Roman Holiday Tour v The Liturgical Mystery Tour

Pope Benedictus XVIImage via Wikipedia
Recent news on the papal visit to the UK and yes,,, now even the language of  the Masses being celebrated is a source of controversy !!

The fact that the Pope has chosen to say the Eucharistic prayer in Latin is utterly incomprehensible to me. He didn't use Latin when he visited the USA - so why is he using Latin in the UK ?? 

He has recently released a major new initiative for New Evangelisation, a term coined to go and re-evangelize peoples and cultures that have been baptized Christian and left the faith. Western countries are the targets.
How can the pope expect  to be actively engaging  in evangelization of people, many of whom believe that secular atheism is the path to an enlightened and happy life by choosing to speak in a language most of them have no idea about ?  
 As long as Europeans – or anyone else – perceive the Church as an oppressor of women, gays, and dissidents, it is unlikely to generate much sympathetic attention and having part of a Papal Mass in Latin is even more likely to disengage them from his message.
Jesus taught people, using parables . . . always in the context of his immediate relationship with people.
He connected with a person or crowd first, then mingled in some appropriate, often challenging, teaching.
Person first, preferably in their own everyday language !!
Sometimes I think the Vatican have no grasp of PR. 

You can read the account of the details  here and I recommend reading the comments section  where there is a  debate of the rights and wrongs of Latin versus English i.e. the vernacular is the common language of the country in which it is celebrated  for those who may not know.

In this section I find myself in agreement with the comments of Graham Wilson who says
"Ahh.. the politics of liturgy.
Perhaps the organisers want to avoid endorsing the continued use of the 1973 liturgy. They know they can’t use the controversal, unfinished and unreleased 2010 one, so they just use the incomprehensible and “universal” Latin.

By the way, someone needs to inform Mgr Conroy that there are far, far, far more Catholics around the world who understand English than Latin. And this is a papal visit to the UK, not a ceremony in Rome. 

How does the use of Latin improve everyone’s emotional, spiritual and intellectual involvement in the papal litugy? 

Or does he want the participants and TV viewers, by default, to become mere spectators of the lovely Latin liturgy?

The signals are most unfortunate: English (Welsh and Gaelic too) is not a language worthy of a papal liturgy. What does that say about any papal attempt to identify or connect with the inhabitants of the islands using their languages in his liturgy? 

Does the decision to use Latin undermine the message he brings to the UK and help reinforce the notion that the papacy and Catholicism are intrinsically foreign?
It’s not a smart move in my opinion."
and I agree with Anthony Ruff OSB where he says :
"It might be helpful to recall the properly Christian meaning of “mystery,” as used eg. by St. Paul, in contrast to the ‘pagan’ meaning of the term in the world religions. In Christianity, ‘mystery’ is that which is fully revealed, utterly close to us, fully accessible to us, but inexhaustible in meaning. 
We can never understand it fully and we will always discover more, though it is made completely available to us. This contrasts with other meanings of ‘mystery’ as “hidden, far removed, inaccessible, unknowable, mysterious, exotic,” etc.
The argument for vernacular is that it conveys the Christian sense of mystery – not because we understand everything entirely, but because everything is made accessible to us.
As much as I love the Latin language and treasure a common Christian bond across cultures and eras, I see a great danger that the liturgical use of Latin might bring a reversion to non-Christian meanings of ‘mystery’ and the diminishment of central Christian understandings."

 I found this blog post here from the excellent Catholicism Wow Blog refreshing and well written on the subject of the vernacular.
It comes from a young  chaplain called Max who describes himself as an English Catholic serving the Church in the South-East of England. 
He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology from the University of London, is a Liturgist, and organist.  He says : 

"The Mass should offer a clear understanding to those who hear the mass, as well as being the words of worship for the whole Church, it should be catechetical so that all who hear it may understand the theology of the Catholic Church."

Max has a second post here which also discusses the use of language and has interesting and contrasting comments with no rancour !!

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1 comment:

Tim said...

Phil, as a communications professional, I can answer a resounding "Yes"--the Vatican's PR strategy is bonkers. (I loathe saying that so bluntly, though, as I'm not a Catholic.) But if the Pope were a client, I'd advise him to consider his audience above his agenda. Whatever strategy is driving this decision, it won't work if he doesn't connect with his listeners. Alienation never ends in consensus.

What's the old proverb? A leader without followers is just a man taking a walk.