Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment: Saint John Henry Newman and Aggressive Insolent Factions

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There can be no doubt that PF has presented us with yet another Rupture; and a rupture which (as well as having practical aspects) is also a rupture in the field of dogma. 

Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment: Saint John Henry Newman and Aggressive Insolent Factions

Pope Benedict XVI unambiguously taught that what, in liturgical tradition, has been loved and practised, cannot be simply forbidden. Pope Francis I has now declared that the Roman Rite has only one (unica) form; and that the form is the Bugnini-Liturgy. As logical and practical outworkings of their conflicting positions, Benedict XVI enacted that no priest of the Latin Church needs any permission whatsoever to celebrate the older form; Pope Francis I now as categorically asserts that the older form may not be celebrated without permissions galore.

Neither of these two contradictory positions has the authority of an infallible declaration by an Ecumenical Council or a Roman Pontiff. In fact, in each case, their authority is manifestly well below that of an infallible utterance. Which … if either … binds us?

I propose to look at attitudes adopted by S John Henry Newman at the time of Vatican I, confident that criticisms and qualifications which he deemed appropriate with regard to a doctrinally active and infallible Ecumenical Council will, a fortiori, apply to these much lesser papal declarations and in this current crisis. It seems to me that his guidance is all the more important in these days leading up to his Festival … if we are to celebrate this festival with any integrity.

Early in 1870, S John Henry received a letter from his bishop William Ullathorne about the disgraceful bullying going on at the [First] Vatican Council. He replied with words which became justly famous: “Why should an aggressive insolent faction be allowed to ‘make the heart of the just to mourn, whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful?'” … words which spring easily to mind when one thinks about the this pontificate in general, and Traditionis Custodes in particular. They are positively uncanny in their appropriateness! Seven months later, on 23 July, Newman saw the Definition of papal infallibility five days after it had passed through the Conciliar Aula. He was relieved, even delighted, at its “moderation”; it afforded him no problems.

But a further question did remain to trouble him. “Does it come to me with the authority of an Ecumenical Council?” 

Newman did not instantly accept it as such. He wanted to know what the conciliar minority would do. This was important, because unanimity, at least ‘moral’ unanimity, was accepted as essential for the validity of a conciliar definition of doctrine. If the Fathers “allege in detail acts of violence and deceit … if they declare they have been kept in the dark and been practised on, then there will be the gravest reasons for determining that the Definition is not valid.”

We may not possess ‘our Cardinal’s’ immense erudition. But we are subject to the same moral imperatives as those by which he was moved to speak and to act as he did.

If some papal intervention repeats or is in continuity with what the Church has immemorially taught and practised, then it is for that reason magisterial; if it were to bear manifest signs of shameless rupture, the reader would have to draw the necessary conclusion and repudiate it … to declare “This is not valid”.

Traditionis Custodes bears, unmistakably and aggressively, manifest signs of shameless rupture when it is compared with Summorum Pontificum. It bears upon its mendacious surface the very clearest marks of violence and deceit.

 These are troubled days when we, laics and clerics and bishops, are surely called upon to speak with the same Parrhesia that S John Henry employed. If members of the hierarchy attempt to bully, to intimidate, to abuse their status to silence any who speak out, we should remember ‘our Cardinal’s’ condemnations of an aggressive insolent faction

We have this Holy Father’s own reiterated encouragements of Parrhesia as our defence and inspiration. 

Not to mention Canon 212.

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