Francis's Decrees Confuse Modernists

March 09, 2022

The Fribourg liturgy specialist Klöckener considers the complete liberation of the pre-conciliar liturgy for the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) by a decree of Pope Francis as being “totally incomprehensible in substance.”

Martin Klöckener is a professor at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. A specialist in the liturgy, he teaches practical theology. The decree by Pope Francis in favor of the Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) deeply confuses him.

For this liturgist, Pope Francis seems to be following a zigzag course: first he radically limits the pre-conciliar liturgy, and now he gives the FSSP maximum concessions. The Fribourg specialist is clearly critical of this situation.

For him, with this decree, the pope has revised his own observation that there is only one form of expression of the Roman rite, namely the one that came after the liturgical reform, he writes in an article for the Swiss portal suisse mardi. “There are simply two recognized forms of expression again.”

Martin Klöckener expected new regulations for traditionalist communities in accordance with Traditionis custodes. “This would have required a reorientation of the self-image of the FSSP within the framework of the remaining liturgical possibilities.”

“The reason why the pope has decided otherwise remains an enigma for me,” explains the specialist in liturgy who spoke out in 2020, with more than 130 theologians, against a development of the preconciliar liturgy.

In the case of the FSSP, it is not a liturgy specific to the community, as it exists in many religious orders, emphasizes Klöckener. It is not a question here of certain texts and special rites or particularities in the liturgical calendar used, but “of the complete version of the Roman rite, replaced by a council.”

The pre-conciliar rites certainly constitute a “high-ranking testimony of the liturgical history.” But they are “often associated with theological, ecclesiological, episcopal-theological positions of the ministry that can no longer be reconciled with the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, the subsequent church documents and today’s theological knowledge,” continued the liturgist.

If we follow the reasoning of the eminent liturgist, rites that have been used for hundreds of years, and some for more than a thousand years, have become, because of the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, incompatible with current theology. Without forgetting that a certain number of these rites have been kept in the liturgical reform, and that very old elements have been reused, it is a strange positin to hold.

Thus, overnight, the lex orandi of the Church became false, erroneous, misleading, by the magic of decrees which are not infallible teachings. In a certain way, this is a claim that the Church has been mistaken during all these centuries, or that she had a very incomplete notion of what she is.

But it is possible to look at it another way. If this lex orandi, held to by the Holy Church for centuries, has kept all its value and its doctrinal capacity, and if our eminent liturgist has seen it right, then we must conclude that it is these decisions which are incompatible with the theology and doctrine of the Church. That would certainly pose a serious problem.