I won’t waste time on this one other than tipping my virtual hat to Deborah Gyapong, Fr Finigan and Fr Zuhlsdorf. I already mentioned this rumour a few months ago, which is again in the news with William Oddie’s article in the Catholic Herald Is Pope Francis thinking of appointing as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship a disciple of Annibale Bugnini deeply hostile to Benedict XVI’s reforms?
I have already mentioned that I am an outsider to Roman Catholic affairs, but not indifferent to the many priests and laity who face the “return of the old guard” or being alienated from churches. The rumour of Archbishop Piero Marini being appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship was first spotted by Damian Thompson last June. Archbishop Marini is a disciple of the late Archbishop Annabile Bugnini who was in charge of the liturgical reform of the 1960’s and 70’s, and was only stopped in his tracks by Paul VI for going too far (some say it was because he was found out to be a Freemason). The above mentioned blogs, all conservative Roman Catholic, consider that such an appointment would be a kick in Pope Benedict XVI’s teeth, since it would mean a reversal or “moratorium” on his liturgical legislation in the direction of tolerance for traditionalists attached to the “extraordinary use” of the Roman rite.
One thing that makes me quite afraid is the traditionalists being unable to come up with anything original. If this rumour is true and Marini gets the job, he might think he is taking us back to the 1970’s. However we live in more cynical times and the Church is having that much more difficulty in maintaining any kind of credibility. I wrote a reflection on Pope Francis some days ago, and he has endearing qualities. I could understand him not being interested in liturgy and keeping the status quo of the Benedictine papacy – but to reverse it and deliberately alienate the traditionalists and conservatives (even with their aggressive proselytism) is something else – and indeed would send out an unambiguous message.
Whatever now happens, we as Anglican Catholics are called to a new mission, not preserving Anglicanism of the seventeenth century or ultramontanist Roman Catholic triumphalism – but preserving and fostering Catholic liturgical culture and a much wider vision than that to which many of us have become accustomed. At least as far as I am concerned, the aim would not be to have Roman Catholics come over to us, but that we should be a model of plain mainstream Catholicism as it was until the 1530’s and until the end of the eighteenth century in some parts of the world. We need to do this positively without any harshness or polemics, or any “true church” claim – just make sure that our light is visible to all.
There have been Roman Catholic traditionalist communities for more than forty years, and they cater for their faithful as we Continuing Anglicans do. Some call themselves Continuing Catholics. It is unfortunate that many are still influenced by Ultramontanist ecclesiology, and thus find it difficult to justify their dissidence.
All we can do is continue and persevere, however hopeless it all may seem. As our fake wartime mugs and beer mats say – Keep calm and carry on!
* * *
What a mess!