As they are discussing, the Gang of Eight should now examine the creation of a Pontifical Council For The Corrections Of Papal Gaffes. Possibly not led by a Jesuit.
The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Arthur Roche, had to intervene on the matter after the latest scandal caused by a Pope unable to say three words in a row without making some damage.
He can’t contradict the Pope, though. He can’t say the Czech bishop has misunderstood, either, because evidently many were there. He can’t defend the Traditional Latin Mass, because he knows Francis doesn’t like it at all.
What he does, is to say some generic word about Latin in the Mass (a completely different matter than the Traditional Latin Mass; which is much, much more than a Mass in Latin), in order to let the message get through: “we can’t say so, but boy, we are so embarrassed”.
He can’t say it. So he says the Pope hasn’t really said anything about the Traditional Latin Mass. Which just doesn’t make sense, because he has.
This being the Vatican, though, we must read between the lines. The Pope will not be openly criticised. The only thing that can be done is to make people understand they are sorry for the broken china.
Summorum Pontificum is, no doubt, the great accomplishment of this papacy (and will probably remain the only one). His reach is certainly of historical significance, and I would not be surprised if in 100 years the 7 July 2007 were to be still remember as the day the Church symbolically started to march towards sobriety.
The problem with Summorum Pontificum, though, is that for such a great theoretical accomplishment not much has been accomplished. The intention to “free” the Traditional Mass from the freeze in which it had been kept prisoner for more than 35 years was not accompanied by the desire to really use it. Rather, the Traditional Mass was moved more or less from the freezer to the fridge, and left there.
Following a typical mark of this pontificate, Summorum Pontificum is a good example of Pope Ratzinger’s way of thinking: continuation of progressive policies, whilst being perceived to be a friend of those of traditional inclinations.
In my eyes, with it the Pontiff had the following objective:
1. link his name with a policy which would ensure his name remains respected when the tide turns.
2. give the traddies some fodder, so they can think he is his friend.
3. avoid any enforcement in practice, and
4. continue undisturbed with more or less scandalous and very often mediocre appointments, once the reputation of “conservative Pope friend of the tradition” has been established.
Immediately after Summorum Pontificum, many bishops started to openly oppose it. Year after year, the Pope did nothing to allow a decent implementation of his great historic initiative, and one of those bishops who was most active in the opposition to traditional liturgy was now, by his own choice, moved to the Congregation for Divine Worship. You can’t have better evidence that Pope Benedict never wanted Summorum Pontificum to be implemented.
Summorum Pontificum will remain, I am afraid, a symbol of what this pontificate could have been, and at the same time a good example of the Pontiff’s rather duplicitous policy of giving conservative Catholics some cookies in theory, so that the thus won reputation coud allow him to continue to protect the liberal V-II old guard (of which he is integral part) in practice.
Look on the internet at the way the newly appointed head of the Congregation for the Divine Worship, Roche, arranged his own chapel/prayer room, and tell me whether ever Bugnini would have tolerated something like that.
Pope Benedict does not seem to have a problem with it.
“In the Dioceses of England and Wales Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the sacrament.”
This is the answer that the Congregation for Divine Worship gave to the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales regarding the reception of Holy Communion.
I fail to see how the answer could have been any different. It is entirely obvious that the CDW would not have said “communion can only be received standing”, thus going against 2000 years of reverent Catholic praxis. It is also evident that the CDW would not have answered “communion can only be received kneeling”, thus fully discrediting what has been the (unfortunate) praxis of many decades. The answer could, therefore, have fallen only in the sense that it did: both ways are allowed.
You will not be surprised to know that the Archdiocese of Westminster has now taken this answer as an excuse to decide that there is no ground for the re-introduction of altar rails in the entire Diocese.
One must love the logic: after it has been repeated what everyone already knew, they profit of this to make it as difficult as possible to receive kneeling.
I truly hope that this disgraceful attitude doesn’t get many followers among the bishops in England & Wales, but it is only natural that many others who were just dying to put as many obstacle as they can to a reverent, old-style reception will now be only too pleased to hide behind Westminster’s decision and do the same.
Westminster Diocese is giving, once again, a beautiful example of how not to do it.