22 February 2010

The Ottaviani Intervention

[Update: I noticed something rather humorous. I posted this link on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, i. e. on the feast day that celebrates papal authority. And I did so in order to offer some explanation as to why I regard this Pope Paul VI's prudential decision to issue a New Order of the Mass as particularly imprudent. Ironic, no? It's a good thing we didn't follow the Bad Catholics advice to eat beer-butt chicken to symbolize Peter sitting on his throne. Foregoing the meat on account of Lent would have left us looking pretty sedevacantist!]

I've added a new link (The Ottaviani Intervention) to the sidebar, beneath the picture of the Latin Mass in the section entitled Tridentine Mass.

The Ottaviani Intervention is the name popularly given to the critical study of the New Order of Mass issued by a group of twelve theologians in the interim between the promulgation of the Novus Ordo in April 1969 and its coming into effect in November 1969.

I could write my own introduction to this work, detailing my discovery of it and other similar works almost by chance during my senior year at College, its primary place in setting me upon an intellectual and spiritual journey to Catholic "traditionalism", etc., but it would probably be better to simply reproduce the attached cover letter sent to the Pope and signed by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.

Letter from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to His Holiness Pope Paul VI

September 25th, 1969

Most Holy Father, Having carefully examined, and presented for the scrutiny of others, the Novus Ordo Missae prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy prayer and reflection, we feel it to be our bounden duty in the sight of God and towards Your Holiness, to put before you the following considerations:

1. The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work of a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows quite clearly in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.

The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.

2. The pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with tradition, even if such reasons could be regarded as holding good in the face of doctrinal considerations, do not seem to us sufficient. The innovations in the Novus Ordo and the fact that all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all, could well turn into a certainty the suspicions already prevalent, alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been believed by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is bound for ever. Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful who are already showing signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening of faith.

Amongst the best of the clergy the practical result is an agonising crisis of conscience of which innumerable instances come to our notice daily.

3. We are certain that these considerations, which can only reach Your Holiness by the living voice of both shepherds and flock, cannot but find an echo in Your paternal heart, always so profoundly solicitous for the spiritual needs of the children of the Church. It has always been the case that when a law meant for the good of subjects proves to be on the contrary harmful, those subjects have the right, nay the duty of asking with filial trust for the abrogation of that law.

Therefore we most earnestly beseech Your Holiness, at a time of such painful divisions and ever-increasing perils for the purity of the Faith and the unity of the church, lamented by You our common Father, not to deprive us of the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of that Missale Romanum of St. Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness and so deeply loved and venerated by the whole Catholic world.

A. Card. Ottaviani
A. Card. Bacci

After such an introduction, by Cardinal Ottaviani, no less, long-time head of the Holy Office (now called: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), I had to read on.

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