Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Reply to Cardinal Roche on the BBC

My latest for 1Peter5.

More on the issue of Catholics being encouraged to see themselves as offering Mass with the priest, with the necessary qualifications to this idea, in traditional liturgical spirituality, has been provided by Peter Kwasniewski here.


As I recently wrote on Catholic Answers, the confusion surrounding the meaning of Traditionis custodes, and its flotilla of supplementary documents, is beginning to resemble that around Amoris Laetitia. I was talking specifically about the purpose of the document: what vision of the ecclesial landscape inspires it. Here I want to focus on the equally opaque reasoning behind it.

Last Sunday BBC Radio 4 aired a short report on the Traditional Mass. They talked to the Catholic blogger Maria Jones (do have a look at her channel ‘One of Nine’), a priest who says the TLM, and some Traditional Mass goers they found by chance outside a church. We also heard clips from Austen Ivereigh, papal biographer, and Cardinal Arthur Roche. (Listen here, 5min to 12min.)

On the subject of why TC had been issued, Ivereigh tells us that people who attend the Traditional Mass constitute a sinister ‘movement’ opposed to Vatican II. This claim is presumably inspired by Pope Francis’ 2021 Letter to BishopsThe difficulty with it is that even the most emotional and unsophisticated supporters of the Traditional Mass that the BBC journalists could find lend absolutely no support to this idea. If the ‘movement’ Ivereigh speaks of is only found in some obscure corner of the internet, then it is hard to know why Pope Francis has caused such heartache by restricting the Traditional Mass all over the world.

Cardinal Roche, on the other hand, spoke as follows:

You know the theology of the Church has changed. Whereas before the priest represented, at a distance, all the people. They were channelled, as it were, through this person who alone was celebrating the Mass. It is not only the priest who celebrates the liturgy, but also those who are baptised with him. And that is an enormous statement to make.

This is completely unrelated to the claims made in the Letter to Bishops, and it is hard to think of such a claim being made by a Curial Cardinal before. 

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