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Online Edition - October 2006
Vol. XII, No. 7

News & Views

Pope Benedict on Faith and Reason | No more “Saginaw Blessing” | FDLC Meets in Omaha

Pope Benedict on Faith and Reason

Pope Benedict XVI’s thoughtful address at the University of Regensburg on September 12, during his visit to Bavaria elicited a torrential reaction — from Muslims to Western media — and reactions to the reactions. (To call it a torrent is not an understatement. Three weeks later, there were nearly half-a-million references to “Pope + Regensburg” on the “Google” internet search engine.)

Many thoughtful commentators reminded people that they should read this entire address, not rely on the “sound-bites” and comments that appeared in endless news stories and editorials.

It is particularly important for Catholics to do this -- even if his subtle and carefully reasoned address to scientists at the University of Regensburg (where he was rector from 1969-1971) requires a bit of attention.

His main thesis was that reason is necessary to genuine faith -- and that faith and reason are not only compatible, but that to detach one from the other is positively dangerous. He accuses the West of this effort to void faith of reason -- to regard faith as irrational. And the consequences lead to nihilism and death.

This is not a new focus for the Holy Father, who has written deeply on this topic in the past; and it also echoes and underscores Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) written almost exactly 8 years ago, September 14, 1998. Pope John Paul wrote,

A philosophy in which there shines even a glimmer of the truth of Christ, the one definitive answer to humanity’s problems, will provide a potent underpinning for the true and planetary ethics which the world now needs. [FR 104]

At the conclusion of his Regensburg address, Pope Benedict said,

This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us....

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur — this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

Pope Benedict’s quotation of the 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s conversation with the Persian was not meant to inflame hostile reactions; but it was surely meant to focus attention on the “planetary” importance of his message. And that it did.

Read this address. It’s accessible on the Vatican web site: www.vatican.va/ holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060912_university-regensburg_en.html

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No more “Saginaw Blessing”

Saginaw Bishop Robert Carlson included a section suppressing the “Saginaw Blessing” in his directives implementing the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

The “Saginaw Blessing” was originated by Bishop Kenneth Untener shortly after he became bishop of Saginaw in 1980. During this “blessing”, everyone in the congregation raises both arms as they recite the verses. The second verse, which uses feminine language for God was Bishop Untener’s innovation.

May the Lord bless and keep you!
May she make her face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
And give you her peace.

Bishop Untener died in March 2004, and the “Saginaw Blessing” concluded his funeral, at which his longtime friend, Archbishop John Quinn, presided.

Bishop Carlson’s directives on the “Saginaw Blessing” included quotations from the Catechism, and explained, in part:

Following the prayer of our Jewish ancestors, as well as the prayer of Jesus, the Christian tradition has named God with pronouns such as “he, him”, etc., in distinction from other religions of various ages which acknowledge different gods and which have been named as female deities.… [T]here is no other language which assures our fidelity to the God revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and revealed by Jesus than that in which Jesus reveals God as his Father and to whom the tradition consistently refers with the use of masculine terminology.

The sung blessing currently in use in the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw employs in its first verse a paraphrase of the beautiful and traditional text from the Book of Numbers. I encourage the use of this profound scriptural prayer. However, the second verse of the blessing as commonly sung does not maintain the necessary clarity regarding the naming of God which is part of our Jewish and Christian heritage and can therefore unintentionally bring about confusion or misdirection in our prayer. Therefore, the use of this second verse should be discontinued.

Bishop Carlson’s new directives, posted on the Saginaw web site in June, are to take effect on the first Sunday of Advent, December 3. See: http://saginaw.org/liturgy/girmblessing.

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FDLC Meets in Omaha

The Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) held its annual meeting in Omaha, October 10-14.

Bishop Donald Trautman, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy addressed the meeting to report on BCL activities.

One of three major addresses was given by Father Anthony Ruff, OSB: “Singing the Liturgy: What is the Goal, and What Are the Challenges?” Father Ruff, of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, teaches liturgical music at St. John’s University, and directs the National Catholic Youth Choir, which recently held its summer camp for high-school youth.

J. Michael McMahon, president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, addressed the group on forming music leaders: “Taking the Lead -- Meeting the Challenges Ahead”.

Michael R. Prendergast, of Oregon Catholic Press, presented a workshop on “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest: Music and More”.

Nathan Mitchell received the FDLC’s 2006 “McManus Award”, in recognition of his “significant contribution to the liturgical renewal in the United States”. Mitchell, a former Benedictine priest, writes “The Amen Corner” for Worship magazine, published by St. John’s University, Collegeville.

Recent “McManus” recipients include former ICEL president, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk (2001); chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (BCL), Bishop Donald Trautman (2003); feminist and former ICEL translator, Sister Kathleen Hughes RSCJ (2004); and progressive liturgical designer, Robert Rambusch (2005).

One of the major objectives of the FDLC is to present “Resolutions” or “Propositions” to the BCL for action. These formal resolutions are presented by various Regions, to be voted on by the FDLC members.

This year, Region III (the dioceses of New Jersey and Pennsylvania) proposed urging the use of “inclusive language” in liturgical translations, and “supporting bishops” who favor it:

With the advent of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, it would seem imperative that the liturgists in the American Church express
• their concern over the language in both the scripture and prayer texts that we have seen in the proposals,
• their support for the bishops who are supportive of and working for a translation of texts which are both suitable for proclamation and sensitive to inclusivity
• their professional as well as personal commitment to the language of liturgy, and
• their vision of worship as leaders in their local Church.

The chairman of Region III is Monsignor John Burton, who is also chairman of the FDLC Board.

Region VIII (dioceses of Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin) proposed that “the next several meetings” address “ways of harnessing electronic technology for the promotion of the liturgical reformation”.

Proposals that are approved by the voting members are forwarded to the BCL for action. (At press time the results of voting on the resolutions were not available.)

Source: FDLC http://www.fdlc.org/

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