ASK FATHER: Considering the chaos surrounding ‘Traditionis custodes’ could we say that, in effect, it is no law at all?

CP&S comment: The shock, confusion and upset caused by Francis’ Apostolic Letter, “Traditionis custodes”, has no precedent in the Church. The cruelty of vastly limiting the celebration of the ancient, but timeless, Sacrifice of the Mass – that has nourished countless millions throughout the centuries and has been instrumental in filling Heaven with holy saints – can only be seen as an act of liturgical sabotage inspired by evil forces. But how lasting can such an order be when one year later there is nothing but arbitrary chaos surrounding its implementation? Father Z makes a brilliant analysis for the defence of the Mass of the Ages and its millions of adherents, and the likely unlawfulness of TC.


From Father Z’s blog

Traditional Latin Mass

From a reader…


Some years ago I studied for graduate theology with several distinguished theologians, one of whom was chancellor for Card. Burke in Lacrosse. In those Canon Law classes, he made the point over and again that the law is specific, defined and unambiguous and that when one interprets the law you should never add, nor subtract from what is explicitly stated.

Couldn’t it be reasoned then that because so many bishops have made such wide ranging rules, or no rules, based on Traditionis custodes that effectively there is no law at all? It is one thing to have some reasonable variations of implementation of law, but there isn’t just variation, there are outright different worlds being forged. I contend that the chaos is desired, but that will be the downfall, for in chaos there is no law leaving the faithful to appeal to higher laws than ecclesiastical ones.

Thank you for all you do Father.

The chaos is an opportunity.  I’ll get to that.

Let me come at this from two directions.  First, there are the differences between Summorum Pontificum and Traditionis custodes, including the problem of the lack of a vacatio.   Then, there is the issue of “reception” of Tradionis, for which Francis will ever be remembered as quite simply cruel.

“Wide ranging rules”?

When Summorum Pontificum was issued, Cardinal Darmaatmadja, S.J., the Archbishop of Jakarta, simply said “it does not apply here.” And that was that.

No one ever seems to have gone after him for that. He served out his time as archbishop and retired.

I assume he must have somehow invoked can. 87 §1.

Will bishops who refuse to implement TC eventually be targeted by Rome for torture?  It would not surprise me.  As a matter of fact, someone recently intimated to me that Rome was contacting bishops to tell them to get on it – or else – rather more than bishops were contacting Rome to obtain cover for their plans.

Traditionis custodes (TC or “Taurina cacata“) is disciplinary law.  You could argue that a bishop is supposed to comply, but if conditions on the ground warrant, if in the bishop’s estimation the application of the disciplinary law would be counterproductive or disruptive, etc., then a bishop could do what Card. Darmaatmadja did.

There are subtle differences between the “legal aspects” of Summorum Pontificum (SP) and TC , but they are crafted in an similar way. They are both Apostolic Letters given motu proprio, SP has a paragraph before the Articles with DECERNIMUS [sic, full caps] (“WE DECREE … the following”) and TC’s paragraph before Articles has decernere (“…it seemed to Us opportune to decree the following”).

SP: Instantibus precibus horum fidelium iam a Praedecessore Nostro Ioanne Paulo II diu perpensis, auditis etiam a Nobis Patribus Cardinalibus in Concistorio die XXIII mensis martii anni 2006 habito, omnibus mature perpensis, invocato Spiritu Sancto et Dei freti auxilio, praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis DECERNIMUS quae sequuntur:

TC: Nunc igitur, examinatis votis ab Episcopatu expressis et iudicio Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei audito, cupimus, praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis, magis magisque in communione ecclesiali assidue conquirenda perseverare. Qua de causa, opportunum nobis visum est quae sequuntur decernere:

The big question is the “Qua de causa” — having examined the votes/opinions expressed by the bishops and heard the judgment of the CDF”.

I and others have called B as in B, S as in S.  I don’t even for an instant believe that the poll of bishops laid adequate grounds for TC.  We should be able to for ourselves what the votes/opinions were and to read the judgment of the CDF.

Gonna happen?  Not so much.

This reminds me of the “annulment reform” legislation that Francis issued in 2015. Mitis Iudex abolished the automatic appeal of an affirmative sentence in favor of nullity. Francis stated that he ended the automatic “2nd Instance” review of annulments because, he said:

“This was called for by the majority of the synod fathers in the synod last year [2014]: streamline the process because there are cases that last 10-15 years, no? There’s one sentence, then another sentence, and after there’s an appeal, there’s the appeal then another appeal. It never ends. The double sentence, when it was valid that there was an appeal, was introduced by Pope Lambertini, Benedict XIV, because in central Europe, I won’t say which country [Poland], there were some abuses, and to stop it he introduced this but it’s not something essential to the process.”

I might have missed it, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t see anything from the 2014 synod indicating that a “majority of the synod fathers” wanted this.

It’s not unlike the bizzare claim that, before the Council, “everyone” wanted a vernacular liturgy.  It’s not unlike that claim in that weird appendix to Sacrosanctum Concilium that “everyone” was clamoring for a fixed date for Easter.  The only people who wanted these things were pointy-headed “experts” in rarely dusted university offices bored during their office hours and, like the infamous Good Idea Fairy who spreads chaos and wasted time, thinking up stuff.

Make stuff up as an excuse to impose your personal desire.   There are a lot of ways to squander moral capital.  This is one of them.

NB: TC had no vacatio, that is, a period of time before it was to go into effect.  SP did.  TC didn’t.  A vacatio allows for planning on how to implement it.  That means that if a priest were to rise in the morning and gone straight to say Mass without having perused the Vatican Bolletino, he would have been, technically, in violation of the law.  Big deal, right?  Well, if you are interested in charity, yes.  It isn’t charitable to drop bombs in such a way that you – by your haste- cause problems for others.

The wisdom of including a vacatio is proven by the fact of the confusion, chaos and irregular application over the year after TC was issued.  A lot of bishops just arbitrarily created for themselves a pseudo-vacatio.  Fair to the bishops to do it that way?  Nope.

Also, the lack of a vacatio suggests that TC  was a long time in the making, but when Francis needed surgery, it could not be put off any longer. Hence, it was hastily sprung on everyone without a vacatio.  It smacks of panic, under the circumstances (of his impending surgery) as well as total disdain for the people it would effect, including the bishops.

Continuing with similarities, SP has a clear “servari iubemus” at the end, while TC has more convoluted language.

The alarming lack of knowledge of Francis about, as above, canon law and matrimonial nullity procedures was on full display in his statements.  Maybe the situation in Argentina was so bad that he heard about endless cases and appeal.   But to impose something on the whole world because in some places reform is needed?

Regarding liturgy, let’s not forget the virtually iron-clad adage about the essentially clueless: As lost as a Jesuit in Holy Week. To impose something truly draconian on the whole world because a few trads are jerks?   That smacks of despotism and lack of competence driven by personal animus egged on by sycophantic ideologues.

Shifting gears, I predict is that TC is not going to be received in the long run.  It will prove to be no law at all. 

Reception theory states that a law, in order to be a law, a binding law, must be received by the community for which it is intended.  If they community does not receive it, that is, they reject it outright or it fails to have any effect on how they live, the presumed law is non-binding and is really no law at all.

This doesn’t apply to moral law, because it flows from above reception or rejection by mere human beings.   In the late 1960’s and after, dissidents from Humanae vitae infamously tried to apply “reception theory” to the Church’s teaching on contraception.  Fail.

Reception theory does not apply to moral teaching, but it can apply to certain of the Church’s disciplinary law, which includes liturgical law.

BTW… did you all see that the… I am not making this up… Pontifical Academy for Life tweeted that Paul VI didn’t intend that the Church’s teaching about contraception was infallible?  HERE

Let’s have a mind exercise and think about reception theory in view of Traditionis custodes,

Popes make mistakes.  The faithful can see that they make mistakes.  The faithful have the right to express themselves about those mistakes, even when they have to do with disciplinary laws.  Sometimes the faithful respectfully and quietly vote with their feet.  Sometimes they organize and take action.  Sometimes they organize and quietly resist.

Sure, there will be some zealous bishops who turn on the faithful who want Tradition.  It is inevitable, considering.  However, my sense is that there are so many young priests and young people who now know and love the TLM that they will find a way simply to keep going.  It might be as simple as Father leaving the doors open when he says Mass privately (that is, not on the schedule) and people happen to wander in for some time in church.   It might be that the bishop will strike down that young priest.  A couple others will spring up.

In the chaos, there is opportunity.

I don’t think this can be stopped.

Mind you, there are going to be a lot of tears and anguish because of these bishops.  But in the end, they are only bishops.

This not like the earlier attempts to crush tradition.  Now, we have the internet, access to materials for Mass, many thousands have been exposed to it and want it.  These days are very different from the 70s-90s.

Friends, when your bishops do something good and generous regarding the Traditional Roman Rite, thank them.  When they do something stingy, work on them with spiritual bouquets, fasting, sincere requests.  Be the woman at the door of the judge before you turn to more drastic measures.

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