Rorate Caeli

Guest Op-Ed: A Lie About John Paul II's Words Underpins Francis' motu proprio

 by Leo Darroch

The publication of this document, although expected, is much more despotic and cruel than anyone could have imagined. Canonists and liturgical experts have already started to offer opinions and their contributions will be welcomed by those who are looking for an intelligent and coherent response. There is one small phrase in this document that is particularly troubling. In the second paragraph Pope Francis states:

In this way they [John Paul II and Benedict XVI] intended to “facilitate the ecclesial communion of those Catholics who feel attached to some earlier liturgical forms” and not to others [4]. [my emphasis]


The reference [4] is to Pope John Paul II, Apostolic letter given Motu proprio “Ecclesia Dei” 2 July 1988. On even a cursory examination it is clear that this is not a direct and complete quote from Ecclesia Dei although it is presented as though it is – there is no ellipsis, for example. But it was the phrase ‘and not to others’ which is pertinent and shocking. Perhaps it is a clumsy use of words but it creates a deliberate segregation among the faithful and is surely unique in any document emanating from Rome. The relevant text of Ecclesia Dei states:


To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations.


There is no mention, either in Ecclesia Dei or in Summorum Pontificum of “and not to others”. This is clearly a tactic by Francis to isolate those who feel attachment to certain liturgical forms and is unworthy, to say the least, of any document being issued by the Supreme Pontiff. 

 Pope Saint John Paul II wished to “facilitate their ecclesial communion” and to “guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations” [my emphasis]. This is the mark of a true shepherd having love and care for ALL his flock. He put his arms around everyone; he did not separate anyone and banish some to the margins as this document Traditionis Custodes does. 

 And what is also shocking is the fact that Francis is ordering his bishops to do his bidding in implementing this spiritual apartheid; introducing conflict where there is harmony. No Catholic should be comfortable in publicly criticising a document issued motu proprio by a Pope but there are many in the clergy of all ranks who might concur that this is a step too far.