Logical chickens coming home to roost…
Is Francis planning to rescind Summorum Pontificum?
Yesterday, July 26, Life Site published a piece by John-Henry Westen that has caused panic and alarm with some in the conservative Novus Ordo and semi-traditionalist world: “Vatican rumblings: Pope Francis aiming to end Latin Mass permission”.
The report contains so many details that it is necessary to quote it in full:
ROME, July 26, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Sources inside the Vatican suggest that Pope Francis aims to end Pope Benedict XVI’s universal permission for priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), also known as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. While the course of action would be in tune with Pope Francis’ repeatedly expressed disdain for the TLM especially among young people, there has been no open discussion of it to date.
Sources in Rome told LifeSite last week that liberal prelates inside the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith were overheard discussing a plan ascribed to the Pope to do away with Pope Benedict’s famous document that gave priests freedom to offer the ancient rite of the Mass.
Catholic traditionalists have just celebrated the tenth anniversary of the document, Summorum Pontificum. Pope Benedict XVI issued it in 2007, giving all Latin Rite priests permission to offer the TLM without seeking permission of their bishops, undoing a restriction placed on priests after the Second Vatican Council.
The motu proprio outraged liberal bishops as it stripped them of the power to forbid the TLM, as many did. Previously priests needed their bishop’s permission to offer the TLM.
Additionally, Summorum Pontificum stated that wherever a group of the faithful request the TLM, the parish priests should willingly agree to their request.
The overheard plans are nearly identical to comments from an important Italian liturgist in an interview published by France’s La Croix earlier this month. Andrea Grillo a lay professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St Anselmo in Rome, billed by La Croix as “close to the Pope,” is intimately familiar [with] Summorum Pontificum. Grillo in fact published a book against Summorum Pontificum before the papal document was even released.
Grillo told La Croix that Francis is considering abolishing Summorum Pontificum. According to Grillo, once the Vatican erects the Society of Saint Pius X as a Personal Prelature, the Roman Rite will be preserved only within this structure. “But [Francis] will not do this as long as Benedict XVI is alive.”
The plan, as related to LifeSite, involved making an agreement with the Society of St. Pius X and, with that agreement in place, sequestering those Catholics wanting the TLM to the SSPX. For most, that would strip them of access to the TLM since there would not be nearly enough SSPX priests to service Catholics wanting the TLM worldwide.
Moreover, LifeSite’s source suggested that the plan may explain a May 20, 2017 letter by the recently ousted Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Even though Cardinal Müller wanted the SSPX fully reconciled to help fight modernists in the Church, the May 20 letter seemed to scuttle an agreement between Pope Francis and the SSPX which would see them get a personal prelature. The letter includes provisions long known to be completely unacceptable to the SSPX, thus nullifying an understanding SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay believed was imminent.
The LifeSite source suggested that the May 20 letter by Muller perhaps was written because he knows what Francis was up to and wanted to avoid the plan to bury Summorum Pontificum with Pope Benedict. “It’s directed not so much against Fellay but against the agreement,” said the source. “Pope Francis was very angry that document came out from Cardinal Muller and some say that’s why he made the decision to dismiss him.”
(John-Henry Westen, “Vatican rumblings: Pope Francis aiming to end Latin Mass permission”, Life Site, July 26, 2017; some italics added.)
The first question that presents itself, of course, is whether this story is really true or not.
Not surprisingly, “Fr.” John Zuhlsdorf, the de facto American Novus Ordo gatekeeper of all things “Traditional Mass”, is dismissing it as either not true or not important. People who take comfort in this may want to recall, however, that this is the same “Father Z” who tried to persuade his readers for over a year that Francis was not a liberal, that “we have dodged a bullet” with Amoris Laetitia, and who is on record endorsing the immoral movies Deliverance and The Lives of Others.
Over at One Peter Five, Steve Skojec, too, is taking a dismissive stance regarding this, which is probably a prudent thing for him to do since he got somewhat burned the other day with another story based on the testimony of a “trustworthy German source” that, for all we know, turned out to be false.
Certainly, for Francis to be planning the rescinding of Summorum Pontificum would make sense. If we look at his track record on matters pertaining to Sacred Liturgy, vocations, and the Catholic orthodoxy that is expressed in and guarded by the traditional Latin Mass, a clear picture emerges:
- Francis says the Old Mass is just a “Fad” for the Young
- Francis blasts “Rigidity”, “Insecurity” of those who attend Latin Mass
- Francis forbids use of 1962 Missal for Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate
- Francis says lots of Priestly Vocations are a Problem
In the face of this evidence, it is certainly not far-fetched to believe that Francis may be planning to revoke Benedict XVI’s landmark document, Summorum Pontificum, in the near future. The Traditional Latin Mass — even in its distorted indult version of 1962 — represents and reminds one of the Roman Catholic Faith of the ages, which Francis detests. For this reason alone it is a thorn in his side.
Of course there is a fair amount of talk about “fake news” these days, and we must be on our guard not to be too quick to believe rumors. At the same time, we have to be realistic: Just as not all rumors are true, neither are they all false.
We need but recall, for example, the ouster of “Cardinal” Raymond Burke three years ago. It had been rumored at first — and turned out to be true. Likewise, the removal of “Cardinal” Gerhard Muller: It had been rumored for months that it would happen; then there was an unconfirmed report that it had happened on June 30; and a day later, the Vatican announced it officially. Then there was the rumor that Francis had fired three of Muller’s best collaborators in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — something Muller himself subsequently confirmed in an interview with Raymond Arroyo. And who could forget the endless rumors that Francis would permit public adulterers to receive the Novus Ordo sacraments? After two dramatic synods, an ultra-long “apostolic exhortation”, and a never-ending battle over how to interpret the various “clarifications”, the ultimate answer turned out to be yes, he has permitted this.
As the Life Site report indicates, if Francis is indeed trying to “rein in” the use of the Traditional Mass, then his puzzling extraordinary efforts to bring the Lefebvrist Society of St. Pius X back into his fold start to make sense. Obviously, he can control them only if they are his, and if he wants to confine the use of the 1962 Missal to only a very specific group of priests that he has control over, while suppressing it everywhere else, then bringing them back into the fold makes perfect sense.
On the other hand, this leaves the latest SSPX-Rome development of early July, which effectively reset all reconciliation efforts to zero, unexplained. “Cardinal” Muller was the driving force behind it, and he is known to be hostile towards the SSPX. At the same time, it is quite possible that Muller was not aware of Francis’ real intentions — if this is what they are — for reconciling with the Lefebvrists. Even so, Francis approved the CDF’s move, and so the situation is mighty unclear at the moment, to say the least.
Whether Francis truly intends to rescind Summorum Pontificum or not, however, is not really the big story here. Rather, the big story is what even the rumor of such a move demonstrates about the Novus Ordo Sect and its adherents in its conservative and semi-traditionalist wings.
A lot of these certainly pious and good-willed people have made the Traditional Mass — that is, the so-called “indult Mass” of Summorum Pontificum — the center around which they have built their own little traditional Catholic world in the Novus Ordo Church. They rightly detest the Novus Ordo Missae (“New Mass”) of Paul VI, first legislated in 1969, and they want as little as possible to do with Vatican II and the Novus Ordo hierarchy. To take away from them their indult Mass would plunge them into a frightful state in which they would be forced to deal with the stark reality that the church of which they are a member is a Modernist monstrosity that attacks Catholicism from all sides.
But what this shows is precisely what we’ve been decrying for years on this web site: that the indult Mass is but a facade used to mask a much graver and more fundamental problem. It is the pacifier the false Vatican II Church uses to keep those quiet who would otherwise raise hell or perhaps walk out altogether. The fact is that with all their “Latin Mass communities”, their conferences and books, their newspapers, their web sites and blogs, the semi-traditionalists ultimately pose no serious threat to the program of Vatican II apostasy.
Why not? Because all their “resistance” is flawed at its root: They recognize the Modernists they are opposing as valid and legitimate Roman Catholic authorities, and that is all these enemies of Christ need to be able to continue their work of apostasy. As long as the Vatican II hierarchy is acknowledged to be legitimate, the wrecking of Catholicism will never stop, because the apostasy being perpetrated is based on and fueled by people’s recognition of these charlatans as the legitimate Catholic hierarchy. Only if you take that away from them — that is, only once people begin to shout from the rooftops that the Vatican II “Popes” are not Popes, that their “bishops” are not Catholic bishops, etc. — will the whole farce begin to collapse.
John Lane hit the nail on the head when he pointed out:
The entire force of the Conciliar revolt comes from the fact that it has apparently been imposed by the authority of the [Catholic] Church. How many bishops, priests, religious, and laymen, would have swallowed the lies of the heretics if they had not believed themselves bound to do so by the voice of Christ’s Vicar on earth? Questioning the authority of these men renders their revolution of doubtful authenticity.
(John Lane, “Concerning an SSPX Dossier on Sedevacantism”, p. 65)
Francis and his gang do not care how many people “resist” them, as long as people acknowledge them as the legitimate Catholic authorities, because it is this collective acknowledgment that gives them all their power. This is why, although the semi-traditionalists have certainly grown in number since the 1970s, the apostasy has been able to continue at full throttle. No “Catholic Identity Conference”, no “Roman Life Forum”, no press conference by a “Bishop” Athanasius Schneider or silly “corrections” of a “Cardinal” Burke will change any of that. Because it cannot.
It doesn’t matter how many people think Francis is a heretic if they also think he’s the Pope; because as long as people think he is the Pope, he will be the one with the keys to all the buildings in Vatican City, he will be the one to issue Faith-denying documents and harmful disciplinary laws, he will be the one calling the shots on all matters “Catholic”. And this is why, although lots of ink has been spilled and lots of words have been spoken, the semi-trad “resistance” has gone nowhere.
We pointed this out in a post published a little more than a year ago when we summarized the essential accomplishments of decades of “traditional resistance”. Sure, they have created nice little worlds for themselves (thanks in large part to that very “indult Mass”!), but as far as actually counteracting the theological circus of Vatican II, there has been nothing but abject failure.
- 49 years of The Remnant’s “resistance”, and what is the result? The “god of surprises” reigns in Rome.
- 46 years of the Society of St. Pius X, and what do they have? 600 priests and 3 bishops who can’t wait to be formally recognized as Catholics by a blaspheming apostate who doesn’t believe in a Catholic God, laughs about the Crucifixion, and stabs Catholics in the back every chance he gets.
- 38 years of the Fatima Center (aka “International Fatima Rosary Crusade”), and where did it get them? A fake Third Secret and no consecration of Russia.
- 28 years of the Fraternity of St. Peter, and what is the result? Have a look at the Vatican today: Muslims pray for “peace” and for “victory over the infidels” while gynecologists have a conference on female genital enhancement.
- 16 years of “dialogue” between the SSPX and the Vatican, and the result? The “Pope” believes that fornication is marriage, that vice is just an imperfect participation in the unreachable “ideal” of virtue, and that Europe is blest to be invaded by Muslims.
- Countless bloggers and columnists complaining and whining everywhere, asking people to sign silly petitions to have Francis “stop the synod” and “withdraw Amoris Laetitia” — going, predictably, absolutely nowhere.
The reason the attempted cures have all failed is because they are based on a misdiagnosis of the actual disease.
No doubt, there will be plenty of people now throwing this back at us: “And you? What have you sedevacantists accomplished, huh?” But the objection would not really be fair because our numbers are considerably smaller, and many of these very semi-trads have worked to see to that. But if all those who for decades have stubbornly refused to even entertain Sedevacantism as a possibility, had actually joined us and begun to inform the world that the people claiming to be Roman Catholic authorities are nothing of the sort, then the Novus Ordo Sect would have suffered a huge blow to its credibility — and it is this alone that, humanly speaking, can force it to its knees.
For example, if no one would take “Pope” Francis’ claim to the Papacy seriously, if everyone laughed “Cardinal” Blase Cupich to scorn whenever he presented himself as the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, if large numbers of people were constantly picketing the Vatican demanding it be given back to Catholics, we would be looking at a wholly different situation today. Not to mention the fact that God Himself would have poured abundant blessings on us if we had all completely rejected the false Vatican II Sect instead of trying to be Catholic within it and pathetically rejoicing at every traditional side altar the apostate “Pope” might deign to let us use in his Modernist cathedral.
It is cases like this — the scenario of an end to, or strict confinement of, the indult Mass — that once again puts the semi-traditionalists to the test. Do they just “want their Mass” so they can happily do their own thing on the side, or do they actually believe in the Catholic Church and the Papacy?
Too many people think of the whole problem only in terms of the sacraments. As long as they have “their Mass”, they don’t really care about the rest, because in actual fact they have long disconnected themselves from the religion that ostensibly supplies them with the very Mass they desire. “It is the Mass that matters” has been a popular slogan of the Lefebvrists, and it is false. No, it is not only, and not even essentially, the Mass that matters. It is the Faith that matters; it is the Church that matters; it is the religion that matters. The Holy Mass is only the liturgical expression of the true religion. To want the Mass without the Faith is but to ask for an empty shell. For this reason, the Novus Ordo Sect is content to let people have the Mass (mostly now with invalid priests) if they insist, so long as this will keep them acknowledging the false shepherds as true ones.
Alas, this is the consequence of adhering to false principles, principles at odds with Catholicism. If you only want the Mass and therefore are willing to obtain it through the gracious concession of an apostate pseudo-pope, don’t be surprised if at one point the pseudo-pope decides to be gracious no longer.
The recognize-and-resist traditionalists have been operating on such false principles for decades. For example, recall when the folks at The Remnant were in ecstasy over the oh-so wonderful Benedict XVI and his supposed “restoration of Tradition”, totally oblivious to the fact that nothing had been solved at all in principle. If a true Pope — as the semi-trads believe Paul VI to have been — could give to the whole Church a liturgical rite that is not Catholic, that is harmful, heretical, impious, or otherwise defective, then the Catholic Church would have defected and revealed itself to be a sham, and it simply would not matter if some Pope would come around later and “fix it”. The balloon would already have been burst; the goose would already have been cooked.
This is one reason why we said in 2007 that people ought not to get their hopes up about Summorum Pontificum, which we pointed out was a dangerous document:
What we have now with the possibility of Francis revoking Benedict XVI’s universal indult is simply logical chickens coming home to roost. It is not difficult to see that what one Pope can permit, another can forbid. Whatever liturgical or disciplinary concession one Pope can grant, another can rescind. This is Catholicism. The Pope, and the Pope alone, has full authority in liturgical matters. And that is what Catholics have traditionally believed:
…[T]he Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification. Bishops, for their part, have the right and duty carefully to watch over the exact observance of the prescriptions of the sacred canons respecting divine worship. Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, involving as they do the religious life of Christian society along with the exercise of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and worship of God; concerned as they are with the honor due to the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate and His august mother and the other saints, and with the salvation of souls as well. For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mediator Dei, n. 58)
For Catholics, this is not a problem, because Catholics believe in the Pope (the Papacy) and the Church.
The Church, as the Bride of Christ, cannot give us universal liturgical rites that are impious, heretical, harmful, or sacrilegious. This is one way, incidentally, that we can know that the Novus Ordo Missae, which is filled with sacrilege and error and has led to worldwide apostasy, did not come from a true Pope.
The Catholic teaching is clear — and immensely consoling:
If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety: let him be anathema.
(Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon 7; Denz. 954)
…as if the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism, — [this is] false, rash, scandalous, dangerous, offensive to pious ears, injurious to the Church and to the Spirit of God by whom it is guided, at least erroneous.
Furthermore, the discipline sanctioned by the Church must never be rejected or branded as contrary to certain principles of the natural law. It must never be called crippled, or imperfect or subject to civil authority. In this discipline the administration of sacred rites, standards of morality, and the reckoning of the Church and her ministers are embraced.
(Pope Gregory XVI, Encyclical Mirari Vos, n. 9)
The Church is infallible in her general discipline. By the term general discipline is understood the laws and practices which belong to the external ordering of the whole Church. Such things would be those which concern either external worship, such as liturgy and rubrics, or the administration of the sacraments. . . . If she [the Church] were able to prescribe or command or tolerate in her discipline something against faith and morals, or something which tended to the detriment of the Church or to the harm of the faithful, she would turn away from her divine mission, which would be impossible.
(Rev. Jean Herrmann, Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. 1 [4th ed., Rome, 1908], p. 258; quoted here.)
This is what Catholics believe. The true Church is good and holy, the very Bride of our Blessed Lord. She cannot offer a liturgy that is an affront to God or a danger to souls.
The famous 19th-century priest Fr. Frederick Faber has expressed beautifully what a Catholic’s attitude to the Church must be:
But we may forget, and sometimes do forget, that it is not only not enough to love the Church, but that it is not possible to love the Church rightly, unless we also fear and reverence it. Our forgetfulness of this arises from our not having laid sufficiently deeply in our minds the conviction of the divine character of the Church… The very amount of human grandeur which there is round the Church causes us to forget occasionally that it is not a human institution.
Hence comes that wrong kind of criticism which is forgetful or regardless of the divine character of the Church. Hence comes our setting up our own minds and our own views as criteria of truth, as standards for the Church’s conduct. Hence comes sitting in judgment on the government and policy of Popes. Hence comes that unfilial and unsage carefulness to separate in all matters of the Church and Papacy what we consider to be divine from what we claim to be human. Hence comes the disrespectful fretfulness to distinguish between what we must concede to the Church and what we need not concede to the Church. Hence comes that irritable anxiety to see that the supernatural is kept well subordinated to the natural, as if we really believed we ought just now to strain every nerve lest a too credulous world should be falling a victim to excessive priestcraft and ultramontanism [“papolatry”? —N.O.W.].
…Only let us once really master the truth that the Church is a divine institution, and then we shall see that such criticism is not simply a baseness and a disloyalty, but an impertinence and a sin.
(Rev. Frederick W. Faber, Devotion to the Church [London: Richardson & Son, 1861], pp. 23-24; italics in original; paragraph breaks added.)
Thus it is clear that a Catholic never has to “fear” a liturgical change coming from the true Holy See. The very fact that many are now concerned that the “Pope” might revoke Summorum Pontificum and they be stuck with the abominable “New Mass”, shows that they indeed do not believe in the Catholic Church as a divine institution — and indeed, how could they, identifying the Church with the apostate Vatican II Sect! — but only as a human institution that can destroy their Faith and lead them to hell.
And no, you are not allowed to resist teaching or disciplione that comes from the Apostolic See:
Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, n. 7)
To the shepherds alone was given all power to teach, to judge, to direct; on the faithful was imposed the duty of following their teaching, of submitting with docility to their judgment, and of allowing themselves to be governed, corrected, and guided by them in the way of salvation.
(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua)
Let no one take from you the glory of that rectitude in doctrine and fidelity in obedience due to the Vicar of Christ; among your ranks let there be no room for that “free examination” more fitting to the heterodox mentality than to the pride of the Christian, and according to which no one hesitates to summon before the tribunal of his own judgment even those things which have their origin in the Apostolic See.
(Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, Sept. 10, 1957; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 1483, p. 760.)
Those who claim to be traditional Catholics must heed these papal teachings. It is simply impossible to hold the Catholic religion only in parts, as though you could accept the traditional teaching on everything except submission to the Pope: “Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected” (Pope Benedict XV, Encyclical Ad Beatissimi, n. 24). But rejecting some parts of Catholicism is something you are forced to do, one way or another, if you accept the Vatican II antipopes, which is yet another proof that it is impossible for them to be true Popes.
So, whether Francis will actually rescind Summorum Pontificum or not, the fact that this will be a deal-breaker for many self-styled traditionalists reveals that they have not understood, or do not even know about, Catholic teaching on the Sacred Liturgy, on the Church, and on the Papacy. It is because their ideas about what true Catholicism is come from the literature of the SSPX, the FSSP, the Novus Ordo Church, and similar unsound sources, not, however, from the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Magisterium.
Let us pray for these souls, many of them very pious and of noble intentions, that they will come to realize that their love for the true Mass is a love for the true Faith, which can only be had in the true Church and not in an apostate establishment whose head blasphemes our Lord, teaches heresy, and hobnobs with the enemies of Christ.