I need to refute certain claims made by Rorate Caeli concerning the audience that some of us (about sixty, not forty, as RC reported) had with the Holy Father on June 10.
Regarding Summorum Pontificum
Contrary to the claims of RC, there are many who are confused about the way in which the particular application of Summorum Pontificum attempted in our community involves a modification of our founding charism. Some of these are people on the Internet, mostly in forums and comment sections, who believe our founding charism to include an attachment to the vetus ordo. Others are within the Institute. In fact, I have heard friars formerly in positions of responsibility who have argued that the charism has evolved to include such an attachment, even though this “evolution” is not reflected in our ecclesiastically approved legislation.
Furthermore, RC claims “no faithful who ever went to any Traditional Mass ever celebrated by the Friars ever heard anything against the Paul VI Mass.” I fact, I have heard with my own ears one of our priests claiming from the pulpit that Quo Primum delegitimized any subsequent liturgical changes. His target was clearly the Mass of Paul VI, as this homily was given the day before the Commission went into effect. There is more to the charge of crypto-Lefebvrism, than many would care to admit. What few are willing to say in public others hold in private or at least in an anonymous or pseudonymous fashion.
It would seem that RC wishes to give the impression that the charism of the Institute, which includes a “traditional sensibility,” was destined to produce a community that would align itself quite naturally with Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News. I assume the graph included with the post, representing the growth in membership in our community, is meant to reinforce this idea, as well as the references to the large number of friars now asking for dispensation. But the growth in our community has been steady over the whole course of its existence and the present requests for dispensation have been encouraged by the former superiors and Roberto de Mattei and incorrigibly misrepresented by Rorate Caeli.
Summorum Pontificum has very little to do with growth in numbers in the recent past, and on the other hand, those who appealed to the Holy were just as willing to implement SP as anyone else. What they did not want was the problematic ideology represented by de Mattei and RC, and this is what was at issue with the particular implementation of SP in our community and the way it was attempted.
Regarding Vatican II
This has been a concern among many of us since the General Chapter of 2008, and particularly since the end of 2010, when the Institute became, not merely the premier religious Institute representing the implementation of SP, but one that gave a platform to those who wished to call into question the very possibility of a real hermeneutic of continuity in regard to Vatican II. RC infers agreement with the bogus claim of Roberto de Mattei that Pope Benedict’s December 22, 2005 address was an invitation to such questioning. And that is precisely the way in which the Italian press understood the situation. A firestorm of controversy erupted in public as a result.
In fact, as Andrea Tornielli notes, during Pope Francis meeting with us, he referred to the theological work of Archbishop Agostino Marchetto as representing for him the most sound defense and explication of Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic of continuity. It should be noted that Archbishop Marchetto and Inos Biffi publically refuted Monsignor Brunero Gherardini and Roberto de Mattei in the pages of the L’Osservatore Romano. I repeat, the controversy become a matter of public interest because of the platform our Institute provided those who were publically questioning the very possibility of applying a hermeneutic of continuity to Vatican II.
One only needs to recall the very last words of Pope Benedict XVI on the Second Vatican Council in order to appreciate his true intentions in speaking about the hermeneutic of continuity:
We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force. And it is our task, especially in this Year of Faith, on the basis of this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed. Let us hope that that the Lord will assist us. I myself, secluded in prayer, will always be with you and together let us go forward with the Lord in the certainty that the Lord will conquer. Thank you!
Thus, for RC to claim
. . . if there was one –a single one– institute in the Catholic Church working to try to implement the vision of Benedict XVI regarding the Council it was the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate . . . ,
is disingenuous to put it politely.
Beyond this, it seems it ought to be unnecessary to state that the very fact that RC finds the Pope’s position on the matter to be inadequate, is a problem for many of us. Since when, and among which Catholics, is agreement with views of Rorate Caeli, Roberto de Mattie, Michael Matt, etc. the litmus test for orthodoxy and love for tradition? So now if one does not line up in lock step with the traditionalist vanguard one is no longer a good Catholic or faithful religious?
In the same article in which RC makes light of the charge of crypto-Lefebvrism, calling it “nonsensical,” it makes the ludicrous assertion that the SSPX would never claim “to oppose the Council.” Really? No matter what percentage of Vatican II’s teaching the SSPX is willing to agree with, it is precisely Pope Benedict’s requirement that they accept both the legitimacy of the Council and the new Mass that has kept the SSPX from agreeing to the doctrinal preamble. And when the dialogue with the Holy See broke down Bishop Fellay famously declared that Vatican II was not a council of the Church, but of the “Jews, Masons and Modernists.”
And RC wonders where the charge of crypto-Lefebvrism comes from? In the very post in which they try to dismiss the charge against our Institute they make ambiguous assertions about the Society that they know are not true. But this is a manifestation of a long-standing unbroken habit. During the dialogue of the SSPX with the Holy See, when Bishop Fellay kept claiming that unnamed sources assured him that the Society would be given the (absurd) opportunity of being presented with a doctrinal statement that required them to agree to nothing, Rorate Caeli went right along with the euphoria. Why? Because, obviously, that is where their sympathies lie.
The accusation of crypto-Lefebvrism is not a conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorists point to what is not there, that is, what is not in evidence, and claim that the lack of evidence is actually evidence. On the other hand, the crypto-Lefebvrists just can’t give a straight answer to save their lives, because to do so means the jig is up. That is why the nitty-gritty of this kind of game is anonymity, pseudonymity, the general refusal to take responsibility for what one writes and publishes and the use of others to do one’s dirty work.
Throughout this whole crisis, RC & Associates have failed to realize—and continue to do so—that their public harassment of the Holy See on this matter will not end well. Pope Francis does not see this kind of behavior as representing a movement that can be integrated into the life of the Church. I am not saying that it cannot be. But RC and the petition movement, which it supports, are doing far more harm to their cause than good. But the real problem is that they don’t even begin to see this as a problem.
Even where the Church deems a charism to be coming from the Holy Spirit, the Church has always reserved its God given right and duty to regulate such a charism so as to see to it that it is properly integrated into the Church. St. Paul’s intervention in the life of the Christians at Corinth is testimony to this. One makes a big mistake in taking lightly Pope Francis’ reference to St. Ignatius and his principle of discernment in this matter. Such disregard will not end well.