Let us once more read the authentic text of his proclamation as I have quoted it in the previous installment. Does it not seem as if our Holy Father were almost painfully aware that the yes of all Christendom (and uncounted generations yet to be born) are upon him and will ever after remember his taking this reckless step? Does it not seem he cannot bring himself to do it with that spirit which befits so tremendous an Act? Notice how glancingly he accomplishes his dreadful task of voiding (if that were possible) the acts of literally generations of Popes:
…notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors, and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and derogation. (Italics mine). (Appendix II, Par. 15).
You see, Pope Paul admits that the ordinances of his Predecessors deserve to be explained away. One which deserves "particular mention and derogation" is St. Pius V's Quo Primum of course. Is it for want of courage or for want of reasons that he does not do so? Surely it is not for want of time.
Ever since the issuance of Pope Paul's Missale Romanum, even after the disclosure of foul play in its translation and publication, which, needless to say, without reference to anything else, renders it indefensible and unenforcible, and therefore completely null and void. Pope Paul himself has proceeded, not as if he had imposed a law, but only as if he had asked his people to accept his "New Mass" and had been surprised and saddened by the resulting outcry. Never has he invoked his own "decree" as if it were an irrevocable law; he seems barely to refer to it.
In view of all that has been said, it would seem unnecessary to prove that Pope Paul's "decree" Missale Romanum can in no sense of the word be considered a valid and binding law. However, it may be of some use to present the matter a bit more academically. I will therefore list the requisites for the imposition of a law and show wherein Pope Paul's is deficient:
1. Concerning the object of the law: The legislator must have province over the matters in question. The Pope and the Pope alone may legislate on liturgical matters in the Church. Not even he, however, may change the Form of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.63 63. Cf. "Has the Church the Right." P. H. Omlor, Athanasius Press, Reno, Nevada, 1969. His attempt to do so in the "Novus Ordo" renders his "decree" Missale Romanum null and void. Further, and much more important, the Pope does have supreme jurisdiction over all religious matters, but he may not command anyone to sin. Due to its intrinsic heterodoxy, the "New Mass" is not only a denial of many of the doctrines of the Faith, but it is also an act of sacrilege. This is the main cause for the complete nullity of this present law.
2. Concerning the subjects of the law: The legislator must have jurisdiction over those who would be bound by the law and indicate in the law itself to whom it applies. There is in this "decree" no indication as to who is bound to obey it.
3. Concerning the relationship of the new law with the old laws: The legislator must have the right to abrogate previously existing laws which are contrary to the law he wishes to pass. He must officially abrogate these laws before he can impose his own. Pope Paul has not abrogated the decree of Pope St. Pius V's Quo Primum, nor any other laws which concern the True Mass. In his "decree," Missale Romanum, he speaks thusly: "notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors, and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and derogation." Nothing here clearly indicates that all previous liturgical laws will no longer be in effect.
4. Concerning the language of the law: The legislator must impose the law as law. That is, the language used must make it clear that a law is being imposed. As we have just seen, the words used by the Pope concerning the acceptance of the "New Mass" are "volumus" and "confidimus," both of which verbs can be translated as "we wish". These words can in no wise be understood to impose a law.
5. Concerning the time of the effectiveness of the law: The legislator must indicate when the law will go into effect. As we have seen, the sentence in the "decree," Missale Romanum, which contains a specific date is a forgery. The "decree" itself assigns no date for the acceptance of the "New Mass."
6. Concerning the enforcement of the law: The legislator must indicate what penalties will be incurred by those who break the law. No such penalties are indicated in the "decree" of Pope Paul.
As can easily be seen, in the issuance of the "law" which introduced the "New Mass," NONE of the requisites for the promulgation of a valid law was fulfilled! Indeed, so patently and so completely null is this decree that it is surprising someone has not brought it forth as evidence that Pope Paul is a prisoner in the Vatican, trying through the issuance of such a preposterous proclamation to signal to the outside world that he is not a free agent and that no one should take it seriously. How I would that this is proof could be found! To the very best of my knowledge, there is no chance of such a discovery being made.
Consequently, the bishops, who seemed to have been in a fog since they left to attend the Second Vatican Council, have no power whatsoever to enforce the "decree." And they have had much too little difficulty doing so, because of the misguided docility and poor theology of their clergy. Where any priest has refused to accept the "New Mass," his superiors have found themselves in a terrible quandary. They have deemed it necessary to make some kind of "arrangement;" usually they have confined the non-conformist to saying Holy Mass privately.
Thus, the whole thing reveals itself with a glare. The priest is not censured, nor excommunicated for heresy, nor suspended for disobedience, which would seem logical. To the extent the "arrangement" can be made to look respectable, the priest is given an assignment which takes into consideration his "condition;" he remains in "good standing", is allowed to minister to the people according to the other laws of the Church and his own conscience, and is treated most kindly (generally). It is as if he were convalescing from something, while the deeply concerned doctors keep consulting for a cure. But, one thing is necessary: he must be withdrawn from the public view when he offers the "pestiferious Mass" - to use Luther's phrase. Thus this priest becomes, like a martyr, the most fortunate of all his confreres; he is granted the inestimable privilege, which has become so rare, of offering the True Mass. The Priest, suddenly and unexpectedly, and beyond all his deserts, finds himself rejoicing that he has been "accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus!" (Acts 5:41)
Obviously, then, as Abbe de Nantes has commented, it is not such a priest who is guilty of anything; it is the True Mass (and the people, no doubt, for wanting it back)! The True Mass is being "quarantined," as something vile, dangerous, and catching. It must be suppressed, gotten out of sight, that the people may forget it, that they may stop clamoring for it-the ignorant unwashed "that knoweth not the Law" (Jn. 7:49). They are revisionist!
The bishops (many of whom continue to say the "Old Mass" in their private chapels, for reasons of devotion, no doubt-they feel so comfortable with their trusty, old Missale, "illegal" as such a thing is) thus find themselves caught in the middle. They live in terror lest one of their Revolutionary priests will succeed in maneuvering them into an incident which might get back to Rome. At the same time, they find themselves naked before the ubiquitous, noisome knot of diehards among their flocks, who fixedly behold them in open and stolid opposition to centuries of Tradition (toward which they could not bow often and deeply enough at the Second Vatican Council). They open their Missales to run head-on into St. Pius V, Clement VII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, and John XXIII, the letters of whose editions of the Missale they must page through each time they wish to use it and whom they now publicly disown. They turn the pages to the names of one magnificent saint after another, who became such, by their own admission, through the Holy Mass, but whose virtue has become too irrelevant to celebrate anymore - it must be "memorialized."
Next Thursday: Chapter Six - The Burden