Rorate Caeli

Motus in fine velocior (2) - "With a Divisive, Useless, and Unjust Persecution, the Francis Crisis is Gathering Even More Speed" - by Roberto de Mattei

by Roberto de Mattei

On February 11, 2014, one year after the day on which Benedict XVI made known his decision to resign from the pontificate, I published an article entitled Motus in fine velocior to signal the beginning of a dizzying acceleration of time’s pace, starting with the resignation of Benedict and the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013. 

Benedict XVI reigned from April 19, 2005, to February 28, 2013, seven years and ten months. From the election of Pope Francis to the approach of Christmas 2021 eight years and nine months of pontificate have passed. Benedict XVI’s post-pontificate is therefore longer than his pontificate: a paradoxical fact, which makes his resignation even more inexplicable, if the only or primary reason for it was the burden of advancing age. Had he not abdicated, Benedict XVI might have died earlier, due to the natural physical and moral strain that the government of the Church entails, but he would have been forced to face what, in his view, was the most serious problem of the contemporary Church: the loss of faith.

On October 11, 2011, Benedict XVI announced a Year of Faith, to “rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed” in an age of a “profound crisis of faith” (nos. 9,2). However, Benedict abandoned his supreme office before the conclusion of the Year of Faith, which was closed by his successor on November 24 2013, in a profoundly changed context. On April 24 2005, Benedict XVI began the Petrine ministry by asking for prayers in order that he might not flee from the wolves. This surprising metaphor was unfortunately translated into reality. The “flight from the wolves” may have lengthened pope Ratzinger’s life but, due to a mysterious nemesis of Divine Providence, it has forced him to witness the disastrous consequences that his decision has had precisely with regard to the faith of the Church, which for more than eight years has been turned upside down, before his eyes, by Pope Francis.

In proclaiming the Year of Faith, Benedict XVI affirmed that “without the liturgy and the sacraments, the profession of faith would lack efficacy, because it would lack the grace which supports Christian witness” (Porta Fidei, no. 11). The best and most important act of his government was the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007, with which he granted free citizenship to the Ancient Roman Rite, defining this as not subject to repeal. Today, Pope Francis seems to have the intention of closing his own pontificate by dismantling piece by piece the document of Benedict XVI. After the motu proprio Traditionis custodes of July 16 2021, the demolition seems destined to take place in a scientific manner, according to the means indicated by the Responsa ad dubia issued on December 18 by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This apparent act of power conceals a fundamental weakness (, seeing that no pope has the right to repeal or change a rite that dates back to to the Apostolic Tradition, as does what is referred to as the Mass of St. Pius V.

Furthermore, as the abbé Claude Barthe has observed, in the very act of presuming to abolish Summorum Pontificum, Traditionis custodes condemns itself to receive the same treatment in the future, exactly as happened for the new principle of religious freedom of Vatican II, which in presuming to invalidate the Magisterium prior to Pius XII relativized itself.

The most attentive jurists have also noted how the need for synodality, proclaimed by Pope Francis, is contradicted by the centralization of decision-making power established by the Responsa, which, without specific pontifical approval, nullify the operation of one of the linchpins of Canon Law: can. 87 - §1, according to which “a diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual good, is able to dispense the faithful from universal and particular disciplinary laws issued for his territory or his subjects by the supreme authority of the Church.” 

Both the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes and the Responsa ad dubia are therefore intrinsically illegal acts, carried out while the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, guardian of the Church’s canon law, idly looks on at a massacre of the rules that seems to have become the only rule of the pontificate. The Becciu case, without going into the guilt or innocence of the accused, is one of these. “If he has really committed what is charged against him,” Ernesto Galli della Loggia wrote in Corriere della Sera of October 3 2021, “then what is the explanation of the outrageous violation of the rules that has characterized the entire preliminary phase of the trial? Facts are facts - and it is difficult to escape the crucial question they pose: how they harmonize not only with the liberal image of Francis, but I would like to say more generally with that exercise of justice which, if not of the Vatican as state, should at least be among the first concerns of a pontiff?”

Inconsistent with the principle of synodality, the motu proprio Traditionis custodes is however in full consistency with the apostolic constitution Missale Romanum, with which, on April 3, 1969, Paul VI proclaimed the new Ordo Missae. Tomorrow’s historian will probably judge the pontificate of Paul VI as more disastrous than that of Francis, because pope Montini was the architect of an unfortunately successful ecclesiastical policy, while the ideological operations attempted by Pope Francis have so far failed or are destined for failure, because they lack the strategic vision of their predecessors. The liturgical Revolution of Paul VI is the true bomb set off in the Church, after Vatican Council II, and the traditionalists would fall into the same error as Francis if they were to personalize their battle, without going back to the roots of a conflict that is not of men but of principles. The enemy of Paul VI, in fact, was the Mass and not the traditionalists, while the enemy of Pope Francis is not the Mass but the traditionalists, on whom he would like to impose the “irreversibility” of the reforms of Vatican II, with an act as profoundly divisive as it is useless and unjust.

The result will probably not be that of isolating the traditionalists, but of fomenting their resistance, with the support of those conservative bishops who, while not sharing the attachment to the traditional liturgy, are horrified by the offense Francis has given to the still living Benedict XVI. There could be no better time than this for a reaction from the traditional world, if not for the fact that part of this has shifted its entire attention from religious to political and healthcare problems, inveighing against the vaccines rather than defending the Sacraments. There is debate as to whether the vaccines protect against the virus or damage the body, but if the vaccines do not work and if Covid-19 gains ground, why not see in this crisis situation the hand of God, which nothing can stop, when he has established that events should take their course? Motus in fine velocior... The time whose pace is advancing more rapidly is not only that of the crisis in the Church, but is also that of the psychological and spiritual crisis of contemporary man, incapable of grasping the signs of the Divine Providence that wisely regulates everything in the universe and inexorably carries out its plans.  

The darkness that envelops the earth this Holy Nativity of 2021 resembles that which enveloped it 2,021 years ago, in Bethlehem the night the Divine Redeemer appeared. The Romans wanted to conquer the world and the Jews were dreaming of a Messiah who would free them from the oppression of the Romans. The Angels who appeared above the Cave gave out the call, and still do, to lift one’s eyes from the confusion on earth to the divine order of Heaven: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will” (Lk 2:14). This is also our wish in this year that is coming to a close… 

(Roberto de Mattei)