Avignon,_Palais_des_Papes_by_JM_Rosier

Canon 13 on the Sacraments in General of the Council of Trent decrees “If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, accustomed to be used in the administration of the sacraments, may be despised or omitted by the ministers without sin and at their pleasure, or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones, let him be anathema.” It does not seem as if this refers to the seven sacraments in their essence but to the ritual traditions of the Church. If indeed these cannot be altered that would explain why the Popes have promised never to alter the other Rites of the Church (e.g. in the Union of Brest) and why St Pius V felt able to claim he was canonising the Missal in perpetuity. As the Popes have universal ordinary jurisdiction, If Pontiffs cannot alter these rites, it can only be because they (as with the writings of the Father) embody the unwritten traditions passed down from the apostles. The Popes can no more abrogate the received and approved rites of the Church than they could abrogate the authority of St Augustine or St Basil. This would seem to explain why Pope Benedict stated that the 1962 Missal was ‘never abrogated’ (even though Paul VI clearly thought he had abrogated it). As Cardinal Ratzinger said, the Missal of 1970 was a  “banal on-the-spot product” i.e. a new rite, precisely what the Council of Trent forbade. Where then does that leave Paul VI and the Novus Ordo? I don’t think it makes Paul VI a heretic. The very fact he thought he could abrogate the 1962 Missal shows he thought the 1970 text was just another (albeit radically altered) version of the Roman Missal. It seems to make at least some of the officials responsible heretics as they were rather frank about having created a new rite and destroyed the Roman Rite. As for the Novus Ordo itself there seems no way round the conclusion that it is illicit. Or rather, that if Paul VI was right then the 1962 Missal was abrogated and Summorum Pontificum is wrong but if Benedict XVI is right then the Novus Ordo is illicit. Is that even possible? Well it is certainly very wicked for a bishop to deliberately refuse to visit his own diocese and yet enjoy his episcopal rights there, and yet this is just what the Popes did for seventy years in the fourteenth century.  So there are precedents for catastrophically bad and indeed unlawful prudential decisions by Popes lasting the better part of a century and ending in an appalling schism. Plenty to look forward to then…

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