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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Latest buzz on the PECD Instruction

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will issue the much discussed Instruction on Summorum Pontificum in April, according to John Allen.

Significant worries that the forthcoming instruction might water down some of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, have led to the Motu Proprio Appeal which has, at the time of writing, been signed by 12,442 people. John Allen's article is reassuring to a degree. He has been speaking to some Vatican officials who have said off the record that the worries are unfounded.

According to his sources, the instruction will make it clear that Summorum Pontificum is part of the universal law of the Church and that therefore the Bishops must do what it requires them to do, such as make the usus antiquior available when groups of the faithful request it. Apparently the Instruction will also stipulate that seminarians should be taught the older form of the rite "so they will know how to execute it faithfully and understand what’s being said."

On the question of priestly ordination, the Instruction will apparently "probably not" give a diocesan seminarian the right to be ordained according to the older form. As Fr Z points out, the reasoning for this, given by John Allen's Roman interlocutors, is important: it concerns the question of minor orders. For those who are ordained in the older form, the presumption is that they have received the minor orders and the subdiaconate which were suppressed by Pope Paul VI in the 1972  Motu Proprio Ministeria Quaedam (here is an English translation.)

A senior ecclesiastic once said to me firmly that the minor orders had been abolished. I replied "Not any more" since seminarians in such bodies as the Fraternity of St Peter and the Institute of Christ the King are tonsured and ordained to the minor orders with the full approval of the Holy See. Fr Z puts the matter succinctly:
QUAERITUR: If there are no minor orders anymore, then why does the Holy See allow groups to pretend there are and go through fake ceremonies?
QUAERITUR: If there are still minor orders, then why can’t they be extended to all seminarians?
The questions raised make me wonder whether some seminarians will be tearing their own hair out instead of having it cut ceremonially.
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