Well, the powers and principalities in the hierarchy did much more than pay attention to it. Although the Vatican Press office has shown itself completely incapable over the last 3 years of dispelling any of the confusion that arises from the calculated ambiguity of the Pope, suddenly the Holy See Press office develops “quick reaction force” capabilities when someone in the Vatican machinery accidently speaks like a Catholic.
Equally amazing is how those who daily disparage the 'Doctors of the Law' have suddenly morphed into strict rubricists unwilling to brook even the slightest perceived deviation from the GIRM. This sudden reactionary rubricism seems limited only to false interpretations of the GIRM, because anyone who has spent more than five minutes looking at the question understands that the 'wherever possible' of GIRM 299 applies to the placement of the altar and not the orientation of the priest. But mass 'facing the people' is the pre-eminent unwritten rubric of the Spirit of Vatican II, and thus turning together toward God will not be allowed and so the NuChurch ninjas were quickly deployed. But, no worries, the Vatican shows no signs of giving a hoot about any of the other daily violations of the GIRM so commonplace at the empty masses of today.
A reasonable person must look at the situation and the response and ask the simple question, "Why? Why such a reaction?"
The answer, in part, is politics.
It has been suggested that the Vatican and the Pope must really be afraid of ad orientem worship, of people turning back to God. I suppose that is true to a point, but they certainly didn’t fear that happening on account of Cardinal Sarah’s remarks. So again, why?
That is what this whole versus populum dustup is all about. It isn't that they fear ad orientem, quite the opposite, they fear the temporal power in Rome. Cardinal Sarah was crushed, not because they fear the spread of ad orientem, that wouldn't have happened even if the Vatican did nothing. They crushed him because they could. And now bishops and their toady conferences are rushing to join in because it is a consequence-free way of publicly pledging allegiance to the Novus Ordo regime without consequence. The only people who actually care about such things are few and far between, out of power, and easily marginalized. This is about power, pure and simple. Those who have it wield it, and those who want to keep theirs pledge allegiance to NuChurch by making a show of public obeisance to its cardinal unwritten rubric.
They are sending a political message. Continued opposition to NuChurch will not be tolerated. If we are willing to publicly oppose and humiliate a highly-placed Cardinal in the Church for saying something obviously good, true, and traditional, think of what we are willing to do to bishops of whom nobody has ever heard. Get on board or get out. Resistance is futile.
I think this is probably true of the new Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei quaerere, on women's contemplative life (VDQ). People may be tempted to think that they must really fear these few little pockets of traditional orders since they’ll go to all this trouble to quash them. But again, it is, in part, about the exercise of pure political power. They don’t like the fact that bishops and little orders under their control can resist. These pockets of resistance are few and far between and pose no real threat to the vast edifice of NuChurch, but the idea that resistance is even possible is intolerable to them. They have the power to squash it and they will use that power because they can.
All this is why I still think it is entirely possible that, even though it looks like talks with the SSPX have completely fallen apart, the Pope might still do something unilaterally to recognize the traditional order. You see, when it comes to resistance to NuChurch, there is no greater real threat than the SSPX. Under the current circumstances, the Vatican Machinery can exercise very little control over them. That cannot sit well with them. They have pulled the bait and switch on the SSPX twice now, bringing them to the edge of reconciliation only to try and have them sell their souls on the Vatican II altar. They have failed both times.
The SSPX did not cave like NuChurchers do.
So now something new is required. They want some control over the SSPX so that they can crush opposition. They very well may come to the conclusion that the only path to control is to grant recognition without much pre-condition in hopes that they will not want to lose what they have. Don’t be surprised if this happens. In the end, it is all about politics in NuChurch and politics is about power, and power unused is power lost.
Catch Patrick's regular column in The Remnant's Print/-E-edition!