Rorate Caeli

You report: Traditional Masses around the world - III

When Pope Benedict visited Brazil last May, he was a guest of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Assumption in São Paulo, known simply as "Monastery of Saint Benedict". Since the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum went into effect, a Traditional Mass has been celebrated in the abbatial church every Sunday. A reader reports:

Since September 16th, 2007, every Sunday the bells of the abbatial church of Saint Benedict's Monastery, in São Paulo, have rung again, calling the faithful to the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. [Pictures of the September 16th Mass here].

Accompanied by a Gregorian Choir and the attendance of about 400 people every week, the Priest kneels before the old altar and everyone listens his sweet and confident voice: "Introibo ad altare Dei"...

The Monastery that received Benedict XVI in his first visit to Brazil as a Pope witnesses now the practical result of his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Each Sunday, at 6 PM, the Old Rite is celebrated and we hope that this decision may bring many Catholics to the beauty and glory of the Holy Church.

New confirmation of old news

In the current issue of Italian news weekly Panorama, Ignazio Ingrao confirms some news we had already reported here:

-(1) a document is being prepared by the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" explaining some points of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, including what criteria may be used to identify a stably existing group (no specific minimum number) and clarifications regarding the differences between the calendars of both forms of the Roman Rite - the document may be published, according to Ingrao, "in the next few days";

-(2) the possibility of a traditional Mass celebrated by the Pope in December (according to Ingrao, not in Saint Peter's, but maybe in Saint Paul Outside the Walls);

-(3) the probability that the excommunications of the Bishops involved in the consecrations of June 30, 1988, in Ecône, Switzerland may soon be lifted.

Tip and transcript: Papa Ratzinger

On the Feast of Christ the King...
The Che-suits

On the traditional day of the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, as 498 Catholic martyrs killed by Socialist militias in Spain in 1934, 1936, and 1937 were beatified in Rome, a reminder of the depth of the crisis in the Church:

An image of Christ crucified on a hammer and sickle, from the ad for spiritual exercises promoted by the Jesuits of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Source: La Cigüeña de la Torre

Moved by hatred: the words of an enemy of the motu proprio - II

Fr Manlio Sodi, SDB, is one of the most influential "liturgists" in Italy - his name is widely mentioned from diocesan seminaries to documents of liturgical committees. His scholarly expertise is to be commended - yet, it does not mean that he is a man who loves truth. That is why he has chosen to dedicate himself to the Traditional liturgical books of the Roman Rite, and why he was chosen to write the introductions to all four reprints (the Missale, the Breviarium, the Rituale, and the Pontificale) to be published by the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana) itself: he can then become the most authoritative source for the interpretation of documents he truly hates.

In the very first page of his book "The Missal of Pius V: Why the Latin Mass in the Third Millennium?", Sodi affirms (notice: the book was given imprimatur on July 12, five days after Summorum Pontificum - and Summorum Pontificum is the object of a whole chapter of the book) that the Missal of John XXIII was abrogated:

"The last edition of the Tridentine Missal was prepared under the pontificate of Blessed John XXIII, in 1962: it was to consolidate the last reforms effected by Pius XII in 1951 and 1955, in view of the Code of rubrics. It was this Missal which was abrogated with the publication of the Missal of 1970.
It would seem a strange thing: today, when Latin is not understood or studied anymore as it used to be, some ask, and even with forcefulness, for the return to a liturgy entirely in Latin, and even more, according to a rite which was abolished with the publication of the Missal of Paul VI"

"Abrogated"? For some reason, though he dedicated a whole chapter to Summorum Pontificum, Sodi decided to keep this false information on the first page of his book. As is well known, "the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962" was "never abrogated" (nunquam abrogatam - cf. Summorum Pontificum, art. 1).

It is also clear that Sodi wishes to put all the "blame" of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII on that "terrible" Pope, Pius XII: it is true, the 1962 Missal consolidates the alterations made since the Pontificate of Benedict XV, but the main changes were the ones determined by the Code of Rubrics itself - which, not mentioned by Sodi in this text destined to the general public, had been published in 1960 by Blessed Pope John as a work of his Pontificate. The Codex Rubricarum put in place by the motu proprio Rubricarum Instructum could not be published only as a supplement (as it had been the case with the reformed Holy Week), because every single Sunday and Feast had to be reclassified under the new "Class" system.

The information on what Pope was responsible for the new Code of Rubrics is very important for historical reasons: it seems unreasonable that Pope John would set a new Code of Rubrics which required a whole new edition of the Roman Missal only to have it completely disregarded in less than a decade.
More on the absurdities written by Fr Sodi on the chapter dedicated to Summorum Pontificum in the third part of this series.

Moved by hatred: the words of an enemy of the motu proprio - I

Almost four months after the publication of Summorum Pontificum, the only book on the motu proprio for sale at the John Paul II International Bookstore (the Vatican bookstore at Piazza San Pietro), still is "The Missal of Pius V: Why the Latin Mass in the Third Millennium?", by Manlio Sodi, SDB, published by Edizioni Messaggero, the publishing house of the shrine of Saint Anthony, in Padua.

The work is extremely critical - to say the very least - of the motu proprio. Throughout this Saturday, we will publish translations of excerpts of this disgraceful book, written by one of the most influential "liturgists" in Italy - a man deeply committed to the Bugninist mafia still occupying the most unexpected places in the Vatican machinery, and charged by the Vatican Publishing House itself with the scholarly introductions to the academic editions of the liturgical books of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Don Guido speaks: Motu proprio "an act of justice"

From the wonderful interview granted by Monsignor Guido Marini, the new Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies - and a man who is not afraid to follow rules - to Bruno Volpe (Petrus):

Monsignor, first of all, welcome and good work...

"Thank you for the wishes, I truly need them. You know, I have been in Rome for a very short time, and I look around, I study, I reflect: there is so much to do and to toil, believe me."

So it goes from one another: what do you say to Piero, your predecessor?

"I thank him from my heart. He gave so much to the Church, he served two Popes, and I find myself only at the beginning of my path."

You have been called to a difficult job...

"Certainly. The life of every head of liturgical ceremonies of the Holy Father is filled with problems. We are under the limelights, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of making great mistakes."

Many have claimed that you were called because [you are] liturgically more traditionalist and sober than Archbishop Piero Marini. But what is your conception of the liturgy?

"[It is] as the Church wishes and teaches, not more and not less. I am not the kind of person who looks for inventions and oddities. I may even seem banal, but the liturgy is respect to the rules laid down by the Church, and I see no reason for which I should disobey it."

It is said precisely that in Genoa, where you worked up to now, the liturgy was well cared for, sober and elegant, without bizarre adornments...

"But liturgy is naturally thus. I repeat: no one can act against the liturgical laws of the Church. The Mass is a gift, a grace, not a show. Therefore, no invention, but absolute respect for liturgical rules."

Pope Benedict XVI, other than a great theologian, is also a fine liturgist. He attributes to the liturgy, [when] correctly executed, a notable relevance...

"Working together with the Holy Father will be a grace for me. The popularity of the Pontiff, his preaching of truth and courage, are before the eyes of all. Regarding the liturgy, I completely share the thesis of the Pope: the Mass is Sacrifice."

In your opinion, have there been liturgical abuses recently?

"You know, the Church is large. But, as the Pontiff himself recognized in the accompanying letter to the Motu Proprio 'Summorum Pontificum', there have been abuses and extravagant interpretations. What I can say is that certainly I will not be the author of any fabrication, I will limit myself to scrupulously apply the existing rules."

By the way, what do you think of the Motu Proprio which has liberalized the Mass in the Tridentine Rite?

I agree with the Motu Proprio 100%; [it is] an act of good sense, of justice, of freedom, and of foresight.

"Il Concilio non ne parla"

From the excerpts of Cardinal Biffi's book, Memorie e digressioni di un italiano cardinale (Cantagalli, 2007) , published online by Sandro Magister, with some corrections:

There were just a few statements of [Pope John XXIII] that I found puzzling. And these were precisely the ones that won over hearts and minds more than any others, because they seemed consistent with people's instinctive aspirations.

There was, for example, his judgment of reproof on the "prophets of doom." [At the opening speech of the Second Vatican Council, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia: At Nobis plane dissentiendum esse videtur ab his rerum adversarum vaticinatoribus, qui deteriora semper praenuntiant, quasi rerum exitium instet.].

The expression became, and remained, extremely popular, and naturally so: the people do not like party poopers; they prefer those who promise good times over those who advance fears and reservations. And I, too, admired the courage and drive, during the last years of his life, of this "young" successor of Peter.

But I recall that a sense of perplexity seized me almost immediately. In the history of Revelation, the true prophets were the ones who usually announced chastisements and calamities, as in Isaiah (chapter 24), Jeremiah (chapter 4), and Ezekiel (chapters 4-11).

Jesus himself, in chapter 24 of the Gospel of Matthew, would have to be counted among the "prophets of doom": his proclamation of future triumphs and impending joys do not usually relate to existence here on earth, but rather to "eternal life" and the "Kingdom of Heaven."

But the people in the Bible who usually proclaim the imminence of tranquil and serene times are, instead, the false prophets (see chapter 13 of the Book of Ezekiel).

The statement from John XXIII is explained by his state of mind at the time, but it should not be made absolute. On the contrary, it would be well to listen also to those who have some reason to alert their brothers, preparing them for possible trials, and those who believe it is opportune to issue calls for prudence and vigilance.

The Christian people must be put on guard and defended against those who actually sow error, without ceasing to seek out his true well-being, and without judging anyone's subjective responsibility, which is known to God alone.

The Silent Council

Communism: the Council does not address this. If one attentively scans the comprehensive index, it is stunning to confront this categorical silence.

Communism was, without a doubt, the most imposing, enduring, pervasive historical phenomenon of the twentieth century; and the Council, despite having proposed a Constitution on the Church and the modern world, does not speak of it.

Beginning with its triumph in Russia in 1917, after half a century communism had succeeded in causing many tens of millions of deaths, the victims of mass terror and the most inhuman repression; and the Council does not speak of it.

Communism (for the first time in the history of human folly) had practically imposed atheism upon the populations subjected to it, as a sort of official philosophy and a paradoxical "religion of the state"; and the Council, although it addresses the case of atheists, does not speak of it.

During the same years when the ecumenical council sessions were being held, the communist prisons were still places of unspeakable sufferings and humiliations inflicted upon numerous "witnesses of the faith" (bishops, priests, devoted lay believers in Christ); and the Council does not speak of it.
A conversation with Pope John Paul II

...I also felt prompted to add a reservation of a pastoral nature: the unheard-of initiative of asking pardon for the errors and inconsistencies of past centuries would, in my view, scandalize the "little ones," those most favored by Jesus (cf. Matthew 11:25): because the faithful, who do not know how to make many theological distinctions, would see these self-accusations as a threat against their serene adhesion to the ecclesial mystery, which (as all the professions of faith tell us) is essentially a mystery of sanctity.

And these were the very words of the pope's reply: "Yes, that is true. That will require some thought." Unfortunately, he did not think about it enough.
In the Conclave of 2005

I would like to tell the future pope to pay attention to all problems. But first and most of all, he should take into account the state of confusion, disorientation, and aimlessness that afflicts the people of God in these years, and above all the 'little ones'.

A few days ago, I saw on television an elderly, devout religious sister who responded to the interviewer this way: 'This pope, who has died, was great above all because he taught us that all religions are equal'. I don't know whether John Paul II would have been very pleased by this sort of elegy.

Finally, I would like to point out to the new pope the incredible phenomenon of 'Dominus Iesus': a document explicitly endorsed and publicly approved by John Paul II; a document for which I am pleased to express my vibrant gratitude to Cardinal Ratzinger. That Jesus is the only necessary Savior of all is a truth that for over twenty centuries - beginning with Peter's discourse after Pentecost - it was never felt necessity to restate. This truth is, so to speak, the minimum threshold of the faith; it is the primordial certitude, it is among believers the simple and most essential fact. In two thousand years this has never been brought into doubt, not even during the crisis of Arianism, and not even during the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. The fact of needing to issue a reminder of this in our time tells us the extent of the gravity of the current situation. And yet this document, which recalls the most basic, most simple, most essential certitude, has been called into question. It has been contested at all levels: at all levels of pastoral action, of theological instruction, of the hierarchy.

A good Catholic told me about asking his pastor to let him make a presentation of 'Dominus Iesus' to the parish community. The pastor (an otherwise excellent and well-intentioned priest) replied to him: 'Let it go. That's a document that divides.' What a discovery! Jesus himself said: 'I have come to bring division' (Luke 12:51).

The Passion of Spain
The Beatification of 498 Martyrs

With the approval on June 1, 2007, by the Holy Father, of the decrees of recognition of martyrdom of two other groups of Spanish Martyrs, the number of martyrs -- of 1934 (Asturias Rebellion) and of 1936 and 1937 (persecution of Catholics during the Spanish Civil War) -- to be beatified this year rises to 498.

Due to the great significance of the mass beatification (which is the result of 23 different causes, carefully studied for decades in Spain and in Rome), the Spanish episcopate asked the Holy Father to allow the ceremony to take place in Rome, as the measures taken by Pope Benedict at the beginning of his pontificate exceptionally allow. The petition was granted and the beatification ceremony will be held on October 28, 2007 (Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King in the only calendar which all the Martyrs knew, a feast which had been established in 1925 by the very Pope reigning at the time of their glorious martyrdom).

The entire list of 498 martyrs is available here and includes several names already mentioned by us in the past, also including Bishops Narciso Estenaga Echevarría, of Ciudad Real, and Cruz Laplana y Laguna, of Cuenca, as well as some of the most famous martyrs of the greatest massacre of Catholics in the 20th Century (Paracuellos de Jarama), the Augustinians of the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (included in the Cause for Beatification 13).

Largest Catholic publisher in Italy prints hand missal

The largest Catholic publisher in Italy, Edizioni San Paolo (the Italian branch of the Society of Saint Paul's publishing house, St. Pauls), has just released a brand new simple hand missal for the laity.

Ordo Missae includes the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin and Italian, common prayers, and the rite of Benediction in the ancient rite.

Tip: Anonymous reader.

Fellay speaks: I am confident

From an interview granted by Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) to Paolo Luigi Rodari, in Il Riformista:

Fellay... has often been defined as the head of the more moderate wing of the Lefebvrists. The opposite of Bishop Richard Williamson, who would represent the more intransigent wing in the Fraternity, that [wing] of the "never and never again" regarding a compromise with Rome.

"Nothing could be falser - Fellay explains it -, Williamson and I are on the same line, that which believes that we could hardly re-enter a Church as is. And the reasons are quite simple. Benedict XVI has indeed liberalized the ancient rite, but I cannot explain for what reason he made such a decision if he then allows the majority of Bishops to criticize and disobey him regarding what he determined. What should we do? Re-enter the Church and then be insulted by all those people?"

And more: "Other than the ancient rite, the problem for us is in the words which Benedict XVI dedicated to Vatican II. We have read his wish to put in place an exegesis of continuity. But it seems to me that no concrete actions have followed this desire. because the rupture with the past is directly related, unfortunately, to some texts of Vatican II and these texts are what should be, in some way, reviewed. In the interview which opens the book of Cardinal Leo Scheffczyk, 'The World of Catholic Faith: Truth and Form', he [Benedict] declares that after the Council he was too fearful regarding the colleagues devoted to a clear line of openness to the world. That is fine, but, concretely, what actions does he intend to pursue to fix it?"

That is to say, Ratzinger should ready himself for a direct revision of the Conciliar texts, and not only for a denunciation of an incorrect hermeneutic. "Let us take, for instance - Fellay says - the declaration Dignitatis Humanae dedicated to religious liberty. In it, the Church places itself in a position of subjection regarding a civil authority that must assure it the right to free expression. Yet in my opinion it should be the opposite: it is the State which must submit to the Catholic faith and recognize it as the State religion."

If the liturgy is the heart of the dissent of the Lefebvrists regarding Rome, the divergences seem to have a wider scope which the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum can not solve by itself. "I - Fellay concludes - have met Benedict XVI only once, in the summer of 2005. From that day onward, I have kept an intense exchange of letters with Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of Ecclesia Dei. But there still is no common working document. I am nevertheless confident because all our dealings have otherwise been excellent."

Ricard speaks: on talks between Rome and the SSPX

Cardinal Ricard, the Archbishop of Bordeaux and President of the French Episcopal Conference (CEF) is in Naples for the interreligious meeting promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio. He spoke to Italian papal news website Petrus on future prospects regarding the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX):

Are there contacts between French Bishops or the Vatican with the followers of Lefebvre?

"In France, there are not official 'negotiations'," Ricard explains, "even if there may be contacts. There is something with Rome, but it is, in any case, discreet."

"I believe that Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos and, certainly, also the Pope desired to advance as far as possible in an eventual reconciliation with the Fraternity of Saint Pius X. But the Pope - Ricard details - knows that there are non-negotiable points. He is certainly in favor of dialogue and exchange [of ideas], but he wishes, despite the disagreement on specific points, to erase the caricatures and distortions and to discern the true difficulties, if any exist."

Fastest turnaround in the history of a Publishing House

As we revealed yesterday, it seems that the new director of the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana-LEV), Don Giuseppe Costa, SDB, did not really know what he was saying when he declared, 18 days ago, in an answer to the question, "have you reprinted the Missal of 1962?"

"We have not reprinted anything, only the motu proprio. The eventual reprints depend on the episcopal conferences. If these do not demand it, we reprint it, but if there no such demand, we do not reprint it; no demands have arrived so far."

The series "Monumenta Liturgica Piana", at the care of Manlio Sodi, SDB, and Alessandro Toniolo, started with this year's volume, the Missale Romanum (1962) - surprised, Don Giuseppe? The Pontificale Romanum (Editio typica 1961-1962) is in the process of being printed. The Breviarium Romanum (1962), in one volume (Totum), will probably be published in 2008, and the Rituale Romanum (1952), probably in 2009.

Exactly as La Croix had reported three days after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum...

You report: Traditional Masses around the world - II

A report from Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia:

Over here in Australia, in a small country city called Wangaratta, I started a group with a few other people in Sep. 06 and we called ourselves the Wangaratta Latin Mass Society.

After writing to our bishop requesting a mass on a permanent basis the Bishop only allowed us Mass once a month but to only to be offered on a weekday. Of course we were quite upset with the regulations set out by our Bishop, so imagine the joy we felt when His Holiness Pope Benedict released the long awaited Motu Propio.

Not long after the Motu Propio I wrote to our Bishop again requesting a personal Parish (Article 5 SP). Whilst not allowing this to take place he gave us permission to use a beautiful chapel here in Wangaratta and also seek a Priest to service us on a full time basis from one of the Fraternities that offer the Extraordinary Form exclusively.

On October 13 we had a Procession through Wangaratta in honor of the 90th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima and also we had our first Mass at our Chapel (Delaney Chapel) celebrated by a Diocesan Priest, Fr. Leo Hynes. This Mass and Procession was very well attended with over 50 people, young and old with also about 30 apologies from those who couldn’t make it. They all look forward to assisting at the Traditional Mass in the future. I know the Wangaratta Latin Mass Society will grow, the amount of young people we are attracting is very positive for the future of this Society.

We like to thank Our Bishop, Joseph Grech and also His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for making this so available to us.

Keep them coming, dear readers!

LEV to publish Missal of 1962?

It seems that the Vatican Publishing House (Libreria Editrice Vaticana-LEV), despite the previous declaration of its director, will publish a facsimile reprint of the Missale Romanum (Editio Typica 1962), with introduction.

It is not clear if it will be a mere reprint of the Study Edition published in 1994, with an introduction by Cuthbert Johnson, OSB, and Anthony Ward, SM (Centro Liturgico Vicenziano).


Happy and happier

Pope Benedict received in scheduled private audience his new Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, last Thursday.

You report: Traditional Masses around the world

We start this series of "You report" with reports of two Traditional Masses in two very different places: the Catholic world is united by the same Latin Mass.


A written report from Front Royal, Virginia.

The Arlington Diocese was one of two in the country that had not gone in for altar girls in parishes, so there were none. Also, in my parish (Saint John the Baptist) as well as several others, over the years petitions were signed asking the Bishop to permit the Tridentine Mass in the parish. He did not, until the Spring of 2006, when the Bishop published this letter.

Our pastor said "no" to altar girls, first of all. But right away after the Bishop's letter came out, both the pastor and parochial vicar took a very serious and sincere approach to learning how properly to offer the Traditional Latin Mass. They got help from FSSP, among other sources. And our parochial vicar gave a class on the Traditional Latin Mass to any parishioners who cared to come.

Our pastor obtained permission from the Bishop to install an altar rail; we got a beautiful custom-made hand-crafted rail made of cherry wood. The parish purchased copies of the Latin-English Traditional Latin Mass booklet from Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, and these were placed in all the pews, once for each Missalette and St. Michael Hymnal.

Since then, attendance at the weekly Traditional Latin Mass, at 12:30 PM every Sunday, has been quite regular and large. Our church holds 475 in the pews; I'd say at least 300 come to that 12:30 Mass each week, including a number from other parishes. There is one High Mass per month, the rest are Low Masses, but all are very well attended. especially the High Mass. In fact I would say attendance has been increasing, even during the summer months! Most recently, we have had guest priests from FSSP offering our 12:30 Mass. But both our pastor and our parochial vicar have been to Nebraska to get further training, and from the start they have both done a wonderful job of offering our Tridentine Masses.

This past Sunday it was announced that on October 28, Feast of Christ the King in the Old Calendar, our parish will offer a Solemn High Mass. I am very much looking forward to that.

A photo-report from Natal, in northeastern Brazil

The old church of Our Lady of the Rosary (Nossa Senhora do Rosário) was built in 1706, especially for the service of Catholic slaves and the poorest in Brazilian colonial society.

Countless burials of baptized slaves took place in its grounds, in what then were the outer limits of the town.

This very simple church had not witnessed a Traditional Latin Mass in decades, but thanks to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite has returned to this building.

For readers anywhere in the world who happen to stop in this corner of South America, our Masses will take place every Sunday, 9 AM local time.

Thank you, Pope Benedict! And please pray for our small community.

Recess for a few days: relevant news may be posted at any time.

New Cardinals

Roman Curia: Sandri (Oriental Churches), Foley (Order of the Sepulcher), Lajolo (Governatorate), Cordes (Cor Unum), Comastri (Archpriest of St.Peter's), Rylko (Laity), Farina (Archivist and Librarian).

Episcopal Sees around the world: García-Gasco y Vicente (Valencia, Spain), Brady (Armagh, Ireland), Martínez Sistach (Barcelona, Spain), Vingt-Trois (Paris, France), Bagnasco (Genoa, Italy), Sahre (Dakar, Senegal), Gracias (Bombay, India), Robles Ortega (Monterrey, Mexico), DiNardo (Galveston-Houston, United States), Scherer (São Paulo, Brazil), Njue (Nairobi, Kenya).

Non-voting Cardinals: Emmanuel III Delly (Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans), Giovanni Coppa (Apostolic Nuncio), Estanislao Esteban Karlic (Emeritus of Paraná, Argentina), Father Urbano Navarrete, S.I. (former Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University), and Father Umberto Betti, O.F.M. (former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University).

Consistory on November 24, eve of the Feast of Christ the King in the Calendar of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Most names had been mentioned for several weeks.

Archbishop Ranjith's address in the Netherlands:


Challenges to the Mission of the Church today

Your Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio Mons. François Bacquè
Your Lordship,
Dear Rev. Fathers,
President and Members of the Dutch Association for Latin Liturgy,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Mass and address this distinguished gathering on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting of your Association. I thank you for the kind invitation extended to me.

The Holy Father in his post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation [Sacramentum Caritatis] called for the more frequent use of Latin as well as Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy recommending that even the lay faithful be helped to recite common prayers and sing parts of the Liturgy in Latin [no. 62]. It is in this happy situation for those of you who love this language and its use in the Liturgy that I have come to spend this day with you encouraging you in your efforts. And making use of this opportunity I thought of speaking to you today about a matter of great importance for the life of the Church – Faith and Obedience in the study of Theology and in the sense of discipline which should accompany the mission of the Church.

It is not a surprise that the writers of the Holy Scriptures and, precisely, the traditions behind the Genesis story of Creation and Fall visualize the fall of man in terms of an act of pride and disobedience. It leads man to become a slave of his own instincts seeking for himself power and domination and moves him not only to jealousy and murder [Gen 4: 1 - 16] but also for equality with God. He becomes his own god and wishes to build a tower “with its top reaching heaven” [Gen 11: 4]. The first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis then, is the story of disobedience and estrangement from God. But it does not end there. God in his great mercy does not abandon man to his destiny of self destruction which he had set for himself. He calls and establishes in the faith of Abraham the beginnings of the history of salvation. Abraham responds by deep faith and obedience and thus becomes the father of the people of Israel, God’s chosen instrument for the salvation of the world [Deut. 7: 7-8]. And as the letter to the Hebrews states – “it was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants and that he set out without knowing where he was going” [Heb. 11: 8]. The author of the letter then sets out into a journey of discovery of the faith and obedience to God of all his servants through Abraham to Moses and Jesus ending up with the exhortation: “let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection; for the sake of the joy which laid ahead of him, he endured the Cross, disregarding the shame of it and has taken his seat at the right of God’s throne” [Hebrews 12: 2]. Salvation history, then, is a story of faith and obedience.

The covenant ratified on mount Sinai [Ex. 24: 3-16] establishes once again that relationship between God and humanity through the obedience of Israel. It is sealed by the book of laws that God gives his people – the Torah.

Living out the laws of that covenant then marks the entire history of the People of Israel, blessings being the result of obedience and sufferings the result of the opposite attitude. Obedience is demanded both at the level of the individual and of the people and blessings or disaster is shown to flow out naturally on the basis of their response, individually or collectively. In truth, obedience becomes the expression of a response of love towards God by the people of Israel. It is not so much a covenant of a “give and take” form as was prevalent at that time in the treaties of the Hittites with their suzerain states but a treaty of an intimate union of love between God and Israel visualized as one between a Father [mother] and his [her] Son [Ex. 4: 22; Is. 49: 14-15; Jer. 3: 19; 31: 9, 20; Hos. 11: 1-11] or Husband and wife [Is. 54: 5-8; Jer. 2: 2; 3: 20; Hos. 2: 4-25]. The formula which signifies the covenant is modeled on the formula which seals a marriage – “I will be your God, you will be my people” [Song of Songs 7: 11]. The demands placed on the people and on God reflect essentially not just a spirit of obedience and service but much deeper virtues of love and fidelity [Ps. 117: 1-2]. Besides, it is God who makes the first move. He loved humanity first [Deus Caritas Est 1]. Infidelity in the forms of idolatry and moral disobedience lead the people not only to suffering and death but also to slavery and exile in foreign lands. Besides, the right to land is a consequence of Israel’s faithfulness to the covenant. And so invasion and exile are the fruits of disobedience. The entire deuteronomic reform and the emergence of prophecy are consequences of the constant allurement and attraction Israel felt to idolatry, infidelity and insincerity driving the people away from God.

Jesus and the new Torah

As Pope Benedict explains in “Jesus of Nazareth”, Jesus completed the formation of the people of God by both lifting the veil that excluded the gentiles from entering into communion with God and introducing the new Torah of love, which is the law of the more perfect and eternal covenant with words of authority – “but I say to you…” [Mt. 5: 22 et al]. The people of this more perfect covenant superseded all boundaries, a universal communion – Jews and gentiles together – bonded in and through him in the free and conscious living out of the law of love which he gave them and ratified with His own blood – “this cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you” [Lc. 22: 20]. States the Pope “this restructuring of the social order finds its basis and its justification in Jesus’ claim that he, with his community of disciples, forms the origin and center of the new Israel”, [Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, New York 2007, p. 114] and that “he teaches not as the rabbis do, but as one who has authority” [Mt. 7: 28 et al] [ibid p. 102]. And this authority came to him by the fact that he indeed was the Messiah, the anointed one of God.

Thus faithfulness to Jesus and the living out of the new Torah which he gave his disciples becomes the essential condition for belonging to the community of the new covenant – the sole gateway to the Kingdom of God. States the Pope – “in Jesus’ case it is not the universally binding adherence to the Torah that forms the new family. Rather it is adherence to Jesus himself, to his Torah” [ibid p. 115].

And Jesus wants his disciples to personally follow his own example in not only accepting him but above all in living out the way he lived, following him on the Cross. “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me” [Mc. 8: 34]. In the case of the old alliance it was faithfulness to the Torah that assured the individual or the community its sense of belonging to the Lord and being under his loving care. But in the case of the new alliance it is not so much a matter of adherence to a law as much as to a person: Jesus. Loving him, following him and imitating him was the essential condition. In fact, Jesus’ commandment of love – “love one another as I have loved you” [Jn. 13: 34] is a commandment that urges all to follow his own example of love. Love is not what we feel it is, but the way He lived it out. And Jesus did live out his love for humanity so profoundly and selflessly that he laid down his life for them – “no one can have a greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” [Jn. 15: 13] or “I lay down my life for my sheep” [Jn. 10: 11]. It is not a life taken by others as much as is laid down by Jesus himself.

St. Paul quoting an ancient Confessional Hymn of the Church portrays the entire life of Christ as a living out of the twin moments of the loving and voluntary self emptying by Jesus and his glorification at the hands of God which signifies his baptism. For him, Jesus, the Christ, “although he was in the form of God, thought not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself becoming obedient unto death, even death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father” [Phil. 2: 5 -11]. The key phrase in the hymn consists of the words “obedient unto death” [vs. 8]. The Greek verb “hupekoos” used here is to be understood as the opposite of that act of disobedience of Adam. St. Paul himself states so – “for as by one man’s disobedience [Parakohes] many were made sinners, so by the obedience [hupakohes] of one, shall many be made righteous” [Rom. 5: 19].

The theological dictionary of the new testament by Gerhard Kittel states that “hupakohe” in general “is measured by the attitude of obedience to God” [p. 224 vol. 1]. St. Paul places it in opposition to “hamartia” – sin. States St. Paul “you can be the slaves either of sin [hamartia] which leads to death or of obedience [hupakohe] which leads to righteousness” [Rom. 6: 16].

The idea is clear. Jesus’ whole life which is the fulfillment of the history of salvation is one of sheer obedience to the Father as seen and understood in the background of the disobedience of Adam. Says the letter to the Galatians, the Lord Jesus “gave himself for our sins to liberate us from this present wicked world, in accordance with the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever” [Gal. 1: 4]. Indeed Jesus did state so – “I have come from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” [Jn. 6: 38] or “I seek to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me” [Jn. 5: 30]. He understands his mission on earth as the realization of the type of obedience required by God so that his divine kingship may be realized on earth. In and through Jesus and the Church, then, God enters human history in the fullest sense and His Kingdom is thus established definitively. This Church or the community of “the called” is the mystical presence of Jesus in history and the manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth. And as Lumen Gentium states it “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in union with that successor” [LG 8]. And again, “Although many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside of her visible structure, these elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, posses an inner dynamism toward Catholic unity” [ibid].

The Church thus exists in order to expand the process of sanctification and liberation which Jesus brought to fulfillment through his obedience to the Father. Its mission is precisely that of imitating Jesus in his great act of obedience to the Father, so that God may re-enter human reality and ennoble all of it in the creation of the “new heaven and the new earth” [II Pet. 3: 13] – that the Kingdom of God may be established definitely and fully in the world. The Church becomes thus the locus of humanity’s profound sense of obedience to God. It is in this way that God continues to re-enter human reality and transform and ennoble it. Obedience in the imitation of Jesus should not be seen merely as a burden or the acceptance and the faithful implementation of a law or norm but rather as the way to sanctification and to the rendering sacred of all human and cosmic reality.

This mission is indeed something sacred and liturgical. The famous exhortation of St. Paul on turning our lives into a sacrifice [logiké latreia] acceptable to God states: “I urge you, then, brothers, remembering the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, dedicated and acceptable to God; that is the kind of worship for you, as sensible people. Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature” [Rom. 12: 1-2].

It is this same sense of obedience and discipline in the life of a Christian whatever his or her role in the Church be, that gives effective credibility to what Jesus represents: a life of total and self negating subjection to the will of the Father. In a world dominated by egoism and its resultant corollaries of individualism, subjectivism and relativism, where in the name of liberty any vestige of authority is rejected as a burden and an obstacle to human freedom, the Church has to manifest itself as the community of God, consisting of those in whose life the acceptance and submission to the will of God and a noble sense of unity ought to shine out. If the world visualizes freedom as “freedom from”, the Church has to firmly reflect freedom as “freedom for”.

If the world wishes to become a place where confusing and contradictory philosophies, values and a cacophony of noisy and disorderly political orientations make human life neurotic, the Church has to be the sign of truth, good and beauty which in their most supreme form reflect God’s own essence. If the world has become the market place of greed and the reduction of human kind to an object of consumism, then the Church has to become the community that extols God’s own providence and reflects a sense of detachment and respect especially for those who become the victims of such greed; If the world becomes the arena of moral laxism, hedonism and the subjugation of mankind to transient and empty allures, then the Church has to be the sign of the purity and holiness of God.

In other words the Church cannot be the arena of confusion, philosophical or moral relativism, sophistry and casuistic dilution of the revealed truth which is the foundation of its Credo, the Word of God as revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church and interpreted by the official magisterium of the Church and open dissent or public debate even in the name of the freedom of theological research. My mind goes back to the story of the construction or shall we say the attempted construction of the Tower of Babel. Its constructors felt confident that they could scale the heavens with their own resources and strength without God. Hasn’t that same spirit re-appeared perhaps in a more sophisticated form in the world and the Church today? There are some people who even claim that they make the Church as if the Church is a creation of us humans.

But the Church is not what we make. It is what Jesus established and continues to nourish and sustain. Says Lumen Gentium “Christ, the one mediator, established and ceaselessly sustains here on earth His Holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as a visible structure. Through her He communicates truth and grace to all” [LG 8]. It is thus, even in its visible manifestation, a divine institution which is called to live and make real in the world God’s own holiness, truth and beauty as well as the harmony and peace that comes from Him alone. For, as St. Paul stated, “God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all Churches of the Saints” [1 Cor. 14: 33].

The Church is not an association or federation or a democracy made up of the faithful. It is the mystical body of Christ with its own inner life that comes from Christ, who is its supreme and invisible head. It has its visible structure which is not to be separated from the mystical. The Council states “but the society furnished with hierarchical agencies and the mystical body of Christ are not to be considered two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things. Rather they form one inter-locked reality which is comprised of a divine and a human element” [LG 8]. The Council then goes on to compare this mystical divine – human interlocking with the mystery of the incarnation itself [cfr LG 8]. It is, as the Council further confirms, the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church referring thus to its uniqueness, its singular vocation, its universal nature and its missionary dimension.

The hierarchical nature of the Church as the same document confirms does not come from a bottom to top orientation but the other way around. Christ is the supreme shepherd and spouse of the Church. He established it on the foundation of the apostles and, as Lumen Gentium further clarifies, “after the resurrection our Saviour handed her over to Peter to be shepherded [Jn. 21: 17], commissioning him and the other apostles to propagate and govern her [cf Mt. 28: 18 ff]. Her he erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth” [1 Tim. 3: 11]” [LG 8]. And as the Church teaches, through apostolic succession and the power to bind and loose, the College of Apostles with Peter as its head is succeeded by the College of Bishops who with the Pope who “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the Bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” [LG 23] becomes the hierarchical leadership of the Church. Lumen Gentium 22 states further “the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” and further “the College of Bishops, has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, as its head” [LG 22]. Naturally as Jesus often expressed all authority in the Church has to be exercised in a pastoral sense – in that loving and caring as well as gently guiding way of the good shepherd and not of those who seek to Lord it over [cfr 22: 25-26].

Provided that authority in the Church is understood and exercised as a service, rather than a means of domination in an egoistic sense, it is essential that unity not only in its communitarian form but also in its direction be preserved and the effective fulfillment of its mission be facilitated. Disagreement is possible but it should not be allowed to deteriorate and become a cause of division, hostility and a sign of mundane frivolity. As we see in that singular reflection of the early Christian Community at the first Council of Jerusalem [Acts 15: 6-29] even if the issue at stake, the question of the uncircumcised, was seen differently by them, they all agreed to settle for a united position after prayer and listening to the different views of Paul, Barnabas, James and Simon Peter. The voice of Peter was decisive here and James agreed with him. The cause of unity was served best that way. It was a debate among brothers and not in the fora of the roman civil or religious courts or in the aeropagus of Athens. The Council of Jerusalem was an experience of communion in which the voice of the apostles, especially of Peter set the pace for whatever was decided.

Disagreement and even debate are part of the search for an understanding of one’s faith given the limitedness of the human mind. Since theology itself is “fides querens intellectum” and is based on the centrality of faith, “credo ut intelligam”, sin can cause the search for that understanding to become ruffled and muddy. For faith cannot co-exist with sin and intellectual arrogance. It requires listening, silence, and most of all prayer which prepares the heart and mind to receive God’s word. Where such an attitude does not prevail, disagreement can lead the seeker to be a prisoner of his own thoughts, feel stimulated by considerations of self aggrandizement, pride and lead to open dissent which would be harmful to the faith. It will cause just the opposite effect and can lead one on to the path of disobedience and falling prey to the machinations of the evil one. The example of the Council of Jerusalem is important here – once Simon Peter set the pace, the debate took a decisive turn towards identifying an acceptable solution which is in the best interests of the mission of the Church. The Acts of the Apostles states that “and when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them…” [Acts 15: 7] and surprisingly the Acts states that at the end of Peter’s discourse –“all the multitude kept silence” [Acts 15: 12] and James seconded what Peter said ending the debate with a decision which was good for all.

Besides, since the Church is a spiritual communion enriched by the life of Grace that flows from Christ especially in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, what should be of foremost concern for all its members is to reflect and live that intimate communion with the Lord, and in him with all the brothers and sisters, as fruitfully and as truly as possible. Every effort then ought to be made not to demean the inner dynamism of the Church through our selfishness and sinfulness especially through intellectual pride and arrogance. Rendering glory to God and edifying the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, in order to make her carry on her mission effectively should be more important.

It is here that a deep spirit of self denial, sense of humility before the mystery of God’s ways and an awareness that the life of Christ is somehow present and active in the Church and in the person of the Vicar of Christ ought to animate all of us, especially the bishops, priests, the religious, the theologians and experts in the various ecclesial disciplines. We ought to always remember the words of Isaiah – “who was it who measured the water of the sea in the hollow of his hands and calculated the heavens to the nearest inch; gauged the dust of the earth to the nearest bushel, weighed the mountains on scales, the hills in a balance? Who directed Yahweh, what counselor could have instructed him? Whom has he consulted to enlighten him, to instruct on the path of judgment, to teach him knowledge and show him how to understand?” [Is. 40: 12 - 14]. Speaking of wisdom, Job exclaims – “God alone understands her path and knows where she is to be found .... Then he said to human beings, wisdom? – that is the fear of the Lord; intelligence? – avoidance of evil” [Job 28: 23-28].

It is most unfortunate to note, that often enough we tend to forget that there is a far superior mission in our hands than that of engaging in hair splitting theological debate. Even theology is at the service of faith, it is not its master. Faith comes first and then only theology. For, if there is no faith in theology, it would only be a matter of words and empty noise which would not be effectively contributive towards the mission of the Church.

A so called dissident theologian from Asia recently wrote as follows: “many Christians in Asia are increasingly unable to think of salvation exclusively in terms of the Church or as only mediated by Jesus Christ. We have come to realize that such a view would imply that the vast majority of the people of Asia were not saved. The point has slowly dawned on us that this is not acceptable…. The more I studied the issue of salvation the more I was impressed with the serious inadequacy of the Church’s doctrinal teaching” [Tissa Balasuriya, From Inquisition to Freedom, Continuum 2001, pg.90]. And again – “In Asia where Christianity is a minority religion, we cannot accept that the whole of humanity is in original sin in the sense that they are alienated from God. We cannot accept that all our fore bearers are in hell. Regarding redemption, I have maintained my view that Jesus did not have to pray a price to God to save us, although this interpretation has so impregnated our prayers, hymns and attitudes…. The mission of the Church is not so much to convert to Christianity as to convert all to humanity” [ibid. pg. 105].

What I see here is an approach to theology bereft of that sense of faith and transcendence and geared rather towards the humanization of the society, than its divinization. The mission of Jesus who wished to usher in the era of the reign of God in human life was certainly not limited to making man merely more human. That kind of understanding is very reductive of the great mission of Jesus. Besides, it is rather subjective without any consideration given to the objective sources of divine revelation – the Sacred Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church, of which the latter is rather quickly dismissed as a creation of what is called “Orthodoxy”. The same writer rejects what he calls arbitrary authority and the states, “there comes a point when we must say that eternal destiny is not determined by particular persons or what is called orthodoxy but by one’s conscience and by our relationship to the divine” [ibid. pg. 108]. Both these latter principles are as we can see, of a subjective order.

The rejection of objective revelation places such theologizing outside the realms of the faith and once it becomes an object of debate leads to attitudes incompatible with the noble spiritual mission of theology which is that of “edifying the Church” [cfr 1 Cor. 14: 4]. It is good to note here that St. Paul warned Timothy to beware of “anyone who teaches anything different and does not keep to the sound teaching which is that of our Lord Jesus Christ, the doctrine which is in accordance with true religion, is proud and has no understanding, but rather a weakness for questioning everything and arguing about words” [1 Tim. 6: 3 - 4]. This type of attitude can influence all if care is not exercised in always keeping before us an attitude of humility in the face of the great mysteries of God.

Today more than ever the Church needs men and women who portray in their lives that sense of humility and self negation as well as obedience to God’s will, which is manifested in a special way through the Church and its visible head, the Roman Pontiff. Discussion and debate in a fraternal way, yes, but if it does not in the end lead to a spirit of obedience in the service of unity then it divides and can only be interpreted as a manifestation of the intent of the evil one to disturb and retard the noble mission of Christ. Even those wearing ecclesiastical purple or red are not exempt from the tempter’s enchantments.

We see this happening unfortunately quite often nowadays. It is not a rare feature to see the emergence of ecclesiastics in responsible positions who are intrumentalised by the media and forces inimical to the Church, to make statements critical of the directions from the Roman Pontiff or from the dicastries that carry out his decisions. Others take the attitude of ignoring or disregarding such directions and so great harm in procured for the mission of the Church – especially through the sense of loss and confusion brought about by such attitudes on the faithful.

St. Paul tells us how he changed when he met Jesus on the way to Damascus – no longer was he the proud and zealous Jew who persecuted the Church – he states “what things were gain for me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea doubtless, and I count all things but less for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and so count them but dung, that I may win Christ” [Phil. 3: 7-8]. And again – “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me” [Gal. 2: 20]. What counts for him is not so much who he is or what he thinks but what he has become – for Christ owns him, and lives in him. It is this new life that made him, Christ’s apostle, who in turn is being called to, like St. John the Baptist, let his personality recede to the background allowing Christ to shine out in his life.

This I feel should be our own attitude especially in these troubled days – “he must increase, I must decrease” [Jn. 3: 30]. We should pray the Lord to keep us all to be like him who though he was in the form of God assumed the form of a slave and became obedient to the Father accepting to undergo death and death on a Cross.

May He bless and protect the Church!

Thank you.

+Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith
Congregation for Divine Worship
and the Discipline of the Sacraments,
Vatican City.
6th October 2007

The Association for Latin Liturgy (in the Netherlands)
Vereniging voor Latijnse Liturgie

Shame and shamelessness

A head of office (capo ufficio, the highest departmental position in the several departaments inside each Congregation) at the Vatican, a Monsignor, calls a male prostitute, brings him to the Vatican having a true date in his office - giving up only after his guest persists in his questions on the host's opinion regarding the Church's view of homosexual acts as sinful. What Mosignor Tommaso Stenico, Capo Ufficio in the Congregation for the Clergy and Professor at the Pontifical Lateranian University did not expect is that his date was recording everything under cover...

The scandal is now well known around the world. Associated Press reports:

A private Italian television network broadcast a program this month in which some priests were interviewed about their homosexuality. Vatican teaching holds that homosexuality is a sin.

The men, including the monsignor who was suspended, were interviewed with their faces obscured and their voices altered so that they would not be recognized. But Vatican officials recognized the Vatican office in which the monsignor was interviewed, the newspaper La Repubblica reported on Saturday.

During the interview the monsignor said he “didn’t feel he was sinning” by having sex with gay men, La Repubblica reported.

Now, this shameless man has the gall to tell Italian religious news website Petrus that he was actually willing "to write a book, a research [paper] on the problem of homosexuality among priests". Right... That is probaby why Stenico ended his date with the words, "If you wish, call me or send me a [text] message. How good you are. [Quanto sei bono.]".

It is unavoidable to conclude that the Vatican is infested with active homosexuals - who are only suspended from their functions when they are arrested with transsexual male prostitutes (as it happened to Monsignor EDITED(C.B.), a high officer in the Secretariat of State, last year), or found looking at homosexual pornography websites (as it happened to three priests last year, including one who said "to everyone that he fell in disgrace only due to the jealosy of those for whom he had shown no interest"), or shown in national television as they bring their dates to their Vatican offices, as it happened to Monsignor Stenico.

What now?

Directive on Summorum Pontificum confirmed

From the Italian Papal news website Petrus:

"It is true, we are writing a document-instruction on the correct interpretation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which has liberalized the Mass according to the liturgical books of Saint Pius V, as modified by Blessed John XXIII." Thus says Monsignor Camille Perl, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, in an exclusive interview to Petrus, who adds: "Though not a Congregation, we have been granted the faculty to prepare this note for the definition of some aspects of the Papal Motu Proprio as, for example, that of the stable group. We will thus clarify what is understood as stable group, how many people should precisely ask their Parish Priest to celebrate in the pre-Conciliar rite."

Monsignor Perl, the instruction is due to the several objections raised by Bishops and Priests opposed to the new rules of access to the Mass in Tridentine Rite?

"The situation is under the eyes of all. Regardless of that, after the Pope's Motu Proprio, it was legitimate to expect contrasting reactions. Some have expressed enthusiasm, some have not. Nevertheless, it is enough to recall that the Motu Proprio did not come down from heaven, but is the result of a long path."

Tip: Anonymous reader.
RECESS for a few days: relevant news may be posted at any time.

Vatican directive on Summorum Pontificum

Echoing the information reported by Isabelle de Gaulmyn in La Croix on Tuesday, Andrea Tornielli reports today in Il Giornale:

The Pope himself would have been very displeased due to some "resistance" displayed even in Italian dioceses, and it is probable that interpretative norms for the correct application of the document [the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum] in the sense willed by Benedict XVI may be issued soon.

Excommunications lifted before the end of autumn

From the semi-official daily of the French Episcopate, La Croix (October 9, 2007):

[At a conference at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, on October 5] The head of the Lefebvrists [Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X - FSSPX/SSPX] also hopes that the excommunications pronounced in 1988, at the moment of the illicit episcopal ordinations in Écône, will soon be lifted. "Maybe from now to the end of autumn."

Also in Tuesday's edition of La Croix, Isabelle de Gaulmyn reports in the main article:

Due to these difficulties in the application of the text [of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum], the commission Ecclesia Dei is considering the elaboration of a directive which may detail the forms of application. And the Pope could celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary, that is pre-Conciliar, Roman Rite soon.

We would add that there is no explicit mention of the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in any of the public Masses in the Pope's calendar of celebrations up to January 2008, updated this Wednesday.

SSPX denies doctrinal talks with the Vatican

Brian Mershon reports in The Remnant:

News reports disseminated primarily on French language websites and blogs last week asserting that the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has been in secret doctrinal discussions with theologians of the Holy See are incorrect, according to the Society’s official news service.

“The SSPX denies having any doctrinal discussions at present either with officials or theologians of the Vatican,” said Fr. Arnaud Sélégny, Secretary General of the SSPX, from the SSPX’s official Dici news service (

“Bishop Fellay has not, and did not, appoint any theologian priests of the SSPX mentioned in the [errant online] ‘news’ forums to carry on such doctrinal discussions,” he said.

Florete flores...

Florete flores quasi lilium, et date odorem, et frondete in gratiam, et collaudate canticum, et benedicite Dominum in operibus suis. (Communion Antiphon for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Ecclesiasticus xxxix, 19: Send forth flowers, as the lily, and yield a smell, and bring forth leaves in grace, and praise with canticles, and bless the Lord in His works.)

Consider, first, in Mary the flower of precious virginity, which is virginity itself. Of this it is said in Isaias: "The desert shall rejoice and shall flower as a lily." Mary can fittingly be said to be a desert, who was so willing to be alone, who was in her voluntary solitude visited by an angel. Therefore St. Ambrose well says: "Alone in the inner part of her house, she whom no man could see, he found her alone without a companion, alone without a witness." In what manner this desert, the Virgin Mary, should rejoice, let her say herself: "And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior."

This desert of earth flowered like a lily by virginity. O angelical lily! O heavenly flower! O truly heavenly flower whom that supercelestial Bee hath so loved. For St. Bernard saith: "That Bee who feedeth among the lilies, who dwelt in a flowering fatherland, when He flew to Nazareth, which is interpreted a flower, flew towards thee, and came to the sweet smelling flower of thy perpetual virginity, he rested upon it, he embraced it."

The flower of virginity has as many petals, so to speak, as the conditions and praises of virginity. Oh, how greatly the crowns of this flower were multiplied by Mary! St. Ambrose says: "In the whole world the flower Mary weaves unfading crowns, and keeps the royal court of purity with immaculate affection, until integrity perseveres to the palm of victory, that in maidens it may grasp the trophy of sanctity, and in the footprints of the Virgin Mary, attain to the heavenly bridal chamber."

Secondly, consider in Mary the flower of virtuous reputation, of manners and of life, and hear what she herself says: "My flowers are the fruits of honor and riches" (Ecclus. XXIV, 23.) Of these it is also said: "Our bed is flowering."

... Note also that the flower of honesty, of a good reputation, yea, the flower of any virtue has, as it were, as many petals as it has good and meritorious works to show. Oh, how flowering was that earth, how flowering was the bed of Mary, who in the flowering virtue of her life flourished in the beauty of every virtue, as St. Bernard testifies, saying: "Thou art the box of holy perfumes, O Mary, gathered by the heavenly Perfumer, delightfully blooming with the beautiful flowers of every virtue, among which three are excellent above all, the violet of humility, the lily of chastity, and the rose of charity."

Conrad of Saxony
Speculum Beatæ Mariæ Virginis

Il dialogo impossibile (The impossible dialogue)

From the Pope's speech to the International Theological Commission:

...The original evidence for the foundations of human beings and of their ethical behaviour has been lost, and the doctrine of natural moral law clashes with other concepts which run directly contrary to it. All this has enormous consequences on civil and social order. A positivist conception of law seems to prevail today for not a few thinkers. According to them, humanity, or society, or in effect the majority of citizens, become the ultimate source for civil legislation. The problem that arises is not, then, the search for good but the search for power, or rather the balance of power. At the root of this trend is ethical relativism, in which some even see one of the principal conditions for democracy because relativism could preserve tolerance and mutual respect. But if this were true, the majority at any given moment would become the ultimate source of the law, and history shows with great clarity that majorities can make mistakes. True rationality is not guaranteed by the consensus of the greater number, but only from the transparency of human reason to Creative Reason and from shared listening to this Source to our rationality.

When the fundamental demands of the dignity of the human person, of his life, of the institution of the family, of the equity of social order, that is, the fundamental rights of men, are at stake, no law made by man may subvert the law written by the Creator in the heart of man, without which society itself is dramatically struck in what constitutes its inalienable foundation. Natural law becomes thus the true guarantee given to all to live freely and respected in their dignity, protected from all ideological manipulation and from all arbitrary abuse of the powerful. No one can disregard this warning.

From the annual report on the Italian Abortion Law (Act 194/1978) by the Minister of Health of Romano Prodi's government, Ms. Livia Turco (report in Italian; abortion data for 2006 - 130,000 abortions):

...adopting the full application of Act 194/1978 as a priority of public health choices, the need for its modification is not foreseen, but, on the contrary, the need for a renewed programmatic and operational commitment by all competent institutions and [health] services operators.
...underlining the complexity of the ethical values which legislators have granted to the institutions and to society as a whole, [it is] confirmed that the law has been and continues to be not only efficacious, but also wise and foresighted, deeply respectful of the ethical principles of the care for women's health, of the female responsibility for procreation, of the social value of motherhood, and of the value of human life from its beginning.

Secret theological discussions with the SSPX in Rome?

The Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, granted today an interview to registered readers of the French website Donec Ponam. When asked about the possible removal of the excommunications of the four bishops of the FSSPX by the Holy See, Fellay answered:

In my opinion, the Roman authorities have no grave reason to keep the excommunications. It is therefore a matter of political balance between the FSSPX, on one side, and, on the other, the Progressives with whom these authorities believe they must deal.

Meanwhile, a source at Le Forum Catholique brings the following report (startling, if confirmed):

Bishop Bernard Fellay has officially announced to the members of the FSSPX the establishment of a Theological Committee specialized in the study of Vatican II, which includes Fathers Patrick de La Rocque, Grégoire Célier, Thierry Gaudray, Alvaro Calderón, and Jean-Michel Gleize. This confirms the information coming from sources close to the FSSPX in Toulouse and to the Studium [the Dominican House of Studies in Toulouse] of the Dominican Fathers in that same city regarding long hours of doctrinal discussions which have taken place at a Roman University, in various occasions, between FSSPX theologians and Roman theologians, such as Cardinal Cottier - discussions which have covered the new Mass, ecumenism, and [episcopal] collegiality.

Benedict's second encyclical: on Hope

Franca Giansoldati reports today in Il Messaggero that Pope Benedict's second encyclical (or at least the second one to be published, considering that an encyclical on social doctrine has been seen as probable for months) will have as its main theme the second theological virtue, Hope - and the hopes and doubts of mankind.

Transcript: Papa Ratzinger Blog.

Summorum Pontificum "interpreted" (read "curtailed")
by Polish Bishops

The German Bishops were the first to collectively issue guidelines for the "interpretation" of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The Swiss Bishops published their own version of the guidelines and the Polish Episcopal Conference published its guidelines on October 3, 2007 (Translation by Kronika Novus Ordo):

The Bishops gathered for the 341st Assembly of the Polish Episcopal Conference in Warsaw (2-3 October 2007) have issued instructions on the celebration of Mass according to the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, announced by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 July 2007. The Motu Proprio and the Accompanying Letter to Bishops lay down the outline conditions for the celebration of Mass according to the Missale Romanum promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII as the extraordinary form of the Church’s liturgy.

1. The Parish Liturgy is to be celebrated in the ordinary form. Where a need arises, on Sundays and holy days of obligation, one additional Mass in the extraordinary form can be celebrated, however it can't replace the Mass in the ordinary form (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5 § 2).

2. The possibility for the celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form in parish communities must take account of the spiritual well-being of the whole community of the Faithful making the request. The introduction of the form of Mass must not give rise to tension or cause division (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5 § 1). Desire of a certain group of the Faithful to have a Mass celebrated according to Missale Romanum of Blessed John XXIII must not create dificulties to other Faithful taking part in Mass celebrated in the ordinary form of the rite.

3. The ordinary form of the Mass should be celebrated using the Missale Romanum 1970 (Editio typica tertia 2002), and in the Polish language — according to Missale Romanum for Polish Dioceses, Poznań 1986. For the extraordinary form of Mass, Missale Romanum 1962 — Proprium Poloniae 1962 is to be used (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 1).

4. Applications for permission to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form can be raised by groups of laymen active in a given Parish (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5 § 1 and Art. 7) and directed to the Parish Priest/Rector. If groups includes members of different Parishes, the application should be addressed to the Diocesan bishop.

5. Diocesan bishops have the right to determine kind and size of the group, who has the right to make request to have the Mass in the extraordinary form.

6. Priests who are to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form of the rite (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 5 § 4) should meet the following requirements:
  • - Accept the whole liturgy of the Church in their ordinary and extraordinary forms (cf. accompanying letter of Pope Benedict XVI);
  • - Know well the extraordinary form of the rite;
  • - Understand Latin;
  • - Have altar servers well trained for the extraordinary rite celebration
The foregoing requirements should be subject to formal verification by Diocesan Liturgical Committees.

7. The Calendar and order of readings of the Missale Romanum 1962 should be used for the celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form 1962. Attention should be given to the already announced extensions after a period of time of the Calendar through the Ecclesia Dei Commission. For the reading of the readings in the vernacular (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 6) the Perikopes must be extracted from the recognised lectionary of the Missal for the Dioceses, i.e. Pallotinum Poznań of 1972-2004. Alternatively, the Missale Romanum by the Benedictines of Tyniec Abbey, (Pallotinum Poznań, 1963), can be used.

Preaching during Mass in the extraordinary form of the rite should be in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.

8. Polish Bishops for now see no use of the right to establish personal parishes (cf. Summorum Pontificum, Art. 10) for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

9. Parish Priests and Rectors of churches, where the celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form has been allowed, should let their bishop know about it to help him prepare the the motu proprio implementation report, to be sent to Pope in three years period (cf. Accompanying Letter of Pope Benedict XVI.).

10. Referring to the instructions of Motu Proprio, it should be pondered whether or not one Sunday Eucharist should be celebrated in the Latin language pursuant to Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI. There are people who wish to take part in such a Mass. In some churches, such liturgy in the Latin language is celebrated and generally accessible to the Faithful.

These guidelines become effective as of 15 October 2007.

+ Archbishop Józef Michalik
Chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference

+ Bishop Stefan Cichy
Chairman of the Polish Episcopal Liturgical Committee

Warsaw, 3 October 2007
341st Plenary Assembly of the Polish Episcopal Conference