Reshuffling of the Roman Curia: implications for the future of Doctrine and the Traditional Latin Mass

The unnecessarily cruel legacy document of the reign of Francis, Traditionis custodes, seems to be rapidly becoming a dead letter, rather like Ex corde Ecclesiae.

This weekend some version of the new Constitution, Praedicate Evangelium, about the reshuffling of the Roman Curia was released. Among other things, Congregations will now be called Dicasteries… so try to get out of the habit of using the abbreviation CDF.

I guess now we will have the

Dicastery of Truth
Dicastery of Peace
Dicastery of Love
Dicastery of Plenty
Dicastery of Silly Walks…

Seriously, “dicastery” is a perfectly good word and it has been used to describe pretty much any office in the Curia along the lines of all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares… all Congregations are dicasteries but not all dicasteries are Congregations.

“Dicastery” comes from Greek dikasterion which was a “law court”.   It is an interesting choice to move away from language that is collegial, which is implied in a “gathering together”, a “Congregation”, to something that is impersonal and legalistic.

The newly shuffled deck puts something called the Dicastery for Evangelization above Doctrine of the Faith in the pecking order…. but still below the most bureaucratic office of all the now slightly reduced Secretariat of State.

Putting Doctrine below Evangelization…  meh.  I think the idea is to stop thinking about the CDF (DDF!) completely.   There is a chicken and egg aporia here.  To evangelize there has to be “good news”.  But “good news” has content.  That content has to bring people to faith.   For centuries in baptizing the priest would meet people at the threshold of the church and ask “What are you asking of God’s Church?” and they respond, “Faith”.  Going on, “What does Faith hold out to you?”  “Everlasting life”.

Going forward, “faith seeks understanding”.   There is a content to our Faith.  We can make distinctions, like St. Augustine, about that content in terms like this.  There is a Fides quae creditur and a Fides qua creditur.  There is a Faith in which we believe and a Faith by which we believe.    Simplifying for the sake of space and time, there are formulas we can study and memorize and there is the pure gift of grace.   Both of these have their deep content which is not an abstraction, but rather a Person, Christ.  We can have a personal relationship by Faith.

That said, there has to be a logical priority and I am not convinced that signal sent by placing Evangelization first in line is the right signal.

Shifting gears, something came up in the new conference about the new Constitution concerning the description of Culto Divino the liturgy dicastery.

Art. 93

Il Dicastero si occupa della regolamentazione e della disciplina della sacra liturgia per quanto riguarda la forma straordinaria del Rito romano.

The Dicastery handles the regulation and the discipline of the sacred liturgy regarding the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

Apparently this – which is now a mistake – was written before the Plessy v. Ferguson legacy document, “Jailers of Tradition”.   Apparently, on paper, there is only one form of the Roman Rite, not two.  This is on the face of it false, of course.   There are in use now two “versions” (is that a better word?) of the Roman Rite.  They aren’t the same.

People have been going after Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum here and there since “Jailers of Tradition” was extruded.  Let’s remember that SP was not intended to solve every issue.  And it was created in an environment slightly more agreeable for Tradition than the life-sucking whirlpool between Scylla and Charybdis was for a barque.  SP went just so far and no farther.  It presented a juridical solution whereby priests could use the Vetus Ordo, or Pian or Gregorian or Tridentine Rite or whatever you want to call it.  SP did not seek to settle questions of liturgical coherence except insofar as Benedict expressed a hope that the two “forms” would influence each other in such a way that the organic development of the Church’s worship would be jumpstarted and the artificial imposition of the Novus Ordo would be dealt with in time.

We shall have to keep an eye out for the future version of “Art. 93” which smacks a little of MiniLove’s Room 101.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mysticalrose says:

    Personally, I prefer the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Has a nice ring to it. Seems fitting for our times. :)

  2. TonyO says:

    I am curious: do the small-minded and cold-hearted not realize how much they give themselves away by spending endless time and energy rearranging the deck chairs, and the commas, and re-naming everything via Newspeak? How much they paint themselves as being just what Orwell depicted in 1984? There isn’t any real worth to re-jiggering the offices’ titular seniority – a pope can give preferential treatment to any office and any cleric he feels like wherever the guy happens to be in the curia.

    Apparently, on paper, there is only one form of the Roman Rite, not two. This is on the face of it false, of course. There are in use now two “versions” (is that a better word?) of the Roman Rite. They aren’t the same.

    I wonder: what if a priest said: since there is “only one” rite, then saying the Mass of the 1962 missal must be doing the same thing as saying the Mass of the 1970 missal…so there’s no problem!? I mean, if the Pope insists that there aren’t two rites, then the Pope cannot distinguish between A and B, can he?
    (I don’t really think they are the same, I am just trying to follow the “logic”. )

  3. kurtmasur says:

    Isn’t it Benedict’s style to allow an erroneous theory to be put forth to the test so that upon failing it can be clear to everybody why it doesn’t work? If indeed this is his style, then perhaps he knew what he was doing in establishing Summorum Pontificum’s provisions of having two different forms of the Roman Rite. It’s like Benedict already knew that placed side by side, it would become clear that the TLM is what truly works, compared to the NO. Genius! In fact, not only did SM work well in “unmasking” the NO, but it worked too well, as we can see with the desperateness found in Jailers of Tradition.

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