Rorate Caeli

Motu proprio notes:
playing ecclesiastical telephone and "the last word"

The news flood of the past few hours may have left some confused. For instance, an ANSA dispatch on the motu proprio includes the following*:

From last December, behind the scenes, various modifications were made to the original document, to grant to the bishops – or so it seems – to nevertheless have "the last word".

"The role of the bishop is central in the dispositions of the order of celebrations", the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, explained today, commenting on the Motu Proprio. With the restoration of the pre-Conciliar liturgy, he added, it was desired above all to give homage to the "great riches of tradition".

The use of quotation marks could leave some with the impression that Cardinal Bertone himself used the expression "the last word" when speaking of episcopal power on the matter. Alas, that was not the case.

The expression "the last word" was first found in the past 24 hours in the La Croix story we translated and posted yesterday and was picked up by the Italian papal news website Petrus, which added the quotation marks: "From last December, behind the scenes, various modifications were made to the original document, to grant to the bishops – or so it seems – to nevertheless have 'the last word' on liturgical celebrations in their dioceses." This almost exact text, which did not include any declaration by Cardinal Bertone, was later introduced by ANSA in its dispatch, causing the impression that the Cardinal had spoken it (in the picture, the Cardinal celebrates his farewell Mass in Genoa, according to the new rite).

What the Cardinal actually said today, as reported by Petrus in another story, included the following:

"Yesterday afternoon, a meeting on the 'motu proprio' which delineates a few conditions for the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII of 1962 took place at the Vatican, and the Pope explained his motivations. The 'motu proprio' will be published with all its rules in the next few days and it will come into effect soon afterwards."

"In addition, there is a beautiful personal letter of the Pope to all the bishops of the world which explains the why of reevaluating and rediscovering the pre-Conciliar liturgical form, [which is] a great wealth."

"The role of the bishop is central in the dispositions of the order of celebrations, priests are not autonomous but submitted to the bishop, who refers [fare riferimento] to the Pope and to the liturgy of the universal Church; there is a communion and there must be harmony in this beautiful orchestra."

The Cardinal, therefore, never said that the bishops will have "the last word".

Considering the closeness of the date of publication of the motu proprio on the liberalization of the Traditional Roman Rite and its accompanying letter, and to prevent this sort of mix-up, we will avoid commenting on the contents of both documents (for instance, on what would be limits of episcopal power in the matter), until the actual texts are publicly known.

*Translation courtesy of Father Zuhlsdorf.


  1. Excellent commentary, very helpful to pull the day's news into perspective. Thank you!

  2. Anonymous2:07 AM

    Yes, very helpful. I think we can apply the same caution to the so-called "re-touching" comments that came from an anonymous source that most likely was not in the actual meeting with the Pope. The spin doctors are spinning...


  3. "been given to about 30 bishops"

    Die Welt etc.

    "Fifteen people took part in the meeting, detailed Father Lombardi..."


    I just read this on an AP story reproduced on a local TV website:

    "A good half of the (Catholic) fundamentalists in the world are in France. This is why French Catholics are particularly concerned about their influence on the pope," said the Rev. Michel Kubler, religious editor of the French Catholic daily La Croix.

    He said bishops were also worried, that any major change "could erode their ability to control how the faith is practiced."

  4. Anonymous3:44 AM

    The spin has begun and it's accelerating fast now.

  5. "The spin has begun and it's accelerating fast now."

    Once the document itself is out, it will put the brakes on the spin to a certain degree.

    Thank heavens for the internet in this regard at least.

  6. Bishop Maillard of Laval at Niafles?

    "He said bishops were also worried, that any major change "could erode their ability to control how the faith is practiced."

    I know the Niafles story isn't new, but they way it has gone the last few days...

    28th of June

  7. Anonymous8:00 AM

    As for the date of the Motu Proprio, we have been very surprised to see that none of the blog sites which we check have realized that July 2 is the anniversary of the promulgation of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei. Considering the Vatican's frequently manifested interest in continuity with previous papal documents, wouldn't this be an appropriate day?

  8. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Listen to the 8:45 am GR3 (left-leaning state-radio-news :

    from min. 14:42 --> to 16:27 .

    It is really shameful. There is interviewed the infamous Fr. Rinaldo Falsini (an 83yo old Bugninist crony , who personally took part to the Council:

    Padre Rinaldo Falsini

    Padre Rinaldo Falsini (Bibbiena 1924), dopo aver insegnato Teologia nello studio Teologico di Siena e di Fiesole ed essere stato assistente centrale di un’Istituzione fondata da P. Gemelli a Milano, è stato chiamato all’apertura del Concilio e nominato membro della Segreteria della “Commissione conciliare di liturgia” in qualità di archivista e di scrittore. Per vari anni si è impegnato come consultore in tre gruppi di studio del “Consilium”, l’organismo pontificio per attuare la riforma liturgica disposta dal concilio. Teologo liturgista, ha lavorato come esperto e come membro dell’organismo dell’episcopato italiano nel gruppo dei traduttori. Dal 1974 è stato membro della Consulta Nazionale di Pastorale Liturgica Musicale e artistica della Conferenza Episcopale Italiana; nel 1975 ha fondato la rivista Testimoni nel mondo. A partire dal 1985 è stato redattore di Vita Pastorale, condirettore di Rivista di Pastorale Liturgica, teologo opinionista di Famiglia Cristiana e Jesus, consulente delle Edizioni San Paolo. Le sue numerose pubblicazioni vanno dagli

    ) , author of similar horrors:

    What he declares in this interview absolutely crosses the borders of decency and intellectual honesty. A mountain of venom against traditional piety, and a mountain of lies. He even says -among other delikatessen- that "The Minority of the Council wanted not just the Latin, but a a totally other religion, where people are excluded from everything...etc..." But we already know him. Pity that he's still totally protected and encouraged by the Paulines and their widely distributed publications "Jesus", "Famiglia Cristiana", "Vita Pastorale" .

    Besides, the GR3 spin-doctors tell at the beginning of the report that " Card. Bertone told that bishops will keep the control of the celebrations, and this worried the [sic] schismatics. "


  9. Anon:

    are you the Holy Father? ;-)

    "we have been very surprised...which we check..."


    Just for the record. Does anyone know of a complete listing of those present at the meeting with the Pope on the 27th? I have twelve names, who are the other three?

    1. Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
    2. Camillo Ruini, Vicar Cardinal of Rome.
    3. Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italina Bishops Conference.
    4. Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
    5. Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
    6. Sean O'Malley, Cardinal of Boston.
    7. Raymond Burke, Archbishop of Saint Louis.
    8. Cardinal Jean Pierre Ricard President of the French Episcopal Conference.
    9. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin Primate of the Gauls.
    10. Cardinal Karl Lehmann President of the German Bishops Conference.
    11. English Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor.
    12. Swiss Archbishop Heiner Koch.

  10. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Simon-peter Vickers-Buckley, Cardinal Pell of Australia was there too.

  11. And also Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India, and Bishop Basile Mvé Engone, of Libreville, Gabon.

    Several reports mention that two Latin-American archbishops were invited but did not come (they presumably "justified" the absence).

    So there you have the 15 who were present.

  12. Fantastic.

    I'd guessed Cardinal Pell *might* be there.

    The idea.

    New Catholic: do you have any thoughts about the significance of Burke and O'Malley being there, especially Burke?

  13. Bishop Mvé had the ICR in his former diocese and has been visiting Gricigliano. Like Abp Burke, he is familiar with TLM.

    The international aspect has been respected and this is great : contrary to the French Catholic press statements, it's wrong that 50% of trads worldwide are French. Many French bishops believe these false informations by the way and have no idea about Campos and the North American trad network of communities.
    This is explaining, partly, the odd outburst of Autumn 2006.


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