There was a great deal of anxiety poured out by traditionalists over reports that an upcoming Instruction on Summorum Pontificum might erode Pope Benedict’s own provisions. I was skeptical about that and cautioned calm and the action of prayer for the Holy Father and confusion to the Holy Father’s enemies.
In any event, I am sure that a lot of people prayed and still pray about this.
The generally fair-minded and nearly ubiquitous John L. Allen, sadly still writing for dissenter’s central National Catholic Fishwrap has a piece about the upcoming Instruction together with some less interesting comments about the discussions betwixt the SSPX and a team appointed by the Holy See.
The bit about the discussions doesn’t say too much we don’t know: Sun rises in East… Discussions are hard going.
Regarding the Instruction, however, Mr. Allen wrote:
Speaking on background, Vatican officials insist that’s not the case [That the Instruction will actually undermine Summorum Pontificum.].
Instead, they say, the instruction will confirm that the moto proprio is now the universal law of the church, and insist that bishops apply it. Among other things, it will call for seminarians to be trained not just in Latin, but in the older rite itself, at least so they will know how to execute it faithfully and understand what’s being said.
The instruction will also confirm that the older Mass must be available wherever “groups of faithful” request it, without specifying how many people it takes to constitute a “group.”
The instruction will likewise confirm that the older liturgy is to be celebrated during Holy Week wherever there’s a “stable group” of faithful attached to it, as well as in religious orders which use the extraordinary rite. [But apparently not for the Ambrosian Rite priests… which is puzzling.]
On the other hand, the instruction will probably not satisfy all traditionalist hopes. For example, it will probably not give a seminarian in a regular diocesan seminary the right to be ordained according to the pre-Vatican II ritual, in part [Attention…] because that ritual presumes ordination to “minor orders” and the sub-diaconate, which were suppressed under Pope Paul VI.
I had not thought of that last point, about minor orders, as the reason to withhold freedom from bishops to use the older Pontifical Romanum to ordain as it pleaseth to ordain.
The answer about withholding the older Pontificale was based on commonsense: Seminarians would all, or 99% of them, opt for the older Rite of ordination. This doesn’t cast doubt on the validity of the newer rite. But given a choice, only the rare seminarian today would choose to be ordained with the newer rite for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who knows the difference between the two forms.
But Mr. Allen’s comment touches on another, though related, issue. I have long thought about the conundrum posed about the conferring of minor orders in traditional groups such as the FSSP, though not in this matter of the use of the Pontificale by residential bishops or their delegates.
My basic questions revolve around this two-fold aporia:
QUAERITUR: If there are no minor orders anymore, then why does the Holy See allow groups to pretend there are and go through fake ceremonies?
QUAERITUR: If there are still minor orders, then why can’t they be extended to all seminarians?