fredag 5 juli 2013

Anything but Catholic

Coca Cola!
If you are Jewish you can go to a synagogue anywhere in the world and will be able to join in the prayers, in Hebrew. There is a good chance that you will even know the music and be able to join in the singing.

The same used to be true, a fortiori, in the Catholic church, which once offered a worldwide "product" worldwide. The Latin language, and the music which went with the liturgy, was both a sign of the church's universality and an important means by which it was sustained. It had important practical benefits too: for example, a priest could celebrate the same Mass wherever he was.

Then came the Second Vatican Council and its relaxation of the rules, stating that the vernacular may be used. The word "may" is permissive. In this instance, it would mean that Mass would normally be celebrated in Latin, as before, but that there were special situations where the local vernacular language might be appropriate.

Had this been held to, there would have been no problem. Unfortunately this permissiveness proved to be a case of "give an inch, take a mile". Within ten years of the Second Vatican Council, Latin had been pushed to the margins, mostly, it has to be said, by direction from above and against the will of the people. What it led to was a splitting of the church, and with the waves of immigration in the past 20 years, to a splitting of local parishes into language groups.

A generation of people has grown up who argue that the use of the vernacular in the Mass enables them to "understand" it. This is to ignore all recent evidence from a wide range of scientific disciplines, which has shown that most human communication is non-verbal and takes place below the level of conscious awareness. At a practical level, we have ended up with a church that is anything but Catholic in the sense of being universal. You can go to a Mass in a foreign country, and whilst you will obviously have a good grasp of what is going on, precisely because most of the communication is at a non-verbal level, you will not be able to participate in any of it in the way that Catholics could have done in the past.

Where there has been immigration, mission priests have been provided who say Mass in the language of the immigrants' home country. They then socialise after '"their" Mass and hardly ever get to meet the rest of the parish who socialise separately after "their" Masses. Thus the Catholic church becomes an ethnic minority church and is no longer Catholic. Since the second generation are likely to want to throw off their status as immigrants, the chances are that after they are old enough to be given the choice, they will never go inside a Catholic church again.

This is the Catholic church in auto-destruct mode and a vociferous group see nothing wrong with this state of affairs.

Inga kommentarer:

Our values will only prevail if we speak up

"After Manchester, our values will only prevail if we speak up for them." So writes Guardian correspondent Nick Cohen this morning...