Rorate Caeli

The Pope and “Cancel Culture”

The following article appeared at the German website Motu-proprio: Summorum-Pontificum and has been translated for Rorate Caeli. Its publication here does not necessarily signify agreement with all of its points.—PAK

The Pope and “Cancel Culture”
Michael Charlier
January 13, 2022

The Tablet—one of the great platforms of the self-understanding of ecclesiastical modernism—deals in its latest issue with the continuing swelling movement of opposition to Traditionis Custodes, taking particular aim at the view expressed by Joseph Shaw that the Responsa issued by Archbishop Roche are irrelevant if only because the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship does not, by virtue of his office, have the competence to interpret a papal legislative act in this authoritative way.

Sorry as we are, we have to largely agree with The Tablet on this point. And not because of subtle considerations of canon law—for that we would at any rate be incompetent—but because the will of the papal legislator himself in this matter admits of no doubts whatsoever. Pope Francis wants the traditional liturgy to disappear completely from the faith-life of the Roman Church, either by its previous adherents now converting to the alleged “Mass of the Council,” or by abandoning unity with Rome.

According to the traditional constitution of the Catholic Church, the will of the Pope is law. If he or his subordinates make mistakes in formulating that will, such are easily cured—at least on the formal level, either when he modifies the law, or when he sanctions an “erroneous” document by acting on it (or having it acted on), thus recognizing it as conforming to his legislative will. The uncomfortable consequence of this fact is that the dispute over Traditionis Custodes cannot take place on an external level, by a more or less correct interpretation of legal texts, or by attempts to deduce a possibly different will of the legislator from papal statements made on other occasion. Francis talks and writes a lot, as much as the day is long. The number of contradictions contained in his utterances is legion, and logicians have known for thousands of years that ex contradictione nihil sequitur (nothing follows from a contradiction).

This pontificate takes advantage of this in the sense that not only does “nothing” follows from a contradiction, but in a postmodern reversal, also “everything”: ex contradictione, quodlibet sequitur (from a contradiction, anything follows).

The dispute about TC can therefore ultimately take place only on the level of content, by endeavoring to prove that the concretely expressed will of the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ contradicts the will of the divine Founder of the Church Himself. This is not a very easy undertaking, because, as the Jesuit generalissimo Artura Sosa has taught us quite correctly, there were no recording devices at the time of Jesus from whose recordings the will of the Lord could be extracted with court-proof unambiguity. And a host of exegetes has been endeavoring for centuries, not without success, to obscure and cast doubt on the meaning of what has been handed down to us as the “Word of God” even without a sound recording, and to make it subservient to the most diverse interests.

Rescue and a certain degree of security is offered here only by recourse to the second pillar of the Church, mentioned above under the abbreviation “Successors of Peter,” and to be understood more concretely in the plural: as the succession of about 270 of these successors, who for the most part—there are only two or three “outliers”—have proved to be worthy and true successors of Peter and transmitters of the Lord’s teaching. And those who find the plurality of 270 popes too unwieldy may confidently use the term “tradition,” in the sense in St. Vincent of Lérins uses it: that which has been believed “everywhere, always, and by all,” and not in the sense of the “living tradition” of modernist counterfeiters who not only see the ecclesiastical law as subject to the pope’s will but also want to detach the content of Church doctrine itself from its roots and subject it to their own will.

All this was a common possession of Catholics over almost two thousand years of Church history. It was not those who wanted to preserve tradition but those who wanted to change something against tradition, even if it was only an apparent trifle, who were held accountable. Not beginning altogether with, but fully beginning with the unfortunate liturgical reform of Paul VI (who, incidentally, it must be noted, vigorously defended the Church’s doctrine and was subject only to the error that liturgical forms are external to doctrine), the “zeitgeisty” folly that tradition per se was outdated and hindered progress toward a better future for the human race prevailed in large parts of the Church.

With Francis, for the first time a man has been elevated to the chair of Peter who shares this view with regard to ecclesiastical matters as well. He sees himself as a successor of Peter only to a very limited extent; rather, he seems to have fallen prey to the delusional claim “Behold, I make all things new.” That he, a representative of “cancel culture” par excellence, denounced in his New Year’s address to the diplomatic corps the pandemic of cancelation rampant in large parts of the world is only one of the many contradictions that devalue his speeches (and his actions!). Like none of his predecessors and few of the declared enemies of the Church, he undermines, as far as is humanly possible, the foundations, the rock, on which the Lord has built His Church in order to reopen the way to eternal salvation for fallen humanity.

To resist this attack is not a matter of subtle exegesis of canon law, but an obligation of conscience which no one who sees himself as committed to the will of the Founder of the Church can evade.