(LifeSiteNews) — The following is an essay written by Archbishop Hector Aguer titled, “Approaches to ecclesial radiography.”
1. Canceled priests. I am not dealing now with what is happening internationally, but with an increasingly frequent phenomenon in Argentina, in various dioceses. “Canceled” is equivalent to displaced towards non-existence in the official number of priests who make up the clergy of a particular Church. They are deprived of the means to exercise the ministry and are disowned by the faithful. They are accused of being “traditionalists,” even when they do not move according to an ideology. Ideological is rather the principle of cancellation, namely, an elementary and shameless progressivism. Unfortunately, the authors are bishops. I have to think that they don’t know what they are doing, the unjust damage they cause, which does not justify them as innocent. The cancelers are dramatically responsible for such an attack on charity, they who fill their mouths talking about love. The number of canceled priests has grown recently, and this reality exhibits a mysterious side, because it is the mystery of the Church that is affected, the substance of charity that suffers a deterioration.
The remedy begins to be arbitrated when the fact is recognized, which slips without journalism addressing it, not even to discredit the Church. With this brief mention of the problem I want to encourage, once again, a possible and necessary solution. On the other hand, the canceled priests – it is inevitable that they recognize their situation – have the providential opportunity to join the Passion of the Lord and not to harbor feelings of hatred, but to strengthen themselves in hope and discreetly attend to the faithful who approach them. “There is no evil that does not come with good,” goes the popular saying. Another saying: “There is no evil that lasts a hundred years.” By denouncing the phenomenon I am contributing to making it publicly known; and a situation caused by that deliquescent progressivism that spreads to the harm of the Church and to the detriment of the priestly order can be remedied.
2. In this second approach I want to highlight a fact that the ecclesial radiography records if it illuminates the reality of the Church. The fact is a contrast, or better the result of a contrast: it is about the “success” of a parish community (analogously it could eventually be said of a diocese) in which Tradition is lived. I write “success” in quotes because the word has a tinge of worldly predominance. Simply, there we live the reality of the Christian life, which so often today falls into banality. The parish priest and other priests who serve there openly preach the truth; they do not ideologize it, but the truth is expressed normally, as all preaching should be. The faithful are widely offered the possibility of confessing, and in confession the criteria of Catholic morality are applied, without commitment to the relativistic lines that are ubiquitously spread. The liturgy stands out from the universally diffused set to the detriment of the liturgical mystery; it is characterized by accuracy, solemnity and beauty. The songs come from the traditional collection that has been formed over the years, although recently composed pieces are also included. It is true music, not elementary “guitarism”… The youth groups, with many members, spread authentic spiritual life and missionary spirit in the new components that are incorporated. The practices of piety are characterized by seriousness, without mannerisms that aren’t conducive to personal and community growth in faith. In short, they are today’s parishes as they should always be, let’s say – although the adjective may seem strange – normal, that is, as Catholic as they are very current. Tradition is a lived reality, not recited, it is the same as always in that what is always current is current, not a museum piece. It is not then about traditionalism (in that “ism” means an exaggeration).
3. Silenti opere (with silent work). The expression comes from the post-communion prayer of Mass 8 of the Marian Missal. One might think that this silent work has been the occupation of the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph, who always worked in the silence of God. Because God is Sigé, that is, silence.
To refer the expression to ecclesial life, and to the current radiography of the Church, it could be translated as “it is better that they do not realize it.” This caution frees us from exhibition – or exhibitionism – in which pride is hidden, the thought that “we are better.” Furthermore, it rescues the body in advance from some possible form of cancellation. This thought is typical of realism and knowledge of the life of the Church at the universal and national level. The figures of Mary and Joseph are very appropriate; they went unnoticed by the world and Judaism of their time. Exhibition is always dangerous, it can fall into the “run – run” of journalism. We are as we are for God, and only for Him.
I have previously said parenthetically that the description of a “successful” parish can be analogously valid for a diocese. In this case the silenti opere and its translation “it is better that they do not realize” have assumed the bishop’s membership in the Episcopal Conference. In my article “The Church and the Episcopate” I have referred to this organization that oppresses each bishop and subjects him to projects and programs that are intended to be common to all. A diocese with a good clergy, where the Catholic truth is preached, where the liturgy is well cared for and the attention of the faithful, with its lay apostolate organizations, is adequate, if it is displayed it runs the risk of some form of cancellation , which begins when they look at it and perceive the aroma of Tradition. The Episcopal Conferences are usually the organizations of progressive unification, and they do not easily tolerate a bishop making use of his freedom as successor of the apostles and depositary of an original authority.
4. The Rosary for men. On October 7, the fourth edition of the Rosary prayed by men in Plaza de Mayo, in front of the Cathedral Church, was held in Buenos Aires. In any massive event it is difficult to get the number of participants right; there is a spontaneous tendency to increase it. This time it would be about 300 (I prefer to “fall short”). Simultaneously, a similar prayer was carried out in several countries. The date had a meaning of deep symbolism: that day marked 452 years since the Battle of Lepanto, triumph of the Christian army over the Ottoman army, which threatened the faith and freedom of Europe. The weapons that fought under the Cross were commanded by Don Juan of Austria, brother of the Emperor Charles V. Pope Saint Pius V had entrusted the circumstance to the Blessed Virgin and urged people to invoke her by praying the Rosary; She would be Our Lady of Victory, patron saint of the Crusade. Because it was a Crusade, another episode of Christian resistance to the overwhelming advance of the Media Luna.
In Plaza de Mayo you could see the sincere and ardent devotion of the participants: I have been a witness. Although it is curious to interpret the episode in cultural and sociological terms, it must be said that it was a unique realization of the phenomenon that is recognized by applying the “gender perspective,” this time reclaiming masculine identity. Contemporary culture, shaped by extreme feminism, repudiates the virile condition and discards the father figure; he does not recognize in it the projection of the paternity of God, according to the logic of the Incarnation. Furthermore, he used to slander the religious attitude by presenting it as a womanly occupation. The truth is that the man expresses in prayer his virile nature as a gift and vocation of the original Creation, just as God has made things; he looked at his work and it had turned out very good. This is how it is read in the Book of Genesis (Gen 1, 12. 18. 25. 31).
On October 7, prayers were especially prayed for the Argentine people, and for the conversion of their leaders. At the end of the Rosary, the Plaza was surrounded, passing in front of the Casa Rosada, headquarters of the national government. There is no need to highlight the symbolism of this gesture; we entrust to the mercy of God the painful situation that Argentina is experiencing, with 41 percent poverty and indigence at a level never before experienced.
5. Liturgical complaints. Differences on liturgical issues were suggested during the sessions of the Second Vatican Council, but acquired the dimension of confrontation in the post-conciliar period. The first document approved by the great conciliar assembly was the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the Sacred Liturgy. This text expressed a reasonable degree of renewal, but was later described as conservative; such a judgment is undoubtedly exaggerated, but it suggests noting that the Conciliar Constitution contains a severe warning, which I quote ad sensum: “Let no one, even if he be a priest, change, add or subtract anything by his own authority in the Liturgy.” The real problem, and the consequent disputes, occurred in 1969 with the promulgation by Paul VI of the “new Mass,” that is, the reform of the Roman Rite of the Holy Sacrifice, the work of the Consilium ad exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, presided over by Bishop Annibale Bugnini. This prelate, universally reputed as a Freemason, was responsible for changing the Missal published in 1962 by John XXIII, for the new Mass, by Paul VI. The adjective new is fully justified: it is a creation of a rite that differs in almost everything from that consecrated by a tradition of many centuries and which, since Saint Pius V, in the 16th century, had been preserved unchanged. The criticisms pointed to what was essential, the ambiguity of a text in which the notion of sacrifice “evaporated.”
The complaint against this creation was raised as the main protagonist by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, an exemplary ecclesiastic and consecrated missionary. The dispute was triggered by the mandatory nature of the new rite and the persecution of those who disagreed. I abbreviate the course of events to indicate that Lefebvre created the Saint Pius X Institute, on which Roman sanction fell, which led to an involuntary schism. The persistence of Paul VI in imposing as absolute the obligation to adapt the new Missal of 1969 is astonishing. Little by little it was clearly perceived that another path should have been taken. Bishop Lefebvre’s position was widely shared for more than twenty years; an unusual division was created that damaged the union of discipline that in the Church is an expression of charity. It was John Paul II who began to put into practice a behavior of understanding and subsequent tolerance in many cases. His successor, Benedict XVI, remedied the unbearable situation by widely allowing the use of the Missal published by John XXIII in 1962. This position was consecrated by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, on September 12, 2007, received with relief and joy. by the Body of the faithful, except for the progressive sectors.
Unfortunately, this peaceful situation was altered by the current Supreme Pontiff, who in the motu proprio Traditiones custodes, published on July 16, 2021, put enormous difficulty in the previously wide possibility of using the 1962 Missal. It was now at the discretion of diocesan bishops to grant permission to celebrate according to the secular rite that Benedict XVI authorized, affirming that the ancient Mass was never abolished. The great Pope Ratzinger restored peace to the Church, disturbed by liturgical quarrels. This last observation allows us to measure the damage inflicted by the motu proprio Traditiones custodes; Bishops are not always custodians of Tradition, but many ignore it or fight it.
The ecclesiastical radiography reveals, without a doubt, numerous problems that could be focused on and of which I will deal – with the benevolent permission of the Lord – in other installments; I do not wish to lengthen this present.
+ Hector Aguer
Archbishop Emeritus of La Plata.