Sunday, January 23, 2022

The true legacy of Benedict XVI

For those who have been trying in the past few days to denigrate Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, let us remind them what he really did for the Church: 

2005: election of Benedict XVI;

2006: Lifting of declarations of excommunication from the SSPX Bishops;

2007: the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum;

2008: Canonical Erection of the Institute of the Good Shepherd;

2009: Correction of the translation of the Novus Ordo Missae imposed; 

2009: Anglicanorum Cœtibus;

2010: Doctrinal talks with SSPX begin;

2011: Instruction Universae Ecclesiae. Its main effect: overrides the bishops, who are the main problem. But this and the motu proprio re-taken back by the current holder of the Office.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Responsia ad dubia on certain provisions of Traditionis Custodes





on certain provisions of the

Apostolic Letter


issued “Motu Proprio” by the Supreme Pontiff





Your Eminence / Your Excellency,

Following the publication by Pope Francis of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” Traditionis custodes on the use of the liturgical books from prior to the reform of the Second Vatican Council, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which exercises the authority of the Apostolic See for material within its competence (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 7), received several requests for clarification on its correct application. Some questions have been raised from several quarters and with greater frequency. Therefore, after having carefully considered them, having informed the Holy Father and having received his assent, the responses to the most recurrent questions are published herewith.

The text of the Motu Proprio and the accompanying Letter to the Bishops of the whole world clearly express the reasons for the decisions taken by Pope Francis. The first aim is to continue “in the constant search for ecclesial communion” (Traditionis custodes, Preamble) which is expressed by recognising in the liturgical books promulgated by the Popes Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 1). This is the direction in which we wish to move, and this is the meaning of the responses we publish here. Every prescribed norm has always the sole purpose of preserving the gift of ecclesial communion by walking together, with conviction of mind and heart, in the direction indicated by the Holy Father.

It is sad to see how the deepest bond of unity, the sharing in the one Bread broken which is His Body offered so that all may be one (cf. Jhn 17:21), becomes a cause for division. It is the duty of the Bishops, cum Petro et sub Petro, to safeguard communion, which, as the Apostle Paul reminds us (cf. 1 Cor 11:17-34), is a necessary condition for being able to participate at the Eucharistic table.

One fact is undeniable: The Council Fathers perceived the urgent need for a reform so that the truth of the faith as celebrated might appear ever more in all its beauty, and the People of God might grow in full, active, conscious participation in the liturgical celebration (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 14), which is the present moment in the history of salvation, the memorial of the Lord’s Passover, our one and only hope.

As pastors we must not lend ourselves to sterile polemics, capable only of creating division, in which the ritual itself is often exploited by ideological viewpoints. Rather, we are all called to rediscover the value of the liturgical reform by preserving the truth and beauty of the Rite that it has given us. For this to happen, we are aware that a renewed and continuous liturgical formation is necessary both for Priests and for the lay faithful.

At the solemn closing of the second session of the Council (4 December 1963), St Paul VI said (n. 11):

“The difficult, complex debates have had rich results. They have brought one topic to a conclusion, the sacred liturgy. Treated before all others, in a sense it has priority over all others for its intrinsic dignity and importance to the life of the Church and today we will solemnly promulgate the document on the liturgy. Our spirit, therefore, exults with true joy, for in the way things have gone we note respect for a right scale of values and duties. God must hold first place; prayer to him is our first duty. The liturgy is the first source of the divine communion in which God shares his own life with us. It is also the first school of the spiritual life. The liturgy is the first gift we must make to the Christian people united to us by faith and the fervour of their prayers. It is also a primary invitation to the human race, so that all may lift their now mute voices in blessed and genuine prayer and thus may experience that indescribable, regenerative power to be found when they join us in proclaiming the praises of God and the hopes of the human heart through Christ and the Holy Spirit”.

When Pope Francis (Address to the participants in the 68th National Liturgical Week, Rome, 24 August 2017) reminds us that “after this magisterium, after this long journey, We can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible” he wants to point us to the only direction in which we are joyfully called to turn our commitment as pastors.

Let us entrust our service “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4,3), to Mary, Mother of the Church.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 4 December 2021, on the 58th anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution on the Scared Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium.

✠ Arthur Roche


The Supreme Pontiff Francis, in the course of an Audience granted to the Prefect of this Congregation on 18 November 2021, was informed of and gave his consent to the publication of these RESPONSA AD DUBIA with attached EXPLANATORY NOTES.


Traditionis custodes 

Art. 3.  Episcopus, in dioecesibus ubi adhuc unus vel plures coetus celebrant secundum Missale antecedens instaurationem anni 1970:


§ 2.      statuat unum vel plures locos ubi fideles, qui his coetibus adhaerent, convenire possint ad Eucharistiam celebrandam (nec autem in ecclesiis paroecialibus nec novas paroecias personales erigens);


To the proposed question:

When it is not possible to find a church, oratory or chapel which is available to accommodate the faithful who celebrate using the Missale Romanum (Editio typica 1962), can the diocesan Bishop ask the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for a dispensation from the provision of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes (Art. 3 § 2), and thus allow such a celebration in the parish church?

The answer is:


Explanatory note.

The Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes in art. 3 § 2 requests that the Bishop, in dioceses where up to now there has been the presence of one or more groups celebrating according to the Missal prior to the reform of 1970, “designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the Eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes)”. The exclusion of the parish church is intended to affirm that the celebration of the Eucharist according to the previous rite, being a concession limited to these groups, is not part of the ordinary life of the parish community.

This Congregation, exercising the authority of the Holy See in matters within its competence (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 7), can grant, at the request of the diocesan Bishop, that the parish church be used to celebrate according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 only if it is established that it is impossible to use another church, oratory or chapel. The assessment of this impossibility must be made with the utmost care.

Moreover, such a celebration should not be included in the parish Mass schedule, since it is attended only by the faithful who are members of the said group. Finally, it should not be held at the same time as the pastoral activities of the parish community. It is to be understood that when another venue becomes available, this permission will be withdrawn.

There is no intention in these provisions to marginalise the faithful who are rooted in the previous form of celebration: they are only meant to remind them that this is a concession to provide for their good (in view of the common use of the one lex orandi of the Roman Rite) and not an opportunity to promote the previous rite.


Traditionis custodes

 Art. 1.  Libri liturgici a sanctis Pontificibus Paulo VI et Ioanne Paulo II promulgati, iuxta decreta Concilii Vaticani II, unica expressio “legis orandi” Ritus Romani sunt.

Art. 8.  Normae, dispositiones, concessiones et consuetudines antecedentes, quae conformes non sint cum harum Litterarum Apostolicarum Motu Proprio datarum praescriptis, abrogantur.


To the proposed question:

Is it possible, according to the provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, to celebrate the sacraments with the Rituale Romanum and the Pontificale Romanum which predate the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council?

The answer is:


The diocesan Bishop is authorised to grant permission to use only the Rituale Romanum (last editio typica 1952) and not the Pontificale Romanum which predate the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. He may grant this permission only to those canonically erected personal parishes which, according to the provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962.

Explanatory note.

The Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes intends to re-establish in the whole Church of the Roman Rite a single and identical prayer expressing its unity, according to the liturgical books promulgated by the Popes Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and in line with the tradition of the Church.

The diocesan Bishop, as the moderator, promoter and guardian of all liturgical life, must work to ensure that his diocese returns to a unitary form of celebration (cf. Pope Francis, Letter to the Bishops of the whole world that accompanies the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio data Traditionis custodes).

This Congregation, exercising the authority of the Holy See in matters within its competence (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 7), affirms that, in order to make progress in the direction indicated by the Motu Proprio, it should not grant permission to use the Rituale Romanum and the Pontificale Romanum which predate the liturgical reform, these are liturgical books which, like all previous norms, instructions, concessions and customs, have been abrogated (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 8).

After discernment the diocesan Bishop is authorised to grant permission to use only the Rituale Romanum (last editio typica 1952) and not the Pontificale Romanum which predate the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. This permission is to be granted only to canonically erected personal parishes which, according to the provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962. It should be remembered that the formula for the Sacrament of Confirmation was changed for the entire Latin Church by Saint Paul VI with the Apostolic Constitution Divinæ consortium naturæ (15 August 1971).

This provision is intended to underline the need to clearly affirm the direction indicated by the Motu Proprio which sees in the liturgical books promulgated by the Saints Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 1).

In implementing these provisions, care should be taken to accompany all those rooted in the previous form of celebration towards a full understanding of the value of the celebration in the ritual form given to us by the reform of the Second Vatican Council. This should take place through an appropriate formation that makes it possible to discover how the reformed liturgy is the witness to an unchanged faith, the expression of a renewed ecclesiology, and the primary source of spirituality for Christian life.


Traditionis custodes

Art. 3.  Episcopus, in dioecesibus ubi adhuc unus vel plures coetus celebrant secundum Missale antecedens instaurationem anni 1970:

§ 1.      certior fiat coetus illos auctoritatem ac legitimam naturam instaurationis liturgicae, normarum Concilii Vaticani II Magisteriique Summorum Pontificum non excludere;


To the proposed question:

If a Priest who has been granted the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 does not recognise the validity and legitimacy of concelebration – refusing to concelebrate, in particular, at the Chrism Mass – can he continue to benefit from this concession?

The answer is:


However, before revoking the concession to use the Missale Romanum of 1962, the Bishop should take care to establish a fraternal dialogue with the Priest, to ascertain that this attitude does not exclude the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs, and to accompany him towards an understanding of the value of concelebration, particularly at the Chrism Mass.

Explanatory note.

Art. 3 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes requires the diocesan Bishop to ascertain that the groups requesting to celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962 “do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs”.

St Paul forcefully reminds the community of Corinth to live in unity as a necessary condition to be able to participate at the Eucharistic table (cf. 1 Cor 11,17-34).

In the Letter sent to the Bishops of the whole world to accompany the text of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, the Holy Father says: “Because ‘liturgical celebrations are not private actions, but celebrations of the Church, which is the sacrament of unity’ (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 26), they must be carried out in communion with the Church. Vatican Council II, while it reaffirmed the external bonds of incorporation in the Church — the profession of faith, the sacraments, of communion — affirmed with St. Augustine that to remain in the Church not only ‘with the body’ but also ‘with the heart’ is a condition for salvation (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 14)”.

The explicit refusal not to take part in concelebration, particularly at the Chrism Mass, seems to express a lack of acceptance of the liturgical reform and a lack of ecclesial communion with the Bishop, both of which are necessary requirements in order to benefit from the concession to celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962.

However, before revoking the concession to use the Missale Romanum of 1962, the Bishop should offer the Priest the necessary time for a sincere discussion on the deeper motivations that lead him not to recognise the value of concelebration, in particular in the Mass presided over by the Bishop. He should invite him to express, in the eloquent gesture of concelebration, that ecclesial communion which is a necessary condition for being able to participate at the table of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Traditionis custodes 

Art. 3.  Episcopus, in dioecesibus ubi adhuc unus vel plures coetus celebrant secundum Missale antecedens instaurationem anni 1970:


§ 3.      constituat, in loco statuto, dies quibus celebrationes eucharisticae secundum Missale Romanum a sancto Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgatum permittuntur. His in celebrationibus, lectiones proclamentur lingua vernacula, adhibitis Sacrae Scripturae translationibus ad usum liturgicum ab unaquaque Conferentia Episcoporum approbatis;


To the proposed question:

In Eucharistic celebrations using the Missale Romanum of 1962, is it possible to use the full text of the Bible for the readings, choosing the pericopes indicated in the Missal??

The answer is:


Explanatory note.

Art. 3 § 3 of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes states that the readings are to be proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of Sacred Scripture for liturgical use, approved by the respective Episcopal Conferences.

Since the texts of the readings are contained in the Missal itself, and therefore there is no separate Lectionary, and in order to observe the provisions of the Motu Proprio, one must necessarily resort to the translation of the Bible approved by the individual Bishops’ Conferences for liturgical use, choosing the pericopes indicated in the Missale Romanum of 1962.

No vernacular lectionaries may be published that reproduce the cycle of readings of the previous rite.

It should be remembered that the present Lectionary is one of the most precious fruits of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. The publication of the Lectionary, in addition to overcoming the “plenary” form of the Missale Romanum of 1962 and returning to the ancient tradition of individual books corresponding to individual ministries, fulfils the wish of Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 51: “The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s word. In this way a more representative portion of the holy scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed number of years”.


Traditionis custodes

Art. 4.  Presbyteri ordinati post has Litteras Apostolicas Motu Proprio datas promulgatas, celebrare volentes iuxta Missale Romanum anno 1962 editum, petitionem formalem Episcopo dioecesano mittere debent, qui, ante concessionem, a Sede Apostolica licentiam rogabit.


To the proposed question:

Does the diocesan Bishop have to be authorised by the Apostolic See to allow priests ordained after the publication of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes to celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962 (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 4)?

The answer is:


Explanatory note.

Article 4 of the Latin text (which is the official text to be referenced) reads as follows: «Presbyteri ordinati post has Litteras Apostolicas Motu Proprio datas promulgatas, celebrare volentes iuxta Missale Romanum anno 1962 editum, petitionem formalem Episcopo dioecesano mittere debent, qui, ante concessionem, a Sede Apostolica licentiam rogabit».

This is not merely a consultative opinion, but a necessary authorisation given to the diocesan Bishop by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which exercises the authority of the Holy See over matters within its competence. (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 7).

Only after receiving this permission will the diocesan Bishop be able to authorise Priests ordained after the publication of the Motu Proprio (16 July 2021) to celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962.

This rule is intended to assist the diocesan Bishop in evaluating such a request: his discernment will be duly taken into account by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Motu Proprio clearly expresses the desire that what is contained in the liturgical books promulgated by Popes Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, be recognised as the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite: it is therefore absolutely essential that Priests ordained after the publication of the Motu Proprio share this desire of the Holy Father.

All seminary formators, seeking to walk with solicitude in the direction indicated by Pope Francis, are encouraged to accompany future Deacons and Priests to an understanding and experience of the richness of the liturgical reform called for by the Second Vatican Council. This reform has enhanced every element of the Roman Rite and has fostered - as hoped for by the Council Fathers - the full, conscious and active participation of the entire People of God in the liturgy (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium no. 14), the primary source of authentic Christian spirituality.


Traditionis custodes

Art. 5.  Presbyteri, qui iam secundum Missale Romanum anno 1962 editum celebrant, ab Episcopo dioecesano licentiam rogabunt ad hanc facultatem servandam.


To the proposed question:

Can the faculty to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962 be granted ad tempus?

The answer is:


Explanatory note.

The possibility of granting the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 for a defined period of time - the duration of which the diocesan Bishop will consider appropriate - is not only possible but also recommended: the end of the defined period offers the possibility of ascertaining that everything is in harmony with the direction established by the Motu Proprio. The outcome of this assessment can provide grounds for prolonging or suspending the permission.


To the proposed question:

Does the faculty granted by the diocesan Bishop to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962 only apply to the territory of his own diocese?

The answer is:




To the proposed question:

If the authorised Priest is absent or unable to attend, must the person replacing him also have formal authorisation?

The answer is:



To the proposed question:

Do Deacons and instituted ministers participating in celebrations using the Missale Romanum of 1962 have to be authorised by the diocesan Bishop?

The answer is:



To the proposed question:

Can a Priest who is authorised to celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962 and who, because of his office (Parish Priest, chaplain, etc.), also celebrates on weekdays with the Missale Romanum of the reform of the Second Vatican Council, binate using the Missale Romanum of 1962?

The answer is:


Explanatory note.

The Parish Priest or chaplain who - in the fulfilment of his office - celebrates on weekdays with the current Missale Romanum, which is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, cannot binate by celebrating with the Missale Romanum of 1962, either with a group or privately.

It is not possible to grant bination on the grounds that there is no “just cause” or “pastoral necessity” as required by canon 905 §2: the right of the faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist is in no way denied, since they are offered the possibility of participating in the Eucharist in its current ritual form.

To the proposed question:

Can a Priest who is authorised to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962 celebrate on the same day with the same Missal for another group of faithful who have received authorisation?

The answer is:


Explanatory note.

It is not possible to grant bination on the grounds that there is no “just cause” or “pastoral necessity” as required by canon 905 §2: the right of the faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist is in no way denied, since they are offered the possibility of participating in the Eucharist in its current ritual form.

EXCLUSIVE: Some details about Pope Francis' visit to Malta

Archbishop Scicluna writes Pope Francis tribute for Time Magazine's 100  Most Influential People edition 

This Blog is pleased to announce that some details of Pope Francis' visit to Malta next year are being made available below to our readers. It is however important to stress that although a draft programme has been made available to us, it is our belief that such details are best left to the Church and Government to publish when they deem appropriate

Our source in the Vatican confirmed that the dates - although preferable to the Holy See to coincide with the feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck in Malta - depend to a large extent on the general elections due to be held in Malta in 2022. 

It is the wish of the current Pontiff to visit churches that were not visited in past Papal visits to Malta by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

However, the choices being currently considered, namely those of the churches of Fgura (Madonna tal-Karmnu) and Naxxar (Santwarju Ġesù Ħniena Divina - San Pawl tat-Tarġa) seem to be problematic from a logistics point of view.  Still, according to our source, the Pope wants to visit churches that architecturally reflect Vatican Council II and Mercy. 

Also, the current pandemic seems to preclude large mass gatherings. Therefore, Open Mass in Floriana is currently being excluded. However, consideration is being given to Ta' Qali National Stadium, due to seating possibilities.

For the rest, the visit to Gozo is still to be confirmed although Cardinal Mario Grech is pushing hard for it to be included. A migrants centre is also included in the visit.

St. Basil's economy of silence


The example of St. Basil of Caesarea shows that, even in a doctrinal crisis of the Church, the steadfast profession and defense of the Faith is not incompatible with a prudential attitude, seeking an accommodation with those who are in error—a practical, realistic approach, aimed at bringing them back to orthodoxy, while preserving the souls entrusted to us.

This article by Fr. Juan-Carlos Iscara (a professor of history at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota) first appeared on on March 9, 2012.

In the face of heresy: St. Basil's "economy of silence"

In the fourth century, St. Basil, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, confronted a hornets’ nest of theological controversy. The Pneumatomachian heresy, an offshoot of Arianism, denied the consubstantiality (homoousia) of the Holy Ghost. The Arians themselves held that the Son was a creature of the Father and the creator of all other things, and so it was only logical for them to consider the Holy Ghost as a creature of the Son. At the same time, some “conservative” semi-Arians, who believed the Son was of a similar nature (homoiousios) to the Father, and the Anomoeans, who denied any such similarity in nature, began explicitly teaching that the Holy Ghost was simply a higher-ranking angel. Even among orthodox Catholics, some considered the term “consubstantial” to be suspect, because not of biblical origin, and opposed its use by the Council of Nicaea on these grounds.

Faced with this situation, St. Basil, while never yielding to error or denying the orthodox belief, carefully avoided the use of the term “consubstantial” (homoousios) in his discussions with heretics. Simply employing this word aroused immediate opposition and effectively ended any effort at discussion or proselytism. Therefore, in order not to burn down the bridges, Basil approached the question of the Holy Ghost’s divinity obliquely. He made use of the terms “community of nature” (physike koinonia) and especially “equality of honor” (homotimia). Each amount to the same meaning as “consubstantial,” since equal dignity and honor with the Father and the Son necessarily presupposes identity of substance. Thus, the traditional doxology implies the Holy Ghost’s divinity; one who is not God cannot be equal to God in dignity. Though his tactic avoided direct controversy, Basil made every effort to answer even insignificant objections with meticulous exactitude. He wanted not only to oppose the error, but also to bring as many heretics as possible back to orthodoxy.

In a letter addressed to the clergy of Tarsus, Basil explained the motives and general attitude that guided his discussions with heretics. In it, he shows his doctrinal orthodoxy, his realistic understanding of the concrete situation, both his own and that of his church of Caesarea, and his zeal and prudence in seeking a solution for the greater good of souls and the preservation of his church:

The present time shows a great inclination toward the destruction of the churches […]. Further, as to the building up of the Church, the correction of errors, compassion toward the weak among the brethren, and protection for those who are sound—not one of these things exists.[…]


Therefore, there is need of great zeal and great care in such a time, so that the churches may receive some benefit. And it is a benefit to those hitherto separated to be united. Moreover, there would be union, if we would be willing to accommodate ourselves to the weaker in whatever matters do not harm to souls.


[…] We ask you to receive in communion those who do not say that the Holy Ghost is a creature, in order that blasphemers may be left alone, and that either being ashamed they may return to the truth, or continuing in their sin may be held unworthy of credit because of their small number.


Therefore, let us seek for nothing more, but hold out to the brethren who wish to be united with us the Creed of Nicaea; and, if they agree with it, let us require further that they must not say that the Holy Ghost is a creature, nor be in communion with those who say it.


But I think that we should demand nothing beyond this. In fact, I am convinced that by a longer association and an experience together without strife, even if it should be necessary to add more for the purpose of explanation, the Lord who makes all things work together unto good for those who love Him will grant it."[1]


This is what St. Athanasius and St. Gregory of Nazianzus called the “economy” of St. Basil. Nonetheless, this method met with fierce opposition from many who otherwise shared Basil’s orthodox belief, as it is clear from his own description of the situation.

What storm at sea was ever so fierce and wild as this tempest of the churches? [...] Every foundation, every bulwark of opinion has been shaken […]. We attack one another. We are overthrown by one another, [and] if our enemy is not the first to strike us, we are wounded by the comrade at our side."


For, in spite of his explanations, St. Basil’s attitude led to the questioning of his orthodoxy by some firebrands who, disregarding his pastoral approach and themselves risking much less than he, demanded a total, uncompromising exposition of the truth—that is, a more outspoken declaration of his belief in the divinity of the Holy Ghost. As his friend St. Gregory of Nazianzus reported in a letter:

Many people have accused us of not being firm in matters of faith—people who sincerely share our concerns. Some accuse us openly of sacrilegious opinions, others of cowardice: of sacrilege, those who think we are no longer in a healthy state of mind; of cowardice, those who charge us with concealing our real thoughts. […] I shall tell you what recently happened.


There was a party, and among the guests present were not a few distinguished people who are our friends; one of them belongs to those who bear both the name and the garb of piety.[2] […] The conversation turned to you and me, as often happens […]. But while everyone admired your way of governing, and spoke, in addition, of our having shared a philosophic life—spoke of our friendship and of Athens, and of our agreement and like-mindedness on every subject — the so-called philosopher became indignant. “What is all this, my friends?” he said, crying out in an insolent way.


You are such liars and flatterers! Let these gentlemen be praised for their other qualities, if you like, and I will make no objection; but I will not grant the most important quality. Basil is wrongly praised for orthodoxy—and Gregory wrongly, as well! The one betrays the faith by the public discourses he holds, the other is an accomplice in the betrayal by not objecting! […] I heard the great Basil speaking excellent and perfect things about the divinity of the Father and the Son, as no one else could easily do, but gliding past the Spirit […].


Then he said, turning to me, 'And why on earth do you, my friend, speak so openly of the Spirit as God […] while he [St. Basil] plays down the fact in murky expressions, and only lays out doctrine in a sketchy way. He will not speak the truth frankly, but bathes our ears in language more political than pious, concealing the ambiguity in the power of his words.” “Since I live in obscurity,” I said, "and am unknown to most people, and since both what I do say and the fact that I say anything at all is hardly noticed, I can be a philosopher without risk. But his pronouncements are more important, since he is better known both on his own account and on account of his Church. Everything he says is public, and a great war is going on about him; the heretics are eager to criticize a simple word, let alone Basil himself, so that he might be expelled from the Church—he who remains virtually the only spark of truth, the force of life, while everyone around him is tainted with heresy—and that this evil might take root in the city, and then, using this Church as a kind of base of operations, overrun the whole world.'


The better path, then, for us is that the truth be managed prudently, that we yield a bit to our times as one would to a cloud, rather than let the truth be destroyed by the bright clarity of our proclamation.[3] For us, after all, there is no harm in recognizing the Spirit as God through other expressions that lead in that direction—for truth is found less in sounds than in the understanding; but for the Church, there will be a great loss if truth is put to flight through the defeat of a single man!"[4]


Although many objected to this idea of “prudent management” of the truth, to his “economy” of silence, “which seemed to them a vapid way of playing with words” and “cowardice rather than doctrine,”[5] St. Basil felt that answering these charges against him was beneath his dignity.

Nonetheless, many of his friends took up his defense. For example, St. Athanasius wrote to the presbyter Palladius, encouraging obedience and suggesting that God should be praised on account of St. Basil’s great goal and his “economy.”[6]

[…] I have learned from our beloved Dianius that [the monks at Caesarea] are vexed, and are opposing our beloved bishop Basil […]. I have pointed out to them what is fitting, namely that as children they should obey their father, and not oppose what he approves.


For if he were suspected as touching the truth, they would do well to combat him. But if they are confident, as we all are, that he is a glory to the Church, contending rather on behalf of the truth and teaching those who require it, it is not right to combat such a man, but rather to accept with thanks his good conscience. For from what the beloved Dianius has related, they appear to be vexed without cause. For he, as I am confident, to the weak becomes weak to gain the weak.


But let our beloved friends look at the scope of his truth, and at his special purpose, and glorify the Lord Who has given such a bishop to Cappadocia as any district must pray to have. And do you, beloved, be good enough to point out to them the duty of obeying, as I write. For this is at once calculated to render them well disposed toward their father, and will preserve peace to the churches […]”[7]


It is beyond any doubt that St. Basil’s hesitation and “economy” with the truth were dictated by prudential reasons, pastoral and canonical, and not by theological ones.

His reticence to call the Holy Ghost “God” in his treatise De Spiritu Sancto is based on the fact that the Council of Nicaea itself didn’t use the term—and St. Basil considered that he had to loyally submit to the canonical function and superiority of the ecumenical council:

We are not able to add anything at all to the Nicene Creed, not the slightest thing, except the glorification of the Holy Spirit, because our Fathers made mention of this part cursorily, since at that time no inquiry had yet been stirred up regarding it [...]."[8]


Moreover, he never called the Holy Ghost homoousion because the terms homoousios and ousia, of philosophical and not biblical origin, were used primarily for material and created substance. The heretics even used these words to support their theory of the subordinate status of the Holy Ghost. In addition, a more open declaration of doctrine would have only poured oil on the fire.

The Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople at last decided the controversy. It adjourned in 381, two years after Basil’s death, having made some important additions to the third article of the Nicene Creed:

We believe… in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and life-giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified, Who spoke through the prophets..."[9]


Although not using St. Basil’s exact words, the Council effectively expressed his conceptions, affirming the belief in divine nature of the Holy Ghost, who must be worshiped and glorified together with the Father and the Son, and, without explicitly calling Him “God,” emphasized His divine operations as the giver of life and the one who reveals through the prophets.

Thus, St. Basil’s teaching and “economic” attitude—both prudent and patient—opened the way for the final resolution of the theological uncertainties and the end of the heresy.


Daley, Brian, SJ. Gregory of Nazianzus. London: Routledge, 2006.

Rousseau, Philip. Basil of Caesarea. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Tsirpanlis, Constantine N. Some reflections on St. Basil’s pneumatology: The “economy” of silence. in: Kleronomia, 13. Thessaloniki: 1981.

Young, Frances M. From Nicaea to Chalcedon: A guide to the literature and its background. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010.


1 Basil of Caesarea, Letter 113. FC (Fathers of the Church), vol. 13, pp. 239-240.

I.e., a monk.

Patrologia Graeca (Migne) 37, col. 115: “Praestat, itaque oeconomiam quandam ad veritatem adhibitam fuisse, nobis videlicet tempori, quasi nebulae quidam, nonnihil cedentibus, quam u tea ob praedicationis perspicuitatem opprimeretur.”

4 Gregory of Nazianzus, Letter 58, in Daley, pp. 179-180.

5 The same letter, in ibidem.

Cf. Tsirpanlis.

7 Athanasius, Letter 53, to Palladius.

8 Basil, Letter 258, to Epiphanius, bishop of Cyprus. FC, vol.28, II, pp.218-219. Cf. also Tsirpanlis.

9 Kelly, J. N. D. Early Christian Creeds. New York: McKay, 1972. p.298.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

R.I.P. to pro-life Catholic British M.P. murdered by an Islamist


Murdered British Pro-Life Catholic Politician David Amess Remembered for Building Bridges With the Holy See

Sir David Amess was always 'working on issues to strengthen ties,’ says former British ambassador to the Holy See Francis Campbell.

(T-L) David Amess with Pope Francis in 2015. (T-R) Sir David Amess on the far left next to Lord Alton with St. Teresa of Calcutta 1988. (B-L) Meeting with Cardinal Burke in 2015.  (B-R) Sir David Amess meeting Benedict during the first visit of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, March 2006.
(T-L) David Amess with Pope Francis in 2015. (T-R) Sir David Amess on the far left next to Lord Alton with St. Teresa of Calcutta 1988. (B-L) Meeting with Cardinal Burke in 2015. (B-R) Sir David Amess meeting Benedict during the first visit of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, March 2006. (photo: Courtesy photos / to Life UK/APPG)

VATICAN CITY — Sir David Amess, who was tragically killed on Friday in a knife attack in England, was a committed pro-life British politician whose death has also shocked many in Rome where he is well remembered for his timely work to improve U.K.-Holy See relations. 

The 69-year-old devout Catholic father of five and one of Britain’s longest-serving parliamentarians made frequent visits to the Vatican as founder and chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See. 

The group, which he created in 2006 at a time when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office planned to cut back and possibly even close its embassy to the Holy See, is made up of politicians of different faiths and backgrounds. It was the first such parliamentary group in the world and continues to this day.

The group is especially credited with helping to pave the way for Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to Britain in 2010, and in particular Benedict’s historic address to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. It then helped secure a return visit of British government ministers to the Vatican the following year.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster recalled this in his tribute on Friday, saying the British Conservative politician fostered “this mutually respectful relationship” between the U.K. and the Holy See through meetings with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, and other Catholic leaders. 

“His contribution,” the cardinal said, “is both esteemed and will be sorely missed.” 

Francis Campbell, who worked closely with Amess as Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See from 2005 to 2011, told the Register that “he did so much to help build ties and one of his proudest moments was to see Pope Benedict.” He added that Amess was “a great builder of relationships across parliament and was so supportive of [Benedict XVI’s] visit.” 

“David was such a kind and generous person who gave so much,” Campbell said. “He was so jovial and engaged, always building bridges and working on issues to strengthen ties. His loss will be greatly felt.” 

Defender of Life and the Persecuted

Meeting him in Rome in 2007, Amess told me he was a “born optimist” and that he remained positive that legislation in favor of human embryo research and abortion could be defeated. He believed this despite proponents greatly outnumbering the opposition and the fact that Gordon Brown, no friend to the pro-life cause, had just become Prime Minister. 

In that interview, Amess revealed his pro-life conviction and determination to defend the voiceless in politics, lamenting how there had been “less and less interest in terms of the sanctity of life.” 

“From my point of view, I cannot see why anyone comes into parliament unless they recognize that life is all-important,” Amess said. “We, as parliamentarians, have our own concepts on the way we wish to create an environment in which people live, but life itself should be everything that motivates us.”

He went on to say that he remained “puzzled why a number of parliamentarians still cannot accept that life is sacred and that it’s up to the ‘mother of all parliaments’ to protect life in law.” 

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK, said Amess was a “passionate and dedicated patron of our charity” and “a pro-life champion” (see his pro-life voting record here). 

“Since he was elected in 1983, he always, where possible, used his position as an MP to stand up for the vulnerable, including championing initiatives to introduce more protections for unborn babies and more support for women facing crisis pregnancies,” Robinson said. 

He also voted against assisted suicide, telling fellow parliamentarians in a 2015 debate on the subject: “We all came into politics to help improve people’s lives. I, along with all colleagues, want to assist people to live, so I urge the House to reject this bill.”

Amess’ commitment to religious liberty and his defense of persecuted Christians were also remembered. Fiona Bruce, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s special envoy for religious freedom, said he “was always faithfully pro-life and faithfully pro family. A dear man with a humble manner and a gentle humor which built friendships across the House. The phrase ‘will be sorely missed’ can be overused, but not with reference to David.”

“His death is an attack against parliamentary democracy in this country but more importantly, is a devastating blow to his wife and children and all who knew and respected him and his achievements,” he said. 

‘Indescribably Sad’

The Catholic pro-life peer Lord David Alton, a longstanding friend and parliamentary colleague of Amess, said he heard the news “with profound sorrow” and recalled that just a few weeks earlier, they shared a platform at the launch of Amess’ book Ayes & Ears documenting his political career spanning nearly 40 years. 

“Typically of David, the proceeds of the book were dedicated to three charities: Endometriosis UK, Prost8 and the Leigh-based Music Man Project,” he said. 

“Notwithstanding all the good in the world, we still have the capacity to do truly evil things,” Lord Alton added. “This horrific attack has not only robbed David of his life, but its reverberations will have devastating consequences for his family and loved ones. My thoughts are with Julia and their children. May he now rest in peace.”

Another close parliamentary friend and colleague, Ann Widdecombe, told the Register: “David was a faithful servant of the Lord and a huge source of inspiration to so many colleagues.” A godmother to one of Amess’ children, Widdecombe added: “He will be achingly missed.”

Sir Christian Sweeting, a friend of Amess within the Conservative Party, told the Register, “David was always smiling, he was full of kindness, humor and unstinting in his compassion for others, especially the disadvantaged and the voiceless. 

“It’s indescribably sad that he should fall victim to such a misguided and brutal act. He will be remembered as a great Parliamentarian and as a tremendous humanitarian. My deepest sympathies and prayers are with his family and those who loved and knew him.”  

Original source: 

Farewell fellow pro-life and animal rights champion! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Cardinal Mueller on the New TLM Restrictions

The pope’s intention with his motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, is to secure or restore the unity of the Church. The proposed means for this is the total unification of the Roman Rite in the form of the Missal of Paul VI (including its subsequent variations). Therefore, the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as introduced by Pope Benedict XVI with Summorum pontificum (2007) on the basis of the Missal that existed from Pius V (1570) to John XXIII (1962), has been drastically restricted. The clear intent is to condemn the Extraordinary Form to extinction in the long run. In his “Letter to the Bishops of the Whole World,” which accompanies the motu proprio, Pope Francis tries to explain the motives that have caused him, as the bearer of the supreme authority of the Church, to limit the liturgy in the extraordinary form. Beyond the presentation of his subjective reactions, however, a stringent and logically comprehensible theological argumentation would also have been appropriate. For papal authority does not consist in superficially demanding from the faithful mere obedience, i.e., a formal submission of the will, but, much more essentially, in enabling the faithful also to be convinced with consent of the mind. As St. Paul, courteous towards his often quite unruly Corinthians, said, “in the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in tongues.” (1 Cor 14:19) This dichotomy between good intention and poor execution always arises where the objections of competent employees are perceived as an obstruction of their superiors’ intentions, and which are, therefore, not even offered. As welcome as the references to Vatican II may be, care must be taken to ensure that the Council’s statements are used precisely and in context. The quotation from St. Augustine about membership in the Church “according to the body” and “according to the heart” (Lumen Gentium 14) refers to the full Church membership of the Catholic faith. It consists in the visible incorporation into the body of Christ (creedal, sacramental, ecclesiastical-hierarchical communion) as well as in the union of the heart, i.e. in the Holy Spirit. What this means, however, is not obedience to the pope and the bishops in the discipline of the sacraments, but sanctifying grace, which fully involves us in the invisible Church as communion with the Triune God. For the unity in the confession of the revealed faith and the celebration of the mysteries of grace in the seven sacraments by no means require sterile uniformity in the external liturgical form, as if the Church were like one of the international hotel chains with their homogenous design. The unity of believers with one another is rooted in unity in God through faith, hope, and love and has nothing to do with uniformity in appearance, the lockstep of a military formation, or the groupthink of the big-tech age. Even after the Council of Trent, there always was a certain diversity (musical, celebratory, regional) in the liturgical organization of Masses. The intention of Pope Pius V was not to suppress the variety of rites, but rather to curb the abuses that had led to a devastating lack of understanding among the Protestant Reformers regarding the substance of the sacrifice of the Mass (its Sacrificial character and Real Presence). In the Missal of Paul VI, ritualistic (rubricist) homogenization is broken up, precisely in order to overcome a mechanical execution in favor of an inner and outer active participation of all believers in their respective languages and cultures. The unity of the Latin rite, however, should be preserved through the same basic liturgical structure and the precise orientation of the translations to the Latin original. The Roman Church must not pass on its responsibility for unity in cult to the Bishops’ Conferences. Rome must oversee translation of the normative texts of the Missal of Paul VI, and even of the biblical texts, that might obscure the contents of the faith. Presumptions that one may “improve” the verba domini (e.g. pro multis – “for many” – at the consecration, the et ne nos inducas in tentationem – “and lead us not into temptation” – in the Our Father), contradict the truth of the faith and the unity of the Church much more than celebrating Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII. The key to a Catholic understanding of the liturgy lies in the insight that the substance of the sacraments is given to the Church as a visible sign and means of the invisible grace by virtue of divine law, but that it is up to the Apostolic See and, in accordance with the law, to the bishops to order the external form of the liturgy (insofar as it has not already existed since apostolic times). (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22 § 1) The provisions of Traditionis Custodes are of a disciplinary, not dogmatic nature and can be modified again by any future pope. Naturally, the pope, in his concern for the unity of the Church in the revealed faith, is to be fully supported when the celebration of Holy Mass according to the Missal of 1962 is an expression of resistance to the authority of Vatican II, which is to say, when the doctrine of the faith and the Church’s ethics are relativized or even denied in the liturgical and pastoral order. * In Traditionis Custodes, the pope rightly insists on the unconditional recognition of Vatican II. Nobody can call himself a Catholic who either wants to go back behind Vatican II (or any other council recognized by the pope) as the time of the “true” Church or wants to leave that Church behind as an intermediate step towards a “new Church.” One may measure Pope Francis’ will to return to unity the deplored so-called “traditionalists” (i.e., those opposed to the Missal of Paul VI) against the degree of his determination to put an end to the innumerable “progressivist” abuses of the liturgy (renewed in accordance with Vatican II) that are tantamount to blasphemy. The paganization of the Catholic liturgy – which is in its essence nothing other than the worship of the One and Triune God – through the mythologization of nature, the idolatry of environment and climate, as well as the Pachamama spectacle, were rather counterproductive for the restoration and renewal of a dignified and orthodox liturgy reflective of the fulness of the Catholic faith. Nobody can turn a blind eye to the fact that even those priests and laypeople who celebrate Mass according to the order of the Missal of St. Paul VI are now being widely decried as traditionalist. The teachings of Vatican II on the uniqueness of redemption in Christ, the full realization of the Church of Christ in the Catholic Church, the inner essence of the Catholic liturgy as adoration of God and mediation of grace, Revelation and its presence in Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, the infallibility of the magisterium, the primacy of the pope, the sacramentality of the Church, the dignity of the priesthood, the holiness and indissolubility of marriage – all these are being heretically denied in open contradiction to Vatican II by a majority of German bishops and lay functionaries (even if disguised under pastoral phrases). And despite all the apparent enthusiasm they express for Pope Francis, they are flatly denying the authority conferred on him by Christ as the successor of Peter. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document about the impossibility of legitimizing same-sex and extramarital sexual contacts through a blessing is ridiculed by German (and not only German) bishops, priests, and theologians as merely the opinion of under-qualified curial officials. Here we have a threat to the unity of the Church in revealed faith, reminiscent of the size of the Protestant secession from Rome in the sixteenth century. Given the disproportion between the relatively modest response to the massive attacks on the unity of the church in the German “Synodal Way” (as well as in other pseudo-reforms) and the harsh disciplining of the old ritual minority, the image of the misguided fire brigade comes to mind, which – instead of saving the blazing house – instead first saves the small barn next to it. Without the slightest empathy, one ignores the religious feelings of the (often young) participants in the Masses according to the Missal John XXIII. (1962) Instead of appreciating the smell of the sheep, the shepherd here hits them hard with his crook. It also seems simply unjust to abolish celebrations of the “old” rite just because it attracts some problematic people: abusus non tollit usum. What deserves special attention in Traditionis Custodes is the use of the axiom lex orandi-lex credendi (“Rule of prayer – rule of faith”). This phrase appears first in the anti-Pelagian Indiculus (“Against superstitions and paganism”) which spoke about “the sacraments of priestly prayers, handed down by the apostles to be celebrated uniformly all over the world and in the entire Catholic Church, so that the rule of prayer is the rule of faith.” (Denzinger Hünermann, Enchiridion symbolorum 3) This refers to the substance of the sacraments (in signs and words) but not the liturgical rite, of which there were several (with different variants) in the patristic era. One cannot simply declare the latest missal to be the only valid norm of the Catholic faith without distinguishing between the “part that is unchangeable by virtue of divine institution and the parts that are subject to change.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 21). The changing liturgical rites do not represent a different faith, but rather testify to the one and the same Apostolic Faith of the Church in its different expressions. The pope’s letter confirms that he allows the celebration according to the older form under certain conditions. He rightly points to the centrality of the Roman canon in the more recent Missal as the heart of the Roman rite. This guarantees the crucial continuity of the Roman liturgy in its essence, organic development, and inner unity. To be sure, one expects the lovers of the ancient liturgy to recognize the renewed liturgy; just as the followers of the Paul VI Missal also have to confess that the Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII is a true and valid Catholic liturgy, that is, it contains the substance of the Eucharist instituted by Christ and, therefore, there is and can only be “the one Mass of all times.” A little more knowledge of Catholic dogmatics and the history of the liturgy could counteract the unfortunate formation of opposing parties and also save the bishops from the temptation to act in an authoritarian, loveless, and narrow-minded manner against the supporters of the “old” Mass. The bishops are appointed as shepherds by the Holy Spirit: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20, 28) They are not merely representatives of a central office – with opportunities for advancement. The good shepherd can be recognized by the fact that he worries more about the salvation of souls than recommending himself to a higher authority by subservient “good behavior.” (1 Peter 5, 1-4) If the law of non-contradiction still applies, one cannot logically castigate careerism in the Church and at the same time promote careerists. Let us hope that the Congregations for Religious and for Divine Worship, with their new authority, do not become inebriated by power and think they have to wage a campaign of destruction against the communities of the old rite – in the foolish belief that by doing so they are rendering a service to the Church and promoting Vatican II. If Traditionis Custodes is to serve the unity of the church, that can only mean a unity in faith, which enables us to “come to the perfect knowledge of the Son of God,” which is to say unity in truth and love. (cf. Eph 4, 12-15). _____ Translated from the German by Robert Royal with Msgr. Hans Feichtinger *Image: Pope Francis celebrates Mass ad orientem for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord in 2016. (Credit: CTV) Original article appeared on "The Catholic Thing".