Friday, March 18, 2011

You can't make this stuff up.

In a BBC radio documentary about the current state of the Roman Catholic Church in England, the reporter covers several controversial elements that have torn congregations apart. Among them, whether or not the priest turns his back to the worshipers at a key point in the mass, and that old favorite, the sly return of the old rite, the Latin "extraordinary form" of the service.

A priest who is unrepentant about this harking back to older values, justifies his actions:

"People also complain that because of Latin, the mass can't be understood," he allows. "[But] the mass is not immediately intelligible in English either."

Nonplussed, the reporter asks politely "Isn't that a bit patronizing?"

"Of course, people can understand English," the priest concedes. "But I wouldn't necessary be able to understand somebody talking about high energy physics. In theology, and in the words of the liturgy, it is a technical and specialized language. The prayers of the church aren't an attempt to make that language intelligible to everybody, any more than a nuclear physics textbook for postgraduates would be written in language that I could understand."

Is it me, or is this . . . ?

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