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Part Four of a response to Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy’s critique of the traditional Latin Mass.

By Janet E. Smith, Crisis Magazine, Feb. 27, 2023

Janet E. Smith, Ph.D., is a retired professor of moral theology.


The third essay in this series reviewed some of the difficulties attendant upon the genesis of the Novus Ordo (NO). It also challenged that claim of Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy (CHW) that the traditional Latin Mass (TLM) was theologically flawed and that the Holy Spirit has clearly shown a preference for the NO. This essay shows the flaws in the claims of CHW that the NO (which adopts the non-unifying feature of using the vernacular of all nations and allows many interior options) works as a unifying force in the Church. It raises the question of why CHW do not make the same objections they make against the TLM against other legitimate rites. It shows that some of the objections made by CHW against the TLM are truer of some celebrations of the NO, especially those of the Charismatic movement. It challenges the claim that the NO has been the cause of the lively faith in some parts of Africa.

Janet E. SmithThe view that abrogation of the TLM and exclusive adoption of the NO is the path to unity is prima facie a claim hard to defend. The fact is that the NO by its very nature works against unity in that all language groups have their own vernacular liturgy—whereas having Latin be the universal language of the Church is a powerful unifying feature of the Mass.

The fact that the NO has many approved Eucharistic prayers, a variety of options, and even opportunities in the rubrics for extemporized comments makes the content of Masses different from Mass to Mass. And, of course, the “styles” of the priests who say the NO can be radically different, from devout adherence to the rubrics and a dignified and reverent demeanor, to the master of ceremony of an event, who ad libs as he considers suitable. Yes, the second is a regrettable deviation from what the NO should be, but it is not an uncommon reality, and one wonders if such deviations can ever be eliminated. ….

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