Saturday, 28 February 2015

Dodgy Dutch

As I continue to wade through Bugnini's auto-hagiography, one of the recurrent issues is the Dutch church. They are for ever pushing the boundaries in every way.  For example: 'The Dutch were unwilling to translate the Roman liturgical books, but preferred to give rein to local free creativity.' (!) In fact as early as March 1965, long before authorised, 'translations of the Canon were beginning to circulate, along with texts o f new Eucharistic Prayers.' Nothing was done about this, of course: it merely provided the Consilium with the rationale to rush ahead with ditching Latin altogether, and writing their own, approved, new Eucharistic Prayers. At this stage, too, the Dutch bishops 'in order to retain control of liturgical development' were pressing for permission to 'develop and revise the presidential prayers of the Mass, to translate the Canon and the rites of holy orders, to use other Eucharistic Prayers that would be approved by the Holy See, to allow the laity to distribute communion, and to let them do so by placing the sacred host in the hand of the faithful.'

And then of course, there was the infamous Dutch Catechism (1966), written by Schillebeeckx et al. This was found to be defective by the Holy See, in its presentation of original sin and related doctrines, Christ's atoning satisfaction and sacrifice, the sacrificial character of the Mass, the priestly nature of the ordained ministry, the Church's teaching authority and various other issues, including suggesting that artificial contraception was legitimate.  But it was fiercely defended by the Dutch bishops, and there was a nasty propaganda campaign run against the Holy See for having the temerity to point out its defects and demand that future editions contain a supplement to pull it back towards Catholic teaching.

I don't know much about the history of the Church in the Low Countries. The hierarchy seems to have been heroic, though possibly naive, during the Second World War, openly denouncing the Nazis. But since then, the Dutch Church seems to have moved further and further from orthopraxis and then from orthodoxy. Liturgically, even before the Second Vatican Council, it seems to have been 'creative.' The Dutch Catechism suggests that heteropraxis and heterodoxy went hand in hand - a lesson that is also applicable closer to home, of course.


Ttony said...

I thought I had posted on my blog, but can't find it there, a note I had of the French—that is, the French reformers—seeing WWII as the thing that changed everything: that the experience of the priests who had shared the sufferings of those deported as forced labourers, or who had been forced to work as ordinary working men had revolutionised their view of the place of the Liturgy in the life of the faithful, and thus of the Church.

I have speculated before that the Franco-German axis (sorry if the term is slightly unfortunate!) also reflects a post-war guilt about the fact that in neither country did the Church show clear leadership from the outset, and that this failure was somehow an inevitable result of sclerotic structures and praxis.

You can imagine certain contemporary German clerics with a wizened smile on their faces saying "Of course we'd rather not be doing this, but it's the only way we'll be able to stop the Dutch from going far too far by themselves".

Ben Trovato said...

Yes. Another of Bugnini's asides, on which he doesn't expand, alas, refers to difficulties in the Low Countries 'chiefly because of the special liturgical situation in the Netherlands.'