Reversal of sacramental theology

Source: FSSPX News


The reader with a good memory will recall the story of the famous anaphora (Eucharistic prayer) of Addai and Mari (recounted in French in DICI 46 and Nouvelles de chrétienté 73). A quick resumé of the facts to refresh our memories: in July 2001, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity promulgated a notice concerning the admission to the Eucharist of Chaldean Catholics at the (schismatic) Assyrian rite. Chaldean Catholics were permitted to assist at an Orthodox liturgy which does not contain the words of consecration. This decision was fraught with consequences, as it turned upside down all the sacramental theology taught by the Magisterium, and specified so clearly by the Council of Trent.
At the time, we were led to believe that this step was taken in response to numerous requests from the Chaldean Catholics. However it seems clear today that it was nothing of the sort, and that this document was rather the work of a pressure group whose sole intention was to overturn the sacramental theology of the Catholic Church, claiming that it was "the medieval theology of the magic of words."

According to the National Catholic Reporter of 16th November 2001, a particularly influential and respected man, an expert on Eastern Liturgy, Fr. Taft, S.J., was to a great extent responsible for this Roman document. Fr. Taft considers the decision by Rome as "the most remarkable decision that has been taken by the Holy See in the last 50 years" and compares it to the decision – less important in its impact, but by no means anodyne – to insert St. Joseph into the Canon of the Mass. It seems that the promoters of that cause were not all motivated by sentiments of devotion, but rather saw their actions as the first assault on the Roman Canon and the beginning of a vast program of experimentation.

Speaking of Catholic sacramental theology, it was Fr. Taft who dared so outrageously to describe it as the "medieval theology of the magic of words," forgetting so many patristic texts in which Catholic theology is rooted: "Accedit verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum – The word joins with the element and produces the sacrament," says St. Augustine, taken up by St.Thomas in his Summa Theologica. "Tolle ergo verbum, panis est et vinum: adde verbum, et fiet sacramentum – Take away the words, and you have nothing but bread and wine; add the words and the sacrament is accomplished." The clarity of these texts of apostolic origin is such that to speak of them as "medieval theology" in this regard can be put down to bad will.

Another influential personality is the Italian liturgist Cesare Giraud, S.J., professor at the Eastern Pontifical Institute, author of several articles on the anaphora of Addai and Mari. In a recently published article, he had no hesitation in stating: "We can affirm that with this document (the notice published by the Holy See, Editor), the theological systemization of the second Millenium has come to an end – and a glorious end at that."

The objectives of the major promoters of this movement are therefore clear and they make no secret of it. We thus understand why there is such intense agitation on the subject of the Assyrian liturgy which, it has to be said, is not only on a negligeable scale, but also is of no interest to the majority of Catholics of the Roman rite. All the interest of this cause lies therefore not in this liturgy, somewhat abstruse for Roman sensitivity, but in the use the modernist reformers make of it.

The consequences are astounding and, we have to say, extremely grave. The disappearance of sacramental theology from the Catholic Church will give boundless scope to all kinds of communicatio in sacris, and plunge even further into unofficial schism this section of the Church which is afraid of nothing.

That the avant-garde progressivists are delighted with this decision is totally understandable. What is more surprising is the reaction of certain members of the Ecclesia Dei movement, who seem to have forgotten the basic rudiments of Catholic theology. In their German publication, Una Voce Korrespondenz (January 2003), Fr. Lugmayr of the Fraternity of St. Peter, professor of dogmatic theology at the seminary of Wigratzbad, defended Rome’s decision. Since a man who sits on the fence is often more of a royalist than the king himself, he affirms that this document is infallible, and that those who dare to attack it must be condemned as proximi haeresias. The theological frenzy no longer knows any bounds.

For our part, we prefer the sure and solid ground of St. Augustine and the Council of Trent. He who dares to see heresy in these, is no longer of the Catholic Church.