Not exactly for the first time in this pontificate, PF, in September, talked about how concern for Law can so easily "lead to a rigid religiosity".
In fact, he went a bit further this time. He assured his suffering and bewildered flock that "Rigidity is a sin against the patience of God".
In the light of that, I have had another look at the text of Traditionis custodes.
I simply adore the penultimate bit: "Previous norms, instructions, permissions and customs that do not conform to the present Motu proprio are abrogated."
You see, I love the formulaic rigidities and the desire to be absolutely clear and complete about what is being enacted or prohibited, which we find both in British statute law, and in Vatican enactments.
But the final paragraph gets even better: "Everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, I order to be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it be promulgated by way of publication in 'L'Osservatore Romano', entering immediately into force ...".
But, er, isn't this a bit legal? Isn't it ... well ... rigid? Putting things the other way round, how could it have been any more rigid?
Then there are all those provisions which limit the freedom of bishops ... despite the strange claim (a few lines above) that he is re-establishing the authority of bishops.
Then there are the bits about what newly ordained priests can't do ... about places and times where the Authentic Roman Rite may not be celebrated ... all the other things bishops are now prohibited from doing in their own dioceses ...
Well, all this looks like "Law" to me. It looks pretty "rigid" to me. Whenever I see words like "notwithstanding", I start getting nightmares about horse-hair wigs, and memories flood back of that big painting in the King's Inn in Dublin showing the trial of Sir Roger Casement.
Will the real Bergoglio please stand up? Is he the rigid and draconian legislator who is ferociously keen to block up any possible legal loopholes? Or is he the Bergoglio who is suspicious of all Law and hates, above everything else, Rigidity? The Fay ce que tu voudras Bergoglio?
Of course, we all know what is really going on. PF wants to encourage people to take very lightly laws he doesn't himself much like. Make a Mess! Parrhesia!!! At the same time, he demands the most scrupulous and rigid observance of his own rigid enactments in pursuit of his own personal and visceral detestation of the Great Tradition, and his rigid loathing of any who are so off-message as not to share his own feverish bigotries.
Jolly jolly good old-fashioned hypocrisy, in other words.
These elegant contradictions, according to his lights, are perfectly logical. I suspect that his Nanny smacked him too much when he was tiny. Or else not enough.
My sympathy lies ... not so much with laics and clerics who, as far as I can make out, view TC with amused contempt ... but with Diocesan Bishops and their Chancellors, who are having to draft, confect, print, sign, seal, issue and entrust to the GPO pompous-looking documents giving presbyters 'permissions' to do simple ordinary everyday presbyteral things which, as Pope Benedict made clear, they need absolutely no 'permission' whatsoever from anyone to do.
A thought, too, and a prayer, for the SSPX who are naturally wondering if they have enough clergy and sufficient resources to meet contingencies which are already arising in some regions. What a good thing they have retained their canonical freedom, so that the Bergoglians won't be able to get their greedy hands on money or property! But will the Society not soon have to face up to the question of new episcopal Consecrations? Is that pencilled in for the start of the next pontificate? May God give them prudence and courage.
How can I get an invitation?