Friday, April 14, 2006

John Allen/NCR opinion on the possible Motu Proprio

A couple of people have emailed me an opinion piece in the National Catholic Reporter which is effectively (though not absolutely) denying the existence of a motu proprio.

As I told them, I wouldn't take this as the final word. I can't speak to the author himself, but the National Catholic Reporter itself is not a journal known for its orthodoxy. [I will note that a few people have said that Mr. Allen, the author of the piece, is a fair-minded journalist and thus his own journalism and writing isn't likely to have the same slant that the rest of NCR has.]

At this point we have Mr. Allen's Vatican sources saying one thing but we also have the other Vatican sources who have been quoted saying the opposite.

So whose sources are the more credible? The fact that we can find nay-sayers at the Vatican isn't a great surprise. Let's face it, this issue would have many in strong support, and many in strong opposition. That aside, clearly there was enough credibility in Vatican sources reporting about this actual or potential motu proprio that these rumours weren't simply appearing on the "Catholic blogosphere" but also appeared in news services like CNA and others -- and to my remembrance they appeared there before they appeared on the blogs (though I'm not absolutely sure of the order). That does say something.

While seemingly coming down on the idea of there being a motu proprio, Mr. Allen does say:

"Given the way Benedict XVI has played his cards close to the chest on other matters, it's possible that a document is in the works without most of his key advisors knowing about it."

He is right about such a possibility of course; after all, not all Vatican sources are necessarily inside the loop on this issue or others. Therefore, I would question why Mr. Allen would say "most of his key advisors" given that he has only quoted two sources and we have, potentially, as many saying the opposite.

I also do not think it is necessarily a safe assumption to make that the Pope might not, for the good of the potential reunion of the SSPX, make a move without the majority assent of the cardinals. The Pope is a sensitive man, but also keenly aware of some of the problems within the Church and the particular persecution faced by those attached to the classical rite. He surely won't start a revolution, but I do not necessarily think he will simply acquiesce to those attitudes either.

Moreover, it also depends on the nature of the decree. Some have mused that perhaps the decree will simply be a clarifying statement about the current canonical status of the classical rite -- as somehow not "abolished" by the Pauline liturgy. I'm not certain how plausible that is or is not (not being a canonist; though I've always assumed it was replaced contrary to some traditionalist claims) but, for the sake of using it as an example if that were to be the case, then the opinions of the Cardinals would have no ultimate bearing on this.

And so we are left precisely where we started. Waiting, praying, hoping -- and with good reason.

Incidentally, remember all the contradictory ideas floating about before the recent Vatican instruction about homosexual men and the priesthood?

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