Daily Archives: May 13, 2011
Universae Ecclesiae is, then, finally out.
In the next days there will be plenty of time to review and examine in detail the aspects and the reactions to this Ecclesia Dei document. I will here only write some short observations about what I think are the main events.
1) The Tridentine Mass is here to stay. No ifs, no buts. Those Bishops who had hoped that the Tridentine would have been relegated to small group of traditionalists have been utterly defeated. The two rites exist alongside, a very powerful way to say what was meant from the beginning but was never understood from the professional deaf. In my eyes, the very expression “Extraordinary Form” should now slowly be abandoned to say things as they were said before the Great Madness: Tridentine Mass, and that’s that.
2) This document is directed to the Bishops. It basically says to them what they must now start to do to do things properly.
3) At the same time, the documents takes the control of the process – at least in theory – out of the Bishops’ hand and puts it in the hands of Ecclesia Dei. Ecclesia Dei will decide about controversies, and bishops can then (merely) escalate the conflict to the Signatura Apostolica. This is in my eyes the clearest sign of the punishment of the bishops for having failed to give honest application to Summorum Pontificum, and of the mistrust they have earned in this matter. How the liberals have fallen.
4) The “stable group” has explicitly no minimum number. This means in extreme cases……. three people? Or just two? No priest can say that the group is not big enough, or not stable enough. Similarly, no priest can say that the group can’t have the Tridentine because they are not traditionalists in SSPX-style. This will be fun.
5) The 1962 missal applies. No bollocking around. No altar girls, no communion in the hand, no communion in standing, no strange vestments, no strange innovations. The praxis of the 1962 missal rules. You can’t kneel? You can receive in standing rather than not receive (as in the past). You can kneel? Well, then….
6) Religious orders can have their own Tridentine as they used to have. The hunt is open for a good Tridentine Mass with the specificities of the orders (say: the Franciscan, or the Dominican one, etc). This will be good in order to see whether some vitality has remained in some of those orders (say: the Dominicans) or whether they are already doomed (say: the Jesuits, the Franciscans).
7) Unfortunately, no provision for the Ambrosian Rite. As Universae Ecclesiae strengthens the praxis of the Tridentine Mass, I’m sure extra provisions will come in due time.
8 ) Only weak point: no compulsory training in the Tridentine for seminarians. This is odd. In the very moment in which it is clearly said that the Tridentine exists alongside the Novus ordo, this “alongside” is not made compulsory. It sounds like a driving school training you in the use of the stick, but not of the clutch pedal.
Clearly, enforcement is where this document will stand or fail as a useful instrument to the practice of the Tridentine Mass. If Ecclesia Dei shows a robust hand in dealing with the unavoidable resistance of the bishops, things will progress smoothly. If not, this will only be added to the long list of documents made to be ignored (a beautiful example is Veterum Sapientia). Also, the silent threat to the priests of liberal dioceses will, at least initially, remain. It is only when the number of Tridentine masses spreads, that many priests will be able to introduce it without fear of retaliation.
I remember very well the alarm at the clearly attempted sabotage of these instructions. It is beautiful, in this day of Fatima, to remember those frantic days and celebrate today’s relief and hope.
This document is a knockout blow to liberal bishops. They will get up and continue the fight, no doubt; but after Universae Ecclesiae, they must feel rather groggy.