A reflection on all that we Catholics once owned, by right, that has now been almost totally misappropriated, by scoundrels

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In light of the unfolding (or perhaps one should say unraveling) of Pope Francis’s pontificate, we should revisit words once spoken by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, predating and anticipating Summorum—words that now have an alarming portentousness:

I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today? (Salt of the Earth, 1997)

He has asked a question to which, so far, no honest answer has been given by the Church’s leaders. The reason is not hard to see. Ratzinger dared to say that the Church’s very being had been called into question when Paul VI declared the old Mass forbidden—which in fact he repeatedly did, in response to attempts to maintain a liturgy the Church had celebrated for 500 years, and in its essentials, for 1,000 years, and in the core of it, for 1,500 years. The longing for this treasure of faith was mocked, stepped on, suppressed, treated as a form of disobedience, arrogance, or neurosis. And the haunting question rises up: “Can the Church be trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today?”

If Paul VI in 1969 can abolish the oldest liturgical rite of Christendom and replace it with a new-fangled rite fashioned by committee according to modern ideas, with the two rites having very little in common when one looks at their details, why can’t Francis today modify the Ten Commandments or the Gospels? They, too, are awfully old, rejected by vast numbers of people as irrelevant to modern times, extremely provocative, and rather narrow in their fixation on obeying God or else. Don’t we need to update and modernize the whole of Christianity? If we can do this with what is our holiest and highest possession, namely the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we can do it across the board, top to bottom. What is permitted, what is forbidden, what is to be construed as good, what is to be rejected as evil, is simply up to the will of the reigning pontiff.

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Of liberal and traditional Catholics … their critics and supporters

As it turns out, Pope Benedict XVI, in the motu propio, Summorum Pontificum, declared, in agreement with the traditionalists, that the liturgical books of 1962 had never been abrogated when the novus ordo was promulgated! What’s more, traditional Catholics had a right to the old Mass!

However, to my knowledge Vere and Madrid didn’t even bother to correct their book, which still contains these errors along with a few other doozies. Nor were apologies forthcoming when the excommunications of the bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X were lifted by the Holy Father.

Now that prominent churchmen and theologians are taking seriously the traditionalist critique of the 20th century changes in the Church, as first formulated by thinkers such as Romano Amerio, it is becoming crystal clear that a place is being carved out for traditional Catholics in an emerging Church, just now starting on a reform in continuity with Tradition of the post-Vatican II errors.

That place had been denied to traditional Catholics, not just by the liberals of the “hermeneutic of rupture”, but also by the mainstream, novus ordo conservatives such as Vere, Madrid, and, our friend, Mr. Mark Shea.

So the present situation that these novus ordo conservatives find themselves in after Summorum Pontificum is a rather uncomfortable one.

They were so sure that the old liturgical books had been abrogated. Wrong!

They were so sure that the novus ordo was the Traditional Latin Mass for the very reason that the old books had been abrogated. Wrong again!

Because the old liturgical books were not abrogated, and because there are now two forms of the Roman Rite, the novus ordo is certainly distinct from the Traditional Latin Mass.

They were so sure that there was no room in the Church for those disaffected traditionalists that were attached to the Traditional Latin Mass. Wrong again!

We are to be welcomed and all generosity is to be shown to those who are attached to the Traditional Latin Mass.

They were so sure that all those criticisms of Vatican II and the 20th Century changes were disobedience. Wrong again!

The debate has been welcomed, and, according to the secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the criticisms “make sense”!

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New guidelines for Tridentine Mass – 10 key facts

…the authority of today’s document is underlined by the fact that it was personally endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI last month. Indeed in today’s document “Summorum Pontificum” is described as an “important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff.”

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