The diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo is located near the Diocese of Albenga-Imperia, on which we have just reported. What contrast in attitude!
Supplica al Santo Padre nell'anniversario del Motu Proprio
Supplica al Santo Padre nell'anniversario del Motu Proprio
On the second anniversary of the motu proprio from July 7 2007, which restored for the faithful the possibility of having access to the Church’s sacred traditional liturgical treasure, we, the faithful who love the old liturgical forms, address ourselves to Your Holiness with the confidence and the affection of children who, when they ask of their Father a bread, a fish and an egg, are certain not to receive a stone, a serpent or a scorpion.
In the first place, our intention is to express our gratefulness and admiration with this letter. We are grateful both for your catechesis, which you succeed in rendering so comprehensible and rich in theological content, on the way of the Doctors of the Church, among whom you will one day be numbered; and for having wanted to bring back to full citizenship the liturgical form which carries the sacred breath of centuries, yes, of millennia, having been used for the sanctification of numberless generations and indeed still used today, so that we may pray with even deeper devotion together with the Fathers of the Fathers, verbatim and with the same gestures.
We are persuaded that together with the main aim of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the result is not just the praiseworthy and even more sacrosanct faculty of creating the conditions to enable us to return to the peace and the full unity of the Church. Moreover, it means an act of supreme justice, as Your Holiness writes in your autobiography: "I remain dismayed by the prohibition of the old mass; something like this has never been seen in the whole of liturgical history”. But it is not only this last aspect that concerns those among us who have reached a certain age: the motu proprio has now made known to so many Catholics -- who had ignored its existence before, mainly because they were born after the reform -- the inestimable value of the enormous richness in terms of the riches of prayer of the liturgy that unfortunately were lost or hidden during the last decades.
We are ourselves witnesses to the enthusiasm that is rapidly spreading in so many persons, who never before had known the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite or even Gregorian chant, or the expression of prayer in Latin. We speak not only out of the experience of our own group, but also based on the commentaries we receive on our webpage. Not only the groups already formed around the motu proprio but also and above all the many “novices”, if I may say so, who are seeking this special kind of spiritual nourishment that Your Holiness has wanted to again make available for us with your marvellous intuition.
And the expression that we often read: that the old mass is a forge for vocations; indeed we notice it and would like to bear witness to it. During the first six month of our website’s existence, five young men have written (almost one per month!) to the chaplain of the website asking information on where to find a seminary or a religious order where their traditionalist sensibility could be allowed to subsist without being opposed or mortified. In La Marche, where already for some time, the Mass according to the extraordinary form has been celebrated, in less than a year two vocations to the Church have emerged.
Finally, we believe that behind the aim of the motu proprio (and which perhaps is the most important one), lies the wish to spread in the Church, inspiration emanating from the old liturgical form, so that it can constitute a frame of reference, as well as an example for the Holy Mass in its ordinary form. With all our heart we believe that there should not and could not be any disagreement or conflicts between the supporters of the two forms of the Holy Mass. Their co-existence, the free choice of the faithful, the mutual enrichment and the happy assimilation, will also mean that the ordinary form will be able to benefit a little from the sober sacredness that is often lost in it. In the same way we greet as a positive element the possibility – permitted as a facultative choice by the motu proprio – of proclaiming, in the old rite, the readings in the vernacular. In this way the motu proprio can influence the lex orandi of the faithful who will remain attached to the ordinary form (the great majority), even if in an indirect way: giving them an example of a different kind of celebration, without any imposition or constriction, according to the style of Your Pontificate, which always comes in the manner of a proposition and never imposes itself.
However, and now we have to strike a more distressing note, it is not unknown to Your Holiness that the concrete application of the motu proprio has been obstructed in many places. Not by the faithful laymen, who have understood that the motu proprio opens up a new opportunity for those who so wish (to attend the liturgy in the extraordinary form – CAP), without taking away or imposing anything; but by the clergy who are not so young anymore, and especially the members of the episcopacy, who in the majority are not open to this beneficial liturgical progress.
The explicit intent of the motu proprio: to celebrate the mass in its extraordinary form in the parishes, wherever there is a group that demands it, has been difficult to apply. And yet it would seem normal that in the big parishes, where on Sundays sometimes as much as five Masses are celebrated, there could be one also in the extraordinary form, just as there is one for the young people, another one sung, etc…Instead, as the worthy editors of the liturgical web-site Maranathà, have written, one has to get a chapel or an oratory, possibly isolated, due to the express orders of the Bishop. This means that the prevailing regime is that of the indult, rather than the liberation represented by Summorum Pontificum. But even this represents a privileged situation; the majority of the dioceses do not even have any Holy Mass in the extraordinary form at all. And there is no doubt that the demand is there, and how great it is! A recent independent opinion poll commissioned by the French Paix Liturgique, has shown that 34% of those who attend Mass at least once a month would be happy if they could now and then participate in extraordinary form of the (Roman) rite in their parish. We are convinced that the situation among the faithful in Italy (where there have not been any “liturgical wars” like in France) are even better disposed towards the old rite and that it is statistically impossible that in a diocese, be it small, “there would not be any demands”, seeing that we are talking about at least one faithful out of three.
Our web-site receives much alarming information with regard to this fact and the written evidences are published on the following link: (http://www.messainlatino.it/pag3_sito.htm). From our own direct (and sad) experience we can testify and bear witness of the fact that in our diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo there are not at present any Masses in the extra-ordinary form. In the beginning such Masses were celebrated in the convent of the Jesuits in San Remo, the Superior of whom had the intention to celebrate it every Sunday, but under the pressure of the Bishop had to limit the number to once a month. The old mass was celebrated only once with an exceptional attendance of around 500 persons. As a result of this, the Vice-Provincial of the Company of Jesus, who is said to have acted under the solicitation of our Bishop, forbade the continuation of the celebration of this Mass. The Superior, who had shown himself obliging to us, was in consequence dismissed from his office as superior and after some months was transferred. It has been confirmed that this was the motive. After many difficulties the monthly Mass was resumed and the task given to the Convent of the Capuchins, thanks to the Superior of that convent. But also the latter was at first, after a few months, lifted from his office as superior and shortly thereafter transferred. Then, a third attempt: a parish priest welcomed the large stable group of San Remo to his parish. But the Curia had forbidden the easiest solution, that is to add another Mass not previously scheduled. The only possibility was to transform an already scheduled NO Mass into a VO Mass [a condition the Curia considered almost impossible...]. Well, the parish priest did accept this transformation of the evening Sunday Mass. So the Curia intervened again on the parish priest: not more than once a month, and after the first mass (with a full church) it was suppressed. Well then, after our insistence it seems that the Bishop ordered on his own initiative for a monthly Mass to be celebrated – in a sanctuary situated on a hill....
Not to speak of even more serious matters: The marginalisation and the stigma following it within the ecclesial environment, which is where the application of the motu proprio belongs. If we report this, which may be of scarce interest, it is because of the value it may have as an example of a more general trend, which shows the difficulties, not to say downright harassments, awaiting the faithful who adhere to the old rite. We have here mentioned only the cases which has come to our direct knowledge, but the problem exists in the whole world (lately we have seen the letter from the Bishop of Malaga who refuses the petition of a group of faithful : http://unavocemalaga.creeblog.com/Primer-blog-b1/Denegada-la-Forma-Extraordinaria-de-la-Misa-en-Malaga-b1-p24.htm)It is for this reason that we entreat you, Holy Father, to act on the many difficulties which the faithful are up to. Maybe you could arrange for the Ecclesia Dei-commission, the reform of which seems close at hand, to intervene resolutely in those cases. On this depends, in concrete terms, the future of the motu proprio which with your farsightedness you have been so good to promulgate. Therefore we beg for your intervention, conscious as also we are, that “the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy”.
Reiterating the expression of our deepest esteem and devotion, we ask Your Holiness to confer your apostolic benediction on us and on all the faithful attached to the traditional liturgy in the Holy Church.
San Remo, the 7th of July, 2009
The stable group of faithful of the Diocese of Ventimiglia- San Remo
"Beato Tomaso Reggio"
The original Italian is on the Messainlatino blog.