Friday, February 13, 2009

Modern-day Roman Catholic Simony

Noted blogger Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) conducting an interview with Pope Nicholas III (ca 1220-1280) from the latter's Eighth Circle of Hell office while doing some research about simony

There is nothing that unites Lutherans more than attacking the Roman Catholic Church. So, in the interest of Lutheran unity, here is a piece by Roman Catholic columnist Jeffrey Tucker that is critical of the Roman Catholic Church's use of copyright to limit access to liturgical texts.

Can you imagine that? Putting the ancient texts of the Church under copyright and limiting access to those texts to "paying customers"? "When the coin in the coffer rings..."

Goodness! Why, that would be like not letting parents write out the text of Luther's Small Catechism or make verbal recordings of it to teach their children the faith. That would be like making congregations buy licenses to reprint the ancient words of the Church's common liturgical treasure in their bulletins. In some cases, church bureaucrats could even use copyright laws to limit the access of congregations to materials they no longer publish, but refuse to release to the public domain in order to bully them into buying the new materials. Perhaps even bloggers who simply want to put the church's collects on their blogs will be contacted by papal henchmen with cease and orders from the Purple Pal..., er, I mean, the Vatican, and forced instead to use versions of other church bodies who have placed their translations into public domain.

Can you just imagine how vile that would be?

Why, next thing you know, someone will suggest that videotaping a church service is a copyright violation. Can you just imagine the ultimate act of Antichrist, say, the pope actually threatening legal action against a priest and a layman for, say, trademark infringement? So, all the good Lutherans out there who know being the first to throw stones at the pope is as Lutheran as lutefisk on Friday, well, here is your chance to take a few "pope-shots" at the modern practice of simony.

And if we get 95 comments, we can call them "Theses" and nail them to the church door (er, the Theses that is, not the bureaucrats).

[Note: I also published this at Gottesdienst Online, click here to join the discussion in that forum. +HW]


Pastor Wolfmueller said...

From TLH page 2:
"We have freely used whatever we found of value and, by way of acknowledgment, have carefully indicated all sources. In turn, we freely offer for the use of others all original contributions or translations made by the committee as such or by its individual members."

I read those words as an offering of the hymnal into the public domain.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

That is how I read them as well, Fr. Wolfmueller. It seems pretty clear to me, despite what I have been told by more than one bureaucrat. That statement at the front of TLH reflects a remarkably churchly attitude, and so it is worthwile for more than merely practical reasons to constantly remind each other of that page.

wmc said...

TLH was produced in an era before Xerox and digital recordings.

Viewed in the best light, copyrights protect the integrity of a work against misuse or corruption (I'm assuming a free license). In the worst light, it is the increasing institutionalization of all things.

As for licensing fees, we do believe that the laborer is worthy of his hire (jwe preachers expect to be paid for our labors as instruments of the ), though in truth very little if any of a fee makes its way back to the composer/author.

I'm reminded of Acts 2: And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need.

How far we've come since Pentecost!

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as I'm concerned the Roman bishops are more than entitled to their copyright of the awful New American Bible.

Who would want it?

And sad to say, that goes for some of their liturgical texts, too.


Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Dear Christine,

Likewise, I must say I consider it no ultimate tragedy when we find difficulties in using certain modern Missouri Synod liturgical texts. It is an issue, however, in terms of what it says about the modern corporatized way in which the Synod evidently prefers to see itself.

Anonymous said...

Likewise, I must say I consider it no ultimate tragedy when we find difficulties in using certain modern Missouri Synod liturgical texts. It is an issue, however, in terms of what it says about the modern corporatized way in which the Synod evidently prefers to see itself.

Dear Latif, point taken. But with the advent of so many wonderful resources coming out of CPH, for instance the Treasury of Daily Prayer, we have a bulwark that the Catholic laity often don't.

Which leads me to present my bona fides. Born into a family of Lutherans and Catholics, my sister and I raised in our mother's Lutheran tradition.

In the mid-90's I became increasingly dissatisfied with the ELCA parish I was attending. I had attended LCMS congregations prior to that as a child.

Instead of looking for an LCMS parish that has bound itself to the Confessions and the historic liturgy I swam the Tiber thinking well, it's my dad's tradition, it just might fit.

It took me ten years to admit that the Catholic church I thought I was joining no longer exists. Mediocre liturgy and bad music I could have endured if the Catholic church since Vatican II were still authentically Catholic. She is not, and I realized again that to be Catholic is not necessarily the same as being catholic.

Last Sunday for the first time in many years I attended a local LCMS parish. It was like a breath of fresh air. All the things I loved about being Lutheran came back to me and I will be joining this parish.

So with apologies for my rambling, when the Catholic laity are stuck they are really stuck. The LCMS may indeed be wrestling with a "corporate" mentality but please be assured it exists in the USCCB, too. Fortunately, the Lutheran laity have always been encouraged to exercise (in the proper sense) the priesthood of all believers and are far more engaged theologically and practically than many of the Catholic laity who still think "Father" knows best.

It is good to be home. The parish where I am now worshipping uses both the LSB and the beloved TLH "Red Book."


Father Hollywood said...

Dear Christine:

Welcome back to Evangelical Catholicism! And thanks for your keen observations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Father Hollywood!

Goes to prove that one can fool some of the people some of the time -- but one can never fool oneself.

It's so good to be back!