A Response to the Ottaviani Intervention: Part 1 of 2

Part 2 will be coming soon.

This is not a complete disagreement with the contents of the Ottaviani Intervention. I can see how someone could view certain omissions in content and additions in content to the Novus Ordo Missae (NO) in the way that they do.

The Ottaviani Intervention was a short critical study of the NO prepared by a group of theologians presented to Pope Paul VI. Cardinal Ottaviani was one of the highest-ranking officials who signed the document. The study present certain reservations and accusations against the NO.

Claim in the cover letter by Cardinal Ottaviani: The theology of the Mass expressed in the Council of Trent, is departed from by the language used in the NO which can be widely and variously interpretated. “The pastoral reasons put forth to justify such a grave break, even if such reasons could still hold good in the face of doctrinal considerations, do not seem sufficient.”

Response: The Second Vatican Council called for changes. The changes received arguably were more than warranted from Sacrosanctum Concilium. Yet, the Pope still promulgated the NO. I think it is best to humbly submit our minds on this one. Still there is nothing wrong with holding such a break was not warranted. It is extremely difficult to determine what factors resulted in a dwindling Western (Not Eastern) Church attendance. (See Mass Exodus by Stephen Bullivant)

Claim in the cover letter by Cardinal Ottaviani: Chaning the Mass in a major way will cause the faithful to believe that what has been always held by Christian people be changed or ignored without infidelity to the sacred deposit.

Response: Not changing the Mass could result in the faithful holding that the faith does not relate to them in the modern world. When Saint Pope Pual VI maintained the Church’s stance on contraception, perhaps even more people than due to the changes of Vatican II left the Church. (Again, see surveys in Mass Exodus)

Claim: In article 7 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GRIM) “It states that Christ’s promise, (Where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst) applies to this assembly supremely. Thus, the GRIM puts Christ’s promise (which refers only to His spiritual presence through grace) on the same qualitative level (save for greater intensity) as the substantial and physical reality of the sacramental Eucharistic Presence.

Response: First, article 7 used the word eminenter, this can be translated as an outstanding way and does not necessarily mean supremely. Secondly, Pope Pual VI revised the text in a presumed response to the Intervention and changed the text of article 7. Article 7 is now article 27 in current form of the GRIM and now reads “27. At Mass that is, the Lord’s Supper the People of God is called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord, the Eucharistic Sacrifice. For this reason Christ’s promise applies in an outstanding way to such a local gathering of the holy Church: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20). For in the celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very liturgical assembly gathered in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the Eucharistic species.” (Refer to the Holy See)

Claim: In article 7 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GRIM) the language does not “in the very least” imply the Real presence, the reality of the sacrifice, nor the sacramental function of the priest who consecrates. “… omitting these dogmatic values by going beyond them amounts, at least in practice, to deny them.”

Response: First, article 27 (the current place of article 7) has been updated to reflect the comments of the Intervention (See above). Second, just as we interpret Saint Pual’s Roman’s 10:9-12 together with his other works, we must also interpret the GRIM in the same way. Not every sentence nor even the document itself need to place the same emphasis as previous documents as long as they don’t clearly and directly reverse Church teaching. Vatican II had called for different emphasis on liturgical items which the GRIM was expressing. It was not to be viewed as a reprobation of the Real presence and the reality of the sacrifice. Just as we view through faith alone, in the context of other books of the Holy Scriptures so to must the GRIM be seen in the context of tradition not suspicion.

Claim: It is impossible to understand how using this Missal (The Roman Missal of St. Pius V), along with proper religious instruction, could prevent the faithful from participating in the liturgy more fully or understanding it more profoundly.

Response: There is no reason why the same proper religious instruction could prevent the faithful using the NO from understanding the Real presence and sacrifice involved in the Mass all the while achieving the goals and emphasis request at Vatican II.

Claim: “The Instruction uses many different names for the Mass such as: Action of Christ and the People, Lord’s Supper or Mass, Paschal Banquet, Common participation in the Table of the Lord, Eucharistic Prayer, Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. All these expressions are acceptable when used relatively but when used separately and absolutely, as they are here, they must be completely rejected. ” “It is obvious that the NO obsessively emphasizes “super” and “memorial,” instead of the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.

Response: I think it is rather obvious for properly formed Catholics that the Lord’s Supper means the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The kind of Catholic who would see the Lord’s Supper as not involving a sacrifice and Real presence, is the kind who would view the TLM as an equally unenlightened event of clericalism. We cannot compare properly formed TLM Catholics with unformed NO ones.

Claim: The ultimate purpose of the Mass is the sacrifice of praise rendered to the Most Holy Trinity. “In the NO, this purpose has disappeared.”

Response: Please read the Gloria sung near the beginning of the Mass during Ordinary Time and Christmas seasons.


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