Motu proprio on the Mass: advance reactions and attempts at intimidation

Source: FSSPX News


Several days before the Plenary Assembly of the bishops of France (November 3 –9) at Lourdes, three leading members of the Episcopal Conference have had successive meetings with Benedict XVI in Rome: Cardinal Lustiger, former archbishop of Paris (October 23), Mgr. Vingt-Trois, the current archbishop of Paris (October 24-25) and Cardinal Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux and President of the Bishops Conference (October 26).

 Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger’s audience was already in the pope’s official diary. Mgr. Vingt-Trois made a brief visit to Rome between October 24 and 25. On this occasion, he may also have visited the pope, but there was no official notice of this.

 On the other hand, the audience granted by Benedict XVI to Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard was marked in the official diary, for October 26, late morning. Twenty days earlier, the archbishop of Bordeaux had confirmed, in the editorial of his diocesan paper, L’Aquitane, that he intended to go to Rome in order to “ask for further information” on “the prerequisites granted in the [recent] recognition” of the Bon Pasteur Institute.

Doubtless the forthcoming motu proprio on the Traditional Mass has also been the subject of the numerous Roman interviews conducted by the French cardinal, who is a member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. “I have seen the pope and I have spoken with him about the situation in France,” he stated briefly to the agency I. MEDIA, shortly after his audience. Asked if he had obtained clarification from the Sovereign Pontiff, he replied that he had “from elsewhere.” Several sources told I. MEDIA that the high ranking prelate had arranged meetings in different dicasteries, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he is a member.

 On October 26, on his return to Paris, Mgr. Vingt-Trois gave a conference at the Catholic Institute, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Higher Institute of the Liturgy, at the end of which he was given a standing ovation. Here are some noteworthy extracts from that conference.


“In France, the liturgy has been used in a debate about something entirely different. In certain caprices or certain liturgical aberrations, one can identify the auto-celebration of the assembly itself instead of the celebration of the work of God, or even the sign of a new model of the Church. On the other hand, in the guise of the mobilization for the defense of a liturgical form, we are really witnessing a radical criticism of Vatican II, indeed a pure and simple rejection of some of its declarations. The rejection of liturgical books lawfully promulgated was followed by public abuse of the popes and crowned by acts of violence, like the taking by force of a parish church in Paris and a second abortive attempt by the same perpetrators.

 “It would serve no useful purpose to recall these sad events if they were not of a nature to clarify the current context. None of the protagonists of these battles believed or said that the problem was primarily, and even less exclusively, liturgical. It was and remains an ecclesiological problem. It poses clearly the question of the sense of the ecclesial unity in communion with the See of Peter. It puts clearly the question of the authority of an ecumenical council and its declarations voted by the assembly of the episcopal college and promulgated by the chief of the bishops, head of the college.

 “If I evoke the bases of the liturgical debate, it is because they seem to me to constitute a theological and spiritual domain of our experience of the Church. If the liturgical controversy has played such a major role of smokescreen for another debate, it is precisely because the liturgy is also a telltale sign of the experience of the ecclesial communion. It is not a spectacle in which we could criticize at our leisure, the program and distribution, and correct the score. It is the expression of the faith and of the communion of the Church. It is, in a Christian regime, the constituent action of the Church: “every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree” (SC 7). (…)

 “For my own part, I inherited from Cardinal Lustiger, a generous and ecclesial practice of the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. I am happy that this practice has allowed sincere Christians to remain in ecclesial communion and to have their place there just as they have their place in the pastoral of the diocese. I think that this communion would make even greater progress if we were willing to abandon anathemas and outbidding. A sign of this progress would surely be if everyone celebrated the Eucharist following the same liturgical calendar and the same lectionary. How much unity would progress if we all heard the same Word of God every Sunday, if we celebrated Our Lord’s feasts and the same saints together!”


Should the calendar of the missal of Paul VI be applied to the traditional Mass?

 Interview with a French priest, a former collaborator of CNPL (Centre national de la pastorale liturgique - National Center of the Liturgical Pastoral Mission) who wished to remain anonymous. La Lettre de Paix Liturgique (no 58 – October 27, 2006)

What do you think of the notion of certain individuals who state that the liturgical calendar of the missal of Paul VI should be applied to the celebration of the Mass of St. Pius V?

 I think we should ask ourselves sincerely and as Christians what is the real intention hidden behind this proposal.

It actually seems to me that this is really rather provocative and likely to cause discord.

I say discord, because of those to whom the Holy Father is finally proposing peace, many will not accept it, or accept it badly, which would allow the opposition to state that whatever they do, the “tradi” faithful are never satisfied…

Discord also on the part of the faithful in the Society of St. Pius X circles, who will see it as another example of episcopal bad faith and another obstacle to the necessary reconciliation. It would be crazy if decisions aimed at making peace were perverted and became agents of conflict… when peace is so essential!

Let us add to that, that such a proposal was never the intention of the legislator. The letter Quattuor abhinc annos, of October 3, 1984 on which subsequently the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988 was based, says very precisely “Let there be no mixing of the two rites or the texts from one missal to the other.” And Cardinal Mayer, the first president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, wrote to the American bishops on April 19, 1991: “Considering the ‘wide and generous application’ of the measures formulated in Quattuor abhinc annos and the principles decreed by the Vatican II Fathers (Sacrosanctum consilium 51 and 54), the new lectionary in the vernacular could be used in order to present “the table of the Word of God, with greater richness” in Masses celebrated according to the 1962 missal. However, we think that this usage must not be imposed on assemblies who decide to preserve the ancient liturgical tradition in its entirety, as the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei authories.”

 It seems to me unthinkable to propose, or even worse, to impose the following of the new calendar on celebrations of the Tridentine rite. (…)

 - But does having several calendars not pose a problem for unity?

 We must be on our guard against judgments which are too Manichean. Feasts already exist which are celebrated on different dates; in fact, some of our fellow Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter on different dates, which seems to me far more important. Moreover, we have to face facts: dioceses, countries, religious orders all have a different calendar! Some have their own feast days, others give a different degree of solemnity to the same feast day. This idea of an identical and universally imposed calendar makes absolutely no sense, because it does not correspond with the reality of the life of the Church, which is rich in very ancient traditions, and only to be touched with the greatest respect. Could we ask the Franciscans or the Dominicans to abandon their feast days? Should we accuse them of breaking the unity (of the Church)? This hardly seems sensible. All the same it is a very recent and quite revolutionary idea to think we can modify, according to intellectual schemas, the treasures of these different traditions which the Church has bequeathed to us and which we should preserve as our greatest treasure. There is a perverted intellectualism here which does not correspond with what the current Holy Father recognizes as the Spirit of the Liturgy and which could turn into a form of ideology contrary to the thinking of the Church.


The “Paix Liturgique” movement describes itself as gathering together Christians who “wish to live their Catholic faith in the Church to the rhythm of the Traditional liturgy as the pope authorizes it, notably since the promulgation of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988”.


On October 17 and October 25, two declarations were published, one coming from the six bishops of the ecclesiastical Province of Normandy, and the other from the ten bishops of the Province of Besançon and the Concordat dioceses of Strasbourg and Metz. The first one warmly thanks the priests of Normandy for their fidelity to the Second Vatican Council, the second informs the Holy See of the threats which are hanging over the orientations of Vatican II, due to the creation of the Bon Pasteur Institute and the eventuality of the publication of a Motu proprio generalizing the use of the Tridentine rite.

 Letter from the bishops of the Province of Normandy to all priests of the Normandy dioceses

Throughout his ministry in the service of the Universal Church, John Paul II, sought to be faithful to the Second Vatican Council. He suffered greatly over the division of Catholics, and prayed for the restoration of communion. This same desire animates Benedict XVI. The routes towards dialogue and reconciliation recently opened, surely have you asking questions, perhaps causing you worry, and so we want to express our esteem for you and our confidence in you. You welcomed Vatican II as a gift of the Spirit. You have worked tirelessly to receive and improve your knowledge of its teachings, and carry out the reforms which the aggiornamento of the Church, wished for by Blessed John XXIII, required. (…)

“What riches Vatican II has given us in its orientations! As the years pass (the texts of the Council) lose none of their value or their brilliance. They must be read in an appropriate manner, be known and assimilated, as qualified and normative texts of the Magisterium, situated within the Tradition of the Church… More than ever, I feel it my duty to point to the Council as the great grace from which the Church has benefited in the twentieth century; it offers us a reliable compass to guide us on the road at the start of this century.” John Paul II, Apostolic letter At the dawn of the new millenium, January 6, 2001, n° 57.

 We want to say, thank you. We reiterate to you our fraternal esteem and our confidence.

Lisieux, October 17, 2006.


Jean-Charles DESCUBES, archbishop of Rouen

Jean-Claude BOULANGER, bishop of Sées

Michel GUYARD, bishop of Le Havre

Christian NOURRICHARD, bishop of Evreux

Pierre PICAN, bishop of Bayeux and Lisieux

Michel LE BLOND, diocesan administrator of Coutances and Avranches


Communiqué from the bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Besançon and the bishops of the Concordat dioceses of Strasbourg and Metz

 Assembled on October 25, 2006 at Lons-le-Saunier, as part of the Regional Authority of Bishops and Priests, the bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Besançon and the bishops of the Concordat Dioceses of Strasbourg and Metz, have decided to make known to the Holy See their concerns caused by the creation of the Bon Pasteur Institute, in the archdiocese of Bordeaux, and the eventuality of the publication of a motu proprio by Benedict XVI granting general use of the Tridentine rite for the celebration of the Mass.

 The bishops, mindful of the common good and the unity of the Church, have taken this initiative on account of the distress felt by many faithful, deacons and priests of their respective dioceses.

 Believing that the liturgy is the expression of the theology of the Church, the bishops fear that the generalization of the use of the Roman Missal of 1962 will relativize the orientations of Vatican II. Such a decision would also risk compromising the unity between priests as much as between faithful.

For many years, major efforts in liturgical training have been achieved, the bishops are very happy about this and encourage their diocesans to continue with the work they are engaged in.

 Mgr. André LACRAMPE, Archbishop of Besançon

Mgr. Claude SCHOCKERT, Bishop of Belfort-Montbéliard

Mgr. Jean-Louis PAPIN, Bishop of Nancy and Toul

Mgr. Jean LEGREZ, Bishop of Saint-Claude

Mgr. Jean-Paul MATHIEU, Bishop of Saint-Dié

Mgr. François MAUPU, Bishop of Verdun

Mgr. Joseph DORE, Apostolic Administrator of Strasbourg

Mgr. Christian KRATZ, Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg

Mgr. Jean-Pierre GRALLET, Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg

Mgr. Pierre RAFFIN, Bishop of Metz


 In La Vie of October 19, Mgr. Claude Dagens, bishop of Angoulême, gave an interview in which he expressed his latent opposition with obvious concern.

 - The aim of this measure is to reintegrate the integrists. What do you think of this?

The Church is like a family. In a family you cannot be resigned to permanent estrangement. It is normal to wish for a reconciliation. But, as Cardinal Ricard has said, it must be achieved in charity and truth. These are very strong words. Now, with the creation of the Bon Pasteur Institute, Rome is proceeding by a partial rallying of priests. Is it an act of reconciliation? I rather have the impression that this is creating a power struggle, where there will be a winner and a loser. However, I do not believe that the struggle for power will be the law which determines life according to Christ and the Gospels. One cannot believe that the reason for the break of Archbishop Lefebvre with the Church was caused solely by the liturgy, and therefore that the solution to this rupture would be the re-establishment of the freedom of the Mass of St. Pius V. There are extremely profound and painful reasons for this schism – I use this word with great reluctance – which are theological. I am not certain that those who have followed Archbishop Lefebvre have understood the true sacramental nature of the Church. They often see it only as a political and social force. But, as Vatican II proclaimed in Lumen gentium, the Church is first of all the sacrament of Christ. It has its source in the mystery of God and it passes through us.


- Is it possible to envisage the bi-ritualism of the Eucharist?

If ever bi-ritualism were to be imposed in an authoritarian way, we would be in a very grave and worrying situation. The liturgy is not an object to be manipulated. The rites are not the property of groups of people. It would be detrimental for Christian authenticity and the life of the Church if two different rites were to become the property of Catholic groups who brandished them as standards. Otherwise we are no longer in the realm of Catholic logic. For we cannot separate a question of a disciplinary nature (concerning the reintegration of the integrists) from the truth of the Church.


- Is the question of the unity of the Church at stake?

Yes. And this is not the first time that there has been spiritual combat which meant suffering for and through the Church. In the third century, St. Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage had to face the question of the reintegration into the Church of the Lapsi (those who had renounced their faith) during the persecution under the emperor Decius (in the year 250). At Carthage, there were those who wanted to reintegrate them cheaply. But St.Cyprian could not accept this. He wanted their reintegration in to the Church to be carried out according to stringent requirements. This experience is part of Catholic truth.

 This truth is that of the communion of the Church, which passes through the eternal work of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the crises of history, and also through confrontations and real dialogues between all the leaders of the Church. I recognize myself in the Passion that St. Cyprian lived, his great suffering, his concern in the spiritual battle he fought for the communion of the Church.


- Would the “motu proprio” sanction the possibility, for priests and faithful, to choose one right over the other?

They talk of the “liberalization” of the Mass of St. Pius V…This expression leaves me perplexed. Can we criticize liberalism in civil society, and incite its practice in the body of Christ, by leaving everyone the freedom to choose according to their sensitivity? Is that what faith is? Can we all have our own personal religion? The liturgy is beyond individual liberties, it is God’s gift to the Church.


On October 21, Mgr. Gérard Defois, archbishop of Lille, declared to Le Figaro: “This reconciliation cannot be achieved at the price of turning the page on the Council.”

 - What do you think of a rehabilitation of the Latin liturgy of St. Pius V?

This liturgy has formed generations of Christians and possesses a true greatness! That is not the problem. The problem lies in the vision of the world often conveyed by those who put themselves forward as its defenders, in their refusal to adapt the Church to modern society, in their integralistic reading of the Gospel of Christ the King which confuses the reign of God with that of men. There may be intellectual collusions between certain extremist political movements and religious justifications. We have to be vigilant. I also remember certain sermons which were streams of abuse against the pope or the violent occupation of churches…


- Is Benedict XVI not hoping to resolve the Lefebvrist question though this?

In what state of mind will they join the flock and participate in the communion of the Church? I wonder…Reconciliation cannot be achieved at the price of turning the page on the Council which is part of the dogmatic tradition of the Church. Once more, the restoration of the Tridentine rite would not trouble me. But on condition that questions relative to ecumenism, relations between religions and liberty of conscience, are dealt with. In short, everything which John Paul II considered fundamental in his first encyclical, “Christ the Redeemer of Man.”


- What would you propose?

I am always surprised at liturgical tensions. The problem is first and foremost, spiritual and dogmatic – I have had experience of this over the past thirty-four years. We have to talk together more profoundly. It is the word of God and the tradition of the Church which must bring us together, not a political negotiation. This still seems to me to be the dominant language of certain people. In Rome, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos may be able to build bridges. Well and good. On condition that this is achieved in truth. Be that as it may, I am very much at ease with the theology of Benedict XVI and have every confidence in him.


In the October 26 issue of Témoignage Chretien, Mgr. Jacques Noyer, former bishop of Amiens, and well known for his progressive opinions, urged Benedict XVI in these terms: Most Holy Father, don’t do that!

 “We could regard the disputes about the liturgy as simple squabbles among clerics of no importance. Let’s close the sacristy door and get on with more serious things. But we know very well that the issue of this return to yesterday’s habits reflects the Church’s self-perception and the image she wishes to show the world. If, as she believes, she is the Sacrament of the Union of men in the love of the Father, she says it better and more loudly by making some public gestures rather than with heavy theological theses reserved for the experts.

“When the priest turns his back on the people and starts talking in another language, he is inhabited by another spirit than when he is sitting among the people in order to share with everyone the joy of believing. On one side, God is a chief and judge, who demands obedience; on the other,  He is a God who sent his Son to reveal the heart of the Father. On one side, officers, proud of the part in Divine authority which He has delegated to them, on the other, brothers chosen to read with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 “If Vatican II has marked the contemporary Church so greatly, it is because it was pastoral and not doctrinal. It awoke something of the Tradition, that Christianity, asleep in its certitudes, had perhaps forgotten. The Church recalls that she is “serving and poor”, that she was made to bring hope and confidence to the anguish of the world. This is what it’s really about, and not just a few whims about tastes in ceremonies.

 “The manifold signs of fragility, the disarray of a less triumphant institution, the nostalgia for a more self-confident Church, the anguished search for signs of identity, the regaining of control into clerical hands of certain domains, the rediscovered authority of the theologian over the pastor, all this is the action of a Church which is tempted “to take one step forward and two steps backwards, like a crayfish” in the words of Umberto Eco. And now they announce as imminent, a pontifical decree which would allow all those who want to go back to before the Council, to do so. That there be discussions at the heart of our communities, this is of course normal. One does not lead a fleet as diverse as the Church without certain tensions and even some collisions. But when it is the Admiral who seems to hesitate about following his route, that is much more serious. Let there be a request to make room for a lost boat, why not? But to see it claiming first place in order to change the general direction, this is unacceptable. To give every priest, as they have let it be known, the possibility if doing an about-turn, under the pretext of tolerance and charity, is creating anarchy in the fleet. The squadron will be nothing more than a group of pleasure boats.

“I would like to shout to the pope before it is too late: Don’t do it! You have listened to the complaints of some defaulters and your previous analyses show that you share some of their hesitation. But for pity’s sake, you are the pope! Do not allow our Church to get involved in new storms where more of her children will drift away. You criticized the aftermath of Vatican II for having exaggerated the rupture… do not believe that a new rupture will bring back wisdom. Since you have been pope you have shown the face of pastor, which your role of theologian had obscured. Do not disappoint all those who have sincerely appreciated what you have said and done up to now.”


On October 23, in La Croix, Dom Jean-Pierre Longeat the Benedictine abbot of Ligugé, saw the unity of the Roman liturgy called into question by the forthcoming motu proprio, while pointing out the two theologies which have inspired the two Masses.

 “ (…) The real problem lies elsewhere. The liturgy is a theological domain. The Ordo Missæ of 1969 brought into play especially the theology of the dogmatic constitution on the Church. Lumen gentium presents the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ and at the same time, the People of God gathered in Christ’s name; thus the Council says that the Church is “a kind of sacrament, that is to say, the sign and the means of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.” (LG 1)

“In the face of the dangers of individualism linked to the development of mentalities over several centuries, Vatican II and the liturgical reform which resulted from it insist on the ecclesial gathering as a global sacrament. Such a sacrament is unfurled in the liturgy, but also in relation with the fraternal communion within and between ecclesial communities. The community par excellence is the People of God gathered in their local church around their bishop, each member having his place in this unique Eucharist in close communion with everyone: assembly, presbytery (by which one well understands, in this perspective, that concelebration is encouraged), deacons and other ministers.

The theological priority of the Council of Trent was different (even if the ecclesial aspect was present). It wasto highlight the reality of the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic bread and wine and the sacramental role of the priest, against the Protestant Reformation. This is why the sacred action of the priest is emphasized. The words which he pronounces in persona Christi permit the transsubtantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Certainly in the ritual of 1969 the ministers keep an essential role in this domain, but the insistence also concerns the fact that they are acting as ministers of the ecclesial community (in persona Ecclesiae), ministers “of the Head and the Body.”


On the difference between the traditional Mass and the Mass of Paul VI, the October 19 issue of La Vie does not hesitate to run the headline: From one Mass to another, the great disparity, which shows what differentiates the one from the other.

 “From the account of the Last Supper given by St.Paul around the year 55, to the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Liturgy has never ceased to evolve.

“The missal of St. Pius V of 1570 ratified the Tridentine rite codified at the Council of Trent in 1563. The Mass is celebrated as the “unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross”, a real sacrifice which allows the faithful to atone for their sins and to be reconciled to the mercy of God. It also attaches great importance to adoration of the Real Presence.

“The new Roman missal of Paul VI was promulgated in 1969 in the wake of Vatican II. It was in Latin, the universal language of the Church. Thus, the term “Latin Mass” does not refer to a particular rite, and the Mass of Paul VI may be celebrated in this language, as at the funeral of John Paul II. Less concerned with the dialectic of sin than the Mass of St. Pius V, that of Paul VI does not deny the sacrificial dimension, but reinterprets it in the light of the Resurrection. Above all, it demands that the faithful “participate, consciously, piously and actively in the sacred action.” The liturgical reform also highlighted the “Word of God” through access to texts from the Old Testament, a three-year lectionary cycle, and celebration in the vernacular. It also demanded that the sermon expound on the Bible. The priest officiates facing the assembly. The Eucharistic prayer is said aloud and dialogued. Communion in the hand is allowed and the laity may distribute it when there is a shortage of priests.”


In its October 18 edition, the communist daily L’Humanité interviewed Fr. Gilbert Caffin, former representative of the Internatioanl Office of Catholic Teaching to the Council of Europe, on the return of the Tridentine Mass. With the title: The Mass in Latin: “A fear in the face of opening up to the world”

 - Is this a new step in the direction of integrist movements ?

Yes, obviously. All this is being done in order to facilitate their return to the fold of the Church of Rome. The stakes are high from the theological viewpoint. The Latin Mass of St. Pius V puts forward the idea of an all-powerful God, far from the world, who stands in judgment on man, whereas that which resulted from Vatican II proposes a God among men. In the first, the priest ascends the steps of the altar, thus towards God, turning his back on the faithful. In the other, the priest presides over the assembly amongst the faithful, as Christ who came to live among men. These are two opposing theologies, two spiritual attitudes which are expressed in different liturgies. This is not a question of artistic or aesthetic sensibility but the manifestation of the meaning which is given to the Christian message.

 - What reactions will this provoke in the Church?

An enormous malaise among the communities who have been living since Vatican II in close proximity with mankind. The faithful are afraid of a return to a Church which withdraws into a nostalgia, of a Church which assumes that the world is evil, that it is under the influence of the devil, and which claims that the best thing to do is to take refuge in the Catholic Citadel.

This decision to come back to the Mass in Latin can be interpreted as a victory for those who fear losing their identity, over those who want to continue to be close to mankind and his life. These two tendencies exist within the French Episcopate as elsewhere in the world. We can only hope that there will be sufficient mutual understanding to avoid divisions. However, I notice that those who are re-integrated today are so unconditionally. This is very dangerous for the whole of the Christian community.


On the other hand, on October 20, the Agency France Press, who interviewed Fr. Armand de Malleray, secretary general of the Fraternity of St. Peter, ran this headline: “Mass in Latin: no need to be afraid according to the Fraternity of St. Peter

 - Are you disturbed by the treatment from which, in September benefited five ex-Lefebvrists who have been authorized to create the Bon Pasteur Institute with the exclusive use of the Pius V rite?

The reconciliation of our brother priests is a cause of joy for us. Canonically the Bon Pasteur is a clerical society by pontifical right like the Fraternity of St. Peter. As for the celebration of the St. Pius V rite, our Constitutions say “faithfully”, theirs say “exclusively.” Concerning Vatican II, which we read at the light of Tradition, as early as 1998, the Holy See had also anticipated our collaboration through “a positive attitude to study and dialogue on the points which cause difficulty.”

 - Do you think that the Lefebvrists of the Society of St.Pius X will soon resume ties with the Vatican?

They really need to be reassured and they look at what is happening with us. For them, if Rome invites them into full communion but does not support us in the face of difficulties, this is not credible.


Quite different is the reaction of some young priests whom Le Monde, in his October 21 edition, presented as “an insurrection against the return of the Mass in Latin”:

 “On October 18, some thirty young priests from 17 dioceses and several religious, who introduced themselves as ‘born since Vatican II’, sent a circular letter in the form of a petition, to the French bishops and the apostolic nuncio, representative of the Holy See in France. In this letter, which is being passed around by email, they expressed their concern about the imminent publication of a motu proprio (‘decree’) by Benedict XVI, which would liberalize the use of the Latin Mass according to the Tridentine rite, also known as ‘of St Pius V’.”

“We affirm our attachment to the ritual of Paul VI,” the text reads. “Since our baptism, it has accompanied us in our progress in the faith, and has been used in our quest for God. (…) We entered the priestly ministry only a little time ago. (…) To run the risk of disrupting the balance by the symbolical decision of proposing a return to the old rite is apt to destabilize us and to threaten the unity of a body of young priests who already have very different sensitivities.”

The signatories, whose average age is 35, say that they are expecting from the pope “signs of encouragement for an insertion into the world such as it is, in order to bring the testimony of a genuinely Christian life, rather than to be cast back into a bygone liturgical life.”

“For Fr. Arnaud Alibert, of the diocese of Montpellier, one of those who initiated the appeal, ‘today, young priests are a very motley group, with various options. It is already no easy task to reach unity between us. If, on top of this, the pope grants the radical possibility of coming back to an ancient rite, we are going to be even less unified. I would find it hard to accept that a fellow priest celebrate the old rite and refuse to concelebrate (celebrate the Mass in common) with me, which is one thing we gained with Vatican II! In itself the old rite is not bad, but we never knew it, it is not part of our history’.”


In the October 19 edition, the editorialist of La Vie, Jean-Pierre Denis, piled up paleo-modernist stereotypes and archeo-progressist common place statements:

“Confronted to this world which frightens us, it seems quite tempting to shut oneself up. The return to the cocoon of a recomposed past provides a comfortable outlook, a golden illusion. Courage! Let us run away! Some even think that we should shut ourselves up in a fortress far from the world, even if it means mistaking self-esteem with hatred of neighbor. They are seeking a revenge against history, and believe they have already achieved it because the Mass which came from the Council of Trent (1545-1563) might soon recover its citizenship. They want to come back into the Church to place in it their “atom bomb”. This expression is not the fruit of my imagination, it fell from the lips of Bishop Fellay, the faithful heir of the schismatic Archbishop Lefebvre, and was reported in Le Figaro.

“Certainly, the concern for the beauty, the genuineness, the patrimonial, cultural splendor of the worship must be seriously taken into account: many young people give us this to understand. The Church revitalized by Vatican II sometimes seems to have lost this sense of mystery. It is not exempt from deviations, illusions, and sclerosis. But to wake up the old demons of antimodernism would be running an enormous risk, at a time when more than ever Catholicism is expected to be a critical force for this century. In order to speak forcefully to the world and to keep a chance of being heard it would without doubt be better to reaffirm the unity based on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist celebrated every Sunday in all our churches. If a hardly livable chimera – half-traditionalist, half-conciliar – was born, Catholicism would go into a deadly crisis. It would turn his back upon its most urgent task: the awakening of consciences.”


The Pro Liturgia Association, in an article dated October 21, was wondering about the possible intention which, in its opinion, Benedict XVI might have to weaken the traditionalist movement by publishing a document in favor of an official return to the old Mass.

“But let us ask another question: what may push the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, to publish a document favoring an official return to the old form of the Roman rite? A possible answer among others is that, beyond the mere liturgical issue, which has all its importance, there may be the wish to weaken the “traditionalist” movement. Because against whom, against what, for whom and for what will the “traditionalists” wage war once they have obtained the liturgy they hold dear and for which they have been claiming since Vatican II? Against the Council itself? It would be a great error on their part and they know it quite well: in each and every one of his addresses, indeed, Benedict XVI says that he is unconditionally attached to the work of Vatican II. And, be it said in passing, this should allay the fears of our conciliar (or allegedly conciliar) bishops.

“In reality, we may imagine that once the “traditionalists” will have obtained the liturgy they have always desired, they will no longer be able to aspire to other claims. And having no longer any grievance to federate them, their movements will die away little by little.”


The Pro Liturgia Association, which is resolutely conciliar, sets as its objective “to lead the way little by little to the “reform of the reform” desired by all, and which can be achieved neither on the basis of a pure and simple return to the pre-conciliar form of the Roman rite (the “extraordinary” form) nor on the basis of a continuation of the bad habits taken in most parishes which claim to follow the Council, but essentially by the discovery of what must truly be the “ordinary” form of the one Rome rite.”