Monday, July 17, 2017

Traditionalists Attack Summorum Pontificum

Any traditionalist reading the title of this post will definitely accuse me of losing my mind. Traditionalists feel that Summorum Pontificum - which opened up the Traditional Latin Mass to the entire Church - was probably the most important and significant document in the last 50 years. They would never attack it! And yet, that is exactly what they do.

This is quite apparent from a blog post by Father John Zuhlsdorf in which he quotes from a sermon given by Fr. Richard Cipolla, pastor of St. Mary’s in Norwalk, Connecticut. I have actually been to St. Mary's for a conference on the Mass and have heard Father Cipolla speak. This was several years ago when I was still a strong supporter of traditionalists. The conference had a couple of different speakers, and I remember one speaker who praised Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre as an unsung hero and saint who saved the TLM from extinction. I also remember Father Cipolla reluctantly excusing himself from the conference because he had to go celebrate that "other Mass", rolling his eyes in disgust as he made this comment.

These two attitudes seem to have only hardened among the traditionalists at St. Mary's if we are to judge by Father Cipolla's words. The sermon is supposedly in praise and celebration of the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. Yet, if you read the Motu Proprio and the Letter to The Bishops accompanying it, you will be hard pressed to link these documents with the ideas and positions in Father Cipolla's sermon.

Pope Benedict XVI gave us Summorum Pontificum to prevent a large scale schism in the Church, as he wrote in the Letter to the Bishops:
I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. 
It was Pope Benedict's hope that Summorum Pontificum would unite the Church.  This is not how the traditionalists see it, and unification is certainly not the goal of Father Cipolla.  Father Cipolla described his understanding of Summorum Pontificum as follows:
It freed the Church from the terrible bonds of a deliberately modern liturgy imposed in a most un-Catholic way a liturgical form based on personal rationalizations that claimed to be based on scholarship.  
Whoa!!  The accusations and condemnations contained in this short statement by Father Cipolla are mind boggling, especially coming from a priest who promised obedience to the Church.  I don't think that defining Summorum Pontificum as an instrument that "freed the Church from the terrible bonds of a deliberately modern liturgy imposed in a most un-Catholic way" will result in "an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church" as Pope Benedict desired.  This statement by Father Cipolla seems deliberately designed to set traditionalists in direct opposition to the rest of the Church.

Father Cipolla makes it very clear that he believes the Ordinary Form of the Mass needs to be relegated to the trash heap.  He attacks the Ordinary Form of the Mass as "a liturgical form based on personal rationalizations that claim to be based on scholarship."  Does this in any way conform with the ideas and principles of the Motu Proprio?  Hardly.

In his accompanying letter to the bishops, Pope Benedict wrote:
There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. . .The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.
This statement by Pope Benedict completely rejects the condemnation leveled at the New Mass by Father Cipolla.  Pope Benedict upholds equally the validity and sacredness of both forms of the Mass. Father Cipolla sees the New Mass as an artificial construct foisted upon the faithful in order to destroy the faith.

Secondly, by saying that Summorum Pontificum "freed the Church from . . . a liturgical form based on personal rationalizations that claimed to be based on scholarship", Father Cipolla is attacking the credibility and intentions of Blessed Pope Paul VI, who gave us the New Mass, and of all others who helped to put it together, which includes many bishops and priests. Father Cipolla claims this was "imposed" on the Church "in a most un-Catholic way." Father Cipolla is upset that the Ordinary Form of the Mass was deliberately created.  He thinks the Mass is only real if it just sort of comes about over periods of hundreds of years.  But the world in the early 1960's was in a crisis, and could not wait hundreds of years for a new Mass to serve its needs.

The TLM is a beautiful liturgy. But it is most definitely Eurocentric. Everything about it is from European culture, from the language - Latin - to the heavy vestments to the music and even the architecture of the churches. The world needed a Mass that could be made relevant to all cultures. Traditionalists seem to believe that God is white European. The Church, in her great wisdom guided by the Holy Spirit, says that God doesn't belong to any one culture but to all cultures. Why can't the Mass use vestments that reflect the culture in which it is celebrated? Why can't it use the music of different cultures? Why is the organ the only instrument that can be used in the Mass?  Why is Latin the only language that can be used in the Mass?  Does God speak only Latin?

Traditionalists remind me of Michal, the wife of David, when she condemned David for the way he celebrated when the Ark of God was brought to Jerusalem. II Samuel 6:
16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

For the traditionalist, sacredness is only what they consider to be sacred.  But out Lord doesn't consider the outward actions as much as what is going on in our hearts.  Plus, I am not a Church historian, but I can say that the Church has never been a democracy. The Magesterium makes decrees, and the faithful are obligated to follow them. Matthew 16:18-19.

Father Cipolla also makes it very clear that he, like Father John Zuhlsdorf, rejects Pope Benedict's statement that the two Masses are two forms of the same rite.  In the Motu Proprio, Pope Benedict wrote:
These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.
In his letter to the bishops, Pope Benedict wrote:
It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.
Father Cipolla stands in defiant rejection of these statements of the Supreme Pontiff, showing great hubris with the following:
The document itself is flawed, with its artificial creation of two forms of the Roman Rite, with its talk of a coetus, a group of the faithful who go to the bishop or pastor and ask for the Traditional Roman rite.
Not only does he reject Pope Benedict's plain statement that the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form are "one rite", but Father Cipolla hates the fact that he is not allowed to take his parish in any direction that he wishes, but instead, he must first clear it with his bishop.  This attitude is a direct result of his rejection of the Ordinary Form as a valid and sacred Mass.

Father Cipolla tells us that the TLM is "God given" while the Ordinary Form of the Mass is the result of "committees":
The Orthodox believe that the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the Liturgy of St. Basil are God-given. And I would dare to say that the same is true for the Traditional Roman Mass. It is God-given. It developed in the womb of the Church like a pearl in an oyster. It has nothing to do with committees or consilia appointed to invent a new form of Mass that has relevance only to those who wrote the texts, whether on a napkin in Trastevere or in an office in the Vatican.
Father Cipolla then tells us:
The irrelevancy of the Catholic Church is this post-modern age is in great part due to the irrelevancy of a liturgy invented in the modern age and now already obsolete in the post-modern age of freedom defined by the naked self.
Oh, really??  The New Mass is the reason so many have left the Church?  The sexual abuse crisis has nothing to do with the "irrelevancy" of the Catholic Church?  The horrendous abuses that occurred in places like Ireland have nothing to do with people rejecting the Catholic Church?  And what about the fact that in the western cultures, ALL religions are being rejected.  The fastest growing religion in our culture is "None."  It isn't just the Catholic Church that is suffering.  All belief in God has been affected. But you wouldn't know it by the hubris-filled statements of Father Cipolla and other traditionalists.

Father Cipolla then tells his fellow traditionalists that they must "evangelize":
We cannot retreat from the sad situation in the liturgical life of the Church and therefore in the very life of the Church. We must not hunker down and do our own traditional thing and consign everyone one else to some terrible boring and bland version of the Eucharistic liturgy and thank God that we celebrate the real thing. We must evangelize, my friends.
This is as far as one can possibly get from the true spirit of Summorum Pontificum. Remember, Pope Benedict gave us this document in order to unify the Church. He did not do this so that traditionalists could stand in judgment of everyone else and condemn them for accepting the Ordinary Form of the Mass, claiming that only traditionalists "celebrate the real thing" while the rest of us have this "terrible boring and bland version of the Eucharistic liturgy."

Father Cipolla ends his sermon making it unmistakably clear that he completely rejects Summorum Pontificum and its call for unity with the following statement:
Together we look forward to the time when the Traditional Roman Mass will once again be the Ordinary Form of the Mass. May this be the will of God.
Father John Zuhlsdorf gave "Father Z kudos" to Father Richard Cipolla for this travesty of a sermon. He says, "Fr. Cipolla is right to call people to action."  Father Zuhlsdorf also completely rejects Summorum Pontificum.

Father Richard Cipolla, Father John Zuhlsdorf and all of the traditionalists who think like them are actually promoting rebellion and disobedience to the Magesterim of the Church.  They have completely twisted the meaning and intention of Summorum Pontificum to be not a document that unites the Church, but one that is a weapon used to destroy everything and everyone who does not accept the TLM as the one and only true Mass.

The traditionalist movement wants desperately to destroy the Ordinary Form of the Mass.  They don't seem to care that this Mass is accepted and honored by the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The traditionalists don't care that Mary, the angels and saints are at this Mass and that bread and wine are changed into the Body, Blood and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  They are convinced it is evil and must be wiped from the face of the earth.

I know Pope Benedict released Summorum Pontificum with all of the best intentions.  Summorum Pontificum is actually a very beautiful document that, used correctly, can result in great unity in the Church.  But sadly, Summorum Pontificum resulted in the release of a dangerous and deadly movement that is threatening the souls of untold numbers of people.



  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following link:

    1. I really hope no one is foolish enough to send so much as a dime to Voris. He always has enemies he is fighting. It is never about love, mercy or compassion. It is always about destroying a person or organization. He even wants to destroy the Catholic Church and rebuild it in his own image. He is a sick, sick man. Pray for him, but stay away and do not give him money.

  2. Pope Benedict was moved by the Holy Ghost to write Summorum Pontificum. The issue is that it did not go far enough. Benedict clearly wished that all Catholics would be instructed in Catholic Tradition; after all, Tradition represents who we are as a Faith. Also, he clearly wished that all seminarians were schooled in the TLM and in the knowledge of Latin. This is consistent with the widely-ignored instruction in "Veterum Sapientia" (Feb. 22, 1962), directing the teaching of Latin, and Greek if possible, in seminaries.

    The Novus Ordo is clearly a political Mass, however, developed to garner favor with Protestants (none of whom, however, ran to the Catholic Church to join, save some Anglicans). It has elements of sacredness and, under the Doctrine of Indefectibility, we must believe that it can lead to holiness, and to the receipt of Christ in the Eucharist. However, the NO is entirely unworthy to replace the TLM, the vessel within which the Catholic Church has existed for millennia. Much literature discusses this, including some by Michael Davies. Do not be misled that whatever an institution embraces as its own ceremonial means that it exceeds all others. The Catholic Church should not be a banana republic to alter its mass based on whatever pontiff exists. What of the deposit of faith? One must belief that, as many young seminarians and priests now believe, that Benedict sought to have the TLM revealed in a way that all Catholics would come to insist on its use. In fact, that is slowly happening, notwithstanding the stranglehold placed on the of the TLM by many, many bishops.

    1. I guess, like all good traditionalists, you hate Summorum Pontificum. SP clearly upholds the validity and sacredness of the "Novus Ordo" and you refuse to accept it. You are not in agreement with Pope Benedict or the Magesterium of the Catholic Church.

  3. Catholic in Brooklyn, hold your nose and check out the following link:

    Um, would it be too uncharitable to call Michael Voris a "jerk"?

    1. I don't think the label "jerk" conveys the seriousness of Voris's actions. "Jerk" means stupid. Voris is a danger to the faith, trying to divide Catholics and turn them against the Magesterium. It is alarming that Catholics give their money to him.

    2. Catholic in Brooklyn, remember when Jay Leno used to make fun of former President George W. Bush on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"? Bill Maher claimed that Leno's mocking failed to show how deceptive Dubya was. Catholic in Brooklyn, do you think any comedians who are relatively mainstream will be publicly mocking Michael Voris in the near future?

    3. Not a chance, Voris means nothing to anyone outside of the conservative/traditional Catholic circles. He truly is a tiny minnow in the ocean.

  4. "The TLM ... is most definitely Eurocentric. Everything about it is from European culture, from the language - Latin - to the heavy vestments to the music and even the architecture of the churches. The world needed a Mass that could be made relevant to all cultures. Traditionalists seem to believe that God is white European. The Church, in her great wisdom guided by the Holy Spirit, says that God doesn't belong to any one culture but to all cultures. Why can't the Mass use vestments that reflect the culture in which it is celebrated? Why can't it use the music of different cultures? Why is the organ the only instrument that can be used in the Mass? Why is Latin the only language that can be used in the Mass?"

    Yeah, well it's not called the Roman Catholic Church, or Roman rite, for nothing.

    And they can, and do, and have done.

    There are plenty of Christian, mass celebrating Churches claiming apostolic descent and with valid sacraments which do not and never have used the Tridentine rite. There is also a long list of non-Roman rite churches in active communion with Rome as well.

    So, your implied premise is defective in the first place.

    Thus, between Orthodox churches (e.g., Orthodox Tewahedo mass) and Eastern Rite Catholic churches, someone who is determined enough ought to be able find a little Christian dancing and drumming and emotionalism somewhere.

    But, apparently that is not enough: and what you see the world as really needing is a Roman Rite that is not Roman or even European in sensibility.

    But, if we take your implied argument seriously, we then grant that "cultures" justify the form of the mass because of some inherent preference of the people expressing that culture [if that is not saying it backwards and speciously reifying culture]. If as a result, an appetite for, say joyous japing, or demonstrative hand flapping, were justified on the bases of "taste" called "culture", then it stands to reciprocal reason that one could conclude that the contrary is equally well culturally justified by the same axiom. Sway and hand flap if you want because it's part of your culture. Scorn swaying hand flapping if you want because it is self-indulgent, misdirected and distracting to others.

    Your contentions laid out plainly like that, we see that you have in essence cut the legs out from under your own argument.

    Their culture justifies this, mine justifies that; and, we both get what we want: with me over here with a sense of the sacred precincts, you, over there, with your humid emotional release.

    That said ... it was nice to see you lay out what is usually an elided or merely insinuated rationale, so plainly.

    Even if your reasoning was, and is, defective.

    1. So we have to become Roman, i.e, European, to be saved? We are called Roman because that is where the Vatican is. But I guarantee you that God is not Roman.


    2. "So we have to become Roman, i.e, European, to be saved? "

      You are engaging in a deliberate attempt at misdirection.

      It was you who mooted that the changing the Roman rite liturgy of the mass was justified on the basis of adapting to non-European cultures.

      I pointed out that there were already many non-Roman rite Catholic churches having non-TLM masses; and in addition there were many Christian churches with what the Vatican says are valid masses and sacraments.

      Therefore: If one feels compelled to beat a drum or hop around while one "worships", there are plenty of places and ways for one to do it other than by insinuating ones self into a Roman rite church and then demanding that change because "culture".

      That privilege of culture and taste sword you attempt to wield, has cut off your own argument at the knees.

      But you knew that and that is why you attempted to deflect from the point.

    3. But what of those in other cultures who are Roman Catholic and want to remain so? Why must they be forced to conform to European standards? Why must God be worshipped only in European style? Look at nature. God is a God of great variety. Birds go from the mighty Eagle to hummingbirds hardly bigger than insects. We have roses, lilies, carnations, etc.

      Yes, the European way of worshipping God is beautiful. And the Church has said it is and will always remain valid and sacred. But that is not the only way. Why not bring in the whole beauty of humanity?

      What are you afraid of?

    4. You keep squirming away from the point that there are all kinds of Catholic liturgies and rites that are not specifically Roman, and that there are all kinds of opportunities for persons to be Christians (presumably sincere) and still indulge their cultural proclivities or emotional needs for drumming and thumping and arm waving or whatever else it is that they feel a physical compulsion to express.

      If those from other cultures find themselves Roman Catholic and imagine that they want to remain so, yet are unhappy with the Roman rite, then they ought, as real grown-ups do, ask themselves why they want to be of the Roman rite in the first place; and why anyone would imagine that their culture gives them privileges to modify and indulge, which those already possessing the culture of the Roman rite, apparently do not have.

      That, is where you have drowned your own baby in the bath in which you were prepared to dunk another.

      What you are asking for is water that is not wet; for Roman gravitas and sacred precincts, which also lack gravitas and sacredness.

      Puling that ... "But I still wanna ..." is not an argument anymore than imputing "fear" of diversity is, when it has already been established just how fulminatingly diverse the rites of sacramentally valid Christianity as a whole, and even of Catholicism itself, are.

      You need a course in logic.

      I think that this pretty much wraps it up.

    5. No one is trying to take away the TLM. But you are trying to take away from God's diversity and beauty. I pray that you will see how wrong you are to try to put God in a box.

    6. "No one is trying to take away the TLM."

      Google is not your friend in this regard. And your statements would come as news to those whose bishops have refused to authorize, or have tried to limit its use ... usually in the name of "unity" so they say. This is ironic, is it not, given your more recent tack to try justification by virtue of diversity?

      "But you are trying to take away from God's diversity and beauty. "

      There are about 20 rites and churches other than the Roman rite church listed on the EWTN site as being in union with Rome.

      Among the more famous sub-Roman rite churches are, the Mozarabic, the Ambrosian, and the monastic order liturgies.

      Add to that, churches within the Eastern, the Byzantine, and the Alexandrian rites.

      The foregoing does not even touch on the Orthodox - Greek or other, and Tewahedo churches, with valid sacraments.

      "I pray that you will see how wrong you are to try to put God in a box."

      Yeah, well just a moment ago you were arguing cultural sensibility justifications for your position not God's right to express himself diversely.

      And we have now established that there is and has been a great deal of cultural accommodation for non-Western European sensibilities already.

      So, your argument fails ...once again

    7. I am not going to change you mind and I am not going to try. But how does it hurt the TLM if there is another form? Why are you only interested in reaching a limited number of people? I know many, many, good and devout Roman Catholics who have no interest in the TLM. For that reason alone, you woulld close the church doors to them,

      Since when is the Catholic Church an exclusive club that only allows certain people in? You really do hate Summorum Pontificum, don't you?

    8. " ... how does it hurt the TLM if there is another form?"

      In principle, no more than did the 20 or so other forms that already existed: for it was not their existence that constituted an assault on the Tridentine mass and its solemnity and sense of the sacred, but rather the antagonism of those prelates and laity who wished, as the reprobate Rembert Weakland himself said outright, to in effect redirect the focus of the mass into, 'a celebration of a community celebrating itself'... as the by now old-saying, goes.

      " I know many, many, good and devout Roman Catholics who have no interest in the TLM. For that reason alone, you woulld close the church doors to them,..."

      I do not believe I have said anything about suspending the Novus Ordo. And at least ninety percent of the doors that there are, are open to those who are culturally allergic to European Medieval-ism. So it is not the few existing Roman masses that are feeding the holocaust of hell. They hardly amount to a pebble in the road on the way of someone seeking a Catholicism culturally congenial enough for all and sundry.

      The issue is not a paucity of Novos Ordo masses and tambourines and drums, but the antipathy of some to the TLM.

      You suggest, that it is the laity. I suggest that it is more profoundly the bishops by and large.

      It is the bishops, by and large, who have in the ostensible name of "unity" sought to restrict The Tridentine's use.

      For they feared and now fear, and probably rightly, that should TLM parishes or masses become more common and available, those seeking to experience what Weakland derisively referred to as a "telephone to the beyond" (rather than a mutual hand-sniffing exercise), will decamp in relatively short order.

      And this will eventually estrange them from their more emotionalist "brethren" who like Weakland, (Quoting Hitchcock)

      " ...suggested that worship ... “is to be primarily the communal sensitivity that I am one with my brother next to me and that our song is our common twentieth-century situation….” He urged that sacred music “deny her exalted position of being a ‘telephone to the beyond’”..."

      It is powerful odd, as they say, that with a hundred options available on the table for the delectation of emotional gourmands seeking satisfaction at the Catholic smorgasbord, that they fix on the Roman rite, and on the Traditional Latin mass in particular, as the main impediment to their receiving a full measure of cultural gratification in their mass going experience.

    9. Thank you for proving the point of my post.


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