Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Graham Greene was one of many, many, intellectuals who were appalled at the prohibition of the Latin Mass in the Traditional form after Vatican II.
"Historically, lay intellectuals were actually those to realize more and better the disaster, the actual cultural destruction, represented by the "prohibition" of the liturgy of Saint Pius V and the disappearance of Latin as sacred language of the Catholic Church. ... [V]ery important intellectuals ... considered this decision as an attack on the roots of our Christian Civilization (the liturgy has always been a center and a fountain of the most sublime art)." Cardinal Arturo Medina Estevez,12/01/2006 in an Italian Manifesto in support of Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio on the liberaliazation of the use of the Latin Mass in the traditional form, which was published in the Italian daily Il Foglio.
Greene was one of the intellectuals who signed the appeal in defense of the traditional form of the Mass in 1971. The letter to Rome protested that the vernacular Mass surrenders to "the materialist and technocratic civilization that is increasingly threatening the life of the mind and the spirit.'"
Monday, February 16, 2009
The following quote about Greene's preference for the Latin Mass is from Graham Greene's Catholic Imagination by Mark Bosco, S.J., Oxford University Press 2005:
Though he welcomed the ecumenical spirit of the Council and its consequent stress on faith and justice, his Catholic identity was much tested by his personal distaste for the vernacular liturgy. Greene felt there was a diminishment of the supreme power, aura, and aesthetic beauty that the liturgy had traditionally played in the imagination of Catholics. In this respect he agreed with other, more traditional English converts concerning the liturgical changes begun by Vatican II. In 1967 Greene was asked by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy to critique and offer suggestions on the translations of the Mass. He dutifully did so but expressed his profound disappointment if the Latin Mass were ever lost in the process. By 1971 Greene had signed with other Catholic artists and intellectuals an appeal sent to the Vatican, asking that the 'Tridentine Mass be preserved in both language and structure.' He complained in interviews about not being able to follow the vernacular Mass in the many places he traveled, his annoyance with the 'freedom given to priests to introduce endless prayers--for the astronauts or what have you,' and his grief over the abolition of the reading from John's Gospel that used to end the Tridentine liturgy....
Greene confessed in his last extended interview before his death that he still loved to attend the Mass in Latin, which his friend, the Spanish priest Father Leopoldo Duran, had his bishop's permission to say. p. 93, 94
I just came across this interesting 2001 Atlantic article, Graham Green's Vatican Dossier, which is an account of the censure of Greene's The Power and The Glory by the Vatican. The article gives unexpected insights into two popes' intellectual qualities: Pope Paul VI and currently-reigning Pope Benedict XVI.
The Atlantic article's author, Peter Godman, was intrigued by a brief mention in Greene's Ways of Escape of a meeting with Pope Paul VI, in which the Greene told the pope that the book had been censured and the pope said not to pay attention to the censure. Pope Paul VI did not tell Greene that he knew far more about the topic than he was letting on at the time.
In 2000, Godman obtained consent from Cardinal Ratzinger to investigate the censure in the archives for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Atlantic article is the result of Godman's investigations. Cardinal Ratzinger's involvement is interesting in itself, but an opinion written by Pope Paul VI about the book from when he was Cardinal Giovanni Bautista Montini is the zinger in this piece.