“The salvation of souls is the supreme law”

Par l'abbé Claude Barthe

Français, italiano

Salus animarum, suprema lex. Following Francis’ motu proprio published on 16 July 2021, the Congregation for Divine Worship has issued on 18 December a response to the dubia concerning Traditionis custodes, answers to questions they supposedly had received. The text, widely commentated, clarifies the intention of the motu proprio that is to abrogate, in the end, the traditional liturgy, while maintaining a transitory tolerance with strictly set limits for the use of the traditional missal for those still attached to it, but banning the use of the other liturgical books, especially the Ritual and the Pontifical.

These tyrannical and nitpick measures which reactivate the liturgical war with a traditional world alive and sizable is taking place at the worst time, meaning in a situation of collapse for Catholicism, provoking many critics even coming from “progressive” prelates. Therefore, it is yet not clear whether they will be applied. Though, if we obey these interdictions, there will be no more baptism nor marriages in the traditional rite, except in personal parishes and with the agreement of the bishop and furthermore, with no possible exception this time, no more confirmations nor ordinations in the traditional rite.

This law is clearly unjust in regards to pastoral care, and also because of its doctrinal motivation (the traditional liturgy is no more an expression of the lex orandi: a fundamental point we will address in the next issue of Res Novæ).

Therefore, to reject it is a right and, considering the object, even a duty. But, on what grounds should it be rejected? On the ground of the People of God, in the name of the sensus fidelium. It is clear, indeed, that the determination of the faithful is of the highest importance. Though, it remains that, when it comes to baptism, absolution, receiving the consent of spouses, giving extreme unction, or administering confirmation and ordination, it is the ministers of the sacrament who are, by necessity, again, on the front line.

“Again”, indeed, because in the years which followed the reform of Paul VI, if the Tridentine liturgy has survived it is because of all the priests and parish priests who continued to celebrate it. Then came, as a determining factor, Mgr Lefebvre (Mgr de Castro Mayer in Brazil) and the priests he (they) consecrated. This great sacerdotal and then episcopal refusal, very real, has, as we know, had a significant impact. It started a process of progressive tolerance, then followed by a recognition, supported by Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, in the shadow of whom the Ecclesia Dei communities developed for the greater good of souls and the service of the Church.

Today, so it is, without useless provocation, that the priests who have lived through this process and the bishops who support them, have now to assume with prudence and firmness, sustained by prayer and grace, a similar great refusal. For, what is at stake here is the continuation of the lex orandi and the salvation of many souls.

Fr. Claude Barthe