Someone kindly sent me several links with commentary about Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and other recent changes in the Roman Curia. Here they are with some excerpts to whet your appetite to follow the links.
Reading the Frankfurter Allgemeine on the Holy Father’s appointment of Gerhard Ludwig Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a bit like going back in time; it is so similar to the sort of thing that they wrote about the Holy Father himself when he was prefect of the CDF:
Combined with his stern gaze and determined body language the bishop’s scarlet choir robes give the impression of a suit of armor (Panzer) for the fight against the enemies of the Faith and the Church.
They list his acts against pro-choice politicians and the praise that his Handbook of Dogmatiks received from the original “Panzerkardinal”. But then there bring up the enigma: is this the same guy who is friends with Gustavo Gutiérrez, the hero of progressive, “socially conscious” Catholicism?
This time though, one must admit that the caricature is nearer to the truth than last time. No one could hear the Pope Benedict XVI speak without be astonished at how such a gentle, soft-spoken man could be the kind of heretic-hunting fanatic that he was made out to be. But when I heard G-L M a few years back, he sounded just like the sort of old-style religious energumen that showed up in media reports. But it wasn’t just the 1930s style top-of-the-voice noise of his sermon, but also its triumphalisticly anti-Protestant argument — he was preaching on the sacrificial character of the Mass– that gave this impression. It has been said that in his professorial days Müller used to write letters denouncing his colleagues to the CDF, and it is certainly true that as bishop he used the rod far more vigorously than one expects in Germany. He is constantly bringing cononical sanctions against heterodox theologians, suspending priests, and otherwise annoying the liberals. It seems that in Bishop Gerhard-Ludwig Müller the CDF at last has a prefect who relishes a fight.
On the shifts at the Congregation for Divine Worship from Sandro Magister's Vatican Diary:
With the pair Cañizares-Di Noia at the top, the congregation seems to have fallen into a cone of shadow. Di Noia does not have the determination of a Ranjith. And the Spanish cardinal – in addition to not concealing a fondness for the Neocatechumenals that is translated into indulgence toward their strange liturgies – doesn't see a problem with returning frequently to his country, perhaps with an eye on Madrid, where Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela in 2104 will end his mandate as president of the Spanish episcopal conference, and then, at the age of 78, would have to leave the leadership of the diocese.
Thus also the idea proclaimed of setting up within the congregation for divine worship an office that would deal with liturgical architecture and art is fizzling out through the opposition of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi – theologically and liturgically less in harmony with Ratzinger than Cañizares – who is claiming for his pontifical council of culture, although it is of lower rank, jurisdiction in this area.
Once again, therefore, the congregation for divine worship does not seem to be functioning. And thus, for the fourth time in seven years, one is witnessing a premature change of its secretary. Di Noia has been transferred to the vice presidency of the pontifical commission "Ecclesia Dei," a position not found in the organizational structure of this agency, restructured in 2009 with the motu proprio "Ecclesiae Unitatem," which has the task of following the traditionalist communities and healing the fracture with the Lefebvrist world. The position is not in itself cardinalate.
It is a change that could represent the same problems as the previous ones. In fact, the incoming English bishop Roche, 62, is a protégé of the cardinal emeritus of Westminster, the "liberal" Cormac Murphy O’Connor, whose auxiliary he was as well. And already in the past, with great preoccupation in the more conservative circles of the Roman curia, his name had been circulated for the office he has now obtained. But it must be said that the firm manner in which Roche, as president of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy from 2003 until 2012, defended the new translation of the missal in English, composed under the banner of greater actual fidelity to the Latin "editio typica," won him the hostility of the more progressive component of the Anglophone episcopate.
That being the case, why do you think some Catholics have decided to stick to “frozen” tradition, as it were, rather than coming into full communion?
I don’t honestly know; I can only speculate. To say why people are traditionalist I’d have to say it depends on their experiences. The [reform of the] liturgy has been a factor; it was a terrible revolution and shock for people. Many of these people feel abandoned, like the Church left them at the dock with the ship. So the reasons are very complicated and vary from one type of traditionalism to another and from countries, cultures and contexts in which they have arisen.
Another issue is there’s a failure to recognize a simple fact of the history of the Church: that all theological disagreements need not be Church-dividing. So, for example, the Jesuits and Dominicans had a tremendous disagreement in the 16th century about the theology of grace. In the end, the Pope forbade them to call each other heretics, which they had been doing. The Pope said, “You may continue to hold your theological opinion,” but he refused to give a doctrinal determination, saying the Jesuits or Dominicans were right. Now, this is a very interesting example, because it shows that Catholicism is broad enough to include a tremendous amount of theological diversity and debate. Sometimes the Church will act, but only when it sees people slipping into heresy and therefore breaking off from communion.
Father Z (Father John Zuhlsdorf "fisks" the Pentin interview with Di Noia here. Fr. Z's comments are in red or in brackets with his emphases.
DiNOIA: The traditionalists that are now in the Church, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, have brought what the Pope has insisted upon: that in the solemnity of the way in which they celebrate the liturgy, especially in the area of the liturgy, they are a testimony to the continuing liveliness of liturgical tradition previous to the Council, which is the message of Summorum Pontificum. The thing is: They can’t say that the Novus Ordo is invalid, but their celebration of the 1962 Missal is something that remains attractive and nourishes faith, even of those who have no experience of it. So that’s a very important factor.
I’ve tried to find an analogy for this. Let’s say the American Constitution can be read in at least two ways: Historians read it, and they are interested in historical context: in the framers, intentions of the framers, the backgrounds of framers and all of that historical work about the Constitution. So, you have a Constitution you can study historically and shed a great deal of light on the meaning of it. [This analogy doesn't work for me. Interest in the older forms is not mere interest in history.]
However, when the Supreme Court uses the Constitution, when it’s read as an institutional living document upon which institutions of a country are based, it’s a different reading. So what the framers thought, including not only experts upon whom they’re dependent — they are parallel to the bishops, and the experts are parallel to the periti [theologians who serve participants at an ecumenical council]. [Alas, Your Excellency, this is how we eventually got to the Roe v Wade decision from the Supreme Court. Analogies limp.]
I must respectfully disagree with Fr. Z about the living tree analogy. The "living tree" model of interpretation means that one can take the words of a text and pour into them any meaning we want. We heard this in Canada during the same-sex marriage reference before our Supreme Court — that the word "marriage" was merely a "container" into which the culture could pour whatever meaning it wanted. I am so not a living tree gal when it comes to the American Constitution!
While I believe we have a living faith in a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, I do not believe we can be modernist or postmodernist and decide religious texts mean whatever we want them to mean. This is a huge criticism from those with a more traditional bent, that modernists in the Church can say the Creed, for example, but everything has been emptied of its supernatural content in their minds — treated as metaphor, allegory, etc.
Be sure to follow our Moderator at Eccentric Bliss, his personal blog!