Rorate Caeli

“Mediocre Roche came in for an Apostolic Constitution, and came out with a Rescriptum — a great defeat. Francis doesn’t want to mess with the Traditional Mass anymore.”

Caminante Wanderer
Argentina, Feb. 21, 2023

Today a brief rescriptum ex audiencia Sanctissimi became known. This type of document is a decision of the Roman Pontiff communicated orally to some ecclesiastic of the Roman Curia received in audience, who then leaves a written record of that oral resolution (the so-called oraculum vivae vocis), so that it is considered valid for evidentiary purposes and is also effective before third parties. In short, it is the document of least hierarchy within the complex arsenal at the disposal of the Roman Pontiff, and which can be modified tomorrow by himself or by whoever succeeds him. 

In this case, the oral communication was to Cardinal Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship, and it merely repeats what had already been said in Traditionis custodes, while further limiting the power of bishops as to the places and persons of the clergy who can celebrate the traditional liturgy. As we said at the time in this blog and as was commented throughout the trad universe [Rorate Note: though always doubted by Rorate.] and in curial environments, it was known with certainty that a document was being prepared by Roche, Archbishop Viola and some advisor of Anselmianum (Andrea Grillo?) which, in the form of an apostolic constitution, sought to restrict in a brutal way the traditional celebration, raging above all with the so-called "Ecclesia Dei institutes". We also said that this document could be ready and bound, but that it was another thing to see if Francis would sign it. And what I can hypothesize is that he did not sign it. 

My reconstruction is the following: yesterday, February 20, Cardinal Roche had an audience with Francis as reported by the Holy See itself. He was looking for an apostolic constitution and came out with a rescript. The Holy Father told him that he will not sign any new document restricting the traditional liturgy and granted him a small further adjustment to the provisions of Traditionis custodes that will change little or nothing to what has already been legislated. 

Let us bring the magnifying glass a little closer:

1. What the rescriptum does is to take even more power away from the bishops. The question is how such a document will go down with the bishops, whatever their orientation, since the Roman Curia blatantly interferes in the government of their own dioceses. What police power will the Dicastery of Worship have to enforce this new prescription? What will they do to a bishop who, for example, designates a parish church to celebrate the traditional Mass without Rome's permission? Will they throw them out? The bishops do not want problems with their faithful, so they will not easily obey the whims of a less than mediocre cardinal. The same thing will happen that used to happen when a bishop made problems for priests to celebrate the Latin Mass: the complaints would reach the Ecclesia Dei commission, the latter would call the bishop and then he would continue doing what he wanted, and nobody would or could do anything to him. 

2. It would be very strange if, as some might think, in a couple of weeks - on April 3, it was said - the fierce document would finally appear and the rescript would be no more than an appetizer. Bergoglio may be very modernist or whatever you want, but he is a good politician, and for that very reason it is unthinkable, in my opinion, that he should be continually issuing restrictive documents on the same subject. That would be a very clear sign of weakness that he will never allow himself, and much less for a subject that does not interest him at all, and much less so if the one who proposes it to him is Roche, whom everyone says he detests, and it would not be strange that at any moment he would end up as the first archbishop of the island of St. Helena. 

3. In Rome, and in the Trad world, everyone was waiting for the sanguinary apostolic constitution [Rorate note: not everyone]. This [Remant piece], for example, had been published only two days ago. And surely the ideologues of the Dicastery of Worship would have been exultant waiting for the death of the traditionalist world. What has happened is, in curial language, a frightening defeat and humiliation of Roche. It has become evident how little power he has, the total lack of confidence the pontiff has in him and, consequently, that he is a weak man, almost a leper to whom few will even turn their eyes to greet. And, consequently, that he will never again be able to restrict, as long as Francis reigns in the Catholic Church, the traditional liturgy. The pontiff does not want more gratuitous problems that generate him antipathies, driven by a group of madmen, which is what happened with TC. 

4. It is said, and it is probably so, that this rescript would be oriented to restrict the diocesan clergy but that the next document would be oriented to the Ecclesia Dei institutes. Anything can happen, but it would be very strange that the same Pope who a little more than a year ago gave all the liberties to the most emblematic of these institutes, the FSSP, now totally changes his position. I do not doubt that this document is written, corrected, and with gilded edges. But I suspect that it will remain in that state in the drawer of some desk of the Dicastery of Worship. No self-respecting politician would be dealing every month with a cause that is unpleasant for everyone, except for some outdated modernists. As Machiavelli, Bergoglio's teacher, says, bad and unpleasant laws are applied all at once and not in installments. 

We will see if this quick and preliminary analysis is confirmed. With Pope Francis you never know where the hare may jump, but my sense of smell tells me that things are as I tell them.


[Rorate final note: Really, Wanderer, your analyses are great, but reading us more would make you less certain about what “the entire traditional world” is saying. If it isn’t published here, with no false modesty, then it isn’t a unanimous Traditionalist view. If there is a harsh major document actually coming, our readers will know it here before anywhere else, as it has always been the case.]