Reply to Cardinal Burke on St. Peter’s Mass rules

Those parts of Canon law which are not direct expressions of teachings on faith or morals, nor dogmatic facts, are subject to the temporal authority of the Roman Pontiff and can be changed, dispensed in certain cases, or even, as regards his own words and deeds, disregarded, without sin or penalty or error, as part of his role as supreme judge of the faithful. The Pope is above Canon law, in those parts of the law that are changeable and dispensable. Those parts are Canon law per se, whereas any teachings or dogmatic facts in Canon law fall under the Magisterium, and are teachings rather than laws.

If the Pope wishes to change the rules for saying Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, he has the authority to do so as the Roman Pontiff.

Pope SAINT John Paul II dispensed the entire Code of Canon law, the version which began in the early 20th century (itself having replaced decretals) and replaced it with the new Code, signed into law January 1983. Popes are above Canon Law, except for those parts of the law that are teachings, not law, or that are dogmatic facts.

Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3:

And so, supported by the clear witness of Holy Scripture, and adhering to the manifest and explicit decrees both of our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs and of general councils, we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence [49], which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole Church and father and teacher of all Christian people.

To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal Church.

Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.

4. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.

8. Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon.
9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

Cardinal Burke

He and many other leaders in the conservative Catholic subculture have decided that they have a position above the Pope, to supervise him, judge him, correct him, and even to accuse him of grave errors on doctrine or discipline, or of grave failures of faith. It is the sin of schism to reject the authority of the Pope directly or indirectly. Acting like the Pope’s supervisor or teacher is schismatic.

Burke claims the new regulations for priests saying Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica is in “direct violation of universal Church law” and should be “rescinded immediately.” The Pope has the authority to change Church law, just as John Paul II changed the law wholesale. And even when the law is “universal”, the authority of the Pope is no less universal, and he still has authority over the law. He cannot change dogma or dogmatic facts, but these regulations are neither.

Burke has no authority over Pope Francis. His repeated refusal to accept the authority of the Pope per se, and his repeated attempts to judge, condemn, and correct the words and decisions of the Pope, are schismatic, scandalous, and sinful. Pope Francis is not in breach of any law or teaching of the Church. Cardinal Burke is in breach of the teachings of Vatican I on the authority of the Pope.


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4 Responses to Reply to Cardinal Burke on St. Peter’s Mass rules

  1. M. Jean-Paul Benoist says:

    My dear Friends,

    Would you be so kind as in comparing the new code and the ancient, please?

  2. M. Jean-Paul Benoist says:

    My dear Friends,

    And in 1917?

    A sinner.

  3. Padraig Fournier says:

    With all due respect, sir, H.E. Cardinal Burke’s comments here are NOT worthy of reproof. Had the regulation demanding concelebration been written by the Pope himself, that would be one thing. Previous Popes and Councils (Benedict XVI in “Sacramentum caritas” and Vatican II’s provision in “Sacrosanctum concilium” 57 §2.2 come to mind) have defended the right of a priest to celebrate a “private” Mass, but Francis is free to managed his basilica as he wishes. However, this most recent brouhaha was started not by the Holy Father but by an unsigned note issued from the Secretariat of State, without consulting the chapter of Canons, and attempts to fix something that quite frankly was NEVER a problem. It’s really just a sad story of some bureaucratic bishop with a liturgical chip on his shoulder inadvertently giving the Trads another excuse to bash the Pope.

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