Rorate Caeli

Summorum Pontificum: A real application of Sacrosanctum Concilium

On December 11, 2009, Rinascimento Sacro published a report on the talk on the sacred liturgy given by Antonio Cardinal Canizares Llovera on November 28 of the same year in Gubbio. The report, which transmits the substance of the Cardinal's discourse and of his replies to some questions rather than his exact words, has by and large escaped the notice of the English-speaking Catholic blogosphere. Although it contains little that is new, some turns of phrase and expressions of the Cardinal should be very interesting and helpful for the cause of all who love Sacred Tradition. Hence the translation below.

Not a few will point out that what we need is action, and not more words or discourses. I agree with that. We ceaselessly pray that the Holy Father will concretely and firmly set the whole Church upon the course of recovering the liturgical and theological tradition that by and large has been abandoned However, while we are waiting with hope, who are we to belittle any and all support – whether in word or deed -- that is given to liturgical tradition by the hierarchs of the Church, whether they be auxiliary bishops or eminent Cardinals of the Roman Curia? Given the state of the Church, any expression of support must be gratefully received and not spurned.

A note of caution: in the portion that reports on the Q&A, there might be some difficulty in drawing the line between the thought of the Cardinal and the thought of the redactor, RDA. CAP.

Cardinal Canizares at the conference in Gubbio

From our correspondent, a complete and comprehensive report of the conference held on November 28 in Gubbio by Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship on the theme "The true spirit of the Liturgy. Catholic worship in the light of the Magisterium of Benedict XVI" by R. D. A. On Saturday, November 28, at 9.15 p.m. at the Beniamino Ubaldi Hotel in Gubbio was held the first Italian conference of His Eminence Reverend Card. Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, who had been invited to speak by the Cultural Association “Benedetto XVI”, in collaboration with the magazine Il Timone (whose director, Giampaolo Barra, was present) and with the Diocese of Gubbio (led by His Ecc. Rev. Mons. Pietro Bottaccioli) .

The meeting began by showing a video where the work of the Congregation of the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was presented. It contained a biography of the speaker, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, appointed Prefect of the Congregation by Pope Benedict XVI in December 2008. After that, Prof. Luigi Girlanda (President of the Association “Benedict XVI” which has done similar meetings and initiatives) and Cardinal Cañizares Llovera made their entrance into the hall.

(Here comes the report of the substance of the Cardinal’s address. CAP)

After the preliminary greetings, the Cardinal at once introduced the principal subject of the conference: the Liturgy, defined as the "source and summit" of the Christian and ecclesial life of by the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council, and certainly also an important topic of debate, above all in the last years. The Prefect declared, in a simple and clear manner, that the Church and the whole of humanity cannot disregard the Liturgy and that if the liturgy is in crisis and danger, then the whole Church is in crisis and danger.

The liturgy (from Greec λειτουργία, or "service to others"), according to the traditional teaching, is the true and efficacious service to God (of praise and glorification) and to fellow-men (of help, prayer and sanctification) , and is not a simple human creation, but comes from Christ himself and from the apostles, from the first Fathers and from the first Christians. The Liturgy is the cornerstone of the Church and, one may say, also of the Papacy of Benedict XVI, who by the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis and the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (both primulgated in the year 2007), wanted to popularize again the old principle according to which the lex orandi corresponds to the lex credendi and that the liturgy be understood as true worship of God and service to Christ, focusing the attention on the sense of the sacred, and the adoration of the mystery that belong to it.

Sacrosanctum Concilium which is the constitution of Second Vatican Council dedicated to the Liturgy, (which should be interpreted in continuity with the preceding tradition) is the first constitution to point out the importance that the Liturgy, that is adoration, communion and participation in God in spirit and truth (as we find in the Gospel of John) has in the life and vocation of the Christian.

The Eucharist is rightly called the living source of holiness, whose only origin is God; the Liturgy has in fact been living and real nourishment – as living and real as the consecrated Bread and Wine – of innumerable persons and innumerable saints: it is enough to think, I believe, of Saint John Maria Vianney and Saint Pio da Pietrelcina, Saint Isidoro the Farmer and the Servant of God Pierre Toussaint (who rose early to attend morning mass), of the Holy Martyrs of Gorkum and of Saint John Mary Scolarici (a 16th-century Orthodox Sicilian priest canonized by the non-canonical “Orthodox Church of Italy” in 2009 – CAP), who were martyred, one of them by the Protestants and the other one by the Muslims, for their defense of the Mass and of the Eucharist; of so many workers who get up early in order to attend the first Mass of the day, of the sick ones who find strength and nourishment in the body of Christ, the prisoners and the poor who receive Christ from the hands of holy priests who give their lives for others, of the families who participate together in the Eucharistic celebrations.

But the problem of the subject of the Liturgy may arise: are we, the individuals, the community, the priest – however important we may be – the protagonists, or is the protagonist God and His immolated Lamb, Jesus Christ? There can be only one answer: the true and unique protagonist is God, and signs of his presence and centrality are the altar and the crucifix, on which everybody, the community and the priest, shall look.

As stated earlier, the ultimate ends of the Liturgy on one hand is the knowledge and glorification of God, and on the other the salvation and sanctification of men: in the East and in the West, fromthe early Christian era to the present, until the end of the world, this is and always will be.

If the Second Vatican Council was very clear on the question of the Liturgy, on the Church, on the authority of the Pope and of the Bishops, unfortunately things have deteriorated during the post-conciliar period, where we have seen an interpretation and implementation of the dictates of the Council Fathers which has not fully corresponded to their intentions. Spreading a certain unhealthy anthropocentrism (very different - I would say – from authentic Christian humanism, as expressed in the great works of Saint Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, Marsilio Ficino, and even more different from the Incarnation and the Passion of the Son of God, wonderfully called Philanthropist in the splendid Oriental liturgies) and not fully understanding the Sacrosanctum Concilium (which called for small adjustments, but only in the wake of the Tradition, no great modifications) : this is the origin of the "silent apostasy" denounced by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and before them Paul VI with his famous remark on the "smoke of Satan”.

Joseph Ratzinger – who focuses much of his theological vision on the oratio rationabilis, in Greek λογική λατρεία – has given a strong statement: "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today to a large extent is due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur (as if God does not exist): in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not he speaks to us or hears us." (CAP: the quote is from Milestones, the autobiography of Joseph Ratzinger.) Indeed, this is the problem, as explained by Cardinal Cañizares Llovera: When it is man who is creating the liturgy – the real meeting-place with God – then this real sense is irretrievably lost; unfortunately this is just what has been happening during the last forty years, during which period the declarations of the Popes of the Council have been forgotten. Because of these misconceptions as to the Reform and the Tradition it has been necessary to make a 'Hermeneutic of continuity' in respect to the past and to urge the faithful to discover and share with all Christians the patrimony of the Liturgy, according to the intentions of the best Liturgical Movement (that started with the Servant of God Prosper Guéranger and was continued and encouraged by St. Pius X and the Venerable Pius XII) and of the Second Vatican Council itself.

The task of the Church, Christ's mystical body, founded by Jesus on Peter and on his faith in Him, is the transmission of the faith, and it is not possible to transmit the faith without the Liturgy, which is the indispensable center of the Church and of each and every man. Benedict XVI proposes over and over again (let me use some Latin…: Tradidi quod et accepi; ...repetita iuvant... I delivered unto you that which I myself have received… that which is repeated helps) that the Gospel be considered as the heart of theology (but that it is too often reduced to mere sociology and psychology), and reminds us that the Liturgy is the heart of the Church. And Liturgy is identified in the Tradition (which is a gift, a legacy given us by our fathers and which comes from Jesus and from his Apostles), which, together with Scripture and the living and true Magisterium of the Popes who are the successors of Peter, is the source of Truth (Nulla Veritas sine Traditione).

With the Liturgy, the Eucharist and the Gospel (living hearts and centers of the Church) our Lord Jesus Christ is placed in the heart of the Church and in each of us, and only the one who does not have a narrow, partial and even ideological view (and therefore, I believe, we must avoid every kind of progressivism as well as every kind of traditionalism) (CAP: the original Italian reads as e, quindi, come credo, bisogna fuggire da ogni progressismo come da ogni tradizionalismo) can understand it, love it and transmit it.

In the secularized society of today, even more than the one of yesterday, it is necessary to worship and give testimony to God (who is the Summit of Wisdom and the Summit of Love) and to Christ (the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end of everything): let us remember that Jesus has said that He will be ashamed of us on the Last Day if we were ashamed of Him during our life here on earth; let us also remember that the best way to worship and give testimony to God and to Christ is in the Liturgy, which exactly puts this fact in the center (As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said: "Know, oh Christian, that it is better to devoutly hear one Holy Mass than to distribute to the poor one's own properties or walk as a pilgrim over the whole earth").

Connected with the Liturgy is also the problem of actuosa participatio, or attentive and sensible participation, each one according to one's own role and own sensibility. Today it is often the case, as Benedict XVI has affirmed more than once (most recently during his discourse to the Brazilian bishops on September 2009), there is a risk of the clericalization of the laity and the lacization of the priests, and the distinction between laymen and priests is lost (in the Gospels and in the Acts the distinction between Apostles and disciples is very clear), united in the same mission and in the same Church, with different tasks but equally worthy and important.

Another problem is the conception of the Eucharist as being 'only' a Banquet and not above all a Sacrifice: it is true that the Mass is 'also' the assembly of the faithful and the Holy Supper (this term has certainly not been invented by the Protestants! ), but the Mass is most of all a Sacrifice; the living, true and bloodless Sacrifice of Jesus, whom on each altar, in each mass, is presented again united with that of the Calvary; and it is also from the Sacrifice that the Supper, the Banquet and the feast celebrating the Resurrection are celebrated. There is no distinction or contradiction between the Supper and the Sacrifice, and even more between Christ and the Church, be it not in the minds of certain theologians.

Let us therefore remember the words of the Fathers and of the Doctors, according to Saint Cyprian of Cartage: "The liturgy is the medicine for the cure of ailments and the holocaust to pay for sins", and according to Saint John Chrysostom: "The Liturgy has in a certain manner, as much value as for our souls as the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross".

The insane 'liturgical archaelogism' , which Pius XII feared and denounced in the encyclical Mediator Dei, seems almost to have become reality, precisely with the reduction of the Mass to only a Supper.
However, as the Cardinal so rightly noted, the Last Supper of Jesus is the theological foundation (Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. Hoc est enim Corpus meum...Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes. Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni Testamenti) but not the liturgical foundation, of the Mass. As a matter of fact, the Liturgy was formed in the apostolic times among the first Christians. Saint Paul in his letters, Saint Justin in his works, and the pictorial testimonies clearly distinguish the Lord's Supper from the supper of the community.

The mass has a very special dimension in the prayer: let us remember that Jesus starts the Passion, in the Cenacle and on the Mount of Olives, praying, in the same way as he ends it praying on the Holy Cross. Also here there is no contradictions and distinctions between Scientia, the Theologia Crucis, and the Mysterium Paschae, as recorded in marvelous pages by Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

The interpretations made after the Council have led to a certain primacy of the community (important also), which is considered more important than God (it would then seem that it is the community that does the Liturgy, whereas it is from God that it is derived), and to the loss of the true meaning of the Mass (the glory of God and the salvation of men), together with the sense of adoration and of prayer which had been the accompaniment of the whole Eucharist.

Together with the problem of the 'conception' of the Eucharist, there is also the problem of its 'reception', which cannot be anything but adoration and intimate and true communion with Christ (as was often emphasized by the Holy Fathers and Doctors Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose of Milan and Maximus of Turin). The reception of the Eucharist leads to the question of the behavior and of the actions of the Christian, in his life (how can we not think of the Pope and his Sacramentum Caritatis, or of Jesus' own stern warning: 'Why do you call me Lord, and then you do not do what I say?") and in the Mass even more (suffices it to think of the admonition, which then is taken up in the Byzantine and Latin prayers before the administration of the Communion, of Saint Paul: the Apostle wrote that the one who receives the Body and Blood of Christ in an undignified manner receives his own sentence): and here returns in joy the life of the Mass that is the famous and so much abused participatio actuosa.

The “participatio actuosa”
is free, conscious and fruitful, but it does not mean to always participate and intervene, and even silence (which is a sign of adoration and respect) is 'active' participation.
The source of participation is prayer which is the conversation between us and even more with God, it means to act cum Ecclesia: participation, then does not mean movement; silence is not empty. Connected to participation is devotion, which cannot and must never be banal, superficial, mundane, something which obliges. No, indeed, it is free from those defects.

(Here ends the report on the substance of the Cardinal’s address. What follows is the report on the Q&A. CAP)

Thus is the substance of the intervention of the Cardinal, followed by the lively and heartfelt applause of those present; after that followed some questions from the participants, which His Eminence answered in a timely and exhaustive manner.

The first question concerned the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum from 2007, which introduced the possibility of celebrating according to the venerable rite of Saint Pius V. The central point in the question concerned the intention of the document: is it an act of papal farsightedness and charity, or is it a way to mend relations with the "lefebvriani"? Cardinal Cañizares Llovera said that first of all a Motu Proprio, in general, is not a high degree of teaching (magistero), but in this case it certainly is (we have here to do with an exception!). Immediately thereafter he spoke about the Liturgy as a combination of Communion and Tradition (the latter being indispensable and imperative: we may think of St. Vincent of Lerins and his wonderful page on the relationship between Tradition, Catholicism and Orthodoxy); and of liturgy intended as showing the primacy of God, as adoration, praise and glory, and not as all the things that we do. It (Summorum Pontificum – CAP) also solved a colossal misunderstanding spread among many priests and faithful: the rite called the Tridentine was not born from the Council of Trent! St. Pius V (who among other things was relentless against the 'medieval encrustations', which are wrongly affirmed by some liturgists to abound in the antique rite) had limited himself to extending to the universal Church the old and venerable rite that had spread to Rome since ancient times and and which in its core went back to Saint Gregorius the Great and from him descending to Saint Damasus and Saint Gelasius, to the Fathers and the Apostles. The Cardinal continued his answer to this question by expanding some subjects: the relation between lex orandi and lex credendi and the concept of 'hermeneutic of continuity' proposed by Benedict XVI for the reading of the conciliar texts. Finally, the Cardinal said that the papal document is a true call for communion (which has its source in the liturgy itself), and a real application of the Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Another question concerned the West and its crisis. The world, perhaps even more than during the times of Pius XII and JohnXXIII (who had the intention of convoking an Eucumenical Council precisely in order to fight secularization and ecclesial modernism), is now far from Christ and the Church, and in society there is the spread of ideologies that are anti-Christian and, despite the name (“humanism”) anti-human. The 'humanism' in question (and the Cardinal knows very well what he is talking about, due to the vicissitudes of his country of origin, Spain) is completely misunderstood, and is an ideology very far from Christian humanism, because it emanates from the opposition between God and man (as if the Father had not sent his Son to earth because of his love for men and the Creation) and from the negation of God. If God is denied, He who is the ground of everything, then also Nature itself is denied, which is so uncritically extolled by certain schools of thought. The Liturgy (a gift of Christ, not something made by men), and the Saints who have loved it (as for instance Saint Jean Marie Vianney, whom Blessed John XXIII loved so much, and for whose death anniversary Pope Benedict XVI has dedicated the Year of the Priests), is and will be the true and only antidote to the ills of this modernity and to this world that is further and further distant from Jesus and from his Mystical Body, the Church.

The next question concerned Beauty: today it seems that the Church has lost Beauty, first of all musical Beauty. We can only look at the progressive abandonment of Gregorian chant. Beauty – I would say – according to the thinking of the great Russian author and philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky, of Pope Benedict XVI and of the philologist and noted blogger Francesco Colafemmina, is the encounter with God; we must not forget that, according to Dostoevsky, only Beauty may save the world: and is it not perhaps Christ the Beauty incarnate? Nor should we forget that chant and prayer are equivalent; how could we forget the famous dictum attributed to Saint Augustine : "He who sings, prays twice"?

Another question focused on rumors of a 'reform of the liturgical reform', as can be gathered from many texts and interventions of Ratzinger (either as a cardinal or Pope) and the anticipations of an Italian journalist (Andrea Tornielli). Such reform would consist in a harmonious 'merger' of three Missals, that of 1962 (the "Tridentine" missal, now in use for the celebration in the extra-ordinary form of the Roman Rite), the one of 1965 (the Missal of 1962 slightly modified and partly translated into the vernaculars) and that of 1970 (the truly 'modern' Misssal). The Cardinal smiled at this question and said with humor that the question should be put to the journalists, not to him!

We come now to a very interesting question, above all as for the answer. A gentleman stood up and asked His Eminence how the (presumed) discrepancy between life and liturgy may be resolved. How to reconcile democracy, concern for the oppressed, with the liturgy? Needless to say, as soon as the gentleman in question quoted theologians like Rahner and Schillebeeckx, in the hall there was heard panting noices and murmurs of disapproval. The Cardinal responded in a firm and timely manner, stating that only with the rediscovery of the Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) is it possible to discover the preferential option for the poor (Gaudium et Spes). Finally Sacramentum Caritatis was mentioned, in which Pope Benedict has brought forward the inextricable link between engagement in the world (politics, society, culture, family) and the Eucharist. The response made by Cañizares Llovera was – needless to say – followed by a long and thunderous applause.

I think the comment by the Cardinal is to be framed in this way: how can we explain the many 'social' saints and priests (SS. Jean-Marie Vianney, John Bosco, Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, Leonardo Murialdo, Bl. Vincent Romano, Padre Pio di Pietrelcina) and laymen (Bartolo Longo, Contardo Ferrini, Gabriel García Moreno, Frederic Ozanam, Joseph Moscati), who drew their strength from the 'old' Mass (because there was no other, at the time...), from Eucharistic Adoration, from the Rosary? How is it possible not to recall the Basilian and Benedictine monks living on alms and on hard work, but through the Divine Office receive precious gifts? How not to mention Saint Francis of Assisi, who dispossessed himself of all his possessions, lived on alms and embraced the poor and the lepers, at the same time recommending fidelity to the Pope and the Church, and the use of precious sacred vessels for the Mass? How can we forget the Servant of God, Giorgio La Pira, the 'holy mayor' of Florence, who received so much criticism from the right, who lived in a monastery, took part in the daily liturgy, and during the storms of '68 recommended fidelity to the local Bishop, criticizing the base communities? And how not to mention these precepts of the Holy Curé of Ars ("All good works put together do not equal the Sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the work of men, while the Mass is a work of God") and of Saint Peter Julian Eymard ("The Holy Mass is the most holy act of religion, you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God, that can be more advantageous to our souls. We receive strength which enables us to have greater love for God and our fellow-man, and to be able to forgive")?

The next question concerned a sore point of this crisis: the liturgical abuses. What could and should a simple lay faithful do facing the abuses that are performed during the Mass? The Cardinal replied that the faithful must operate according to the evangelical principle of fraternal correction, gentle and yet firm (we could remind of the recent action of the Bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O'Donoghue). The faithful must at first speak with the priest who has committed the abuse. If the priest is unwilling to be corrected (It. indisponibile), then the faithful should contact the Bishop, who is the moderator of the liturgy of his diocese. If even the Bishop shows himself unwilling to act, then you should address yourself to the Congregation for the Divine Worship. Liturgical abuses do happen, due to either excessive devotion or to mere ideology, thus perverting the adoration of God and service of the faithful, who have the right to participate in a Mass which is celebrated in the correct way and, if necessary, should be able to have recourse to ecclesiastical authorities.

Yet another question was asked about Eucharistic Adoration, namely the problems of our time arising due to the reduced faith in Transubstantiation and the Real Presence, and the fact that the tabernacles and Crucifixes in the modern churches often seem to have been almost hidden or have simply disappeared. The Cardinal invited us to go back to considering, as has always been the case, the church as a place for adoration and prayer, and for the reinvigoration of faith in the Eucharist.

The last two questions were about the care of the proper translations to be done (of the Bible, of the Missal and of the Liturgy of the Hours) and the publication of an Italian translation of the third edition (going back to 2002) of the Roman Missal from 1970. His Eminence answered that the translations are under the responsibility of the individual Vatican commissions and of the national episcopal conferences.
Both the report made by the Cardinal and the answers he gave to the questions were followed by long and heartfelt applause.

His Eminence then stayed on for a while to talk and to share opinions with those present, and to be photographed together with them, and to give them his blessings.
This conference, held in a climate of lively cordiality, was a marvelous occasion to meet each other: the hall was jammed and many were young, laics, religious and the priests (it was nice to note the presence of a group of young nuns in religious habit!) who had the occasion to meet and share common ideas.

Everybody left the hall really happy and confident of the future.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!

Pray for Chile and Oceania

Please pray for the people of Chile and of the islands of the Pacific that have been or are about to feel the effects of this morning's devastating 8.8 earthquake near Concepcion, Chile. The terrible tremor has generated a tsunami that has already hit islands close to Chile and is moving west across the Pacific. Latest reports say at least 122 dead in Chile. Structural damage is widespread and people are without power or water. Santiago airport will be closed for the next 24 hours. In Concepcion, Intellencia Cathedral has completely collapsed, and the side of Santa Dominga Church has collapsed. A 130-foot tsunami wave hit Juan Fernandez Island near Chile, and Easter Island has been evacuated.

Novus Ordo: it's hip, it's modern,
it's 1969 forever!

John Alcorn
Pepsi Ad (1969)

Rumors: Clarification document on Summorum "shortly"

The Vaticanist for Italian weekly Panorama, Ignazio Ingrao, reports that the "Instruction" for the clarification of several points of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, should be available very soon (it is in the "final stage" or "home stretch"). Source and tip: Rinascimento Sacro

In other rumors, Spanish blog Sector Católico mentions a papal "surprise" for Holy Week: would the indult for Communion in the hand be revoked; or will the Pope celebrate the Traditional Mass for the Missa in Coena Domini?

Post temporarily withdrawn

Dear readers: I've temporarily withdrawn the translation of the report on Cardinal Canizares-Llovera's Gubbio conference, due to some technical problems here in the blog. It will be reposted tomorrow. CAP.

A forgotten apology

Every priest who offers the holy Sacrifice should recall that during this Sacrifice it is not only he with his community that is praying but the whole Church, which is thus expressing in this sacrament her spiritual unity, among other ways by the use of the approved liturgical text. To call this position "mere insistence on uniformity" would only show ignorance of the objective requirements of authentic unity, and would be a symptom of harmful individualism.

This subordination of the minister, of the celebrant, to the mysterium which has been entrusted to him by the Church for the good of the whole People of God, should also find expression in the observance of the liturgical requirements concerning the celebration of the holy Sacrifice. These refer, for example, to dress, in particular to the vestments worn by the celebrant. Circumstances have of course existed and continue to exist in which the prescriptions do not oblige. We have been greatly moved when reading books written by priests who had been prisoners in extermination camps, with descriptions of Eucharistic Celebrations without the above- mentioned rules, that is to say, without an altar and without vestments. But although in those conditions this was a proof of heroism and deserved profound admiration, nevertheless in normal conditions to ignore the liturgical directives can be interpreted as a lack of respect towards the Eucharist, dictated perhaps by individualism or by an absence of a critical sense concerning current opinions, or by a certain lack of a spirit of faith.

Upon all of us who, through the grace of God, are ministers of the Eucharist, there weighs a particular responsibility for the ideas and attitudes of our brothers and sisters who have been entrusted to our pastoral care. It is our vocation to nurture, above all by personal example, every healthy manifestation of worship towards Christ present and operative in that sacrament of love. May God preserve us from acting otherwise and weakening that worship by "becoming unaccustomed" to various manifestations and forms of eucharistic worship which express a perhaps "traditional" but healthy piety, and which express above all that "sense of the faith" possessed by the whole People of God, as the Second Vatican Council recalled.(70)

As I bring these considerations to an end, I would like to ask forgiveness-in my own name and in the name of all of you, venerable and dear brothers in the episcopate-for everything which, for whatever reason, through whatever human weakness, impatience or negligence, and also through the at times partial, one-sided and erroneous application of the directives of the Second Vatican Council, may have caused scandal and disturbance concerning the interpretation of the doctrine and the veneration due to this great sacrament. And I pray the Lord Jesus that in the future we may avoid in our manner of dealing with this sacred mystery anything which could weaken or disorient in any way the sense of reverence and love that exists in our faithful people.

John Paul II

Dominicae Cenae

February 24, 1980

"L'Enfer est partout où n'est pas Jésus-Christ."

The great book which was opened before me, and in which I learned my lessons, was the Church. May this great and majestic Mother be praised forever on my knees for all I have learned! I spent all my Sundays in Notre-Dame [de Paris] and went there as often as I could on weekdays. I was as ignorant of my religion as one can be of Buddhism, and, behold, the sacred drama was played before me with a magnificence that surpassed all my imagination.

Ah, this was no more the poor language of devotional books! This was the most profound and grandiose poetry, the most august gestures ever entrusted to human beings. I could not have enough of the spectacle of the Mass, and each movement of the priest was deeply inscribed in my spirit and in my heart. The reading of the Office of the Dead, that of Christmas, the spectacle of the days of Holy Week, the sublime chant of the Exsultet ... all that filled me with respect and joy, with acknowledgment, penance, and adoration!
Paul Claudel
Ma Conversion

Abomination in Belgium

Father Germain Dufour, a Capuchin priest and former Member of the French-speaking Community Parliament for the Green Party (Écolo), "married [sic] a homosexual couple on February 13 [Saint Valentine's Eve], in the Church of Saint-Servais in Liège".

The spokesman of the Belgian Episcopal Conference, Eric de Beukelaere, has "deplored the event", calling it a "ceremony which leads to confusion".

No word on any punishment for Fr. Dufour, who is a priest in the Diocese of Tournai.

Source: La Libre

The current situation for the TLM in Italy

(This set of statistics – taken from Unavox via Messa in Latino – counts 64 places throughout Italy where the Traditional Latin Mass is said on Sundays under diocesan auspices, in contrast to the 73 counted by Agoramag. This report also counts a total of 116 Mass sites in Italy [of which 99 are currently active] compared to 119 in the Agoramag report. CAP.)

The Current Situation:

Since Summorum Pontificum went into effect, at least one location with a regular TLM has been established in 42 out of the 225 dioceses in Italy (19% of all dioceses). A total of 116 Mass locations (of which 99 are active as of February 10, 2010) have been established since Summorum Pontificum went into effect, or in 0.4% of all the parishes (which total around 26,000). Worldwide, the Traditional Latin Mass is currently offered regularly (but not necessarily weekly) in a total of 1,425 Traditional Latin Mass locations all over the world (under diocesan auspices), compared to the 222,530 parishes of the Catholic Church.

The 116 Mass sites in Italy are distributed as follows:

In cities with a population greater than 300,000: 27 Mass centers (23%)

In medium-sized or small cities: 19 (16%)

In medium-sized villages /towns : 13 (11%)

In small villages /towns : 40 (34%)

Locations where the Mass has been suppressed: 15 (13%)

Locations where the Mass has been suspended: 2 (2%)

The frequency of Mass in these sites is as follows (note that the categories overlap):

Daily: 19 locations (16%)

Locations with Sunday and Feast Day Masses: 64 (55%)

Weekday Masses (but not apparently on feast days): 23 (20%)

Monthly Masses (not on feast days): 26 (22%)

Sites with occasional Masses: 3 (3%)

A comparison of the situation pre- and post- Summorum Pontificum

The total number of Mass centers has increased from 27 to 116, for a total increase of more than 330%.

Locations where the TLM is said daily have increased from 7 to 19, for a total increase of 170%

Locations where the TLM is said on Sundays and feast days have increased from 11 to 64 (for a growth of 480%)
Locations with weekday Masses from 5 to 23 (an increase of 360%)

Locations for monthly Masses from 4 to 26 (an increase of 550%)

Last but not the least, the number of dioceses where a regular Mass location for the TLM has been established has increased from 24 to 42 (an increase of 75%).

FSSP Apostolate in Toronto suddenly comes to an end

Vox Cantor has the sad and unexpected story. Please leave all comments there.

Abbé Georges de Nantes, R.I.P.

In the early morning of February 15, the abbé Georges de Nantes fell asleep in the Lord, fortified by the rites of the Church.

He was one of the earliest, fiercest public critics of the Second Vatican Council, which he held to be a legitimate ecumenical council of the true Church, endowed with the authority to teach dogmatically and infallibly. The Council, he held, and with reason, finally declined to teach with that level of authority. Therefore its teachings were not definitively binding, and dissent from those teachings did not exclude a member of the Faithful from communion with the Church. (A separate question from that of whether such dissent be wrong)

The Abbé de Nantes, faced with the malaise of the Church, with the "diabolical disorientation" afflicting her, appealed from the Pope to the Pope. He challenged the Successor of Peter to make an infallible judgment in these matters.

He was vehemently opposed to the schismatic "solution" to the current situation, and urged his followers to remain in their parishes.

Very devoted to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he initiated the most scholarly and important study of Fatima in French (and in English, which translation the present writer helped to edit), and many other scientific, apologetical works.

He was declared "disqualified" by the CDF but, if I am not mistaken, no theological error was said to be found in his writings, but, they said, rather a serious lack of respect for the Holy Father.

I had the privilege of meeting this remarkable priest during the summer of 2000.

I remember his gentle self deprecating humour and his kindness and affability.

He told me spontaneously that Vatican II was "the most legal of all the Councils," explaining how Pope John XXIII had put every canonical preparation and safeguard in place.

I remember the very great devotion and reverence with which he offered the Holy Sacrifice, with which he made each sign of the Cross, like St. Bernadette, on whose feast day his funeral mass took place.
Written and sent by a grateful Priest

When will the horror of Communion in the hand stop?

Leading by example is nice, but the general pontifical faculty of allowing Communion in the hand (extended to Poland, for instance, during this Pontificate) could be abolished in a single day...

From Costa Rica (this Presidential candidate lost in the recent presidential elections):

Events: Traditional Mass in Fordham,
brought to you by the Society of Jesus

Traditional Catholics in the Tri-State area should show their support for this event promoted by some members of the Society of Jesus.

The celebrant will be Fr. Stephen M. Fields, S.J., of Georgetown University, the deacon and subdeacon will be Jesuits, and most of the servers will be Jesuit scholastics.

PCED responds:
Use of Traditional Liturgical Books of Religious Orders
"pertains to the superior of those orders"

Recently, a letter was written to PCED asking if it was possible utilize the liturgical variations that were particular to a certain religious order as it was used before it adopted the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. In the same letter, the question was asked if it would be possible to use the ritual in use up to 1962 for the secular (third) order which is part of that same religious order.
PCED response:

Schmidberger interview

Interesting interview with Fr. Franz Schmidberger, former Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and current District Superior for Germany, including some stern words about comments made by Bishop Richard Williamson: Kathnews (in German).


    Father Franz Schmidberger: “The Church has entered calmer waters.”

Kathnews Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Greschner in an exclusive interview with Fr. Franz Schmidberger FSSPX.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Stuttgart (kathnews exclusive). The theological discussions between representatives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX) are under way. More than 20 years after the illicit episcopal consecrations by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre there is some movement in the difficult relationship between the Holy See and the fraternity. Kathnews Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Greschner spoke with Father Franz Schmidberger, Superior of the German District of the Fraternity. The main topics were the current status of the discussions with Rome, the liturgy, and the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. P. Franz Schmidberger was born on Oct 19, 1946 in Riedlingen. After studying mathematics at the University of Munich, in 1972 he entered the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X at Ecône. There, in 1975, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. In 1979, Schmidberger became Superior of the German District of the Fraternity and, in 1982, became Superior General of the Fraternity. From 1994 to 2003, he was active in the leadership of the Fraternity. In 2003 he was appointed Rector of the seminary in Zaitzkofen. In 2006 he again became Superior of the German District.

Benjamin Greschner: Reverend, what is your assessment of the current status of the theological discussions between representatives of the Fraternity of St. Pius X and the Holy See?

Father Schmidberger: According to the rather meager available information, the theological clarification discussions have begun well. For the first time we are able to unhurriedly bring our reservations about the statements of the II Vatican Council and developments after the council to the competent authority. These discussions will certainly continue for a lengthy time, perhaps years. But maybe our discussion partners will be able to quickly determine that it is not possible to deny that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X is Catholic, even though there may be areas of disagreement. That would represent enormous progress. The very discreet nature of the discussions is absolutely necessary for success, nothing good causes an uproar and nothing good comes from an uproar.

Benjamin Greschner: Recently in a video interview, Bishop Richard Williamson commented about the discussions. He expressed himself rather negatively and was obviously unconvinced that they would result in an agreement. What do you think about his comments? Do they represent the official position of the Fraternity?

Father Schmidberger: Bishop Williamson's opinion of the discussions in Rome are regrettable, because they certainly do not represent the position of the Fraternity. On the other hand, meanwhile, it is necessary to clearly warn against exaggerated optimism with respect to the discussions. Bishop Fellay has said it would be a miracle, if they were to conclude truly successfully.

Benjamin Greschner: In your judgment, how realistic is an agreement between the Holy See and the Fraternity of St. Pius X? In 1988 as Superior General, you were previously involved in similar discussions. Has the situation changed since then?

Father Schmidberger: An agreement between the Holy See and the Fraternity could only mean one thing: that Rome accepts the voice of the preconciliar Magisterium. The Fraternity has never developed a unique position of its own, but has instead made itself a mouthpiece of the Popes, especially those from the time of the French Revolution up to the II. Vatican Council. Since 1988, the situation has changed to the extent that Rome now takes our objections seriously and is looking for answers.

Benjamin Greschner: In your opinion, which are especially in need of clarification and discussion on theological or magisterial grounds? Are there any topics that you would describe as “hot potatoes?”

Father Schmidberger: The question of the new liturgy is doubtless a point of discussion, but then so is ecumenism, the roll of other religions, and the relationship of the Church to the world. As “hot potatoes” I would especially describe the question of religious freedom and also the question of doctrine.

Benjamin Greschner: A year ago, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of your Fraternity's four bishops. Has this decision of the Holy Father had a positive effect on the work of the Fraternity?

Father Schmidberger: The lifting of the decree of excommunication removed barriers and brought more Catholic faithful to us. On the other hand the uproar in the press has raised some new barriers. I believe, however, that this courageous decision made by the Pope has positively affected not only the Fraternity and its work, but in fact the entire Church.

Benjamin Greschner: How do you you assess the current mood in your priories and establishments? What do the faithful and the priests think about the discussions with the Holy See?

Father Schmidberger: As far as I can tell, the mood in our priories and establishments is generally quite good, and in general, our members welcome the discussions with the Holy See. However none of us are under any delusions.

Benjamin Greschner: In April 2005, with Joseph Cardinel Ratzinger, a prince of the Church was elected to the throne of Peter who represented a gleam of hope for many “traditional” Catholics. Already now, Benedict XVI has ruled the Church for almost five years. How do you assess these first five years of his pontificate?

Pater Schmidberger: The Church has entered calmer waters with Benedict XVI. The rehabilitation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the traditional form, the lifting of the decree of excommunication, and the doctrinal discussions with the Holy See are very positive acts of this pontificate. On the other hand we regret the visit to the Roman synagogue and especially the statement of the Pope that we and the Jews pray to the same God.

We Christians worship the most holy Trinity and adore our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father. The Jews of today, in contrast, do not accept either of these fundamental truths of our holy religion. Since there is no other God than the most holy Trinity, no other Lord than Jesus Christ, we do not worship the same God as the Jews.

Things were different with the righteous of the Old Testament. They were open to the truth of the trinity and the divine sonship of the promised messiah. The Pope has distanced himself alarmingly from those words of the first pope, St. Peter: “Neither is there salvation in any other [than Jesus Christ]” (Acts 4:12). This goes for every person, for Jews and Muslims also.


Thanks to a reader for the translation!

Italian Lutherans

On Sunday, March 14, the Pope will be present at the evening worship service of the Lutheran church in Rome, during which he and the Lutheran pastor will preach.

Ecumenism presents some difficulty in Rome, due to the small number of Christians of other Churches and ecclesial communities with whom to hold joint services and organize conferences. But Roman priests and diocesan officials do manage to organize events with other Christians; one example is the ecumenical Stations of the Cross between the Lutheran parish and a Catholic parish.

The websites and bulletins of the tiny Italian Lutheran Church and its Rome parish are informative. As has been pointed out in the media, most of the Lutheran parishioners in Rome are Germans, but some are married to Italians, and Italian names can be found in the largely German-language parish bulletin read by this blogger. For example, some of the young people “confirmed” in 2009 have Italian names. One wonders how many children of mixed marriages, valid or invalid, have been lost to the Church by a parent transferring to the spouse’s Lutheran community. Also, at, the sidebar on the first page can direct you to the answer to your question whether a divorced person can get married in the Lutheran church. The link informs you that Yes, you as a divorced Catholic can marry the Lutheran whom you love in a Lutheran church. Apart from such “marriages”, one also wonders how many Italians have separated themselves from communion with the Church over the years by joining the Rome parish of the Lutheran denomination, small though the number may be. For even though the great majority of liturgies are in German, there are regularly scheduled services in Italian, including “la santa Cena” (“the Lord’s Supper”). The Catholic reader’s curiosity is piqued when he notices in a 2009 bulletin that one Anna Belli is presented as Gemeindevorsteher and Predikant in connection with the Italian-language Lord’s Supper. It is not clear to this reader whether she actually presides at the Lord’s Supper, since Gemeindevorsteher could be referring to her position on the parish council.

At any rate, one learns at and other sites that Anna Belli is well-known for her translations of classic Lutheran hymns and theology into Italian. She was born in 1960 in Italy and apparently raised as a Catholic, but became an agnostic in her teens. She was drawn to the Lutheran understanding of God and faith while studying in Germany and she joined Rome’s Lutheran church in 1983.

So Pope Benedict will be preaching to a Lutheran congregation which includes at least one ex-Catholic who it seems to this reader must be excommunicated. The Lutheran denomination of which she is a convinced member refuses obedience to the Pope, although it invites him to speak in its churches, and it denies various doctrines of the faith. One might ask, did she incur the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae in 1983 by joining the Lutheran denomination? This blogger’s limited knowledge of canon law would incline him to say Yes on the principle that all those baptized in the Catholic Church are subject to the laws of the Church, which include excommunication for heresy and schism. Although Belli had become agnostic prior to joining the Lutheran denomination, her published interview would seem to suggest that she had been baptized in the Catholic Church. Are there any canonist readers who can comment on this?

Anna Belli’s interview online shows her to be a cultivated person. One wishes that she had received a Catholic formation equal to the one she gave herself in Lutheranism. Perhaps the kindness and intelligence of Pope Benedict will inspire her, with the grace of God, to reconsider her positions. For they are classically Protestant: she wants to be an adult before God and the world, not subject to long lists of moral cases and solutions for every situation; every person in the Church must decide for himself how to apply his own faith to daily life, by a decision arrived at in personal prayer and by giving voice to one’s own conscience, with all the difficulty of harmonizing moral responsibility and freedom of conscience. She thinks God wants her to be adult, even when she makes a mistake, rather than tepid. The Lutheran Church allows some room for doubt, and only where there is room for doubt can one live without conflict with God, oneself and the rest of creation.

The online journal also gives an extract from the famous (or infamous) 1963 work of J.A.T. Robinson, Honest to God. We read that the teaching of Jesus on marriage does not mean that divorce is always the greater evil, only that love does not allow taking the easy way. Clearly an echo from the moral theologies of proportionalism and “What is the loving thing to do?” As Cardinal Kasper delicately puts it these days, ecumenical dialogue needs to consider the different approaches Catholics and Protestants have to ethics, or as a German author has put it, Catholics and Protestants do not have the same structures of moral conscience. In the meantime, all of this and more is on offer from the Lutheran Church in Italian to Italians.

In the next post: Pius IX on Protestantism in Rome after 1870, non-Catholic worship in the 1917 Code, the 1929 Church-State agreements with Italy under Pius XI, and the decrees regarding non-Catholics in Rome solemnly approved by Blessed John XXIII from the Roman Synod of 1960.

The statistics for every-Sunday TLM’s in 10 countries

Some French Catholic blogs (such as Perepiscopus) have recently published statistics on the number and percentage of “approved” Mass sites (those under diocesan auspices) out of the total every-Sunday Traditional Latin Mass sites (approved + those under SSPX and SSPX-related societies and chapels) in those countries that have a total of more than 20 such locations.

The statistics are, in turn, drawn from Agoramag's listing of TLM statistics for the whole world:

Lieux de culte où est célébrée la messe de saint pie V – Février 2010

The statistics have been published in some blogs in an attempt to determine the generosity of the local bishops in implementing Summorum Pontificum. Now, I think the methodology used here in determining “generosity” is wrong. The ratio of “authorized” to “unauthorized” Mass-sites does not necessarily demonstrate the generosity – or lack of it -- of the bishops, since the ratio is also influenced by the comparative vigor (or the absence) of the SSPX and the groups affiliated with it. France, for example, is no model for the implementation of the Motu Proprio, but the situations in Brazil, Italy and Canada are unquestionably far worse than in France, despite these countries having higher scores for “episcopal generosity” compared to the “eldest daughter of the Church”.

Nevertheless, the numbers as reported by Perepiscopus remain of interest and are presented below. (I have arranged the countries in terms of the total number of Mass sites with every-Sunday TLM’s, from the most numerous to the least, rather than from the highest score for “episcopal generosity” downwards.)

1) United States: 289 authorized every-Sunday TLM sites out of a total of 359 (80.5%)

2) France: 156 out of 312 (50%)

3) Germany: 49 out of 88 (55.7%)

4) Italy: 73 out of 86 (84.9%)

5) United Kingdom: 37 out of 53 (69.8%)

6) Brazil: 42 (including those in Campos) out of 48 (87.5%)

7) Switzerland: 21 out of 45 (46.6%)

8) Canada: 23 out of 39 (60%)

9) Australia: 17 out of 28 (60.7%)

10) Poland: 15 out of 26 (57.7%)

The disproportionate concentration of TLM’s in the United States and France cannot be overlooked, in the same way that the numbers in such large Catholic countries as Italy, Brazil and Poland can cause much disquiet (albeit these already represent a situation greatly improved from that of 10 years ago).

The statistics apparently leave out independent chapels and Mass sites associated with sedevacantist groups (even those that are staffed by priests with unquestionably valid orders).