In the July 24 bulletin, Deacon Dean reflects on Vatican II.
He begins by framing his view of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form (aka the Latin Mass), through the fifty-year-old Vatican II. By Church standards, 50 years is the blink of an eye. Vatican II, as everyone knows, is controversial primarily because of the enormous upheaval that the Church experienced in the years afterward. There are endless arguments about Vatican II, both for and against the changes that resulted. To read the actual documents go here. It is important to know what these documents say because they have often been interpreted in ways that do not reflect the intent.
Deacon Dean states, "One purpose of the Council was to make the Church more truly catholic or universal." I cannot find within the writings of the Second Vatican Council any such purpose. The Church, by its very genesis as founded by Jesus Christ, is, was, and always will be universal. This is clearly stated in the documents. That is a presupposition that all Catholics should understand and be able to clearly articulate.
The Church cannot be more universal; it can only express its divinely-authorized universality in ways akin to St. Paul's statement, "I became all things to all men, that I might save all." (I Cor. 9:22) It is important to understand the difference between a Church that is universal by nature of its divine founding, and a Church that needs to become more 'truly catholic or universal'. One is correct in its Tradition, in the Magisterium, in its proclamation of Truth and law. The other is deficient.
Deacon Dean goes on to say, "...the Catholic Church became too entrenched in a single culture (Latin, rooted in the Roman Empire) to be really universal." Again, he is mistaking the divinely held universal nature of the Catholic Church for the expression of it in human affairs. This is a significant error.
Then our pastor goes on to say, "The Church ought not to be stuck as [a] single-cultural institution, using a dead language of an ancient and irrelevant empire." The Catholic Church has never been a single-cultural institution. Latin, as the Church's universal language, served (and often still serves) as a unifying factor at masses all over the world. Latin is also the basis for numerous languages, including English, of which about 70 percent is based upon Latin. The study of Latin is heralded in academia. While it is no longer the spoken language of any nation, to say it is dead is hyperbole. It is inextricably intertwined in the language and cultures of many nations.
Also, to suggest that the Roman culture is irrelevant is breathtakingly arrogant. The Roman Empire remains one of the most influential cultures to have arisen in human history. It's customs, writings, political system, and military prowess continue on in those of modern nations, most notably the political system of the United States.
Deacon Dean then cites the following regarding Vatican II, "Ironically, in 1900 about 2/3 of all Catholics resided in the northern hemisphere and 1/3 in the southern, and in 2000, those statistics reversed. The Second Vatican Council changed the Church into the global body it is today. Its impact was massive."
To state the obvious: Vatican II did not occur until 1962, more than halfway into the century, yet our pastor credits the Council by citing statistics from 1900-2000! It would be much more accurate to state statistics from the 1960s to 2000. I wonder why he did not. In fact, one could probably make a statistical case for the fallout from Vatican II as a reason for the decline in Catholic identity in the northern hemisphere! Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Finally, Deacon Dean says, "...for some, having a Latin Mass is like running a confederate flag up the pole, symbolizing a protest against the accomplishments of Vatican II." This statement is needlessly provocative and one can hardly imagine anyone in our parish feeling that way.
This is how our Holy Father characterizes such a view: "I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It's impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent." (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millenium)
Also, Deacon Dean characterizes the Latin Mass as a "bygone tradition." Not so. Not according to our Pope, and to Catholics the world over who attend Latin Masses. It is truly sad that Vatican II is being used in such a way as to characterize Mass in the Extraordinary Form as anything other than a continuity with the Church past, present, and future.
UPDATE: Go here for some more commentary on the Deacon's article.
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