Opposition to the Instruction

Source: FSSPX News


The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released a document at the end of April, on the celebration of the Eucharist. How should this kind of document be considered?

This document is an “instruction”. It contains some guidelines concerning subjects already known. As usual, this document is addressed to the Catholic Church throughout the world.

I would compare it to the regulation of road traffic. The Instruction does not bring anything new to the essential rules of driving on the international level, but it clarifies in detail the way in which the rules must be respected, for example: the speed with which one engages the clutch in order to respect the maximum speed limit. It is precisely these minutiae which constitute its weakness.

What are its significant statements on the subject of the Eucharist?

The Eucharist is the central and sacred ritual of our Church, in the course of which the faithful encounter the resurrected Christ. For the celebration of this Eucharist, it is right to make sure that abusive practices are avoided. In first place are the very grave abuses which are indicated. For example: the simulation of the Eucharist, the theft or the act of throwing the Eucharistic bread and wine, concelebration with members of Churches which do not recognize our priesthood.

What is also striking is that the Instruction considers the Eucharist, above all, as a sacrifice. But for Jesus it was also a meal shared with the women who followed him, and with his disciples. It is somewhat short in this respect.

How does the deanery of Zug judge this document?

There is not a lot of sense in stipulating such pernickety rules of behavior for the entire world. One sees but little consideration for differences of cultures and societies. The systems of power and control are very diverse in this world – just as, moreover, is the role of the woman.

We share the concern for the Eucharist and have the will to calm “the hunger and the thirst that the people have for the living God”. Food and medicine are not for us, for all that, administrative prescriptions. In practice it is much more essential to leave free space to men and have every confidence in them, as to their manner of celebrating the Eucharist. It is only in this way, that they will be able to celebrate with joy and freedom. The conditions for entry to the priesthood must be modified. Marriage or the fact of being a woman should no longer represent an obstacle.

What are the consequences of this document at parish level in Zug?

In the parishes which, up to now, have shown themselves responsible and, in union with the faithful, have celebrated well the Eucharist or communion services, there will be no change – I assume, moreover, that this is the case in all our parishes.

There may be additional difficulties for the pastoral workers, both women and men, who, on one point or another, do not keep to the letter of the Instruction. It is on them that pressure from the authorities or conservative organizations will make itself felt more and more. It is unpleasant and it paralyses the practical work of the apostolate in the parishes. These women and men must be assured of our support.

The Swiss Bishops Conference has said, in its communiqué, that it is the duty of the local bishop to apply the Instruction in his diocese. In your opinion, what are the principles which cannot be relinquished?

Here, more precisely, is what the commentary on the Instruction says: “It falls within the pastoral responsibility and the prudence of the bishop to determine on which abusive practices, it is necessary for him to exercise special vigilance”. I conclude from this, that what has continually developed here over the course of the past thirty years will remain, because it is solid and has proved itself. What is this? It is the preaching of non-ordained theologians, both women and men, altar girls, communion celebrations, group participation in planning ceremonies, liturgical forms adapted for children or young people, ecumenical celebrations.

“Nothing new”, commentary by the editor, Guido Estermann
The Instruction recently issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on the subject of the celebration of the Eucharist, tackles the abuses which occur during celebrations of the Eucharist. In particular, it refers to the fact that the bishops and the episcopal conferences “do not have the faculty to permit experimentation with liturgical texts or the other matters that are prescribed in the liturgical books” (n° 27). It should also be noted that no authorization is to be allowed for preaching by the laity during Mass (n° 66). How is such a document to be considered? In principle, it is the declaration of the Swiss Bishops Conference which applies: “As is often the case in this type of text, the tone may seem ’legal’ or ’disciplinarian’. (…) It then falls to the local Churches to explain them and apply them in their cultural context.” Because of the shortage of priests, our local Churches have found other pastoral routes, which will be pursued in the future. We may hope, therefore, that these routes will remain possible. What is disturbing in this document, is not so much its magisterial style or form, but the fact that it brings nothing new, and that consequently it lacks creative imagination with regard to the signs of the times, both in the Church and in society. It thus provokes exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to achieve: many do not understand it, or are annoyed by it.

It remains to be hoped that the heads of the local Churches, the bishops and all those who work there, may continue to travel with men along the roads which correspond to the expectations of our age and our society. For the Church is truly there for men, and it is only in this way, from the midst of men, that the real community or ecclesia will arise.