Summorum Pontificum Abrogated: Quo Vadis?

Well, the Pope has done it – abrogated Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum, (July 7, 2007) and even John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei (July 2, 1988) – with today’s Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes. It’s not long, and you can read it through in a few minutes (scroll past the Italian for the English) – which may seem an agonizingly longer time for some. There is also an accompanying letter, urging bishops to join Francis in limiting the ‘Latin Mass’ of Pius V. Ironic that the title is about safeguarding tradition…

I won’t provide much commentary here; perhaps later, when this has sifted further. For now, I will point out two historical coincidences:

This is the date of the beginning of the formal schism between East and West, when in 1054 Cardinal Humbert and two legates of Pope Leo IX presented a bull of excommunication to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, in the hall of Hagia Sophia. The Patriarch in turn excommunicated them and the Pope (these mutual excommunications were ‘cast into oblivion’ with Paul VI’s meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964). Pope Francis purportedly admitted that he might end up splitting the Church. Whatever he might have meant by that – and I am neither a prophet, nor the son of a prophet – the times are certainly ominous. This will cause a crisis of conscience for many, for obedience is oft not a simple thing, and in milieu, it seems less simple than ever.

Yet this is also the date of the last apparition of Our Lady to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes. We should have hope that as Mother of the Church, she is helping to guide this all to the good. And we must not forget Saint Joseph, Protector of that same Church, whose year it is.

There is a third thing, that this is the anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear bomb in history, in 1945 on the plains of Alamogordo, New Mexico, code-named, curiously, ‘Trinity’. (It was Robert Oppenheimer, who was Jewish and did not therefore believe in whole ‘Three Persons, One God’ truth, who bestowed the name, claiming it just came to him, from a poem by John Donne) Whether that pertains or not, I’ve yet to decide, even if there are no real coincidences in God’s providence. What I do know is that the Holy Mass has much more power than an atomic bomb, and we should treat it accordingly – with great care.

I may have more to say on the possible options before us as this all unfolds. For now, know that God will lead us and bring good out of this, one way or another. We must pray, trust and, as much as we might, not worry.