I AM an admirer of Hugh Williamson's historical novels; I have just bought and enjoyed his latest. So I am sorry that his letter (July 18) expresses such an unhistorical criticism of the present Pope for abrogating one of his predecessor's degrees.
He knows as well as I do that Popes, like other rulers, have to revise earlier legislation. This is done in order to keep the Faith which, in the Catholic Church, is a living tradition and not a mere collection of laws. It seems especially odd to attack Paul VI; no one could call him insensitive to the Tridentine view of papal authority, or of the Mass.
Mr. Ross Williamson writes as if the situation now were exactly the same as in the 16th century. Yet he knows quite well that all the Protestant traditions are in the process of recovering a deeper understanding of sacramental reality, and that since Pius XII's encyclical of 1945 (Divino Aifian le Spin/u) the Biblical movement among Catholics has received official encouragement. In this way Christians are beginning to converge, and to transcend the misunderstanding and divisions of the Reformation period.
As for the present reforms in the liturgy, they have been undertaken with the authority of the Council, the Pope and the local episcopates, advised by international teams of theologians and scholars. Some of us may not be happy with this or that aspect, hut none of us has the right to complain that what we are given is not orthodox. The new sacramental rites come to us with the full authority of the living apostolic office of the Church. What more can a Catholic want?
Meriol Trevor Bath.
Q0 the Latin Mass Society
" has come clean at last! Its petition to retain the so-called "Tridentine Mass" (July 18) demonstrates beyond all possibility of doubt that what actuates it is not primarily a love of Latin but a determined opposition to change of any sort — even when this is manifestly for the better and due to the spontaneous initiative of the highest authority in the Church, a Pope and Ecumenical Council.
Indeed, one is compelled to infer from Hugh Ross Williamson's long Apologia in the same issue that in his opinion (and presumably that of his friends) the present Pope has acted with no little temerity (if not doubtful authority) in setting aside the edict of his predecessor Pius V.
wonder if the Latin Mass Society has considered the confusion — not to say bickering and downright enmity — that would inevitably result from having two rival forms of If the old "Tridentine Mass" in Latin or even in the vernacular, was satisfactory, we should have stuck to it: but how many think it was? Certainly not the experts, or the Council, or the Pope.
On the other hand, if the "Normative Mass" now to be introduced is better in itself and more relevant to our needs today, then why wish to stick to an older form which is. in the opinion of those best fitted to judge, as well as of a vast number of ordinary Catholics, outmoded and npw largely irrelevant?
Frank R. James
AN interesting point is raised by Hugh Ross Williamson's letter in your July 18 issue. While much discussion is now being centred on the nature of papal authority an equally vital question appears to he the continuing validity of papal pronouncements.
Vatican II enunciated the principle of collegiality although (a point which is often ignored) limiting its extent to the Pope's discretion. The personal authority of the Pope as the Vicar of Christ was, however, emphatically reaffirmed even to the point where an obligation was laid upon all Catholics to accept his teaching as authoritative although this might not necessarily be delivered ex cathedra.
It would be interesting to learn by what authority the present Pope can set aside the decree regarding the Tridentine Mass made by Pope Pius V when the latter obviously intended it to be valid in perpetuity. The same considerations apply to the question of Anglican Orders. In declaring such orders to 'be null and void Leo XIII stated that his decision was absolutely binding on all his successors.
Could some authority explain how such definitive pronouncements, made with the full Apostolic authority of the Pontiff concerned, can be subsequently abrogated by a succeeding Pope?
W. A. Jones Dover