What Will be the Restrictions on Summorum Pontificum?

Source: FSSPX News

There are many speculations and hypotheses concerning the Roman document which might restrict the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

On the date of its publication, Bishop Roland Minnerath declared on June 26 to the faithful expressing their disapproval after the dismissal of the priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter from his diocese in Dijon, that they would have “a new Motu Proprio, in the next days or weeks.”

There is also much speculation about the content of this Roman document. They are fueled by recent statements by opponents of the Motu Proprio. Paix Liturgique Letter No. 805 of June 28, thus reports the words of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, before a group of cardinals: “We must put an end to this Mass forever!”

Likewise, Archbishop Arthur Roche, new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, laughingly explained to those in charge of seminaries in Rome and members of the Curia, all English-speaking: “Summorum Pontificum is practically dead! We will give power back to the bishops on this point, but especially not to the conservative bishops.”

These statements are in line with Andrea Grillo, professor of liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Saint Anselm. For this good-natured progressive, Summorum Pontificum introduced an aberrant state of “liturgical exception,” which made him say on the Munera website on January 21, 2019: “The sin of Ecclesia Dei is called Summorum Pontificum.”

On June 2, 2021 on Jeanne Smits' blog, Diane Montagna, a journalist at the Remnant Newspaper reported that the document was in its third version, a version “less severe than the two preceding.”

The first version established a minimum age limit for the celebration of the “extraordinary form,” a bit like the indult of Paul VI which allowed elderly priests to say the traditional mass after the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. This first version also envisaged placing the Ecclesia Dei institutes under the authority of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

This first version was accompanied, again according to Diane Montagna, by a letter of introduction from Pope Francis that was “particularly harsh and surly” towards the Tridentine Mass.

Citing Vatican sources, she added that Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, strongly opposed the first version of the document, and that the Pope's letter had also been revised.

The third version would change the terms to include a prior authorization for diocesan priests, without it being yet defined whether it must be given by the local bishop or by Rome.

It would grant the Ecclesia Dei communities the faculty to celebrate according to the traditional rite - while asking for their adhesion to the Council and its reforms -, but the freedom for all priests to say the Tridentine Mass that was recognized in Summorum Pontificum, would be abolished. It would thus go from a recognized right to a granted tolerance.

In the event of a dispute, the appeals would be examined not by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith but by the Congregation for Divine Worship, whose new prefect, Bishop Roche, is “known as a resolute opponent of the traditional mass and an opponent of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum,” as Yves Daoudal wrote on his blog on May 28.

We can only reaffirm what FSSPX.News published on June 3, 2021, such a restriction on the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI, would be perfectly “abusive,” and since it would be directed against the common good of the Church, it would be “null in itself.” Although the Society of Saint Pius X may not feel concerned, “it would deeply regret such a limitation, because it would be a step back on the way back to Tradition which would delay the solution of the crisis of the Church.”

Beyond rumors and speculations about its date and content, the revamped Motu Proprio poses a major question: that of authority in the Church, starting with that of the Pope himself. This is rightly pointed out by a Salesian religious, Don Marco Begato, which the Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli took up on his website on June 19.

His argument is as follows: "a decision against Summorum Pontificum - especially if it is made while Benedict XVI is still alive - would be a low blow to the liturgy, but above all it would be a traumatic blow to authority.”

Here is his very relevant development: “The question I ask myself is what value should be given to  a document that, within a few decades, was be turned and turned like a sock. Very little, I would say.”

“But the value of the document, in our case, also speaks of the value of its author, and since a motu proprio is an eminent and autonomous intervention of the sovereign pontiff, it speaks of the value of pontifical declarations and their relationship with the episcopate (for example, with the disposition of an episcopate to obey a motu proprio).”

"And therefore, in the face of a devaluation of a motu proprio, would there not be a risk of taking some credit away from the Pope's interventions as such? Wouldn’t there be the risk of giving the impression that the pope’s direct interventions are very dubious, valid for a few decades at most, and good to be thrown out?” 

"It is in this sense that touching Summorum Pontificum would, in my view, mean touching the very credibility of the Sovereign Pontiff and the hierarchy, and touching their authority. And this I say not to express a personal psychological feeling of betrayed trust, but to put in evidence a radical and objective state of confusion that the Anti-Summorum Motu Proprio would ipso facto attribute to the highest offices.”

"The reasoning is as simple as it is disarming: if the leaders are not clear on what they want to do and why, if they act according to changing curial balances or social fashions, and not according to defined and stable theological presuppositions, why should we obey them?”

"I mean, on what basis should we obey them? Under what conditions? Better yet, what should we obey? The changeable writing? The intention leaked through the newspapers? The declarations of pastors on television? Pope 1 or Pope 2? The bishop who follows the letter or to the bishop of the spirit? Trendy or convenience? In the first or second five years?”

“I repeat, mine is not a psychological reaction, but a serious ethical difficulty. I am bound to obey those who certainly show me the will of God, but an ecclesial community that appears confused, that constantly changes its demands, that provides fewer and fewer theological explanations, that tends not to answer or to evade the doubts raised, which in the millennium of freedoms and in the post-conciliar Church finally free from legalisms, pushes [paradoxically] towards an uncompromising obedience, how can such a reality be said to be credible and reliable?”

In what should we believe and follow it? For how long ? With what criteria? How serious is it to be taken? To what extent can I interpret and reinterpret at will? Who determines this?”

And Don Begato concluded, with common sense: soon “giving credibility to the authorities will by definition be a gamble, a roulette wheel, a game ... less and less entertaining and more and more risky.”