Another aspect of his analysis focuses on how the "collegial" understanding of episcopal governance after Vatican II has led the Pope to become increasingly a captive of the legislative Church. In case after case, such as the correction of the "pro multis" words in the Missal, Ferrara shows how the Pope has felt obliged to give up any suggestion that he has any authority to command correction of an error in fidelity to the Gospel as the Vicar of Christ and, instead, to solicit the agreement from the various national bishops conferences and various other organs of the "Legislating Church."
A key feature of the bureaucratization of the Roman curia, Ferrara says, was the elevation of the Vatican Secretary of State during the Paul VI pontificate to the status of virtual prime minister of the Church, by placing his office above all the Vatican dicasteries, including the CDF, as "a kind of Vicar of the Vicar of Christ." His illustrations of these points are telling and troubling, both in the case of Cardinal Angelo Sodano (e.g., in connection with the Fatima interpretations), and in the case of Cardinal Bertone.
One of the most fascinating parts of Ferrara's analysis for me was his section of the "Vatileaks" scandal:
The dominance of the Secretary of State over the affairs of the Legislating Church has been revealed to the whole world in the scandal now raging over the contents of private correspondence to the Pope leaked from the papal apartment by the Pope’s majordomo (head of household), Paolo Gabriele. Among the leaked items is a most revealing letter to Cardinal Bertone from Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke, who is head of the Apostolic Signatura (the Catholic Church’s highest tribunal) and is also a member of the CDW.Ferrara asks how it is that the Vicar of Christ is reduced to the suggestion that Cardinal Burke's "very correct observations" concerning the abuses of the Neocatechumenal "liturgy" be translated for the sake of the CDW? Why does the Pope not intervene directly himself to put an end to the liturgical abuses of "the Way" of Kiko and Carmen? Why does he not simply govern the Church directly, restoring good order in keeping with his traditional authority? Ferrara writes:
In an article dated June 3, 2012, the Italian daily La Repubblica quoted excerpts from Burke’s letter, which protests the recent (January 2012) approval by the Pontifical Council for the Laity—yet another of the proliferating organs of the Legislative Church—of “those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way which do not appear by their nature to be regulated already by the liturgical books of the Church.” What precisely this ambiguous approval covers has been the subject of controversy ever since—a result all too typical of post-Vatican II pronouncements by Vatican departments. Seizing on the ambiguity, the two founders of “the Way”—that famous pair of neo-Catholic kooks, “Kiko” Arguello and Carmen Hernandez—are claiming approval of the neo-Catechumenal liturgy as such.
But, quite tellingly, the CDW, which has jurisdiction over the liturgy, was not involved in this “approval.” Hence Cardinal Burke’s letter to Secretary of State Bertone objects to an invitation Burke had found on his writing desk, announcing a ceremony marking the “occasion of the approval of the liturgy of the Neocatechumenal Way.” Wrote Burke: “I cannot, as Cardinal and member of the Congregation for Divine Worship, fail to express to Your Eminence the astonishment the invitation has caused me. I do not recall ever having heard of a consultation [with the CDW] regarding the approval of the liturgy as such of this ecclesial movement. I have received in recent days from various persons, including a respected bishop in the United States, expressions of concern regarding such a papal approval. This news had been for me pure rumors and speculations. Now I have discovered that they were correct.” As reported by La Repubblica, the letter ends with Cardinal Burke’s declaration that “As a faithful student of the teaching of the Holy Father on the liturgical reform that is fundamental to the new evangelization, I believe that such liturgical innovations, even after the correction by the Prefect of the [CDW], do not seem consistent with the liturgical magisterium of the Pope.”
In a further revelation, John Allen of National Catholic Reporter reports that the Pope read and then attached a handwritten note to Burke’s letter, stating: “Return to Card. Bertone, inviting Card. Burke to perhaps translate these very correct observations in the Congregation for Divine Worship.” Yet these “very correct” observations by Cardinal Burke concerning the Pope’s teaching on the liturgy have not impeded what is now being trumpeted as “Vatican approval” of the bizarre liturgy of the Neocatechumenal Way, which includes dancing around an altar table, consecrated Hosts the size and consistency of personal pan pizzas which crumble and leave numerous particles on the floor, lay preaching in the form of “resonances,” standing throughout a “Eucharistic Prayer” accompanied by guitar music, and the reception of Holy Communion while standing in the pews.
The answer is revealed by an incident of which I was reliably informed during a recent Ignatian retreat at the Retreat House of the Society of Saint Pius X in Ridgefield, Connecticut. During an audience with the Pope, Bishop Fellay found himself alone with the Pope for a moment. His Excellency seized the opportunity to remind the Pope that he is the Vicar of Christ, possessed of the authority to take immediate measures to end the crisis in the Church on all fronts. The Pope replied thus: “My authority ends at that door.” (Castel Gondolfo August, 2005)Food for thought.
Today it appears that the Vicar of Christ has become a captive of the democratization of the Church according to a model of “collegiality” that purports to replace the monarchy which the papacy established by Christ the King really is. It seems that the Pope views himself as but a cog, albeit the biggest and most important cog, in the vast clockwork of a Legislating Church whose “decisions” must be allowed to operate autonomously and by consent of the governed in keeping with the collegial and democratic mechanisms of the new model. No longer seeing himself as a monarch with the prerogatives and peremptory authority of a monarch, the Pope of the Legislating Church feels constrained to rely on mere suasion and appeals to procedural due process in the hope of effectuating what he wishes to see done.
[Hat tip to A. Sistrom]