An erudite friend raises questions about Traditionis Custodes:
"What does it mean for a liturgical reform to be 'valid' [see TC 3:1] and what does it mean to deny it? If it is simply agreeing that the Sacraments are valid according to the NO formulae, I have no problem with that. But that is not what it appears to mean because it talks of the validity of the reform, not of the rites/Sacraments."
My friend goes on to point out what must be a significant differece between the "authoritative " Latin version, and the original Italian. According to the former, the bishop is to satisfy himself that the dodgy groups in his diocese do not exclude the auctoritatem of the reform; according to the Italian original, he is required to satisfy himself that the naughties do not exclude the validita of the reform.
These do not seem to me to be the same thing.
Discussing the validity of a juridical enactment requires canonical know-how. Where does that leave those of us who are not professional canonists?
Is PF offering us a loop-hole: "I'm not asking you positively to accept the reform; I merely desire you not to exclude it?"
I cannot speak as a canon lawyer, but I would say that the "validity of the reform" could have three meanings that would be advantageous for PF and his supporters to have traditionalists to affirm:
1) The reforms are valid because they were implemented according to canonical norms/procedures and by people who had the authority to mandate them.
2) The reforms are valid because they were mandated by the Council.
3) The reforms are valid because they were the correct policies to implement in the face of the problems faced by the Church at the time of the council and up to the present time.
I have no means for judging the truth of the first of these assertions, but if someone were to make a strong case to the contrary, it would seem that the validity of the reforms could be in doubt. Forcing acceptance of the validity of the reform in this sense precludes anyone from raising this issue.
Regarding the second assertion, I think a strong case can be made that the many actual reforms implemented after the Council had little or no grounding in the documents issued by the Council. Acceptance of the validity of the reforms in this sense precludes what is perhaps the most common objection to the reforms.
Consent to the the third assertion is perhaps being sought precisely because it has long been acknowledged that the Council was pastoral, not dogmatic. Thus disagreeing with the Council is at most a difference in prudential judgment about the policies needed to address contemporary issues, rather than a matter of heresy. It hardly seems justifiable to excommunicate those who hold a different opinion on a matter of prudential judgment. Yet, by forcing traditionalist to acknowledge the correctness of the "pastoral" strategies adopted in the wake of the Council), PF and his supporters can undercut claims by traditionalists that the way forward today includes openness to traditional practices (and beliefs) rejected by PF and his supporters. Obviously if the reforms are valid in the third sense, no return to the traditional Latin mass would be desirable and anyone supporting such a return has obviously cut himself off from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This may not be excommunication, but it would effective sideline opponents of many of the contemporary practices and views endorsed by PF and his supporters.
As we know, Pope Benedict, like PF, wrote a letter to the bishops interpreting and commenting on his legislative directive. This includes
"... Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness."
Or in German "... Um die volle communio zu leben, können die Priester, die den Gemeinschaften des alten Usus zugehören, selbstverständlich die Zelebration nach den neuen liturgischen Büchern im Prinzip nicht ausschließen. Ein völliger Ausschluß wäre nämlich nicht in Übereinstimmung mit der Anerkennung des Wertes und der Heiligkeit des Ritus in seiner erneuerten Form."
Google translates the first sentence as
"Of course, in order to live full communion, priests who belong to the communities of the old custom cannot in principle exclude the celebration according to the new liturgical books."
Now, I do not understand "full communion", maybe you Father, having experienced flying bishops, have a grasp on the meaning. But I do not see a great gap between what these two popes are saying.
This brings up the issue of the relative value of the concept of "validity" in the modern world. Put another way, let's assume that they are completely valid (as Pope Paul VI insisted to Arch. Lefebrve with all the authority of the Papacy); the relative value of it can nonetheless be reduced to a big "so what?" if nobody pays attention to it, or it becomes so malleable that it can mean whatever anybody wants it to mean (reducing it's value to nothing or maybe next to nothing). Now, in the past when communications were slow and everybody everywhere pretty much absorbed everything "top-down" (it came down in a vertical silo of authority and communication with little to no alternatives in a short amount of time), things didn't change so much, and subsistence living did not allow for the hoi polloi to indulge in weighing options, much less feeling empowered to have an opinion of one's own important enough for other people to notice what you have to say. Today, of course, it's all so different; horizontal streams of data and communication enable back and forth amongst just about everybody, authority is in question, and the idol of the individual rules the day. Which makes voluntarily coming together as a communion of people to say and sing and speak and publicly proclaim acceptance of a common belief, prayer life and standards of right and wrong not only quite remarkable, but also rather unprecedented (nobody's forcing us, and there are plenty of alternatives, including doing nothing). So I would say that we are entering into an era of the dominance and transendence of liturgical theology, and magisterial theology or anything else is of value and meaning only if aligns with and supports that which is publicly prayed. Where do I go, asks the visitor from Mars, to learn what you believe and how widespread is this shared belief? There is only one answer. Come see, hear and taste our communion in public prayer.
Call me fussy, but I am a little uneasy about enabling statements which look a bit libellous, like saying that some prelate or other nearly bankrupted some organisation or other ...
Post a Comment