What an amazingly sour and angry piece by Justine McCarthy about the Pope's decision to liberate the traditional Mass (Irish Independent, July 10). It was as though Pope Benedict had cancelled everything that Vatican II had decided, and called a Holy War against women as well.
All he has done is give those of us who prefer the Tridentine rite a better chance of access to it, but with many restrictions. He says that the Tridentine rite and the newer rite, the liturgy approved by Pope Paul VI, are equally valid.
Nowhere does he say, even implicitly, that the newer rite is inferior or that it should be restricted in any way whatsoever (though he does suggest, very tactfully, that priests sometimes go too far in the direction of what he kindly calls "creative" interpretations).
I was a child when the Tridentine Mass was replaced everywhere with the new rite. I go to a Mass of the new rite when I am away from home, but at home I always attend a Tridentine celebration.
My missal has no "faded ribbons" like those Ms McCarthy says she saw; it is two years old and I bought it over the Internet, and the ribbons are bright and new. Neither I nor anyone else in our congregation cares whether women have their heads covered or not.
I go to the Tridentine Mass when I can - not because I think it is correct or better in itself, but because it is more obviously directed towards God, not inwards to the priest and the congregation, and because I want to pray in my own head along with the priest. He is not turning his back on us; he is speaking to God for us all and we are able to concentrate on our collective worship without distractions.
Ms McCarthy might be surprised at what a sense of unity and community we have if she met us after Mass is over.
Ms McCarthy complains about several things in the Church that she does not like, though bringing in Tony Blair and the Iraq war is stretching things a bit, because Pope John Paul II opposed it and Pope Benedict has taken the same line.
However I cannot imagine the Roman Catholic Church ever giving her everything she wants without making its identity meaningless (somewhat unlikely, because of who founded it and of its life for the last 2,000 years).
So I think those of us (still a comparatively small number) who want to attend the Tridentine Mass are not really her main problem.
* Increasing numbers of people are turning away from the Catholic Church because it is seen as being stuck in the past, distant, out of touch, and irrelevant. So what is the Church's solution? To revive a Mass where the priest turns his back to the audience and speaks in a dead language that nobody in the audience will understand. I am sure that this will be of tremendous help in addressing the Church's communication problems.
* Justine McCarthy complains of "distainful squinting" at her uncovered head while attending a Latin Mass.
What would she say to the cultural imperialist who enters a Muslim, Jewish or Hindu place of worship without ascertaining the customs of dress and then chides the regular worshippers for having their own customs?
The fact that the particular custom in question is based on good Biblical authority (1 Corinthians, Chapter 11) is neither here nor there.