3) has done the Pope a cruel disservice. Even the lightest word of that brilliant holy priest merits attention. But by quoting Cardinal Ratzinger's opinions almost throughout in the present tense, Eamon Duffy contrives to suggest that the Holy Father holds them now as the teaching of the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger was not a liturgist. If as Pope he has to pronounce on liturgy, his words will bear his unique stamp. But he will choose them with prayer and fasting, and the advice of many experts. He will not be bound by anything he has said in the past. Eamon Duffy is too intelligent not to see the confusion it causes here. I have reason to believe that on the strength of his article one simple soul at least has taken Cardinal Ratzinger's past opinions for current Papal pronouncements.
Mr Duffy adds his own "balancesheet". He objects to short, clear rites, free from useless repetition. Do long, confusing rites full of useless repetition honour God or edify the faithful? Our rite, he says, was conceived "as pedagogy". Well, ours is a teaching Church and, true, the silences after the Word and the Eucharist enjoined by the Missal imply matter to reflect on and, certainly, the faithful should learn, in school at least, the meaning of the liturgical action. "Pedagogy", though, means something different: using the Mass to educate musical taste, for instance; or disciplining the faithful with less accessible texts. By "ritual regimentation" Eamon Duffy seems to suggest — rather arrogantly, one feels — that the faithful do not know what they are doing or saying. In fact the ritual of Pius V, even if it left the faithful to their own devices, gave far less room for choice to the altar-boy who spoke and acted the people's part by rote. I do not think St Pius X, the true begetter of the liturgical movement, lightly adopted that strong word "actuosa".
Eamon Duffy seems to miss the point of "ease of understanding". To understand the whole mystery of the Eucharist is beyond human power. But that does not justify language that hinders meditation, obscures what has been revealed, and replaces mystery by mysteriousness. To simplify is to heighten essentials, not remove them.
Some attributed Cardinal Ratzinger's sudden silence on things liturgical to a rebuke from Pope John Paul II. I'm rather inclined to think that, possibly in alarm at the kind of partisan he was attracting, more likely recognising in humility that he might well soon he Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger himself drew the line that Eamon Duffy so wantonly obscures.
Yours faithfully, TOM McINTYRE Frome, Somerset