LEX ORANDI WITHOUT LEX CREDENDI - Comment upon the suppression of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei



As we were promised, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has been suppressed, and its tasks and duties will now pass to a future section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Motu Proprio published on 19 January confirms in several parts that which had already been announced as a fait accompli.

Fabio Adernò, an Italian barrister who has written for the site Messa in Latino [here], says that «the only thing which has really changed today is the heading on the notepaper.» If I may say so, this is wishful thinking and we shall soon see why. As Steve Skojek rightly says in a tweet, when Bergoglio does something which seems perfectly innocuous we should be very suspicious. We should be extremely suspicious when a purely administrative act of government foreshadows yet another reduction in the liturgical freedoms already given to conservatives: this is something we see happening avery day in the new church. Those who say that we should accept Vatican II as the price we have to pay to have the Traditional Latin Mass should resign themselves to their new fate.

A news item from the Vatican News Service appeared yesterday [here], after Vatican News published it in Italian [here], and the official news is startling: «the emergency is over.» My readers would surely have expected to read something more reassuring than «the Institutes and Religious Communities which habitually celebrate in the extraordinary form have today found their own stability of number and life.» Those of us who are better used to the way certain members of the Clergy speak will realise that these words conceal the real threat in the papal document: this «stability» which Bergoglio speaks about is not to be taken as any freedom to use the Church’s Traditional Liturgy; rather, no similar Institutes can be set up from now on. Anyone who wishes to take advantage of Summorum Pontificum must now realise that the only path open is to join one of the communities which have already been approved. These are the Society of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, the Good Shepherd Institute. No new ones may be erected from now on, because «the Institutes and Religious Communities which habitually celebrate in the extraordinary form have today found their own stability of number and life.» Stability of number: we don’t need any new ones. It is clear that the rights granted under Summorum Pontificum to any diocesan cleric to use the 1962 rubrics now faces a necessary and unavoidable reduction in the number and quality of freedoms he had enjoyed previously. Indeed all these freedoms are being brushed away, as I said in a previous article [here].

Those who have tried to blame the Society of St. Pius X for all this - as we know many conservative clerics have already done - now find themselves in the uncomfortable position of trying to see the mercy coming out of Santa Marta in liturgical matters. This is all fine and well until one starts questioning the dogmatic nature of Vatican II. Indeed, «dialogue with the SSPX is now focused primarily on questions of a doctrinal nature.» These doctrinal questions have only been opened with the Society of Saint Pius X, because all the other Institutions recognised by the old Ecclesia Dei Commission have swallowed Vatican II hook, line and sinker, and have limited themselves to asking permission for the Traditional Liturgy.

Thus even if swanning around with a folded chasuble in front of a triple candlestick during the tenebrae service is only allowed in extremely limited circumstances, they are absolutely forbidden to live the same Faith which can only be born of that very lex orandi. Basically, Bergoglio has shown up a contradiction in terms which, while justifying the so-called Extraordinary Form, has chopped away its very doctrinal roots. Such roots cry out against the church and the teachings of the post-conciliar sect. A shorter form of confirmation of this has been given by Massimo Faggioli, one of the foulest progressives to climb on Bergoglio’s bandwagon: «with his decision on Ecclesia Dei, Pope Francis said to the traditionalists: you can have pre-conciliar liturgy, but you cannot have pre-(anti)Vatican II doctrine [here].» 

The Society is therefore the only truly Catholic Institution left which celebrates the old Liturgy and which embraces all its theological prerequisites. These have all been de facto ignored, if not openly denied, by all the other Communities so far recognised by Ecclesia Dei.

This is not the spewing of bile by some reactionary old traditionalist who for cultural reasons cannot bring himself to goose step with the modernists. A very long analysis of the situation has been made by one of the most fervent apostles of the new church, Andrea Grillo, who has tea and crumpets every day at Santa Marta. He teaches Sacramental Theology and the Philosophy of Religion at the St. Anselm Pontifical University in Rome. In an article published yesterday on the website Munera [here], he confirms everything I have written, although he basically approves of what has happened with the usual over-the-top enthusiasm so typical of those members of the sect who are exultant at seeing the old-style religion brushed away by Vatican II. «Set up to repair the damage done after the break with the Lefebvrists,» he writes between sips of tea, this Commission «had gradually become a part of the Roman Curia which tried to give rise to a ‘parallel identity’ among Traditionalists with pretext of reaching an ‘agreement with the Society.’ It was supposed to move the bar of Catholic Identity in their direction, and to empty Vatican II of anything positive it might have had.» Grillo’s absolute impatience with all things traditional shines like a beacon, but he is also impatient with those conservatives who, under Benedict XVI, found a sort of legal recognition in the conciliar pantheon. After Summorum Pontificum, he writes, and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, «we were all afraid that these documents would undoubtedly pave the way for wider and wider freedoms, not given by the Church of Rome but by traditionalists in the Roman Curia. They had become too independent and too dangerous.» Please note the words about the freedoms «not given by the Church of Rome but by traditionalists in the Roman Curia,» just before that other comment about them becoming «too independent and too dangerous.»

Such independence, I think I can say, will have absolutely no room ad intra under the Jesuit Ladaria. In the best hypothesis they might ad extra in the Vatican’s dealings with the SSPX. Provided, that is, that the Institute founded by Archbishop  Lefebvre considers talking to people who have not conceded one single iota on doctrinal matters to be time well spent. It would appear from what has been said by Fr. Davide Pagliarani, Superior of the Society, that the only positive thing to come out of the talks with Rome is to leave a series of documents in black and white for the future. All the various Prelates have maintained absolute silence about these talks. Here now is a man of courage who has underlined the absolute importance of Catholic Truth, which has been increasingly denied by the post-conciliar Hierarchy.

In his article Andrea Grillo, taking inspiration from each and every tenet of Modernism, shows that if yesterday’s Motu proprio might not be the most devious part of a great plan, it is still the expression of a devilish wish list which is probably about to be made known. He says that the coetus fidelium required when applying for permission to have a TLM is a «traditionalist folly put in place by the Roman Curia.» And he adds, «according to the Motu Proprio which comes into force today, all the tasks and duties of Ecclesia Dei will pass to a section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It would be more logical if the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, designed for a Commission which no longer exists, were annulled. This would bring back some common sense and honesty to a world where the truth has long been stranger than fiction.» Basically the Papal Mouthpiece is hoping that the document which put Summorum Pontificum into effect will be swept away, and so the Motu Proprio can no longer remain in force. «This would mean new dealings with the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, and especially a move away from Summorum Pontificum, which was the reason for that dreadful comedy upon which the final curtain must now be pulled down. Perhaps we are only at the end of the First Act.»

Yes, you read right: it has all been a dreadful comedy. Even though his ideals and beliefs are completely different from mine, I think Grillo has analysed the situation perfectly. The comedy which began with that Motu Propio can now be seen as a mere administrative pretence, where the Roman Pontiff was able to use his power. An administrative pretence which, as Mr. Adernò the barrister says, «now goes back whether we like it or not to being part of the charade of standardisation begun under the Papacy of Benedict XVI.» Standardisation. A charade which now takes a further step towards apostasy because, with the full weight of the law behind it, it breaks the link between lex credendi and lex orandi. Nor does this apply only to the Latin Church (something which could already be seen in the coexistence of Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form), but to all conservative Catholics. They thought that by having the Latin Mass everything would be fine, but they have not been allowed to believe in the things they are seeing celebrated on the altar. They cannot profess their Faith as it is expressed in the Traditional Liturgy. In this sense, the celebration of that Liturgy by those who accept Vatican II truly is a «dreadful comedy upon which the final curtain must now be pulled down.»

As Andrea Grillo tells us between crumpets, «perhaps we are only at the end of the First Act.» I would say that, for the Faithful, it has been the first act of a tragedy.

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