How to avoid being a liturgy extremist

SIR – The cover story “The kids are old rite” (September 1) seems to make a rigid division of Catholics into two categories, progressives versus traditionalists. Such rigidity is unhelpful. I am 67 and grew up first with the Old Rite, but accepted the liturgical changes when they came.

However, I never made the mistake of going to extremes and supporting one of the sides exclusively, and I am capable of valuing old and new liturgies. The progressives threw out the baby with the bathwater, rejecting perfectly good books and hymns, while the traditionalists were resistant to harmless and even helpful changes, such as altar girls and Communion in the hand.

A balanced approach is necessary, one that discerns critically and thoughtfully and values the good in the old and the new. My short period in seminary showed me that there were so-called progressives who were deeply intolerant of traditionalists and showed them no respect whatsoever. Once when we were discussing liturgy I objected that there were ordinary Catholics who liked the old ways. A progressive responded with “They’ll get what they are given,” and no one thought such arrogant disrespect to be worthy of comment or criticism. Too many of the progressives drew their inspiration not from truly Catholic traditions but from conventional liberalism. Yet the more extreme forms of traditionalism arose, probably, out of fear of change canonised as Christian thought.

Balance is needed, along with universal tolerance and respect by all participants in this debate.

Francis Beswick

Stretford, Greater Manchester

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