to what extent the Pope personally shares some of those views, is anyone's guess.

Stephen Crittenden: Are we talking about the church holding or appearing to hold, simultaneously, two incompatible theologies? [Ok, Crittenden, ok, you've finally asked a good question. If the answer is "yes", let's hope you go on to ask "why" and "what's really motivating this?]

John Pawlikowsky: Well, that's my contention, that in a sense there's a significant difference between the theologies that under-gird the new prayer and the one that under-girds the prayer of the '70 missal. And I've said this any number of times in more dramatic ways or more sober ways, but you know, the church looks like it's speaking from the two sides of its mouth, though it's put a little more gingerly. It's speaking with two voices that are not really compatible, and therefore I think its integrity in terms of the dialogue with Jews, is compromised. [Okay, so the implication is also that dialogue amongst Catholics is also compromised. Does the Catholic Church believe what it always has (1962 Missal) or has there been a radical change (1970 Missal)? If the answer is yes, how did this happen, who authorised it, why are people telling us something different, and how can that position be justified?] I mean the Jewish community can rightly ask, Well which of the theologies really pertains to us? [We dare say the Catholic community would ask the same question Rev Fr] And the difficulty now is, you know many people say, Well don't worry about this because only a small number of people are going to celebrate the liturgy with the '62 missal. [And Rev Fr, who are saying this?] That may be true in terms of numbers, but we're already seeing bloggers and so on, conservative bloggers, [Darn pests they are, aren't they Father, making it difficult for all the Regressivist Modernist Hippies in charge of the Church who want it stuck firmly in the 1960s] saying 'Oh now see, the Pope himself has put his stamp on this theology.' Whereas the theology of the '70 missal only has the stamp of Vatican II. [It doesn't have even the stamp of V2, Rev Fr, you ought to know that and say so]

Stephen Crittenden: And so where does that leave 40 years of Jewish-Christian dialogue? [That's a relevant question] Where does it leave people like you? [That's not a relevant question]

John Pawlikowsky: Well I would say confused to some extent, uncertain as to where to go. But I would say also determined to carry on. I mean, this is what we're seeing in the interchange among those of us who have been involved in dialogue for many years. There is a resilient spirit here that we will not give in easily, [It's an issue of power isn't it, Rev Fr. The Modernist Hippy Clergy, always conceived it thus, and they will contineu to act that way] and that the vision of Vatican II [Oh, oh: so not only only do we have to contended with a "Spirit of Vatican II" that does not exist and isn't even in the agreed documents - what Pope Benedict calls a "hermeutic of rupture" (intepreting the Council as though it created a new Church ruptured from the 2000 year tradition of all that went before it - we have "vision of Vatican II" as well - what the duece could that mean??] as expressed in Nostrae Aetate, must be continued and must be expressed, not only in theology but also in prayer. [We wonder if the irony hits the Rev Fr: "lex orandi, lex credendi" - the law of prayer is the law of faith - a mantra that those in favour of the traditional form of Mass like to use to say: "If we believe what we always believe, how could you deny us the form of Mass we always used"] I mean our colleague, [Sr] Dr Mary Boys, made a very, very telling point which I think very much moved many in the Jewish community, that on Good Fridays should we praying for the conversion of Jews, or should we be praying for the conversion from our long history of Christian anti-Semitism. [Okay, see the previous post for the links to the Jewish prayers that reflect a certain Anti-Catholicism and anti-other things that haven't got a wide airing for some inexplicable reason.] I mean, I think it's a good question.

Stephen Crittenden: Yes. This is such an interesting theological grey area however. I wonder whether it was inevitable that Pope Benedict would want to resolve it.

John Pawlikowsky: Well see I don't think he has resolved it, that's the point. [No, he hasn't resovled it yet because the 1970 Missal and 1962 Missal still differ, but when the 1970 Missal prayer changes too, he still won't have resolved it in your mind, Rev Fr, because he hasn't said what you want him to say. That's the point, isn't it, Rev Fr]

Stephen Crittenden: That's right.

John Pawlikowsky: And he can't resolve it just by going and sitting down and writing a prayer in a couple of weeks. I mean true dialogue involves communication with people. [So, the Rev Fr, seriously thinks - or wants us to think - that this ultra-consultative pope who has been severely criticised for not moving quickly on anything precisly because he consults so thoroughly is actually a hermit speaking to no-one about such important issues? This beggars belief.] One of the frustrating things frankly about Pope Benedict's approach to dialogue is that it's very heady, it's very theoretical, and yet the 1974 or '75 Vatican guidelines, however you name them, says among the most important points that Catholics should come to know Jews as they understand themselves. Authentic dialogue is a dialogue among people, not just the dialogue of the head, and I think it's important that the Pope comes to hear and understand how conversion, the idea of conversion and prayer for conversion, which then can inevitably lead to concrete programming for conversion, how that impacts the Jewish community that has experienced the Holocaust, that has experienced anti-Semitism and so on. I mean you want the stuff of authentic dialogue, and this is what seems to me to be missing with his approach. And I don't know, perhaps we can break through this. I mean I said back in 2001 in a talk at the University of Cambridge, that I thought that conversion was the issue that was lurking in the shadows, was hiding under the table and one day would have to be addressed in a more forthright way. [About this, the Rev Fr is right: Do Catholics pray for the conversion of the Jews or not? But wethinks, Rev Fr knows the answer is "yes" we do, but doesn't like the answer he's hearing] Many of my own colleagues in the dialogue said "Oh no, the Catholic church has given up trying to convert Jews". [And, pray tell, Rev Fr, who told them that? Where did they get that impression? The usual modernist, hippy hierarchy that passes for the name the "Episcopal Conference of such and such" we suppose] Well I wasn't so sure, and unfortunately [Right, we know we know where you stand. Can Crittenden let us hear the authentic Catholic voice please??] in a way, I've been proven correct by this situation. And now it's on the table, and I don't know, we have to try to find constructive ways to deal with it.

Stephen Crittenden: I'm sure many people would find it difficult to get their heads around the idea that Jesus didn't come to convert the Jews. [Applause, Crittenden, but why leave this one until last??]

John Pawlikowsky: Well I mean here is where you get into a very, very complex area. [Ah, Rev Fr, the question is not that complex really] There is a whole new growing body of scholarly literature done essentially by biblical scholars, that really quite changes our understanding of how Jesus related to the Jewish community of his time. [So, you have in mind the Pope's dialogue with the Jews in his book on the historical Jesus, "Jesus of Nazareth"??] There's an increasing number of scholars, very reputable New Testament scholars, who are saying "There is no evidence that Jesus ever intended to found a separate religious institution in his own lifetime", [As, we said, modernists, protestants, Christian atheists, Jews, Roman Protestants, you name them, they're there. The thing we don't get is why on earth do they continue to call themselves "Catholic". Listerners, you just heard a Catholic priest on the payroll imply that Christ did not found a separate religious institution. Why is this guy still a Cathlolic priest?] and that we see now that the linkage between Judaism and Christianity went on for several centuries, and we can no longer say that there was any kind of split, let alone a definitive split, in Jesus' own lifetime. Well if that becomes the norm [Highly unlikely, Rev Fr, highly unlikely, and for good reason: it ain't true] for the understanding of the early period, then that changes the whole idea of how "Jesus wanted to convert Jews". So I mean there's a whole new [Remember, dear Listener, NEW IS GOOD, OLD IS BAD] body of scholarship out there. I realise that that's probably a large majority [majorities are usually large aren't they?], not the vast majority ordinary Christians would say a definite "Yes" to your original statement here. But I think we need to help people understand that some of these simplistic ideas simply don't hold up on the scholarly level any more. [So your simplistic thoughts are not simplistic, but 2000 years of understanding is. Thanks for your wisdom and insight, Rev Fr. Reminds us of what the Holy Father said in his Apostolic Letter on Summorum Pontificum about the rumours of liberalisation of the 1962 Missal: "News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown."]

Stephen Crittenden: See how a tiny prayer opens on to everything. Father John Pawlikowsy, and we'll have a Jewish view on this story next week.

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