Friday, August 13, 2010

Archbishop Burke And The Rights Of Laity And Altar Girls.

Archbishop Burke celebrates the TLM in St Peter's.   OH MY GOD--is that a woman I see way back there?

Here's a fascinating clarification from Archbishop Raymond Burke on the rights of laity and altar girls when it comes to the Tridentine Latin Mass.  They have none.  I suppose it goes with out saying that the following is an extract from the Chaput News Agency, CNA.

According to Vatican Radio, the archbishop explained in the preface that due to the motu proprio's papal origins, it is not just an act of legislation brought about as a "favor" to a specific group for the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Mass in Latin, but one that applies to the entire Church.(Which I guess means that Benedict as Pope can favor the entire church with his personal preferences.)

Archbishop Burke wrote, "it is about a law whose finality is the protection and promotion of the life of all the mystical body of Christ and the maximum expression of this life, that is to say, the Sacred Liturgy."

It implies an obligation of the Church "to preserve liturgical tradition and maintain the legitimate celebration of both forms of the Roman Rite, that preceding the Second Vatican Council and that which followed it," he said.

Archbishop Burke pointed out that the Holy Father himself explained that for the communion of the Church in the past and the future, "universally accepted uses of uninterrupted apostolic tradition" must be observed. (It would seem to me Archbishop Burke must have a very interesting definition of universally accepted.  Maybe he means by his like minded clerical friends.)

This, he he pointed out should be done "not only to avoid errors, but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, so that the law of the prayer of the Church might correspond to her law of faith."

The American archbishop went on to point out that certain elements may need to be clarified in this regard. For example, he wrote, among the "rights" of the baptized, assistance by "persons of the feminine sex" at the altar is not included. Additionally, serving as a lector or as an extraordinary distribution of communion is not a right of the laity, he noted.

As such, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline within the Roman Missal of 1962, these more modern modifications are not observed in the extraordinary form.

This clarification comes just a week after L'Osservatore Romano writer Lucetta Scaraffia published an article on the altar server pilgrimage to the Vatican which drew thousands of boys and girls alike. She drew some attention as she proposed that the introduction of girls into the position of serving at the altar "meant the end of every attribution of impurity to their sex ... it meant a different attention to the liturgy and an approach to the faith in bringing it near to their very hearts." (Apparently this poor misguided woman was wrong.)

Archbishop Burke clarified, however, that the reality of the matter is that neither the presence of girls at the altar, nor the participation of lay faithful "belong to the fundamental rights of the baptized."


I'm kind of curious as to just what rights Archbishop Burke assigns to the baptized.  It certainly isn't any right to the sacraments because huge swaths of the faithful have been left priest less by the Vatican. The Vatican retains its right to insist the the all male celibate priesthood supersedes the laity's right to sacraments.  I think we are still under the obligation to attend Mass even if it's more or less impossible.  One would think access to the Sacraments would be the fundamental right of Catholic laity, but then I'm not even sure Catholic laity actually have a right to think.  I do know we have an obligation to obey, but I don't think obligations equate to rights.

I wonder why we rarely hear any talk from the Vatican about their obligations to the faithful?  Maybe those who think this rights/obligations thing is a one way street have it pretty much correct.  The clerical caste of bishops and above have all the rights, the lower clergy, religious, and laity have all the obligations.  Women having the most obligations and children -especially girls-the least rights.  In my reading of the New Testament, Jesus seemed to reverse this entirely.  Children had the most rights and men the most obligations with male religious leadership having the most obligations of anyone.  Hmmm this could be considered an inversion of Jesus's direct teachings.  Inversion, as a frequent commenter on this blog points out, is the hallmark signature of negative plane energy.

I read another article this morning on RH Reality Check in which the author reviews the immediate past history of Vatican proclamations and teachings.  It's hard not to agree with the conclusion that women and children pay the brunt of the price for Vatican teachings and have historically.  In this sense it's tradition.  Her last paragraph really struck home to me because it addresses why this has been so and why it's changing now:

"For now, I see the church continuing to "bleed women," as Sister Joan Chittister once put it. Those who remain will be subject to a hierarchy that is clinging desperately to sexist man-made laws and sexist interpretations of tradition and Scripture, then passing their sexist messages onto young Catholic girls.

A cradle Catholic, it took me a long time to develop a voice inside that was loud enough to drown out those messages. It saddens me that many Catholic girls will spend years of their lives doing the same. But that is the inevitable consequence of institutionalized diminishment and discrimination. And that is not ending in the Catholic Church any time soon.

The line I have in bold is the prime reason the Vatican teaches us from a very early age that they are the only voice of truth.  Entraining that concept early in neural development means it will take that much longer to develop one's own independent voice that has enough authority to over come original entrainment.  For women this notion of male authority was entrained by the entire culture.  That's not true any more and is why there is hope that women can develop their own authentic internal voice.  This is one big reason the Vatican sees the LCWR as a threat. This group of women has essentially been on a path whose search was for an authentic internal spiritual and religious voice.  They were also historically the group of Catholics who did the most to entrain us to believe the uni voice of the hierarchy was our sole authentic internal moral voice.  The previously totally compliant sisterhood of the LCWR is a big loss to the Vatican and it's future survival in some very big ways.  The boys in the Vatican are way too late to change this situation in meaningful way.

The Burkes and Rodes and Bertones and Benedicts of the Vatican world can stomp their red loafers and shake their gold crosiers.  They can continue to tell girls and women, lay men, and lesser clergy and religious that God has decreed we have few rights and all the obligations for the maintenance of God's self chosen messengers and we should thank their god this situation exists.  They can try that is, but more and more of us are seeing they are talking at us about their god.  The God we have found, that gives authority to our inner voice, tells us something totally different.  That voice tells us Jesus was right when He said to look with in.


  1. "the protection and promotion of the life of all the mystical body of Christ"

    How timely! For I am currently embarking upon a project to write up what the Scriptures (!) have to say about the Universal Priesthood of the Baptized. It's spoken of in 1 Peter and in Revelation. And it's connected with our freedom in Christ and our being built up - along with Him - into living stones. And it's connected with our life in Christ having no distinction whatsoever!

    So, I repeat, and once again I am quoting the Archbishop (who is apparently ignorant of Scripture or willfully going against the very Word of God):

    "the protection and promotion of the life of all the mystical body of Christ"

    I humbly suggest that the protection and promotion of the life of ALL the mystical body of Christ DEMANDS the recognition of the Universal Priesthood - for starters! And as one of those Universal Priests "made" by Christ "to serve his God and Father" (Rev 1:6) I just want to remind us all that 1 Peter tells us we are to built up as Living Temple, as Living Stones. And if the Vatican wants to claim that Peter was the First Pope, and both Peter and Paul recognize this inclusion of all of us as Members of the Body of Christ, well... it would appear that in this, as in so much else, the Vatican has gone seriously off the rails.

    Mind you, I'm not at all troubled that they'd want to throw me out of the tridentine (always makes me think of gum!) mass... because honestly I suspect that butterfly and myself and others among us could come up with a more dignified and quiet celebration, which would include her music and some nice pottery vessels and some less regal vestments - and ....

    As a child I was so distressed that girls could not be altar servers nor could we expect to grow up to be priests. Took me forever to really "get" that we've all been "made" PRIESTS! And I celebrate that! Yes, we need to live into that. We need to work and pray as we undergo a process of divinization (theosis, transfiguration - call it what you will). But there is no doubt that this high calling is for each and every one of us. Without distinction!

    Let them have their gaudy Latin liturgy. Let them enjoy their purer, smaller "church". For they are failing to protect and promote the life of the mystical body - as they claim!

    Yes, indeed, I have decided to spend a lot of time, working out all the scriptural quotes related to this.

    How timely is this Vatican nonsense!

  2. Nice quote here:

    When the Fathers spoke, they addressed all the members of the Church, the mystical Body, without any distinction between clergy and laity. They spoke to the universal priesthood. Our contemporary pluralism: different theologies for the episcopate, the clergy, monastics and the laity, unknown at the time of the Fathers, would be incomprehensible to them. The Gospel in its entirety is applicable to every problem in every environment.

    From here:

  3. Burke is demonstrating once again his propensity for ecclesiastical bullying. His bullying of St. Stanislaus in St. Louis (over money, of course) was responsible for Burke excommunicating the trustees and St. Stan's pastor. I had thought this week that the wound Burke inflicted would be healed, but it seems not.

  4. I see it over and over again. I have the right to listen to my conscience - as long as what my conscience says is in complete and total accord with what the hierarchy proclaims is 'moral'. If my conscience says something not in accord then I'm wrong and ought either leave the Church of my own accord or be barred from the church by the authorities.

    It never seems to enter into the situation that people can be of good will and conscience AND disagree with the proclamations on any minor point let alone something larger.

    I suppose what Burke is trying to say is that the laity have the right to assist at Mass - but the hierarchy gets to decide HOW that assistance will be rendered. Can't have the actors making choices for themselves.

    And Mass thus becomes mere theater and not the transformative prayer that it ought to be for everyone.

    But hey, as long as they get the 'universal acceptance' of the script, that's all that matters.

  5. It seems to me from actually reading the New Testament and the Early Fathers that dissent and disagreement is what fueled the early development of the Church. It is what has always fueled the development of the Church.

    Why now is the emphasis so heavily on lock step identity and obedience to the infallibility of the papacy? I truly believe it's because the stated history and theology of the Church does not stand up to a truth test or any meaningful reality check and the Vatican knows it. Some of this is a futile attempt to convince us our sense of reality is wrong.

    I suspect that's why the frequent references to hell and Satan and intrinsic evils are becoming the order of the day. The idea is to bypass centers of reason and go directly to early neural pattern formation before reasoning centers came on line. Trigger those early fears and a certain percentage of people will respond against their higher reasoning centers.

    To preserve the current clerical status quo it is imperative not to affirm higher reasoning centers, because those centers lead right to reasoning out that this clerical system is fundamentally flawed.

    As Mouse says it's all designed to appeal to earlier conditioning. That's the one thing the clerical abuse crisis surely shows, that early trauma or conditioning is always more or less in play in the adult psyche. It takes a long time to develop an adult voice that is strong enough to take control from earlier voices of authority--especially if those earlier voices were simultaneously entrained as equal to the voice of God in authority.

    This process is really insidious. For instance why are we even arguing about marriage on the basis of Genesis when the adult mind knows Genesis is not fact and the OT is full of polygamy, incest, concubinage, treats women as contractual property and first born sons as the cream of creation?

    Because we've been entrained to accept these biblically based arguments as literally valid even when we know they are not. Our tendency is to accept the legitimacy of these arguments at least enough to debate them and give them a certain status. Something we would never do for the notion of a pre Copernican universe.

    Word verification is 'grates', which is what these Burkian arguments do to my nerves.

  6. Pity the fools.


  7. I think the whole issue here is legalism. Legalism has become the "gospel" preached via the Vatican. And while Jesus certainly preached the "narrow" way he also "called" all those already suffering and burdened to a yoke that was "easy" and a burden that was "light".

    I've also been taking a look at the Rule of St. Benedict (in comparison to the "Rule of the Master" - described in a link I'll put below as "neurotic and paranoid" - something we could say of the current RC 'leadership' I fear).

    Here's Benedict's view of authority versus the more neurotic and paranoid view:

    First, "let the superior be chosen by the community" (contrast that with pope, bishop, priest selection!)

    And the key to "authority" here:

    "One of the distinctive features of Benedict’s teaching on the abbot, compared to The Master’s, is for Benedict, the monastic superior is clearly accountable to the rule, just like everybody else in the community is. Whereas for The Master, the abbot’s teaching is identified explicitly with the voice of the Lord, and the Rule is the Lord speaking through the master, the abbot of the community. Benedict has a very different conception. Although the abbot stands in the place of Christ, as representing Christ to the members of the community in a powerful way, as you all know the superior is not the sole mediation of Christ to the community. Benedict is also very careful to say that the hierarchy goes: Christ, gospel, Rule, abbot, community, with the abbot clearly under the authority of both gospel and Rule. If you read The Rule of the Master, each chapter begins with a question and then the answer comes in this form, “The Lord replied through the master…” and there’s the material—a very different take." (remind you of infallibility folks?)

    And while we "know" all these things, it's instructive to see how again and again, in the history of the Church (beginning with Jesus vs the Pharisees and then Paul versus Peter in the first council, and this distinction in Benedict's more compassionate "rule" in the 6th century, etc). The more ammunition from "tradition" that can be mustered, the better - for it demonstrates what firm ground we're on, how far off the rails the Vatican has gone.

    See here a great deal more background on this in relation to the Rule of Benedict:

    More info here:

    Need I mention that the Orthodox have tended to follow the type of ecclesiology and authority which lies on the more sane arm of the continuum?

  8. TheraP, I had just finished posting today's article and then checked out your link for "a vow of conversation".

    Right away I found this quote from F. Scheeman:

    "The flaw of contemporary theology (including, alas, Orthodox theology) and its obvious impotence lies in the fact that it so often ceases to refer words to reality. It becomes “words about words,” definitions of a definition. Either it endeavours, as in the contemporary West, to translate Christianity into the “language of today,” in which case – because this is not only a “fallen” language but truly a language of renunciation of Christianity – theology is left with nothing to say and itself becomes apostasy; or, as we often see among the Orthodox, it attempts to thrust on “contemporary man” its own abstract and in many respects “archaic” language, which, to the degree that it refers neither to any reality nor to any experience for this “contemporary” man, remains alien and incomprehensible, and on which learned theologians, with the aid of all these definitions and interpretations, conduct experiments in artificial resuscitation.

    But in Christianity, faith, as experience of an encounter and a gift received in this encounter, precedes words, for only from this experience do they find not simply their meaning but their power. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt 12:34). And thus words that are not referred to this experience or that are turned away from it inevitably become only words – ambiguous, easily changed and evil.

  9. This tricking people into giving verbal abstractions a reality they don't have is the greatest trick perpetrated by Opus Dei and it's clones.

  10. Colleen, that Schmemann quote you were struck by was the exact one that leapt out for me. I think, on the one hand, you have the conservatives packaging power for themselves, but making it appear they're selling salvation. And on the other hand you have the inability to really define the problems they are creating - till you have language for that, which fits a neatly as the concept of "words about words" - which is just SO TRUE!

  11. Colleen and TheraP, these posts are excellent and life giving.

    And I don't usually get magic words from the Holy sign-in Ghost, but my word is "pulamen". This pulled an amen from me.

  12. Well, at least Archbishop Burke is out of the US. It seems that the man has major issues with women.

  13. Burke is a typical Curial company man - and that is why he is there. He is just smart enough to know how to lie well. That's it. So he comes off as an 'expert'.

    In point of fact, his writing which you quoted is prolly the outcome of a Roman smoke filled room. Literally. Clouded via the smoking of Cuban cigars; palates wetted by 30 year old Scotch or equally precious wines.

    Professional Canonists of various clerical ranks sat around & hashed out the 'script' for Burke. With a dutiful priest-secretary taking notes (when not serving the Scotch). They talked & hashed the whole thing out. Spoke it aloud to air, analyyze & perfect the argument to be presented to the world.

    We must be realistic here: the Laity have NO RIGHTS, as far as the Hierarchy are concerned. Well.....most of them.

    Laity who are SMON, very high ranking Opus Dei, members of the Orders of the House of Savoy, et. al. DO have rights greater then you or I. Due to their elite status. More then a few of them hold exalted noble titles (even lay Cardinals), enabling much priviledge.

    They are not interested in any even remote construct of secular equity. They just want you to PAY & OBEY.

    Anon Y.Mouse

  14. Personally, I have nothing against the TLM, though I am completely behind the needed reforms of Vatican II. Which tried to return the Mass to a simpler, more comprehensible & more coherent form. That 'coherence' includes that with the types of Masses which existed Pre-Nicea!

    Note: we either believe in the same thing as Pre-Nicean Christians or we do not. There is no middle ground. If there has been a disconnect between Pre and Post Nicean faith (and there HAS been!!!), then something is very, very wrong.

    But let us consider the pomp, splendor & 'theater' of the Mass in the TLM form. And what follows is equally applicable to Papal Masses & road trips today:

    If I was an ET from the planet Eternium, & I witnessed one of these ceremonies - what would I think?

    "That man - bedecked in elaborate ritual robes, jewels & gold -must be very important. Either a god or a wizard with great magic. He also seems to have the qualities of a King, from the way the others are so subserviant to him. His every move is followed with lighted torches & offerings of perfumed smoke. They sing his praises; and the great beast speaks in thunders to laud him (the organ)....."

    Yet our very observant friend from Planet Eternium would have little of no clue that the object of worship is not the bishop/cardinal/priest/pope. Little would clue him into the existence of the unseen God.

    ...nor that He was supposed to be the focus of worship.

    Anon Y.Mouse

  15. Somehow I missed reading this blog until just now. Don't have time to comment too much yet and will try to get back here to read all the comments and the blog again. Thank you Colleen for sharing this: it hits home pretty close. And, thank you TheraP, I am honored & humbled that you would want my music playing!

    I will say this: we are also Confirmed in Christ. We are baptized and confirmed. I recall no distinction of the sexes being taught when it came to receiving Confirmation.