Storytelling and Traditionis Custodes

Here we go again. The Remnant Newspaper, applauded by various traditionalist online websites, has published a non-investigative piece by Diana Montagna on the survey prior to Traditionis Custodes. Montagna quotes Francis well on this point:

“I instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to circulate a questionnaire to the Bishops regarding the implementation of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me and persuades me of the need to intervene. Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my Predecessors, who had intended ‘to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew’, has often been seriously disregarded. An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.”

But she interprets Francis poorly. She laments, regarding the survey on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum that “the Vatican has not published its results.”

Why would the Vatican publish the results? The survey is not a political poll, and the Church is not a democracy, even if voting is one tool in Her toolbox for governing the faithful. And should the Roman Pontiff not act, when souls are being harmed, unless he has a mandate from the majority in a survey? His mandate is from the Lord Jesus. Stop treating the Vicar of Christ like a politician from an opposing political party.

Francis: “The responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me and persuades me of the need to intervene.”

He does not say the majority of Bishops or the majority of survey respondents. If the Church has a problem as identified by multiple Bishops, the Pope has the authority and right to act. In fact, the Pope does not need a survey or a complaint from a single Bishop to exercise his sole authority over the Church.

The article by Montagna is filled with comments from rumor and innuendo, like: “Before going on, I should say that it is widely thought that Cardinal Ladaria was ‘reluctant’ to publish Traditionis Custodes.” Really? His interior state is widely thought to be one particular thing? Highly doubtful and unsupported, as are many other claims in the article.

“According to reliable sources…” Which sources are these? The article does not say. “To give you a taste of what was said, one cardinal….” How does Montagna know what was said at this closed door meeting in the Vatican? The article tells a story, which is just that, storytelling. All kinds of sweeping claims are made, by an author clearly biased against Traditionis Custodes, and looking for a way to undermine it. But the basis of the article is unstated sources, and often claims are made without even stating a “reliable source”.

Questions Arise

Answers to some questions in the article:

“But does Traditionis Custodes truly reflect what the real situation is?” Huh. The vast number of articles rebelling against the Pope and rejecting TC prove the problem. Traditionalists do not accept the authority of Popes or Councils.

“Was the survey on which Pope Francis said he based his decision a fair consultation of the world’s bishops?”

The Pope consulted the Bishops, that is a fact. But HE DOES NOT NEED TO CONSULT THEM! The Roman Pontiff has the authority given to him by Christ the Lord, the Son of God. He can consult the bishops and disagree with them. He can exclude a Canon from an otherwise legitimate Ecumenical Council, and it is excluded from the teaching and law of the Church. Even if the Bishops of the world voted in the majority for that canon.

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum: “The 28th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, by the very fact that it lacks the assent and approval of the Apostolic See, is admitted by all to be worthless. Rightly, therefore, has Leo X laid down in the 5th council of Lateran ‘that the Roman Pontiff alone, as having authority over all Councils, has full jurisdiction and power to summon, to transfer, to dissolve Councils, as is clear, not only from the testimony of Holy Writ, from the teaching of the Fathers and of the Roman Pontiffs, and from the decrees of the sacred canons, but from the teaching of the very Councils themselves.’ Indeed, Holy Writ attests that the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given to Peter alone, and that the power of binding and loosening was granted to the Apostles and to Peter; but there is nothing to show that the Apostles received supreme power without Peter, and against Peter. Such power they certainly did not receive from Jesus Christ.”

“Would this consultation be considered fair if some of the content of Traditionis Custodes had already been suggested during a plenary meeting of the CDF, at the end of January 2020, that gave way to a consultation that was meant to justify the decisions reached in Traditionis Custodes?”

Yes, it would still be fair. The Roman Pontiff does not have his information on the state of the Church solely from one survey. And the Pope can decide to make a change to the discipline of the Church, including liturgical disciplines, with as much or as little consultation as he wishes. Then, too, he need not “justify” his decisions.

Saint John Henry Newman: “we must never murmur at that absolute rule which the Sovereign Pontiff has over us, because it is given to him by Christ, and, in obeying him, we are obeying his Lord. We must never suffer ourselves to doubt, that, in his government of the Church, he is guided by an intelligence more than human. His yoke is the yoke of Christ, he has the responsibility of his own acts, not we; and to his Lord must he render account, not to us.”

“Could it be called fair if it came to light that there was a second, parallel report created within the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which was completed before all the responses from bishops had been received by the CDF? And could it be called fair if Traditionis Custodes did not accurately represent the main, detailed report prepared for Pope Francis by the CDF’s fourth section, i.e. the former Ecclesia Dei?”

There is no evidence of a “second parallel report” within the CDF, as the claims of the article are not verified by a single named source. “Reliable sources have confirmed that….” Then Montagna goes on to make various claims, interspersed with repeated assertions of basic facts about her own claims that are “unknown”. There are so many holes in this story that it is clear the sources of the story, if they exist, were not at all close to the survey or TC or the CDF. Otherwise, these unknown things would be known.

Even if there were a second report, or a third, even if some of the claims of the story were true, the fact remains that the Roman Pontiff does not need a survey or any consultation in order to take the action that he did take. The longwinded story by Montagna bears no fruit. It does not matter.

Pope Saint Paul VI consulted theologians before issuing Humanae Vitae, and he decided in favor of the minority opinion, over the majority. And his decision is the teaching of the Church, which is the teaching of Christ.

But what interests me here, aside from the denial of the basic authority of the Pope over the Church, is that storytelling is increasingly a tool by those who reject Church authority. They tell stories about things that supposedly went on behind the scenes at Vatican II, stories about the alleged “St. Gallen Mafia”, stories about various conclaves, and now stories about Traditionis Custodes. Anytime the Church does anything that a group does not like, stories abound about the ‘behind the scenes’ events, and those stories are used to undermine the authority of Christ and His Church.

Do not fall for that trick. So:

[1 Timothy]
{4:7} But avoid the silly fables of old women. And exercise yourself so as to advance in piety.

{3:9} But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, as well as arguments against the law. For these are useless and empty.
{3:10} Avoid a man who is a heretic, after the first and second correction,
{3:11} knowing that one who is like this has been subverted, and that he offends; for he has been condemned by his own judgment.

[2 Timothy]
{4:3} For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but instead, according to their own desires, they will gather to themselves teachers, with itching ears,
{4:4} and certainly, they will turn their hearing away from the truth, and they will be turned toward fables.

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8 Responses to Storytelling and Traditionis Custodes

  1. Vít Lacman says:

    Dear mr. Conte, could you please explain to how can anyone be in the state of invincible ignorance (for example of the fact that idolatry or fornification is a mortal sin), when “no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.” (ccc 1860)? Does this mean that even if I don’t know, I am culpable?

    • Ron Conte says:

      A person can sometime be culpable by severe negligence in seeking truth, or by willful blindness. But generally, despite the natural law written on every heart, concupiscence and personal sin, as well as the sins of other individuals, groups and society, which each have their influence on the fallen sinner, these things can influence a person to be sincerely mistaken about the natural law, without any culpability in some cases, without grave culpability (to the extent of actual mortal sin) in other cases.

      “Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.” (Vatican II, GS, 16.)

      “This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.” (Vatican II, GS, 28)

      Pope Pius IX: “According to the vain opinion of these men, the theological sciences should be treated in the same manner as the philosophical sciences. They forget that the former science is based upon the dogmas of faith, than which nothing can be more fixed and certain, while the latter is illustrated and explained only by human reason, than which nothing can be more uncertain, for it changes according to the diversity of minds, and it is subject to numberless errors and illusions. Therefore, the authority of the Church once rejected, the field is widely opened to the most difficult and abstract questions, and human reason, too confident in the infirmity of its strength, falls into the most shameful errors, which We have neither time nor wish to recall here; you know them too well, and you have seen how fatal they have been to the interests of religion and of society.” (Pope Pius IX, allocution: Singulari Quadam)

    • Vít Lacman says:

      But this paragraph specifically says “no one is deemed ignorant”. How then should one read it, if a man in reality can be ignorant?

    • Ron Conte says:

      No one is complete ignorant of morality, that some acts are evil. Everyone admits that murder and robbery are wrong, for example. Those who do not have abandoned and contradicted the natural law within them. But ignorance and knowledge are a matter of degree. Some persons understand the moral law better than others. Then sin and concupiscence can obscure the natural law, to a limited extent.

    • Vít Lacman says:

      Thank you for explanation. Do you have any magisterial document explaining exactly ignorance and natural law for further study?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I’ve read that type of thing, but I don’t have the reference.

    • Vít Lacman says:

      The Catholic encyclopedia basically says the same as you. Is the catholic encyclopedia a reliable source?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Generally, but you have to remember that those articles are from the early 20th century, and we have had many magisterial teachings since then that cannot be ignored.

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