More on St. Mary Magdalene

Gregory DiPippo has a fascinating post at New Liturgical Movement on the recent elevation of the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene from obligatory memorial, in which he observes:

Fr Zuhlsdorf is certainly correct to predict that far too much will be made out of the fact that Pope Francis has raised the feast of a woman to a grade mostly occupied (as far as the general Calendar goes) by Apostles. Not only is this not a novelty, it is partially a return to the historical practice of the Tridentine Rite. In the Breviary of St Pius V, which predates his Missal by two years (1568), there were only three grades of feasts: Double, Semidouble and Simple. St Mary Magdalene’s feast was a Double, meaning that it had both Vespers, doubled antiphons at the major hours, nine readings at Matins, precedence over common Sundays, and had to be transferred if it were impeded. It is true that later on, as Double feasts were subdivided into four categories, she remained at the lowest of them (along with all the Doctors, inter alios). Nevertheless, the privileges of her liturgical rank did not even begin to be curtailed until late in the reign of Pope Leo XIII, at the end of the 19th century.

(Emphasis supplied and hyperlink omitted.) Of course, in the normative (for the Forma Extraordinaria) books of 1960/1962, St. Mary Magdalene’s feast is a feast of the 3rd class, though it is one of those rare 3rd class feasts with propers.

A couple of years ago, DiPippo wrote a very long, very interesting essay on St. Mary Magdalene’s feast more broadly considered, and it is well worth checking out when you have an idle hour.

That said, someone could profitably catalogue all the strangely traditional acts of the Holy Father. For example, in Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus, he restored, as we recall, traditional appellate jurisdiction in matrimonial cases to the metropolitan see (or the senior suffragan see in sentences rendered by the metropolitan). The restoration of St. Mary Magdalene’s feast to its post-1568 status is another such act. One wonders—we wonder, at any rate—whether there is any rhyme or reason or even a pattern to such acts.

The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Today, the Congregation for Divine Worship has released a decree, Resurrectionis dominicae, dated June 3raising the commemoration of St. Mary Magdalene from a memorial to a feast. Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation, has written a lengthy article for L’Osservatore Romano, currently in Italian, discussing the decision of the Holy Father to raise the commemoration of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast. Here is an interesting portion of the decree:

Nostris vero temporibus cum Ecclesia vocata sit ad impensius consulendum de mulieris dignitate, de nova Evangelizatione ac de amplitudine mysterii divinae misericordiae bonum visum est ut etiam exemplum Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae aptius fidelibus proponatur. Haec enim mulier agnita ut dilectrix Christi et a Christo plurimum dilecta, “testis divinae misericordiae” a Sancto Gregorio Magno, et “apostolorum apostola” a Sancto Thoma de Aquino appellata, a christifidelibus huius temporis deprehendi potest ut paradigma ministerii mulierum in Ecclesia.

(Emphasis supplied.) We are, of course, particularly interested in the decree’s reference to the New Evangelization. As you may recall, the New Evangelization was a major theme of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. However, since February 28, 2013, not much has been heard about the New Evangelization. (And, perhaps, with good cause: it seemed to be little more than a buzzword for many people.) It is, therefore, interesting to see St. Mary Magdalene being mentioned as an example in the context of the New Evangelization.

What is also interesting is the extent to which St. Gregory the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas are cited in the decree and Archbishop Roche’s article. Particularly the description of Mary Magdalene as “apostolorum apostola,” apostless of the apostles. Obviously, this is, as Rorate Caeli noted in a series of tweets, a more or less literary appellation. However, at a time when the enemies of the Church have decided to renew their efforts for the so-called ordination of women, such language must be used carefully—or not at all—lest false equivalences be drawn. If we have learned nothing else from the Synodal process, we have seen that the progressives will twist, contort, and restate facts until their conclusions, once thought ridiculous, become “inevitable.” Add to this the modern (Modernist?) fetish for the language of “rights” and “equality,” and you’ve got a powerful brew.

Of course, none of this is a reason not to celebrate Mary Magdalene’s feast. It is a reason to ask for her intercession that the teaching of the One she loved so dearly be upheld and defended in His Church, however.

You know and I know that we wouldn’t be satisfied

The Holy Father, on June 4, issued the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio Come una madre amorevole. (“Like a loving mother.”) The text is in Italian, and, so far, an English version has not been made available. One anticipates that an English translation will be made available in due course—though, recall that Mitis iudex Dominus Iesus was not made available in English for quite some time after it was promulgated—and one can always obtain a machine translation ad interim. Edward Pentin, of course, has some coverage at the National Catholic Register, where he reports:

In a new Apostolic Letter, issued motu proprio, entitled “Come una madre amorevole” (As a Loving Mother), the new norms provide for the removal of bishops (or those equivalent to them in Canon Law) from their offices in cases where they have “through negligence, committed or omitted acts that have caused grave harm to others, either with regard to physical persons, or with regard to the community itself.”

The Letter also clarifies in cases of “abuse of minors or vulnerable adults, it is sufficient that the lack of diligence be grave.”

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, said in an explanatory note that the apostolic letter “insists on the importance of vigilant care for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, calling for a ‘particular diligence.”

Therefore, he continued, “it clarifies that negligence regarding cases of sexual abuse committed against children or vulnerable adults are among the ‘grave causes’ that justify removal from ecclesiastical offices, even of bishops.”

(Emphasis supplied and hyperlink omitted.)

For our part, we note that Come una madre amorevole will undoubtedly be represented as establishing a mechanism by which bishops negligent in sex-abuse cases can be removed; however, it is by no means limited to that circumstance. It seems to us that, under Article I, § 1, of the motu proprio, almost any very grave negligence (Art. I, § 2) having a physical, moral, spiritual, or financial effect could result in an a process being initiated (likely in the Congregation for Bishops, Art. II, §§ 1–2).

Imagine the possibilities!