What the mighty Jesuit Karl Rahner would say, said, about suppressing Summorum Pontificum

Jesuit Fr. Karl Rahner was an immensely influential theological guru of a couple of generations of clerics and theologians.   He is the darling, venerated oracle of the catholic left and modernists.

Here is a quote from Karl Rahner.  Given the rumors about changes to or suppression of Summorum Pontificum, this quote should be picked up and circulated widely.  Hat tip to my correspondent.

From Karl Rahner’s Studies in Modern Theology (Herder, 1965, pp. 394-395) under the subtitle:

A Distinction: Legal and Moral Norms


Imagine that the Pope, as supreme pastor of the Church, issued a decree today requiring all the uniate churches of the Near East to give up their Oriental liturgy and adopt the Latin rite….The Pope would not exceed the competence of his jurisdictional primacy by such a decree, but the decree would be legally valid.

But we can also pose an entirely different question. Would it be morally licit for the Pope to issue such a decree? Any reasonable man and any true Christian would have to answer “no.” Any confessor of the Pope would have to tell him that in the concrete situation of the Church today such a decree, despite its legal validity, would be subjectively and objectively an extremely grave moral offense against charity, against the unity of the Church rightly understood (which does not demand uniformity), against possible reunion of the Orthodox with the Roman Catholic Church, etc., a mortal sin from which the Pope could be absolved only if he revoked the decree.

From this example one can readily gather the heart of the matter. It can, of course, be worked out more fundamentally and abstractly in a theological demonstration:

1. The exercise of papal jurisdictional primacy remains even when it is legal, subject to moral norms, which are not necessarily satisfied merely because a given act of jurisdiction is legal. Even an act of jurisdiction which legally binds its subjects can offend against moral principles.

2. To point out and protest against the possible infringement against moral norms of an act which must respect these norms is not to deny or question the legal competence of the man possessing the jurisdiction.


I recall that the late Michael Davies used this argument in one of his books in the wake of the Novus Ordo.

It is clear that a Pope would have the power, the juridical authority, to suppress the TLM (pace fans of Quo primum), but he clearly would not have the moral authority to do such a thing.  It would be a…

“grave moral offense against charity”.


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