Rorate Caeli

RORATE CÆLI Interview: Rifan speaks
Part Two: Comments on Summorum Pontificum

Bishop Fernando Areas Rifan was ordained a priest by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer on December 8, 1974, and has been celebrating the Traditional Mass (the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite) since then. As the Bishop of the only Particular Church exclusively dedicated to the celebration of all the sacraments according to the ancient use of the Roman Rite (the Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, in Campos, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), we have asked him certain questions regarding the application of the Apostolic Letter given motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.


Bishop Fernando Rifan, we now know the contents of Summorum Pontificum and of the papal explanatory letter. Many Traditional Catholics throughout the world, though filled with gratitude to the Pope, believe that, despite the changes, they will remain hostages of a hostile situation, as happened with the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, whenever their diocesan ordinary does not wish to comply with the papal will. What does the new motu proprio generally change, in relation to the indult system established by John Paul II with Quattuor Abhinc Annos and the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei?

There will always be hardships. The cross is, indeed, one of the signs of God’s blessings. Yet this Motu Proprio is quite different from the previous one on the Mass of Saint Pius V. The other counseled; this one mandates, gives precise rules. And it places an instance in the Roman Curia for appeals in case of litigation or of the non-fulfillment of what is ordered in it.

As far as you understand them, could you give us an overview of how the general procedure would work out for the groups of faithful, the steps the stable groups would have to take to have access to the Mass?


First, the faithful who wish to attend the Holy Mass in the extraordinary form will have to follow the procedures indicated in the Motu proprio. As a first step, they should look for a priest willing to celebrate it privately, and even try to convince him, which will be easier since he has all liberty to do so. And they may attend his Mass.

With the growth of the group, they may ask the parish priest for a public Mass in the parish church, particularly on Sundays. And, finally, they may attain from the Bishop a personal parish, which would be the maximum ideal, with Masses, catechism, spiritual direction, parish movements, etc., with the Mass of Saint Pius V.

Are there any procedural safeguards for the faithful and Priests who want access to the Mass?

According to the Motu Proprio, the Bishop cannot prevent a priest from saying such Mass privately, nor a group of faithful from attending it (art. 2 and 4). Neither can he do anything against the Motu proprio. If he does, appeal to Rome is applicable.

Your Excellency, we are particularly interested in Art. 7 of Summorum Pontificum, which states: ["Art. 7 If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 § 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'."] Can a layman also appeal to the Commission, does he have standing to appeal to Rome if the Ordinary refuses to refer the matter to Rome?

Not only the priests, but also the lay faithful may appeal to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which has papal authority to solve these matters.
Assuming that a layman can appeal to the Ecclesia Dei commission directly, in the case of Art. 7, does the Commission have the power to solve the problem?

It is clearly expressed by the document that the Pope has just endowed the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei with wider powers than it had before, as it can be seen from art. 12: "the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and application of these dispositions."
Bishop Rifan, in the Explanatory Letter, Pope Benedict says that, "in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books". Even though this is not part of the legal text, does it mean that the priests in these communities dedicated to the Extraordinary Form may be forced to celebrate rites according to the Ordinary Form?

No one will be forced to celebrate in the new rite. But the possibility cannot be excluded in principle. Even if the Mass in the rite of Saint Pius V is celebrated exclusively, as we do here in our Apostolic Administration by concession of the Holy See, the possibility of celebrating in the ordinary rite cannot be excluded as a matter of principle - it is a matter of coherence, that is the argument of the Pope.

To exclude the celebration in a Catholic rite approved by the Church as a matter of principle would not be a manifestation of the Catholic spirit, and more, if as a matter of questioning the catholicity of the new rite, then it would be a position with incorrect theological implications, because the catholicity of a rite universally proclaimed for the entire Church by its Supreme authority and preserved by the Teaching Church would be put in doubt.

21 comments:

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

new catholic:

This was one of two letters from Mons. Marini which dealt with the refusal of communion to Catholics in the uS who knelt. I think there is some relevance here viz. general principles. Marini as you know has just been moved to E Dei.

Congregation de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum
Prot. n. 1322/02/L
Rome, 1 July 2002

Dear Sir,

This Congregation for Divine Worship gratefully acknowledges receipt of your letter, regarding an announced policy of denial of Holy Communion to those who kneel to receive it at a certain church.

It is troubling that you seem to express some reservations about both the propriety and the usefulness of addressing the Holy See regarding this matter. Canon 212 ß 2 of the Code of Canon Law states that "Christ's faithful are totally free to make known their needs, especially their spiritual ones, and their desire: to the Pastor of the Church". The canon then continues in ß 3: "According to their own knowledge competence and position, they have the right, and indeed sometimes the duty, to present to the sacred Pastor; their opinions regarding those things that pertain to the good of the Church".... ****Accordingly, in consideration of the nature of the problem and the relative likelihood that it might or might not be resolved on the local level, every member of the faithful has the right of recourse to the Roman Pontiff either personally or by means of the Dicasteries or Tribunals of the Roman Curia.****

Another fundamental right of the faithful, as noted in canon 213, is "the right to receive assistance by the sacred Pastors from the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the Sacraments". In view of the law that "sacred" ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them" (canon 843 ß 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.

Please be assured that the Congregation takes this matter very seriously, and is making the necessary contacts in its regard. At the same time, this Dicastery continues to be ready to be of assistance if you should need to contact it again in the future.

Thanking you for your interest, and with every prayerful good wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Monsignor Mario Marini
Undersecretary

Anonymous said...

I am still confused about what exactly are "private Masses"... can they be said in the church, or must they be said somewhere else in secret so that there is no "public exposure"?

GD said...

The actual term used in the MP is 'Mass without the people'; but the document then goes on to say that people may attend these Masses! So, in principle there is no congregation, but in fact there may be! This is the Pope giving us lots of wriggle-room. Thank you Holy Father!

Anonymous said...

Lepers!

I have been thinking about them. There were so many petitions asking the Holy Father for this; surely we should have a series of on-line thank you letters and spiritual bouquets? We don't want to be like the nine who did not come back to give thanks.

Jeff said...

Good ol' Bishop Rifan.

I liked especially the last bit...the question of saying the New Mass. He's entirely right and he handled the whole thing with aplomb.

To say that you are dedicated to the older use and you think it's better and you want to devote yourself exculsively to it is fine. To say that the new mass is evil and you wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole is...well, I agree with Bishop Rifan's formulation.

New Catholic said...

The use of the old expression ("Private Mass") has remained.

We have expressed the great relevance of private Masses (Masses "without the people", to which the people may be freely admitted) in the expansion of the application of Summorum here.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Before VII "it" was know as a private Mass (Missa privata). And was specifically defended by the Council of Trent against the "reformers" who saw legitimation of any "gathering" a function of those present, i.e. even IF one believed transubstantiation was true, because there was but a priest, there could not be Jesus, as there were not two or more gathered in His name.

Trent was not defending the NAME but the sacred action.

After VII it was supposed to be known as "Mass without a Congregation." However, even in 1960 the Codex Rubricarum stated: "The most sacred Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated according to the rites and regulations is an act of public worship offered to God in the name of Christ and the Church. Therefore, the term Private Mass should be avoided."

I agree, as no Mass, is, in fact "private" as private is commonly understood.

The Motu Proprio does not, in fact, use the term Missa Privata but "Missis sine populo celebratis", or "Masses without the people..." (...celebrating)

Perhaps this, in part, helps? Summarizing then:

Thus, per the Motu Proprio, a "private mass", properly know as "mass without the people celebrating" is:

"A most sacred Sacrifice of the Mass, offered according to the rites and regulations of 1962, as an act of public worship offered to God in the name of Christ and the Church, but without people assisting, is what is commonly know as "Mass without the people celebrating".

That's my attempt.

No, they can be offered in a church, even in a priest's private chapel in his house (rectory), assuming he has one. That is the problem: "private" to we of the modern mind (especially in light of the blather about "rights to privacy") conjures up images of the hidden, the secret...

I think I am right in this, that it goes without saying, that a Mass without the people of necessity is always a low mass. I checked New Advent and they actually equate Low Mass with Missae Privata, that is, a Low Mass IS a private mass...which I don't understand. I can understand a Missae Private being a Low Mass, but not a Low Mass being a "private mass."

Let's wait for the experts as there are a lot on this blog.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Oops...by the time I posted up came NC with a reminder. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Here's my question: Do you need a "stable group" to allow the other sacraments to be celebrated in a parish, or just the request of the interested parties?

thetimman said...

Re: Bishop Rifan's comments:

Bingo.

And thank you, your Excellency.

Anonymous said...

I demure from Bishop Rifan's statement that a Catholic cannot reject in principle the New Liturgies published after Vatican II.

Because:

1. They were never promulgated, but were always optional, as the many commentaries on the Missale Romanum of Paul VI have shown.

2. They were not imposed upon the entire Church and therefore their promulgation did not invoke infalliblity.

3. The pope's recent letter to the bishops claims no magisterial authority for anything it says: it obiges no one to nothing, and therefore does not attain the condition of a universal teaching, which condition is necessary according to Vatican I for infallible statements.

4. Notable Cardinals and Bishops have objected to the catholicity of the new rites.

5. Padre Pio refused ever to say the reformed rites cooked up after 1962, yet he is canonized and has worked miracles. If he sinned in this, he would not be a saint. And therefore it seems that what B16 says at least does not regard morality.

6. Bugnini who wrote the New Rites says expressly in his Memoirs that his intentions were to reform the liturgies according to the theories of Dom Odo Casel; but Dom Casel's theories were widely condmened by theologians and even tangentially by Pius XII.

7. The New Rites contain many things condemned by Trent and Pius XII, such as separating the altar and tablernacle, returning the rites to ancient forms, saying mass outloud, etc. etc.., and so if the Church's authority obliges priests not to do these things on account of theology or morality, then She ought not be understood now to demand the opposite, without contradicting Her very nature as the Pillar and Column of the Truth.

8. There are no ecclesiastical censures against those who refuse to say the New Rites or against those who refuse to attend them.

9. It is a principle of law, that one is presumed to be free unless explicity restricted by a law; and such a restriction must be understood in the narrowest of limits.

Ergo, I believe it is reasonable to conclude that it is morally licit to refuse to say or attend any and all of the New Rites for the above said reasons, and that such a decision or behavior is perfectly in harmony with catholic teaching.

Br. Alexis Bugnolo
www.scholasticum.blogspot.com

pete said...

Br. Alexis,

Please stop confusing everyone with the facts. Folks would rather this be a black & white issue (i.e., you're either with us or against us!). That kind of false obedience, based on shaky theology, is why the Church is where it is today.

Pax.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Rifan said,

"No one will be forced to celebrate in the new rite. But the possibility cannot be excluded in principle."

Who's to say no one will be forced to say the NO Mass against their will? Where is it stated in writing?

I understand it's already been tried on the FSSP.

I guess this mean the Traditional Priests will just have to "trust" their modernist bishops.

Yeah, right.

John L said...

Yes, I would like to know about the 'important theological principles' involved in excluding the new mass from criticism. Here is a statement from the Catechism of the theological principles that justify such criticism;

'1124 The Church’s faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles - whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi according to Prosper of Aquitaine [5th cent.]). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition.
1125 For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.'


These imply that devising and imposing a mass that is not the product of tradition, but is rather the product of a committee of dubiously orthodox priests in the 1960s, is an abuse. The new mass was imposed by the Apostolic constitution Missale Romanum in 1974. The theological principle that an apostolic constitution cannot err, even when there are very weighty arguments from tradition and magisterial teachings against it, is new to me.

Anonymous said...

reaction of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference (in Portuguese):

http://gazetadarestauracao.blogspot.com/2007/07/reaco-cep-ao-mp-que-justifica-ainda.html

A very bad reaction. IT´S A SHAME!

John L said...

Simon-Peter:
"Missis sine populo celebratis" means "Masses celebrated without the people" NOT "Masses without the people celebrating"

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

LOL.

Right. The bus that is red. You're right.

CarpeNoctem said...

To exclude the celebration in a Catholic rite approved by the Church as a matter of principle would not be a manifestation of the Catholic spirit, and more, if as a matter of questioning the catholicity of the new rite, then it would be a position with incorrect theological implications, because the catholicity of a rite universally proclaimed for the entire Church by its Supreme authority and preserved by the Teaching Church would be put in doubt.

Am I wrong, or am I reading the refusal to celebrate under "a Catholic rite approved by the Church" as a two edged sword? Yes, the context here is to insure that priests and faithful do not refuse in principle to celebrate the NO (as a rejection of its validity, for instance,) but I can't help but read this statement as also saying that it would be improper for someone to refuse to celebrate in the 'extraordinary rite' as a matter principle either... it would be a denial of the "Catholic Spirit" Hmmm.

Presuming there are no translation issues in this discussion "...a Catholic rite..." is very different from "...the Catholic rite..."

Hmmm.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Ooooh. That's a good one. Yes, that may cut both ways for sure. Hadn't thought of that. Just shows the programming, I just read that as applying one way...

"the catholicity of a rite universally proclaimed for the entire Church by its Supreme authority and preserved by the Teaching Church would be put in doubt"

Isn't this exactly what has been going on viz. Catholics? Their sensus catholicus has been put in doubt...I am not the only one I am sure who has been warned to his face that I showed heretical inclinations and schismatic tendancies.

Good grief, have you read the statement from Pittsburgh?

"It is important to note that the celebration of the Roman Missal of Pope Blessed John XXIII is ***NOT*** permitted at regularly scheduled weekday or Sunday."

Er. Article 5 states:
"Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also be held."

"In parishes where a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably, pastors are exhorted to willingly allow public Masses for the people using the Roman Missal of Pope Blessed John XXIII but no more that one per Sunday and feast days."

[comment: does this not contradict what they just said above?]

"Until the effective date of the Motu Proprio ***AND*** until there is further direction from the diocese, there may not be any change in the present practice regarding the Roman Missal of Pope Blessed John XXIII."

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Okay, I just tried to call the communications office in Pittsburgh and got...voice mail LOL.

Then I called the Bishops office and spoke to the secretary. They don't have a Bishop right now?

Anyway, she was VERY circumspect, but she did say "we are aware of it, and we working on a response."

I don't get it. What response? Either they never read the MP, or, the "not" is a simple typo, or they read it and this is an example of the most blatant mendacity I have witnessed in my short 38 years. Don't they know we can read? Anyway, I offered an out, I said, "look, why don't we assume the "not" is a simple typo."

Jordan Potter said...

"Am I wrong, or am I reading the refusal to celebrate under 'a Catholic rite approved by the Church' as a two edged sword? Yes, the context here is to insure that priests and faithful do not refuse in principle to celebrate the NO (as a rejection of its validity, for instance,) but I can't help but read this statement as also saying that it would be improper for someone to refuse to celebrate in the 'extraordinary rite' as a matter principle either... it would be a denial of the 'Catholic Spirit' Hmmm."

Yes, I read that part of the Holy Father's letter that way too. Priests shouldn't be absolutely refusing to offer Mass according to the Pauline Missal, but neither should they be absolutely refusing to offer Mass according to the Johannine Missal. If that principle applies to priests who want to use the 1962 Missal, then it must also apply to priests who use the new missal.

Anything else would be . . . an injustice.