The Archbishop of Ferrara in Italy and the Bishop of Montauban in France have both established personal parishes in their respective dioceses. These two parishes will be dedicated to the traditional Roman Rite.
Firstly, the definition of a “personal parish” should be noted. Normally a parish is “territorial,” that is, it is delimited according to geographical boundaries. It welcomes as parishioners all those who reside within these limits.
Alternately, a personal parish is not so limited, but welcomes parishioners who are members of a particular institution like the army, or of a special rite like the Eastern Rites in Latin-rite countries.
So, these new personal parishes will welcome any of the faithful wishing to attend the Tridentine rite.
The Archbishop of Ferrara, Msgr. Gian Carlo Perego, is not a bishop with traditional tendencies: indeed, he was appointed to reverse that tendency of his predecessor, Msgr. Luigi Negri.
However, he set up this personal parish in his diocese on June 9 - the third such parish in Italy - which he has entrusted to a diocesan priest.
It is likely that this process had been in the works for some time. But all the same, it is notable that the various rumors which agitate Italy, and which Msgr. Perego cannot ignore, have not in any way deterred him.
The pastor of this Diocese of Montauban is Bishop Bernard Ginoux who has a reputation as a conservative bishop. Its establishment is dated June 29, and it is the fifth in France.
The personal parish is located in Gasseras, on the outskirts of Montauban, and is entrusted to the Institute of Christ the King, an Ecclesia Dei community. It is true that the tendency of the bishops of France is to want to control the celebrations according to the old Roman Rite, and that is why they rarely welcome such a community.
Of course, we should be delighted to see the traditional Mass spreading, but the fact remains that these concessions remain fragile, subject to the good - or bad - will of the bishops. Thus the bishop of Dijon, Msgr. Roland Minnerath, has just closed an Ecclesia Dei establishment in his diocese, "anticipating," according to his words, the forthcoming reform of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
This shows that there is still a way to go before the Tridentine Mass is finally liberated. It also shows how prudent Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's position was. Through his unwavering attachment to the integral truth of Catholic doctrine, he bequeathed to his sons the legacy of an authentic freedom which protects them from abuse of power by the episcopate.