Seems like a long time ago, long before the stars were torn down.— Bob Dylan, Brownsville Girl

As the news today is enormously important (in a practical sense), I want to write a few early thoughts on the “Motu Proprio” of Bergoglio that is intended to restrict access to the Mass. I only link to it so I can refer to certain parts of the letter. Believe it or not, I want to be very calm in my words, so I can pray and ponder before writing further.

First of all, as I have written before, only the Pope can issue a Motu Proprio of a pope. Only a pope has legislative authority over the whole Church. You are reading this blog for the first time if you do not know my belief that the putative abdication of Pope Benedict XVI is likely not valid. Thus, if the Pope doesn’t resign, and he still lives, he remains Pope. IF that position is correct BERGOGLIO CANNOT IN ANY WAY ABROGATE ANYTHING OR LEGISLATE ANYTHING THAT MEANS ANYTHING.

I wanted to direct your attention to a recent post from Father Z about the doubts many have about the validity of Pope Benedict XVI’s so-called resignation. I wanted to state publicly that it was important that a person with the readership as large as his and a person with the influence he has and a person who is a well-known Catholic priest had pointed out this issue BEFORE the “Motu Proprio” was published. Fr. Z does pull some punches in his analysis, but the very fact that he mentions it at all is an important thing. It is actually very important indeed that his questioning of the putative abdication occurred on his part before the Mass is now officially attacked by Bergoglio. By so doing the issue of the identity of the pope can be continued to be examined without any merit to an allegation of it being done out of petty retribution. Read his post here.

Assuming for the sake of argument that Bergoglio is indeed Pope, some more early reactions:

  1. Forget the accompanying letter. It isn’t the purported legislation. It is a pep talk to his cabal on how to use the document in the most effective way to attack the Mass. If you are Catholic, ignore it.

2. Bergoglio and his henchmen, as we know are not great thinkers nor great drafters of legal documents. However, they really try to do a thorough job here. But there are several words and phrases that a lawyer could interpret a truck through. I was going to cover immemorial custom with force of law, principles of construction, and the continued non-abrogation of the Traditional Mass, but this holy priest, writing at Rorate Caeli, does it so much better:

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As a restrictive decree, this present motu proprio of Pope Francis should be interpreted strictly, in accord with the legal maxim Regula Juris 15 (odiosa restringenda, favorabilia amplificanda). Interestingly, there is no vacatio legis on the document either.

Pope Francis indicates in the first paragraph that the bishops constitute the principle of unity of the particular churches and govern them through the proclamation of the Gospel. As the specified end of the document is the “constant search for ecclesial communion”, it would also appear that hermeneutically, this document should be interpreted in a way which genuinely fosters ecclesiastical communion between the faithful, priests, and bishops, and does not promote negative feeling and ill-will amongst any members of the Christian faithful who are attached to the traditional liturgical forms.

It is worthwhile to indicate what this motu proprio does not place restrictions upon. No mention whatsoever is made of the pre-conciliar Breviarium Romanum, Pontificale Romanum and Rituale Romanum. No express abrogation is made of any notable document concerning the traditional Roman Missal, and such abrogation should not therefore be implied. The traditional Missal remains, as it always was, never abrogated. The rights established by Quo Primum, by the theological and liturgical tradition of the Western rites, and immemorial custom remain intact. No mention is made of the traditional rites of the various religious communities (Dominican, Carmelite, Praemonstratensian, etc.) nor those of the ancient sees (Ambrosian, Lyonnais, etc.). There is no indication that the right of a priest to celebrate privately according to the 1962 missal is in any way infringed.

When read in comparison with the extensive granting of rights conceded by Summorum Pontificum and clarified and expanded by Universae Ecclesiae, when there is no express revocation of these rights indicated by Pope Benedict XVI, one must conclude canonically that they still exist.

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3. Quo Primum is still in effect. Immemorial custom has the force of law. The Mass is not abrogated, cannot be, and even if theoretically it could it isn’t abrogated by this document. No specific Missal other than the 1962 Missal is even mentioned in any verbiage involving an abrogation. If this man is going to try to use positive legislation to outlaw the Mass, he should not be allowed to violate norms of legislative interpretation.

4. The statement, “The liturgical books promulgated by [the postconciliar popes] in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite”, is typical modernist phraseology. What does it even mean, they are the “unique” expression? It is ambiguous. It doesn’t say “only” or “only licit”. Yeah, I’d say the novus ordo is pretty “unique”. The document cannot be said to abrogate anything issued by a previous pope or which has rights of immemorial custom unless it is mentioned with specificity. Unique. Please.

4. As others have noted, there is a lack of charity throughout this document and the letter accompanying it. One would be excused for opining that there is a seemingly palpable spirit of malice in it instead. Again, if he is pope, and with all due respect to the office and the person putatively holding it, I ask, “What kind of person– what kind of Catholic– what kind of pope– would DARE to write it?

Pray for the Church, keep the faith, get to the Mass. Don’t give up! On this feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, who prophesied that in the end the Rosary and Scapular would be our arms, fly to Mary. Pray for the Pope, it is time we heard from him.

God please save us.