20 February 2012

Bugnini And The Offertory

Ben Trovato has posted here on the changes to the Offertory in the New Mass.  I had a look at Bugnini's History of the Reform to see how he described the changes.

Here they are: forgive the punctuation, which was American anyway and has probably been mangled in the OCR process.  bear in mind too that I have extracted his comments on the Offertory from his section on the revision of the Mass. Bear in mind that there is some paraphrase from me to try to keep the sense.

By 1965 a proposal for a new Order of Mass was under consideration.

The offertory begins with the washing of hands; it continues with the preparation of the gifts, which are brought to the altar, where the celebrant places them on the altar to the accompaniment of short formulas.

A passage from the Didache (with some adaptation) was proposed for the placing of the bread on the altar: "As this bread was scattered and, having been gathered, is now one, so may your Church be gathered into your kingdom." For the chalice: "Wisdom has built herself a house; she has mixed her wine and set her table. Glory to you through all ages" (Prov 9:1-2). The Fathers approved the formulas, with five nays for the formula for the bread.)

After the prayer "In a spirit of humility . ," the celebrant immediately says aloud the prayer over the gifts; he then enters into the Eucharistic Prayer by beginning the dialogue before the preface.

On 24 October 1967 an experiment was made of this Mass.

It must be said flatly that the experiment was not a success and even that it had an effect contrary to the one intended and played a part in the negative vote that followed. Few of the Fathers were disposed and ready for the experiment; this was even more true of those who had grasped the value and essential character of the normative Mass. The majority of the Fathers entered the Sistine Chapel with their minds made up and ill-disposed to the new Mass.

As a result a vote was taken

3. Observations on the liturgy of the Eucharist:
a) The offertory seems impoverished; therefore, keep the prayers and rites now in use, especially the mingling of water with the wine and the accompanying prayer.
b) The prayers to be said by the priest privately during the offertory should be obligatory.
c) The Orate, fratres and its answer should be kept.

All these details show how disagreeable many of the Fathers found the path of reform. It is not easy to cut one's ties with age-old practices, open oneself to new horizons, and force oneself to accept the demands expressed in the signs of the times. That which may seem obvious in theory must come to grips in practice with armour-clad contingencies.

In addition, a unique international assembly such as a Synod shows the human variations amid which the Church lives, grows, and acts.

Among the qualifications opposing viewpoints are at times found side by side. For example, one man calls for more numerous moments of silence, but another calls for the elimination of all such moments; one asks greater freedom of action for the conferences, bishops, and individua:, celebrants, while another-and there were many-asks for rigid, specific inflexible legislation.

An editor was left with the task of selecting and choosing from the mass of materials thus provided and of proceeding with extreme cautie-to build the house of prayer. It was the Consilium that had to undertake this task, which demanded responsibility, sensitivity, and prudence, and to do so in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Fathers.

After all comments had been taken into consideration, a report was sent to the Pope on 10 December. After pointing out that the negative votes received should not be taken as being in any way representative, it brought to the attention of the Holy Father that in the Offertory every "action" should to be accompanied by a formula. After considering the reasons pro and con the Orate Fratres, and with a view to giving prominence especially to the prayer over the gifts, the dialogue before the preface, and the Canon, the Consilium was not averse to doing away with it, though if the Pope thought appropriate to keep it, the formulas would be revised. The problem was discussed at length in the Consilium. The following arguments were offered in favor of retention: the formula is in current use and is one of those in which the congregation participates more fully; it is an expression of participation in the offering of the sacrifice; unlike other prayers of the offertory, this one does not anticipate ideas proper to the Eucharistic Prayer. Against retention: lack of uniformity in the way the Church uses the formula (said aloud in read Masses; said in a low voice in sung Masses); lack of congregational participation because of the difficulties in translating the formula in many regions; it detracts from the solemn dialogue of the preface; the difficulty of some ideas expressed in it ("my" sacrifice and "yours," as though these were two distinct and juxtaposed sacrifices); repetition of ideas already expressed during the prayer of the faithful in the intention for the congregation here gathered.

As an experiment, the new Mass was said in the presence of the Pope early in January 1968 in simply said, mainly said with hymns, and sung forms. The Pope commented:

The offertory seems lacking, because the faithful are not allowed any part in it (even though it should be the part of the Mass in which their activity is more direct and obvious) and because the offertory formulas are reserved to the celebrant and are said silently and in Latin. The offertory should be given special prominence so that the faithful (or their representatives) may exercise their specific role as offerers.

(The offertory rites were organized differently than in the original schema for the normative Mass. Their sequence was the one regularly followed in the celebration of Mass that time: placing of the bread on the altar with a formula said in a low voice by the celebrant; mixing of water with the wine, with its formula; presentation of the wine, with its formula; the prayer "In a spirit of humility"; washing of the hands, immediately followed by the prayer over the gifts.

The texts differed from those found in the first schema for the normative Mass and were the product of a study undertaken by Professor Jounel at the bidding of the secretariat of the Consilium:

-Presentation of the bread: "Holy Father, accept this bread which we offer from the fruit of our labors, that it may become the body of your Only-begotten Son."
-Mingling of water with the wine: "Lord, by the mystery of this water and wine may it come to share the divinity of him who deigned to share our humanity, Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord."
-Presentation of the chalice: "Lord, we offer you this cup that expresses the mystery of the unity of your people, so that it may become the blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ."

-Washing of the hands: "Create a clean heart in me, God, and renew in me an upright spirit.")

The views of the clerics who had attended the Masses were collected as follows:

First remark: "I do not see why the offertory is still in Latin and said in a low voice. An offertory that is more understandable (in language and gesture) would be more effective." Another made the point that "the rite should have an air of greater simplicity. It should be reduced to a simple offering of the bread and wine."

Several thought the Lavabo to be superfluous: "It should be kept only in Masses in which the celebrant must really dirty his hands, for example, by using incense. Eliminate it from other Masses."

By the end of January, and with an aim of starting to use the new Mass in Advent 1968, Bugnini made a statement of the Pope's views:

"There should be a single set of formulas that will express the idea of an offering of human toil in union with the sacrifice of Christ. There should also be active participation of the congregation, at least when there is no singing. In the latter case, the priest recites the formulas in a low voice."

In April the Consilium met to discuss the Pope's wishes. It concluded regarding the Offertory that there should be a new redaction of the formulas. But the experts asked again that the priest be free not to say the prayers aloud, even when there was no singing. The reason: to give the faithful an opportunity to recollect themselves in some moments of silent prayer after the liturgy of the Word. The experts also pointed out that the acclamation of the people did not fit in with the structure of the offertory and that it duplicated their participation through their "Amen" at the prayer over the gifts. The new redaction yielded substantially the formulas later approved and put into use. In the schema, which was then submitted for study to the prefects of the curial agencies and to the Holy Father, the phrase "which we offer to you" ("quem/quod tibi offerimus") was lacking. The Pope was the one who added it. This formula, which was the same for the bread and the wine, was judged appropriate by the committee, because it expresses God's generosity, human collaboration through work, and the destining of the gifts for the Eucharist, while not promoting an erroneous understanding of the meaning of the offertory. This meaning is clearly different from the meaning of the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood. In his letter of February 26, the secretary had suggested the adoption for this purpose of the acclamation in the Didache: "Blessed be the Lord for ever." The Orate, fratres was not included in this schema either.

Bishop Manziana was asked by the Pope for his comments.

"Offertory: This part of the Mass is especially criticized both because of the change of formulas and because of the formulas proposed . . . . In my view, they are successful and remove the equivocal impression that the offertory rite is a "little Canon"; they are further explained by the prayer over the gifts. The collaboration of human work with creation is a disposition for sacrifice. If the newer prayers over the gifts are insufficiently expressive, they can be revised.

With regard to the formula for mixing water with the wine: . . . it is to be noted that the present formula is a Christmas oration which in its full form is not suitable for the action. The preparation of the altar for the sacrifice, after and not during the prayers of the faithful, allows room for singing, and for an offertory procession, if there is to be one.

(The Pope had been giving special attention to the organization of this part of the Mass; in the margin at this point he lightly penciled in a question mark.)

By September, the Pope made his comments on the final version:

"Offertory. The Pope noted that the formulas used in offering the bread and the wine are two fine euchological utterances, but they do not express any intention of offering if the phrase "which we offer to you" is removed from the two formulas; without it they are not offertory formulas. The phrase seems to be what gives the gesture and words their specific meaning as offering. However, I leave the decision as to their retention or removal to the collegial judgment of the Consilium."

After lengthy discussion the collegial judgment of the Consilium took this form: 12 for retention of the phrase, 14 against, and 5 in favor of finding an expression that would refer to the presentation of the elements for the sacrifice, but without using the term "offer." This was the word that caused difficulty, since it seemed to anticipate, or at least detract from the value of, the one true sacrifice of the immolated Christ that is expressed in the Canon.

The phrase suggested was kept, since it could ease the difficulties earlier pointed out in the translations. The Italian version, for example, has: "which we present to you." Almost all the languages followed the same line.
With regard to the offertory, the Pope also asked: "Is it necessary to shorten and thus mutilate the prayer, '0 God, who wonderfully ennobled ...'?' The reply to this was the one given in the observations of Bishop Manziana, and the text remained as it was.

Orate, fratres. The Pope asked: "Should the Orate, fratres be removed? Is it not a beautiful, ancient, and appropriate dialogue between celebrant and congregation before beginning the prayer over the gifts and the sacrificial liturgy? Its removal would be the loss of a pearl."

Here again the reasons were given, and they were such that the Consilium once again asked itself whether the Orate, fratres should be kept. The result: 15 against retention, 14 for, 1 in favor provided some phrases were altered, 1 abstention. The prayer was therefore kept.

12 February 2012

Mac's Meme

Mac has decided on a meme: which three books (apart from the Bible, Missal, Breviary, Simple Prayer Book etc and Shakespeare) should she have on her Kindle.

(A Kindle is an electronic pretend book, by the way. I have books.)

"You post the rules and a link back to the person who tagged you. You also tell them that they've been tagged on their own blog, rather than just hoping they'll discover it for themselves. Then you decide what three books are essential reading for anyone with a Kindle. Reasons would be good, but not essential. Then you tag five people."

The books she should have on it are:

 - the complete OED;
 - the complete Dickens;
 - the complete P G Wodehouse.

At least that's what I think!

Over to Dorothy, Ben, Richard, and the Left Footer for their views. 

(Yes, I know it said five: "God's scorn for all men governing" etc)

09 February 2012

How Did We Get Here (Sources)

I deliberately didn't footnote the sources for this trilogy, as I had hoped it might be sufficiently provocative to Magic Circulistas to encourage a response.  That they haven't responded either means:

a.     they recognise the sources and are keeping quiet;
b.     they have decided that not responding might lead to lack of interest; or, and most likely
c.     they have guessed correctly that nobody is going to read this stuff who doesn't agree with it anyway.

I had been very careful to stick to just three sources:

The Worlock Archive by Clifford Longley (2000) - he was allowed to go through Worlock's papers, presumably to prepare a positive accompaniment to the official biography.  The book is a revelation for anyone who wants to understand Worlock's metholodology.

Liverpool 1980 (1981) the official report of the NPC which includes all of the pre-Congress material, the documents prepared by the groups, the final report, and The Easter People, as well as a wealth of detail about the manipulation organisation of those who took part.

Basil Hume By His Friends (1999): a collection of unctuous hagiography and some Tabletista appreciation of how Hume was one of them, and what he did as one of them, for them.

The conceit was that any attack from the Magic Circle can be met by: "but this comes from something written by one of yours".  I've tweeted (from these sources) a couple of Hume and Worlock one-liners  on other subjects along the way: things like Worlock writing about the Lay Apostolate: "Unless (the layman) was properly formed and trained for his task, he could be a menace." (5 March 1964)  Maybe we could work up an anthology ...

I'm going to start work on something about the Catholic Church in England and Wales and Humanae Vitae.  This already overlong trilogy had in draft some knockabout stuff about the way at least one Bishop was happy about one of his priests saying something different in the Confessional from what he was telling them to say in his encyclicals, but I held back, not only to tighten the piece I was writing about how the CBCEW had got its teeth and claws into Catholic Life, but because I still can't rid myself of the notion that no "official Catholic" could be so base, however well documented the baseness appeared to be.

And in less than 24 hours, Catholic Voices told us that we no longer believed in repealing the Abortion Act!

They will ignore me, and that's fair enough.  But these are resources for all of us to use to challenge the narrative of the CBCEW and its agents.  This blog is not called the Muniment Room for nothing!

08 February 2012

How Did We Get Here (Part Three And Final)

And it is here that I shall home back in on my starting point: how was the Bishops’ Conference to be structured, and what role would what lay people play in it?  Here is the section on Conference and Diocese.  I don’t apologise for quoting at length.

“112. The sense of sharing in the life and mission of the Church comes from our understanding of baptism as the means through which we are drawn mystically into Christ's body and are formed thereby into a community.  Rooted in Christ we are set free to live and work together in a loving, confident partnership.  We are truly incorporated into a body which is living and growing, a community marked by love, care, acceptance and respect. This community of faith is Christ-centred through its worship, teaching and service.  At its heart is the living presence of Jesus Christ in the eucharist.  And the eucharist both celebrates and forms the community: at the same time it both expresses and creates the Church.  It gives the community a missionary purpose.  Each local Church, each diocese, deanery and parish is a living expression of God's people.

113. The Second Vatican Council, in its Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office n. 36, recalled that “from the earliest ages of the Church, bishops in charge of particular churches, inspired by a spirit of fraternal charity and by zeal for the universal mission entrusted to the apostles, have pooled their resources and their aspirations in order to promote both the common good and the good of individual churches”.  But although this relationship of mutual help was long established, until recently relatively few countries had formalised the relationship in a Bishops' Conference, with statutes recognised by the Holy See as a basis for its exercising juridical power in certain circumstances.  The establishment of our Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, which was formally recognised in January 1967, was a natural consequence of this grant of juridical status, but in many ways its concern has been primarily with pastoral affairs.  To that time meetings of the Hierarchy of England and Wales were no more than opportunities for consultation between individual local Ordinaries who might or might not agree a common policy in administering their own dioceses.  The Bishops' Conference, as now established, is a nice balance between on the one hand adequate responsibility and initiative for the local bishop's pastoral care for his diocese, and on the other hand his collegial responsibility for the mission of the universal Church and especially for the good of the territory or country of which his diocese is only part.  Strictly a national Church as such does not exist: there must be respect for the reasonable autonomy of a diocese, and for this there is a strong theological as well as historical basis.  Nevertheless a national group of dioceses, if not exactly a national Church, is a reality. It responds to the needs of a particular nation or territory; it relates to the Holy See with regard to the Church in that nation and it can take certain national initiatives. The National Pastoral Congress was a good example of this.

114. The scope of our Bishops' Conference is explicitly drawn from the Council's decree we have just mentioned:  “An Episcopal Conference is a kind of council in which bishops of a given nation or territory jointly exercise their pastoral office by way of promoting that greater good which the Church offers mankind especially through forms and programmes of the apostolate which are fittingly adapted to the circumstances of the age” (Christus Dominus, n. 38, 1).  The Conference possesses detailed statutes regarding its structure and procedures, and it makes provision also for “episcopal commissions, consisting of bishops and experts”, who, in accordance with the powers granted to them, assist the Conference in the fulfilment of its functions”. These commissions are of an advisory or consultative nature, each with a bishop as its president or chairman, and with a membership which is drawn from among clergy, religious and laity. “To ensure that the basis of the advice offered should be reasonably comprehensive, membership of each commission should be widely-drawn and varied in age-range and experience. But its task is essentially to offer advice to the bishops and to assist the Church through the Conference in the various fields of the Church's mission for which responsibility is shared but in which the bishops as a body have a particular ministry to fulfil'” (Review Committee Report, 1971, n. 8).

115. We welcome this opportunity to place on record our gratitude to the laity, clergy and religious who in the past thirteen years have served on these commissions and have given our Conference and the Church in this country able and generous assistance.  The needs of society and the challenges facing the Church change constantly.  From time to time it is necessary for us to review both the procedures of our Conference and the structure and work of its constituent commissions.   For example, in an earlier section of this Message we have indicated that, if we are to work more closely with the British Council of Churches, it will be necessary for us to review our commission structure to make sure that there is no unnecessary duplication or wastage of our resources.  At such a time it may well be desirable to consider the establishment of a commission to advise specifically about pastoral concerns and developments, including the implementation of certain policy recommendations in this Message.  This would provide for the co-ordination of experience and possibly of resources, but not as an interference in the proper responsibilities and local initiatives of individual dioceses.  But for the immediate future, save where we have indicated that we are taking direct action ourselves, the follow-up to the Congress lies definitely within the responsibility of the dioceses, aided locally, we hope, by the religious orders, by lay organisations and other apostolic groups and of course by the delegates themselves.

116. We have already referred to the statement by the Council Fathers that “a diocese constitutes a particular Church in which the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active” (Christus Dominus, n. 11).  Each diocese is therefore a community of faith called to fulfil the life and mission of God's people in an effective way. Its capacity to realise its worshipping, sanctifying, missionary and pastoral purpose, within the total mission of the universal Church, is the primary consideration in assessing its viability. In 1974 a working party established by the Bishops' Conference produced a report entitled Ground-Plan.  This was published as a consultative document to guide those concerned with the possible re-organisation and re-division of the dioceses of England and Wales. Certain principles were offered; since then two new dioceses have been established and proposals for two others were, after consultation, set aside.  Other developments will doubtless be carried through in the future.

117. It is generally agreed that a diocese must be an effective pastoral “unit”. Yet that very description implies something rather impersonal, whereas there is an increasing awareness of a diocese as a community of the faithful people of God, led by a bishop able to make suitable provision for their spiritual and pastoral needs. It is not just a convenient geographical unit with appropriate numbers.  Great importance is rightly attached to the mutual sense of “belonging” between pastors and people.  Clearly the numbers who can be known to a bishop and who can know him are limited but the real criterion is the bishop's capacity, with and through his collaborators to provide for his priests and people a leadership and service suited to their purpose as a ”particular” Church. The service required is bound to vary with the nature of the diocese, its social and cultural needs, its rural or urban situation.

118. Diocesan development remains under constant review. In the meantime certain valuable experiences are being gained from discovering the relative advantages of the creation of new smaller dioceses (at a time when the overall number of priests is still falling), the use of area bishops acting as a team under the leadership of the bishop of the whole diocese, and the system of episcopal vicars, not themselves necessarily bishops but exercising ordinary jurisdiction in their various spheres of responsibility.  It seems unlikely that any one solution will necessarily serve every part of our countries.  The important consideration remains the effective spiritual and pastoral collaboration of the bishop with the laity, clergy and religious of the diocese in their life and purpose as a community of faith.”

You might think that the story ends here but there is one last story to tell.  One of the promises made to the members of the NPC by the Cardinal in his final sermon was that “in loyalty and obedience we shall lay before him our hopes and anxieties” – “him” in this case, meant the Holy Father, Pope John Paul.  The opportunity to do same came shortly afterwards: Archbishops Hume and Worlock were elected by the Bishops’ Conference to be their representatives at the European Synod of Bishops, and off they went, with Father “Vin” Nichols, who had chaired one of the NPC groups, as Worlock’s assistant.

The Archbishops presented a copy of the conclusions of the NPC to Pope John Paul II either open on the page demanding access to contraception or not, depending on who was telling the story to whom, only for it to be completely ignored by the Pope (whether contemptuously or not again depends on who was telling the story to whom).  The two Archbishops then tried to sell both the NPC view on contraception and its view on the admittance of divorced Catholics to the sacraments to the Synod: they were heard politely and ignored: the 1980 Synod marked the point at which John Paul II’s putting an end to the “spirit of Vatican II” began to become Church policy again after a decade of doctrinal anarchy.

It should also be noted that to their great and lasting credit, two English Bishops, Holland of Salford, and Lindsay of Hexham and Newcastle, denounced in The Universe what they saw as a misrepresentation of the views of the Bishops of England and Wales by Hume and Worlock in Rome.
On their return, they found themselves greeted with a communication from the National Council of Priests, welcoming The Easter People but disappointed that Hume and Worlock had not pressed the case for it sufficiently at the Synod for it to have been adopted by the Church at large.  Mgr David Norris, Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference wrote a note of the meeting, which included an extraordinarily candid section about the Synod: 

“The Declaration accepted wholeheartedly the findings of the National Pastoral Congress and welcomed the bishops' message The Easter People.  However, the National Conference had some problems with the bishops' message for they felt that the bishops had moved away from some of the resolutions of the Congress.  The bishops appeared to give up their right as a local Church and to be too willing to give way to the Roman Curia.

The Cardinal replied that he considered that conservatism was succeeding in many parts of the world and was also rising in Rome.  We had to remember that Western Europe was now a minority in the Church and places like Africa and South America were very conservative.  Our local church has to find its way in the present circumstances and it is not always clear how it should proceed.
The Cardinal was sure that it would not help to have public calls on our bishops to act by themselves. 
There were some conservatives in this country who were already attacking what had already been done by himself and Archbishop Worlock.

The Archbishop was more optimistic - he compared the Synod with the last Council - then the minority had proposed renewal and had managed to become the majority by the end of the Council.  Now there had been a change during the four weeks of the Synod, though perhaps not a full acceptance of the minority view.  The Pope, too, had attended all the plenary sessions and had made no attempt to interfere with the freedom of those taking part.  In his closing speech, the Pope had not closed the door and had in fact welcomed the propositions.  Nor had he rejected the famous law of gradualness; what he had condemned was a graded law."

Hume and Worlock made sure that this record of their meeting was suppressed – in fact it was not published until 2000.  But it shows that the decision had been made to trim: to appear outwardly as loyal as any other Conference, while doggedly pursuing as much of the NPC/Easter People agenda as could be got away with.

I thought, the first time I showed a friend this piece in draft that the awfulness of what happened on the return from Rome spoke for itself, but it didn’t.  I forget how much time has passed, how many things have happened.  By avoiding a fight over the poster issues, Hume and Worlock got away with much more.

The Hierarchies in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the US and Holland had picked a fight with the Vatican over the “spirit of Vatican II”.  All lost, though the losses to the Church in those countries were grievous.  Hume, the smooth Prince of the Church, and Worlock, the outstanding apparatchik, made sure that didn’t happen in England and Wales.  Instead, they invited the Pope to come on a pastoral visit, and allowed the schmaltzy side of British ultramontanism temporarily to seem to take over while, with the help of successive complaisant Nuncios, the plan took root and took hold as the old Bishops were succeeded by priests who were “on message”.

And it is all of this which, for the last thirty years, has governed the way the Church in England and Wales has been run.  A sympathetic Nunciature has made sure that the agenda has been advanced: it hasn’t changed.   Look, for example, at the stranglehold on liturgical music by a tiny coterie of activist laypeople.  Look at the way that Catholic schools stopped preparing children for First Confession and First Holy Communion so that the catechesis could take place in parishes, run by lay people.  Look at the multiplicity of lay “ministries” in the Church.

And understand why the Internet is such a threat.  Understand that there are Catholic voices which belong to many people who are finding them and using them, and understand that losing control, as the regimes in Eastern Europe lost control in 1989, or as regimes in the Middle East and North Africa lost control in 2010, and you may begin to understand why the pathological hatred of any manifestation of “unofficial” Catholicism is so manifest today.

Maybe, as so often, Chesterton was looking close to home as well as more widely:

“We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.”

07 February 2012

How Did We Get Here (Part Two)

You are probably expecting me to say that the NPC voted through a set of propositions along the lines mentioned in part one above which the Bishops then ratified: in fact the story gets even more complicated.  The activist laity voted through a set of propositions too radical even for the Bishops, but the Bishops used what the laity asked for to create a set of structures which kept the Vatican from interfering in the Church in England and Wales for the rest of the Pontificate of John Paul II and which reinforced and solidified the hold of the activists on the whole of Catholic life.

Delegates were chosen by a complicated process, based on each diocese sending one delegate per 1000 of its normal Sunday Mass attendance, along with representatives of Catholic national organisations, HM Forces, universities, seminaries, religious orders, the commissions (?), the Prison Service, ethnic groups, and “a limited number of Catholics chosen because of their expertise, but whose national secular duties would normally exclude them from being chosen as members of diocesan delegations”.  The main criterion, however, was people who were able to spend a period of Friday to Tuesday at the NPC: not the sort of thing your average Catholic would want to do, or would be able to do.  The organisers prided themselves on choosing a bank holiday weekend, so those attending would only have to ask for two days off work: but how many people at that time had that degree of flexibility?  And how many housewives (there were rather more of them then than now) would be able to leave husband and children for such an extended period?  The activists, who would dominate anyway, would be predominantly middle class, articulate, and with agendas that reflected where they were in the world.

The Bishops were few in number, but the Council was not binding on them.  They were being manoeuvred by Hume and Worlock (and their agents) into a position where the cost to them of rejecting the most extreme propositions the Congress would propose would be the acceptance of limitations to their autonomy by the creation of stronger structures within the Episcopal Conference and a greater role for lay activists within these structures.

The losers- the squeezed middle - were the priests.  Both the Bishops and the lay members of the Congress treated them as though they were lay people with a special role something less than a Bishop's.  The role of the priest was to be eclipsed by the role of the activist lay person, without the Bishops surrendering any of their authority and independence downward.  The National Council of Priests, which would anyway be diminished by the shrinkage in the number of priests and the consequent need for more and more of them to have to be full time PPs rather than have the luxury of chaplaincies, special ministries and extended sabbaticals, gradually faded from the scene.

And so the Congress.  Seven themes were chosen, and within each of those themes a series of topics. 

The seven major themes for the agenda were: The People of God - Co-responsibility and Relationships; The People of God - Ministry, Vocation, Apostolate; Family and Society; Evangelisation; Christian Education and Formation; Christian Witness; Justice

Each theme was discussed in a separate sector of the Congress and in each sector there were approximately 300 delegates. But each item was itself divided into four or five topics or aspects: so for each topic group there were approximately 60 delegates. These 60 delegates were themselves to be divided into discussion groups of 12-15 delegates for preliminary work on each topic. The headings of the full agenda, with the topic titles, were as follows:

THEME A: PEOPLE OF GOD (i) Co -responsibility and Relationships
The Worshipping Community
The local Church: diocese, deanery, parish, basic communities, prayer groups
Co-responsibility and Consultation
Promotion of Christian Unity
Christian Stewardship and Church Finances

THEME B: PEOPLE OF GOD (ii) Ministry, Vocation, Apostolate
The Ordained Ministries: episcopate, priesthood, diaconate
The Community and Other Ministries
The Religious Life
The Apostolate of the Laity
The Role of Women

Christian Marriage and the Family
Single People
Old People
Young People
Special Groups: disabled, immigrants, seafarers, non-Christians

At Home: the work of conversion
Missionary Activity Overseas
Funding and Sharing in Mission
World Development

Parish Catechesis
Schools (including school liturgy)
Tertiary Education and Academic Life
Adult Education and Sacramental Living

World of Work
Urban and Rural Life
Public and Civic Life

Human Rights
Racial Justice
International Peace

The obvious problem was that the division of delegates into such small groups would lead to fragmentation, so members of the Congress committee were not boarded out with families, as the delegates were, but were housed separately in Christ College, specifically so that they could consult before and after each day’s work.  Delegates were kept informed by means of a Congress newspaper.  A complex procedural system of voting, reporting back, drafting, considering drafts and reporting to Congress ensured that the final papers presented accurately reflected the way in which the activists present had been able to gather support for their vision of a new sort of Catholic Church in England and Wales, and in which the committee chose to present it.

This story is long enough already: I am not going to go through the reports on each of the subjects under discussion: they are depressingly predictable.  Much more interesting is the manner in which the Hierarchy used the results of the Congress, and how this played against a changing Church in which John Paul II was getting control in the Vatican, and the “spirit of Vatican II” was beginning to be reined in.

Key to understanding the sleight of hand that was to follow the NPC is the Cardinal’s Homily at the final Mass, which he preached at the Metropolitan Cathedral on 6 May 1980.  I won’t reproduce the whole thing, just some key sections:

“So the pilgrim Church of England and Wales has paused for a moment on its journey through history, and assembled here.  Our purpose has been to see whether or not we are on the right way, to discover, that is, whether we are truly disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour.  We felt, too, the need to examine many aspects of our Christian lives to ensure that we are in fact living in accordance with the truth that comes from the Gospel.

Indeed this Congress has been the prototype of what should take place in each of our parishes - it is the building of true community witnessing to the risen Christ always in our midst.   Our problem is to know how we can communicate to our families and parishes the spirit and atmosphere of these days, and how to awaken in the Catholic community a concern for the issues which have formed our Congress agenda.  Time for reflection and prayer are needed, but action cannot be delayed.

The Church is community; it is the people of God, the Body of Christ, the living Temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells.  Within that community each one of us has a role to play and a contribution to make.  Christ, our Lord, requires the laity to play an active and full part in the life of the Church under the leadership of their bishops, and this in virtue of the baptism they have received.  You, the laity, must share your insights with us, your bishops and priests, and you must collaborate in the apostolate.  And what riches you have brought to this Congress, and how much we, your pastors, need to listen to ‘the Spirit of truth, who directs the hearts of the faithful’, for this, the ‘sensus fidelium’, is necessary as we explore together the mystery of God and of his unfolding and developing plan for us, his sons and daughters.

We remind ourselves that we must all acknowledge the divine authority given by the Lord himself to him who is the successor of Peter.  It was with joy that we received the messages from the Holy Father, and to know that he had welcomed and blessed our Congress.  In loyalty and obedience we shall lay before him our hopes and anxieties.”

In his homily, Hume has turned the NPC from being the work of a few self-selecting people representative, not of the Church in England and Wales, but of a group of core activists, into the sensus fidelium: they have become the voice of the whole Church.  Not only that, but, under the leadership of the bishops, the role of the laity is to do more.  The final paragraph quoted here is important: we shall see why presently.

It is interesting to note that for a period Archbishop Heim was ill, and while he had been very supportive of the NPC, his deputy at the Apostolic Delegation in Wimbledon, Monsignor Mario Oliveri, was deeply suspicious.  While Heim was away ill, he allowed himself to become a channel through which Catholics outside of the NPC fold could denounce the Congress to the Vatican.  One paper he for¬warded was headed “REASONS WHY THE NATIONAL PASTORAI. CONGRESS OUGHT TO BE STOPPED”, and another complained that the Congress delegates “appeared to be drawn, on the whole, from either those holding progressive views or from amongst those who know little or nothing about the nature of the Church”.

Heim’s illness, though, was shortlived, and on his return to Wimbledon a process to reverse the damge began.  Various Bishops organized a letter writing campaign in support of the Congress, asking the Nunciature to ensure that the letters were forwarded to the Holy See.  By July 1980, Heim was apologizing to Worlock: “I am sorry about all this trouble which has arisen during my absence.  I believe that Rome is now properly informed and that any damage has been undone.”

Worlock had a dual role after the Congress: he was responsible for writing its official report, and was also responsible for arranging the drafting of the Bishops’ response to it.  (I write sentences, sometimes, and have to stop myself, reread what I have written, and confirm to myself that what I have written was really what happened.)  It is probably no surprise that both the official report, and the draft response, which sailed through the Bishops’ Conference, with barely an amendment, and was published as The Easter People, accorded so well with Worlock’s vision.

06 February 2012

How Did We Get Here (Part One)

Somewhere deep inside one of the many boxes of books in the attic and the garage whose contents won’t fit on the shelves of this house is an interesting manual from the 1930s: it is a year’s worth of notes for a lecturer training men who want to be public apologists in the Catholic Evidence Guild.  What struck me most about the course was that it was integrated: it wasn’t just scholastic theology (though it is of its time), but ecclesiology and history, the social values of Rerum Novarum, as well as how actually to speak in public.  It mission was “to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church to the public”.

According to its website Catholic Voices “began with a single aim: to ensure that Catholics and the Church were well represented in the media when Pope Benedict came to the UK in September 2010. Inspired by that visit, it has become much more: a school of a new Christian humanism; and a laboratory of a new kind of apologetics.”

It was while witnessing a spat recently between a Catholic Voice and a Catholic voice, between a member of the official organisation, and a lone Catholic who isn’t part of any national organisation that I began to wonder exactly why and how the Church in England and Wales has changed so much in my lifetime.

My theme is that between these two dates something changed irrevocably in the Catholic Church in England and Wales and that the change in the nature of the public lay apostolate marks exactly what the difference is.  I will go further: I think we can date exactly the point at which the Church in E&W set off in a new direction, guided by a core of activist Bishops, activist priests and activist laity, all of whom shared a vision of the post-Vatican II Church which was not shared by the largest part of Catholics in England and Wales, nor by the Church at large, as represented by the worldwide Synod of Bishops, or by the Pope; a core which made its own trade-offs and compromises to ensure a united front which has lasted to this day, but which, thanks to the Internet and the pontificate of Benedict XVI is finally beginning to collapse into the wreckage caused by its failure.  From 2-6 May 1980 a “National Pastoral Congress” (henceforth NPC) met in Liverpool; its report was answered by a response from the Bishops’ Conference, The Easter People, which was published on 19 August 1980.  This is where it all went wrong.

It is no longer news that Cardinal Heenan encouraged lay people to write to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Bruno Heim, to suggest his successor in Westminster in order to ensure that Bishop Worlock of Portsmouth should not get the job. Like most of the Bishops of England and Wales, Heenan detested Worlock for being an apparatchik and, in his attitude to the Council, a turncoat. Worlock had gone to Rome for Vatican II as Cardinal Godfrey’s secretary and a typically conservative English churchman. He had returned with much more experience of pulling ecclesiastical levers and, having seen the writing on the wall, imbued with the “spirit of Vatican II”. His control of various committees, for example his Presidency of the Laity Commission, made him look an unstoppable candidate. It was well known that Heim was as keen as Worlock to rebuild the Church in England and Wales in the “spirit of Vatican II”, and there were no other Bishops in England and Wales who were believed to be sufficiently progressive and sufficiently capable of taking on the job, not least because the obvious candidate on paper, Archbishop Dwyer of Birmingham, declared himself too old to take the job on.

There existed – there probably exists to this day – a National Council of Priests. In the post Humanae Vitae turmoil, it had become a powerful lobby group, equal in its way to the Hierarchy and the laity (does it sound as though the Church was trying to emulate the Anglican arrangement?) and contributed to Heim its vision of what was needed in Westminster. Its reward was to have a priest, Fr Michael Hollings, selected as part of the terna, but, ironically, its principal work at this point was to have developed a culture in which priests from Westminster, including one or two members of the Chapter, felt able to make known to the Nuncio their concern about the possibility of Worlock’s ascending to the See of Westminster.

Worlock really wanted the job and was horrified to find that Heim – who had worked for Archbishop Roncalli in the Nunciature in Paris and who knew a thing or two about the sort of public presence the Archbishop of Westminster would need – was putting at the top of his terna list the name of Basil Hume, Abbot of Ampleforth. Worlock might have represented the trimmers, those who had seen the direction of the wind and had changed before it, but he was only part of the Catholic Establishment; Hume was part of the English Establishment, public schoolboy, House Master, son of a Knight, brother-in-law of a Cabinet Secretary, and, as a Benedictine (and son of a Frenchwoman), somebody with myriad links to Europe, not to Ireland or just to Westminster.

Worlock was furious when Hume was named – “the better man did not win” – but was given the consolation prize of Liverpool, and encouragement to use his administrative talents to develop the Church in England and Wales in accordance with the “spirit of Vatican II” at the same time as Hume provided the leadership and the public face. Hume was the leader; Worlock was the manager.

Their immediate problem was the Bishops: most of the Bishops had been formed in the old days, and both believed in and valued their independence. Although the Bishops’ conference existed as an entity, it was fairly toothless. But if Hume and Worlock could force the Bishops to cede “sovereignty” to the Conference and could then replace them (through a complaisant Nuncio) as they reached 75 with a new breed of new-thinking Bishops, they could transform the Church in England and Wales.

The NPC was designed to effect this change: to use the numbers of engaged lay people and compliant priests to design and build new structures for the Church. To anybody who remembers “entryism” in the Labour Party – the way in which Party structures were taken over by the “new Left” – the methodology is familiar. First of all, the premise on which the NCP was predicated was expounded:

“Over the past decade, since the end of the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church in its homes, parishes and dioceses has been slowly discovering the fruits of the Council. This has been a process both exciting and unnerving: exciting because of the new visions unveiled; unnerving because of the unfamiliarity of the ways.

On every journey there were to be opportunities to check the way and to take stock, so as to walk more certainly in the future. There have also been several consultation-documents bringing responses call¬ing for careful consideration. With all this in view a National Pastoral Congress will be held in 1980, taking as its theme: "Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life".

In the eighteen months preceding the Congress every diocese in England and Wales will make its own preparation, so that at the Congress itself a substantial representation of the Church, prepared in mind and spirit, will be able to reflect together on the developing life and mission of the Church. In this way, the Catholic Church in England and Wales may be encouraged to go forward renewed in faith and hope and love.” (June 1978).

The ground was prepared during the intensive preparation period: existing structures of parish-deanery-diocese were built into a series of discussion groups which attracted activists to manage the administration and reporting of the groups, and who would become the delegates to the NPC itself. The pre-Congress discussion phase was structured around a series of Discussion Papers, which were amalgamated into Congress discussion papers.

The Discussion Papers, looked at in 2012, are blatantly partisan, and it is only when one remembers how self-selecting the discussion groups were, that one can believe that they weren’t laughed out of court. They are built around a congregation ”at Mass this Sunday, any Sunday”. Here are five of the vignettes used to stimulate discussion:

“Joe is a Shop Steward in his union. He will soon be having discussions with his employers about an increase in wages. If they don’t get what they want the union will go on strike. Joe doesn’t like the idea but he feels that the wages of himself and his workmates are far too low and not enough to bring up a family on. Where do his Christian principles come in?”

“Lorraine Jeanne Baptiste is 9 years old. Her mother is a single-parent who comes from St Lucia in the West Indies. Her mother has tried to get Lorraine into the local school but the application was refused on the grounds that the mother is said not to be a practising Catholic. The girl is going to catechism classes with the local nuns in preparation for her First Communion, but she does not really know the other Catholic children in the parish.”

“Jim Doyle has just been made redundant at work. He had been lapsed for some years but started going to church again recently when the local Churches jointly condemned the National Front and took a stand together about unemployment. This made sense to him, though he still cannot make much of the Sunday sermon.”

“On the estate, where there are some ten thousand people, there are no resident doctors or health clinics. The local hospital for the area is about to be axed. There is high unemployment in the area and the Job Opportunities Programme has not been able to cater for all the summer school leavers. So there is resentment and increasing vandalism. John Barber, who has one son in the Army, another unemployed and a girl due to leave school next year, is worried about the amount spent on national defence and armaments. He has been urging that more Government investment be channelled locally but was challenged by the former curate whom the Bishop has now sent to be a naval chaplain. The curate argued that the defence spending was more than justified to defend western freedom.”

“Sister Margaret has been trying to start an ecumenical prayer group. She has had a mixd response. Some say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you say your prayers. Others find it hard to pray together unless they know each other from church. She believes that only through prayer can they be united as Christians.”

You don’t need to be a theologian to understand what the right answers are! And the discussion groups sent their replies to the dioceses, and thence they went to the organisers who collated them and summarised them as Diocesan Reports. In the interim, a list of “priorities” was issued, and “people” were asked to indicate the six topics they considered of major importance. The results were as follows:

1. Unity with other Christians 67%
2. The particular needs and problems of young people 66%
3. Education in all forms and for every age group 60%
4. Third World: justice and peace; world hunger; overseas aid; apartheid 58%
5. War, peace and violence; arms trade; human rights 56%
6. Ministry: vocations; deacons and other ministries 54%
7. How to spread the Christian Gospel more effectively 51%
8. More responsible involvement of lay Catholics in the life of the Church 49%
9. Present day value of our local organisation in the life of the Church 36%
10. Racial discrimination; immigration; multi¬cultural society 34%
11. Town and country living; decay of the inner city, etc. 27%
12. Use of natural resources; nuclear energy; pollution; profit 21%
13. Role of women in the Church and in the world 20%

This is a list of the concerns of the activists and does not in any way represent what the Catholic in the pew was concerned about because the Catholic in the pew was given Hobson’s choice: this was the way in which the Church would redefine itself. No change was not an option. Remember that when this list was drawn up there was no adult Catholic so young that he or she couldn’t remember the Mass in Latin, and the whole pre-Vatican II world of parish life. The mute didn’t understand how they had lost what they had; the deserting were not interested in what seemed to be a new religion; it was the activists who were redefining the Church.