Seen at the site of Commonweal. This is great!
You watch… now that a liberal publication has put out something like this, pretty soon other liberals will be okay with talking about exactly what we have been discussing. The difference will be that when they start in on it, they will claim that they are being thoughtful and reasonable, whereas when we talk about these things here, they claim that we are obsessed with lace or that we hate women or that we are fixated on rubrics… blah blah blah.
That said, here is Komonchak at Commonweal who strikes pretty close to the center.
Pontifex legibus solutus?
April 1, 2013, 3:11 pm
Posted by Joseph A. Komonchak
Conservatives and traditionalists need not be the only ones to raise questions about some of Pope Francis’ liturgical innovations, whether it was his including women and Muslims among those whose feet he washed or in the reduction of the readings for the Easter Vigil. [NB...] But shouldn’t we all be concerned when they are justified by the idea that, after all, the pope is the supreme law-giver and so is not bound by Church law. [Okay... am I reading a Commonweal entry? Is this still 1 April?] There is an old Latin legal term for this: princeps legibus solutus, which Black’s legal dictionary translates as: “Released from the laws; not bound by the laws. An expression applied in the Roman civil law to the emperor.” As the example given shows, it is a very dangerous principle to allow into ecclesiology. [I am rubbing my eyes. What is he really up to?]
At Vatican II, when no. 22 of Lumen gentium was being discussed, Pope Paul VI proposed introducing into a sentence about the pope’s relationship to the college of bishops that in deciding whether to call the bishops to a collegial act a pope was “bound to the Lord alone” [uni Domino devinctus] The Doctrinal Commission refused this addition for two reasons: (1) its intent was already assured by statements about the pope’s freedom and independence, meaning by this that “there is no higher human authority which the Roman Pontiff has to observe”; and (2) because “the formula is over-simplified. For the Roman Pontiff is also bound to observe revelation itself, the basic structure of the Church, the sacraments, the definitions of previous Councils, etc.; [yep] all such things can’t be counted. Formulas of this sort, using ‘only,’ have to be treated with the greatest circumspection; otherwise countless difficulties arise.”
The Commission was pointing to elements that bind the pope in the exercise of his role. A pope is not legibus solutus. [Here's the rub, I think...] Would we["we" being...] not like to propose some conditions on what Pius XII’s claim that “the pope alone has the right to permit or establish any liturgical practice, to introduce or approve new rites, or to make any changes in them he considers necessary”? [Liberals would like to hem Popes in, you bet!] Can we be content with the view [watch...] that the Pope is not bound by Church law when he does something we like, but ought to be bound by Church law when he does something we don’t like?
So if one wishes to applaud some of the new Pope’s departures from Church law, before one gets too enthusiastic, it might be well to recall that it was also a pope who not so long ago tempted people [who?] to flee to the mountains when he obtruded the Divine Mercy devotion into Eastertide (see Mk 13:14).
It is the ultimate dream of liberals to restrict papal authority, just as they hope to see restrictions on bishops and the reduction of priests and priesthood to “ministry”.
BTW, liberals decry the liberal/conservative dichotomy when they are on the receiving end, but they use it too.