Rebellion Against the Pope Over the Latin Mass

Deal W. Hudson
November 6, 2007

From the Vatican comes news that resistance to Benedict XVI’s promotion of the Old Latin Mass is considered “rebellion against the pope.”

You may recall that on July 7, 2007, Benedict XVI released an Apostolic Letter called a motu proprio (because the pope wrote it “of his own accord” rather than using an advisor or member of the Vatican Curia). The letter, entitled Summorum Pontificum (“Of the Supreme Pontiffs,”) took the power away from bishops who want to continue to block the celebration of the Tridentine Mass – the normative Roman Catholic liturgy from 1570 to 1962.

Some bishops were not so happy about that. They, along with like-minded lay leaders, consider any return to the Old Latin Mass as a rejection of Vatican II reforms.

The permission to celebrate some parts of the Mass in the vernacular was one of the signal changes wrought at the 2nd Vatican Council. Of course, the original Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 1963), restricted the use of the vernacular to readings, directives, and some of the prayers and chants.

Over the next few years, however, bishops’ conferences around the world peppered the Vatican with requests for more use of the vernacular until, by 1970, many priests were no longer using Latin at all.

The entirely vernacular Mass was not what Vatican II espoused. So anyone who claims that Benedict XVI’s motu proprio “overthrows” the Council needs to go take another look at the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, section 36.

Archbishop Albert Ranjith Patabendige, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, in an interview with an Italian website, called upon bishops worldwide to follow the dictates of the papal letter which allows a local pastor to give permission to groups to celebrate the old liturgy using the 1962 Missal. Patabendige, a prelate from Sri Lanka, asked his fellow bishops to set “aside from all pride and prejudice.”

One bishop he may have had in mind was Bishop Raffaele Nogaro of Caserta, Italy, who canceled the Mass saying, “to mumble in Latin serves no purpose.”

Other bishops have not criticized the decision directly but have allowed their surrogates to speak for them. Fr. Peter Daly, writing in The Tidings, the official paper of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, writes:

Apart from the schismatic followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and a few young people who are nostalgic for a church they never knew, almost nobody is pressing for it. Nobody under the age of 55 even remembers the old Latin ritual.

And whose fault is that?

Certainly not the laity who have been raised in a post-1970 Catholic Church that stopped celebrating the Mass that had been the common experience of Catholics worldwide for nearly 400 years.

Thus, if you have never been to a Tridentine Mass you have not experienced the liturgy as it was known by St. Therese of Lisieux, John Henry Cardinal Newman, St. Frances de Sales, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Bernadette, St. Maximillan Kolbe, and Blessed John XXIII, to name only a very few.

Just looking at a list like that should make the uninitiated at least curious to experience that which fed the souls of these great saints.

This isn’t the first time that Archbishop Ranjith has publicly criticized bishops who are ignoring Benedict XVI’s wish that the Tridentine Mass be more widely celebrated. At an address to the Latin Liturgy Association last month in the Netherlands, Ranjith called those bishops “disobedient,” adding that they were being used as “instruments of the devil.”

Devil or not, we can be grateful for a member of the Vatican Curia who is willing to speak out in defense of the Holy Father on a matter that is clearly very dear to his heart.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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