I recently received a copy of
From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War: Catholics Respond to the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes on the Latin Mass
This is a collection of short pieces from the internet assembled in chronological order by a wide (but not wide enough) array of, mostly known, writers.
There is general consensus among the writers, not all of whom regularly frequent the Vetus Ordo, that Traditionis custodes was founded on quagmire of inaccuracies, was sloppy and incoherent, and was narrow-minded and cruel.
The book is somewhat crippled by the lack of a thematic index, which couldn’t have made it a more useful tool for defense, response and – let’s use this unpopular world – proselytizing.
One of the more useful pieces is by Walter Card. Brandmüller (one of the Dubia Cardinals whom Francis failed to “accompany” in any way reflecting charity). Card. Brandmüller writes about the necessity of reception of a law for the law to have force. It was originally published on 29 July 2021.
By coincidence, a canonist friend and I were talking about the very same concept that day and I posted on it. HERE Happily, I got right! I did pick up from his piece a quote that I didn’t have in my quiver:
“Leges instituuntur cum promulgantur. Firmantur cum moribus utentium approbantur. Sicut enim moribus utentium in contrariem nonnullae leges hodie abrogatae sunt, ita moribus utentium leges confirmantur” (c. 3, D. 4).
“Laws are established when they are promulgated. They are confirmed when they are approved by the behavior of those who use them. For as due to the behaviors of users in a contrary direction, quite a few laws today have been abrogated, so through the
behaviors of the users the laws are confirmed.”
The nutshell is that when people simply ignore a law, it is no law at all. That applies to matters of discipline, rather than moral precepts deriving from divine law and matters of faith that are defined, etc. So, this can apply to something like Traditionis custodes but not the Church’s teaching about, say, contraception in Humanae vitae or John Paul II’s clarification about the impossibility of the ordination of women in Ordinatio sacerdotalis.
And so I arrive at my point.
I read at CNA the dreadful and hurtful news that the bishop of Charleston, SC, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, has forbidden confirmation and, even worse, anointing of the sick in the Vetus Ordo. He forbids Christmas Midnight Mass. He forbids the Triduum. He allows one Mass on All Souls. He designated four parishes in diocese for Mass in the Vetus Ordo except for the things he cruelly forbade.
Marriages and funerals are allowed only at the bishop’s discretion. ‘Cause, you know, accompaniment… subsidiarity….
Think about this.
Firstly, those who are inclined to traditional worship wouldn’t seek confirmation from a priest. They would want to be confirmed by a bishop. People will travel across the whole of these USA to have their children confirmed by a bishop. So, forbidding confirmation in the older rite is not that big a deal.
But all the other things, the dates that the bishop has forbidden Mass are super important in the devotion of the Catholic people. They are sensitive days, tied to people’s hearts and fondest memories. Midnight Mass! Triduum!
What about certain moments in people’s lives, such as getting married, yoking yourself sacramentally until your last breath to another for the sake of helping each other get to heaven and bringing children into the world. Not pivotal or important at all, I guess. No reason to be pastorally, paternally sensitive to their “legitimate aspirations” as Saint John Paul II called them. No no… we will permit all sorts of goofy stuff at “normal” weddings, but you people can just shut up and take a seat in the back of the bus.
What about another pivotal moment in your life: DYING. The bishop forbids that a person who truly longs for the traditional form of anointing by denied. Father is supposed to refuse to do it. “Please, Father, anoint me in the old way?” “No. The bishop says you can’t have that.”
“Please, Father, anoint my grandpa with the traditional book?” “Nope. No can do! Here, have a tissue.”
Honestly, I might have a heart as cold as a frog on a mountain, but I don’t think I could look into teary, anxious eyes and deny anointing with the older book.
What priest could do that? What bishop would even suggest that? For the love of all that’s holy… what’s with that?
The Sacrament of Anointing has been one of the most abused sacraments since the Council. It is, as classical theology explains, one of the “sacraments of the living”, that is, to be given to those who are alive in grace rather than dead in mortal sin. The “sacraments of dead”, Baptism and Penance”, bring a person back to life in grace. All the other sacraments must be received in the state of grace, by the “living”.
I wonder if the bishop of Charleston has ever admonished any priest about administering Anointing to those who have been previously confessed, except in danger of death. “Danger of death” is a concept that has been much abused as well, though there is quite a bit of latitude. The latitude is not all-inclusive. In fact, far and wide, there are mass-anointings performed without any sacramental preparation.
So, while it is good to know that there are four – out of how many? – places in that diocese where Holy Mass in the Vetus Ordo can be celebrated, the restrictions placed by the bishops strike exactly at times in people’s lives when they are the most sensitive and the feasts or moments that are most dear.
Traditionis custodes is, in its very spirit, immensely harsh and cruel. What bishop would willingly succumb to that spirit? Are they just signing stuff that some flunky wrote for them? Don’t they think this through? These are young and zealous Catholics who are going to weather the demographic storm we are in. These are the people you want to attack right now?
We are dealing with the single most marginalized group of people in the Church today. And their fathers give them stones instead of bread.
So much better would it be were the bishop himself to celebrate Holy Mass at Midnight on Christmas. Will we see a bishop write to his people that, if they want to be married in the ancient way, he himself would be happy to witness it? Could we conceive of a bishops who, in applying TC, says, “If your loved one is dying and wants Last Rites in the traditional way, I myself will do it it at all possible, or I will find someone who will. After all, as St. Augustine said, ‘I am a bishop for you and a Christian with you.”