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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Dec. 18, 2006 (CWNews.com) - In separate public statements published on December 16, two groups of French and Italian intellectual leaders have thrown their strong support behind an expected move by Pope Benedict XVI to broaden use of the traditional Latin Mass. ***

Both published statements begin by noting the media reports that Pope Benedict will soon release a motu proprio liberalizing the use of the traditional liturgy. The Italian statement begins: “I wish to launch an appeal to the world of culture, in support of a decision of Benedict XVI.” The French manifesto declares that the signers “witness our fidelity, our support, and our affection” for the Pontiff.

The French statement quotes the Pope’s statement, written well before his election to the papacy, that the crisis in the Church “is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.” The manifesto goes on to applaud the Pope’s decision to recognize the new Institute of the Good Shepherd, an institution of French priests dedicated to the Tridentine rite. The Figaro statement notes that the Second Vatican Council called for the Church to recognize all legitimate rites, and “she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.”

Anyone who observes the Church in the U.S. must acknowledge that the Orthodox and Conservative Catholics have been in the intellectual ascendancy since the 1980's. We can see this in the rise of several dynamically orthodox catholic institutions of higher learning, the rebirth or others, the number and nature of the new priest, and the homeschooling movement. We also have new publications like First Things and the STAR as well as EWTN and Catholic Radio.

French intellectuals supporting the Latin Mass? I was surprised, but then it dawned on me that the lukewarm have long since left the Church. The pinch of salt left over will do wonders for French culture. Their first step is appropriately the restoration of the Mass. I do not say this with any implication that there is something intrinsically disordered with the Novus Ordo. However, culturally (and this is a website that touches on the subject) there is a dramatic difference between the Triditine Rite and Novus Ordo. These differences will have divergent effects on the culture (while recognizing that the sacramental grace imparted via both rites predominates).