Saturday, April 28, 2007

A 'Motu Proprio' Theory

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: This is just one man's theory, but I've been thinking about why the pope would wait so long releasing the much anticipated motu proprio liberalizing the Tridentine mass. It has been reported that Pope Benedict has had the completed document on his desk since last November. It is well known that Cardinal Ratzinger was notorious taking his sweet time in signing various documents. It has also been theorized that the pope is stalling the release to allow himself more time to align the Vatican with staff more friendly to Tradition.

'The Catholic Knight' has his own theory. As time passes, the liberal "anti-Tradition" element in the Church is starting to get more bold -- forming an "anti-Tridentine" coalition. Meanwhile, those in favor of the Church's historic Tradition have made their views widely known in public statements and manifestos supporting the pope in this action. While all this is going on, the Vatican remains silent. Why? What is the Vatican doing? Perhaps the Vatican is simply taking notes. Perhaps the pope is using this time to allow the Church to polarize, with "pro-Tradition" Catholics making themselves plain to see, while "anti-Tradition" Catholics reveal their naked desire to abandon history, and remake Catholicism in their own image. All the while, the Vatican waits silently and takes notes. Who is who, and where do they stand? Perhaps taking down names, places, and what was said; there is no telling what a silent institution might be doing. But it is curious that the only thing we've heard about are minor leaks with no official announcements or press releases.

In American politics they call this "trial balloons," a name that's a little deceiving. There is nothing "trial" about them. When an administration plans to change policy, or make a new one, the decision is already made before the "trial balloon" is "floated." How the public reacts to the "trial balloon" will not change the administration's decision to implement the new policy, rather it simply changes how the administration will deal with (and suppress) the opposition. The idea being that a leak of the policy is made to the press, long before any official announcement. The press runs with it of course, and people start to react -- some positively and some negatively. It's the negative reaction the administration keeps their eye on, taking notes, and watching how arguments are formed. This allows the administration to formulate counter-punch answers to tough criticism long before the policy is ever announced. Which of course helps the administration to be prepared for the political resistance they'll receive once the policy is officially announced.

I almost wonder of the pope, and the Vatican, are doing something similar, but with far more reaching implications. In politics its all about rhetoric. But in ecclesiastical matters, with strict hierarchal orders, mere rhetoric can translated into resignations and "early retirements" very quickly. The Vatican's silence may be easily explained by simply saying the pope is floating his own "trial balloons" for the sole purpose of scanning the horizon to see where his trouble spots may be, and how he might quickly and effectively deal with them. That's just one man's theory anyway.