Rorate Caeli

The shadow of Ecclesia Dei

A guest-post by 
Côme de Prévigny


In Rome, the Traditionalist question is as intense as that of the commission that guides it, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and the structural evolution of the latter would alone account for tens of pages. Appearing sometimes as a bureau attached to a congregation, it is at times guided by a Cardinal, sometimes by a simple monsignor, this time by an Archbishop. The hierarchy that is above it may reveal itself as coercive, or it may seem, in other cases, purely symbolic. What is the role played by the couple Müller - Di Noia in this commission whose goal is, on the one hand, to deal with the relations of the Holy See with the Society of Saint Pius X, and, on the other, to preside over the fate of the regularized traditional world.?

Ten years ago, everyone saw in Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos the true masters of these questions. Holding both positions of Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, this typically Latin prelate left the first one to be exclusively in charge of the second. The task was not small insofar as Benedict XVI had some weeks earlier received Bp. Fellay, superior general of the Society of Saint Pius X, in order to proceed "by stages" towards a resolution of the disagreement with Écône. Following the departure of Cardinal Castrillón, Mgr. Guido Pozzo, though a simple secretary, and under the tutelage of a Prefect, seemed to be, from 2009 onwards, the true contact of the Society. Pope Ratzinger entrusted this dossier that was very dear to him to those who were close, his former coworkers at the Holy Office, even though Cardinal Levada - officially President of Ecclesia Dei - was not daily in charge of the matter. Should we think that the balance has remained the same once these two prelates were replaced?

All seems to point in this direction. Abp. Müller is, as his predecessor, essentially overwhelmed by the enormous Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Ecclesia Dei is but a satellite. On the other hand, the man responsible full-time for the dossier is not a simple priest anymore (as current Abp. Pozzo when in Ecclesia Dei), but an Archbishop. Moreover, he is not only the secretary, he has the title of Vice-President. Abp. Di Noia had been up to then the secretary of a dicastery almost as prestigious as Doctrine of the Faith, that of Divine Worship, and all seemes to indicate that he would be placed at the helm of a great Roman office - some seemed to see him even replacing Cardinal Levada. The fact that he was named only a few days before Abp. Müller seems to strongly indicate that the Ecclesia Dei dossier was conspicuously removed from the latter in order to be entrusted de facto to a person with the appropriate stature and to defuse the nomination of the bishop of Ratisbon, very badly viewed in the Traditionalist milieux regarding which he had made multiple blunders.

Since then, several signs seem to reflect the division of tasks.

  • 1. Throughout summer, Abp. Müller granted several interviews in which he mentioned the question of the Society. In one of them, he firmly foresees that "there will be no compromise" on the Council, adding that he does not "think there will be new discussions" with the Society. This firmness seems to be contradicted by the content of the communiqué of the Ecclesia Dei commission, dated from October 27, which contrariwise invites "to patience, serenity, perseverance, and trust" in the discussions between the Holy See and the work founded by Abp. Lefebvre. Apparently, the thinking of the titular president does not seem to have been considered in the writing of the declarations of the commission...
  • 2. On November 3, a group of associations attached to the Traditional Missal organized a Pontifical Mass in Saint Peter's, Rome. Evidently, faced with such an event, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei was particularly involved with it, and its members could hardly miss this gathering. Abp. Di Noia and his several assistants were in the long procession that marched towards the altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. However, a significant member was missing, because the titular president, Abp. Müller, was not present at this ceremony.
  • 3. On November 19, in the morning, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed in his private library all the members of the Ecclesia Dei Commission? All of them? Not exactly, because its president, that is, Abp. Müller, was missing, and one could simply forget that he was a part of it.

In the very heart of Ecclesia Dei, its president seems to be but a shadow. What consequence does this have for the work of the Commission? At the moment, nothing is written. The signs seem to contradict the facts. What is certain is that the autonomy of the Castrillón era at least had the merit of being clear.

22 comments:

John McFarland said...

So:

The way ++Mueller has played the bad cop makes it impossible for ++DiNoia to play the good cop, except being available to graciously accept the SSPX's surrender to Vatican II.

That leaves ++DeNoia with very little to do besides attend the liturgical and other activities of the "full communion' traditionalists. His months-long silence seems consistent with this.

No doubt he will sooner or later convene a meeting with the SSPX; but he's not likely to be in any hurry, since it won't serve any purpose but to reaffirm the Vatican's commitment to Dialogue, notwithstanding ++Mueller's having drawn a very clear line in the sand, and the SSPX's very clear refusal to cross that line over to the Pope and Abp. Mueller's side.

Didimaya said...

It may be unfortunate that Abp. Mueller did not attend the Ecclesia Dei meeting, but his views on accepting the Council reflect the same views as the Pope.

And why should Come de Previgny have concerns about Abp. Mueller not being as "hands on" as former Ecclesia Dei superiors? It's not as if the SSPX will ever reconcile. They want nothing to do with Ecclesia Dei.

But, in business as usual, the SSPX (or in this case, Come de Previgny) is ALWAYS looking to the faults of others, in order to place blame. The SSPX, it is assumed, is always clean and blameless.

I am not Spartacus said...

Unless the Abp. gets a Twitter account, these questions may never be sorted out.

A tweet reconciling the SSPX with Rome - it is was is needed during Advent

PEH said...

Personally I favor Cardinal Hoyos as Prefect of the CDF and Head of the Ecclesia Dei Commission because it seems that he, at least, knows the difference between dogma and heresy. Of course, we don't have any voice or control over these appointments.

But the real problem, it seems to me, is the bureaucratic nature of things in the curia. Unless the Pope himself speaks, we don't seem to have a clear message. As far as relations with the FSSPX are concerned, I think Cardinal Hoyos had a better grip on things and dealt more favorably with +Fellay. ++Muller is a disaster IMO. ++DiNoia is a fence-sitter, again, IMO.

Does Cardinal Bertone have any prominent role in these curial (maybe curious is a better word)appointments? If he does, I see a problem and one that won't go away soon. There is definitely an anti-traditionalist bias present in the curia.

Oliver said...

The Society will have to dilute its conditions for entry further if it wishes to by-pass these new Roman road blocks. But there is no hurry and the Society can liberalise slowly so as not to alarm the flock. Too slow though for the current Roman incumbent to claim he had beaten the Lefebvrists .... a lifetime goal!

LeonG said...

Indeed, it cannot liberalise otherwise it will fragment. The worst possible pathway to take is to succumb to liberal modernist legerte-de-main. The Holy Mass in Latin needs to be proected against hybridisation. The SSPX will provide a formidable barrier to the next stage of liturgical deconstruction by this modernist church authority.

authoressaurus said...

The council must (and will - partly it already has) die the death of historical irrelevance. That's pretty much the beginning and the end of it.

Matthew said...

Neither Mueller nor DeNoia ever had any affection or interest in the TLM; I don't think that either of them even knows how to celebrate it. This is one of the biggest problems. Men like Cardinal Hoyos certainly did and it was a tremendous help albeit in a different time and with different conditions.

I have no idea what kind of man (or theologian for that matter) Mueller is but DeNoia has never impressed me. He is kind of like a dottering old lady at the altar and in the pulpit. He enjoyed being stroked as the orthodox Dominican when at Catholic University but again, was never really into anything that the readers of this blog would deem "traditional". He is in way over when it comes to any kind of negotiation with the SSPX.

Bill said...

Mr McFarland could have made an even stronger case. It is not merely Abp Mueller but the Pope himself who has drawn a line the SSPX has said it can not cross, at least if Bp Fellay's testimony is to be believed.

Abp DiNoia mentioned, in that first interview, that his task was to find a formula which the SSPX and the Church could both abide. But the Pope has seemingly already demanded agreement with a particular formula which the SSPX has already rejected.

So, what is there to do? Are the PCED and SSPX going to spend their time trying to come up with a definition of the word "accept" which would permit the SSPX to accept VII while, you know, rejecting it? To use an example Bp Fellay once did, would it be enough for the SSPX to say "we accept that VII has the same authority as a homily from 1965." Would they be permitted to say that the Catechism has the same authority as a homily from the 80s?

Also, it is hard for me to see why it is important to think about Abp Mueller's role. His appointment may be a further signal of the Pope's unwillingness to give the SSPX what they want, but we already know of this unwillingness from the direct testimony of Bp Fellay, no?

PCED has other items in its portfolio, though. Will it pressure diocesan bishops to live up to the promises of Summorum Pontificum? Will it apply more or less pressure on traditionalists to become more Novus Ordo friendly?

LeonG said...

Matthew

To be honest and fair, neither does the pope other than to use its finer points to inject some Catholicism into the NO liturgy. He will never say The Latin Mass as pope because he is not interested in it as such and prefers the NO. As a matter of justice he has clarified its place in Roman Catholic liturgical tradition and wants to merge it with the vernacular rite. Thus, he also has a functionalist perspective upon it.

Anil Wang said...

Bill said "[Abp DiNoia] task was to find a formula which the SSPX and the Church could both abide. But the Pope has seemingly already demanded agreement with a particular formula which the SSPX has already rejected."

That need not be an stumbling block. The key thing any good negotiator would be precisely to naunce what acceptance means. Bp Fellay has stated that 99% of Vatican II is valid. Great, let's take that 99% off the table. Let the SSPX issue a document stating which parts of Vatican II are orthodox (even if not expressed with the rigor the SSPX would like).

This should allow the negotiators focus on the specific parts of the specific documents that are at issue. If the language is ambiguous (even if only the SSPX sees them as ambiguous), that could say "they accept Vatican II only if that specific part can be understood according to the SSPX position".

Bp Fellay has already given an example of this WRT the question of religious freedom in Vatican II. He acknowledged calling for religious freedom as a practical necessity, particularly around hostile governments, but theologically the only true freedom one has is to accept God in the Catholic Church since error has no right. Such a position is 100% within the Catholic faith and the documents of Vatican II, so it should be possible for this caveat to pass the "acceptance" criteria for this section that the SSPX currently rejects.

Mike said...


We need to keep on praying. This Pope is a holy, excellent man, brilliant, and full of charity. He is also a man of his generation, and that generation is daily being called to account before the Lord. I hope, please God, that Benedict reigns many more years, but I do honestly believe it will take a Pope of a different temperament than this one to close the windows and do some house cleaning after V2let in a lot of smoke.

I suspect more is happening than we know, anyway. It's God's Church. Who is 2000 would have guessed Ratzinger would be elected?

Pray; have hope; offer sacrifices.

Matt said...

Oliver said, "The Society will have to dilute its conditions for entry further if it wishes to by-pass these new Roman road blocks. But there is no hurry and the Society can liberalise slowly so as not to alarm the flock. Too slow though for the current Roman incumbent to claim he had beaten the Lefebvrists... a lifetime goal!"

Hey, yeah, that's a really brilliant idea. I could slowly add water to my jug of milk, stretch it out. Eventually, it would be--WATER!

Matt said...

It's early yet. We'll just have to see what transpires over time but on its face this doesn't look too good for any Traditional restoration in the near term.

Tom said...

"...on its face this doesn't look too good for any Traditional restoration in the near term."

Traditionalists who anticipate a "Traditional restoration" live in a dream world.

The Apostolic See has made it clear — monumentally so — that we will move forward with the Novus Ordo front and center in terms of liturgy.

Traditionalists need awaken from their "Rome will allow us (at least the SSPX) to side-step Vatican II" pipe-dream.

Tom

Alsaticus said...

Matthew said...

Neither Mueller nor DeNoia ever had any affection or interest in the TLM; I don't think that either of them even knows how to celebrate it. This is one of the biggest problems. Men like Cardinal Hoyos certainly did and it was a tremendous help albeit in a different time and with different conditions.

I have no idea what kind of man (or theologian for that matter) Mueller is but DeNoia has never impressed me. He is kind of like a dottering old lady at the altar and in the pulpit. He enjoyed being stroked as the orthodox Dominican when at Catholic University but again, was never really into anything that the readers of this blog would deem "traditional". He is in way over when it comes to any kind of negotiation with the SSPX.

03 December, 2012 18:20


Sadly I must say I can co-sign this post.

What are the big achievements of Abp di Noia op so far ?
1) he has been the successor of the brilliant, super-active, trad-friendly Abp then Cardinal Ranjith from 2009 to 2012.
Have you heard anything re NOM reform ? No. Have you heard anything on fighting the litnik chaos ? No. Have you seen anything remotely resembling to a progress in liturgy (apart from the English translation he had nearly no part into) ? No.
Have you just heard simple good words from Abp di Noia in liturgy ? No.

2) as Vice-president of P.C.E.D. :
- striking statements at first that were proving he had no clue about Traditionalism then he switched to his customary state : mute.
- asking the US Dominicans to pray for the reconciliation
- attending a solemn pontifical TLM recently.
At the same time, Abp Müller has been launching numerous bitter statements closing any process of reconciliation for the moment and in particular a logical return of the doctrinal talks.

So the optimistic vision of Côme de Prévigny is either provided by pink glasses or he has some secret informations about a discrete action of Abp di Noia.

That being said, I fully agree with his conclusion : the 2009 reshuffle of the P.C.E.D. was short-sighted, aiming only at reconciling with the SSPX. Having the Commission without real president and under CDF is a nonsense : the doctrinal side with theologians in charge of new talks could stay at CDF but a real, active C.E.D. is called by the Motu proprio and Universae Ecclesiae (2011). Supervising the traditionalist communities, implementing the right to TLM of faithful/priests/nuns-monks against hostile chanceries, these are DUTIES to be really performed.

Alsaticus

Alsaticus said...

Matthew said...

Neither Mueller nor DeNoia ever had any affection or interest in the TLM; I don't think that either of them even knows how to celebrate it. This is one of the biggest problems. Men like Cardinal Hoyos certainly did and it was a tremendous help albeit in a different time and with different conditions.

I have no idea what kind of man (or theologian for that matter) Mueller is but DeNoia has never impressed me. He is kind of like a dottering old lady at the altar and in the pulpit. He enjoyed being stroked as the orthodox Dominican when at Catholic University but again, was never really into anything that the readers of this blog would deem "traditional". He is in way over when it comes to any kind of negotiation with the SSPX.

03 December, 2012 18:20


Sadly I must say I can co-sign this post.

What are the big achievements of Abp di Noia op so far ?
1) he has been the successor of the brilliant, super-active, trad-friendly Abp then Cardinal Ranjith from 2009 to 2012.
Have you heard anything re NOM reform ? No. Have you heard anything on fighting the litnik chaos ? No. Have you seen anything remotely resembling to a progress in liturgy (apart from the English translation he had nearly no part into) ? No.
Have you just heard simple good words from Abp di Noia in liturgy ? No.

2) as Vice-president of P.C.E.D. :
- striking statements at first that were proving he had no clue about Traditionalism then he switched to his customary state : mute.
- asking the US Dominicans to pray for the reconciliation
- attending a solemn pontifical TLM recently.
At the same time, Abp Müller has been launching numerous bitter statements closing any process of reconciliation for the moment and in particular a logical return of the doctrinal talks.

So the optimistic vision of Côme de Prévigny is either provided by pink glasses or he has some secret informations about a discrete action of Abp di Noia.

That being said, I fully agree with his conclusion : the 2009 reshuffle of the P.C.E.D. was short-sighted, aiming only at reconciling with the SSPX. Having the Commission without real president and under CDF is a nonsense : the doctrinal side with theologians in charge of new talks could stay at CDF but a real, active C.E.D. is called by the Motu proprio and Universae Ecclesiae (2011). Supervising the traditionalist communities, implementing the right to TLM of faithful/priests/nuns-monks against hostile chanceries, these are DUTIES to be really performed.

Alsaticus

OutsideObserver said...

I am surprised that no one has asked the following question:

Does anyone really expect that the Traditionalist movement will be adequately protected by a commission that has, all in all, 5 or 6 officials and assistants? If you are wondering if PCED can even cope with all the cases that can or should be raised with it, look no further than that picture.

Alan Aversa said...

Who's in the picture, especially the one woman?

Abp. Di Noia whole-heartedly supports the innovations of Vatican II, like those in Dignitatis Humanæ and Nostra Ætate. Remember, he said:

"Vatican II repudiated anti-Semitism and presented a positive picture of Judaism. John Paul II took us further in recognizing the significance of the Jewish People for Christianity itself. This is a new concept which we know the Traditionalists will not be able to accept immediately. Convincing them will take time, and in this respect we will have to be patient."

Bill said...


Anil Wang said . . .

That need not be an stumbling block . . . [T]he negotiators [could] focus on the specific parts of the specific documents that are at issue.

The words "need not" are doing a lot of work in that first sentence. I agree that there is no absolute epistemologic certainty about where things stand, so everything "need not" mean anything.

To the second, at the end of two years of doing pretty much this, the CDF called the SSPX Protestants and the SSPX called the CDF Modernists, again, according to Bp Fellay.

The only evidence that the Pope wants to reconcile with the SSPX on terms the SSPX would accept is the testimony, to Bp Fellay, of an unknown-to-us Cardinal to that effect. The public position of the Pope and his Vatican seems about the same as it has always been.

Didimaya said...

Mueller and DiNoia were not appointed to celebrate the TLM for the PCED. They are administrators. The Holy Father himself appointed them, which he had a right to do.

Though Cardinal Hoyos was more sympathetic to tradition and the TLM, the SSPX was not any more inclined to reconcile when he was prefect of the PCED. Previgny can complain all he wants, but it's not going to help any reconciliation efforts. It doesn't really matter who heads up the PCED...the SSPX is not going to reconcile until Rome converts to the SSPX viewpoint, which will not happen.

White Tiger said...

Where is the most excellent Cardinal Hoyos these days, anyway? I'm a bit out of touch.