No offence, but why Magyar?

There’s a story doing the rounds at the minute, which may well be apocryphal but nonetheless has something of a ring of truth about it. The story is that Pope Benedict (83) recently had to explain to a meeting of Curia staffers what exactly the internet was. When you ponder the question of why the Church has worse PR than Mel Gibson, it’s worth considering that not only does the fabled Vatican PR operation consist of one elderly Jesuit with a fax machine, but going beyond that there’s a whole level of Curial cluelessness. It’s all very well being countercultural – in some ways the Catholic Church could stand being more countercultural – but that shouldn’t preclude having some grasp of how the modern world works.

But there are a couple of points about the internet that are worth teasing out. You may think that B16 makes an unlikely silver surfer (though note for comparison Ian Paisley’s down-with-da-kidz vote against the Digital Economy Act), but set against that his occasional exhortations to the clergy to use modern tools like blogs and podcasts for the purpose of evangelisation. It’s also rumoured that Mgr Georg Gänswein is quite a whiz at Mafia Wars. By the way, you do find techno-savvy in the oddest of places these days – for instance, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has just issued an appeal to Russian Orthodox priests to get blogging. The impact of the online apostolate is something that I’ll come back to in a second.

But first, there’s something that’s been bugging me about the Holy See website. Don’t get me wrong, it looks nice, and there’s plenty of useful material there. Journalists may find the section on responses to the sexual abuse crisis especially useful, notably the full translation of the famous Crimen sollicitationis, which should (but won’t) mean that pundits shooting their mouths off about Crimen sollicitationis will criticise what it actually says, rather than what Christopher Hitchens imagines it says. But that’s not what I want to address. What I want to address is Summorum Pontificum.

We’ve just celebrated the third anniversary of the publication of Summorum Pontificum, the Emancipation Proclamation of the old Latin Mass, which is one of the most important acts of this pontificate. It’s important because it goes to the heart of the liturgical reform, and indeed to priestly formation. It’s also important because the requirement to offer the Extraordinary Form when a group of the faithful demand it strengthens the principle of subsidiarity and bishops’ accountability, which is a big reason why bishops don’t like it.

In more general terms, the rehabilitation of the usus antiquior raises the liturgical bar all round, even where it isn’t regularly celebrated. My firm view is that all priests should be required to be able to celebrate in both forms, and that learning the old form not only improves a priest’s facility with the Novus Ordo, but the connection to the traditional form changes his view of the Mass and its meaning. It links him to the organic Tradition as against the hermeneutic of rupture that’s associated with the suppression of the Tridentine rite since 1969, which severed the new vernacular form from the old Latin.

So, given that Summorum Pontificum is hugely important, and given that the Holy See website is usually very speedy in getting up translations of official documents in divers languages (the translations aren’t always the best quality, but they do go up quickly) – with all that borne in mind, why is it that, a full three years after the publication of Summorum Pontificum,  the document is only available online in Latin and, randomly enough, Hungarian? I mean no disrespect to the people of Hungary, which for all I know might be a hotbed of enthusiasm for the Extraordinary Form, but – Hungarian? Why not Basque, or Inuit, or that African language with the click in it? Is it beyond the capabilities of the Holy See to produce a text in Italian or Spanish or German or English? If there’s a lack of linguists around the Vatican, which I find hard to credit, I suggest that B16 phone up Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, who to my certain knowledge could put him in touch with a few linguists with time on their hands.

Magyar, forsooth. You would almost think there were people around trying to sabotage Summorum Pontificum.

Finally, I return briefly to the whole question of the online apostolate, and I was pondering something that Will Heaven said last year:

The internet – and how Catholics are using it to communicate with each other – has played a huge part as well. Ten years ago, you would not often have a US archbishop criticising a wayward editorial in a British Catholic magazine. Nor would the laity have access to Vatican documents which they can print out to show to their local parish priest. The internet has changed all of this. Sure, the Catholic Church has always been about universals. But now Catholics have formed an online community they’re becoming a more coherent force, and they won’t be sidelined or misrepresented.

Leaving aside relations with the outside world, there’s an obviously revolutionary internal element to this. Modern communications tools make it much easier for stroppy laity or indeed stroppy priests to hold bishops to account, which is very much a good thing. Those further down the food chain have better access to information than ever before. Wild West Masses in Austria, which ten years ago would have been a matter of urban legend, can now be uploaded onto YouTube and flashed around the world in seconds. This is most advanced in America, with an extremely pugnacious Catholic blogosphere, which has forced the Catholic press to up its game, which in turn has an effect on the hierarchy. A deadbeat bishop in Wisconsin, or it may be Arizona, will soon come to know the Wrath of Zuhlsdorf; and anything that makes bishops nervous helps keep them honest.

Things are very different in Britain, where Church culture remains very dusty and respectable and deferential, which is why the Magic Circle bureaucracy is so useless; why the Church remains the market leader in rewarding incompetence; and why a wheeler-dealer like Jack Valero or a social climber like Ma Pepsi can wield so much influence. It’s even worse, of course in Ireland, where we near enough have Zombie Catholicism, a body drained of life but just shambling on and on. But the cold wind from across the Atlantic will blow some cobwebs away on this side as well.

During the fourth century, as some Tablet readers will recall, the majority of priests and bishops went over to Arianism, while it was the laity that in its mass remained orthodox. In general terms, the target today is the pathology of clericalism; in the short term, tackling the prevalence of sheer bloody incompetent shambolic bureaucracy is the order of the day.

34 Comments

  1. crouchback said,

    July 21, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Stroppy laity indeed…..30 odd years ago we had to wait for ages on Christian Order…..and the odd “eccentric” letter in the Catholic Press.

    Now we can reply…we can even instigate…movement even if if it is glacial.

    If only Fr Paul Crane could have had the tools we have now.

  2. July 21, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Lots of African languages have clicks in them.

  3. yourcousin said,

    July 21, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Miert Magyar? Azert mert ez a Szent Istvan. Hova rakjama Kereszteleoi jelentest?

  4. Freshly Squeezed Cynic said,

    July 21, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Fair enough with the Catholicism stuff, it’s interesting and I’m learning a lot about Church politics, and I don’t really mind it at all; I’m not here just for the left sectariana.

    But the Anchoress? *shudders* Can’t we have a better class of wingnut, if you must link to them?

    • Mark P said,

      July 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      A better class of wingut? To be fair, in my view the blogs he seems to be linking to and reading represent a very high standard of wingnut indeed.

  5. Freshly Squeezed Cynic said,

    July 21, 2010 at 4:02 am

    By “them”, of course, I mean wingnuts, rather than Catholics. Titus Oatery ain’t my bag.

  6. Ceile De said,

    July 21, 2010 at 5:06 am

    Good post – Summorum Pontificum brought me back to the Church and brought my wife into the Church. It is certainly hugely significant for us. So – is it the conspiracy or the c*ck up theory as to why it is not on the Vatican website?

  7. Phil said,

    July 21, 2010 at 9:02 am

    My firm view is that all priests should be required to be able to celebrate in both forms, and that learning the old form not only improves a priest’s facility with the Novus Ordo, but the connection to the traditional form changes his view of the Mass and its meaning. It links him to the organic Tradition as against the hermeneutic of rupture that’s associated with the suppression of the Tridentine rite since 1969, which severed the new vernacular form from the old Latin.

    Right, well that’s it. I thought yesterday’s post was the last straw, but I was obviously wrong as this is definitely the last… bit of straw… left… in the thing. Basically what I’m saying is, there’s no more straw left.

    It was nice knowing you.

    • July 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

      Audience Elimination Experiment a complete success! This must have been what it was like when Andrew Eldritch deliberately started making goths unwelcome at Sisters of Mercy gigs.

      • Mark P said,

        July 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm

        I’m not sure if that comparison is more insulting to he who stands in for the Sisters of Mercy or those compared to goths.

  8. Mordaunt said,

    July 21, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Perhaps the idea is that if one can’t read Summorum Pontificum.in Latin one ought not to be attempting to celebrate the Mass in Latin? One would expect enthusiasts for the Latin Mass to be fluent in the language, would one not?

  9. Chyrsostom said,

    July 21, 2010 at 9:58 am

    The Bishop of Nottingham, as its Chairman, was most enthusiastic about the Catholic Education Service’s support of the Labour government’s plan to enforce compulsory sex education – with the promotion of homosexuality, contraception and abortion. He also refused to condemn homosexual civil partnerships, and, indeed, these exist among men who are big names working for the Bishops’ Conference. Putting him as the one to speak to Anglicans is like putting Ian Paisley as the one to talk on ecumenical relations.

  10. Tiggy said,

    July 21, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Re Summorum Pontificum and moribund Rome.
    A group of us here in the west of Scotland have been trying ,without any success, to have at least an occasional Mass in the The Old Rite. The local Bishop has thwarted us every step of the way. So 6 months ago, we appealed to Rome. Guess what? Not a chirp, or even a cheep have we heard back.
    I hope too many of us( though not by all means old) will not be dead by the time we are allowed what is, after all ,our right.

  11. Ken MacLeod said,

    July 21, 2010 at 10:45 am

    During the fourth century, as some Tablet readers will recall, the majority of priests and bishops went over to Arianism, while it was the laity that in its mass remained orthodox. In general terms, the target today is the pathology of clericalism; in the short term, tackling the prevalence of sheer bloody incompetent shambolic bureaucracy is the order of the day.

    And there was us all thinking you’d stopped blogging about the far left!

  12. Policraticus said,

    July 21, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Interesting that you should note the Vatican’s press and media operations and that not an insignificant number of curial officials distinct lack of moderate efficiency on the use of the internet – the same issue was highlighted in a letter to the Catholic Herald at the time of the rather rushed Vatican ‘appluase’ for the award of the Nobel Peace prize to Obama. I was emailed me the text by a friend who in turn accessed it [yes you guessed it from the internet] and I thought it was worth keeping. So here it is:

    “One cannot help feeling bewilderment at some elements inside the Vatican applauding the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama. (Peace Prize Wins Approval -World Bulletin Oct 16) We’re told that he ‘deserved it for his promotion of peace’ so that this presumably chimes with the Vatican Secretariat of State’s general diplomacy a propos nuclear disarmament. And yet, doctrinally of course we are under no illusions as to President Obama’s rather aggressive [as far as the Church's teaching is concerned] anti-marriage, anti-family agenda. Both Cardinal Antonelli of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples have denounced the so called ‘gender-theory’ at the recent Synod as ‘lethal’ in its menace to the family and yet this ideology is given high priority by the Obama administration. In his personal letter to the world’s bishops the Holy Father spoke of how the Holy See must utilize the internet so as to have precision in both its appreciation of and commentary on current affairs. A quick 5 minute search of its own website would have equipped the people inside the Vatican responsible for commenting on the news of the Obama Nobel Peace Prize with the Pope’s own words from the 2008 message for World Day of Peace: THE HUMAN FAMILY, A COMMUNITY OF PEACE, in which he states:

    ‘Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.’

    This puts rather a different hue on the decision of the Nobel Peace Prize committee and should certainly have caused elements inside the Vatican to have pressed the pause button before issuing any rash statement of approval. Once again [in my humble opinion and like the Williamson affair and the Recife abortion case] it’s like 3-0 for incorrect worldwide media perception of Catholic truth against actual truth. “

  13. Dominic said,

    July 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Well I for one heartily approve of the direction that this blog has gone in of late, most certainly including this post.

    Perhaps the idea is that if one can’t read Summorum Pontificum.in Latin one ought not to be attempting to celebrate the Mass in Latin? One would expect enthusiasts for the Latin Mass to be fluent in the language, would one not?

    Not necessarily. The Latin Mass is universal, for all peoples (like the Church itself.) One must start to learn somewhere. The problem is that the “hermeneutic of rupture” identified by Pope Benedict has stripped so many Catholics (clerics as well as laity) of essential and fundamental parts of their (our) Catholic heritage that attempts to restore this loss clearly require a greater reaching out – to well beyond only the realm of Latin or Hungarian speakers!

  14. robert said,

    July 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Always thought it was a shame that Athanasius defeated Arius at the Council of Nicea. Arianism always made more sense to me than what became orthodoxy. The Vandal kingdom of Africa was Arian before the Byzantine Emperor Justinian sent Belisarius to destroy it, an act that caused devastation in the West and weakened the Eastern Empire when it should have been building up its defences against Persia.

    Had things gone differently Arianism would be the orthodoxy and the idea of the Trinity would be heresy.

    • Harry Monro said,

      July 21, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      of course back in the days of Arianism all “orthodox” priests and bishops could marry if they wished, then some new heresy showed up about 500 years later and banned marriage for them. What might we call this, The Invention of Tradition? Of course once a tradition is invented some people cling to it as if it was always the way things were. I’m always puzzled why god waited about a thousand years before he made thinks clear and left his people the dark for so long – bad sense of humor? Anyway I’m waiting for splinty to call for the revival of the really good old days, you know the Papal Monarchy and all.

      • robert said,

        July 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm

        yes isn’t orthodoxy just one’s own doxy and heterodoxy another’s doxy?

      • shane said,

        July 21, 2010 at 11:50 pm

        Celibacy for priests in the Latin Church is not doctrine or dogma, it is a discipline and remains, in theory at least, totally reformable. In most Eastern Catholic Churches – which are in full communion with the Pope – it is perfectly normal for bishops to ordain married men. The Gregorian Reforms didn’t ‘invent’ celibacy – which has ancient origins in the Latin Church- it just standardised it.

    • Darius Jedburgh said,

      July 22, 2010 at 1:10 pm

      Re Arianism: but of course orthodox believers don’t think that things could, in the relevant sense, have gone differently. Orthodoxy itself entails that the Church’s history is just not contingent in that way, since it is under the guidance of the Spirit and is in some difficult sense identical with Christ Himself. (This last idea is not merely a bit of orthodox propaganda as it derives from the words heard by Paul as part of his vision: Why are you persecuting *me*? nb not: why are you persecuting my followers? This is recounted in Acts which is certainly a finding document of Christianity.) Of course an enthusiast for Arianism is unlikely to believe any of this either, but you should be clear about which issues you’re prejudging. Then again, it’s also hard to see how one could care very much how such doctrinal conflicts turn out, if one views the process, as a non-catholic would, as entirely contingent.

      I too am a fan of this blog’s turn toward discussion of Church matters, and especially of its agitation against the extraordinarily complacent English Church Establishment. Outraged secularists: sorry guys.

    • Darius Jedburgh said,

      July 22, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Sorry, “finding document” was of course Prince Charles pronunciation for “founding document.”

    • harry monro said,

      July 22, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      Shane, it “standardised” something that most priests and bishops had not sought necessary, so one piece of theology overcame another theological view: at least thats how I’d see it. Look how long the papacy had to come back on the issue over and over again to readicate what had been normal for most clergy for nearly a 1000 years. Now either god started shouting at particular popes to pull their fingers out overan issue he hadn’t much cared about for a long while or some very secular motives inspired the papacy to change/reform the church. I was only using it as one example of how most catholic practices have rather historical roots.

  15. Salome said,

    July 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    What’s your beef with Jack Valero? Are you one of those desperate to cling on to the misnomer that orthodox Catholicism is somehow the reserve of rabid tridentinists?

    The wheeler dealer stuff is tripe. He’s a good man, thoroughly on the side of the angels. Leave alone and retain some integrity.

  16. Sue Sims said,

    July 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Robert: be comforted. Liberal Christian theologians are almost all Arians (without necessarily admitting it, of course), and since their theologies have now triumphed in most of the ‘mainstream’ Protestant denominations, there are plenty of churches sympathetic to your point of view.

  17. shane said,

    July 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    a body drained of life but just shambling on and on

    Splintered, I think you might find this interesting. It was reported in the Irish Indpendent on the 9th August 2001:

    http://url.ie/6ukf

  18. andy newman said,

    July 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    and they even managed to make a carrer out of it. Your clip is from 1979, but they are still at it in 2006

  19. andy newman said,

    July 21, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    However, I would point out this song is not in magyar, but in German

    Sie ritten um die Wette mit dem Steppenwind, tausend Mann
    Und einer ritt voran, dem folgten alle blind, Dschinghis Khan
    Die Hufe ihrer Pferde durchpeitschten den Sand
    Sie trugen Angst und Schrecken in jedes Land
    Und weder Blitz noch Donner hielt sie auf

    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    He Reiter – Ho Reiter – He Reiter – Immer weiter!
    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    Auf Brüder! – Sauft Brüder! – Rauft Brüder! – Immer wieder!
    Laßt noch Wodka holen
    Denn wir sind Mongolen
    Und der Teufel kriegt uns früh genug!

    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    He Reiter – Ho Reiter – He Reiter – Immer weiter!
    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    He Männer – Ho Männer – Tanzt Männer – So wie immer!
    Und man hört ihn lachen
    Immer lauter lachen
    Und er leert den Krug in einem Zug

    Und jedes Weib, das ihm gefiel, das nahm er sich in sein Zelt
    Es hieß, die Frau, die ihn nicht liebte, gab es nicht auf der Welt
    Er zeugte sieben Kinder in einer Nacht
    Und über seine Feinde hat er nur gelacht
    Denn seiner Kraft konnt keiner widerstehen

    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    He Reiter – Ho Reiter – He Reiter – Immer weiter!
    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    Auf Brüder! – Sauft Brüder! – Rauft Brüder! – Immer wieder!
    Laßt noch Wodka holen
    Denn wir sind Mongolen
    Und der Teufel kriegt uns früh genug!

    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    He Reiter – Ho Reiter – He Reiter – Immer weiter!
    Dsching-, Dsching-, Dschinghis Khan
    He Männer – Ho Männer – Tanzt Männer – So wie immer!
    Und man hört ihn lachen
    Immer lauter lachen
    Und er leert den Krug in einem Zug

  20. andy newman said,

    July 21, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    This however is ganz Ungarisch

  21. Jack Barry said,

    July 21, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Control your optimism. One sage has observed that 48% of statistics on the Internet are wrong and 63% are made up on the spot. Similar quality applies to most of the currently observable religious effluvium. Only on the Internet could one find a
    Cardinal Archbishop declaring that good works done by atheists are defective compared to identical good works done by believers. (It is not clear whether he asked the recipients of the good works how they felt.) Some thoughts would be better left in Latin on the shelf.

  22. Garibaldy said,

    July 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

    “the hermeneutic of rupture”

    I have no objections to the turn towards matters Catholic, but I do object to this sort of jargon

    • magistra said,

      July 23, 2010 at 11:27 am

      I think what is implied by the ‘hermeneutic of rupture’ is that the Catholic church has changed its doctrine too quickly, so that the change is actually noticeable. The normal Catholic aim is to change doctrine so slowly or subtly that the change is imperceptable, so as to maintain the claim that the church is unchanging while actually adapting to new social circumstances. (The early Church fathers would have condemned the rhythm method, for example).

      • Garibaldy said,

        July 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm

        Cheers Magistra. I just hate the word “hermeneutic(s)”, especially if it comes along with the term postmodern, as it often does.

      • shane said,

        July 23, 2010 at 4:25 pm

        No that’s not it. Pope Benedict has long contrasted the “hermeneutic of rupture” with the “hermeneutic of continuity”, with respect to the implementation of both the Second Vatican Council and the ordinary form of the Roman Rite (Novus Ordo). The ‘rupture’ view sees the Second Vatican Council as ‘Year Zero’ or a return to the ‘primitive church’ while the ‘continuity’ view stresses the harmony of the Second Vatican Council with the Council of Trent, and emphacizes the need to reform the Novus Ordo in a more traditional direction (use of Gregorian Chant, greater use of Latin in the liturgy, communion in the tongue whilst kneeling etc)


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