Monsignor Scicluna has either given a sort of informal interview, or either imprudently spoken in front of a microphone he thought was switched off (there's a delightful episode of “Yes, Prime Minister” concerning such events; but Gordon Brown's “bigoted woman” incident also comes to mind), and has said thePontiff Emeritus chose to decapitate himself in order to get rid in one fell swoop of the many who also needed to be, erm, decapitated.
Monsignor's utterances are clearly evocative of glorious episodes of the past: the battle of Alesia, where Caesar's soldiers recurred to the unusual step of committing collective suicide, thus destroying Gaul rebels twenty times their number; or the battle of Lepanto, where the audacious decision to scuttle the Christian fleet inflicted a mortal blow to the Ottomans. The unforgettable self-decapitation of St. Pius the Tenth in order to uproot the terrible heresy of Modernism is, I am sure, also in every reader's mind.
In this case, though, there appears to be a small problem Monsignor Scicluna might not have, in his spontaneous utterances, adequately considered: the Pontiff Emeritus neglected to say who are those meant to be decapitated with him. This might have the unintended consequence that not one of them finds his head permanently separated from his neck, of course with the exception of the Pontiff. In fact, the audacious move leaves the Cardinals in the unusual position of not knowing who should be picked as executioner, with the concrete risk they pick one of those who should be executed instead. Boldly, the Pontiff Emeritus chose to get rid of himself, without getting rid of those he meant to have executed.
Truly, what a difference with Alesia, Lepanto, and St. Pius X!
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