Thursday, October 7, 2010

Response to an article by Daniel Burke, National Catholic Reporter, 10-04-2010 on RC bishops attempt to prevent legal marriages for LGBT people

The Luddite tendencies of official RC teaching never cease to amaze me. That homosexuality--naturally occurring in the human species forever--should be declared "unnatural", despite the findings of medical science, is an example of the intellectual gymnastics required by the church's teachings on sexuality. The vehemence with which the "official" church teaches that contraception; remarriage after divorce; married priests and bishops; ordination of women and GLBT persons; true equality for GLBT people; and abortion are all seriously sinful and lead potentially to eternal damnation make one wonder what the "Good News of God in Jesus Christ" is. The radical obsession with and prominence of sexuality in the official teaching of the church make one wonder if the Incarnation took place in order to control people's sex lives. Surely the "Good News" is more about justice, peace and love than it is about exclusion and damnation. Fortunately for the church, the majority of practicing Catholics in the US reject most of this teaching in the expression of their opinions and in their daily lives.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Response to John Allen’s article in NCR, April 2, 2010

John, I don't know if you read these comments; I hope you do. 'Is there room for a middle ground?' you ask. Let us continue to hope so because if there isn't then rational discourse will have disappeared along with a respectful listening to those with whom one disagrees. True knowledge depends on speaking what we believe to be the truth, listening to others' arguments, revising our opinions, and articulating the next level. In rational discourse, there is no 'final' truth; only increasingly accurate approximations of truth. But, then, there is also no final act of justice, no final loving.
After the Second Vatican Council, the Pope and the papal curia could have moved forward toward decentralization and greater democratization of the church. None of the post conciliar popes have chosen to do that. The present crisis around the pope's possible involvement in the covering up of priestly sex abuse when he was the archbishop of Munich and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has to do, in part, with the separation of the figure of the pope from the life of the person who becomes pope. The donning of the white apparel from the moment of his election (a 16th century custom); the changing of the name of the person elected (not an ancient custom); the seclusion of the pope as the 'prisoner of the Vatican' up until Woytyla; and the radical separation of the pope from the ordinary life of people all contribute to the mystification of the papacy. Josef Ratzinger, like his predecessors from the middle of the 19th century, has disappeared, has been obliterated by His Holiness, the Holy Father. The demythologization of the papacy would help us to accept the mistakes in judgment made by the person before his election to the papal office as well as mistakes made in office. 'Papal infallibility' is so carefully proscribed as to be almost non-existent; it certainly does not apply to either ordinary, every day utterances of the pope or even ordinary official statements on faith and morals. Admission of errors made during his administration of the archdiocese of Munich and his prefecture at the CDF would go a long way toward helping us to understand better the man who has been called to the highest office in the largest Christian Church in the world—and to support him with our prayers.

Response to Fr. Michael Crosby NCR Mar 30, 2010

Reading Fr. Crosby’s response to Sr. Sandra Schneider’s article on ‘ministerial religious life’ was one of those ‘grace-filled’ moments that we enjoy all too rarely. As a secular priest who has no vocation for celibacy, poverty, or obedience in the ‘religious order’ sense of those terms, whose ministry has been mostly teaching at a university, I read Sr. Sandra’s articles [devoured them, I guess] at the level of spiritual reading. She caused me to reflect upon my own ‘ministerial’ life as priest and professor. Is my life less ‘ministerial’, less ‘religious’ than the lives of my sisters and brothers in ‘religious orders’? I hope not. And now, Fr. Michael’s article in response to Sr. Sandra’s. What I find is a ministerial religious continuum along which we all find ourselves—and that our lives together form a messy kind of ‘community’ along Fr. Michael’s fourth model.
There is a tension between the universal call for all followers of Jesus to minister to others according to their needs, and the institutionalization and control of those ministries by a hierarchical, authoritarian, patriarchal sector of the church. At least since post-Constantinian times, the church seems to consist of at least two ‘types’ of Christians: ‘conventional’ Christians who uninterestedly and minimally do what they are required to do in order to maintain their ‘membership’; and ‘intentional’ Christians who see themselves as engaged in their ministries because they are religious. Francis of Assisi is a good example of the latter. As a layman, he did not seek official recognition by the institutional church but was persuaded to receive tonsure thereby coming under the jurisdiction of the church. This can be seen as the church using its power to dominate and control a religious movement that challenged the institutional church’s authority.
I agree with Fr. Michael’s criticism of the anachronistical ‘proof-text’ approach to justifying later developments. Whatever ‘leaving one’s possessions and not marrying’ may have meant among the early followers of Jesus, it is difficult to trace a direct connection between that and the development of the lives of the ’desert fathers [mothers?]’ and other forms of ascetic life, largely in the eastern church. Despite pre-Benedictine ‘religious’ examples [e.g., pre-Benedictine Farfa in Italy], the Benedictine model dominated the development of ‘religious’ life in the western church; and it was not focused on ministry to the world outside the monastery. Women’s religious orders followed the same model. Not until the thirteenth century do we find Francis and Dominic founding orders designed to ‘minister’ to the world outside the cloister. And women were not permitted to follow their brothers in that vocation: Franciscan and Dominican nuns were required to live the same cloistered lives as their Benedictine sisters. The establishment of women’s religious communities to serve ‘ministerial’ needs in the world outside the convent is a relatively new development [18th century?] and certainly one that finds inspiration in the women of the original community gathered around Jesus.
The desire [even need] that we have to ground all that we do in reference to the original ‘Jesus community’ is understandable. If we see the New Testament as being the Word of God, then we want it’s authority for what we do. But, like the early Christians who wrote the ‘New Testament’, perhaps we need to look to our experience of the living ‘Word of God’, Jesus himself, in our midst, for the inspiration of the ways in which we live out our Christian lives. As the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’, so the ‘proof of our Christian lives is in their living’.
Whether as ‘religious’ or just ‘intentional’ Christians, we are to live our faith daily, always seeking, being challenged, never absolutely certain about tomorrow’s Christian life, but certain that we walk ‘surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses’ and accompanied by the living ‘Word of God’, Jesus himself.

Response to article on excommunications in Phoenix abortion case-NCR 18 May 2010

This case is an example of how incorrect language leads to incorrect actions. The phrase "unborn child" was--apparently--used by the religious authorities to justify the excommunication of Sr. McBride and others who concurred with the termination of the pregnancy. There is no such being In either canon law or civil law as an "unborn child". An embryo or fetus only becomes a "child" upon birth; until then it is human tissue and does not qualify--either in church or civil law--for the status of being a "person". Only "persons" are subject to the law and its protections. Bishops, priests, lawyers, judges, and others involved in making critical decisions such as the one at issue in this case have a moral obligation to make "informed" recommendations in such cases. The use of the term "unborn child" reveals a level of ignorance--at best--or deliberate obfuscation that serves no one except ideologues.
The circumstances in Roman Catholic moral theology in which the death of an embryo or fetus is morally acceptable as a result of an allowable medical intervention are arcane at best and certainly beyond the expertise of most of the people engaged in the kind of emergency decision making required in most such cases. The excommunication of Sr. McBride and all others who participated in advising or performing the termination of pregnancy in this case--including the pregnant woman!--is a prime example of the kind of second guessing and uncharitable arrogance and lack of basic Christian concern for the welfare of others that characterizes many of those who are in leadership positions in the church.
Would it really have been a better expression of the Christian message to allow the pregnant woman to die along with the 11-week old embryo?

Response to an article by Fr. R. McBrien in the National Catholic Reporter c. 02-24-2010

Some interesting comments--someone seems to have hit a nerve! But, getting back to what Fr. McBrien was writing about: internal divisions within the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion--or the Roman Catholic Communion and the Anglican Catholic Church. I admire and have always benefited from Fr. McBrien's writings: theologically acute; readable; appealing to the only authority really worth having--moral authority. I agree that the Anglican Communion (the third largest Christian body in the world after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches and which also considers itself to be an authentically Catholic Church) must deal with the problem of the status of gay and lesbian people in the Church and in the world. There are questions which, once raised, must be addressed without hesitation: slavery, civil rights, the equality of women are all examples; one could go on to hunger, disease, housing, education, medical care. The point is that the place and role--the radical equality--of gay and lesbian people in the Church and in the world was raised and continues to be raised. Martin Luther King's "Why We Can't Wait" is an eloquent response to those who would rather postpone or simply not deal with the question. Scientific knowledge and medical opinion based upon it provide no foundation for the opinion that gay and lesbian (as well as bi-sexual and transgendered) people are aberrant or perverse: they occur in nature just as heterosexual people do. The incidence of their occurrence may be less than that of heterosexual people, but they are just as "normal". Once we accept the arguments of science and medicine--and those who do not offer no convincing opposing  views--the consequences of that acceptance seem reasonably clear: discriminating against gay and lesbian people is contrary to our Christian commitment as well as their rights in a just society--or just church, for that matter. And, so, Anglicans have no choice but to insist on addressing the "homosexuality" question and responding to it out of convictions based on rational discourse as well as faith.
As to "bad" or "lapsed" Roman Catholics. My experience, admittedly anecdotal, is supported by the studies that have been done: there is little homogeneity. Some have left because of individual and personal experiences of priests or ecclesiastical authorities that angered or offended them in some way. Others have left because they could no longer in good conscience accept what was offered to them as the "church's teaching". Others have simply found the Church to be irrelevant to their lives. In my experience, most of the former Roman Catholics (or about-to-become-former Roman Catholics) with whom I have some relationship have left or considered leaving around disagreements with the church having to do with sexuality: artificial contraception; marriage of the clergy; ordination of women; admission to communion of divorced and remarried people; women's freedom of choice about abortion; and the place of lesbian and gay people in the church. According to almost all of reliable studies, the majority of practicing Roman Catholics in the US disagree with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on all of these issues (except, perhaps, on the question of freedom to choose to terminate a pregnancy); and, yet, they remain in the church and do not consider their rejection of the church's teaching to be an obstacle to being faithful Catholics. As one of them said to me recently, "Did the Incarnation really take place in order to control people's sex lives?" Many who have left the Roman Catholic Church, however, found themselves unable to be members of a church that teaches what the Roman Catholic Church teaches.

Perhaps, in the Anglican Communion/Roman Catholic desire to find a middle ground that may increase our participation in our Lord's desire that the Church be one, we should encourage (as Pope Benedict XVI has done) Anglican dissidents to join the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholic dissidents to join the Anglican Communion. I have not heard the Archbishop of Canterbury explicitly welcome dissident Roman Catholics to become part of the Anglican Communion, but I am certain that he would not be displeased if that were to take place. Maybe then we would experience a cross fertilization that would eventually lead to a renewed ecumenical desire.

Health Reform

Many of us are disappointed in the health reform law because it does not go far enough, goes too far, or contains provisions that we disagree with. An Italian proverb says, “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” Are we willing to sacrifice the good achieved for the unachievable goal of universal agreement? Abortion and less radical means of controlling pregnancy have become the litmus test for all discussion having to do with the morality of “interfering” with nature. There is a sharp difference between anti- and pro-choice advocates. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church and its magisterium is that no women should ever have the choice of having an abortion regardless of the circumstances. Some Roman Catholics do not believe that the church has the right to impose its moral views on non-Roman Catholic women; other Roman Catholics disagree with the institutional church’s position altogether. Most non-Roman Catholic Christians disagree to one extent or another with the Roman Catholic position.

The argument of anti-choice moral theologians is based on the opinion that an embryo/fetus is an appropriate subject, i.e., a “person”, under both canon and civil law.  However, both church canon law and civil law have traditionally held the view that an embryo/fetus achieves personhood upon birth and not before. Of course, as human tissue, like a human organ or limb, the product of a spontaneous abortion is to be treated with the appropriate respect. There is provision in canon law for the baptism of an aborted fetus if it is alive. A fetus that has been separated from the womb and is still alive is, by definition, no longer a fetus but a “child”, i.e., a “person’ and, as such, a suitable candidate for baptism. Liturgically, we celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation not on March 25 [the Feast of the Annunciation], but on December 25, when Jesus’ human birth is celebrated.

That an embryo/fetus has no rights under either canon or civil law because it is not a “person”, i.e., not an appropriate subject in law, prevents a pregnant woman from being criminally prosecuted in the event that harm or death should come to the embryo/fetus through some action or inaction on her part (e.g., smoking, the abuse of alcohol or other drugs, etc.). If the argument that an embryo/fetus is—under law—a “person” were to be accepted by the courts, a pregnant woman could face criminal charges ranging from assault and battery to first degree murder in the event of harm to or death of the embryo/fetus in her uterus provoked by some action on her part. That is a position that has never been taken either by the church or the civil courts.

Perhaps our discussion and energy would better serve our common interests if we confined it to the embryo in the third trimester, i.e., when it is potentially capable of extra-uterine survival. Roe v. Wade already treats third trimester abortions differently from earlier abortions. At that point in pregnancy, the extrauterine survivability of the embryo already creates circumstances that require special care.  Focusing on the increased potentiality of the fetus to become a legal “person” through birth or surgical removal from the womb may help us—Roman Catholics, other Christians and non-Christians—to come to a consensus in both church and civil law.

Name calling and punishing faithful Roman Catholics for differing with what is, after all, a patriarchal, authoritarian, hierarchical position held by a group of celibate men who are in no danger of being pregnant does not further the enterprise of rational discourse about moral theology within the Christian theological community or about ethics in the larger society. When one examines the obsessive concern with matters of sexuality within the Roman Catholic Church—celibacy of the clergy; ordination of women; equality within the Church of gay and lesbian people; teaching on contraception and abortion; the exclusion of remarried divorced people from communion; the legitimacy of scientific techniques (e.g., in vitro fertilization) to assist infertile couples to have children—give one the impression that the Incarnation took place in order to control people’s exercise of their sexuality or regulate gender issues.

One of the central questions has to do with natural law arguments and religious arguments. The conclusions of the former are “binding” on all by virtue of their reasonableness, whereas the conclusions of the latter are binding only on the “faithful”.

In response to Richard McBrien, NCR, 10 May 2010

Fr. McBrien's assessment of Papa Ratzinger's pontificate over the years and now has been both fair and forbearing. Many of us who knew Josef Ratzinger as a young and progressive theologian in Tuebingen and as a peritus to Cardinal Frings, one of the large group of northern European progressive bishops, and as an astute commentator and supporter of the decrees of Vatican II wondered what had happened to turn him into the perfect foil for Papa Woytyla in his tireless campaign against the reforms of Vatican II. He had become the sworn enemy of the progressive theologians and bishops with whom he had been closely allied. At Woytyla's death and during the conclave that followed, it seemed to many observers that Ratzinger and Cardinal Martini had become "stalking horses": Ratzinger for the anti-Vatican II forces and Martini of Milan for those cardinals who wanted to carry the conciliar reforms forward. It was not to be. The preponderance of Woytyla-appointed cardinals became clear in the almost immediate election of Ratzinger as pope. Even at the beginning of his pontificate, despite gestures such as the fraternal supper with Hans Kueng, he surrounded himself with supporters and protagonists of the anti-Vatican II movement already ensconced in the papal curia; his first encyclicals were theologically interesting but had little bearing on the plight of the post-Woytyla church. And, like George Bush with September 11 and Barack Obama with the recession, he was confronted almost immediately with the pedophile epidemic that many--erroneously--had thought to be confined to America. Suddenly, his beloved "Christian Europe" was deluged with the most sordid stories of children victims and the attempts of the institutional church to deny and sweep under the carpet one of the most vile episodes in the Church's history. Somewhere between an innocent bystander and an active participant in his own episcopate in Munich and his early years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was totally unprepared to find himself at the center of the present uproar.
Perhaps, if he had been able to clean out the corrupt upper levels of the curia and the equally corrupt bureaucracy that served that corrupt elite, he would now have people around him who could have given him better advice than that which he appears to be following. But, after all, they are the people who put him in power in first place.
Let us all continue to hold Papa Ratzinger in our prayers and to leave some room for God the Holy Spirit to work in the Church--She doesn't need all that much room to do her work. Maybe that once courageous and hopeful young Vatican II reformer-theologian is still in there somewhere and will come to the aid of God's church.

I believe that it is time for the Anglican Communion and, most especially, the Episcopal Church in the US, to welcome into this branch of ‘Christ’s holy catholic church’ those disaffected former Roman Catholics who are no longer able in good conscience to remain in the Roman Communion.

Pope Benedict XVI, by offering disaffected ex-Anglicans a place in the Roman Catholic Communion, has raised the issue—indirectly—of what we Anglicans can do about disaffected former Roman Catholics without being seen as proselytizing.

In an article in the National Catholic Reporter, January 11, 2010, Fr. Richard McBrien, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame University, wrote: “In late February 2008, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a major survey that found that nearly a third of U.S. Catholics have left the Catholic church. Some have joined other churches, but most have simply slipped from active membership in the Catholic church to become part of a group once described as "lapsed Catholics." This means that about 10 percent of all Americans today are former Catholics. “ It also means that most of the some 20,000,000 former Roman Catholics have not yet found a spiritual home.

In the Episcopal Church they will find a reformed Catholic church (the third largest Christian church in the world) that already exemplifies many of the characteristics that they had hoped to see in the Roman Catholic Church as a result of the Second Vatican Council:

·      A democratic church in which every office holder—lay or clergy—is elected by the people. From the parish priest to the diocesan bishop to the national presiding bishop, all are elected by the chosen representatives of the clergy and laity.
·      The Eucharistic liturgy with the Sacrament of Holy Communion as the principal act of worship on Sundays and major saints’ days. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available on an ‘all may; some should; no one must’ basis.
·      The freedom of clergy to marry.
·      Admission to Holy Communion of divorced and remarried people without annulment of the previous marriage.
·      Full equality of women including their admission to all of the ordained ministries of the Church: diaconate; priesthood; and episcopate.
·      Full equality of all people regardless of their sexual orientation.
·      Artificial contraception is not considered to be sinful; the freedom of women to follow their own informed consciences in regard to the termination of an unwanted pregnancy is approved by a majority of Episcopalians and is not censured by the church. Children and adults are taught the Christian faith in order to apply it to their own lives; priests and trained spiritual directors are available to assist them in their decision-making.

The suggestion that I make above is also based on my own personal experience of both Communions. I was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1954. I left the ministry of the Episcopal Church in 1959, became a Roman Catholic, and—after four and a half years of postgraduate study at the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Tuebingen, Germany—was ordained as a married Roman Catholic priest in Germany. I subsequently returned to the Episcopal Church and was restored to the Episcopal priesthood in 1992. In Tuebingen, I studied with a number of prominent Roman Catholic theologians, including Prof. Hans Kueng and then Prof. Josef Ratzinger; I attended a session of the Second Vatican Council and followed its deliberations closely; and I have continued to have many Roman Catholic priest friends and acquaintances, theologians among them. I share with many of my Roman Catholic friends—both practicing and no longer practicing—a concern for the spiritual welfare of those who have left the Roman Communion but who have not found a church within which to continue their Catholic faith and practice. I believe that ignorance of the reformed Catholic nature of our church prevents many former Roman Catholics from finding a new spiritual home among us. I believe that we have an obligation to address their plight and that the Pope’s offer to former Anglicans allows us to reciprocate in the same spirit of concern—on our part—for the welfare of former Roman Catholics.

I propose that the Episcopal Church engage in a campaign at the national, diocesan, and parish level to inform former Roman Catholics that “we recognize [them] as [members] of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive [them] into the fellowship of this Communion”. Former Roman Catholics already in our church, including clergy, could be enlisted to help others understand the needs of former Roman Catholics as they seek further information about our church. I—and, I am sure, others—have conducted workshops and seminars to explain the similarities and differences between our church and the Roman Catholic Church. Most of us, I am sure, would be willing to do that at the diocesan and parochial level as we welcome former Roman Catholics to become part of our church.  


[There is no need to create a separate ‘ordinariate’ for our former Roman Catholic sisters and brothers—they will feel at home with the liturgy of the Episcopal Church: it is practically identical to the liturgy that they have become accustomed to in the last three generations since Vatican II.]

[The news that the ex-Anglicans known as the Traditional Anglican Church in the US, along with similar groups in the UK and Australia, have made a request to be received into the Roman Catholic Church under the provision for “personal ordinariates” is not surprising. Having left the Anglican Communion, they were in an ecclesiastical ‘limbo’, not being in communion with any of the world-wide Catholic Communions, i.e., the Roman Communion; the Orthodox Communion; the Anglican Communion; and the Old Catholic Communion. The decision on the part of Pope Benedict to establish ‘personal ordinariates’ for ex-Anglicans should be seen as generous rather than opportunistic. After all, having left the Anglican Communion for reasons of conscience, they needed a spiritual home and the Roman Catholic  Communion of churches seems the most appropriate arrangement. It is, however, not without problems. The Vatican is willing to appoint bishops or other clerics as ecclesiastical authorities to govern these ordinariates, and they may be former Anglican priests or bishops. They must, however, be re-ordained in the Roman Communion; the Vatican, despite the recommendations of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, has not yet recognized the validity of Anglican orders. And, although Anglican priests who are married will be allowed to be reordained as married priests, bishops will not be allowed to be reordained as bishops if they are married. There is no indication whether married men will be eligible candidates for ordination to the priesthood in the newly established Anglican ordinariates. Women, of course will not be eligible for ordination in any of the three orders of deacon, priest, and bishop. So, despite the indication that Anglicanism has catholic elements that will be recognized and conserved, deacons, priests, and bishops will not be received in their orders but must be reordained if they wish to continue in the ordained ministry. Especially in the United States, these ex-Anglicans may find that many of their new Roman Catholic neighbors hold the same opinions on many subjects as their former Anglican neighbors held and with which they disagreed.]

Response to John Allen, NCR 29 May 2010

"Weeding out abusers, Scicluna implied, is a form of 'divine surgery' intended to save the body by amputating a diseased part."
Msgr. Scicluna's surgical metaphor is apt, but not far reaching enough: the surgery this time--to follow his metaphor--would have to reach into the very trunk of the "body" and not confine itself to the "fingers and toes" in order to "save the body". The sex abuse scandal has become a symptom of the corruption that now leads back to the central authority of the Roman Catholic Church touching even the Pope's own career as archbishop of Munich and Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The cardinals and other prelates of the Papal Curia, the very Magisterium itself, have been revealed as sources of the neglect, greed and self-seeking that have affected priests and bishops at the local level. Msgr. Scicluna's "abusers" turn out to be--perhaps unintended by him--not just the pedophiles and the bishops who protected them but the cardinals and other prelates at the very center of the Church who fostered the poisonous atmosphere that now appears at every level. The "system" itself breeds corruption: removal of individuals will only make room for successors who will in their turn be corrupted by the same system.

What, then, might replace this outdated, medieval, ‘divine rule by prelates’ system? What then might the ideal "cure" look like? There are models that have worked well in other institutional churches. One such model, adapted for the Roman Catholic Church, might look something like this:
1. Election of parish priests by parish representatives from a list of qualified priest candidates, men and women, married and unmarried, in consultation with the bishop;
2. Election of diocesan bishop by lay and clerical representatives from each parish to be ratified by a majority of bishops ordinary in the archdiocese and in consultation with representatives of the Holy See;
3. Election of archbishops by bishops and lay and clerical representatives of the dioceses in consultation with the Holy See;
4. Election of the Pope by archbishops and lay and clerical representatives from national churches;
5. Establishment at every level of appropriate elected legislative, executive and administrative bodies;
6. Establishment of regular [triennial? quadrennial?] ecumenical councils of bishops ordinary and elected lay and clerical representatives, under the presidency of the Pope, to deal with international ecclesiastical issues; and
6. Establishment of appropriate ecclesiastical courts at each level--diocesan, archdiocesan, national, and international to ensure transparent administration of justice and arbitration of conflicts.

Such a reform would, of course, be a radical change from the present authoritarian, masculine, and hierarchical system. It would create transparency and accountability through a governance of the Church that includes all of the faithful. (Even if one grants the special role of the Pope as ‘primus inter pares’, the absolutist rule of the papacy over the whole church flies in the face of history: the church that lies at the center of present day Roman Catholic ecclesiology has never existed. When the attempt was made in the eleventh century to force this view on Eastern Christendom, the eastern half of the ‘orthodox’ church separated itself
from the western half. Papal authority and governance over the entire ‘catholic’ church never came into existence.) Authority would be from the base up instead of from the top down: the whole church would be involved and the local church at its appropriate level, creating transparency and accountability. 

Written in response to an article published in the National Catholic Reporter c. 01-01-2010

In his conversation with NCR, however, Marini said that undoing those reforms is not what he had in mind. Marini conceded that the liturgical winds are blowing in a traditional direction, but said any change should happen slowly and without new upheaval.

“I believe it’s a matter of consolidating what we already have, in a more authentic way, according to the true mind of the church,” Marini said. He said that’s what Benedict has in mind when he talks about “development in continuity.”

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, presently headed by Spanish Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares.

In his Jan. 6 speech, Marini also pointed to certain specific practices that have been adopted in Benedict’s own liturgical celebrations. They included placing a cross on the altar during Mass, so that both priest and people are oriented toward God rather than one another, and the practice of administering Communion to people on the tongue while kneeling rather than taking it in the hand while standing.

Marini told NCR, however, that Benedict’s style is to “propose” these practices so that they may be slowly “welcomed” into the life of the church, rather than imposing them by authority.

“It’s the style of the current pope to move forward not by imposing things, but proposing them. The idea is that, slowly, all this may be welcomed, considering the true significance that certain decisions and certain orientations may have,” Marini said.
Marini did not rule out, however, that such practices might be made binding at some future point.
“Whether sometime down the line, in the future, what the pope is presenting should become more of a disciplinary norm [for the whole church], we don’t know and can’t say,” he said.

“What’s important now is that both forms of the Roman rite look upon one another with great serenity,” he said, “realizing that both belong to the life of the church and that neither is the only true, authentic expression.”
In general, Marini suggested, anyone expecting a dramatic liturgical overhaul from Benedict is likely to be disappointed.
“The pope has a vision based on great faith in the life of the church,” he said. “The church has its own sense of time, its own rhythms. … Sometimes things can’t just be imposed. They have to slowly enter into the way of thinking of the church, its way of feeling, its climate.
“Within that,” Marini said, “maybe one can eventually arrive at providing a more precise disciplinary norm, but maybe first you have to shape a consensus.”

The following is a response to an article published in the National Catholic Reporter c. 03-01-2010

What a wonderful idea. Thank you. Maybe we can get some sense of what's important in talking about the Eucharistic liturgy. The lead sentence in the final paragraph of the 'liturgy wars' article is, "Can the factions that fought, sometimes bitterly, come together in the future in the kind of unity the liturgy begs?" It seems to me that the word 'unity' is a key in this dialogue. If we can all agree that there is no one 'right' way to celebrate the Eucharistic within the parameters that are set; that, in fact, 'unity' is desired--perhaps required--but 'uniformity' is not. Can we agree on the fundamental framework that constitutes a celebration of the Western Rite (read: Latin Rite) liturgy. After all, within the Roman Catholic Communion there are some 20 churches that do not use the Latin Rite at all.
What do we do, then, when we come together to celebrate the Eucharist: we gather; pray; hear readings from the Scriptures; listen to a homily (ordinarily); recite the Creed (a 10th century novelty); pray for ourselves and others; bring our offerings to the altar; pray a Great Thanksgiving prayer, including the 'institution narrative'; conclude with the prayer Jesus taught us to pray; exchange the Peace with one another; receive the Body and Blood of Jesus under both species or one; conclude with a prayer, a blessing and a dismissal. I think that that is what we usually do and are used to doing. The question is not so much 'what' we do, but 'how'.
In the museum that once was the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, there is a set of pontifical vestments made by the priest and lay inmates to be worn by the bishop who was imprisoned with them. A German Catholic priest friend of mine was imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp along with other priests and lay people. One can imagine how different their hurried and 'underground' celebrations of the Eucharist were from a typical Papal Mass in St. Peter's basilica in Rome.
In the pre-Tridentine Western Church there were as many different versions of the Western Rite as there were local communities to celebrate them. In the Counter-Reformational haste to reimpose order and control over what remained of the Western Church under papal control, almost all of those rites were suppressed and the Roman Rite almost universally imposed. Some religious orders (e.g., Dominican, Benedictine, etc.) and some local uses (e.g., the Ambrosian Rite in Milan) were exempted; but the exemptions were rare.