In the first three portions of this series we examined in minute detail all of what each of the three documents associated with the famous "Motu Proprio" have to say, so now we should be able to put together a good and accurate idea as to what can result, the potentials, the pitfalls, and the opportunities. Now, in this fourth, I wish to address what I believe to be the causes, context, and the results, good and bad, intended and not, of this trio of documents.
The "desire" or "attempt" to suck in Catholics back to the Novus Ordo may be main or at least important, but it is not by any means the only reason for the Motu Proprio. While that certainly is one of the reasons, such reasons provide little basis for the far wider and far-reaching effects this Motu is intended to have. Where the previous indults were readily enough dismissed as a mere concession to SSPX'ers or perhaps all real Catholics (traditionalists) in general, this one cannot be. This is why this one has been so much more in the news than any or all the previous Indults put together.
In these documents, it emerges clear an additional reason why Benedict XVI is so widely attempting to open the door to the regaining of an authentic Catholic liturgy. Despite his own unfortunate role in separating the Vatican institution from the Church (smuggling in "subsists in" to be inserted into "Lumen Gentium" back at Vatican II), when it came to the subsequent liturgical destruction, all of that took place without his direction or consent. Paul VI had had the final say as to what the final Novus Ordo would be like, and it only passed with his approval, and when he was content with it. Might John Paul I have cut more slack for the Catholic Mass? He wasn't around long enough for anyone to find out. And when the vernacularizers of the Novus Ordo were virtually everywhere deliberately corrupting "Pro Multis" into "Pro Omnibus," John Paul II's native Polish translation was anomalously translated correctly as Polish for "Pro Multis."
So while Vatican II and its attendant false ecumenism is Ratzinger's baby, the fake new "liturgy" never was. At least one other significant source of his reasons were quite well expressed when he stated that "In many places [Novus Ordo] celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church."
A love for the Catholic liturgy should not, of itself, be seen as in any way a repudiation of Modernism, which malosophy still very much holds Benedict XVI in its sway. Do you know that the Indult itself (in both its previous forms as well as that created by the Motu Proprio today) was actually predicted by no less that His Holiness Pope Saint Pius X himself? In writing about the Modernists in Pascendi, paragraph 38, he wrote:
So, according to Pope St. Pius X, Modernists, who want to change everything, and who (for the most part) also wanted to reduce "external devotions" (strip the Mass of everything supernatural, as they indeed did with the Novus Ordo), there would nevertheless be among them "some" who would be "admirers of symbolism" and as such "disposed to be more indulgent on this head," i. e. willing to let the Catholic Mass be preserved in its full form, at least in some areas. So indeed Benedict XVI is indeed a Modernist, albeit one who is one of these admirers of symbolism. But then was it not ever those German diabologians, many of whom he knew on a first-name basis, who were ever and anon "demythologizing" Christianity so that it can then be "remythologized" in conformance with contemporary tastes? I believe the man really does have an appreciation for the beauty of the Catholic liturgy with all of its deep and profound symbolism, but regrettably the authentic Catholic liturgy's full content, meaning, and import have found no home in his heart.
And this is not to say that an attempt to suck in the Catholics has not been at all a factor. Clearly it is also a real factor, though (I think) not the main one. The SSPX did after all list as one of its initial "conditions" that the Vatican would grant the right to all priests (apparently including Novus Ordo presiders, without regard to the validity or lack thereof of their priesthood) to perform the Catholic Mass. And the one mention of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in these documents contains none of the defamatory calumniating of his most venerable name that the previous Indult document contained. This most certainly opens the door to repudiating the bogus "excommunication," the other condition set by the SSPX before "talks" can begin. After all, might not the abrogation of the previous policies set out by Ecclesia Dei be also seen as an abrogation of the attempted "excommunication" of Archbishop Lefebvre contained therein? I think it would take more, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
And as His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay did state, even the meeting of the famous "two conditions" of the SSPX merely paves the way for "talks" to begin. In particular, the grave theological problems of the Novus Ordo religion must also be addressed. But before we get that far, I do have one suggestion (one which I would expect at least the other three of the SSPX bishops to agree with what I have to say here), and that is that it would not be enough for them to say "We hereby lift the excommunications…" but rather something more to the effect that "We hereby declare and admit that no valid declaration of excommunication ever existed against the SSPX; it was only a mistake." I would permit the Vatican to pretend in public that the mistake was an honest one, even though we all know it wasn't, as long as they don't press that pretense too far.
So whatever intentions accompanied the Motu Proprio, what can we expect in terms of the results thereof, intended or not? Practically the day it was published, we have Bugnini's protégé "Bishop" Luca Brandolini crying his crocodile tears for the "serious blow to the reforms [sic] of the 1960s," a lament he will no doubt continue into all Eternity if he doesn't repent, and probably one of the most wonderful results of the Motu Proprio that may ever emerge, certainly at least in the short term, truly a golden moment.
Indeed, this trio of documents, together with his ineffectual "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church" and another that somewhat reverts the election procedures for the Vatican leader to requiring a 2/3 plus one majority (but still blocking those who are over 80) have in many ways revived in the public eye the perception of Benedict XVI as a Latin-Mass saying Arch-Conservative who will undo Vatican II and tighten up the ship. At last, he briefly seems to be living up to his reputation (largely unearned) as seen in the public eye.
No matter how patently false these perceptions of him are, the bare fact that the public will so see him has to have at least some sort of a salutary effect. While the world will rail against him for taking us all back into the Dark Ages, member attendance, devoutness, and overall measures of growth will probably be favorable. For while only trying to make an ecumenical reach to the authentic Catholics, the world will be like the little dog that sees the boy running the other way and so runs in that same direction.
The world's railing against him can already be seen in the self-styled "expert" Bernardo Barranco bitterly complaining that Benedict XVI is making a decision to "turn his back to the people," as the celebrant does in the Tridentine liturgy, only to seek to reconcile "a minority of faithful that comes to no more than one percent of the Catholic population, composed of medievalists, ultra-conservatives, and old people." Instead, he clamors, why not "reconcile with the followers of liberation theology"? So he pretends to think that there are only a tiny minority of us Catholics? Boy, are those gullible enough to believe him in for a major shock!
This leads to one other prediction I want to make which at this writing no doubt sounds unbelievable. There is one gigantic good effect this will have that no one predicts, and that is to demonstrate what a total lie it has been that the Novus Ordo is "big and popular" while love for the Catholic Mass is supposedly "wanted only by some tiny minority." Is that not what most decision-makers and journalists all seem to think? They picture this humungous group (which they mistakenly call a "mainstream") who all supposedly prefer the Novus Ordo on the one hand, and this almost microscopic group of those of us who "prefer" (or more) the Catholic Mass. Repeatedly, propaganda pieces continue to come out (and I am sure we will see plenty more of these) to the effect that "the general run of [Novus Ordo] parishioners prefer the new," and so on such drivel.
Elsewhere I have already made the point that however "small" we may now look, we traditional Catholics are indeed the real Mainstream of Christianity. We only seem "few" to those who don't count. And on what have they based this? "Well Gee, only the tiniest minority drive the hundreds of miles it takes to get to a Tridentine Latin Mass every Sunday and so therefore all the rest obviously prefer the Novus Ordo." Never mind the more obvious fact that something like three-quarters of those enrolled in the Novus Ordo don't even bother to drive the half a dozen or so miles it takes to get to their own nearest Novus Ordo franchise outlet on anything like a regular basis.
And what of those who do bother to show up more or less most of the time? Something like 85% frankly don't give a damn what goes on there. They come because they think they are "supposed to," because it is their one deed to "thank God" for giving them another good week (without having to think about Him at any other time), to be seen there by the "right" people, to see their friends there, to find out what the other women are wearing. So as they sit there, biding their time, twiddling their thumbs, tapping their fingers, staring at the ceiling, the walls, the attractive parishioner in the next pew (or row of seats), barely regarding the service or Mass or whatever (it really is all the same to them) at all, only the final prayer is prayed along with any enthusiasm. That is the one that goes "Thanks be to God" that comes after "Go in peace." Yes indeed (they think to themselves), thanks be to God that at last it's over for another week and we're free to go, our obligation duly discharged. Now we're good people again.
Most of them don't even know that anything has happened, or that anything is coming. Or at most some vaguely gather that their "Pope" is tightening the ship in some vague and unspecified ways, and perhaps they quietly wonder within themselves whether that rather questionable annulment they recently obtained is going to be reconsidered and revoked. Some would be so asleep that even if they ended up attending the Catholic Mass for a change by mistake, they would be totally unaware that anything is different. But among those who care enough to actually pay attention, word will spread, and at least curiosity ought to motivate at least one visit, especially on a day that they slept in and missed the regular services and have to go to that funny afternoon Mass they may dimly remember having heard of or seen listed in the parish bulletin. "Well, I don't know any Latin, but I will have done my bit if I go and get it over with."
The big surprise for many is that nearly all of those who actually care about what goes on and pay at least some real attention (with two notable exceptions I will get to momentarily) will only be glad to see the thing they have all been pushing for finally beginning to happen. Conservative Novus Ordo believers (and especially those as have somehow remained more or less "Catholic-at-heart") have always leaned towards the more serious and reverent, no matter how much they have been able to convince themselves that the Novus Ordo is perfectly fine, or at least within acceptable limits when done "reverently." Now the need for this self-deception finally fades as they rapidly gravitate to the one Tridentine Mass (or like service) their parish now has.
The true Mass (or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof), even when not validly done, due to an unordained "priest," would even so have a considerable impact in reverence and generating due awe and respect for God, and willingness for more serious commitment to God. Any "parish" that implements it into anything like a reasonable Sunday hour will see it expand to far and away the most popular service they put on. But I don’t doubt that there will be some who would have thought of themselves as “Catholic-at-heart” and who may instead find how little the Faith really means to them when they can say to themselves “Well, it’s nice that it’s going on, but it just doesn’t fit in my schedule,” and they continue attending some Novus Ordo service
There will be those who actually and positively will hate the True Mass (or even a reasonable facsimile), but their numbers will turn out to be far fewer than many had come to expect due to false reports. How many times have we heard the lie about the Novus Ordo, "Well the people want it." By and large, no they don't, if they even care at all one way or the other. But as I did say there will be two groups who will hate it and fulminate against it, and even wage a new war against it.
The first and most obvious would be those who personally profit from it, either financially, as the copyright holders of the Novus Ordo translations and musical bits (did you know they get a royalty for every performance of their musical bits, small as it indeed is per service? But multiplied by all the services around the world where it gets used, it does make a reasonable income), and those (pseudo-clerics) who have so far not had to learn Latin but could take the easy way of merely using the vernacular. This group will scream quite loudly, and for understandable reasons. One can hardly blame them. No more free ride, they are going to have to start making an honest living.
The second group would consist of what I call "Novus Ordo shills." These are the ones who show up at "parish council meetings" and "liturgy meetings" and so forth, ever lobbying for more radical and bizarre and irreverent proceedings and for altars and altar rails to be torn out in favor of "church-in-the-round," who always seem to be the outspoken ones at the meetings. They are in fact a very tiny minority but make up for it with an astonishing amount of vocal power, coupled with a keen sense of whose all the right ears are so as to whisper into them, but of them and their "power" I will have to write another day. [See The Novus Ordo Shill Factory] Suffice it to say now that this group will also squawk quite loudly at the progress of the Tridentine Latin Mass. And they will gladly join with the first group to wage war.
But what kind of "war" will it be? I think very few (but those directly involved) will even be aware that a war is going on. Even its casualties will never have realized that they were casualties of a war, but just giving up or giving in for their own practical reasons. For example, it says that there ought to be one such Mass in every "parish." But these bad guys can see to it that it gets scheduled at the most impractical time, say Saturday night at midnight, or three in the morning (or even in the afternoon) Sundays when no one wants to go. Perhaps the choir can be made to conveniently "forget" to practice the sort of music that goes with the Mass and so end up having to use the other material to which they are accustomed. they are accustomed. Or else the idea is subtly and verbally put about that only those who are conversant in Latin would be able to follow along, or perhaps even be invited to attend. And so it goes. All of this would be done so that at the end of three years, they can report to the Vatican that "No real interest exists for that sort of thing here."
The real masterminds against the Catholic Mass however are many of the Novus Ordo "bishops," who will either keep the Tridentine Mass so scarce that almost no one ever sees it, or else grant it to those who are clearly unqualified and as such just saying a Novus Ordo with some (very few) limited Tridentine trimmings as to make those many who see it wonder "so what was the big deal here? This is almost exactly the same thing." Many have already gone on record stating that "nothing is going to change here." And of course they also repeat the lie that, "no one here is interested in it."
So as long as it is either seldom seen (and how many are going to care enough to go see it, even out of curiosity, when it only takes place during their office hours etc.) or else is watered down to little more than a slightly tweaked Novus Ordo in Latin, certainly invalid, the propagandists will do all they can to minimize "interest" in it. But there will be those places where it can be implemented, where some elderly retired priest can readily and eagerly fill in, and where there are those who think that "the pope's" words are meant to be taken seriously, so that implementation does follow the ostensible intended norms, and there large numbers of people will be able to make a real decision as to their true preferences.
We already have several examples of Novus Ordo "bishops" of the first category, such as Mario Conti of Glasgow who won't even consider allowing it to be performed by any priest ordained after 1968 or so (but at least his policy would pretty much rule out any invalid priests, so at least it's not all bad, but where is the allowance for a more recently ordained priest, even FSSP or SSPX?). More of the same is found in John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee who has similarly declared his own standards as to how much it takes for a priest to be "qualified" to say the Mass, even privately. Most contemptible of all in this vein is Felipe Arizmendi of San Cristóbal de las Casas whose policy is "Among us there will be no celebration in Latin, because the conditions for that concession are not fulfilled," but "we joyfully celebrate the recent decree by the Congregation for Divine Worship, approving the use of our Indian languages Tseltal and Tsotsil in our liturgical celebrations."
On the other extreme is Edward Egan of New York for whom it is enough that "Priests who choose to celebrate Mass in the 'extraordinary' form must have a sufficient knowledge of the Latin language to pronounce the words correctly." Never mind whether he knows what he is saying as long as it sounds correct. Anyone with the faintest amount of understanding of Catholic sacramental theology would have to know that this is quite a recipe for invalidity as he might as well be standing up there saying "abracadabra" for all the validity merely pronouncing the sounds without understanding would have. But then again since most of his "priests" aren't really priests anyway, what difference might this make? At least he's trying to be "generous."
Another part of the "war" will be found in the conflicting reports. Not all reporters are in the pay of the bad guys, and while some reporters say "little to no interest" is found for the Catholic Mass, others will report "significant genuine interest" in it. More importantly, there is a clear charter for Catholic Masses, and for clerics to begin learning Latin again, and all those young "closet conservatives" can at last come out of the dark and begin making the Mass more common. This will of course take time, and little will be accomplished with regards to installing any new "qualified clergy" by the end of the "three years," but they are on the way, and after not all that many years hence begin emerging from the pipeline.
So this is only a temporary battlefield. The real battle moves on to new territory, and that is with the question of the validity of Orders. The sad part is that it doesn't have to be a battlefield, but it will be. The real enemy will be pride. The stupid arrogant pride of the know-nothing "know-it-all" Novus Ordo "clergy" will mean that they will not learn how the Mass (and Faith) is to be performed (and lived), or just as bad, actually imagine that some three-day "workshop" on how to say the Mass would come anywhere near being enough to qualify them. More importantly they won't even consider the possibility that they may not have been validly ordained. And it really doesn't have to be that way.
Let some Novus Ordo-"ordained" cleric begin using the Tridentine Missal and all the Catholic sacraments in their authentic forms, reciting the Catholic Breviary, and so forth, and things will improve, from how they were when he did the Novus Ordo, and yet still be deficient. Will he be aware of that? Well, that depends upon whether he has ever seen how the graces flow in a fully traditional parish where the validity and orthodoxy of the priest is indisputable (SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, "Independent," and so forth). If after a year or so of doing the Catholic Sacraments and not seeing the same graces in his parish as they see in theirs, it would behoove him to get himself conditionally (or even unconditionally) ordained. A most important fact here is that many of the traditional bishops (all SSPX, and for that matter even a good many of the sedevacantist bishops) would gladly do this for any Indult cleric whose credentials are verified and who have doubts as to the validity of their orders, and who would agree only to use their ordination for the traditional Catholic Rites. They ought not have to join or pay anything, only commit to use their ordination for the tending and blessing of Catholic souls in their care.
And what about Novus Ordo-"consecrated" "bishops"? If one of them should use this opportunity to repent and make a full return to the Faith, and then resolve to use their power to bring Catholicism back to their own "diocese" to make it a real Catholic diocese again, ought we not do everything we can to help them? They need to be consecrated, and our bishops should be willing to do this with the attitude of someone who hands a man his wallet and says "Here, you dropped this," and everything is in it, undisturbed. There is no real reason why this cannot happen.
But I know all too well that it won't happen, and all of that can be put down to nothing but stupid pride. "I don't need to be consecrated; how dare he offer to consecrate me!" or on the other side "He isn't willing to follow all my advice, make his diocese all Catholic all at once, announce a public belief in my 'position' on the crisis, why should I consecrate him, even if he were willing?" This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is to be the next battleground on which the central conflict between Catholic and Novus Ordo is to be fought. For the SSPX priest Fr. Carl Pulvermacher had it correct when he stated that "Just as soon as they have no valid priests left, you'll have all the Latin Masses you want." In the next 20 to 30 years there could come to be more Tridentine Masses celebrated worldwide than Novus Ordo services, but then the main problem at that time will be that a significant proportion of them will not be valid, due to clergy who are not validly ordained. But of course, thanks to the traditional orders (the Real Visible Catholic Church hierarchy) there still are and always will be valid priests, who furthermore are fully up to snuff on how to do all the Sacraments in their Catholic forms. They are not like some valid but elderly priest who has not done it in years and who has to brush up on it (and how much will they really remember?); they represent a living memory of how it is meant to be done.
And this brings me to the one truly great deficiency to this whole trio of documents. Even as we see concerns as to the shortage of priests qualified to perform the authentic Catholic Mass, to which they will respond by either allowing those who are not qualified, or else refusing to offer it ("Nobody qualified here, sorry"), where has there been even the faintest ghost of the idea of availing themselves of a vast and ready resource of all those authentic traditional Catholic priests who have been offering these Masses and sacraments all these years? Granted the terms of having to accept the Novus Ordo as "equal in value" to the Catholic Mass are categorically unacceptable, even so where is the invitation to come and serve? Where is there even any genuine ecumenical outreach to Catholic clergy, for example to engage in projects of mutual benefit or benefit to the community at large?
If anything, it has been the opposite. Before, SSPX-sponsored pilgrimages had previously been permitted to stop in certain historic shrines along the way. Now they are barred from entry, all on the patently specious excuse that some few individual Catholics had been leaving Catholic literature at the shrines (with approval, by the way) during past pilgrimages. They try to suck out nuns from the CMRI but do they offer His Excellency Bishop Mark Pivarunas a diocese? Or Bishop Fellay for that matter? (Even though he should refuse unless truly given a free hand, the offer itself still ought to have been made, in all justice.) This hardening policy against the authentic Catholic clergy is nowhere seen in the trio of documents, and yet through the spooky and invisible channels of the Novus Ordo, it does seem to be an emerging policy of everything but record.
And even where they are trying to "get ecumenical" with individual lay Catholics, where is there any sign of them becoming so Catholic themselves? Mere accommodation of the Faith does not constitute conversion thereto. Their whole perspective (the religion they really believe) is still Novus Ordo, ensconced in Vatican II. Witness how the Novus Ordo remains their "ordinary" or "standard" mode of "worship." They have not converted to the Truth but merely allowed for some expressions thereof to gain wider acceptance. "One swallow does not make a Spring."
All of which leads up to a much more immediate and practical question, namely what ought we individual lay Catholics do? What can our priests and bishops expect us to do, most likely? It's easy to say "Oh, we should all avoid it." Perhaps we should, but the reality is that something like 10 to 30 percent of those who regularly attend Catholic Masses by the non-Indultarian traditional clergy will probably at least try a visit to such Masses. Some are just tired of the distance, others just want the authentic Catholic Mass (and sacraments) and don't particularly care where they get it.
But of those who take this step, how many are really going to be permanently lost from the congregations that have long tended their spiritual needs? I suspect that something like about half of those who do this will be so disgusted by what they see as a horrible imitation of a Catholic Mass as to come back realizing that they made a terrible mistake. "The ignorant young pup did this wrong and that wrong and obviously didn't really even believe in what he was doing. I felt nothing but embarrassment on his behalf as he stumbled and bumbled his way through a ceremony of which he plainly didn't have a clue. And the congregation, what a mess! Nearly half of them received on their hands and recited all the responses out loud, only a very few women had their heads covered, and didn’t I just see our pro-abort local politician receiving?
Only what few elderly retired priests from way back when who really were ordained without question and who might hopefully remember it all might be able to offer anything better than that, and I readily concede that for some of us laity this may be an acceptable option if available in their area, and if the distance to one's true traditional parish is truly lengthy. But obviously the days allotted to the lives of these priests are numbered and recourse to them is at best a mere temporary expedient. And once he goes it could be quite some time before some young FSSP priest (?) is sent to replace him, and far longer still before we can ever (if ever) be certain of having a validly ordained priest serving in the role. So, even those taking this recourse would do well not to burn their bridges to the traditional parish that has nurtured them these many years.
A traditional priest has little to worry about regarding this Motu Proprio. The "Little Dog" principle means that there will be considerable traffic in his direction as many, seeing the direction of the recent "big step" being supposedly taken by the Vatican will run ahead and arrive ahead of schedule at their soul's true destination. Though some may go to the Vatican (and some few even choose to stay there), I believe that traditional clergy of all stripes can look forward to considerable growth over the next couple decades or so due to this Motu Proprio, even if this growth was plainly not intended by its authors. While not exactly an "Edict of Milan," this certainly comes much closer to it than anything seen before since this whole ecclesial disaster began.
Many in the Novus Ordo pews (or rows of chairs) have heard that the traditional Catholic Mass is now OK according to the pope, and, failing to find it in their local "parish," (Sorry, no one qualified here; sorry, not enough people interested here…), will then have recourse to that other Catholic chapel they have long feared to attend. It's truly beautiful to see how in the Grace and Providence of God two equal and opposite errors perfectly cancel each other out, and those make both of them end up in exactly the right place. The man they mistake for "pope" they will also mistake for saying "It's now OK to attend the Catholic Mass (of the SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, etc.)." And all the real popes of bygone days, and yet to come would all agree to a man that the will of "the pope" is indeed that all would "get thee hence to a traditional parish where the authentic traditions of the Church have been lived continuously throughout this turbulent period."
So, as I stated, the issuance of this Motu Proprio is quite an event, one that definitely changes the shape of the battlefield itself significantly, one that brings on some new challenges to be sure, but also one of extraordinary new opportunities as well. But whether "in season" or "out of season" let us continue to be winners of souls for the True Mystical Body of Christ, the traditional Catholic Church!