True Obedience: The Mark of A Faithful Catholic Part E: Principles in Practice - Summorum Pontificum


Principles in Practice

Unfortunately, many examples of sinful obedience and disobedience are readily available since the end of the Second World War.
I've selected two recent events in the life of the Church as examples: Summorum Pontificum and Amoris Laetitia.

Summorum Pontificum

In 2007, Pope Benedict issued the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. In the Motu Proprio we find the following statement:
Art. 5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church. (Summorum Pontificum)

For context we find that Canon 392 requires the bishop of a diocese to protect the unity of the Church by exercising vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline.
Can. 392 §1. Since he must protect the unity of the universal Church, a bishop is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and therefore to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.

§2. He is to exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially regarding the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the saints, and the administration of goods.

The order of the Pope is simply that Pastor's should provide the 1962 liturgy when requested in accordance with Canon 392.
With the hindsight provided by the passage of time, we know that the majority of Bishops and Priests did not 'willingly' provide the 1962 liturgy. In fact, there are numerous accounts of Bishops placing barriers in place to thwart the explicit intention of Summorum Pontificum. I know of one case in particular where the local ordinary refused to grant permission to the Tridentine Mass (ie. 1962 liturgy) and it wasn't until the laity could appeal to Ecclesia Dei that the bishop acquiesced.
Following the principles discussed above what can we conclude?
  • Is it within the sphere of the Pope's authority to issue such a command? Answer: Yes
  • Is there immediate or proximate sin involved in the command? Answer: No
The conclusion that we can reach, following St. Thomas, is that those who disobey the precepts of Summorum Pontificum, are committing the sin of disobedience. If a priest decided to say the Tridentine Mass, disobeying his superior to do so, he would not since as he is obeying the explicit order of a higher authority: The Pope.


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