Rorate Caeli

The photo we will not post

Today, we learn that, once again, Liturgical Law will be ignored during the pontifical Maundy Thursday liturgy. It is being reported that the feet of "9 Italians, 1 Muslim from Libya, a young man from Cape Verde and an Ethiopian woman" will be washed by Pope Francis.

The word "anomie" is used in legal theory and sociological studies to designate a society where bonds between individuals face breakdown for many reasons, including due to the lack of enforcement of rules. Once rules that exist in the books are not revoked by legitimate authority, but simply ignored, there is a systemic risk of legal-moral collapse. This has certainly been true in liturgical law since the Council, with the 1963-1969 messes sauvages, in particular since the new liturgy of Paul VI, and even more so when the norms that still exist, instead of being explicitly changed (when they can be changed) are ignored by an authority. This is no criticism, merely an assessment of current liturgical reality, that is, "liturgical anomie".

The feet washed by the Pope are those of disabled people, including one woman. In itself, the image will be one of great care - but it does put immense pressure upon those, in the Rite of Paul VI, who had tried to follow the rules made up by the Supreme Authority himself in the spirit of the late "reform of the reform". We will not take part in the spreading of this soon-to-be-released photo. It's no longer new news this year and, sadly, does not even seem to surprise anyone. We will not let this distract us for one more second during Holy Week and we suggest the same for our dear readers.

Instead, please read what we said one year ago, when a fuller picture of what was coming from this pontificate began to take shape. We were widely criticized for this, but we do not take a single word back from it.

The Official End of the Reform of the Reform - by example


1st: We are not invested in what goes on in a Novus Ordo setting. So, really, we are not disappointed by it -- though we are still surprised when it moves farther and farther away from traditional practices. We are just reporting it, as we did before any other venue in English.

2nd: Of course the optional mandatum is something that, while widely symbolic of the link between Christ and His Apostles, is ruled by pure Ecclesiastical Law, not Divine Law, and, regarding it, the Supreme Legislator can do (almost) as he pleases, even remove its presence from a liturgical environment. As long as there are specific standing rules about it (viri, men), however, even the Supreme Authority is bound to humbly obey them, unless he formally changes them beforehand. It really is not that hard to understand this basic matter of legal logic, is it?

3rd: Dear adversaries of this blog (yes, they do exist, and seem to be some of our most faithful readers!), please do not shoot the messenger.

His counsel was that this deed must be reported to thee, and not hidden. And this seemed best; and the lot doomed my hapless self to win this prize. So here I stand -- as unwelcome as unwilling, well I wot; for no man delights in the bearer of bad news. (Antigone)