Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Traditional Catholics in the Synod on Synodality

At least in England and Wales, the opinions of Traditionalists are not being ignored in the Synod reports. The question is will the Vatican listen?

From The Chairman's Blog

By The Hon. Joseph Shaw, DPhil, FRSA

Traditional Catholics' contributions to the Synod on Synodality have not been entirely ignored. The Synthesis document for England and Wales includes this paragraph:

(viii) Traditionalists 72. Although very few in number, a sense of grievance and marginalization is strongly expressed by those who worship using the Missal of 1962. Traditionalists complain of “sadness and anger” at the restrictions they believe were imposed by Pope Francis’s Traditionis Custodes, which restored to bishops the regulation of the provision of pre-Second Vatican Council liturgies. 89 Adherents of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) complain of the “watering down” of liturgical devotion in eucharistic celebrations following the Council, and fear that the Church has capitulated to “modernistic” ideas. 90 In response to questions about marginalisation and exclusion, both TLM adherents and those committed to “maintaining traditional Catholic teaching against what they interpret as harmful modifications” feel “badly treated by the bishops and by Pope Francis“ and “saddened by a sense that their views are habitually denigrated and their voices left unheard and unanswered.”91

This appears under other categories: the Traveller Community, People of Colour, the Divorced and Remmaried, and so on.

The pattern is similar in diocesan Synthesis reports from England and Wales. I quote a few below. It is interesting how similar they are to each other, regardless of the very different policies of the dioceses towards the Old Mass, and therefore of the experience of the people making contributions. Portsmouth, which is quite well served with the Traditional Mass, is unusual in not mentioning it explicitly at all (see below).

It is disappointing that the issue of the liturgy is not linked in any positive way to the question of evangelisation. The reports record comments about how the new English translation is off-putting and the like, but Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass have much to say about how it has helped them in the Faith, in many cases bringing back to the practice of the Faith, or bringing them to the Faith itself. It is partly, perhaps, a result of the structure of these documents that such cross-referencing is not made. In any event, I do not think that Traditionalists' contributions were as uniformly negative in tone as these summaries suggest.

Nevertheless, it is something to note that the message that Traditional Catholics exist, and have been unjustly marginalised, has made it into the reports.

A sense of marginalisation and pain included those who value the traditional Latin Mass: ‘Seeing how fundamentally these Masses have affected our own journey in faith, and how profoundly they are drawing souls to the church, including many young families, we are concerned that a baseline policy going forward will be to make provision of the Latin Mass a serious and real priority in our Archdiocese and beyond; something which appears to be under threat at present, and a cause for alarm even in the secular world, making headline news. [Individual submission]. Birmingham Archdiocese

There were, from several reports, an appeal for a return to and encouragement of traditional Catholic pious practices. Some referred to traditional Corpus Christi processions as a means of witness. A few reports highlighted the desire to be inclusive of those who prefer the ‘Extraordinary Form’ (elsewhere: ‘Tridentine Rite’), though one report indicated that where the Extraordinary Form had been experienced as ‘imposed,’ ‘division and hurt’ had occurred. Many reports indicate a hunger among the people for wider prayer and spiritual formation opportunities, as the world, and Church, emerge from the pandemic. Cardiff Archdiocese

Another said that “Modern liturgy is tedious, dull, impoverished, casual and uninspiring.”. The loss of the opportunity to participate in the Tridentine Rite was expressed both by those who want it and those who feel sympathy for a group they believe has now been excluded. Clifton Diocese

An appreciation of the variety of styles of liturgy was expressed. Some responses called for more ‘lively and engaging’ liturgies, whilst others expressed the need for ‘reverence’ and ‘silence’. Liturgies expressing the diversity of the cultures making up our parish communities was seen as desirable by around 20%. Portsmouth Diocese

There are binary views about how we celebrate Mass and the Sacraments which present challenges to synodality. A minority perceive a decrease in “devotion characterised by reverence and awe” and would like greater access to the Latin Mass; they are deeply hurt and angered by Traditionis Custodes. Others feel the Mass is too traditional and ‘stuffy’ and lacks joy. Plymouth Diocese

There were several calls for the wider use of the 1962 Missal and availability of the Latin Mass, one request being typical of others: “I would be grateful if there was a Latin Mass near me. At present I have to drive a long way to attend one” (240). Another wrote: “It’s strange to hear all this talk about inclusivity. The Latin Mass is being reigned in, the liberals aren’t” Shrewsbury Diocese

Those who describe themselves as traditionalists who desire to worship in the Extraordinary Form feel marginalised by the Church hierarchy (as if not tolerated by Rome) and even some of the clergy in the diocese. Some feel that the Holy Father is moving to eliminate the traditional rite of Mass and this leaves them feeling profoundly alienated. Lancaster Diocese

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