Friday, September 23, 2005

More Trautman, Please

Well, it seemed that Bishop Trautman's intervention in America got a good bit of feed yesterday, and aroused strong passions in the combox. Here's another nugget from what he'd like to see the Synod do:

To transform the world, Jesus gives us a twofold method: preach the word of God and celebrate the sacraments. “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? How can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?” (Rom 10:14-15). To answer St. Paul’s questions for our day and age, shouldn’t there be a synodal discussion about the decline of vocations to the priesthood? This does not necessarily entail a discussion of optional celibacy, but it does invite a broad conversation on why young men are not answering Christ’s call, why many are not coming to Eucharist, and what the church can do now to minister more effectively to youth.

Recognizing that the permanent diaconate is a distinctive vocation, shouldn’t some men, who have been called and commissioned through ordination to the permanent diaconate, once adequately prepared and qualified, be ordained to the priesthood? Shouldn’t the synod at least explore this as a response for those areas where the word of God is not being preached and the sacraments of Christ are not being expended? Shouldn’t the Synod of Bishops consider a pastoral plan for the more equitable distribution of priests?

The life of the sacramental church is at stake. God’s people have an absolute right to receive the word of God and the sacraments of Christ for their salvation.

A prime example of the poor quality of theological insight referenced in the instrumentum laboris is revealed in the following passage:
An increasingly secularized society has caused a weakening in the sense of mystery. This is witnessed in misinterpretation and distorted ideas in the council’s liturgical renewal, which has led to rites superficial in nature and devoid of spiritual significance (No. 6).
The instrumentum laboris does not specify if these distorted liturgical rites are widespread or isolated, approved or unapproved. If they are unauthorized, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal applies, and there is no need for a meeting of the World Synod of Bishops to discuss them. If the comments refer to approved liturgical rites of the church, then I find this an audacious and even alarming statement!

Hmmmmmm..... For the curious, Trautman is not a delegate of the USCCB to the Synod -- the elected members from the Conference are Rigali, Gregory, Wuerl and Skylstad. The bishop of Erie is, however, an alternate just in case one of the delegates becomes indisposed.

I'd love to see what he'd say on the floor.



Blogger Un Séminariste said...

There has already been a synod about this — in 1990 — and it resulted in the spectacular Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. Why not energetically try to implement that, instead of discussing it some more?

23/9/05 18:57  
Blogger Fr. John said...

I believe that Wuerl was one of the papally appointed, not elected, delegates to the synod.

The whole question of numbers of priests is, I think, a false one. The real issue is the crisis of faith among Catholics, and meta-sociological analyses are ultimately unhelpful in discussing this. It is far too easy to speak about the "secularism" in society than it is to ask why particular people act as if God doesn't exist.

My hunch is that we are getting about the same number of vocations in the western world as we got in the 1950s - IF this is expressed as a percentage of faithful, ardent, church-going, really believing Catholics.

Why is it though, that so many go to Mass and are engaged neither in body, mind nor spirit? And why do so many not come to Mass at all? If we address the problem of faith, then we will address the issue of the number of vocations.

23/9/05 20:15  
Blogger Papabile said...

Trautman is seriously ticked that Benedict was elected. I knew him personally several years ago. And, when Ratzinger was CDF, he always had a number of really insulting names for him. He knows his time has come and gone, and is just going to scream into the wind.

The ironic thing, is that by screaming into the wind, he's committing an inherently selfish act, if his supposed purpose is to advance his view of the liturgy. Rome will not take him seriously now, and as a result, he'll get more "bad theology". Whatever.

This is, after all, Benedict's first real substantive initiative that he will be able to claim as his own. I think that's how I would start out on a new foot with the insulting one of the main contentions he has put forth for thirty years.

23/9/05 21:19  
Blogger Jeff said...

I was going to leave a comment, but I liked what both Fr. John and Papabile had to say that I think I'll shut up.

Isn't THAT something?

23/9/05 23:29  
Blogger Jon said...


Like the good shepherd, I'm a Pennsylvanian now, but am originally from the Diocese of Buffalo. I'm of the age (43) to have known and remember him well. I can say one thing for him - thirty years hasn't altered his perspective a bit.

And that's a fine comment. I agree with your analysis 150%.

23/9/05 23:44  
Blogger Todd said...

Unlike Jeff, I didn't think much of a few comments above.

"The whole question of numbers of priests is, I think, a false one."

I'm rather mystified as to how a question can be false, though certainly an answer to a question might be.

Others have commented elsewhere about a "percentage of faithful, ardent, church-going, really believing Catholics," and all I'll say is that for the US the number of Catholics receiving Communion is about the same as it was fifty years ago. The percentage is way higher, of course. Are there graces attached to the Eucharist? Or not? Or is there some quality in the post-conciliar Church that frustrates God's grace?

I also find it amusing that someone considers hearsay regarding Trautman's personal opinions to have any relevance to the thread at all. I peeked at Trautman's piece, and it seemed on the surface to be sensible, calm, and measured.

My suggestion for his ideological opponents would be to stick to the issues he surfaces rather than dodge about with logical inconsistencies such as "false questions" or with appeals to warm-fuzzy emotionalism.

And if Trautman is the has-been people seem to suggest he is, the one good thing we can say (unlike some bishops) is that he has no oar in the ocean of ambition.

24/9/05 00:03  
Blogger John Mastai said...

I'm always amazed when Bishops such as Trautman comment a document's passage with an obvious passae (i.e. in this case liturgical abuses and 'weakend sense of mystery') and then suddenly they are stuck with a 'sense of mystery' over where these problems are? What ever does this passage mean? Everything is kosher in my diocese? What questionable liturgical problems in a land far - far away could this curious paragraph be speaking of?

Also, I can't help but wonder if his comment about the necessity of a "pastoral plan for the more equitable distribution of priests" isnt just a moan because his is a typical diocese that a man who wishes to be a priest quickly passes on or gets out of. Kind of the Arlington/Richmond phenominam of the past.

BoooHoooHooo :(
You reap what you sew Your Excellency :)

24/9/05 09:07  
Blogger Henry said...

This is excellent news. As past chair of the USCCB Liturgy Committee, Bishop Trautman bears no small measure of responsibility for the current widespread climate of U.S. liturgical abuse (of which he claims to be unaware). His America blast is a lament that, as current BCL chair, he is disconsolately outside Pope Benedict's liturgical loop for the reform of the reform. Good riddance.

24/9/05 12:37  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ooooh! Todd got pricked! It's nice to see the false front of ersatz evenhandedness and calm come down once in a while. Irritation is far more wholesome than smugness.

Of course, "false" question just means one that is pointless or misleading. But pretending that a usage problem makes the meaning impossible to grasp is a good trick when we don't want to engage with substance, isn't it?

And for Todd to complain that inside information (in this case direct personal knowledge) about the character and underlying opinions of a bishop is "hearsay" on a blog devoted to just such stuff (which blog he frequents!) is juicy beyond words. I'm still chuckling!

If you're going to carry water for Trautman, at least don't spill it all over the floor, Todd!

24/9/05 17:10  
Blogger RC said...

Rocco, can you help me with some Italian here? The English text Bishop Trautman's using -- the one on the Vatican web site -- doesn't seem to match the Italian text; and I'm going to assume that the latter is, well, first among equals.

The Italian has this at the same passage
(para. 7, not 6):

Si percepisce un affievolimento del senso del mistero nelle società secolarizzate da attribuirsi anche ad interpretazioni e atti difformi dal senso della riforma liturgica del Concilio, che porta a riti banali e poveri di senso spirituale.

But the English turns

interpretazioni e atti difformi dal senso della riforma liturgica


mis-interpretations and distorted ideas in the Council’s liturgical renewal

which sounds like a Lefebvrist condemnation!

The distorted ideas aren't *in* the Council's liturgical renewal -- the interpretations and acts are distorted *away from* the meaning of the Council's liturgical reforms.

Have I read this right? If so, maybe Bp. Trautman is reacting to a bad translation.

25/9/05 02:12  
Blogger Richard said...

Why is it though, that so many go to Mass and are engaged neither in body, mind nor spirit? And why do so many not come to Mass at all? If we address the problem of faith, then we will address the issue of the number of vocations.

Fr. John nails it on the head.

The problem of vocations, such as it is, is really the larger problem of faith. The crisis of the first is tied up in the crisis of the latter. Ratzinger - the Holy Father - has been making this point for many years now.

Where you find vibrant faith which is able sentire cum ecclesia - faith which is not merely orthodoxy but orthopraxis - vocations tend to follow. Too many of the JPII bishops could regurgitate the party line but it never transferred into practice in dioceses.

25/9/05 11:50  
Blogger Todd said...

"Too many of the JPII bishops could regurgitate the party line but it never transferred into practice in dioceses."

In other words they talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Leadership inspires others by doing not gabbing. I'm not ready to concede the whole vocation event horizon to the neo-orthodox just yet. But an authentic practice of the faith will net the fence-sitters, introducing them to an attractive way of life of service.

I have my doubts about the staying power of the angry young men, though.

25/9/05 19:27  
Blogger Richard said...

Hello Todd,

"In other words they talk the talk but don't walk the walk."


History will ultimately judge the angry young men - a curious turn of phrase, because one might argue they - we, I might say - have a lot ot be angry about. It's when anger takes control...

But as I was saying, one thing that *is* clear is that the staying power of the Angry Old Men (and Women) has been judged - and judged wanting.

Meanwhile I fall back on the words of a certain famous saint:

"Always preach the Gospel. When necessary, use words."

26/9/05 12:35  

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