Interview of the President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" with Simone Ortolani -- published on the web by Nihil Obstat:
Eminence, indiscretions regarding the publication of a Motu Proprio which would liberalize the Latin Mass of Saint Pius V have spread widely for several months...
"The Holy Father has this situation under his eyes of universal Shepherd of the Church. Naturally, [the matter] being in his hands, we do not advance any particular note regarding it, out of holy respect. The personal interest of the Holy Father regarding the liturgy is, nonetheless, known to all, [as well as] his profound knowledge of the same, his veneration for tradition and, at the same time, his clear position to put into practice all that the Holy Spirit gave the Church in the Second Vatican Council. These are the parameters through which the historical difficulties regarding [this matter] are examined."
Cardinals Alfons Maria Stickler and Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, have declared that the Mass of Saint Pius V has never been abolished. What do you think of it?
"Cardinals Stickler and Medina are right, and their opinions are followed by the opinions of liturgy experts, other cardinals and bishops. We have ourselves studied the problem and we deem that the ancient Mass has never been forbidden. On the other hand, it is very important, to have a clear mind, to grasp the light which comes from the Successor of Peter. According to the thinking of the Holy Father, clearly expressed, there are two forms of the Roman Rite: the ordinary form, which is the Mass of Paul VI, and the extraordinary form, which is the Mass of Saint Pius V."
Many young people willingly attend the Latin Mass, in the institutes and dioceses in which (rarely, at the current stage) it is allowed. Why?
"I must be honest. The Novus Ordo Missae was a novelty in the Seventies, the Mass of Saint Pius V has returned [as] a novelty in the Two Thousands. Young people like new things: but this would not be a deep analysis.
"Rather, I have been able to personally attest that the young feel touched by the sense of sacredness and mystery which, in their view, is more perceptible in the ancient Mass.
"Besides this consideration, in general lines, the existence of not a few abuses in liturgical celebrations should not be forgotten. They are contrary to the holiness which should be proper to the great eucharistic mystery, which is the unbloody form of the Sacrifice of Calvary. These elements draw the attention -- I am sure of this -- of priests and laymen. Evidently, I will not place in mutual opposition the august sanctity of the eucharistic mystery celebrated in the two ritual forms of which we have spoken."
Will the historical figure of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X [SSPX / FSSPX], excommunicated by Pope John Paul II for the ordination of four bishops without a pontifical mandate in 1988, be "rehabilitated" by the Church?
"Retracing the complete life story of Archbishop Lefebvre, we are certain of the great esteem and appreciation of the Church for him. He was considered worthy of being an Archbishop, Apostolic Delegate, Superior-General of his religious congregation; by speaking to people who knew him during the exercise of his ministry, the fecundity of his life is discovered.
"Yet, with the same clarity, according to the most genuine tradition of the Church, it cannot be accepted that a bishop may consecrate another bishop without a pontifical mandate, or that the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Councils, and in particular for their importance, in ecumenical Councils, be disputed.
"Archbishop Lefebvre - it is important to stress this - signed the documents of the Second Vatican Council, even though he was critical towards them, either regarding the texts, or regarding their interpretation."
Is the Fraternity of Saint Pius X [SSPX / FSSPX], the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, a schism?
"The Fraternity of Saint Pius X is not a consolidated schism per se [di per sé], but its history has included schismatic actions, with the ordination of bishops not legitimately elected and not perfectly united to the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ. Moreover, there is always the danger of a schism, either by the exercise, even if partial, of the authority founded in jurisdiction, or by the overtly critical attitudes of exponents of the Fraternity towards personalities of the Church, in which I view a wound to charity.
"I greatly fear the words of Saint Jerome, according to whom schism leads to heresy, and heresy to schism. I know that there are in the Fraternity people [who are] filled with good will. The Superior General, His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, has in the past years persevered in dialogue. I hope that the open arms of Pope Benedict XVI will be understood as a kairos, an opportune moment, and, pacifying the consciences of the faithful and of the lay people, a full effective and affective unity of the Fraternity with the Church and the Vicar of Christ will be reached."