Archbishop Roche: Inept or a Liar?


As always these days there is a lot going on in the Church. Not much of it any good. Although this is a good thing announced by the Cardinal yesterday.

At the weekend there was an interesting breach in protocol when the Catholic website 1P5 posted an exchange of letters between the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols and the Prefect for the Congregation on Divine Worship and former bishop of Leeds in the UK, Arthur Roche.

I had to wonder who leaked it and what such an unusual leak might mean? Probably that quite a number of clergy are frustrated and upset by Traditiones custodes and what it means for the Church.

Clergy here have told me that Roche''s tenure as bishop of Leeds was not a happy one and he was "promoted" to Rome to get him out of the way — apparently this is not an uncommon phenomenon, however counter-intuitive it may appear. However "Uncle Arthur" as he is often called, is ambitious and the perfect individual to implement Pope Francis' war on the liturgy. Indeed, his animus toward the Traditional Latin Mass was wrote large in this essay distributed to all the bishops of the world in February 2020.

The exchange is quite technical and Cardinal Nichols is asking very reasonable questions about the implementation of Traditiones custodes. As we know, there are lots of questions to be asked regarding this vague document (a style which is becoming Pope Francis' hallmark). Cardinal Nichols is particularly interested in what happens with the other sacraments celebrated in the old rite, and he doesn't get much of a response. As Dr. Joseph Shaw points out on 1P5, the response from Roche implies that a “full implementation” of TC would end the provision of the other sacraments: this is not surprising, as TC aspires to end the celebration of the ancient Mass, and it would be odd if the other sacraments continued after that had come to pass. This is immediately qualified, however, by the need for pastoral sensitivity.

At the top of the second page, Roche writes this extraordinary passage:

This appears to be either a flagrant misrepresentation or complete ignorance.  Everyone who cares knows that as Father Z points out in his report here:

a perhaps mendacious element of the Roche/Nichols square dance, towit, the claim that Paul VI abrogated the 1962 Missal.

He didn’t. That’s false. He knows this.

When did the Congregation for Divine Worship become the Ministry of Truth?

Summorum Pontificum Article 1, states that the Roman Missal as promulgated in 1962 was "never abrogated". In the accompanying Letter written by Pope Benedict XVI to the World's Bishops, he states: 

"I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."
It would have made more sense for Roche to have argued that the 1962 Missal has now, by implication, been abrogated by Pope Francis by virtue of Traditionis custodes but that would simply leave the door wide open for Traditionis custodes to be abrogated itself by a future Pope. Roche chose instead to assert that it was "abrogated by St. Paul VI". But on July 7 2007, Pope Benedict explicitly excluded any such abrogation. 

The academic and liturgist Fr. John Hunwicke comments on this:
PF and his associates constantly write about "only limited concessions by previous pontiffs". This verges upon mendacity. Benedict made clear that the earlier Roman Rite was "in principle, always permitted."

This is not a slight matter. It is yet another example of the problems we all find ourselves in when one pontificate directly ... fully frontally ... contradicts, in a matter of historical fact or of Doctrine, what the previous pontificate made clear.

If Pope Benedict's clear statement ... made twice! ... that 1962 was not abrogated by S Paul VI can be trashed like this by a mere curial official, it is clear that definitive statements by the present Pope can also as easily be trashed. Or even more easily trashed!!

Are we all now called upon by PF and Arthur Roche to boldly trash where nobody has trashed before?
This might seem a small matter — but for any of us who have studied the Church the lack of respect for previous teaching, the lack of care and respect for the Magisterium and reputation of the office of the papacy is truly shocking and frankly unprecedented. It's not about whether one agrees with the decisions being made so much as the way things are implemented and then justified. It is an abuse of the power of the office.

Pope Francis is certainly making a mess as he promised!

At the Angelus at the weekend, the troublesome Pontiff returned to one of his favourite subjects: clericalism.
I could not help but wonder if there could possibly be a more egregious example of clericalism than Roche saying there’s been “unauthorised growth” in the TLM & therefore it must be stamped out? Who stamps out the work of the Holy Spirit other than an evil prelate? 

What does this say about Pope Francis promotion of a "listening Church" reacting to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Roche actually states that growth in the TLM is what has brought about this about. We also have evidence that the reason cited for all this is spurious. According to Pope Francis the consultation of bishops played a fundamental role in his decision to severely restrict the traditional Mass. As he said himself, the results so “preoccupied and saddened” him, that they “persuaded” him to “intervene.” And he ordered that the decree take immediate effect. However, veteran Vatican journalist Diane Montagna has revealed that the ball was already set in motion five months before the survey was even sent out.

Have you all seen all the praise the holy father is receiving from bishops for addressing this vitally important problem in the Church? Clearly much more important than the rampant and ongoing abuse, the ongoing financial scandals, etc etc. No, neither have I.

At what point do we start to wonder if this is little more than a deeply partisan attempt to promote a very specific agenda within the Church?


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