Rorate Caeli

Ex-Ecclesia Dei Communities Facing a Decision

Rorate Caeli is pleased to present a translation of this November 30, 2021 article from the excellent German website Motu proprio: Summorum Pontificum.

Ex-Ecclesia Dei Communities Facing a Decision
Michael Charlier

Back in June, we had been able to give a relatively accurate account of the contents of [the forthcoming document] Traditionis Custodes based on circulating rumors.

Questions about the future of the ex-Ecclesia Dei communities had remained largely in the fog at that time and were not addressed in the Motu Proprio either—apparently the actors themselves were not yet clear about their plans in this regard. This seems to have changed in the meantime. The “informed circles”, which like to quote sources without further specification, expect the initiation of measures before the end of this year, which should lead these priestly communities “back to the only way of celebrating the Roman rite”, as it is so nicely called in the expression of the Roman neo-Orwellians. The matter is viewed as urgent because the opinion has prevailed in the circle of the authors of TC that the implementing regulations for the motu proprio, which regulations have already been expected for some time, could be formulated and put into force only when the “problem” of the priestly communities had been “solved,” at least in principle.

According to our information, a special law on this matter is not currently expected. Apparently, Rome is of the opinion that the status of the communities as “societies of pontifical right” opens up immediate possibilities of access. For this purpose, “papal delegates” could be appointed who, although they would not replace the existing superior as would a commissioner appointed by the Congregation for Religious Orders, would nevertheless be superior to him. These papal delegates would instruct superiors to take all necessary measures to “reconcile their communities with the spirit of the Council” and, as a fundamental first step toward this, to order the general celebration of the reformed liturgy. On this basis, plans for its inclusion in pastoral care could then be developed in collaboration with local bishops.

For the public celebration of the traditional liturgy, however, the priests of the communities—if we have understood our sources correctly—would not come into question. This task, which is to be undertaken out of pastoral mercy for a limited time, would have to be taken on by forces of the diocesan clergy that have proven their loyalty to the Council.[1] Moreover, with regard to the communities, there was talk of the possibility of granting “exceptions” that could allow the priests, or at least individual priests of the communities, at least for a transitional period, to continue to celebrate internally or at least non-publicly according to the 1962 Missal—strictly regulated and on the condition of other good behavior. To all appearances, the administration of other sacraments in the pre-conciliar manner is not envisioned in any case.

It would not be the mandate of the “papal delegates” to negotiate in any way with the communities or their superiors on the fundamental decision of transition to the Novus Ordo. In fact, the lack of any dialogue between the pope and the communities established by his predecessors to maintain the traditional liturgy, or their advocates such as Cardinals Burke, Brandmüller, Zen, or Müller, is perhaps the most striking feature of the whole process: it takes place in an authoritarian, even dictatorial form for which there are few models even in the papal history of earlier eras. However, it is precisely in this form that it corresponds both to the unbridled and despotic character of Francis and to the lack of ideas and arguments in post-conciliar theology and liturgy, which up to now has been able to develop a certain persuasive power only in those places where, under modernist and secularist influence, attempts are being made to emancipate oneself from core elements of the traditional teachings of the apostles.

This point of departure opens up extremely unpleasant prospects for short- and medium-term development. It is conceivable that the “papal delegates” will be able to persuade at least parts and probably also majorities of the leadership of some communities to submit to their own twisted understanding of obedience. It is hardly conceivable that all or even the great majority of their members will follow them in this regard; the communities will break up. That might well be in line with the papal strategy. The split will have an even greater effect on the communities of tradition. Ordinary people in the pews are thoroughly fed up with watching their beloved Catholic Church being transformed into a left-green Zeitgeist agency by faithless bishops in the regions and curial officials in Rome who are addicted to modernization mania. The already existing split between the secularist-universalist and the “simply Catholic” camps in the Church will deepen—and that split certainly reaches a good deal further than the adherents of the traditional liturgy. It is quite conceivable that Francis—as he let slip in a rare moment of clarity and truth—will go down in history as “the pope who divided the Church” (source).

The defenders of apostolic tradition should not make this easier for him by now positing ostentatiously schismatic acts on their part. According to Matthew (10:16), the Lord urges the disciples to be “wise as serpents, but guileless as doves.” This [twofold advice] is not easy to reconcile—but that is precisely the task.

[1] The author has clarified his meaning in an email to me. TC alleges all TLM-exclusive clergy to be illoyal to “THE COUNCIL”—thus conveniently equating the Council and the "spirit of the Council" as seen by Bugnini and his followers up to Archbishop Roche. On the other hand, TC also assumes that most diocesan clergy (and in Germany/central Europe this is often the case) are steeped in this spirit and therefore will "celebrate" the TLM in the "right" spirit—e.g., trying to use readings from the modern lectionary and contemporary songs, altar girls, and all the rest, in order to make a smooth transition to the NO.