Rorate Caeli

Two New Books: Best Canonical Critique of "Traditionis Custodes" to Date; Clearest Account of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility

The inaccuracies, difficulties of interpretation, and problems of concrete application of Traditionis Custodes and the Responsa ad Dubia have raised many questions among canonists, pastors, and institutes whose proper law binds them to the liturgical forms of the Latin tradition.

It was time for a competent canonist to write a full critique of the letter. This has been successfully done by Fr. Réginald-Marie Rivoire, F.S.V.F., who in a French article undertook a careful canonical analysis of these documents, chiefly from the point of view of their "juridical rationality." It is well known that rationality is one of the essential characteristics of a legal norm, such that strictly speaking, an irrational norm is not a norm and does not bind.

An authorized English translation of this tract has now been published by Os Justi Press. The work is entitled (simply enough): "Does Traditionis Custodes Pass the Juridical Rationality Test?" In case the suspense is killing you, the answer is No. However, Fr. Rivoire carefully lays out his data, premises, and conclusions in the course of just under 100 pages.

First, he considers the legal status of the documents; then, the affirmation at the heart of this whole legal apparatus and its raison d’être, namely, that the liturgical books promulgated by Paul VI and John Paul II are the sole expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite; and finally, the way in which numerous fundamental principles and precepts of canon law are undermined by the new norms. Nearly every point I have seen made piecemeal elsewhere by canonists is found here, integrated within a total structure.

This tract would make a good gift for a sympathetic priest, a friendly bishop, a canon lawyer, a local Una Voce chapter, etc. The Table of Contents and the Introduction may be found as a PDF here.

The book is available in hard copy (paperback) or as an eBook, either directly from the publisher (here) or from (here) and its affiliates around the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fr. Réginald-Marie Rivoire of the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Paris and holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. He is the Master of Novices at the Friary of St. Thomas Aquinas in Chémeré-le-Roi and Defender of the Bond and Promoter of Justice at the ecclesiastical Tribunal of Rennes. He teaches canon law in various religious institutes.

Turning to another title, also part of the "Os Justi Studies in Catholic Tradition":

Of all the topics avidly discussed nowadays by Catholics aware of the state of affairs in the Church, surely one of the most frequent must be the exact nature and scope of the papal office. Many available resources are unhelpful either because they were written in the preconciliar period when a sort of church-patriotic Pius XII ultramontanism was riding high, or because they are written by well-meaning authors who are just not sufficiently equipped in history and dogmatics to do justice to a complex subject. The same problems recur today on popular videos across YouTube, which produce more heat than light.

Enter John Joy, author of the newly-released Disputed Questions on Papal Infallibility

Dr. Joy, whose doctoral dissertation at the University of Fribourg On the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisterium from Joseph Kleutgen to the Second Vatican Council (Münster: Aschendorff, 2017) broke new ground in clarifying magisterial terminology and who served as Senior Theologian to the Bishop and Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Madison, brings the necessary tools to the table. He has chosen the ideal format, the scholastic disputation (objections, sed contra, response, replies to objections), in an effort to bring greater clarity to a hydra-like topic. With the article format, he can focus on one aspect at a time, in a logical order.

The first question (in 7 articles) concerns the extension and limits of papal infallibility in general; the second question (in 13 articles) concerns particular cases of papal teaching, including Evangelium Vitae, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Humanae Vitae, Quanta Cura, Exsurge Domine, and Unam Sanctam. A number of essays then further develop key points, including what we are to make of Pope Francis’s change to the Catechism on the death penalty.

The First Vatican Council solemnly defined that the pope teaches infallibly when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, from the chair of St. Peter, which is the chair of truth. Since then, theological discussion has centered on the subsidiary questions as to how often and under what conditions he engages this charism. Here there are two errors to be avoided: the very real phenomenon of “creeping infallibilization,” according to which almost every utterance of the pope is regarded as being (at least for all intents and purposes) infallible, and the equally dangerous tendency to interpret the conditions for papal infallibility so restrictively as to render the dogma almost meaningless. Paradoxically, these opposite tendencies seem to be almost equally widespread among Catholics in general. One constantly encounters the idea that the pope has spoken infallibly only twice—that is, in defining the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary—and yet, it is also everywhere assumed (indeed, often by the same people!) that no pope could possibly teach anything false in any of his official teaching on faith or morals. As is so often the case, the truth lies in between. Dr. Joy as a skillful Thomist threads the needle: a maximalist where warranted and a minimalist where warranted.

This succinct study brilliantly clarifies some of the most controversial and confusing questions in Catholic ecclesiology today.

The Table of Contents and the Preface may be viewed here as a PDF. The book is available in paperback or as an eBook, from the publisher directly (here) or from (here) and its platforms around the world, as well as from other online retailers.

Os Justi Press has launched this series to respond to the burning questions traditional Catholics have in our times. Stay posted for more.