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Unlike Catholic moral norms, eh?

Francis declares “with Magisterial Authority” that Novus Ordo Liturgical Changes are “Irreversible”

Yesterday, Aug. 24, “Pope” Francis sent shockwaves throughout conservative and semi-traditionalist Novus Ordo Land as he declared “with magisterial authority that the [Novus Ordo] liturgical reform is irreversible”. Such are rather harsh and unmistakble words for someone who at other times — especially when it comes to irreversible moral norms given by God Himself — loves to speak ambiguously, use metaphors, and blast “rigid” black-and-white thinking under the guise of “mercy” and “compassion”.

At a special audience for participants in the 68th National Italian Liturgical Week, the Jesuit Antipope lauded the Modernist liturgical circus as the glorious fruit of a long process of reform begun roughly 100 years ago, while warning, of course, of “practices that disfigure it”. (Apparently, featuring a post-communion Tango during “Mass” as he himself once did is not one such disfiguring practice.)

The full text of Francis’ address has been released in English translation and is available here:

The full paragraph in which Francis made this somewhat unexpected pronouncement reads as follows:

And there is still work to do today in this direction, in particular, rediscovering the reasons for the decisions taken with the liturgical reform, surmounting unfounded and superficial readings, partial reception and practices that disfigure it. It’s not about rethinking the reform by looking again at the choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons, also through historical documentation, as well as to internalize the inspirational principles and observing the discipline that regulate it. After this magisterium, after this long journey we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.

(“Pope’s Address to the 68th National Italian Liturgical Week”Zenit, Aug. 24, 2017; underlining added.)

The Novus Ordo web site Rome Reports has posted a brief video clip about this story:

We are excitedly monitorning the “Catholic” blogosphere and Twitterverse for reactions from various popular bloggers and journalists. So far, we can offer the following links to initial coverage and commentary:

Our own commentary will follow in a separate post shortly.

Meanwhile, we are also eagerly awaiting reactions from the usual semi-traditionalist suspects — you know, the self-appointed “Magisterium sifters” who filter everything that comes from the “Holy See” to tell everyone what is and isn’t Catholic, what is and isn’t binding, what Francis can and cannot tell you, etc., lest people be infected by the “papal” apostasy. First and foremost, that would be Christopher Ferrara, the semi-trads’ chief rhetorician and spinmeister extraordinaire, who, being a lawyer by profession, is particularly skilled at tendentious argumentation that selectively spins facts and truths according to the needs of his position (for two concrete examples, see here and here).

We’ll take a risk now and go on record predicting that Chris Ferrara’s response to Francis’ pronouncement will include some or all of the following points, custom-tailored to allowing him to dismiss the latest declaration from his “Holy Father”, who never utters anything that is binding unless, of course, Mr. Ferrara already agrees with it:

  • What Francis said is wrong and absurd, especially in light of Amoris Laetitia, where Francis effectively reverses the divine prohibition against adultery
  • What Francis said does not make sense because if the traditional Roman Catholic liturgy, over 1,000 years old and solemnly codified by Pope St. Pius V “in perpetuity” can be reversed, why should the liturgical changes of the 1960s not be reversible?
  • What Francis said is non-binding because he was only addressing a bunch of national liturgists, not the Universal Church
  • What Francis said is non-binding because he only said that we “can” say this with certainty and authority, not that we must do so, and no Catholic is obliged to agree with the Pope saying that something can be said if it doesn’t have to be said
  • What Francis said is non-binding because the reasoning he used to arrive at his conclusion about “us” being able to assert with “magisterial authority” that the Novus Ordo liturgical reform is irreversible is incorrect (that is, it does not follow)
  • What Francis said is non-binding because he has a different concept of “Magisterium” than the Church did traditionally
  • What Francis said is non-binding because the Sacred Liturgy is a matter of Church discipline and not of the Magisterium. Therefore, he can invoke his “magisterial authority” all he wants — it won’t mean anything
  • It is not clear what Francis even meant, because
    • the words are somewhat obscure — just what does he mean by “after this Magisterium”?
    • he said “we” can affirm this with certainty and magisterial authority — but who is “we”? Do the people now possess magisterial authority? Or is he using the papal “we” that he has never used in the past and is giving no indication of using here?

In short, where Francis says that “we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible”, we predict that Ferrara will simply respond with, “No, we can’t!” — and that’ll be the end of it for him and his readers.

Make no mistake about it: Ferrara and his friends at The Remnant and the Society of St. Pius X will not be swayed or impressed by Francis’ invocation of his supposed “magisterial authority” here, and they most certainly will not allow him to tell them anything at variance with their firmly-held position. Remember, these people have long rejected the Catholic notion of submission to the Roman Pontiff. Because Francis and the other Vatican II pretend-popes are the square pegs that will not fit into the round hole of the Papacy, they have long decided that the hole needs continual modification until the peg will more or less fit. The results are visible in the recognize-and-resist position which we have refuted on this web site again and again, demonstrating that it is most certainly not reconcilable with Catholic teaching.

The late John Vennari, purportedly relying on something said by “Fr.” Nicholas Gruner, once summed up the ultimate criterion the semi-trads truly go by: “It’s not magisterial if it’s wrong.” Absolutely brilliant! And how do they determine Catholic truth apart from the Magisterium?

Of course they like to bring up the “taught always and everywhere” argument, but that is the same phony reasoning by which the so-called “Old Catholics” of the 19th century rejected papal infallibility, and it actually rests on a misunderstanding of the teaching of St. Vincent of Lerins, as exposed by Cardinal Johann Baptist Franzelin. Besides, if the Magisterium of the Church can be dismissed by one’s opinion that it is “wrong”, why then should anyone adhere to the (supposed but actually misrepresented) teaching of St. Vincent?

The semi-trads’ theology is a colossal travesty. Indeed, by their logic, even a Protestant pastor could be considered magisterial and infallible — because whenever he goofs up, it just doesn’t count. That is the nature and depth of the semi-trads’ (false) understanding of the Papacy. It is absolutely deplorable.

[UPDATE 27-AUG-2017:]

Our own scathing commentary on Francis’ liturgical pronouncement of Aug. 24 is now available and posted here.