Friday, September 30, 2005

A Cloud Over the Synod

In recent days, there's been a lot of hubbub -- or, as Neuhaus would say, "there has occasioned a brouhaha" -- involving the form and content of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist which opens this Sunday. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie last week excoriated the document in the pages of America magazine, calling its theological insight "poor."

Well, a revelation from Robert Mickens in Rome about the author of the document might just cause more shockwaves. This is Mickens' own reporting -- it has not been published anywhere else.
ROME – The international Synod of Bishops convenes in Rome on Sunday amidst sharp criticism of the meeting’s working document and disclosures that its author was dismissed from a leading pontifical university in the 1990s for plagiarism.

A former high-ranking official at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute (PIL) here in Rome confirmed that Fr Nicola Bux – an Italian professor in Bari and the main writer of the “instrumentum laboris” for the 2-23 October synod on the Eucharist – was “not invited back” to teach at the PIL soon after it was discovered that he had published substantial segments of other scholars’ work “verbatum and without direct attribution” in a 1996 book.

“This is hardly a revelation,” said one Rome-based professor, pointing out that the plagiarism charges were made public in 2000 in the PIL’s triennial journal, “Ecclesia Orans”. In a review of Fr Bux’s book – “La Liturgia degli Orientali” (The Liturgy of the Orientals) – Fr Robert Taft SJ said the Italian priest had copied “ad litteram (including, at times, mistakes)… without required permission” of at least three Jesuit authors, including Taft himself. Fr Taft, one of the world’s foremost Eastern Church scholars, wrote that he had “made known what had happened to the (copied) authors and academic authorities in question”.

A senior liturgy professor in Rome said the 1996 incident was widely known by the city’s academic community. He said that, as a result, Fr Bux was “un-esteemed” (disprezzato) among most liturgists here....
Heady, heady stuff.



Blogger John Hearn said...

Call me slow on the uptake, but what's the connection here? Does the fact that this guy got caught plagiarizing ten years ago mean that he is banned forever from doing *any* writing for the Church from then on? Why don't you let us know just what the problems with this current document are? It can't have been released without the knowledge and approval of persons much higher at the Vatican than this writer!

30/9/05 13:13  
Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

Oops! But I fail to see what difference this makes, anymore than James Burtchael's "Dying of the Light" should be discredited because of his problems with sexually harrassing college students back in the late 80s.

30/9/05 13:31  
Blogger Jeff said...

Patrick hits it out of the park! Engaging with substance instead of affecting disdain pays off.

Why was Fr. Bux commissioned to write the draft in the first place, then? If he's a famous plagiarist and everyone knows it, why commission him? Something is missing from the reporting here.

Anyway, why are people so concerned about this draft? Drafts aren't rubber stamped by the bishops in the synod. They are just a starting place for discussion and an indication of a provisional agenda. Vatican Two started with a draft on the liturgy. It was thrown out and begun again ab initio. Let's see what the bishops DO. To paraphrase Harry Truman, Perhaps the Bux stops here!

30/9/05 13:52  
Blogger Gyrovagus said...

From what friends of mine who have studied the Lineamenta in great detail tell me, there is a concern, which they are given to believe the current Pope shares, that there is an inconsistency in semantics if not in substance between these documents:

1. The texts of the eucharistic prayers themselves;

2. The new version of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal;

3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church;

4. The Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II on the Observance of the Lord's Day (Dies Domini)

and two subsequent documents:

5. The Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II Ecclesia de Eucharistia

6. The Lineamenta

The inconsistencies can seem pretty esoteric (and I think would mean nothing at all to most of us going to Mass) because they involve the role of the epiclesis together with the words of the priest in consecrating the gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ. The first four documents express this doctrine one way, a way that recognizes the insights of the Eastern Catholic (and other Eastern) Churches and the last two documents which seem, to the critics at least, to revert to a purely Western, Tridentine way of looking at this same mystery.

The problem is that number 30 of the Lineamenta, again according to the critics, is in conflict with the post-conciliar papal and curial teachings, especially a decree of Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation on July 20, 2001, recognizing the validity of the ancient East-Syrian Anaphora of Addai and Mari, which lacks an institution narrative and hence does not contain the words which the Lineamenta claim are "essentially and solely necessary."

Beyond that, the critics are bothered by some very sloppy scholarship in such a crucial document ("generalizations, oversimplifications, inaccuracies"). Their prime example is No. 38 which claims that the Roman Canon contains an epiclesis "which invokes the Father to send the Spirit, 'the power of his blessing," but the Roman Canon doesn't say that anywhere!

The critics point out that the Catechism refers to the Roman Canon at 1353, note 178 - but the actual expression is NOT in the Latin Roman Canon but in the French and Italian "translations" or more precisely paraphrases of the Latin!

It's stuff like this that has the critics of the Lineamenta really calling on the Synod to bring cohesion and consistency to whatever they come out with.

Can anyone doubt that our new professor-pope will take care of the problem admirably and THOROUGHLY?! He's surely the type of professor any of us would check our footnotes and bibliographies for MANY MANY times before passing in the final paper! :-)

[More info: Patrick Regan, O.S.B. of San Anselmo Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome, in 'Quenching the Spirit,' WORSHIP, September 2005.]

30/9/05 14:32  
Blogger Jeff said...

Fascinating stuff, Gyrovagus. Thank you indeed.

30/9/05 17:51  
Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

"Dying of the Light???"

Do you mean "The Giving & Taking of Life?"

1/10/05 02:22  

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