Sunday, September 09, 2007

Gamber vs. B16

It is well-known that Pope Benedict XVI has written approvingly of the work of liturgical scholar Msgr. Klaus Gamber. He even wrote the preface to the French edition of Msgr. Gamber’s “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background”.

I am reading through this work of Gamber’s, and a very salient contrast between the thoughts of the two men has just hit me:

GAMBER: Given that the liturgical reforms of Pope Paul VI created a de facto new rite, one could assert that those among the faithful who were baptized according to the traditional Roman Rite have the right to continue following that rite; just as priests who were ordained according to the traditional Ordo have the right to exercise the very rite that there were ordained to celebrate.
(Gamber, p39, footnote)

POPE BENEDICT XVI: The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.
(motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, §1)

Am I splitting hairs here, or does the Pope here express a view that contrasts sharply with Gamber? The Pope asserts that these are two forms of one rite, while Gamber maintains that they are separate rites, not to be commingled?

Another, albeit weak, example: elsewhere in Gamber’s book (p91), though he does envision readings in the vernacular, the author specifically dismisses the idea of using the post-V2 Order of Readings (i.e. the Lectionary) in the pre-V2 Mass....a practice which many, even bishops, believe that Summorum Pontificum explicitly condones. (I disagree with that reading, btw - I think B16 had in mind that new vernacular translations of the Scripture passages of the traditional Missal would be prepared. Trying to mix the 1981 Order of Readings with the 1962 Missal, with their different calendars and different numbers of readings per Mass, is surely a mess.)

Actually, there is an implicit dismissal in Gamber of the idea of bringing propers from the post-V2 Mass into the pre-V2 form; surely the author would have considered the concept, and his insistence that the “two rites” be maintained separately implies a disapproval of the very commingling that the Pope has recently recommended in the motu proprio.


At Monday, September 10, 2007 8:10:00 AM, Anonymous brandon field said...

It does seem that Gamber was wrong to assume that the liturgical reforms created a new rite, at least according to the present teaching norm of the Church (SP). But just because the Holy Father approves doesn't mean he agrees with everything that a particular person has written. You can approve of someone's scholarly work, even if you disagree with the conclusions that they arrive at; you seem to be applying a Protestant black vs. white intellectual framework here, and that just isn't the way the present Holy Father thinks.

At Monday, September 10, 2007 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

Gamber’s point is that, since no Pope had seen fit to alter the liturgy with anywhere near the scope of Paul VI, it is reasonable to regard what we now call the “ordinary form” as a separate liturgical rite and not a modification of the existing one.

It’s probably a matter of splitting hairs, since the Pope clearly agrees with Gamber that the changes in the 1969 Missal are substantial enough to warrant the kind of permission that SP grants. I mean, otherwise why not extend permission also to continue using the 1975 GIRM or the 1955 Missal, whose rubrics changed substantially with the 1962 Missal? Or the pre-1955 Holy Week rites, which differed substantially from the rites as they are in the 1955 and 1962 Missals?

At Monday, September 10, 2007 6:14:00 PM, Anonymous Pes said...

Maybe the Pope and Gamber are using the word "rite" in different ways.

What is a "rite," anyway? Where's the line that divides one rite from another? What's the extent?

At Monday, September 10, 2007 6:31:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...


The distinction seems, as you infer, to me more of semantics. It sounds more “hermeneutic of continuity”-ish to call the 1962 and 1970 Missals different forms of the same rite than to regard them as separate rites.

At Wednesday, September 12, 2007 8:57:00 PM, Anonymous Pes said...

Well, "rite" seems to be the appropriate word only at a certain scale. There's the "Roman" rite, and the "Byzantine" rite, for example. It seems to me that, despite the Protestant-friendly loopholes of the 1970 Missal, Ratzinger was right to call 1962 and 1970 the same "rite." We didn't suddenly become Byzantines. The changes didn't occur at that scale. So maybe this "rite" issue is usefully considered in terms of scale.


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