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Online Edition - December 1997/January 1998: Vol. III, No. 9

DISCUSSION OF LITURGY ENDANGERS REFORM?

The National Catholic Reporter , a weekly journal published in Kansas City, Missouri, has long been known for its hospitality to dissent. It is famed for its consistently sharp criticism of the pope, Vatican officials and other Catholics it deems "conservative"( e.g. , Cardinal Ratzinger, who has been called the "Panzer Cardinal" in its pages.)

"This is so especially because the Roman curia has exhibited a predisposition to take right-wing criticism of officials and practices more seriously than complaints from other quarters in the church", said the editorial.

The editorial called "absurd" and "ridiculous" Adoremus's November 1 statement on a pastoral letter on the liturgy, Gather Faithfully Together , issued by Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony. (Adoremus's statement on the letter was published in the November 1997 issue of AB. )

"How many other bishops will be willing to publicly commit themselves now to significant liturgical reform, since doing so seems tantamount to drawing a big red bull's-eye on themselves for an Adoremus and Mother Angelica-style smear campaign?", the editorial asks. "How many dioceses and parishes will decide to play down liturgical change or put it on the back burner in order to avoid confrontation?"

The editorial also complained of the "hypocrisy of such legalistic criticism from followers of Mother Angelica", referring to another article in the same issue, "Liturgical Watchdog Group Blasts Mahony", by John L. Allen, Jr. (Mr. Allen mistakenly identified Mother Angelica as a member of the board of directors of Adoremus. She is on its advisory board.)

Mr. Allen's story contains a few quotations from the Adoremus statement on the pastoral letter, including criticism of its consistent use of the term "presider" for "priest".

Father Gregory Coiro, OFM Cap., spokesman for the Los Angeles archdiocese, is quoted as saying that the Vatican says that the pope presides at Mass, so in substituting the term "presider" for "priest", the cardinal is using the same language as the Holy See. In effect, they're suggesting that the Holy See is in error.

He does not mention the important distinction between presiding as one function of the priest and being a priest who presides.

Speaking of Adoremus, Father Coiro, whose career in communications was launched in the early 1980s after appearances on television game shows Jeopardy and Tic Tac Dough, told the NCR that "These people fuel the fires of polarization, rather than bringing Catholics together in unity on who we are and what we are about."

Father Coiro also said that "the cardinal expects this kind of criticism, because the church in this country is so factionalized. It really highlights the importance of Cardinal Bernardin's vision of common ground. There should be dialogue over these issues, but it should be respectful, civil dialogue".

He does not explain in what respect he believes Adoremus's statement fails in civility, nor does he comment on how public dissent contributes to "polarization" in the Church.

Gather Faithfully Together , first published in the LA Tidings September 5, is now being distributed by Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The illustrated booklet was edited by Gabe Huck, longtime editor of LTP and a speaker at recent Call to Action conferences. The booklet's acknowledgment page suggests that "readers of Cardinal Mahony's Pastoral Letter on the liturgy may also wish to explore Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's Pastoral Letter entitled 'Our Communion, Our Peace, Our Promise', published by LTP as Guide for the Assembly ".

The Adoremus Critique of Gather Faithfully Together

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