See here a very optimistic Michael Voris about the soon to be released Instruction regarding Summorum Pontificum, about which much has been written on these pages.
Voris’ message is that his sources indicate two powerful measures in favour of the scope of Summorum Pontificum:
1) the instruction that one part of the seminarians (in every seminary, I assume) is to be instructed in the celebration of the Tridentine, and
2) words aiming at appealing to the bishops to stop boycotting Summorum Pontificum.
Whilst this sounds good at first sight, i can’t avoid posing myself the following questions:
1) what is of the already leaked – and confirmed from several sources – restrictions to the celebration of the Tridentine in the Diocese of Milan (Ambrosian Rite)?
2) What is of the also leaked rumours of ban of celebration of the Tridentine for ordinations, and of the old version of the Masses of religious orders?
Voris doesn’t say anything on this. One hopes that the outcry has been the end of those provisions. They were most certainly there as confirmed even by those who disputed their devastating influence on the edifice of Summorum Pontificum. But it goes on:
3) Why should the rectors of the seminaries take heed of what Pope Benedict says, perhaps giving some lips service if they really can’t avoid it, and
4) why should the bishops stops ignoring the Pope’s wishes now, when ignoring him is exactly what they have been doing all these years, unpunished.
At the root of the problems are not the bishops – whose allergy to proper Catholicism was always obvious – but Pope Benedict himself, who doesn’t do anything concrete to care that his “reform of the reform” is not only proclaimed, but seriously put to work. What we have, on the contrary, noticed is that those very same bishops who drag their feet and undermine his work are not only not punished, but are often promoted. There is nothing in Pope Benedict’s work that says that he doesn’t want to be only an innovator, but an enforcer of his own innovations.
On the other hand, the day Pope Benedict decides to force his bishops to acquiescence – I doubt it very much, but would be extremely happy to be contradicted by facts – he will not need any new documents, the removal of a dozen of the hardest cases being a rather more effective and immediate mean to this end.
As it is today, the impression is that Pope Benedict is happy to be the one who paves the way for a recovery of traditional Catholicism, without being the one who actually takes care that this recovery also happens in the lives of Catholics the world over. He probably thinks that this gradualisms will – as the Italians would say – save the goat of the “reform of the reform” together with the cabbages of the internal peace.
We will see. For the moment, I allow myself not to share Voris’ optimism both on the content of the Instruction, and on its ultimate application.
Messa In Latino has the latest news about the improvident instruction on Summorum Pontificum and the news are a mixed bag.
All the bad elements of the instructions are confirmed and seem now rather definitive: the non-application of Summorum Pontificum to the Latin rites who are different from the Roman rite, unfortunately, stays. This means that the diocese of Milan and – if memory serves – part of those of Lugano (5,000,000 faithful, Ambrosian rite) will be destined to be a Tridentine desert unless, as it has been suggested, the next Archbishop doesn’t provide a small “Summorum Pontificum” ad hoc. This is very, very bad and one can’t avoid seeing in this decision a kind of frightful ammunition given to the Sixty-eighters. Same situation for the rites of the religious orders (like the Dominicans), where the blow is a bit softened by the rather easier way to get over the ban (consent of superior suffices if the Mass is cum populo; no bishop required and no authorisation whatsoever if the mass is not cum populo).
Also confirmed is the fact that the Tridentine will not be used for ordinations, not even if authorised by the Bishop. Ordinations with Tridentine Mass will – obviously – remain for traditionalist orders, but that’s that. Interestingly, Messa in Latino points out to the fact that in France one-quarter of seminarians describes themselves as traditionalists even if not members of one of the traditionalist orders. This will certainly bring further and well-deserved sympathies – and probably further vocations, also fully deserved – to the SSPX.
In the disappointment of this and other, so to speak, minor bad news (all of them already known), one or two elements of improvements seem to have paved their way into the instruction, no doubt in order to give some token satisfaction to the very dissatisfied, ehm, serious Catholics. The two improvements would appear as follows:
a) in case of controversy between priest and Bishop, Ecclesia Dei decides. This is not much of a consolation as a priest is required to start an open war with his bishop before Ecclesia Dei is required to intervene in the first place; this is very far away from the original hope that Ecclesia Dei could appoint churches within the diocese to the celebration of Tridentine masses whenever the bishop slept. Still, it might make some bishop a bit more prudent, when he has a priest who is clearly imprudent.
b) The teaching of Latin in the seminaries is to be reintroduced. This is a bit of a joke as officially the teaching of Latin has never been abolished (Veterum Sapientia, I have written about it here) and the entire matter sounds not entirely credible, but one registers at least the token consolation and point of principle.
Summa summarum, the instruction remains very bad; a disappointment and a mistake, and a weapon in the hands of the trendies, but with some small half improvement and symbolic concessions meant to sweeten the pill.
Mala tempora currunt.
Dramatic news from Rome.
It would appear that the long-awaited clarification document on the application of Summorum Pontificum would pose heavy limitations to its celebrations. Such limitations might, in fact, not go beyond the boycott of the Tridentine already witnessed among large part of the Catholic hierarchy, but would give the clear message that such a boycott is not unwelcome after all or, said in a slightly less polemic way, that the times are considered not ripe for a generalised diffusion of the Tridentine.
I generally choose not to write about rumours, but this is worrying. Rorate caeli is on the barricades and they are certainly not the types prone to alarmist and hysteric shouting. Messa in Latino (a delicious Italian blog written with all the violent energy of passionate Italians, I do pity those of you who can’t read Italian and will henceforward consider myself utterly soft and ruined by years of living in England) is firing from all cannons and also makes nomi e cognomi (Monsignor Scicluna and Cardinal Canizares), the rumours are confirmed from different sources and in short, the alarm bell is ringing.
From the details transpired until now, it would appear that the clarifications are in the sense of
a) rigidly restricting the old rite to the proper Roman Rite (for example: no usus antiquior of the Ambrosian Rite), and
b) pointing out to the concept that the Tridentine is, so to speak, a separate exercise for those with certain “sensitivities” but not meant to influence and penetrate the liturgical life of the Church.
Messa in Latino calls this exercise annacquamento, anzi annegamento (“watering down, nay: drowning”) of Summorum Pontificum and it is clear to see why they would get so emotional: if a signal goes out that the Tridentine is something rigidly limited to sensitive, rather than meant to help the sensible, the knives will be out to relegate the Tridentine in the attic of liturgical praxis.
This is very, very bad and if confirmed would, I am afraid, be in indelible stain on the entire pontificate of Benedict XVI and indicate, as the Italian say, that he has grown “afraid of his own courage” and doesn’t want to encourage the strong wind of renewal (that is: restoration of tradition and sanity) clearly noticed in these last years.
I would be inclined to dismiss such fears, if the behaviour of the Pontiff in the last months would give me confidence that this rumours are unlikely to have any ground in reality. Unfortunately, the Pontiff’s careless words about condoms on one side and the extraordinary initiative of Assisi III on the other side do appear to justify the fear that this Pope is, so to speak, not really like wine.
Let us hope that all this is a tempest in a water-glass. But at this point it is fitting that there be a tempest.
Find here a list of addresses to contact the Vatican. Several email addresses are included. Be short and respectful. Please write to all email addresses you can get your hands on. Please everyone send a message to me with other relevant email addresses if you find any and I will update this page asap.
Pope Benedict: a) firstname.lastname@example.org or b) email@example.com
Cardinal Levada, CDF: firstname.lastname@example.org
Congregation for the Clergy: email@example.com
Congregation for the Evangelisation of People: firstname.lastname@example.org
Osservatore Romano: email@example.com