Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The "Motu-Mania" Pre-Indult Show

Its publication could come "any day now," but until it hits print, Pope Benedict's repeatedly-delayed motu proprio on the celebration of the Tridentine Mass is much like the famous diary of the late Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa: all that's known is that it exists... which makes any reportage on its contents difficult... but also of obsessive interest to many... if, for no other reason, because of the suspense factor.

(Ironically enough, some adherents of the Old Mass maintain that Siri -- legendary for his conservatism, among other things -- had been elected to the papacy in the conclave of 1958, chose the name Gregory XVII, was promptly forced into resigning by a liberal cabal, which then chose John XXIII -- who, due to the cited circumstances, was an antipope, along with all of his successors since.... This has been your "Sedevacantist Trivia of the Day.")

While separating the wheat from the chaff hasn't been easy on this one, it's why these pages are read, so here's the scene as it's looking. At least, for now. You never know -- the way things are going, it could all change in 20 minutes. Again.

As of earlier today, not one copy of the document had yet turned up at the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, nor among other usual suspects who customarily get embargoed copies of significant papal messages; alongside the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which handles matters pertaining to the Pian Rite indult, CDW and the Congregations for the Clergy and the Doctrine of the Faith were the three lead dicasteries involved in the consultations and prep-work for the drafting of the text.

The means of transmission has become an element of note as credible reports say that, like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's recent "Notification" on the work of the Basque Jesuit theologian John Sobrino, the world's bishops could be receiving a special cover letter over and above the public contents. It should go without saying that any such added missive on a topic which has engendered such strong reactions in many quarters of the global episcopate will be as interesting, if not moreso, than the integral text. With its cover letter, the Sobrino judgment was sent electronically to the bishops several days before its publication (sans cover) in the daily Bollettino of the Holy See Press Office and the pages of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

While supporters of the "classical" liturgy, placed in abeyance after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, expect the document to affirm the Mass of Pius V (in its 1962 version) as an immemorial custom of the Roman rite and the privilege of celebrating it under the new text's provisions as permanent, it's also been said that Benedict might implement his intended norms solely for an ad experimentum period of five years, at whose end the Holy See would revisit the question with the benefit of observing its results in the field.

That's the canvass as of this minute. As for the other shoe(s), wait and see.