At Catholic Culture Phil Lawler has some thoughts about the rumored document that would enervate Benedict XVI’s “emancipation proclamation” Summorum Pontificum. Such a document, as rumor has it, could be a kind of ecclesiastical “slave act of 2021”* which would return diocesan priests to forced servitude to their ring-wearing masters in the big house.
Lawler argues that such a document would be a “disaster”, and not just for those who desire the Traditional Latin Mass, the number of whom is growing very fast. In some places it is the most vibrant sector of the Church’s life due to the increasingly dedicated participation of young people and, especially, young families.
It is Lawler’s view that the “disaster” also resides in the contradiction that the document implies. Benedict XVI said that the TLM was never abrogated and said that “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful”.
If this rumored document is released, to the detriment of all these priests and people, a signal of traumatic discontinuity will be sent through the whole Church. As Lawler puts it:
[I]f Pope Francis can contradict the teaching of Pope Benedict, what is to prevent a future Pontiff from contradicting Pope Francis? Anyone who is genuinely interested in preserving papal authority (as opposed to gaining a temporary advantage in intramural debates) should recognize the mischief this draft document could cause.
If he contradicts the teaching of previous Pontiffs—if he suggests that what was once sacred is sacred no longer—he attacks the base on which his own authority rests.
In Rome there is a saying: “Morto ‘n papa se ne fa un antro. … A Pope dies, you make another.” Popes come and go. If one Pope, through sheer use of force, overturns the work of his predecessor, the next Pope could do the same to his work. And so on and so on. The whole institution is undermined. This works on every level, in the Church: diocesan chanceries… parishes. A new
pharaoh bishop or pastor arrives and – BAM! – he overturns what his predecessor worked to build.
Ironically, those who want to bring down a sledge-hammer on the aspirations of young people and so many priests spent the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI whining about top-down use of power.
But that is the sort of hypocrisy with which the Left rolls.
It is possible that the rumors about a new “slave act of 2021” are part of a “false flag” campaign of disinformation, to discomfit and incite those who have traditional aspirations. It is possible.
But, as the Romans say, “Fidasse è bbene, nun fidasse è mmejo”.
*The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was ” arguably the most hated and openly violated piece of federal legislation in the nation’s history.”