Monday, October 30, 2006

In a snit about Latin, James Carroll gets it wrong...again

There's so much bosh in Former Altar Boy/Present Dissident James Carroll's Boston Globe op-ed today it's difficult to know where to start, but his attempt to make Protestant William Tyndale into a martyr seems as good a place as any.

The prophet of English translation was a priest named William Tyndale, whose version of the New Testament appeared in 1526. A decade later, precisely for this translation, he was burned as a heretic...

Not quite. First, the implication that the burning was done by the Church should be corrected. It wasn't. Tyndale was arrested by the secular Holy Roman Empire (which at the time was neither Roman nor particularly holy) and ultimately executed.

Indeed, the Church did condemn Tyndale's "translation" and with good reason. Not only was it laden with errors -- Tyndale was no scholar -- but it contained a prologue filled with condemnations of the Church of Rome.

Even after his own break with Rome, King Henry VIII, the self-styled head of the Church of England, condemned Tyndale's work, forbidding his subjects to read it.

Carroll ends his piece with a swipe at the Holy Father:

One still hears of Catholic nostalgia for the Latin Mass. Classicists regret the loss of the Church's museum function. Esthetes decry the banalizing of liturgy in which all worshippers are fully able to participate. More pointedly, reactionaries have never stopped campaigning for the restoration of Latin, understanding its twin significance as symbol and pillar of the old order. Unsurprisingly, that campaign has been reinvigorated lately, with a blessing from Pope Benedict -- a futile shoring up of a rapidly collapsing clericalism.

First of all, Carroll's confusing the "Latin Mass" with the Tridentine Mass. Any priest can celebrate the Mass of the Second Vatican Council in Latin -- and many do! Many parishes bring Latin into the Mass...the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus, for examples, on a regular basis.

Secondly, the notion that the desire for Latin is based on "nostalgia" is utter hogwash. Some of the most ardent supporters of the Tridentine Mass I know weren't even born before Vatican II!

Finally, there's this flat-out piece of fiction:

Once Catholics entered into the mystery of the Mass as literate participants instead of as dumb spectators, an unprecedented renewal took hold. The vitality and warmth of today's typical liturgy, involving intelligible encounters with sacred texts, has Catholic parishes surprisingly full, even in a time of widespread disillusionment with clerical leadership.

Nope. Most Catholics don't "participate" in Sunday Mass at all. Where's Mister Carroll been?

For an interesting article that sheds light on William Tyndale, see This Rock, December 2002.