22 November 2014


The document to which I referred (and which I owe to the researches of a dear friend who is also a dear friend of the beloved Ukrainian Greek Catholic tradition) is dated Rome 17.2.1908 and is headed 'Exemplar'. Below, it begins:
               BEATISSIME PATER!
In it, Metropolitan Andrew, including in his titles 'totius Russiae Administrator', asks for a "facultas etiam confessariis communicabilis dispensandi fideles saeculares a lege, qua vetita est communicatio in sacris cum orthodoxis, quoties opportunum esse in conscientia judicabunt" (i.e. a faculty, communicable also to confessors, of dispensing secular faithful from the law by which communicatio in sacris with orthodox is prohibited, as often as they shall judge it to be opportune in conscience).

This has thought-provoking features, not least of which is the term 'orthodoxi' to describe 'dissident Byzantines'. What follows is even more interesting. Printed at the bottom, in italic, is:
Documentum originale a me scriptum Sanctissimus Dominus Noster Pius Papa X, propria manu dignatus est signare verbis "Tollerari posse".
I presume that 'me' means the Metropolitan himself. To get ones bearings, it is revealing to compare this first document with a very similarly made out Faculty, for celebrating the Eucharist in times of necessity without portable altar or vestments or server, and in glass vessels. But this second document concludes thus:
Ex Audientia SSmi habita die 22, Februarii 1908. SSmus Dominus Noster Pius, Divina Providentia PP X., benigne adnuere dignatus est pro gratia iuxta preces. Contrariis quibuscumque non obstantibus. 
It is signed and sealed by Metropolitan Andrew and dated Datum Romae ex aedibus ad S. Sergium et Bacchum die et anno praedictis. 
But the first document, the one which we are now considering, concludes with none of these formalities.

I am not a canonist; and even if I were, I suspect that the date in 1908, before the completion of the magnificent Pietro Gasparri's codification of Canon Law, would throw up complexities even further beyond my competence. But to my completely untrained eye, it rather looks as though the Metropolitan presented to S Pius X, in his own handwriting, this request for such a faculty; and that the Sovereign Pontiff was unwilling to concede the gratia juridically, possibly in order not to set in place such a formal papal precedent. But, with his enormously pastoral heart, he was equally unwilling to send Metropolitan Andrew away empty handed, or to hinder his great mission; and so, with the authority of his own propria manus he intimated that the practice could be tolerated. I speculate that Metropolitan Andrew had these papers printed for circulation to members of his clergy.

Our conclusion? That S Pius X did not consider the very possibility of such communicatio in sacris with Russian Orthodox to be completely intolerable. I venture a further conclusion: that some who decry all of the provisions of the post-1950s Magisterium with regard to ecumenical relationships do not quite appear to have S Pius X 100% on their side. 'Tradition' is a broader concept than 'How I'm almost sure things were in grandma's time'; and Benedict XIV and S Pius X are big parts of that Tradition. Particularly Benedict XIV, but ... ah well, you must forgive me my little foibles ...


Christopher Ainslie said...

The work done by one of the Transalpine Redemptorists on the occasion of the papal visit four years ago is very good on this: http://papastronsay.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/communicatio-in-sacris.html and http://papastronsay.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Communicatio%20in%20sacris

Jonathan Cariveau said...

This is excellent. This Ukrainian Catholic thanks you, Father.

Bridget said...

What does "faculty" mean here?