Saturday, May 24, 2003

Cardinal Law surfaces:

Cardinal Bernard Law, who has kept mostly out of sight since resigning six months ago over U.S. Catholic Church pedophile scandal allegations, resurfaced in Rome on Saturday at an old-style Latin mass.The former archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts declined to discuss the scandal in which his old archdiocese faces legal suits from hundreds of alleged victims."I have come to Rome for meetings," Law told reporters.It was unclear if Law, who has spent most of his time in a monastery in the United States, would be meeting Pope John Paul. He sat in the first row during the Latin mass at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The Vatican permitted the mass as a gesture of reconciliation with breakaway traditionalists and Law was among six cardinals to attend.

Aside from the Cardinal Law appearance, I have to admit that any good will I have in regard to this liturgical move sprang a tiny, slow leak brought on by a slight case of the creeps when I read this final paragraph..

Traditionalists placed dozens of black veils in a basket at the entrance so women could cover their heads the way they were obliged to before the Second Vatican Council reforms.

Whoa, people.

First, thanks for the heads-up from those involved in Tridentine liturgies (something in which, by the way, my interest is close to nil, except for the sake of justice - justice for those who desire the rite and justice to the tradition which sustained it for so long.) that the basket full o' veils is present as a convenience and that the Unveiled Woman is not shunned. Good to hear that.

In reflecting on all of this, however, I am struck by what seems to be inarguable - this division didn't have to happen. Reform and restoration of the liturgy, the necessary stripping of accretions, the attempt to restore certain ancient aspects of the liturgy could have been accomplished without Clown Masses and Grooviness. Why wasn't it?

As an historian, I am fascinated by this, and would love to see an objective study - digging back into diocesan records, and so on - of that 1965-1970 period to see what bishops were actually telling their priests to do, and then what the priests did and, from a very concrete standpoint, how it got so crazy so fast. Now there's a dissertation topic for you. No charge.

In the comments, I am struck by someone (finally) focusing on Cardinal Law's presence at this liturgy. Does it, as the commentor says, show us one more time how the Cardinal just doesn't seem to get it?