Rorate Caeli

"It is not the traditionalists, but Roche who ignores the Council": Luisella Scrosati's latest column

The prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship, Cardinal Arthur Roche, just cannot seem to show that he has at least some familiarity with the role he has been wretchedly entrusted with. Or rather, to give the appearance of it he should systematically keep quiet. But, how does one do that? A Dicastery prefect sooner or later has to say something if someone asks him questions....

The fact is that it took less than thirty seconds (here from minute 10:37) of response to a report on the war on the ancient Mass to show the whole world that Roche has no idea where the liturgy belongs. And to make it blatant that it is he who is against the Second Vatican Council, not those who attend the Ancient Rite.

"The theology of the Church has changed. Whereas before the priest represented, at a distance, all the people who were channeled through this person who alone celebrated the Mass," now "it is not only the priest who celebrates the liturgy, but also those who are baptized with him, and this is a huge statement to make." This is the judgment of the former bishop of Leeds.

Good. Now let's ask the cardinal two sets of questions, the answers to which, for a prefect of Divine Worship, should be easy peasy. Let's start with the first set: was the encyclical Mediator Dei written before or after the Second Vatican Council? Are Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium Vatican II documents or earlier? Roche will surely have answered correctly: Mediator Dei predates Vatican II, having been written in 1947 by Pius XII, while Sacrosanctum Concilium is the liturgical constitution of the same Council and Lumen Gentium a dogmatic constitution.

So, according to the theological shift advocated by Roche, we should find significant differences between the three magisterial documents. In particular, we should expect Mediator Dei to affirm the exclusivity of the priest in the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, while Sacrosanctum Concilium and Lumen Gentium teach that faithful and priests offer the divine victim together, indistinctly.

Instead, unfortunately for Roche, Mediator Dei expresses it this way, "In this way private action and ascetic effort [...] dispose [the faithful] to participate with better dispositions in the august sacrifice of the altar, to receive the sacraments with greater fruit, to celebrate the sacred rites." The faithful were participating and celebrating the sacred rites even before the Council.

Even more explicitly, Mediator Dei teaches that "the faithful also offer the divine victim, under a different aspect" than ordained ministers. And, just to complicate Roche's position even more, Pius XII thinks to call to the rescue no less than Innocent III to teach that the faithful are not replaced by the priest who does everything: "Not only do priests offer, but also all the faithful: for what in particular is accomplished by the ministry of priests, is universally accomplished by the vow of the faithful."

A little further on, Pius XII links this action of offering proper to the faithful to their baptismal priesthood, a workhorse of the "conciliarists": "Nor is it any wonder that the faithful are elevated to such a dignity. By the washing of Baptism, in fact, Christians become, in a common capacity, members of the Mystical Body of Christ the Priest, and, by means of the 'character' which is imprinted on their souls, they are deputed to divine worship, participating, thus, suitably to their state, in the priesthood of Christ."

On the other hand, we find that it is precisely Sacrosanctum Concilium that teaches that this common action of the whole Church, head and members provides for a hierarchical distinction in liturgical action: "such actions belong to the whole body of the Church, they manifest it and imply it; but the individual members are concerned with it in different ways, according to the diversity of their states, offices and effective participation" (No. 26).

The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium shows that this distinction is not merely practical or honorable; in fact, "the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood" differ "essentially and not only in degree: the ministerial priesthood, by virtue of the sacred character that is imprinted with sacramental ordination, is especially associated with the priesthood of Christ-head and therefore "forms and governs the priestly people, performs the Eucharistic sacrifice in the role of Christ and offers it to God on behalf of the whole people." on the other hand, "the faithful, by virtue of their royal priesthood, concur in the offering of the Eucharist and exercise their priesthood" in their own proper way, namely "by receiving the sacraments, by prayer and thanksgiving, by the witness of a holy life, by self-denial and industrious charity" (no. 11).

One could go on and on with the texts, but it is more than enough to understand how the "theological change" attributed to Vatican II is actually a heterodox theological current that draws on the "spirit" of the Council and not its texts. Roche must evidently be possessed by this "spirit."

The second group of questions we address to Roche concerns some expressions in the missal. Is the formula "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty" present in the old missal or in the new one? The expression "Remember all those gathered here, whose faith and devotion you know: for them we offer you and they too offer you this sacrifice of praise" belongs to which Missal?

To both questions the Cardinal will have no difficulty answering that both the Missal he pursues and the one approved by Paul VI and then John Paul II contain these words. The first is part of the Offertory rites and emphasizes that the sacrifice is both the priest's and the faithful's, but not indistinctly-as those who, of their own free will, evidently think they can simplify it with a nice "ours"; to the exhortation, the faithful respond (even in the new rite!), "May the Lord receive this sacrifice from your hands...." They basically "channel," as Roche puts it, their offering to the priest so that he may offer it to God.

The second is taken from the Roman Canon-Eucharistic Prayer I. It does not state at all that the priest is the only one to offer, but that the faithful themselves offer. A little later this very ancient Eucharistic prayer asks the Lord to accept "this offering which we your ministers and all your family present to you," a double offering reiterated after the consecration: "we your ministers and your holy people."

And so, just to conclude, Roche should know that the current Code of Canon Law -- also post-conciliar -- provides that the priest can celebrate Mass even in the absence of the people. Check it out. Indeed, canon 904 recommends daily celebration for priests, "which, even when the presence of the faithful cannot be had, is always an act of Christ and of the Church." However, canon 906 explains that the celebration without any faithful can take place only "for just and reasonable cause." But it can happen: the priest can celebrate alone, without this involving a distortion of sound liturgical theology. It will astonish the prefect that the new canon, the one after the Council, is even more permissive than the corresponding canon 813 of the 1917 Code, the one before the Council, which required instead a "grave reason" for celebrating "alone."

If the faithful who attend the ancient Mass are to be persecuted because they do not welcome the Council, then the prefect of Divine Worship must be kicked out. For the same reason.

Luisella Scrosati
La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana
April 6, 2023