Fr Zed has done us all a service in publishing correspondence between Vincent Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop Arthur Roche concerning he implementation of Traditionis custodes.
It is not easy to be optimistic about the future, as long as this calamitous pontificate survives. But more of that below.
My first surprise was to read that, in Roche's view, the pre-conciliar Liturgy "was abrogated by Pope Saint Paul VI".
Pope Benedict wrote, in Summorum Pontificum Article 1, that the Roman Missal as promulgated in 1962 was "never abrogated". In the accompanying Letter that he wrote to the World's Bishops, he iterated this historical fact: "I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."
Roche could, perhaps, have argued that the 1962 Missal has now, by implication, been abrogated by Pope Francis by virtue of Traditionis custodes. Or in some other way.
Roche chose instead to assert that it was "abrogated by S Paul VI". But on July 7 2007, Pope Benedict explicitly excluded any such abrogation. Who on earth are the poor b****y infantry supposed to believe?
PF and his associates constantly write about "only limited concessions by previous pontiffs". This verges upon mendacity. Benedict made clear that the earlier Roman Rite was "in principle, always permitted."
This is not a slight matter. It is yet another example of the problems we all find ourselves in when one pontificate directly ... fully frontally ... contradicts, in a matter of historical fact or of Doctrine, what the previous pontificate made clear.
If Pope Benedict's clear statement ... made twice! ... that 1962 was not abrogated by S Paul VI can be trashed like this by a mere curial official, it is clear that definitive statements by the present Pope can also as easily be trashed. Or even more easily trashed!!
Are we all now called upon by PF and Arthur Roche to boldly trash where nobody has trashed before?
My words above treat what, really, is but a canonical detail. But there is dogma here as well.
Benedict XVI wrote, in his Letter to the Bishops: "In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful." He was, in fact, reiterating the teaching he gave when he was Prefect of the CDF: "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of Faith ..."
And this is in line with the Decree by which S Pius V promulgated his 1570 edition of the Roman Missal. This Decree is often misrepresented. People talk and write as if S Pius imposed his edition on the West, while allowing earlier rites to continue.
He did nothing of the sort. He ordered those earlier rites to continue (nequaquam auferimus) ... unless, unanimously, Bishop and Chapter should choose to use his Pian edition instead.
Those who claim that recent pontiffs are doing no more than S Pius V did are either misinformed, or untruth-tellers. He prohibited the disuse of rites which had been in place for more than 200 years. Recent Roman documents claim to be able to forbid a rite which has been in place for much more than 200 years.
Even a child should be able to understand the difference ...
Again to quote Joseph Ratzinger: "Rites ... are forms of the apostolic Tradition and of its unfolding in the great places of the Tradition."
That Apostolic Tradition authoritatively handed down to us the Canon and Text of Holy Scripture; the Creeds; the structure of the Church's Ministry and her other sacramental rites. It also handed down to us, with the same authority, the great classical liturgies. They have that same abiding sacrosanctity.
It is, in my judgement, Catholic Doctrine that the Apostolic Tradition is not subject to rogue functionaries.