Sep 13, 2005

'Protestant' Mass and watered down Truth

The upshot of the following op-ed piece is that Catholics have become more tolerable to the Protestant mainstraim precisely because we have 'protestantized' the Mass and we have watered down the truth.

This brings to mind the words that playwright Robert Bolt places on the lips of St. Thomas More in the play and movie, A Man for All Seaons. After Richard Rich betrays More by falsely testifying against him, Sir Thomas says to the young Rich with a look of incredulity: 'Why, Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... But for Wales!'

A more tolerant 'one true church'

On any Sunday, the services in U.S. Lutheran, Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches are virtually indistinguishable (though in Lutheran and Episcopal churches the celebrant of the Eucharist may be a woman). This convergence is partly the result of a rediscovery by churches of the Reformation of rituals once associated with "popery." But it mostly reflects the post-Vatican II translation of the Mass from Latin into the vernacular — common English, in the United States — and a greater role in worship for lay people.

It also reflects erosion in the notion, dear to Catholics in the 1950s, that theirs was the "one true church" and that Protestants were heretics. True, the Vatican has sent mixed messages on this one: As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2000 gave us "Dominus Iesus," a document that asserted that Protestant churches were "not churches in the proper sense." But the future Pope Benedict XVI was also instrumental in a 1999 joint statement in which the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation reached agreement on the historically divisive doctrine of "justification by faith."


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