Daily Archives: July 8, 2007

Pope's move on Latin mass 'a blow to Jews'

That’s the headline to an article in the Observer which picks up on one of the more interesting angles to the story re: Pope Benedict’s decision on the Latin Mass:

Pope’s move on Latin mass ‘a blow to Jews’

Sunday July 8, 2007
The Observer

Jewish leaders and community groups criticised Pope Benedict XVI strongly yesterday after the head of the Roman Catholic Church formally removed restrictions on celebrating an old form of the Latin mass which includes prayers calling for the Jews to ‘be delivered from their darkness’ and converted to Catholicism.

In a highly controversial concession to traditionalist Catholics, Pope Benedict said that he had decided to allow parish priests to celebrate the Latin Tridentine mass if a ‘stable group of faithful’ request it – though he stressed that he was in no way undoing the reforms of the Sixties Second Vatican Council which allowed the mass to be said in vernacular languages for the first time.

‘What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,’ Benedict wrote.

However, the older rite’s prayers calling on God to ‘lift the veil from the eyes’ of the Jews and to end ‘the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of your truth, which is Christ’ – used just once a year during the Good Friday service – have sparked outrage.

Yesterday the Anti-Defamation League, the American-based Jewish advocacy group, called the papal decision a ‘body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations’.

‘We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday mass, it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted,’ said Abraham Foxman, the group’s national director, in Rome. ‘It is the wrong decision at the wrong time. It appears the Vatican has chosen to satisfy a right-wing faction in the church that rejects change and reconciliation.’

The rest of the article is here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

From the LA Times: Pope elevates Latin Mass

Here’s the LA Times’ take on Pope Benedict’s authorization of the use of the Latin Tridentine Mass:

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday authorized wider use of the long-marginalized Latin Mass, a move that delighted Roman Catholic traditionalists but worried others who fear the erosion of important church reforms.

Revival of the old service, which had been largely supplanted by the modernizing spirit of the Second Vatican Council, also angered Jewish groups because it contains a passage calling for the conversion of Jews.

In a decree known as a motu propio, essentially a personal decision, the pope urged priests to celebrate a 1962 version of the 16th century Tridentine Mass when their congregations request it.

Until now, priests could use the Latin Mass only with permission from their bishops, which was not always forthcoming.

The much-anticipated decision, nearly two years in the making, is an attempt to win back disaffected conservatives and to unite the church, Vatican officials said. It is also a reflection of Benedict’s personal preference for traditional liturgy and incantations in Latin, a language he extols as beautiful and holy.

“What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,” the pope wrote in the decree.

But his announcement risks alienating some faithful. It could sow rather than mend divisions, undermine other reforms and harm interfaith relations, several church leaders and Catholic experts said.

The Tridentine Mass was largely replaced by newer liturgy approved during the Second Vatican Council, which took place from 1962 to 1965. In the newer rite, local languages replaced Latin, priests faced their congregations instead of turning their backs on them, and some wording deemed offensive to Jews was changed.

Attempting to reassure the doubters, Benedict said Saturday that since both the Tridentine Mass and the more modern liturgy would be available, there should be no concern that the church was turning back the clock.

“This fear is unfounded,” he said in a letter to the world’s bishops that accompanied his decree.

Benedict noted that the older liturgy was never outlawed; rather, he wrote, it fell out of favor in part because some bishops thought its use would challenge the broader Vatican II reforms.

But the reforms were sometimes misinterpreted as “authorizing or even requiring creativity,” he wrote, deforming the liturgy and driving people from the church.

The full article is here.

Terry Mattingly of Get Religion discusses some of the questions and issues raised by this decision, and analyzes the media’s coverage of it here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Can Public Schools Ban Churches from Renting Space?

That was the question that headlined a recent (July 3) Christianity Today weblog roundup. We’ve since seen the news story in question referred to on several other blogs, so it seemed like it would be good to post on T19. Here’s how Ted Olsen of Christianity Today summarizes the story in his weblog entry:

A messy decision, ripe for the Supreme Court

Bronx Household of Faith wanted to rent space for Sunday morning worship at Public School 15 in New York City. The city refused, saying allowing church services would suggest endorsement of that church. Like many cases of this kind, it’s had a long, messy history in the court system. Monday, it got messier. The three judges on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals each reached very different conclusions.

“Our disparate views of this case leave us without a rationale to which a majority of the court agrees. While two judges who disagree on the merits believe the dispute is ripe for adjudication, the court cannot decide the merits of the case without the vote of the third judge, who disagrees as to ripeness,” the court ruled.

The fractured judgment “could provide the U.S. Supreme Court with its next big establishment clause case,” The New York Sun concluded. “The case likely prompted such division because of the question, more theological than legal, at its center: What is worship?”

In its 2001 case Good News Club v. Milford Central School, the court said a school district couldn’t discriminate against an extracurricular Christian club if it allowed other extracurricular clubs. But “the federal high court appeared to draw a distinction between religiously oriented lessons and outright worship,” the Sun notes, so Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York would allow the Supreme Court to go into more detail on what’s acceptable.

Here’s the opening of the New York Sun article:

Appeals Panel Splits Three Ways on Church-State Suit

Staff Reporter of the Sun
July 3, 2007

The city’s policy of barring churches from holding Sunday services in public schools could provide the U.S. Supreme Court with its next big “establishment clause” case, given the fractured judgment rendered by a federal appellate court in Manhattan yesterday.

The three judges on the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel who heard a Bronx congregation’s challenge to the policy each issued a separate opinion. One judge of Bronx House hold of Faith v. Board of Education ruled in favor of the church; another decided in favor of the Board of Education’s anti-church policy; a third found the case was not yet ready for review. As a result, the church may continue to use the school building pending further appeal.

The case likely prompted such division because of the question, more theological than legal, at its center: What is worship? The legal significance of the question hangs on a 2001 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the court held that schools allowing use of their campus after hours by secular groups could not then exclude religious groups from conducting religious instruction or discussion on school grounds.

The full article is here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

New York Times profiles Hillary Clinton's faith

The New York Times on Saturday published a major feature on Hilary Rodham Clinton and her faith:

Long before her beliefs would be tested in the most wrenching of ways as first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton taught an adult Sunday school class on the importance of forgiveness. It is a lesson, she says, that she has harked back to often.

“We all have things that oftentimes we’re upset about, or ashamed of, or feel guilty over, and so many people carry these enormous burdens around,” Mrs. Clinton said in a recent interview. “One of the great gifts of faith is to let it go.”

The themes of wrongs, forgiveness and reconciliation have played out repeatedly in Mrs. Clinton’s life, as she has endured the ordeal of her husband’s infidelity, engaged in countless political battles and shared a deep, mutual distrust with adversaries.

Her Methodist faith, Mrs. Clinton says, has guided her as she sought to repair her marriage, forgiven some critics who once vilified her and struggled in the bare-knuckles world of politics to fulfill the biblical commandment to love thy neighbor.

Mrs. Clinton, the New York senator who is seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, has been alluding to her spiritual life with increasing regularity in recent years, language that has dovetailed with efforts by her party to reach out to churchgoers who have been voting overwhelmingly Republican.

Mrs. Clinton’s references to faith, though, have come under attack, both from conservatives who doubt her sincerity (one writer recently lumped her with the type of Christians who “believe in everything but God”) and liberals who object to any injection of religion into politics. And her motivations have been cast as political calculation by detractors, who suggest she is only trying to moderate her liberal image.

“Many people have developed opinions about her,” said John C. Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. “Senator Clinton has a long history of involvement in religious matters and appears to be a person of deep and sincere faith, but a lot of people don’t perceive her that way.”

Mrs. Clinton and others who have known her as a church youth-group member, a Sunday school teacher or a participant in weekly Senate prayer breakfasts say faith has helped define her, shaping everything from her commitment to public service to the most intimate of decisions.

“It has certainly been a huge part of who I am, and how I have seen the world and what I believe in, and what I have tried to do in my life,” Mrs. Clinton said in the half-hour interview devoted to her religious convictions, which her campaign granted only after months of requests.

Ever the good student, Mrs. Clinton can speak knowledgeably about St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and John Wesley, the father of Methodism.

On the campaign trail or in other public appearances, she increasingly is speaking more personally about faith, sprinkling in references to inspiring biblical verses ( “faith without works is dead,” from James), Jesus’ injunction to care for the needy and even her daily prayer life, which she credits to being raised in a “praying family.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Telegraph: Church told to defend youth 'failed by Britain'

Britain is one of the most unfriendly countries for children in the world, the Children’s Commissioner told the Church of England yesterday.

Prof Sir Albert Aynsley Green said Britain did not even give children the same level of legal protection from violence as adults and urged the Church to become their advocates.

Speaking at the opening of the Church’s General Synod in York, expressed concerns about the use of physical restraint in youth prisons after the recent deaths of two inmates.

He criticised proposed changes to the rules that may broaden the grounds on which physical restraint can lawfully be used against children and young people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

BBC: Church ponders rules on disputes

The Church of England is to consider possible rules for settling disputes in the Anglican Church, amid divisions over the ordination of gay priests.
Its general synod, meeting in York, is to hear from the Most Reverend Drexel Gomez, chairman of the group designing the possible “covenant” agreement.

Anglican divisions over issues such as the 2003 US ordination of a gay bishop prompted the idea of a set of rules.

The row has brought Anglicans near to schism, says the BBC’s Robert Pigott.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)