27 July 2021

Vacatio Legis

Like most of those who have read Traditionis custodes, I was vastly intrigued by the bit right at the end.

Legal enactments of any and every sort, secular and religious, tell you when the new law will come into effect. Summorum Pontificum, for example, came into effect a couple of months after it was published. But TC was to come into effect as soon as it had been published in Osservatore Romano (a journal which, by a curious coincidence, went ... that day ... behind a paywall). 

So TC was shared with the world's media on a Friday; Osservatore Romano is published daily except on Mondays.

Why such unprecedented rapidity? Was PF afraid he might die?

How ill is/was he? The days have, I think, passed when Vatican bulletins about a pope's health used mendaciously to deny that he had the malady which all the world knew he did have. But ... do they tell all the truth? Assuming that every word they contain is true, can we be sure there isn't something which the medical report fails to mention? Or is he planning abdication? But there seem to be plans for him to visit Glasgow in the autumn to dance around on the stage at the eco-thing (and Slovakia, and Hungary).

Is the reason for the lack in TC of a vacatio legis (period before a law takes effect) a pure example of Bergoglian rage? He hates* us and 'our' Mass so much that he could wait no longer? The main victims of the lack of a period for implementation are the bishops, who are charged with making arrangements. Is PF saying: "If you've got a big practical problem with this, it's your own fault, for harbouring all those rigid fellows in your diocese"? That would fit in with an earlier press report that PF was planning to give power to the bishops "but not to the conservative bishops".

I incline to the 'rage' hypothesis. But I think PF may have shot himself in the foot here*. Failing to provide a vacatio legis is so unreasonable in a legislator that bishops far beyond the numbers of those who are bergogliocritical have noticed it. And the result has been that many bishops have made 'holding' statements while promising a fuller resolution when that have had time to think and to consult. In other words, they have awarded themselves de facto the vacatio legis which PF had decided to refuse them.

It may not always be wise for a legislator to force his subjects to take the law into their own hands. 

The world, and its bishops, have also been given a clear signal that this pontificate is entering its final phase, whether it will be death or abdication that terminates it. This can also be unwise.

Once it is obvious that a boss is soon to be gone, he suffers a most serious loss of auctoritas. In academic life one is very aware of this: I would be surprised if the same were not true of merchant banks, businesses, military units ... As soon it becomes clear that the Principal, C/O, or whatever, will, in the quite foreseeable future, be no longer able to reward those who have been 'on-message', or to disadvantage those who have been 'off-message', his/her position is gravely weakened*. I recall being at a heads-of-departments meeting where such a slippage first became apparent. The Principal ... a silly man but not a stupid one ... suddenly became aware of what was happening: I vividly remember his face during those moments.

It is obvious that one has very little reason to increase ones credit-holding in the treasury of favours done to the boss, when the boss will himself soon be unable to repay any of them. I think some of the responses to TC from American archbishops are marked by a realisation of such realpolitik. So, when any society is coming close to the foreseen end of one 'reign', there will be an inevitable period of instability within the group's internal dynamics; perhaps, even, regroupings. And the fears aroused by PF's vindictive malice (every line of TC is dripping with bile, is it not?) will, correspondingly, diminish. 

Already, Vincent Nichols has issued a sensible and pastoral take on TC ("In my judgement, these concerns do not reflect the overall liturgical life of this diocese") and has 'dispensed from' the prohibition against the Old Mass being celebrated in parish churches.

Finally, two further rather different End of Pontificate thoughts, each of which has appeared on this blog before:

(1) Given the capacities of modern medicine, more popes are likely to live longer than their natural span. Sooner or later, there will be a pope with senile dementia. Should not provision be made in Canon Law for this inevitability?

(2) Some years ago, Fr Aidan Nichols, our prime Anglophone theologian, argued (in a lecture the full text of which appears still to be banned from publication) that canonical provision should be made for canonical procedings in the case of popes giving heretical teaching.

*You may feel that I am indebted here to a fine and important piece by a Dutch bishop, translated and printed by Peter Kwasniewski in yesterday's Rorate. But I drafted this last week; I like to leave things for a day or two ... frankly ... so that I can tone-them-down-a-bit before publication!

The Dutch bishop also reminds us of Holy Tradition. This is going, I think, to be the way ahead. PF has weakened the Petrine Office; he has chopped off the branch he was sitting on; in future, people will always wonder whether a future pope will just plain contradict what this one is saying ... because Bergoglio has made an industry of doing just this. Perhaps Byzantines, including Orthodox, may be able to help us. But Conciliarism, lock, stock, and barrel, has its own problems, and is not 'the' answer. 

I wrote, too, about all this on July 16.


PM said...

If I may offer, under correction, a thought on your final paragraph, Father.

It is entirety possible, and not the least surprising, that a pope will reverse the prudential judgments and decisions of his predecessor(s). The gift of infallibility has never applied to prudential judgments, to which classical legal principle 'par in parem imperium non habet' applies.

The question with the present incumbent is whether he has crossed the line from changing his predecessors' prudential decisions to repudiating or fudging settled doctrine. On which, who am I to judge? :-)

It is indeed telling, however, that in the United States even Cardinals Cupich and Gregory are treading softly and granting themselves a vacatio legis.

In England, Nichols, Longley and Wilson are decent men (in spite of the stick they sometimes get in traditionalist circles) who have responded as one would expect. Archbishop McMahon's response will be interesting to watch, given that he has himself celebrated Solemn Pontifical Masses in the Usus Antiquior - one of which nearly have Tina Beattie a fit!

Stephen said...

In the case of 1), pneumonia was long considered the "old man's friend" within some elements of the medical community ages before self-selected expiration became all the rage. Pneumonia was the reason POSTED as the cause of death on many a certificate of those who, shall we say, needed a little help to shuffle off their mortal coils. Prospects don't look good, he's taken a turn for the worse, and voila, along came a timely case of pneumonia to provide just such assistance, just dear old Mother Nature winnowing out the nearly-dead, relieving them from their pain and putting them in a better place. I suspect the top-notch folks surrounding popes over the centuries have long recognized such cases of timely pneumonia, which will still find its way towards the ultimate demise of high personages in spite of the advances of medical technology. Just a hunch.

Re: 2) eastern Christians have from the very early days of the Church long endured the nonsense of wayward patriarchs and hierarchs, not dissimilar to the way big-city folks like New Yorkers put up with the deviousness of local politicians at many, many levels. Often, appeals are made in the Big Apple to reclaim virtue and valor such as it is thought to exist in the "heartland" of America, way out west somewhere (Iowa, or Nebraska maybe), perhaps a rough parallel to the regular appeal from the crowded eastern Roman cities of the first millennium to the heartland of Old Rome, which, in addition to its antiquity, greatness and dogmatic consistency, had the additional appeal of declining population, maybe just one newspaper, and finger-in-the-dyke nobility embodied in such great Popes as St. Leo or St. Gregory the Great. Now, if I read your post correctly, the shoe is on the other foot, as it were, and appeals from the material and controversial rich west are made to the supposed heartland of the now well-in-decline east about how to deal with wayward clerics and Popes. Irony, and let us hope the Holy Spirit, abound.

Fr Edward said...

When I was starting out in the clerical profession in Rome, I used to be taken aback by frequency of clerical lies. I thought at first it was an Italian think, but it's not so limited. The clergy can lie whist looking directly into your eyes, which is quite something. I think 'bare faced' and 'gob smacked' are the usual expressions; I really didn't know how to respond as my mouth fell open. I'm not really sure how to respond now.

All that I have learnt over the years is that as the color of cassock buttons change, so their lies cover more significant subjects. Those who rule the flock from behind shiny desks have even taken over, turned inside out and upside down, the idea of the 'development of doctrine', to give this some sort of rationale. Truly remarkable.

The handbook for all this is easily available, and it is useful reading in order to understand how it all works; Orwell's '1984'.

Remember that sometimes 2+2=5.
And yes, Big Brother is watching you.

Anonymous said...

Many of the relatives on my wife's side are bi polar. There is no doubt in my mind so is the Bishop of Rome. His rages. His anger when any one questions him and other symptoms

Evangeline said...

Thank you Fr. Hunwicke, this is interesting.
Personally I incline to the "rage hypothesis" as well. There is plenty of evidence in the record on this point. Rages have been reported, as well as his oft vindictive words and actions, his penchant for issuing offensive statements or performing objectionable actions on Feast days. This has been a pattern.
So a person faces a terrible surgery, is ailing, and rather than feeling some kind of conciliatory feelings toward his fellow man as he faces his own mortality, he doubles down and tries as one of his last acts to punish his imagined opponents and ban the worship of God as God intends.
Once he is truly sidelined so he is not dangerous anymore he is to be pitied.

Grant Milburn said...

How often the name of Orwell comes up in these discussions.
Evelyn Waugh was certainly a canary in the coal mine, if you consider his reaction to those liturgical reforms made well before the introduction of the Novus Ordo - and he made a point of visiting Orwell when the latter was in hospital. Despite the stark religious and political differences between them, Waugh must have recognized an ally.

shrink said...

Hemicolektomy lets his holiness think for no longer than 10 minutes before he has to prepare himself for the next bowel movement. There is hopefully no shooting in the foot, but it could happen. Pope Francis is definetely not bipolar but has some characteristics for dissocial personality as so many other political leaders.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. When Paul VI issued his Moto Proprio demanding Cardinals retire at age 80, thus depriving them one of their most important functions - Conclave votin0 the great Roman Cardinal Ottaziani has a wise reaction:


The famous and "regretfully" octogenarian Cardinal Ottaviani does not conceal his bitterness.

In its issue of Thursday, November 26, in three columns on the first and second pages, The Messenger (II Messagero) from Rome, published a sensational interview with His Eminence Alfred Cardinal Ottaviani. The report is accompanied by a large photograph of this venerable prince of the Church ..

According to the Pope's November 24 Motu Proprio, beginning next January no eighty-year-old cardinal will be able to participate in the election ofthe Pontiff. Presently, these persons amount to twenty-five. Among them issaintly Cardinal Ottaviani, who celebrated his eightieth birthday on October 29,1970.

Question: What does His Eminence think about this decision of Paul VI?

Answer: More important than my personal opinion, which could be deemed biased because of my age, I should like to convey the feelings of canons, prelates, and even renowned hierarchs who are unaware of the current problems of the Church. Undoubtedly they all are impressed by this unusual and expeditious way of enacting this grave disruption in the high ecclesiastical hierarchy. This radical change was implemented without previous consultation with experts and specialists, at least to observe the formalities to a certain extent.

Question: Why did Your Eminence say "unusual?" Perhaps because no one expected such a big upsetting decision?

Answer: It is unusual that, through a Motu Proprio, without previous advice, the pages of the constitution Vacante Sede Apostolica and those of the Code of Canonical Law, which regulated the position of the cardinals, both as to the cooperation they owe the Pontiff for the rule of the world Church, and as to their most important ministry as top electors of the Head of the Universal Church, are suppressed.

This Motu Proprio then, is an act of abolition of a multi centennial tradition. It rejects the practice followed by all ecumenical councils. Regarding the age limit [the Most Eminent Cardinal spoke calmly and composedly, without any sign of uneasiness], should old age be respected, we would be able to sow the seed whose fruits you yourselves would harvest. But here respect was laid aside ....

It is precisely the motivation of age which the Motu Proprio invokes to justify such a grave regulation. In fact, along the centuries, a principle was always deemed immutable , namely, that old people are a firm safeguard of the Church and its best advisors, for they are rich in experience, wisdom, and doctrine. If, in a given case, these gifts were not present, it sufficed to examine the circumstances concerning this particular person to determine whether disease or mental disturbance made him inept, this check belonging to skillful experts.


Creating what one might call The "If Joe Biden were now Pope" Canon - an ecclesiastical version of 25tth amendment to the U.S. Constitution - would likely cause more problems than it would avoid or solve.

Just imagine the Canonical Lawyering that would be involved if liberal psychiatric "experts" were called by modernists Bishops to try and unhorse an orthodox Pope "Look, everybody knows the Pope has been acting weird and he is obsessed with sin and damnation so we gotta declare him whacked and whisk him off to the Demented Dorm..."

Canon 1404 The First See is judged by no one

has to remain unmodified.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Mike His rages. His anger when any one questions him and other symptoms..

The use of Rages is an eerie coincidence in that Tobias 1:36 cites the town, Rages, which gained its name owing to the earthquakes there that caused it to be in rupture

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father ABS was reading "The See of St. Peter, the rock of the church, the source of jurisdiction, and the centre of unity" by an English Priest who observed that:

God perchance has willed to terminate the causes of other men by means of men ; but the Prelate of that See He hath reserved, without question, to His own judgment.

It is His will that the successors of the blessed Apostle Peter should owe their innocence to Heaven alone, and
should manifest a pure conscience to the inquisition of the most severe Judge.

Kill all the lawyers?

No, but don't invite them to the party either;

For their mendacious mirth
can move Heaven and Earth

Mosella said...

- “The Dutch bishop also reminds us of Holy Tradition.”

- “You have to realise that he is aiming at reform that is irreversible.”

- “What else is likely to hit us in the Speeded Up Period?”

Time may not be on the side of ‘irreversible reform’. A ‘speeded up period’ could defeat a final outcome. In response to Fr. Hunwicke’s striking posts in recent days, I wonder: if the pope sincerely believes he is guarding the reality of all ordinary Roman Catholic Church members in Traditionis Custodes in light of ‘Holy Tradition’? Might Francis truly intend to guard the reality of sincere traditionalists in reaction to the increasing number of and infiltration by ill-willed pseudo traddies and priestly actors? If not, whose reality of the transmissions and translations of holy traditions for two millennia might Bergoglio and his posse be guarding?

Looking at the man and his men, on the surface they seem to suffer a ‘non-ordinary reality’ wherein the Roman Catholic Church’s ordinary lovers of Mass in the Extraordinary Form are no more substantial than ‘phantoms’ not worthy of guarding. A closer look, gloves off, shows extraordinary men of action, catapulted to the top, who appear whipped and driven to generate conformity within a new brand of church unity. Pronto.

Look at what he, his men, and men like him do. They appear to seize sincere Latin Mass faithful and their children to be made examples of. They shove them onto a foreign stage upon which they are not trained to act. They reduce them to third world status, even shackling them with poorly formed third world pastors. They scheme to exit them ‘irreversibly’ from a grand European liturgical tradition, in order to colonize them fast into a new catholic social justice mold that’s impregnated by degeneracy, populated by the divorced and those in ‘mixed’ marriages, and doomed by a mentality subject to contraceptives. They bully them publicly to become ‘changed’ beings, never to ‘go home’ again, without acute stress, to their beloved liturgical lives and parish churches and ordered morality.

Who can believe these same guys on a mission give a d-mn how sincere Latin Mass faithful from nowhere worship. And welcome to the reality of how all Roman Catholic Church members have been manipulated to accept a newish mixed up montage, in black and white, of ‘irreversible’ reform, since the 60’s, coupled with crippling financial theft of Church funds related to banking crimes and to disordered acts committed against young bodies.

Bergoglio’s brutal attempt to excite fear worldwide by effacing his friends JPII and Benedict XVI (and in effect erasing their related motu propios), through tying the hands of so-called traditionalists in the name of Traditionis Custodes, makes one wonder wildly. How can such action be played out day by day. Could it be, to abet it, his posse grows psychotropic plants from South America on the roof of Santa Marta for ingestion with the daily pasta?

All this brings to mind Fr. Hunwicke’s recent post “Is Time Short?” I imagine: the shorter the better for an “enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a tortilla.” * May I offer: to the ordinary lovers of the Roman Catholic Church of the west and its divine morality and its glorious music and architecture and joys and sufferings -- hold fast. To its sincere ordinary “faithful who worship according to the usus antiquior” -- prepare yourselves, with passion, to renegotiate this motu proprio, written by lightweights, with our next Roman Pontiff. May he be a man who doesn’t need a ‘second lung’ to reinterpret holy tradition(s) for himself and for us. And to all sincere members of the Roman Catholic Church -- pray hard that the next pope will be a heavyweight who loves his role as Holy Father, and who loves you.

* March 5, 1973 issue of "Time" magazine in relation to Carlos Arana Castaneda.

Archimandrite Gregory said...

maybe they should do a remake of Sound of Music and have the Cardinals sing "How do you solve a problem like Bergolio. Sadly even the Jesuit superior warned JPII about making that guy a bishop.

PM said...

On Fr Edward's comment on lying, we Australians owe to Cardinal Pell's prison journal the real reason for the closure of the admirable John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Melbourne. It was not, as the diocesan bureaucracy would have us believe, a problem of insufficient enrollments - an explanation that baffled anyone acquainted with the Institute. Rather, as His Eminence said, it was that the said bureaucrats had blown the budget on a new office building. In other words, even the Cardinal's hand-picked successor, Archbishop Hart, was prepared to lie to the ordinary faithful in the pews.

Traditionis Custodes is in part based on a lie: the assertion that Summorum Pontificum was a sop to the Lefevrists. As Benedict has made clear, it was not: rather, it was an attempt to reconcile the Church with its own past.

Given that distortion, I am reluctant to take its other assurances on trust unless the Vatican releases the unexpurgated results of the (secret) survey of bishops.

PM said...

A grammatical question: better a semicolon or a full stop?

coradcorloquitur said...

Yes, Archimandrite, Francis is a problem of cosmic proportions. John Paul "the Great" as usual did his iron-clad will and paid no attention to what the Jesuit Superior, the Dutch Father Kolvenbach, warned him about concerning Jorge Mario Bergoglio as an episcopal candidate---as an unstable personality, in short, a trouble-maker. Not only did John Paul consecrate him bishop but created him cardinal. On top of that, our beloved Benedict XVI---and it pains me to say so, but truth is more important than personal sympathies and affinities---refused to accept his mandatory retirement at the age of 75, again despite warnings, thus opening the way for his election to the papacy. Were these good men totally delusional, totally fooled by perverse advisors, or simply dumb? I am, contrary to their impressive scholarly achievements, inclined to believe the last option. There is something in the Roman clergy that is---in the best of cases---naive, immature, and susceptible to the manipulations of evil men; of that I have no doubt. Could it be the hard cross of celibacy? Could it be the steady diet of syrupy spirituality from 19th century saints and popular devotions that many Catholics have been afflicted with? Could it be the effect of a long-ingrained clericalism that gives them the delusion of omniscience? Or is it simply a mystery? Whatever the case, one terrible reality is indisputable: we have Francis in the Chair of Peter because of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. What a shudder of horror their souls must feel when considering the results of their ill-conceived decisions. Blessed Peter, first pope, pray for the Church you first shepherded.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Coradcor, acu rem tetigisti, as they say, re allegedly compulsory celibacy - it results, in those who have not been granted the charism - namely, the vast majority of hetersexual clergy (and homosexuals should never be ordained) - in broken men. Broken men, because of the psychological problems they are burdened with, make all sorts of bad decisions. As for the legal considerations, as I've noted in a comment to a previous post, all the jurisprudential (and other) arguments against Traditionis Custodes can also be deployed against the "law" of celibacy. I wonder when the penny will drop??


Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Another point, which implicity included the celibacy one - those criticisms of the - to be honest, revolting - spirituality and clericalism that were forced down my throat as an SSPX seminarian, are just further proof that the SSPX is no more than, at best, a band-aid solution. But, woe to the cleric - priest or seminarian - who would bring any such problems to the attention of those in charge: "The system's not the problem - YOU'RE the one with the problem!" Meanwhile, I distinctly remember the Rector boasting during a class: "We will never get rid of celibacy - it proves to the laity that we're better than they are!" There really is something sick about the clerical culture which is the product of the counter-reformation seminary. Anyway, if Christine Niles is right, it looks like the SSPX is in for a bit of a rough ride ...


Grant Milburn said...

"It is indeed telling, however, that in the United States even Cardinals Cupich and Gregory are treading softly and granting themselves a vacatio legis."

Alas, Gregory's Vacatio Legis lasted little more than a week.