Even Newer Mass(es) Coming Soon!

Text of the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio “Magnum Principium” Quibus nonnulla in can.
838 Codicis Iuris Canonici immutantur


APOSTOLIC LETTER
ISSUED MOTU PROPRIO
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
FRANCIS
MAGNUM PRINCIPIUM
BY WHICH CAN. 838 OF THE CODE OF CANON LAW IS MODIFIED 

The great principle, established by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, according to which liturgical prayer be accommodated to the comprehension of the people so that it might be understood, required the weighty task of introducing the vernacular language into the liturgy and of preparing and approving the versions of the liturgical books, a charge that was entrusted to the Bishops.

The Latin Church was aware of the attendant sacrifice involved in the partial loss of liturgical Latin, which had been in use throughout the world over the course of centuries. However it willingly opened the door so that these versions, as part of the rites themselves, might become the voice of the Church celebrating the divine mysteries along with the Latin language.

At the same time, especially given the various clearly expressed views of the Council Fathers with regard to the use of the vernacular language in the liturgy, the Church was aware of the difficulties that might present themselves in this regard. On the one hand it was necessary to unite the good of the faithful of a given time and culture and their right to a conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations with the substantial unity of the Roman Rite. On the other hand the vernacular languages themselves, often only in a progressive manner, would be able to become liturgical languages, standing out in a not dissimilar way to liturgical Latin for their elegance of style and the profundity of their concepts with the aim of nourishing the faith.

This was the aim of various Liturgical Laws, Instructions, Circular Letters, indications and confirmations of liturgical books in the various vernacular languages issued by the Apostolic See from the time of the Council which was true both before as well as after the laws established by the Code of Canon Law.

The criteria indicated were and remain at the level of general guidelines and, as far as possible, must be followed by Liturgical Commissions as the most suitable instruments so that, across the great variety of languages, the liturgical community can arrive at an expressive style suitable and appropriate to the individual parts, maintaining integrity and accurate faithfulness especially in translating some texts of major importance in each liturgical book.

Because the liturgical text is a ritual sign it is a means of oral communication. However, for the believers who celebrate the sacred rites the word is also a mystery. Indeed when words are uttered, in particular when the Sacred Scriptures are read, God speaks to us. In the Gospel Christ himself speaks to his people who respond either themselves or through the celebrant by prayer to the Lord in the Holy Spirit.

The goal of the translation of liturgical texts and of biblical texts for the Liturgy of the Word is to announce the word of salvation to the faithful in obedience to the faith and to express the prayer of the Church to the Lord. For this purpose it is necessary to communicate to a given people using its own language all that the Church intended to communicate to other people through the Latin language. While fidelity cannot always be judged by individual words but must be sought in the context of the whole communicative act and according to its literary genre, nevertheless some particular terms must also be considered in the context of the entire Catholic faith because each translation of texts must be congruent with sound doctrine.

It is no surprise that difficulties have arisen between the Episcopal Conferences and the Apostolic See in the course of this long passage of work. In order that the decisions of the Council about the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy can also be of value in the future a vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust between the Episcopal Conferences and the Dicastery of the Apostolic See that exercises the task of promoting the Sacred Liturgy, i.e. the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is absolutely necessary. For this reason, in order that the renewal of the whole liturgical life might continue, it seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.
Without doubt, attention must be paid to the benefit and good of the faithful, nor must the right and duty of Episcopal Conferences be forgotten who, together with Episcopal Conferences from regions sharing the same language and with the Apostolic See, must ensure and establish that, while the character of each language is safeguarded, the sense of the original text is fully and faithfully rendered and that even after adaptations the translated liturgical books always illuminate the unity of the Roman Rite.

To make collaboration in this service to the faithful between the Apostolic See and Episcopal Conferences easier and more fruitful, and having listened to the advice of the Commission of Bishops and Experts that I established, I order, with the authority entrusted to me, that the canonical discipline currently in force in can. 838 of the C.I.C. be made clearer so that, according to what is stated in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, in particular in articles 36 §§3.4, 40 and 63, and in the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Sacram Liturgiam, n. IX, the competency of the Apostolic See surrounding the translation of liturgical books and the more radical adaptations established and approved by Episcopal Conferences be made clearer, among which can also be numbered eventual new texts to be inserted into these books.

Therefore, in the future can. 838 will read as follows:

Can. 838 – §1. The ordering and guidance of the sacred liturgy depends solely upon the authority of the Church, namely, that of the Apostolic See and, as provided by law, that of the diocesan Bishop.

§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognise adaptations approved by the Episcopal Conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.

§3. It pertains to the Episcopal Conferences to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.

§4. Within the limits of his competence, it belongs to the diocesan Bishop to lay down in the Church entrusted to his care, liturgical regulations which are binding on all. Consequently this is how art. 64 §3 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus as well as other laws are to be interpreted, particularly those contained in the liturgical books concerning their revision. Likewise I order that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments modify its own “Regulations” on the basis of the new discipline and help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfil their task as well as working to promote ever more the liturgical life of the Latin Church.

Everything that I have decreed in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio must be observed in all its parts, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if it be worthy of particular mention, and I hereby set forth and I dispose that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, that it enter into force on 1 October 2017, and thereafter be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on 3 September of the year 2017, the fifth of my Pontificate
FRANCISCUS P.P.   

Note:  [at source, read also the Comment on the Motu Proprio by the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments]

Comment:

The Catholic Herald sees no problem with the above – indeed, some might argue that the Herald’s assessment is somewhat naïve since few informed Catholics today have any confidence in the bishops, not to mention Pope Francis, not to damage the Mass even more than has already been achieved by the Bugnini revolution.  

The Remnant is closer to the truth:  Paragraph §4 makes it clear that the pope has now given bishops the power to determine much of the Church’s liturgical direction. “Within the limits of his competence, it belongs to the diocesan bishop to lay down in the Church entrusted to his care, liturgical regulations which are binding on all.”

This opens the door, not only to greater liberty in translating liturgical texts, but to creativity in drafting their own texts and rules. The bishops of an episcopal conference can now decide that if the faithful kneel to receive Communion, receive only on the tongue, or fail to participate in the hand shake of peace, this could be grounds to refuse them Communion.

The new motu proprio also supersedes Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum, which dispensed priests from the need to obtain episcopal permission to say the Traditional Latin Mass. With the new ruling, an episcopal conference can now rule that the offering of the Latin Mass is forbidden in a given diocese, or in an entire country, so that traditional Catholics no longer have the option of appealing to Rome for help. The episcopal ruling is now Church law.” [emphasis added]

What we are seeing is a further attempt to pull the Catholic world away from the Church’s centralized authority and have a whimsical free-for-all. Francis himself, on October 17, 2015, called for a “healthy decentralization” of power in the Roman Catholic Church, including changes in the papacy and greater decision-making authority for local bishops, so this latest motu proprio is part of his plan to execute this decentralization.  END

Which commentator, in your opinion, has got it right – the English Catholic Herald or the American Remnant? (The Scottish Catholic Observer is too busy reporting on the Women’s Guild latest coffee morning to worry about incidentals like the liturgy.)   Comments invited…  

Should Catholics Be Concerned About The New Forms Of The Sacraments?

Yesterday, I found myself in conversation with a reader  (we’ll call her Jo, because that’s not her name but it’s short and sweet) who has started attending the SSPX Masses in Glasgow.  We were discussing the hostility which I have personally witnessed at a number of Fatima meetings recently, when novus-attending Catholics became furiously hostile, especially at the very idea that the traditional Latin Mass needs to be restored as soon as possible. Even put a million times more tactfully than that, hostility spilled out like fresh cream in a gorgeous Dairy Sponge cake. Except there was nothing “gorgeous” about it.  Anyway,  when I asked Jo if, after attending the Society Masses for several weeks now she planned to continue, she replied, without a second’s hesitation: “yes”, because she just could not return to the novus-ordo – especially after reading the Open Letter to Confused Catholics, penned by Archbishop Lefebvre.   Got me thinking that, although we have discussed various chapters from that excellent book from time to time, we’ve never examined the chapter on the new forms of the Sacraments, so let’s check the Archbishop’s writings on that topic: do we need new forms of the sacraments? If so, why?  Or, should Catholics be concerned about these new forms of the Sacraments?

Archbishop Lefebvre writes….

The Catholic, whether he be regularly practising or one who goes to church for the great moments of life, finds himself asking such basic questions as, “What is baptism?”

It is a new phenomenon, for not so long ago anyone could answer that, and anyway, nobody asked the question. The first effect of baptism is the redemption from original sin; that was known from father to son and mother to daughter.

But now nobody any longer talks about it anywhere. The simplified ceremony which takes place in the church speaks of sin in a context which seems to refer to that which the person being baptized will commit during his or her life, and not the original fault that we are all born with.

Baptism from then on simply appears as a sacrament which unites us to God, or rather makes us members of the community. This is the explanation of the “rite of welcome” that is imposed in some places as an initial step, in a first ceremony. It is not due to any private initiative since we discover plenty of variations upon baptism by stages in the leaflets of the National Center of Pastoral Liturgy. It is called “deferred baptism.” After the welcome comes the “progression,” the “seeking.” The sacrament will be administered, or not administered, when the child is able, according to the terms used, to choose freely, which may occur at quite an advanced age, eighteen years or more. A professor of dogmatic theology, highly esteemed in the new Church, has established a distinction between those Christians whose faith and religious culture he is confident he can verify, and the others–more than three-quarters of the total–to whom he attributes only a supposed faith when they request baptism for their children. These Christians “of the popular religion” are detected during the preparatory meetings and dissuaded from proceeding any farther than the “ceremony of welcome.” This method of going on is “more appropriate to the cultural situation of our civilization.”

Recently a parish priest in the Somme department who had to enroll two children for their First Communion asked for their baptismal certificates, which were sent to him from the family’s parish of origin. He then found that one of the children had been baptized but not the other, contrary to what the parents believed.  This is the sort of situation that results from such practices. What they give is in effect only a semblance of baptism which those present take in good faith to be the true sacrament.

That you should find this disconcerting is quite understandable. You have also to face up to a specious argument which even appears in parish bulletins, generally in the way of suggestions or testimonies signed with Christian names, that is to say anonymously. We read in one of them that Alan and Evelyn state, “Baptism is not a magic rite which will efface by miracle any original sin. We believe that salvation is total, free, and for all: God has elected all men in His love, on any condition, or rather without condition. For us, to be baptized is to decide to change our life, it is a personal commitment that no one can make for you. It is a conscious decision which implies preliminary instruction, etc.” What frightful errors are contained in those few lines! They lead to the justifying of another method; the suppression of infant baptism. It is another alignment with the Protestants, in defiance of the teachings of the Church right from its beginnings, as St. Augustine wrote in the fourth century: “The custom of baptizing children is not a recent innovation but the faithful repetition of apostolic tradition. This custom by itself alone and without any written document, constitutes the certain rule of truth.” The Council of Carthage, in the year 251, prescribed that baptism should be conferred on infants “even before they are eight days old,” and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a reminder of the obligation in its Instruction Pastoralis actio, on November 21, 1980, basing it upon “a norm of immemorial tradition.”

That is a thing you should know so as to be able to insist upon a sacred right when someone attempts to refuse your newborn children their share in the life of grace. Parents do not wait until their child is eighteen years old before deciding for him his diet, or to have a necessary surgical operation. Within the supernatural order their duty is even greater, and the faith which presides at the sacrament when the child is not capable of taking on for himself a personal engagement is the responsibility you would have in depriving your child of eternal life in Paradise. Our Lord Himself has said in a most clear manner, “No one, unless he be born again of water and the Holy Ghost can enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The results of this peculiar pastoral practice were quick to appear.  In the diocese of Paris, whereas one child out of two was baptized in 1965, only one child in four was baptized in 1976.  The clergy of one suburban parish observed, without appearing concerned about it, that there were 450 baptisms in 1965 and 150 in 1976. From the whole of France, the fall continues. From 1970 to 1981, the overall figure dropped from 596,673 to 530,385, while the population increased by more than three million during the same period.

All this is the outcome of having falsified the definition of baptism. As soon as they stopped saying that baptism wipes out original sin, people have been asking, “What is baptism?” and straightaway after, “What is the good of baptism?” If they have not got as far as that, they have at least thought about the arguments that have been put to them and accepted that there was no urgency, and after all, at the age of adolescence the child could decide for himself and join the Christian community in the same way as joining a political party or a union.

The question is raised in the same way regarding marriage.  Marriage has always been defined by its first aim which is procreation and its secondary aim which is married love. Now, at the Council they sought to alter this definition and say there was no longer a primary aim, but that  the two aims of which I speak were equivalent. It was Cardinal Suenens who proposed this change and I still remem- ber Cardinal Brown, the Master General of the Dominicans, getting up to say, “Caveatis! Caveatis!–Beware! Beware! If we accept this definition we go against all the tradition of the Church and we pervert the meaning of marriage. We do not have the right to modify the Church’s traditional definitions.”

He quoted texts in support of his warning and there was great agitation in the nave of St. Peter’s. Cardinal Suenens was pressed by the Holy Father to moderate the terms he had used and even to change them. The Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, contains nevertheless an ambiguous passage, where emphasis is laid on procreation “without nevertheless minimizing the other aims of marriage.” The Latin verb, post habere, permits the translation “without putting in second place the other aims of marriage,” which would mean “to place them all on the same level.” This is what is wanted nowadays; all that is said about marriage comes back to the false idea expressed by Cardinal Suenens, that conjugal love–which was soon termed quite simply and much more crudely “sexuality”–comes at the head of the purposes of marriage. Consequently, under the heading of sexuality, everything is permitted–contraception, family planning and finally, abortion.

One bad definition, and we are plunged into total disorder.  The Church, in her traditional liturgy, has the priest say, “Lord, in Thy goodness, assist the institutions Thou hast established for the propagation of the human race…” She has chosen the passage from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which points out the duties of the married couple, making of their joint relationship an image of the   relationship uniting Christ and His Church.  Very often the couple to be married are nowadays invited to make up their own Mass without even having to choose the Epistle from Holy Scripture, replacing it by a profane text, and taking a reading from the Gospel that has no connection with the sacrament to be received. The priest in his exhortation takes good care not to mention the demands to which they will have to submit, for fear of giving a forbidding impression of the Church or even of offending any divorced people present among the congregation.

Just as for baptism, experiments have been made for marriages by stages, or non-sacramental marriage, which scandalize Catholics. These experiments, tolerated by the episcopate, take place following lines laid down by the official organizations and are encouraged by diocesan officials. A form put out by the Jean Bart Center shows some of the ways of going about it. Here is one:

A reading from the text: “The essential is invisible to the eyes” (Epistle of St. Peter). There is no exchange of vows but a liturgy of the hands,  symbol of labor and workers’ solidarity.  Exchange of rings (without the blessing), in silence. Reference to Robert’s work:  welding,  soldering (he is a plumber).  The kiss.  The Our Father by all the believers in the congregation. Hail Mary. The newlyweds lay a bouquet of flowers at the statue of Mary.

Why would Our Lord have instituted the sacraments if they were to be replaced by this kind of ceremony devoid of everything supernatural, excepting the two prayers at the end? A few years ago, we heard a lot about liturgy in the department of Saône-et-Loire.  To justify this “Liturgy of Welcome,” it was said that they wished to give young couples the desire to come back later and get married for good.  Out of something like two hundred pseudo-marriages, two years later not a single couple had returned to regularize their position. Even if they had, the fact would remain that the priest of this parish had actually recognized officially, if not actually blessed, over a period of two years, something none other than concubinage. An official Church survey has revealed that in Paris, 23% of the parishes had already held  non-sacramental weddings for couples, one of whom if not both were non-believers, for the purpose of gratifying the families, or the couples themselves, often out of concern for social conformity.

It goes without saying that a Catholic does not have the right to attend such goings-on.  As for the so-called married couple, they can always say they have been to church and doubtless they will end up by believing their situation to be  regular by dint of seeing their friends follow the same path. Misguided Catholics will wonder if it is not better than nothing. Indifference takes over; they become willing to accept any arrangement, from a simple registry-office wedding to juvenile cohabitation (in respect of which so many parents want to show themselves to be “understanding”), and finally through to free unions. Total de-christianization lies ahead; the couples each lack the graces which come from the sacrament of marriage in order to bring up their children, if at least they agree to have any. The breakdowns in these unsanctified households have increased to such an extent as to worry the Council of Economic and Social Affairs, of which a recent report shows that even a secular society is aware that it is heading for ruin as a result of the instability of these families or pseudo-families.

Then there is the sacrament of Extreme Unction. This is no longer the sacrament of the sick or the feeble. It has become the sacrament of the old: some priests administer it to persons of pensionable age who show no particular sign of approaching death. It is no longer the sacrament that prepares one for the last moment, which wipes out the sins before death and disposes the soul to final union with God. I have in front of me a notice distributed to all the faithful in a Paris church to warn them of the date of the next Extreme Unction:  “For those who are still active, the sacrament of the sick is celebrated in the presence of the whole Christian community during the Eucharistic celebration. Date: Sunday, at the 11 o’clock Mass.” These anointings are invalid.

The same collectivist mentality has provoked the vogue of penitential celebrations. The sacrament of penance can only be of an individual nature.
By definition and in conformity with its essence, it is, as I have previously pointed out, a judicial act, a judgment.  A judgment cannot be made without having examined a cause; each one’s case has to be heard in order to judge it and then to remit or to retain the sins. His Holiness John Paul II has insisted several times on this point, notably to the French bishops on April 1, 1982 telling them that personal confession followed by  individual absolution is “a requirement of the dogmatic order.” It is consequently impossible to justify these ceremonies of reconciliation by explaining that ecclesiastical discipline has become more relaxed, that it has adapted itself to the needs of the modern world. It is not a question of discipline. There was formerly one exception: general absolution given in a case of shipwreck, war, etc.; an absolution whose value is debated by learned writers. It is not permissible to make a rule out of the exception. If we consult the Acts of the Apostolic See we find the following expressions uttered both by Paul VI and John Paul II on various occasions: “the exceptional character of collective absolution,” “in case of grave necessity,” “in extraordinary situations of grave necessity,” “quite exceptional character,” “exceptional circumstances.”

Celebrations of this type have, however,  become habitual though without becoming frequent in any one parish, due to the scarcity of faithful who are disposed to put themselves right with God more than two or three times a year.  They no longer feel the need, as was quite foreseeable since the idea of sin has been wiped out of their minds.  How many priests still remind people of the need for the sacrament of penance? One member of the faithful has told me that in going to confession in one or another of several Paris churches where he knows he will be able to find a “priest on duty” he often receives the congratulations or thanks of the priest, surprised to have a penitent.

These celebrations subjected to the creativity of the “animators” include singing, or else a record is played.  Then comes the turn of the Liturgy of the Word, followed by a litany type of prayer to which the assembly responds, “Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner,” or else by a sort of general examination of conscience. The “I confess to Almighty God” precedes the absolution given once and for all to the whole congregation, which only leaves one problem: would a person present who did not want absolution receive it just the same? I see on a duplicated sheet distributed to those taking part in these ceremonies at Lourdes that the organizer has asked himself this question: “If we wish to receive absolution, let us dip our hands in the water and make the sign of the cross upon ourselves,” and at the end, “Upon those who are marked by the sign of the cross with the water of the spring the priest lays his hands. Let us unite ourselves to his prayer and accept pardon from God.”

The British Catholic paper, The Universe, a few years ago lent its support to a movement launched by two bishops which consisted of bringing back to the Church those of the faithful who had long since given up the practice of religion.  The appeal made by the bishops resembled the public notices put out by families of runaway adolescents: “Little X, please come home. No one will grumble at you.” It was then said to the future prodigal sons, “Your bishops invite you during this Lent to rejoice and celebrate. The Church offers to all her children, in the imitation of Christ, pardon for their sins, freely and without restriction, without their meriting it, and without their requesting it. She urges them to accept and begs them to return home. There are many who wish to return to the Church after years of separation but are unable to make up their minds to go to confession.  At any rate, not straightaway…”

They could then accept the following offer: “At the Mission Mass which will be attended by the bishop in your deanery (here is given the time and the date) all those who are present are invited to accept the pardon of all their past sins. It is not necessary for them to go to confession at that moment. It will be sufficient for them to repent their sins and desire to return to God, and to confess their sins later, after having been again welcomed into the fold. Meanwhile they have only to let Our Father in heaven take them into His arms and embrace them tenderly. Subject to a generous act of repentance the bishop will grant to all those present and desiring it pardon for their sins. They may then immediately receive holy communion…”

The Journal  of the Grotto,  the bi-monthly magazine from Lourdes, reproducing this curious pastoral letter under the heading “General Absolution: Communion now, confession later,” made the following comment: “Our readers will be fully aware of the deeply evangelical spirit which has inspired it, likewise the pastoral understanding of people’s actual situation.”

I do not know what results were obtained, but that is not the issue. Can pastoral needs take precedence over doctrine to the point of undertaking to give Communion in the Body of Christ indiscriminately to people who are probably in many cases in a state of mortal sin, after so many years without the practice of religion? Certainly not. How can we so lightly consider paying for the conversion with a sacrilege, and how much chance has this conversion of being followed by perseverance? We can observe, in any case, that before the council and before this “welcoming” pastoral method there were between fourteen and fifteen thousand conversions annually in England.  They have dropped off to about five thousand. We recognize the tree by its fruit.

Catholics are just as confused in Great Britain as in France. If a sinner or an apostate, following his bishop’s advice, presents himself for collective absolution and at the holy table in these conditions, does he not risk losing his confidence in the validity of sacraments so lightly accorded, when he has every reason to consider himself unworthy of them?  What is going to happen if later on he neglects to “regularize” himself by going to confession? An unsuccessful return to the house of the Father will only make more difficult a final conversion.

That is what dogmatic laxity leads to. In the penitential ceremonies which take place, in a less extravagant manner, in our parishes, what certainty has the Catholic of being truly pardoned? He is given over to the same anxieties as Protestants, to interior torments provoked by doubt.  He has certainly gained nothing by the change.

If it is a bad thing from the point of view of validity, it is also bad psychologically.

For instance, how absurd to give collective absolution with the reservation that people with grave sins have to confess them personally immediately afterwards! People are not going to draw attention to themselves by showing that they have grave sins on their consciences, that is obvious!  It is as though the secret of the confessional were violated.

We should add that the faithful who communicate after collective absolution will no longer see the need to present themselves before the judgment of penance, and that one can understand. The ceremonies of reconciliation are not complementary to auricular confession, they eliminate and supplant it. We are proceeding towards the disappearance of the Sacrament of Penance, established like the six others by Our Lord Himself. No pastoral concern can justify this.

For a sacrament to be valid, the matter, the form and the intention are all needed.  The Pope himself cannot change that.  The matter is of divine institution; the Pope cannot say “tomorrow we will use alcohol for the baptism of infants, or milk.” Neither can he change the essential of the form. There are essential words. For example, one cannot say, “I baptize thee in the name of God,” because God Himself has settled this form:  “Thou shalt baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

The Sacrament of Confirmation has been equally maltreated. One formula current today is, “I sign thee with the Cross, and receive the Holy Spirit.” But the minister does not then specify what is the special grace of the sacrament by which the Holy Ghost gives Himself, and the sacrament is invalid.

That is why I always respond to the requests of parents who have doubts regarding the validity of the confirmation received by their children or who fear it will be administered invalidly, seeing what goes on around them.  The cardinals to whom I had to explain myself in 1975 reproached me on this and since then similar reproaches are repeated through the press on all my journeys. I explained why I carried on in this way.  I meet the wishes of the faithful who ask me for valid confirmation, even if it is not licit, because we are in a period when divine law, natural and supernatural, has precedence over positive ecclesiastical law when the latter opposes the former instead of being a channel to transmit it. We are passing through an extraordinary crisis and there need be no surprise if I sometimes adopt an attitude that is out of the ordinary.

The third condition of a valid sacrament is a right intention.  The bishop or priest must have the intention of doing what the Church wills to be done. Not even the Pope can change that.

The priest’s faith is not among the necessary elements.  A priest or bishop may no longer have the faith;  another may have it less; and another a faith that is not quite complete.  That has no direct effect on the validity of the sacraments they administer, but may have an indirect one. One remembers Pope Leo XIII’s decision that Anglican ordinations are invalid through a defect in the intention. Now it was because they had lost the faith, which is not only faith in God, but in all the truths contained in the Creed, including, “I believe in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church,” that the Anglicans have not been able to do what the Church wills.

Are not priests who lose the faith in the same case? There are already priests who no longer wish to confect the Sacrament of the Eucharist according to the Council of Trent’s definition. “No,” they say, “the Council of Trent was a long time ago.  Since then we have had Vatican II.  Now it’s trans-signification, or trans-finalization.  Transubstantiation? The Real Presence of the Son of God under the appearances of bread and wine? Not in these days!”

When a priest talks like this, he makes no valid consecration. There is no Mass or Communion. For Christians are obliged to believe what the Council of Trent has defined about the Eucharist until the end of time.  One can make the terms of a dogma clearer, but not change them; that is impossible. Vatican II did not add anything or retract anything; and it could not have done so. Anyone who declares that he does not accept transubstantiation is, in the terms of the Council of Trent, anathema, that is, cut off from the Church.

This is why Catholics in this latter part of the twentieth century have a duty to be more vigilant than their fathers were. They must not let just any idea be imposed upon them, in the name of the new theology or the new religion: for what this new religion wants is not what the Church wills. [Emphases added]
Source – The New Forms of Sacraments Baptism, Marriage, Penance & Extreme Unction

Comment:

Should Catholics be concerned about the new forms of the Sacraments? 

Why On Earth Do We Need Una Voce Scotland Or The Latin Mass Society?

FR JOHN BOLLAN, St Joseph’s Parish, Diocese of Paisley writes:

“I’m conscious of a dissonance in my own mind with regards to Mass in the Extraordinary form (sic).  It appeals to me aesthetically… And yet I make excuses. Perhaps my principal concern is that this Mass should not be a vehicle of protest or nostalgia, but something free of such baggage. In other words, the Mass is no place for the grinding of axes…” Click here to read the entire article (and click on image right, to watch a Traditional Latin Mass on video).

Attempting to uncover this priest’s age (he is kinder in his remarks about the Traditional Latin Mass than priests of the older generation although unfortunately he uses the modernist name “Extraordinary Form” and appears blissfully unaware that there IS a need to “grind axes”) I discovered an interesting incidental detail: that clergy lists seem to be disappearing from some diocesan websites; on one site, for example, there is a list of deceased clergy but not the parish priests still alive and, we presume, well.  Curious.

Anyway, while reflecting on Fr Bollan’s piece on the Mass published in the Scottish Catholic Observer, consider, too, the following piece written by Ellen, a member of the Catholic Truth team:

Ellen writes…

I was shocked by the article by Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society in England and Wales, published in the Catholic Herald, 1st September, 2017.
[Ed: in which he calls for “liturgical pluralism”: “Rather than throw every parish into confusion with a new top-down reform, it is better to foster the existing liturgical pluralism, which includes the reformed Roman rite…” [ i.e. the novus ordo – the new Mass]

Both the Latin Mass Society and Una Voce Scotland were established for the preservation and restoration of the Tridentine Rite of Mass. The chairmen of both these Societies seem to have lost sight of these aims.

I am really troubled by the hatred of the Traditional Mass that we have encountered recently from Novus Ordo going Catholics. The ignorance of these Catholics is appalling; they don’t see anything wrong in their going along with all the novelties introduced and which have in turn destroyed their true Sensus Fidelis.

What horrifies me is that the above Societies are spending their time and their subscribers’ hard earned cash on promoting heresies and on the cult of personalities. They have always, from their establishment, been too subservient to their bishops in the hope of a few scraps from the table instead of fighting for the right of every Catholic to serve God in the way Catholics have worshipped since time immemorial.

I think the time has come when all good priests who say that they prefer the Traditional Mass would stand up and say this Mass only. The parishioners are so entrenched in the new ways that they would require much education but with good leadership and encouragement it could be done. When the Cure D’Ars was first appointed to that parish, no-one attended Mass; he persevered and with his prayers and holiness eventually it became a great parish. Priests today must see that the real answer to their problems is the lack of that holiness. This can only come from the Holy Mass and Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

We, the laity who are aware and love the Mass must really rally round and not accept anything less. And if we truly love our neighbour we must try to encourage them to seek the nourishment they would receive from the truth rather than the insipid falsehoods peddled to them by false shepherds. END.

Comment:

When she speaks of the the hatred of the Traditional Mass that we have encountered recently from Novus Ordo going Catholics” Ellen refers to various conversations we have had in the context of spreading the Fatima Message.  The minute the issue of the new Mass is raised, so are hackles, and a tangible atmosphere of animosity and, yes, hatred quickly becomes evident – and this, we must emphasise, among the older generation, who should know better.  Safer to recommend attending a Salvation Army service than a traditional Latin Mass.

It’s all about what we enjoy, what we find beneficial – the very concept of offering true worship to God  doesn’t arise.  It didn’t arise, either, in Father Bollan’s piece. His claim that “the Mass should not be a vehicle of protest or nostalgia” is only partly correct; martyrs, like our own Scottish Saint, John Ogilvie SJ, died in defence of the Mass. It was essential to protest attacks on the Mass during the Protestant Reformation (more accurately, “revolution”) as it is essential, lamentably, to protest attacks upon it now – in the form a new Mass created in the most worrying of circumstances and for the express purpose of making it acceptable to Protestants.  Pictured below, Pope Paul VI with the six Protestant Ministers who actively contributed to the creation of the new Mass –  click on the photo to read an article on the subject, and see Michael Davies: Pope Paul’s New Mass for thoroughly academic coverage of this scandal, in the context of the history of the Novus Ordo Missae.

From Left: A. Raymond George (Methodist),     Ronald Jaspar (Anglican),
Massey Shepherd (Episcopalian),
Friedrich Künneth (Lutheran),
  Eugene Brand (Lutheran),
Max Thurian (Calvinist-community of Taize).


Father Bollan is right about the nostalgia though.  There should be no need for “nostalgia” – the Mass for which St John Ogilvie and the other martyrs gave their lives should be available in our parishes on a daily basis; it’s a dead cert that there would be sufficient priests to make it available daily, had the Second Vatican Council never darkened the doorstep of the Catholic world.  As it is, we have priests here today and gone tomorrow, because the new Mass does not nourish them – little wonder that it’s easier to find that needle in the haystack than a lengthy clergy list on diocesan websites today. 

So, things have developed quickly, from the pleasure at having a new Mass in the vernacular, to hatred of the Mass that nourished Catholic souls, and raised them to sanctity for many centuries.  How come Catholics have moved so far away from the very fundamentals of Catholic life and the truths of our Catholic Faith? And how come the organisations allegedly set up to preserve the ancient Mass for us, have decided to go along to get along, after all?

For,  Una Voce Scotland (UVS) and the Latin Mass Society (LMS) appear intent on organising everything and anything except a simple Low Mass in the local parish; instead they are organising sung Masses, High Masses, you name it, with members of the episcopate, including the recent visit to Scotland of Cardinal Burke, invited for the purpose of drawing large crowds, and perhaps some kind of kudos. Who knows.  What we do know is that some of us love the Low Mass, the peace, the reverence, the time to concentrate of the prayers of the Mass, the action of Calvary, but, it seems, that is not good enough for the Chief Executives who seek higher things, in a manner of (satirical) speaking.  

Perhaps it’s time to replace UVS and the LMS … or, on second thoughts,  perhaps not. Is it a case of “better the devil(s) you know…?”  Or is there any need for such groups at all, given that they are all too ready, as  Ellen writes, to accept the crumbs that fall from the episcopal table. Shouldn’t every knowledgeable Catholic simply encourage others to seek out a chapel of the Society of Saint Pius X, and go there for Mass, until they can persuade their Parish Priest to provide one in their local church? After all, it is to the sacrifice of Archbishop Lefebvre that the Chairmen of UVS and the LMS owe their living, so to speak.  But for that saintly Archbishop, there would BE no traditional Latin Mass available to us in this “post-Catholic” Catholic Church…  Below, to remind us all of that truth, is a short video clip on the subject. Then, share your thoughts…

Pope Francis on the Fruits of New Mass…Walter Mitty Stuff – Brace Yourself…

Pope Francis gave an address on the liturgical reform of Pope Paul VI today, speaking to participants of the 68th Italian National Liturgical Week. In it, Francis declares: “After this magisterium, after this long journey, we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

Francis’ remarks ironically read like a Quo Primum for the Novus Ordo. Pope St. Pius V’s Quo Primum (1570), which has never been revoked or abolished by any pope, decreed that the Traditional Latin Mass, which the saintly pontiff promulgated in accord with the directives of the Council of Trent, would be “valid henceforth, now, and forever” and “cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force.” Furthermore, St. Pius V warned that if anyone, including any future pope (by implication), would alter his missal, they would “incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul”. 

Pope Benedict XVI, in Summorum Pontificum, reiterated that the Traditional Latin Mass “was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.” Benedict continued: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

For Francis, however, not the Traditional Latin Mass, but the reforms that deformed it are what are truly “irreversible.”

Below are relevant translated excerpts of Pope Francis’ address:

There are two directly linked events, the Council and the Reform, which did not flourish suddenly but after long preparation. What was called the liturgical movement testifies to it, and the answers given by the Supreme Pontiffs to the hardships perceived in ecclesial prayer; when a need is sensed, even if the solution is not immediate, there is a need for it to be put in motion. 

[…] 

The Second Vatican Council made later to mature, as good fruit from the tree of the Church, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), whose lines of general reform respond to real needs and to the concrete hope of a renewal; it desired a living liturgy for a Church completely vivified by the mysteries celebrated. 

[…] 

The direction traced by the Council took form according to the principle of respect for sound tradition and legitimate progress (cf. SC 23) [9] in the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI , well received by the same bishops who were present at the Council, and for almost 50 years universally used in the Roman Rite. The practical application, led by the Episcopal Conferences of their respective countries, is still ongoing, since it is not enough to reform the liturgical books in order to renew the mentality. The books reformed according to the decrees of Vatican II have introduced a process that demands time, faithful reception, practical obedience, wise celebratory implementation, first of all, on the part of ordained ministers, but also of other ministers, cantors, and of all those who participate in the liturgy. In truth, we know, the liturgical education of pastors and the faithful is a challenge to face ever anew. The same Paul VI , a year before his death, told the cardinals gathered in Consistory: “The time has now come definitely to leave aside divisive ferments, which are equally pernicious on both sides, and to apply fully, in accordance with the correct criteria that inspired it, the reform approved by Us in application of the wishes of the Council.” [10]

And today, there is still work to do in this direction, in particular by rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, by overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it. It is not a matter of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons, even through historical documentation, of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it. After this magisterium, after this long journey, we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible. 

The task of promoting and guarding the liturgy is entrusted by right to the Apostolic See and to the diocesan bishops whose responsibility and authority I rely on very much at the present moment; National and diocesan liturgical pastoral bodies, training institutes and seminaries are also involved.  

[…] 

Among the visible signs of the invisible Mystery there is the altar, a sign of Christ, the living stone, rejected by men but it has become a cornerstone of the spiritual building where worship is offered to the living God in spirit and truth (cf. 1 Pt 2.4; Eph 2:20). Therefore, the altar, at the center toward which our churches converge, [11] is dedicated, with chrysm, incensed, kissed, venerated: towards the altar, the eyes of those praying, the priests and the faithful, are called together by the holy assembly around it [the altar]; [12] Upon the altar is placed the Church’s offering, which the Spirit consecrates to be a sacrament of the sacrifice of Christ; from the altar the bread of life and the cup of salvation are bestowed upon us “for we become one body and one spirit in Christ” (Eucharistic Prayer III).
[…]

[9] The reform of the rites and the liturgical books was undertaken immediately after the promulgation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and was brought to an effective conclusion in a few years thanks to the considerable and selfless work of a large number of experts and bishops from all parts of the world (Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 25). This work was undertaken in accordance with the conciliar principles of fidelity to tradition and openness to legitimate development (cf. ibid . , 23); and so it is possible to say that the reform of the Liturgy is strictly traditional and in accordance with “the ancient usage of the holy Fathers” (cf. ibid. , 50; Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, Prooemium, 6). ( John Paul II , Lett. Ap. Vicesimus quintus annus, 4). 

[10] “The pope’s attention is drawn today once more to a particular point of the Church’s life: the indisputably beneficial fruits of the liturgical reform. Since the promulgation of the conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium great progress has taken place, progress that responds to the premises laid down by the liturgical movement of the last part of the nineteenth century. It has fulfilled that movement’s deep aspirations for which so many churchmen and scholars have worked and prayed. The new Rite of the Mass, promulgated by Us after long and painstaking preparation by the competent bodies, and into which there have been introduced-side by side with the Roman Canon, which remains substantially unchanged, other Eucharistic Prayers, has borne blessed fruits. These include a greater participation in the liturgical action, a more lively awareness of the sacred action, a greater and wider knowledge of the inexhaustible treasures of Sacred Scripture and an increase of a sense of community in the Church. The course of these recent years shows that we are on the right path. But unfortunately, in spite of vast preponderance of the healthy and good forces of the clergy and the faithful, abuses have been committed and liberties have been taken in applying the liturgical reform. The time has now come definitely to leave aside divisive ferments, which are equally pernicious on both sides, and to apply fully, in accordance with the correct criteria that inspired it, the reform approved by Us in application of the wishes of the Council.” (Alloc . Gratias ex animo, June 27, 1977: Teachings of Paul VI, XV [1977], 655-656, in Italian 662-663). 

[11] Cfr. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n. 299; Rite of the Dedication of an Altar, Preface, nn. 155, 159

[12] “Around this altar, we are nourished by the body and blood of your Son to form your one and holy Church” (Rite of the Dedication of an Altar, n. 213, Preface).

Pope St. Pius V, “Quo Primum” July 14, 1570

by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever, We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure. 
[…]
Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription – except, however, if more than two hundred years’ standing.
[…] 
Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Would anyone, however, presume to commit such an act, he should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.  Source – Rorate Caeli 

Comment:

Mass before the “reform”…

I think it goes without saying that, contrary to what Pope Francis believes about his “magisterial authority”,  the “liturgical reform” – the new Mass – is absolutely NOT irreversible.  It is eminently reversible; one cardinal has even hinted that it would be gone in a generation.  

Share your thoughts on the subject …

American Editors Accuse Pope Francis

Your Holiness:

The following narrative, written in our desperation as lowly members of the laity, is what we must call an accusation concerning your pontificate, which has been a calamity for the Church in proportion to which it delights the powers of this world. The culminating event that impelled us to take this step was the revelation of your “confidential” letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires authorizing them, solely on the basis of your own views as expressed in Amoris Laetitia, to admit certain public adulterers in “second marriages” to the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion without any firm purpose of amending their lives by ceasing their adulterous sexual relations.  PopeFrancispensivecropped

You have thus defied the very words of Our Lord Himself condemning divorce and “remarriage” as adultery per se without exception, the admonition of Saint Paul on the divine penalty for unworthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, the teaching of your two immediate predecessors in line with the bi-millenial moral doctrine and Eucharistic discipline of the Church rooted in divine revelation, the Code of Canon Law and all of Tradition. [from Part 1]

Click here to read all three parts of the Letter & Liber of Accusation at Catholic Family News. The page opens at Part III, with links to Parts 1 & 11.

 

Comments invited   

 

Teenager Issues Challenge: Don’t Change The Mass – Let The Mass Change you…

Award-winning American author Dan Graham’s article Words That Count first appeared in our newsletter, Issue No. 51, September, 2008….Dan’s original article was easily one of the most popular we’ve ever published, as was the updated version published in the newsletter in 2010. In recent weeks I’ve been approached for copies of it (available on our website) so it might be worth airing it on the blog at this time.  American spellings prevail. 

Dan Graham, Award winning author

Dan Graham, Award winning author

This paper methodically compares the texts of the Tridentine Mass 1945 (TM) and the Novus Ordo Mass 1973 (NOM) so Catholics can better understand differences. The method is simple: off-the-shelf software WordListCreator™ alphabetizes and counts words in a text. I used the English translations. I simply compare the words and counts from both masses and ask: what does the NOM remove or add? My operating principle comes from St. Thomas Aquinas: whatever is objectively real is objectively true. This method helps avoid the acrimony that often derails fruitful discussions about the two masses. I present my two conclusions, then my supporting findings by working through a comparison of the words in the TM and NOM. Readers can review the data and come to their own conclusions. The first conclusion is that the two masses differ profoundly. Some argue that the differences in the two missals are trifling, a mere preference of style, but a close examination of the text proves otherwise.  Click here to read the entire article and then share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

 

Comment: 

For those Catholics who believe that the only change to the Mass has been the switch from Latin to the vernacular, this article will (or should) come as a shock.  However, the Catholic sense has been dulled to the point of extinction, so for a lot of Catholics, probably the majority, the “shock” will be nothing more than a mild surprise accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders and a “well, so what?”   Still, there’s been an increase in Catholics showing an interest in the Traditional Mass recently – at least, that’s been my personal experience. What about you? And what about the teenager who quoted a friend of his to me, a girl who had summed up the problems in the Church today with the words I’ve used in the headline above (may it not occur to her to sue me for copyright): “Don’t change the Mass” she reportedly said: “Let the Mass change you…”   Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou hast perfected praise. (Matthew 21:16)

 

“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone?” St.Thérèse of Lisieux

“Do you realize
that Jesus
is there in the
tabernacle
expressly for
you – for you
alone?”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux 

“Deaconesses”: Phoebe A Red Herring

“Deaconesses,” Strictly Speaking, Never Existed
On Francis’ New “Deaconess” Panel

by John Vennari   – Catholic Family News

woman_minissterIf “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. 

There never was nor can there ever be the office of “deaconess” in the Catholic Church.

When I use the word “deaconess” in this context, I mean a female counterpart to the male office of deacon. There was never any such office.

If the term “deaconess” appears in Church history, we find it to be an imprecise term that will vary not only from age to age, but from one geographic location to the next. Father Aimé George Martimont, author of the scholarly and definitive work on the subject titled Deaconesses, An Historical Study, observes “The Christians of antiquity did not have a single, fixed idea of what deaconesses were supposed to be.”1

Yet on August 2 of this year, Pope Francis created a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic Church. Pursuing such a venture can only ignite further chaos in the Church and confusion among the faithful.

Extremely Limited Function

There was never an office of deaconess in the Latin Church.2 We do come across references to deaconesses in various Greek and Eastern Rites. Yet the office is not uniformly found in the Oriental churches, and all mention is sporadic between the second and tenth centuries. Some Eastern Church territories, such as the church in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Maronites never accepted any office of deaconess.3

The women who were called “deaconesses” were not ordained in any sacramental sense of the word, but received a kind of blessing for certain ecclesiastical service. These “deaconesses” were primarily consecrated women whose work was highly restricted – usually limited assistance to other females. This included assisting women at baptisms and other services where the presence of men would have offended modesty.

“Moreover,” writes Father Martimort, “it must be even more strongly emphasized that deaconesses were never allowed to teach or preach in public.”4

It is of no use to appeal to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in which Phoebe the “deaconess” is mentioned. The mind of the Church on this matter is summarized in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. We read, “The Angelic Doctor commenting on the New Testament … saw Phoebe in the Epistle to the Romans only as one of those women who ‘served’ Christ and the Apostles, or who carried out works of charity in the manner of widows of 1 Timothy 5:10.”5

As for the Latin Church, we provide three ancient and authoritative texts that demonstrate how foreign was any idea in the early Church of women deaconesses, women’s ordination, and women serving in the sanctuary.

As early as the 4th century, there is the fiery directive from the bishops of the Council of Nimes in 396 A.D.:

“Equally, it has been reported by some that, contrary to the apostolic discipline – indeed a thing unheard of until now – it has been observed, though it is not known exactly where, that women have been raised to the ministry of deacons. Ecclesiastical discipline does not permit this, for it is unseemly; such an ordination should be annulled, since it is irregular; and vigilance is required lest in the future anyone should have the boldness to act in this fashion again.”
The Council of Orange in 441 A.D. spoke likewise,

“In no way whatsoever should deaconesses ever be ordained. If there already are deaconesses, they should bow their heads beneath the blessing which is given to all the people.”6

Then there is the forceful decree Necessaria rerum of Pope Gelasius, addressed to the bishops of southern Italy, dated March 11, 494. While not dealing directly with deaconesses, it manifests how alien was the idea of women in the sanctuary performing any form of priestly function:

“It is with impatience that we learned this: divine things have suffered such a degradation that female ministers serving at the sacred altars have been approved. The exercise of roles reserved to men has been given to the sex which they do not belong.”7

What would the Bishops of Nimes, the Council of Orange and Pope Gelasius say about the plethora of lady-readers, altar girls, “let us pray to the Lord” prayer leaders, liturgical dancers and Eucharistic ministerettes now fluttering in great numbers throughout post-Conciliar sanctuaries?

No Continuity

As we follow the work of Father Martimont – whose calm, meticulous, thorough scholarship includes vast historical references from liturgical texts, euchologies (Eastern Rite), pontificals, ecclesiastical legislation, homilies, letters and other pertinent documents – we learn “the continuity of true ecclesiastical discipline was lacking in the case of deaconesses.”8 There is no continuity from the ancient days of the Church until now. Only a modernist pick-and-choose antiquarianism – forbidden by the Church – could “justify” any thought of establishing the office of deaconess.

Even in Eastern Rites the practice was not observed “always, everywhere and by everyone.” The presence of deaconesses was so infrequent and scattered that we see in the writings of St. Jerome, a man who traveled widely in the East and knew it well, he “nowhere spoke about deaconesses, not even in his letter 394 to the priest Nepotian, to which he indicates the proper attitude to adopt toward virgins and widows.”9

As noted earlier, the institution of deaconesses was most often involved with the baptism of adult women. In various Eastern Rites at the time, in a ritual that connects baptism with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, adults were baptized naked – a practice happily long extinct.10

Thus writes Father Martimont, “’As long as adult baptism were the norm, the necessity that brought about its creation [the office of deaconess] was geographically limited and rapidly becoming obsolete.” Even during this time the woman assisting the adult women being baptized did not necessarily have to be a “deaconess” but could be a pious matron of the congregation.11 Again, the practice only occurred in various churches of the Eastern Rite, never in the Latin Rite.

A concise summary of the deaconess’ limited function is contained in the Canonical Resolutions of James of Edessa (Eastern Rite) written somewhere between 683 and 708 A.D. The instruction proceeds in a dialogue format:

Addai: Does the deaconess, like the deacon, have the power to put a portion of the sacred Host into the consecrated chalice?

James: In no way can she do this. The deaconess did not become a deaconess in order to serve at the altar but rather for the sake of women who are ill.

Addai: I would like to learn in a few words what the powers of the deaconess in the Church are.

James: She has no power over the altar, because when she was instituted, it was not in the name of the altar, but only to fulfill certain functions in the Church. These are her sole powers: to sweep the sanctuary and to light the lamps, and she is only permitted to perform these two functions if no priest or deacon is available. If she is in a convent of women, she can remove the sacred Hosts from the tabernacle [= cabinet], only because there is no priest or deacon present, and give them out to the other sisters only or to small children who may also be present. [Comment: Keep in mind this is within the context of the Eastern Rite where the consecrated Eucharist is not touched by human hands, but delivered to the communicant by means of a small spoon – JV] But it is not permitted to her to take the Hosts off the altar, nor carry them to the altar nor indeed in any way to touch the table of life [the altar]. She anoints adult women when they are baptized; she visits women who are ill and cares for them. These are the only powers possessed by deaconesses with regard to the work of the priests.”12

Even if we come upon ancient Eastern Rite rituals that speak of “ordination” of deaconess, the word “ordination” is here used in a loose sense that has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Patriarch Severus of Antioch, writing in the sixth century, explains, “In the case of deaconesses … ordination is performed less with regards to the needs of the mystery than exclusively with regard to doing honor.” He continues, “In the cities, deaconesses habitually exercise a ministry relating to the divine bath of regeneration in the case of women who are being baptized.”13

Anachronism and Ambiguity

The office of deaconess – sporadic as it was – virtually disappeared by the time of the eleventh century. So much so that Greek and Eastern Canonists of the Middle Ages did not even know who or what deaconesses were, for by then deaconesses had long since ceased to exist.14 The office had become an obsolete curiosity.

Nothing could be more anachronistic than an attempt to “revive” the office of deaconess in a manner unrelated to its limited practice in the early Church, and use it as an official title to formalize today’s raging novelty of women in the sanctuary and “lay ministers” of the Eucharist. ratzinger-lutheran

Yet this is precisely the aim of Francis’ new deaconess panel, which consists of six men, six women – a politically-correct gender-balanced structure rather than a panel of scholars of unquestionable competence regarding the Catholic Faith of all time.

The panel includes Phyllis Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in New York, a bold advocate of women’s ordination.15 It’s not hard to guess what the panel’s conclusions may be – a forgone conclusion in favor of approving some form of “deaconesses.” As we know from the British satire Yes, Prime Minister, “The government never publicly opens the debate until it has already privately made up its mind.”

We are painfully aware of the distasteful tactics of modern discussions that seek to introduce more revolution: Muddying the historical waters, imprecision of terms, clever use of anachronisms, calculated ambiguity, significant silence concerning any historic fact that frustrates the forgone conclusion of the panel’s ultimate aim. Combine all this with the massive ignorance of today’s un-catechized Catholics who are children of the Vatican II revolution, under the sway of the bucking-bronco Bergoglio pontificate that favors novelty and deprecates alleged “small-minded rules.” The results can only be lethal for doctrinal and liturgical integrity.

“Fraught with ambiguity”

There is no need to re-study the matter of deaconesses, especially when the definitive work of Father Martimort already demonstrates that the ancient, sporadic office of deaconess has nothing to do with women performing priestly functions.

We can do no better than close with the final paragraph of Father Mortimort’s superb work. He writes: “The complexity of the facts about deaconesses and the proper context of these facts prove to be quite extraordinary. There exists a danger of distorting both the facts and the texts whenever one is dealing with them secondhand. It is also difficult to avoid anachronisms when trying to resolve the problem of the present by reference to the solutions appropriate to a past that is long gone.”

Father Martimort concludes: “For the fact is that the ancient institution of deaconess, even in its own time, was encumbered with not a few ambiguities, as we have seen. In my opinion, if the restoration of the institution of deaconesses were indeed to be sought after so many centuries, such a restoration itself could only be fraught with ambiguity.”16

Any move toward the establishment of “deaconess” stands already condemned by the consistent teaching of the Popes, manifested in that of Benedict XV who warned, “We wish to have this law of the ancients held in reverence,‘let nothing new be introduced, but only what has been handed down.’ This must be held an inviolable law in matters of Faith.”17

A new office of deaconeness introduced in the post-Conciliar Church will resemble nothing of history and contain nothing that has been handed down. The practice existed only sporadically in various geographical locations of the Eastern church, was severely restricted in its activity, and had disappeared by the 11th century.

If “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. The office of deaconess will further accustom Catholics to see women in roles of ecclesiastical leadership and pave the way for more discussion of “women priests.”

The introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood. It must be firmly resisted. Source

Comment:

We’ve covered this topic from time to time in the newsletter, pointing out that female deaconesses in the early Church had a very limited role indeed, and never did this role involve participation in liturgy, similar to male deacons.  The Pope has already stressed that there can be no women priests. Assuming that he is not changing his mind about that, does he not, then, realise that he is giving false hope and propaganda material to the proponents of women’s ordination by creating this entirely unnecessary “study” into the possibility of allowing “deaconesses” in the Church?  I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with John Vennari’s closing remarks that “the introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood [and] must be firmly resisted.”  What about you? Do you agree?