Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Cupich’s Chicago Template: The Vatican-endorsed Litmus Test

No doubt many readers have seen the article from Vatican News featuring the latest directives from the current occupant of the See of Chicago. It should surprise no one that he goes even further than the infamous Responsa ad Dubia from the CDW, which in turn went further in key respects than the Vicariate of Rome’s document, which in turn went further than Traditionis Custodes. At this point we are seeing a third layer of unwarranted and indefensible extrapolation, with increasingly obvious violations of canon law and liturgical rubrics (to say the very least).

Interestingly enough, the Chicago policy (the full text may be found here, courtesy of Fr. Zuhlsdorf) was issued only two days after Christmas, and only nine days after the CDW Responsa. It seems fairly clear that the course of action was determined well in advance, and perhaps even that Cupich himself helped to shape the CDW document, since it’s clear he has a special Vatican connection. For what really grabs one’s attention is the simple fact of this article appearing at Vatican News. Since when do the local directives of individual dioceses/bishops get coverage in the Vatican’s press organ? This isn’t just because Blaise Cupich is currently a favorite among the proponents of Bergoglianity in Rome (though he surely is). Rather, this article is a signal: the Vatican is telling the bishops what it approves of and expects from them. This is like Pravda and Izvestyia in the old Soviet Union: the Politburo signals to all the party hacks what the approved policy will be, and what the propaganda line will be.

We are no longer governed by shepherds. We are ruled by apparatchiks of the Party Line.

A few observations.

1. If you haven’t yet read Windswept House, it may be time to do so (provided you have a strong stomach for some disturbing passages and the perseverance to get through a gigantic book). The discussions in that novel among the masonic cardinals and bishops—back then, Cardinal Bernardin in Chicago was the main player—are exactly parallel to what we are seeing today: the construction and consolidation of a new religion that is opposed on almost every point to the traditional religion.

2. Cardinal Cupich is preparing to send out emissaries to the traditional Catholics to explain to them “the essential principles of renewal called for in the Second Vatican Council,” to convince them of the Novus Ordo's better lectionary and richer prayers, and superior calendar. It would be amusing if it were not so tragic: the very areas in which the new liturgy has been so thoroughly and justly debunked and its gaping problems exposed are being put forward as its particular strengths. Do they really think no one knows about the emperor’s lack of clothes?

3. The worst part of the policy is that a litmus test has been devised for “Latin Rite Catholics in Chicago”: the liturgy must be celebrated “exclusively” in the Novus Ordo on the first Sunday of every month, Christmas, the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday (!). So much for accompaniment; this is more like a mandatory “Heil, Bugnini!”

This litmus test liturgy—“which may be celebrated in Latin” (as if that matters, given all the other differences between the authentic Roman Rite and its modern imposter)—“must be celebrated with the priest facing the people.” With this requirement, Cupich definitively violates the rubrics of the Novus Ordo Missae, which clearly and manifestly not only allow for ad orientem worship but even presuppose it, as has been demonstrated many times (e.g., here).

When canon law says the bishop is the moderator of the liturgy in his diocese, it understands that moderation requires, first and foremost, and at a minimum, that he himself follow the rubrics governing the rites, or at least that he not contradict them. A canon law case against Cupich could certainly be launched on these grounds. It will be interesting to see if the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius capitulate on this point or if they challenge it. Anyone who abandons the fully permissible ad orientem stance in the Novus Ordo on account of this new archdiocesan policy will indicate that he is in the grip of a false notion of obedience that looks more like indentured servitude than it does the lawful freedom of the sons of God.

The rationale Cupich gives for outlawing (quite beyond the requirements of either Traditionis Custodes or the Responsa ad dubia) the traditional Latin Mass on so many and such important days of the year—about 16 of them—is as follows: “to foster and make manifest the unity of this local Church, as well as to provide all Catholics in the Archdiocese an opportunity to offer a concrete manifestation of the acceptance of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical books.”

Ah, the Liturgies of Unity, offered at the Altar of Uniformity! Unity so kindly promoted, so gently celebrated, so zealously enforced! For the good of one and all—Long Live the Party!

(By the way, could someone out there kindly let His Eminence know that there are no “liturgical books of the Second Vatican Council,” since the ones that are supposedly the sole lex orandi of the Roman Rite appeared over four years after that council’s close? If there were any liturgical books “of the Council,” ironically they would be precisely the usus antiquior books, as edited by Pius XII and John XXIII. It would only be fair, moreover, that His Eminence should demonstrate, if only as a goodwill gesture, his own earnest intention to follow the Council by requiring all the Novus Ordo parishes, on approximately 16 Sundays of the year, to “offer a concrete manifestation of the acceptance of the Council’s teaching” by holding Mass in Latin [SC 36.1 and 54], with Gregorian chant, polyphony, and organ music [SC 112, 114–16, 120].)

In the early aftermath of Traditionis Custodes, it was feared that questionnaires of the laity would begin to be circulated around TLM chapels in order to ascertain whether the attendees were in step with the legitimacy of Vatican II and the liturgical reform carried out in its name (but not in observance of most of its provisions). The idea quickly fizzled, but we find in Chicago a more draconian approach that forces the faithful, in their worship of Almighty God, to choose between a fully legitimate adherence to the traditional liturgy and the ecclesiastical requirement of attendance at Mass on days of obligation; or, indeed, between an adherence to rubrically permissible traditional practices in the Novus Ordo and a lawless ecclesiastical prohibition thereof. This is nothing short of an abuse of conscience that must be resisted precisely in the name of a clean conscience before God and for the health of the Church. Abuse, whether sexual or financial or pastoral, cannot be tolerated.

(I also recommend to readers Fr. Zuhlsdorf's fine treatment of this windy exhibition of ultra vires nastiness.)

Postscript. A ray of hope in the darkness: Blaise Cupich turns 73 in March. Even given the usual practice of keeping cardinals on past retirement age, his time is limited. As New Catholic said: Tick-tock.

This article has been updated to correct a mistake in the first posting.