Press review on the traditional Mass in Canada

Source: FSSPX News


Montreal priests say they’re in no rush to return to Latin in masses

Pope’s decree ’not relevant,’ hasn’t even come up for discussion, one pastor says

The Gazette

Published: Tuesday, September 25

Pope Benedict XVI may have given his blessing to wider use of the traditional Latin mass in Catholic churches around the world, but his decision doesn’t have Montreal priests working on that language.

"I have not had one person ask me, or even hint, that we should have a mass in Latin," said John Walsh, the parish priest at St. John Brébeuf church in LaSalle.

In fact, the pope’s decision this summer to promote the old Latin mass has not even come up "I have spoken to priests, but no one has brought up the topic," he said yesterday. "It is not relevant among my priest friends."

Walsh said he last celebrated mass in Latin at a Dorval church in 1968. But when he asked parishioners if that’s what they wanted, they replied: "Never again, thank you very much."

Walsh said the Catholic Church’s decision last July to authorize wider use of the Latin mass was an attempt by the Vatican to send an olive branch to the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who split with the Vatican over the introduction of the new mass and other church reforms.

The Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops.

Local priests say they don’t expect a flood of requests for the old liturgy because Catholic traditionalists who want to attend the Latin mass have been able to do so at a few Montreal churches, including the Église St. Joseph in Little Italy.

The Latin mass was largely marginalized following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which took place between 1962 and 1965. Local languages replaced Latin and priests began to face their congregations instead of turning their backs on them.

Before the pope’s decree in July, priests could use the Latin mass only with permission from their bishops.

But as of this month, priests no longer need the bishop’s permission and can celebrate the Latin mass if a "stable group of faithful" request it, the pope said.

But Walsh said the majority of today’s churchgoers don’t want mass said in Latin.

"We use the language of the people so we can express our faith and understand it," he said. "People are very happy they can understand the mystery of the eucharist in their own language."


’It puts the mass on a different plane’

 Kitchener worshippers say Latin mass is like rediscovering a treasure

September 29, 2007


 For a small gathering of Catholics in Kitchener last weekend, celebrating a mass was their usual method of entering into a divine mystery.

For others, it would have seemed like stepping back in time.

Many women in the pews covered their hair with lace kerchiefs. The priest performed most of the liturgy with his back to the congregation.

And the sound wafting to the vaulted ceiling was one that has become unfamiliar in churches over the past four decades.

The 50 worshippers gathered at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church were there for the high mass sung in Latin.

At this time, it’s the only weekly Latin mass celebrated in Waterloo Region. Following an announcement by Pope Benedict XVI this past summer, there may soon be more.

Until the 1970s, the Latin mass was the standard Roman Catholic celebration for centuries. But after the Second Vatican Council -- it was a series of bishops’ meetings from 1962 to 1965 that updated church practices -- a new mass celebrated in local languages became the norm around the world.

In practice, the Latin mass could only be celebrated with the blessing of the bishop responsible for church territory, or diocese, where it would be held.

When the new mass was instituted nearly 40 years ago, the change came as a relief to some, but as a huge loss for others.

For many traditional Catholics, the Latin celebration, with its formality, was more solemn and dignified.

Some traditionalists defied the Vatican and continued to celebrate the old mass without diocesan bishops’ approval. Although relations seem to be warming, the groups still are not fully reconciled.

But for many Catholics, the old mass had built-in barriers, including the Latin language and the fact the priest conducted most of the liturgy with his back to parishioners.

In the Hamilton Diocese of the church, which includes the parishes in Waterloo Region, a Latin mass has been regularly celebrated since the 1980s, although in different locations over the years.


The direction the priest faces in the Latin mass is often misunderstood, says Rev. Howard Venette, who led last Sunday’s celebration at St. Anne’s.

Churches are often built to resemble ships, he explained in an interview.

"As the priest, as the captain, if you will, he is leading the congregants . . . toward God," Venette said.

"We’re all facing God together with the priest as the mediator and the leader. Not simply with his back to the people."

As well, Venette said, the Latin language is appropriate because it was the language of the mass for many centuries.

Latin also elevates the mass, he said.

"It raises the mass above the ordinary, everyday pedestrian experience of things. It puts the mass on a different plane."

The mass is about "the mystery of our Lord’s presence," Venette said.

"It’s symbolic, too, that the language is mysterious and it draws you into an understanding of the mystery."

Venette, pastor of the Queen of Angels Oratory in St. Catharines, belongs to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, whose members are dedicated to preserving and practising the Latin mass.

Since Benedict’s announcement that a diocesan bishop’s approval would no longer be required as of Sept. 14, the fraternity has been invited to 15 more dioceses in North America.

As parishioners drifted out of the doors of St. Anne’s last Sunday, Virginia Miller chatted with her fellow worshippers.


Miller said she has been attending the local Latin mass for about a decade and finds it the most reverent form of the mass.

Other worshippers nodded in agreement.

It’s also the mass that many people were raised with, Miller said.

"It feels like coming home."

But the Latin mass isn’t about nostalgia, said Ray Novokowsky, another worshipper who helps organize the weekly service.

"It’s a rediscovery," he said. "It’s a rediscovery of a treasure."

The Latin mass takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoons (2:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month) at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Kitchener. Call 1-905-680-0447. On the Web:

A Latin mass, celebrated by the Society of Saint Pius X, will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the former Wilmot Township Senior Public School in Wilmot Centre, west of Kitchener. On the Web:


“Catholics and… veils” article published in La Presse of September 24, 2007 (Montreal)

By Mario Girard

Most women were wearing a white or black chapel veil. A code of modesty in dress was posted at the church entrance.


The scene was outlandish. Several dozen faithful recited or chanted prayers in Latin, in front of a priest surrounded by altar servers. Between two rings of the altar bells and two swings of the censer, people buried their heads in their missals.

Another detail surprised us: all the women had their heads covered by a mantilla. You felt as if you were back in the ‘60s. Yet, we were truly in Montreal, in 2007, in a Catholic Church.

Every Sunday, Fr. Dominique Boulet goes to St. Joseph’s church, rue Dante, to say the Mass in Latin. A member of the Society of Saint Pius X, this priest has, for some 20 years, been defending the Latin rite, which has just been approved by Benedict XVI.

“On July 7, last, Benedict XVI published a Motu proprio which gives all rights back to the traditional Mass in Latin, explained Fr. Boulet, sitting at his desk, in his black cassock which he always wears. Since September 14, this decision has come into force,” he added.

Thanks to the three priests of the SSPX in the Québec province, Masses in Latin are currently celebrated in Shawinigan, Ottawa, and Montreal. La Presse attended one of them in St. Joseph’s church. There we learnt that people come from as far away as Saint-Jérôme or Cornwall (Ontario) to attend these rites which those under 40 do not know.

“That is a real Mass,” one parishioner said with evident satisfaction.

“In the Latin rite, this is the only Mass which truly expresses the Catholic faith,” Pierre Messier, another parishioner explained to us. “It is clear that the Novus Ordo is deficient.”

The Novus ordo, was born of the Second Vatican Council, which took place between 1962 and 1965, and caused the Catholic Church to enter modernity. “Catholicism capitulated,” continued Mr. Messier. “It should not have. Those who made the Second Vatican Council had problems.”

While the Catholics in Québec were trying to redefine their religious rites in pop Masses, other faithful obstinately wanted to safeguard the Latin celebrations. In the face of the insistence of the Archdiocese of Montreal which wanted to put an end definitively to this practice, some had even occupied a church in the mid ‘70s, in order to show their attachment to traditionalism. Leo Laberge was one of them.

“We spent 15 days in a row in St. Yvette’s church in support of Fr. Normandin, who was defending this,” recalls Mr. Laberge. “I have always believed in this. Our churches are empty, while we build mosques in Montreal. Perhaps if there were more Masses like this, we would have more practicing Catholics.”

Catholic women wearing veils

Among the people attending yesterday’s Mass were several women. Most of them were wearing a black or white chapel veil. Furthermore, a code of modesty in dress was posted at the entrance of the church.

“We recall the bi-millenial tradition which requires women to cover their heads,” the text on “Christian modesty” read. A few lines above this, women were invited to wear skirts which come down at least 8 inches below the knees.”

“Where’s the problem?” asked Pierre Messier. These women wear a veil only during the Mass. Muslim women wear it 24 hours a day. Islam does not make any difference between the religious and the secular domain.

Michèle Guy, who had come with her husband, was astonished by our question. “Is there a debate about wearing a veil? I do not see anything wrong with this. What matters for us is to have found what we had lost.”

To the many ritual practices of the traditional Mass are added certain values. Fr. Boulet defended them unflinchingly. Sex before marriage? “No,” he said. Homosexuality? “It is clear. It is against nature.” Alcohol and drugs? “If it is only a little glass, it is OK. If it is a vice, it is a no no.” Contraception? “No, we abide by the Church teaching, and it has not changed.”

But when he was asked whether he would conform to a “revolutionary” decision from the Vatican such as, for instance, the recognition of same-sex union, Fr. Boulet became hesitant. “We follow the teaching… and in any case, I can’t believe that the Church would accept such a thing.”