Wednesday, July 18

NPR: Newspeak on Latin Mass

I recently contacted NPR about a report aired on the July 8 episode of Sunday Edition, "Pope Benedict Eases Restrictions on Mass".

Sylvia Poggioli says, at 1:47 into the four minute report, "In what was considered one of it's most important reforms, Vatican II allowed the priest to face and celebrate with the faithful..."

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common fallacies circulating regarding the recommended liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The realignment of the priest from an ad orientem to versus populum posture is neither called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium nor any of the other documents issued and endorsed by the Council.

That being the case, I submitted the following feedback to NPR via their website's "Contact Us" form:

"I have long listened to and enjoyed the commentary of Sylvia Poggioli on NPR, but have to call her out on an error of fact in the story, "Pope Benedict Eases Restrictions on Mass", aired July 8 during Weekend Edition Sunday. The Second Vatican Councils document on liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium -- whose text is available on the Vatican website in multiple languages -- never mentioned, let alone authorized a reversal of the ad orientem position -- that is, the priest facing the altar -- during Mass. This innovation was implemented by those who took the legitimate liturgical reforms intended by the Council well past the boundaries outlined in its documents."

I admit, having written many letters to the editor in my lifetime, I didn't necessarily expect a reply to my was more of a "get it off my chest" moment, which has merit in its own right, at times.

Then, as an old comedian once said, "A funny thing happened to me on my way to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite..." — a reply from a live human being at NPR! Now that's service, or so I thought...

Even sadder than the misinformation provided in the original story however, was the evasion of the facts in the reply they sent, the text of which is included below:

Thank you for contacting NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday. In the story about Pope Benedict, Sylvia Poggioli never actually stated that the Vatican II allowed for the priest to face the people; she simply says that the "Vatican II allowed the priest to faith and celebrate with the faithful who became much more active in the mass." Poggioli does comment on how 16th century Tridentine masses were held, stating that, "the priest faces the altar, spoke in Latin, often in a whisper, and had no contact with the faithful." We are always delighted to hear from listeners. As the primary news source for millions of Americans, it is our hope that the information provided will be both enlightening and suitable to your request. Should you have additional questions regarding your inquiry, please contact NPR Services at (202) 513-3232.

I'm assuming a veteran reporter of Sylvia's quality (sic) would not say "Vatican II allowed the priest to faith and celebrate with the faithful..." — that doesn't even make sense. Now, maybe if it were Sylvester the Cat replying...

That being the case, I've decided to continue my dialogue with NPR. That's what a good Vatican II Catholic is supposed to do, isn't it?

I submitted following reply...we'll see if they bite. If so, I'll be sure to provide an update. Until then, check out the audio clip and let me know if I am right or if I need to get fitted for an Ampli Ear.

Dear NPR Services, That isn't accurate...Sylvia does in fact state this. Go back and listen to the audio clip online. At 1:47 into the clip, Sylvia says, and I quote, "In what was considered one of it's most important reforms, Vatican II allowed the priest to face and celebrate with the faithful..." "In what was of it's most important reforms, Vatican II..." -- that is direct attribution of this orientation (to face...the faithful) when in fact the Council never stated or permitted this in any of its documents. I challenge anyone to present an official text of the Second Vatican Council to support this assertion! Is this NPR or Fox News?


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