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The Vatican Agrees with 'Radical Traditionalists' - Modern Church Created a New Theology

The Daily Knight

Archbishop Arthur Roche speaks to Reuters in an interview in Vatican City, August 27, 2022. (Remo Casilli/Reuters)

In a stunning interview, Cardinal Archbishop Arthur Roche, the man the Vatican has placed in charge of extinguishing the Traditional Latin Mass that Benedict XVI in 2007 had widely permitted, admitted in an interview with the BBC that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his radical traditionalist followers are right — that the faith once delivered to the saints has been abolished and substituted by the Church in the 1960s.

“The theology of the Church has changed,” argued Roche. “Whereas before the priest represented, at a distance, all the people — they were channeled through this person who alone was celebrating the Mass.” Now, however, Roche stated that “it is not only the priest who celebrates the liturgy but also those who are baptized with him, and that is an enormous statement to make.”

Roche is of course misstating the old theology. The priest celebrates the Mass not as a representative of all the people, but in persona Christi. All present at Mass assist him in doing so. All talk of distance is a silly slander.

Roche’s words follow the line pursued by more-radical theologians after the Second Vatican Council. In fact, this is the very line of thought, when I encountered it in Karl Rahner’s Theological Investigations, that caused me to become a traditionalist. (Though Rahner by that time used the language of “president” and “assembly” rather than that of “priest.”)

Just as important as Roche’s confirmation that the present Vatican has done away with wide permission for the old Mass is his affirmation of the underpinning assumptions that Benedict XVI used to license it — namely, Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity,” or the idea that the Second Vatican Council did not impose upon the faithful anything substantively new or different from the faith that the Church held before it. Therefore, the old Mass and the new Mass must express the very same faith.

That is not this Vatican’s position. Roche and the Vatican agree with progressives who view the old Mass as unsuited to a Church that has a new theology. And so they agree with radical traditionalists, and the Lefebvrites, that the purpose of the new Mass was to impose a new religion upon the Church.

Benedict’s view — though I’m not sure that it was correct — at least tried to address the crisis of the Church. The Vatican’s current view can only deepen it.