The Mass of May 24 at Saint Mary Major’s

Source: FSSPX News


It would seem that for several weeks traditional groups of all tendencies have been almost dazzled and dazed with the most exaggerated and strange rumours. Why is this? In order to find an explanation, we need to retrace events.

As Sophie de Ravinel mentions in her article in the Figaro of May 24, things began with a discreet initiative on behalf of the Unavox association, the Italian branch of Una Voce. With its usual audacity which has paid off more than once, Unavox asked if a Tridentine Mass might be celebrated in Rome, in one of the major Basilica’s, in honour of the Rosary Year. This request was accepted and the date of May 24 fixed. The announcement made by Unavox went almost unheeded except in Traditional circles.

However, on Easter Sunday Il Messagiero took up the news and twisted it: they claimed an agreement was about to be signed with the FSSPX. Three bishops out of four were about to be reconciled to Rome, while a fourth had refused, and had taken a third of the Society’s followers with him. This news was immediately published in The New York and London Times.

Whoever spread the rumour, they did it effectively. An important person in Roman circles would seem to be at the bottom of it all.

This journalistic trick managed to throw traditional ranks into great confusion. The mass scheduled for May 24 was brought to the foreground and all the enemies of the Tridentine rite were made aware of it, whilst an association had supposedly already been formed to cater for the return of the Society to the fold: enough to awake the zeal of any jealous Vatican II caretakers. Henri Tincq spoke of doctrinal decline in Le Monde! During this time the internal unity of the Society and the agreement of all four bishops was made out to be under great pressure. Rumours of the maddest sort have circulated. The Superior General’s communiqué has been to little avail in this respect.

However, behind the scenes a salvage operation was already afoot. The various Ecclesia Dei communities, understandably interested by such a unique and rare opportunity, gradually took over the field and changed the initial intentions. In the end the Ecclesia Dei commission announced the Mass as though coming from its own initiative and gave the event a rather different interpretation. One need only compare it to that of Unavox a month earlier: the Mass would now be in celebration of the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s pontificate and in thanksgiving for the 1988 Motu Proprio.

The Mass finally took place in the presence of 5 cardinals, several prelates and 3000 people who filled the entire basilica. Cardinal Castrillon’s sermon will be available in the document section next Saturday. It mentions why the Mass is taking place, in honour of John Paul II and the 1988 Motu Proprio…Although the Cardinal declares that “the St Pius Vth rite of Mass cannot be considered extinct” and that “ it has its rightful place among the different Latin and Oriental Catholic rites.”, there is no noticeable progress regarding the status of the Tridentine Mass, nor are there any momentous declarations.

How may we judge this event now that it has taken place? As Bishop Felley has maintained from the beginning, it is a good sign, encouraging and positive, but it would be difficult to say more. We hope that it is a first step towards agreement to one of the conditions set out by the Society 2 years ago, if negotiations are to be undertaken: to allow all priests to freely celebrate the Tridentine Mass without any hindrance whatsoever.

It is also interesting to note the scandal in the media, which reveals a real antagonism and fear of the Old Mass throughout enemy ranks. Finally, followers of Tradition may be sure of one thing: the fight for the Mass is not yet over.