Press Review

Source: FSSPX News


La Croix, Le Figaro, and the Osservatore Romano

 In the daily La Croix of March 13, we read from the pen of Isabelle de Gaulmyn: “Rome insists on the meaning of the Eucharist in the Church.” “The document faithfully reflects the balance achieved by three weeks of discussions (during the 2005 synod),” hence “we do not find here a “hidden motu proprio on the Tridentine rite” as some had feared, which would have been equivalent to calling into question the conciliar liturgical renewal. On the contrary, the Exhortation recalls that ‘the Synod Fathers acknowledged and reaffirmed the beneficial influence on the Church’s life of the liturgical renewal which began with the Second Vatican Council’.” And further she wrote: “the document develops ‘the hermeneutics of renewal in continuity’, which is the interpretation of the Council formulated by the Pope before the Curia in December 2005. And on Tuesday, before the press, Cardinal Angelo Scola emphasized that it was an ‘act of reception of the conciliar teaching’.”

And the journalist noted: “At last, the bishop’s authority over the celebration of the liturgy in his territory is recalled. Consequently, we look forward with much interest to the motu proprio already announced several times, and which should widen the possibilities of celebrating according to the Tridentine rite. The Exhortation seems to establish precise limitations for any liberalization of the pre-conciliar rite.”


Hervé Yannou, correspondent at the Vatican for liturgical matters, wrote in Le Figaro of March 14, “Benedict XVI recalls the general direction.” “The pontifical text brings no great surprise,” he said. “The pope respected the rule of collegiality by taking up point by point the 50 proposals presented to him on the occasion of the eleventh synod of Bishops. Benedict XVI respected the consensus found during these “états généraux” in which all the currrents in the Church, from the most “progressive” to the most “conservative” had a chance to express their opinions. Hence, this pontifical text might disappoint on the one hand those who were hoping for openings in matters of ecclesiastical discipline, and on the other hand, the more traditionalist Catholics.”

According to H. Yannou, when the pope recalls that the bishops must “ensure unity and harmony in the celebrations taking place in his territory”, he is echoing the fear of the French bishops of a possible “liberalization” of the old rite. The celebrations granted to small groups must“be consonant with the overall pastoral activity of the Diocese” and “serve to unify the community, not to fragment it.”


The Osservatore Romano, in its March 15 edition, said with irony: “The pope is truly against Italy.” The daily of the Holy See was thus reacting to the criticisms made in Italy following the publication of the Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. “If we listen to politicians”, every declaration by Benedict XVI “is an intolerable political intervention in the affairs of the Italian State,” which would prove that “the pope is really against Italy.” According to the author of the front-page article, Gaetano Vallini, “the reports made in the press of the Holy Father’s declarations and the angry replies of some politicians seem to confirm this view in the eyes of public opinion. Yet the reality is quite different.” It is “a document of the pontifical magisterium which is addressed to the universal Church and not just to the Church in Italy or to Italy in general.”

For G. Vallini, “to think that everything only and always concerns your own horizon is not only a sign of pettiness and provincialism, but also of ignorance, because many political men who speak about the Church know nothing or next to nothing about her.” “It is a great lacuna,” he declared, because “if you want to criticize, you must know and hence read the texts. And he noted that it is actually “easier at times to ignore things.”

For several weeks, the Italian media and politicians have been denouncing the Church’s intervention in the political affairs of the country, especially with regards to the Dico, a bill recognizing the rights of concubines. Here is the passage from the Exhortation in which Benedict XVI reminds politicians of their obligation to respect a “Eucharistic consistency”:

“N° 83. Here it is important to consider what the Synod Fathers described as Eucharistic consistency, a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody. Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others: it demands a public witness to our faith. Evidently, this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one’s children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms. These values are not negotiable. Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist. Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values, a part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them.”


Golias and Le Monde

On the very day of its release on March 13, the Exhortation aroused strong criticisms from the journalist of Le Monde, Henri Tincq, and from the ultra-progressive review Golias.

Under the heading: To rally its most traditionalist wing, Benedict XVI intends to restore Latin and Gregorian chant, Henri Tincq, did not hesitate to write: an “explosive” doctrinal text, “the pope gives pledges of good will to its most conservative wing,” “Benedict XVI thus entrenched himself in the most immovable positions. Feeling a nostalgia for the pre-Vatican II tradition, he especially prepares minds to a “reform” of the (conciliar) liturgical reform.” And he concluded: “the screenplay is already planned out for a new confrontation between the traditional wing of the Church and the faithful who agree with the innovations of the Second Vatican Council. This voluntary dramatization led Tincq to approximations which border on misinformation. Thus he quoted: “The better-known prayers of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin,” and he omits to say that it concerns celebrations at international gatherings, and he gave to believe that the pope was advocating a pure and simple return to liturgical celebrations in Latin.


Christian Terras, editor of Golias, and Romano Libero, penname of a progressive Vatican observer, had the merit of printing an explicit header: The great manifesto of restoration: Golias calls for spiritual resistance. And they concluded their article saying: “The pope alone is not the whole Church. When a pontiff entrenches himself on harsh and rigid positions which cut him off from the living community, infidelity to the true tradition of the Church may then not be that of the (ecclesial) body, but the head’s.” A few lines earlier, they had expressed regret that there was no relaxation concerning “the obligation of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church, the non-ordination of women, the exclusion of remarried divorcees from Holy Communion.” They added: “Besides, the liturgical discipline as a whole is being revised in the perspective of a traditionalist restoration and not merely of the most moderate conservatism. Thus, the pope, resolutely turning his back to the present practice of the living Church, specifies that: ‘The better-known prayers of the Church’s tradition should be recited in Latin’.”

 But the two henchmen disagree with Tincq: “It is however inexact to state, as Henri Tincq did in the title of his article in Le Monde, that the Pope spoke thus “in order to rally his most traditionalist wing.” The reverse is true: Joseph Ratzinger is rightly desirous of rallying the most traditionalist wing in view of the overall restoration to which these reintegrated troops can contribute.” The journalists here suggest that Benedict XVI might use the “rallied” traditionalists in order to better achieve the “reform of the reform” so dear to him. Rallying them might be not so much an end as a means. In front of the progressives, rallied Catholics might offer to the pope a counterweight which would enable him to push forward a middle-course solution going beyond the cleavage between traditionalists and progressives. Tincq did also affirm this: “He (Benedict XVI) especially prepares minds to accept a ‘reform’ of the liturgical reform.”