Hmmm… questions are posed to the Commission, but norms are issued before the response is received … hmmm

I am scratching my head about something.

Let’s get the sequence of events clear in our minds.

Some days before the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was promulgated on 7 July 2007, a preliminary text was sent through the nuncios to the conferences of bishops throughout the world.

After that preliminary text was distributed, changes were made to the text of the Motu Proprio.  The updated, corrected text was promulgated on 7 July. 

His Excellency the Chair of the USCCB’s litturgy office, Most Reverend Donald W. Trautman, seeing that there was a discrepancy between the text sent through the nunciature before 7 July and the official text promulgated on 7 July, sends some dubia to the Commission in Rome asking for a clarifications.  Called into question is the very working of the document concerning one of the critical points: Art. 5.1. 

Apparently, someone doubted the text the Holy See promulgated on 7 July was correct.  Or was it really a doubt?  Was there another motive?

Let’s back back to the timeline.

Without waiting for a response to the dubia he had sent, the same Chair of the liturgy office (who had sent the dubia), but this time in his capacity as a diocesan bishop, issues lengthy norms as particular law based on the doubtful text, the very text about which he had sent dubia to the Holy See.  Those particular norms don’t go into effect until 1 November 2007. 

One assumes that if the responses comes back from Rome about the dubia, those norms could be be revised.

I think I got the series of events in the right order. 

So, I now ask….

Does it strike anyone but me as a little strange that, knowing full well that the text you are basing your norms on is in some way doubtful, you would nevertheless go ahead and issue those norms?

We are dealing with really smart people here, after all.  I assume they know exactly what they are doing.

What does one gain or lose by such a move?

Is it possible that by getting out ahead of the wave, as it were, one might seek to influence other bishops to take the similar stands about the Motu Proprio?  Create a …. lobby?  Inspire them to issue their own norms based on the doubtful text (easier to gloss), rather than wait for clarifications?  Get your laws in place first and try to set the mood/stage/terrain?  Shape opinion now?  Before the clarifications come?

Again, these are really smart and capable people we are talking about.  They must know what they are doing and what they want to accomplish.

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33 Responses to Hmmm… questions are posed to the Commission, but norms are issued before the response is received … hmmm

  1. danphunter1 says:

    Pope Paul VI spoke of the “auto destruction of the Church”, or clerics within the Church doing damage to the Church Herself.

    Ecclesia Dei will hopefully issue more precise instructions soon.
    God bless you

  2. Ioannes says:

    Sort of a pre-emptive liturgical strike?

  3. Richard says:

    For Pete’s sake… When are we simply going to be able to ignore dioceses’ “norms”, especially when they run so counter to the direction the MP intends?

  4. It’s simple to me, really. The bishop in question, like most people, is a creature of habit. This is probably how he always reacts when he doesn’t get his way. Whatever he issues to restrict the terms of the motu proprio would have no force of law. He is wise enough to know this. But many of his subjects either are not, or are (particularly in the case of priests) intimidated into submission. To the extent of the latter’s success, the bishop in question will have succeeded.

    For the moment. Like I said, “creature of habit.”

  5. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Where is this dubia the Bishop sent? Did I miss it in the Bishop Trautman thread?

  6. Derik Castillo says:

    Imagine for a moment that the Chair of the USCCB’s litturgy office
    regards the document that arrived through the nunciature as ‘official’
    (how many times does the nunciature sends the wrong document?) and,
    fearing that the response to his question may be too much
    delayed, decides to issue the norms.

    Derik

  7. Pam says:

    It is mentioned first in the comments of Oct 10. You can see it online at the Erie diocese also.

  8. Christopher says:

    Peace be with you.

    I am not convinced that Bishop Trautman is either in hatred for Christ or for the Church, and I would be, frankly, shocked to think him to do so. Though, some of his actions and mentality may be misguided, I do not think they are arising out of malice for the Church, especially not explicitly. If you have a chance to talk to him or listen to him on a more personal level, I can’t help but think you would gain a good sense of his care for Jesus Christ and His Church. At the same time, in all fairness, I think that some of his ways about it are misguided, though well-intentioned.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.
    -Christopher

  9. AM says:

    Why is there all this haste to constrain the meaning of stable, group, etc.? This I have not been able to understand.. are those bishops trying to protect their priests of overwork?

    For as I read Arts. 2 and 5 of S.P., there is _nothing_ preventing a priest from offering the Mass publicly in the e.f. on his own initiative, provided that the ordinary form is offered in the ordinary way on Sundays. The point of the “stable group” business is just to give more rights to laymen, not to restrict the conditions of offering Mass.

    Surely?

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    In his sermon at the TLM that EWTN televised on Motu Proprio Day, Fr. Calvin Goodwin FSSP said:

    “This Mass, offered today for the needs and intentions of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is a concrete and visible token of that “interior reconciliation” within the Church which the Holy Father has both called for and made possible through his recent Motu Proprio which restores the traditional liturgical rites of the Church to a central place at the heart of the Church’s life. ….. And so the Vicar of Christ, making use of that personal authority binding the universal Church which is his alone, has determined that the healing of those painful wounds must begin, and it must begin at the heart of the Church, in the sanctuary, in the Holy Sacrifice which makes present on the altar that very exaltation of the saving Passion of Christ which is commemorated in the feast which we celebrate here today.”

    All this seems to raise questions whether there are some bishops who
    (1) Do not accept the Vicar of Christ’s authority to bind the universal Church and, in particular,
    (2) Will not accept his restoration of the traditional liturgy to a central place in the Church’s life.

    Where this leave the simple faithful? As to whose authority to accept when the Pope’s words say the traditional liturgy remains sacred and great today, but a bishop’s actions seem to say that it does not.

  11. Paul Murnane says:

    Father, I agree with you that this is all about “shaping opinion” and controlling the process. As an example, “stable group” is now fairly fixed in the SP debate. Plus, any response to the dubia will likely be “back page news” as corrections almost always are, and new norms can take quite a while to formulate when a snail’s pace is required.

    All the more reason I am so pleased to see Archp Ranjith and Msgr. Perl be so outspoken. They seem determined to not only stand their ground, but fight back. They must be very confident in the Holy Father’s strong support.

  12. RBrown says:

    It’s a PR tactic. Put out the disinformation before the official act, conditioning the hearers: Quidquid in modo recipientis recipitur.

  13. RBrown says:

    Add another “recipitur”

    Quidquid recipitur in modo . . .

  14. John Eakins says:

    It seems to me that what constitutes a ‘stable’ group is solely the decision of the priest celebrant. If the bishop has a problem, post fact, let him do what he wants to do and then deal with him. But I doubt that any bishop is going to stick his neck out in that way. All this ‘stuff,’ for lack of a better word, from the dissenting bishops is meant to intimidate those who are easily intimidated.

    A priest who truly wants to celebrate the TLM will do it because he is confident in his ability to read the English language of the document.

  15. danphunter1 says:

    What is this talk of “intimidation” about?
    Is there some liberal churchman hit team out there who are literally going around and threatening physical violence on Bishops and priests who express obedience and love for our Holy Fathers wish that the Tridentine Mass return to our churches?
    Better to fear the one that can kill the soul than the one that can kill the body.
    Being a Catholic bishop or priest has nothing to do with popularity.
    Rather it is about saving souls.
    God bless the Church

  16. danphunter1: Being a Catholic bishop or priest has nothing to do with popularity.

    Exactly.

    This was a point made in the last PODCAzT also, in a reading from St. Gregory the Great.

  17. Dana Cole says:

    It would assist the TLM tremendously if the Holy Father were to welcome back into the fold the St. Pius X Society. I had a vision this morning of liberal bishops considering early retirement if the Pope were to replace Cardinal Castillo-Hoyos (who’s due to retire soon if not already) with Bishop Fellay, the head of the Society. After all, one of the issues the Pope will have to deal with if the Society returns is, what to do with Bishop Fellay? And the other Pius X bishops could replace some of those California bishops.

  18. Marcin says:

    Ioannes: Sort of a pre-emptive liturgical strike?

    Shock – yes, awe – just not there

  19. Nathan says:

    + JMJ +

    Danphunter1 writes: What is this talk of “intimidation” about?
    Is there some liberal churchman hit team out there who are literally going around and threatening physical violence on Bishops and priests who express obedience and love for our Holy Fathers wish that the Tridentine Mass return to our churches?

    I agree with you and Fr. Zuhlsdorf on this, especially on the idea that being a bishop or priest has nothing to do with popularity. That said, I think it’s important for those of us who are laymen to at least consider the cost to priests and bishops, in some places, who stand up for the TLM.

    It’s easy for me, as a layman, to expect heroic virtue out of every priest and bishop. It’s not really fair, though. While there are no “liberal churchman hit teams” out there, there are so many ways that a priest can be made to suffer and carry an exceptionally heavy cross. Priests can be re-assigned to parishes where pastors will, in no circumstances, allow any countenance of the TLM. Pastors can be given absolutely no support by chancery staffs in trying to accomplish their daily missions or so burdened with reports, administrivia, or answering spurious charges that they have no time left to even pray. Bishops can be denied a voice, even in their own Ordinaries, on issues by staffs of national bishops’ conferences. Lay groups can be energized to “target” priests and bishops, for good or for evil. The press can be manipulated to make calumny a “reality” in public discourse. Even basic human friendship and companionship can be denied to these men.

    When I look at myself, I see just how much I complain and dread the little humiliations and burdens that God allows me in my state of life (which are so light and yet so important for any measure of Christian perfection), I cannot demand a higher standard of every priest and bishop.

    I do believe, however, that God during this time is going to pour out extraordinary graces on those priests and bishops who willingly and lovingly accept the crosses associated with “saving the liturgy, saving the world.”

    In Christ,

  20. Bill says:

    This is a not so unusual tactic in politics and diplomacy. During the Cuban missle crisis in 1962, the Soviets sent two dispatches to Washington. The first was rather conciliatory, the second more confrontive. Pres Kennedy chose to respond to the first, ignoring the second as if it hadn’t been received. Thus, the crisis was resolved. The Soviets went along with this little ruse. I doubt the Vatican will go along with the good bishop’s tactic here.

  21. Karen Linsmayer says:

    Have you read “The Rite of Sodomy” by Randy Engel. Every Catholic priest and layperson (with the exception of those who would use this information to rip the Church apart) should read it. This author has done her homework. I haven’t read the whole book, it is 1115 pages. I have read many chapters. I am no longer surprised by anything some of the bishops and priest’s say or do. We must pray for all of them.

    Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  22. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Dana,

    I know that the SSPX were bad, but I thinking sending them to California to be bishops goes well beyond a cruel and unusual penance. May our Lady keep you forever in the blue shadow of her mantle.

  23. John Eakins says:

    danphunter 1: “What is this talk of “intimidation” about?”

    Its about bishops who are unfavorably disposed to the return of the TLM issuing these diocesan ‘guidelines,’ which they have no right to issue under the MP, that are intended to discourage their priests who are, or may be, intimidated by the bishop, from celebrating the TLM.

    Apparently I was not clear.

  24. Federico says:

    Fr. Z,

    You’ve been living in Rome too long (I was born and raised there, so I recognize the signs).

    Non vedo le convergenze parallele.

  25. Federico: Io, invece, voglio sottlineare i fatti e porre qualche domandina innocente.

  26. danphunter1 says:

    John,
    The priest has nothing to fear from a bishop who is disobeying the Holy Father by refusing to let the priest offer the Tridentine Mass.
    We only have God Almighty to fear.
    There is no need to be intimidated by anyone created.
    A bishop can move a priest around, but so what, Christ was tortured mercilessly for hours and then Crucified.
    If He did that for us,and He was not intimidated, then priests can certainly handle a cranky bishop who moves him somewhere.
    There is no comparison.
    Deo Gratias

  27. michigancatholic says:

    This is a political ploy and a case of absolute and complete insubordination. Trautman and his ilk in the USCCB need to be disciplined and disciplined hard. This crowd has no respect for the pope and even less respect for us and the people in their dioceses. The whole lot of them are petty little tyrants who don’t deserve to be bishops.

  28. Matthew Mattingly says:

    Michigan Catholic gave the best answer, which expresses which many people think of the USCCB (with the exception of a few like Archbishop Burke, of course)

  29. danhunter: Easy for you to say.

  30. John Eakins says:

    danhunter1,

    I agree with Father Z. You are speaking theoretically, I am speaking practically. A few years ago when I was friendly with a few priests in Arlington and very friendly with one in particular it was very clear that there were 3-5 priests who would stand up in the meetings and challenge the bishop. The rest kept their heads down and their mouths closed (some because they wanted to be promoted and/or because they generally agreed with the bishop, others were just going along to get along).

    Needless to say, those few priests who had the ‘gall’ to argue with the bishop are administrators or assistants some place, usually in the boondocks) with no hope of ever becoming pastors.

    And nothing will change until a) the Holy Father reprimands one of the bishops or b) until a priest ignores his bishop in favor of the TLM and survives untouched (and this will happen first of the two).

    Either of the above will lend encouragement to a priest who may have been intimidated (there’s that word again!).

  31. Diane says:

    Fr. Z said: Does it strike anyone but me as a little strange that, knowing full well that the text you are basing your norms on is in some way doubtful, you would nevertheless go ahead and issue those norms?

    I was pondering this exact thing on and off all day.

    Doubtful conscience?

    I go back to what Abp Ranjith said about those who resist Summorum Pontificum. However, I don’t see that resistance as being blatant, but more subtle coming int he form of restrictions and deterrents.

  32. RBrown says:

    This is a political ploy and a case of absolute and complete insubordination. Trautman and his ilk in the USCCB need to be disciplined and disciplined hard. This crowd has no respect for the pope and even less respect for us and the people in their dioceses. The whole lot of them are petty little tyrants who don’t deserve to be bishops.
    Comment by michigancatholic

    The pope is trying to re-gain control of the liturgy, which was turned over to the bishops over 30 years ago when the Church was localized (cf inculturation). The company line for the past 30 years has been Latin bad, vernacular good–1962 Missal bad, 1970 Missal good.

    It’s going to take some time to change minds about this. The consequences of Summorum Pontificum will extend deep into priestly formation–restoring Latin as the cornerstone of priestly studies. Most bishops will comply, but some will be hard cases. Rome has to be explicit about what the pope wants.

    As I’ve said here before, if bishops like Trautman persist, Rome always has the option of appointing a coadjutor and giving him total authority over the liturgy.

  33. danphunter1 says:

    Father,
    I have been physically tortured for teaching the truth.
    I can speak about intimidation.
    God bless you