Rorate Caeli
Cardinal Mayer
Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat ei.

Requiescat in pace.

Important papal events

1. The future of the Legion of Christ is to be decided in the next few weeks and months following the personal meeting of the Holy Father held today with the visitators investigating the internal proceedings of the congregation founded by Fr. Maciel Degollado.

2. The Pope paid a personal visit to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today, including the new offices of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

The Traditional Latin Mass in the Archdiocese of Jakarta

Rorate has been informed that, in the Archdiocese of Jakarta, a Low Mass is currently celebrated every 3rd Saturday a month by an Indonesian priest "in good standing" who, nevertheless, has asked not to be be named. The Mass is held in a private residence in the city of Tangerang, 30km south of Jakarta and is attended by 20-30 people, mostly youths.

The following is a picture of this Mass. I can't show the other pictures as these will make the priest easy to identify:

The Archbishop of Jakarta, Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja S.J., (currently 75 years old) had publicly declared in 2007 (the Indonesian text can be found here) that Summorum Pontificum does NOT apply to his archdiocese, deeming it "not relevant". On the other hand, the Indonesian bishops' liturgical commission, in that same year, asked priests not to refuse requests for the TLM.

An Indonesian website promoting the Traditional Latin Mass -- Kami Cinta Ritus Tridentina -- also announces that a TLM will be offered on May 23, 2010, Pentecost Sunday, at 10:00 A.M., at the Ursuline chapel, Merdeka Road number 24, Bandung. (Kapela Susteran Ursuline St. Angela, Jln. Merdeka 24, Bandung.)

The SSPX also has a modest presence in Indonesia.

First Solemn Pontifical Mass by a ruling Filipino bishop in his diocese since 1970

On April 27, 2010, feast of St. Peter Canisius, His Excellency Antonio Tobias, Bishop of Novaliches, offered Solemn Pontifical Mass in the convent chapel of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in his diocese. He was assisted by priests and brothers belonging to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

This Mass is only the second Solemn Pontifical Mass to be celebrated by a Filipino bishop since September 14, 2007 (the first one had been offered by Bishop Camilo Gregorio of the Prelature of Batanes on September 14, 2008 -- see this for a report on that Mass), and the first to be offered by a Filipino Ordinary in his own diocese since 1970.

Bishop Tobias had offered Solemn Pontifical Mass for the 2003 international colloquium of the Centre International d'Etudes Liturgiques in France, and a "Low Mass with Solemnity" last year, also in the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate.

You Report: The LMS Priest Training Conference in Ushaw College

Vespers and Benediction (from LMS Chairman)

Private Mass being said in a side chapel that, only last year, was being used to store a drum kit! (From LMS Chairman)

Solemn Requiem Mass. (From Forest Murmurs)

The closing Solemn Mass (from Forest Murmurs).

From Mr. Leo Darroch, President of Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce:

Latin Mass Society Priest Training Conference: 12 – 16 April 2010.

Between 12th to 16th April the Latin Mass Society in England and Wales (LMS) hosted a conference to train priests in the celebration of the Extraordinary form of Mass and traditional liturgy. The conference was held in Ushaw College, the seminary for the dioceses of the north of England. This is the second year that this conference has been held in Ushaw College and, like the previous one held in April 2009, was also a great success.

This year’s conference also included tuition for laymen who wished to become more proficient at serving, especially for the more complex duties of MC at Solemn High Mass. In all, the total number of participants - priests, servers, and choristers - numbered 44. Among the clergy who enrolled for the course were two young priests from the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, who had been sent by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith. There was also a priest from South Africa who was grateful to be sponsored by a benefactor. The two young priests from Colombo were partly sponsored by the Una Voce Federation, and the Federation is always pleased to receive donations to assist with this important aspect of its work.

The training provided was quite comprehensive; expert tuition from experienced priests, Latin classes, Lauds, Compline, Vespers, Missa Cantata, Solemn High Mass, Solemn Requiem, Benediction and Devotions, and lectures. Each morning it was wonderful to see the priests saying their private Masses in the numerous, and exquisite, tiny chapels intended for this purpose.

It was a week of great activity but one of enjoyment and fulfilment. The priests taught at this conference will go back to their parishes to help in the restoration of the traditional liturgy and in obedience to the wishes of our Holy Father.

At the conference dinner on the Thursday evening, the organiser of the conference, LMS Treasurer Paul Waddington, read out a letter of support and encouragement from Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith. His Grace declared his unlimited sense of loyalty to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in the most prophetic decision he took to restore to its dignity the ‘Mass of Ages’. He encouraged the LMS in implementing the motu proprio and helping priests learn the extraordinary form of Mass and he congratulated the society ‘in this beautiful undertaking in the name of the Church’s tradition and orthodoxy which is our need and the need of the time.’ His Grace ended his letter by personally thanking the LMS and the International Federation Una Voce for inviting two of his priests for the training programme.

One of the tutors, Father Wilfrid Elkin, who had been a student in Ushaw in the late 1940s and up to his ordination in 1959, gave a very entertaining account of life for a seminarian in those days. For anyone who would like to know about seminary life just before the Second Vatican Council please check out his blog Let the Welkin Ring. Father Elkins’ final comment was a rallying call that our future lies in our past. Further reports and photographs can be found on Forest Murmurs and LMS Chairman.

On the final morning there was an Open Forum for discussion on how these conferences should be developed and how the LMS can help priests who wish to learn the traditional liturgy. Leo Darroch, the President of the International Federation Una Voce, gave a talk on the history and work of the Federation; and Joseph Shaw, the Chairman of the LMS, spoke about the forthcoming events that the LMS is arranging for the benefits of the clergy and the laity. The LMS was grateful to Father Armand de Malleray, FSSP, for his participation and expertise during the conference.

It is clear that these conferences are appreciated both for the knowledge they impart and also for the social aspect. They are a great boost to the morale of priests who often feel isolated in their dioceses and it is though the conferences that they are establishing a network of like-minded priests. With the grace of God may this work improve and expand.

More pictures can be found here.

Summorum Pontificum: soon to be a reality in Sri Lanka

From the blog of Mr. Joseph Shaw comes this picture of two Sri Lankan priests who had been sent by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith to the annual Latin Mass Society training conference for priests, held this year in Ushaw. The Archbishop also sent a letter of support and encouragement to the conference.

A fuller report on the training conference in Ushaw is coming up, here on Rorate.

Recessional of the Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C.

Abp. Fisichella to head a new Pontifical Council?

More than a year after the Recife scandal, which led just a few months ago to a "mutiny" in the Pontifical Academy for Life (see this for a comprehensive list of articles covering the matter), Andrea Tornielli has announced that, in the coming weeks, Pope Benedict XVI will announce the establishment a new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, dedicated to the evangelization of the West -- with Archbishop Rino Fisichella as its head. The new position will make him a candidate for the red hat as well.

According to Tornielli, Archbishop Fisichella will be succeeded as rector of the Pontifical Lateran University by Fr. Enrico Dal Covolo SDB, who is close to Cardinal Bertone and had preached this year's Lenten spiritual exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia.

Tornielli also mentions reports that Abp. Gianfranco Ravasi, current head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is being considered as a possible successor to Cardinal Tettamanzi in Milan.

The Box

The red cube, according to Messa in Latino, is what is currently used as the altar in the church in the Camaldolese monastery of Montegiove, which is currently down to 7 monks and 1 nun. According to the monastery's website, Mass is offered in the church only on Sundays and feast days. Messa in Latino states that communion is always "self-service".

French monsignor appointed to PCED

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has just engaged a Frenchman, 53 year old Patrick Descourtieux, a monsignor of the Archdiocese of Paris.

Ordained in Paris (at St. Sulpice) in 1986, he was appointed pastor of the parish of St. Severin. In 1989 he moved to Rome where he worked with the French speaking division of the Secretariat of State for 10 years. An excellent musician, he served as organist at St. Louis-des-Français for 5 years. He then left the Secretariat of State and replaced Mons. Arrighi as rector of Trinita dei Monti church while also teaching at the Pontifical Institute for Patristic Studies, the Augustinianum.

He served at Trinita dei Monti for seven years. Following the closing of the house of the Sisters of the Trinita dei Monti, having been replaced by the clerics of the Fraternity of Jerusalem (the "Monks in the City") founded by Father Pierre-Marie Delfieu, he returned to Paris, and was appointed resident priest at the parish of St. Clotilde, then served as chaplain at Notre Dame from 2008 on.

Specialist in Patristics (having published translations of St. Hilary of Poitiers and St. Clement of Alexandria), he taught at the faculty of the Notre Dame Cathedral School.

Monsignor Descourtieux has a keen knowledge of the traditional liturgy and of the demand for this liturgy: In Rome he fulfilled the wishes of the faithful who desired to have the Sacred Triduum in the form now known as "extraordinary" by allowing it to be celebrated in Trinita dei Monti (this was in the days prior to the establishment of the Traditional personal parish in Rome -- CAP) . In Paris he was part of a delegation of diocesan priests who celebrate this form as needed.

Merci à Summorum Pontificum Observatus

(Post revised and edited by CAP)

"There is in Germany a significant attachment to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite"

From Paix Liturgique:

Germany, Pope Benedict XVI's homeland, is a country where, as in France, there is a strong attraction among the faithful to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. The Fraternity of Saint Peter has a seminary there (and so has the Society of Saint Pius X); many lay associations (notably Pro Missa Tridentina and Una Voce) have long been active there; the Institute of Christ the King has an apostolate there; more and more articles on the liturgical question are appearing in the secular press; diocesan priests are learning to celebrate in that liturgical form; new parishes are, slowly but surely, more and more open to the application of the Motu Proprio; lastly certain religious communities, such as the Mariawald Trappists (see the French Letter of Paix Liturgique # 162), are reviving the Church's age-old liturgy. Yet, here again as in France, the German Church hierarchy is in large part reluctant to the Pope's action of liturgical reconciliation. In Germany too, therefore, everything seems to be set up to minimize the extent of the demand for the application of the Motu Proprio.

Encouraged by many German friends, Paix Liturgique commissioned a survey on the application of the Motu Proprio in the land of Saint Albert the Great and of Saint Hildegard. In order to do so, we entrusted Harris Interactive with putting together for us a survey along the lines of those already carried out in France and in Italy. This was done on line, February 18-25, 2010, with the participation of 2611 persons over the age of 18 residing in Germany.

Here are the poll's results. We are glad to offer them to the Holy Father to symbolically mark the fifth anniversary of his election to the Holy See.

Question # 1: Do you attend Mass?

Weekly: 5.9%
Monthly: 4.1%
On Holy Days: 18.9%
Occasionally (e.g. for weddings): 42.3%
Never: 28.8%

Question # 2: In July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI restated that the Mass could be celebrated both in its modern, "ordinary," or "Paul VI" form--i.e. in German, with the priest facing the faithful, communion received standing--and in its traditional, "extraordinary," or "John XXIII" form--i.e. in Latin and Gregorian chant, with the priest turned towards the altar, communion received kneeling. Were you aware of this?

Yes: 43.1%
No: 56.9%

Question # 3: Would you consider it normal or abnormal for both liturgical forms to be regularly celebrated in YOUR parish?

Normal: 50.6 %
Abnormal: 24.5 %
No opinion: 24.9 %

Question # 4: If Mass were celebrated with Latin and Gregorian chant in its extraordinary form in YOUR parish, without taking the place of the ordinary one in German, would you attend it?

Answers from those who practice regularly (weekly and monthy)
- 25% would attend weekly
- 19% once a month
- 9% for Holy Days
- 40% occasionally
- 7% never


1/ This survey only brings to light something that is obvious to everyone (including to the clergy): there is in Germany a significant attachment to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and the demand is very much unsatisfied: 25% of practicing Catholics, i.e. one in four, would attend the traditional Mass EVERY SUNDAY if it were celebrated in their parish. 19% would do so once a month.

This amounts to 44%, which is more than in Paris where our survey of last month, also entrusted to Harris Interactive and resting on an identical questionnaire, yielded a result of . . . 33%!
This is a particularly weighty pastoral index, and overall it confirms that of the surveys mentioned here below.

2/ Let's talk numbers. Germany has a population of about 82,000,000, among whom 20,090,000 claim to be Catholic;1,185,310 go to Mass every Sunday and 823,690 once a month. Bottom line, this survey tells us that about 300,000 of the faithful would attend the traditional Mass every Sunday if it were celebrated it THEIR parish . . . .

3/ This of course is but a survey, which as all surveys only indicates broad trends without claiming to be precise down to the decimal point. Nevertheless, given the broad tendencies that it reveals, this survey seems to us to require at least some refection on the part of all Catholics of good will.
It is worth noting that this survey does no more than confirm all the polls that Paix Liturgique has commissioned since 2001 (Paris survey by Harris Interactive in January-February 2010, Versailles survey by the Institut JLM Etudes in December 2009, Italy survey by DOXA in September 2009, France survey by the Institut CSA in November 2006, France survey by IPSOS in April 2001), besides the Sofres survey that Le Pèlerin commissioned in December 2006.

4/ Only 24.5% of German Catholics do not find it normal for both forms of the Roman rite to cohabitate peacefully at the parish level (there were 34% in France according to the Le Pèlerin survey conducted before the Motu Proprio was published and 30% in the Paix Liturgique-CSA survey).
Opposition to the application of the Motu Proprio in Germany may be due to certain ecclesiastics, but there is no denying that it is very much in the minority among the faithful and that it might become totally marginal if all the faithful were aware of the Motu Proprio's existence and of the possibility for all pastors to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Roman rite freely.

5/ This survey cost €6,500, tax included. If you wish to participate in its cost and allow us to continue in our work of information, you can send your donation to Paix Liturgique, 1 allée du Bois Gougenot, 78290 CROISSY-SUR-SEINE, FRANCE, through bank transfer using the following codes:
> IBAN : FR76 3000 3021 9700 0500 0158 593 > BIC : SOGEFRPP

You Report: The Traditional Latin Mass in New York City

Pontifical Low Mass of Bishop Fernando Rifan in the Church of the Holy Innocents, June 18, 2009

Cardinal Egan attending a Solemn Mass in the Church of the Holy Innocents, March 25, 2010.

Churches in New York City with regular Traditional Latin Masses
(An article written by Mr. Eddy Toribio upon the request of Rorate Caeli)

Church of the Holy Innocents
– 128 W. 37th St. bet. Broadway & 7th Ave.
– Monday through Friday at 6pm with a Sung Mass on Wednesdays.
– Mass at 1pm Saturdays organized by Una Voce NY.

Since the Motu Proprio, the pastor of this church has been very open to the idea of having the traditional Mass there. Starting a daily Mass was his own initiative. The Confraternity of the Sacred Heart and some servers were very instrumental in assisting the pastor to get in touch with priests and servers who would help say and serve the Mass.

In June 2009, Bishop Fernando Rifan celebrated a Pontifical Low Mass. There were two chaplains and two acolytes to help with this Mass.

We have also had a Pontifical Requiem Mass at the Faldstool in this church on All Souls’ Day with the full cooperation of the pastor. The celebrant was Bishop Timlin. The Rite of Absolution was part of the ceremonies on this day and tapers were distributed for the congregation at the appropriate times. (For more pictures, go here: Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass at Church of the Holy Innocents).

There was a traditional Solemn Midnight Mass that was well attended. It was attended by many (young) people/families we had not seen before. A professional choir was hired for this Mass. (Sadly, we do not have pictures of this Mass).

On March 25th, we had Solemn Mass with Cardinal Egan attending in choir The pastor allowed the Low Altar to be moved so that the ceremonies could be carried out with more ease and better precision and decorum. (For pictures of this Mass, go here: Mass at Holy Innocents for the Feast of the Annunciation.)

The Pastor has also graciously allowed many Sung and Solemn Masses for special occasions and has encouraged regular parishioners to attend the traditional Mass as well. He also decided to learn to say and sing the traditional Mass, which he now does once or twice a week.

Last but certainly not least, we were able to have the Sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) ceremonies according to the traditional books. (For pictures of Holy Thursday, go here: Holy Thursday Mass at Holy Innocents Church.)

There is also a Chant class that takes place every Wednesday to motivate people to join the choir for the sung Masses on Wednesdays and to become familiarized with Gregorian Chant in general.

Church of St. Agnes
East 43rd Street
Between Lexington & Third Aves.
– Only on Sundays – there’s almost never any interest in having Masses other than on Sundays.
– Last Monday of the month by the Purgatorial Society.

Mount Carmel
East 116th Street (Spanish Harlem).
– Every Sunday at 10am. A Sung Mass is done on the last Sunday of the month.

The story behind the Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel has an interesting history. It had been authorized with all necessary permissions by Fr. Marini (Chancery at St. Patrick’s Cathedral) via phone call on the direction of Cardinal O'Connor. It occurred right after permission was given under Ecclesia Dei for Masses on Sundays (in 1988). Permission was then received for any Masses needed – weekdays, requiems and weddings, and baptisms. Because there was never a demand for weekday Masses, the Mass here is still done only on Sundays and on the Feast of Mt. Carmel. They used to do Holy Days, the Feast (July 16th) and the old Epiphany Octave because it was a tradition of the Pallottines (the society of apostolic life that is still active in this church).

In the mid-1990’s, there were many Liturgies according to the many Eastern Rites (except the Chaldean one) in an attempt to build a congregation. According to some, the Syrian Rite was the most beautiful of the Eastern Liturgies. This was done for about 5 years and then it was stopped because the people who used to attend them lost interest or could not attend anymore.

Church of Our Saviour

59 Park Avenue at East 38th Street
– Sung Masses every Sunday at 9am (except when the choir is on vacation).

Church of the Guardian Angel
193 10th Ave. at West 21st Street.
– Only on 1st Fridays at 6:30 PM
– Sponsored by the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart

Other churches in NYC that offer the traditional Mass:

Our Lady of Peace
522 Carroll Street
– Sundays at 9:30 AM

St. John's Chapel
St. John's Cemetery, Middle Village
– Sundays at 9 AM

St. Fidelis Church
123-06 14th Ave., College Point (Q65 Bus)
– First and 3rd Fridays at 7 AM

The Bronx:
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church
627 E. 187th Street (at Arthur Ave.)
– Sundays at 8:30 AM

St. Barnabas Church
409 E. 241st Street
– 3rd Sundays at 2:30 PM

St. Margaret of Cortona
6000 Riverdale Ave. at 260th Street
First Sunday of the Month at 3 PM

Fordham University Chapel
– 1st Fridays at 12 PM
Call for info: (718) 817-1000

(CAP note: other information has it that the Mass in Fordham is every Monday, 9:15 P.M.)

They had their first Solemn Mass on February 28th. For pictures of this Mass, go here: Solemn Traditional Mass at the Chapel of Fordham University.

An array of links to photographs of Traditional Masses in various churches in NYC can be found here: Mass Photos and Footage.

Poll alert: "Does the Pope bear some personal responsibility for the sex abuse scandal?"

Please vote in this poll.

He has other matters to attend to

Surely, many of our readers know by now of the reports that, according to Rabbi Jacob Neusner, the Pope has indicated that the upcoming Volume 2 of Jesus of Nazareth will be his last book.

“Last January, when I met the Pope in Rome,” Neusner wrote over the weekend for Milan’s Corriere della Sera, “I asked him what he would write when he finished this book. Smiling, he replied, ‘Nothing else. This is my last book. I have other matters to attend to.’”

One can only hope and pray that this is a signal for major changes and reforms in the remaining years of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI. The faithful have suffered and been scattered for far too long.

Padre's Pio's new resting place

A few days ago, the body of Padre Pio was moved to the Chiesa San Pio (click on "Chiesa San Pio" to see a photogallery of the new church). More pictures of the church can be found in the website of the workshop that built it.

Some pictures from the official Padre Pio site:

The body of the holy friar was entombed in this (pictures can be found here):

Some developments (Updated)

1) Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will no longer be the celebrant in the much-awaited Pontifical Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on April 24, 2010 in Washington DC. According to the website dedicated to this Mass, "The Paulus Institute has agreed to seek another celebrant for the Pontifical Solemn High Mass taking place on April 24th. This action will help maintain the solemnity, reverence and beauty of the Mass".

UPDATE: It has just been announced that Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa will be the celebrant of the Mass. William Cardinal Baum will also be in attendance.

2) Eric Giunta has published an essay on the possible reasons behind Archbishop Favalora's early resignation from the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida: Orthodoxy vindicated. Mr. Giunta also writes in this article about the Archbishop-elect, Thomas Wenski, and his accomplishments in Orlando in favor of orthodoxy and the Traditional Latin Mass.

Last year, Rorate featured one of Mr. Giunta's essays on the situation in Miami: The case against Archbishop Favalora.

Rorate's contributors are busy with various matters at the moment. Your patience is well appreciated. CAP.

A Layman's Appeal to Scottish Catholics

All mention of the event mentioned here, "Teaching as Jesus Did: Handing on the Faith in the 21st Century", has been expunged from various websites that had previously announced it. However, it is unclear if the event itself has been cancelled, and given the gravity of the situation we are thus posting this article submitted to us by Mr. David Brower. CAP.

On Tuesday the 20th of April, Professor Thomas Groome, the ex-priest and noted dissenter from the Church's teaching on the male-only priesthood will lead a study day for priests, schoolteachers, and parish catechists in Glasgow, Scotland. The study day, organised by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Scottish Catholic Education Service, is entitled, "Teaching as Jesus Did: Handing on the Faith in the 21st Century". The purpose of the event is to instruct those who teach the faith in Professor Groome's "shared Christian praxis" methodology which the Australian schoolteacher and author of A Generation Betrayed: The Deconstruction of Catholic Education In the English-Speaking World, Eamonn Keane, has described as "encouraging teachers and students to sit in judgement on the Word of God", a method which "institutionalises pride and dissent".

A number of letters have been written in protest to Archbishop Conti of Glasgow, but no response, as yet, has been given to these protestors and the study day is going ahead. In the evening Professor Groome will then give a lecture in the Jesuit parish, St Aloysius, entitled, "What keeps us Catholic?"

In order to make my own protest known I have written to every parish priest in the Paisley, Glasgow, and Motherwell dioceses to appeal to them not to attend this study day on how to teach the Catholic faith to children which will be led by a man who openly rejects the Church's Magisterial teachings. Sadly, it seems, with the full support of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

I have attached the aforementioned letter.

David Brower

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Dear Reverend Father,

I am writing to appeal to you not to attend or send any volunteers from your parish to the forthcoming study day held by Professor Thomas Groome on Tuesday the 20th of April 2010 in Glasgow. The study day, entitled "Teaching as Jesus Did: Handing on the Faith in the 21st Century", is being given to priests, primary and secondary school teachers, and parish catechists and is supported by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Scottish Catholic Education Service. Professor Groome, a laicised priest and professor of religious education and theology at Boston College, has made no secret of his dissent from the teachings of the Catholic Church, including her infallible teachings.

Professor Groome’s approach to the Catholic faith is founded on what can be described as a "hermeneutic of suspicion". That is, he views the content of the Catholic faith as little more than the subjective, evolutionary product of the ‘faith experience’ of previous generations which cannot, therefore, be trusted as containing divinely-revealed truth. Indeed, in his book Educating for Life (p. 142) he states that "a ‘critical consciousness’ seems theologically appropriate to Catholic tradition, given how much untruth is in every statement of faith".

Furthermore, it is in particular from the Church’s teaching on the male-only ministerial priesthood that Professor Groome has demonstrated his most vehement dissent, despite the fact that this teaching was declared by the late Holy Father, John Paul II, in Ordinario Sacerdotalis (1994) to be infallible and to be believed de fide tenenda, that is, to be "held definitively" as inseparable from the deposit of faith.

The Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fide (1998), commenting on this category of teaching, declared that,

Every believer is required to give firm and definitive assent to this category of truth, based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters.

Further, referring to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the Doctrinal Commentary explained that,

The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively, since, founded on the written Word of God, constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium.

The Doctrinal Commentary goes on to affirm that those who reject such an infallible truth (that is, one to be "held definitively") are "in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church".

In Sharing Faith (1991), Professor Groome asserts that "the exclusion of women from ordained ministry is the result of a patriarchal mind-set and culture and is not of Christian faith" (p. 328). But even after the late Holy Father defined the restriction of the ministerial priesthood to men as infallible in 1994 Professor Groome declared in Language for a Catholic Church (1995) that "the continued exclusion of women from ordained ministry in the Catholic Church is seen by fair-minded scholars as without theological or biblical warrant" (p. 31). Groome has repeatedly rejected this infallible teaching of the Church, which is to be "held definitively", in books and in seminars and, thus, he is not in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Furthermore, by rejecting this infallible teaching, Professor Groome cannot be regarded as a "Catholic in good standing" according to the definition in Canon Law (§205) which describes such a Catholic as "joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance" [my emphasis].

The question, thus, arises: why has a person who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church and, therefore, not a Catholic of good standing been invited by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Scottish Catholic Education Service to teach priests, teachers, and catechists how to "hand on the faith in the 21st Century"?

The Australian author and schoolteacher Eamonn Keane, who has written about the effect that Professor Groome’s methodology - which Groome calls "shared Christian praxis" - has had on Catholic education, relates that,

In Sharing Faith, Groome tells of how he used the shared Christian praxis process in a parish-based program to lead elderly members of the parish away from a position of support for the Church’s teaching on the non-ordination of women to a position of opposition to it. This is a clear example of how the application of shared Christian praxis "according to the mind of Groome" corrupts the teacher of religion insofar as it invites him to be unfaithful to the deposit of faith as it has been transmitted by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. By thus encouraging teachers and students to sit in judgement on the Word of God, shared Christian praxis institutionalises pride and dissent. (Crisis in Religious Education)

Earlier, I mentioned the Doctrinal Commentary which accompanied the late Holy Father’s 1998 Apostolic Letter Ad Tuendam Fidem, which was issued "to protect the faith of the Catholic Church" against errors arising "especially from among those dedicated to the various disciplines of sacred theology". It was this same Apostolic Letter that Professor Groome described as "a pretentious attempt by the present Pope [i.e. John Paul II] to stifle conversation and dialogue" adding "I read the blessed thing and without being too melodramatic, I was on the verge of tears. It is a very sad day".

If we wish to imagine what effect Professor Groome’s teaching methods will have on the faith in Scotland we need only look to Australia where Groome’s books have been used in Catholic education in many dioceses since the early 1990’s. The effects have been devastating. In 1999, Professor Dennis McLaughlin of the Australian Catholic University released results of a survey he had conducted of the beliefs, values, and practices of student teachers at the ACU. Administered to 647 first and final year student teachers at campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, McLaughlin’s most significant findings were:

· only 50 percent of students understood God as the Blessed Trinity;
· only one-third of students believed that the bread and wine is changed into the
Body and Blood of Christ in the Mass;
· 62 percent believed that the Church should ordain women;
· 2 percent said they accepted the Church’s teaching on contraception and divorce;
· 10 percent accepted the Church’s teaching on pre-marital sex;
· 14 percent said they accepted the Church’s teaching on abortion.

Here it needs to be clearly stated that, even if Professor Groome’s study day were not taking place, the faith amongst Catholic schoolchildren in Glasgow is already in a deepening state of crisis. In fact, I must add here my own personal experience of this situation. Having spent two years in a Glasgow parish assisting with the Sacramental preparation of Catholic schoolchildren it became quite clear to me that the children had little or no understanding of Jesus as God (they had been told that he was a "special person" - but nothing more) or of Jesus as being truly present in the Holy Eucharist (they had been told that the Eucharist is "special bread" - but, again, nothing more). I did what I could to rectify this in the short time available, but against the consistently misleading catechesis of the Alive-O series it was difficult for these truths of the orthodox Catholic faith to make a lasting impression on them.

Indeed, it should not come as a surprise that the works of Professor Groome have been on the syllabus at St Andrew’s College in Glasgow, which trains the majority of Catholic Religious Education teachers for Scotland, for many years.

If the situation of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Glasgow were not already bad enough, what can we expect, then, when the "shared Christian praxis" of Professor Groome becomes the standard catechetical methodology in our Catholic schools and our parishes? In this regard Eamonn Keane asks,

What are the implications of this for parents whose children are to be taught the Catholic faith according "to the mind of Groome"? It means that their children are to be taught to distrust the word of God as it is mediated by the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. (Crisis in Religious Education)
In short, we are looking at the probable and definitive collapse of the Catholic faith in those dioceses where Professor Groome’s "shared Christian praxis" is implemented and where young Catholics are manipulated into rejecting the faith which is, in fact, their rightful spiritual patrimony. Already we have been seeing fewer and fewer people between the ages of 15 and 45 in the church pews. Most Catholic schoolchildren are lapsing from the practice of their faith as soon as they leave school. Indeed, it is questionable whether, as a result of the extremely poor religious education that children from Catholic families receive at school, they ever really had the faith.

But does that really matter?

Yes, it does, because - quite simply - without faith we remain strangers to the hope of salvation. As St Paul writes, "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6). The faith in question is not merely a ‘fiducial’ faith based on a feeling of trust but, rather, the obedience of faith given by the believer to what God has revealed and what His Church proposes to our belief as having been divinely revealed. It is the supernatural virtue whereby the intellect and will, moved by the grace of God, is able to give assent to divinely revealed truth.

As we have seen, Professor Groome encourages the rejection of at least one infallible teaching of the Church and, through his "shared Christian praxis", encourages Catholics to distrust the authority of the Church in revealing God’s word in toto. Concerning this St Thomas Aquinas states that,

To reject but one article of faith taught by the Church is enough to destroy faith, as one mortal sin is enough to destroy charity; for the virtue of faith does not consist in merely adhering to the Holy Scriptures, and in revering them as the word of God; it consists principally in submitting our intellect and will to the divine authority of the true Church charged by Jesus Christ to expound them…He, therefore, who despises and rejects this authority cannot have true faith. If he admits some supernatural truths, they are but simple opinions, as he makes [these truths] depend on his private judgement. (De Fide, q.v., art 3)

So, again, the question arises: why has Professor Thomas Groome been invited by the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Scottish Catholic Education Service to train priests, teachers, and parish catechists in how to teach the Catholic faith, when he does not, in any real sense, share that faith? By encouraging people of all ages - from children to the elderly - to reject the teaching authority of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, Professor Groome tempts them to sin against the virtue of faith, thereby undermining the very foundation of their salvation.

I am mindful of my position as a layman in appealing to you, a priest, to boycott the planned study day on Tuesday the 20th of April 2010 and I hope that you do not deem this appeal as, in any way, disrespectful of the sacred office that you hold. I am aware that there is some concern amongst priests of the Archdiocese of Glasgow that Professor Groome has been invited to run this study day but that, owing to their position, it would be difficult for them to speak out against dissent from the teachings of the Church when it appears to be supported by the hierarchy of their own diocese. Laymen, whilst occupying a humbler place in the Church, possess the liberty to voice their protest when priests, mindful of the consequences, may deem it prudent to remain silent.

Neither should this appeal be understood as displaying any disrespect towards the sacred office of the Archbishop in that I am appealing to you directly by letter. I am aware that a number of people have already written to the Archbishop to voice their concern about the planned study day but that the Archbishop has chosen not to cancel this event. I have no grounds, therefore, to believe that a letter from me would have any more success in changing the Archbishop’s mind when other letters have already failed.

Whilst respecting the Apostolic office of the Archbishop and professing my filial obedience to that office, I reserve the right - which is the right of every Catholic - to criticise what I see, in this instance, as Archbishop Conti’s apparent abandonment of the principle task of a bishop: to feed and guard the flock entrusted to him by God. By "feeding" I mean teaching the orthodox Catholic faith without dilution, compromise, or ambiguity. By "guarding the flock" I mean protecting the Catholic faithful from those whom Holy Scripture calls "wolves" who tear the sheep from the flock by tempting them to the loss of their faith and to the loss, thereby, of their immortal souls. Rather than welcoming a man who encourages Catholics to reject the teaching authority of the Church, our Archbishop, as a shepherd of the Lord’s flock, should refuse Professor Groome the opportunity to destroy the Catholic faith in our Archdiocese.

Finally, I should like to explain my own motives in making this appeal to you. My wife and I are expecting our first child at the end of August. I am writing this to you in case our children ask me, decades from now, why I didn’t do anything to help prevent the final loss of the faith in Scotland when it might still have been prevented.

I appeal to you not to attend the study day run by Professor Thomas Groome and to encourage anyone else you know who is planning to attend not to go.

Yours Sincerely,

David Brower

More Pontifical Masses by Cardinals

1) Messa in Latino is reporting that on May 2, 2010, at 6:00 P.M., His Eminence Carlo Cardinal Cafarra will offer Mass according to the Usus Antiquior in the parish church of Santa Maria della Pieta, Via San Vitale 112, in Bologna. In preparation for the Mass, Msgr. Nicola Bux will give on April 28, in Bologna, a conference on Benedict XVI and the Liturgy.

2) A final reminder: Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will offer Pontifical Mass in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on April 24, 2010.

3) Pictures of the Solemn Pontifical Mass offered by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos on April 10, 2010 at the Basilica of the Holy Cross off Via Flaminia, Rome, can now be seen on Orbis Catholicvs Secvndvs.


Brought to you by Australian media:

Why not bomb the Vatican, and riddle the Pope with bullets as he staggers out of the flames?

Read more here.

Happy birthday

Excerpt of the birthday message sent to the Pope by his brother, Canon Georg Ratzinger, for his birthday in 2006:
"May the Lord give you spiritual and intellectual inspiration, and also physical strength, to thus be able to take the right decisions and to find the proper words, and to remain brave and steady on the waves which, according to a secret Divine will, surround the Church, and you with her."

"Oremus pro invicem."
The waves are mighty, indeed...

Wonderful words on the true meaning of active participation

Today's speech of the Holy Father to the Bishops of Brazil (North II Region) in their ad limina visit was a true course on sacred liturgy, active participation, inculturation, and the Holy Mass. We particularly refer to the 4th, 5th, and 6th paragraphs of his address (in Portuguese).

VIS excerpts; complete translation coming up:
Speaking of the Eucharist, the Pope recalled that it constitutes "the centre and permanent source of the Petrine ministry, the heart of the Christian life, source and summit of the Church's mission of evangelization. You can thus understand the concern of the Successor of Peter for all that can obfuscate this most essential point of the Catholic faith: that today, Jesus Christ continues alive and truly present in the consecrated host and the chalice."

"Paying less attention at times to the rite of the Most Holy Sacrament constitutes," he said, "a sign and a cause of the darkening of the Christian sense of mystery, such as when Jesus is not the centre of the Mass, but rather a community preoccupied with other things instead of being taken up and drawn to the only one necessary: their Lord."

Benedict XVI emphasized that "if the figure of Christ does not emerge from the liturgy ... it is not a Christian liturgy". This is why, he added, "we find those who, in the name of enculturation, fall into syncretism, introducing rites taken from other religions or cultural particularities into the celebration of the Mass."

As Venerable John Paul II wrote, "the mystery of the Eucharist is 'too great a gift' to admit of ambiguities or reductions, above all when, 'stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet'."

The Pope highlighted that "behind many alleged motives, there exists a mentality that is incapable of accepting the real possibility of divine intervention in this world to assist human beings. ... Admitting God's redeeming intervention to change our situation of alienation and sin is seen as fundamentalism by those who share a deist vision and the same can be said about the sacramental sign that makes the salvific sacrifice present. For such persons, the celebration of a sign that corresponds to a vague sentiment of community would be more acceptable."

"Worship, however," he continued, "cannot come from our imagination: that would be a cry in the darkness or mere self-affirmation. True liturgy supposes that God responds and shows us how we can adore Him. ... The Church lives in His presence and its reason for being and existing is to expand His presence in the world."

The Pope speaks on fidelity in doctrine and liturgy

During yesterday's General Audience, the Pope spoke about the teaching mission of priests. Of note are the following passages in his address:

The first task of which I wish to speak today is the "munus docendi," namely, that of teaching. Today, at the height of the educational emergency, the "munus docendi" of the Church, exercised concretely through the ministry of each priest, is particularly important. We live amid great confusion about the fundamental choices of our life and the questions about what the world is, from where it comes, where we are going, what we must do to carry out the good, how we must live, what are the really pertinent values. In relation to all this there are so many contrasting philosophies, which arise and disappear, creating confusion about the fundamental decisions, how to live, why we do not know more, ordinarily, from what thing and for what thing we were made and where we are going.


...The priest must also speak and act like this: "My doctrine is not mine, I do not propagate my ideas or what pleases me, but I am the mouth and heart of Christ and make present this unique and common doctrine, which the universal Church has created and which creates eternal life."


In the careful preparation of his Sunday preaching, without excluding the weekday preaching, in the effort of catechetical formation, in schools, in academic institutions and, in a special way, through that unwritten book that is his own life, the priest is always "docent," he teaches. But not with the presumption of one who imposes his own truth, rather with the humble and happy certainty of one who has found the Truth, who has been gripped and transformed, and because of this, can do nothing less than proclaim it. In fact, no one can choose the priesthood for himself, it is not a way to arrive at security in life, to win a social position; no one can give it to him, or seek it by himself. The priesthood is response to the call of the Lord, to his will, to become heralds not of a personal truth but of his truth.

Dear brother priests, the Christian people ask to hear from our teachings the genuine ecclesial doctrine, by which to be able to renew the encounter with Christ who gives joy, peace, salvation. Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Fathers and doctors of the Church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church constitute, in this regard, indispensable points of reference in the exercise of the munus docendi, so essential for conversion, the journey of faith and the salvation of men. "Priestly ordination means: being immersed [...] in the Truth" (Homily for the Chrism Mass, April 9, 2009), that Truth which is not simply a concept or a whole of ideas to transmit and assimilate, but which is the Person of Christ, with which, by which and in which to live. And thus, necessarily, is also born the timeliness and comprehensibility of the proclamation. Only this awareness of a Truth made Person in the incarnation of the Son justifies the missionary mandate: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Only if it is the Truth is it destined to every creature, it is not an imposition of something, but the opening of the heart to that for which it is created.

More can be read here.

Meanwhile, the New Liturgical Movement has a preliminary report on the Pope's address today to the bishops of northern Brazil, in which the Holy Father speaks on true participation in the liturgy, and criticizes excessive inculturation.

The Passion of the Church in China

From the Union of Asian Catholic News:

Vatican advice leaves China bishops in a bind

HONG KONG (UCAN) — Several mainland bishops, approved by the Vatican and recognized by the government, say following some of the advice from the Vatican’s China Commission will put them in a difficult position.

The communiqué for the third plenary meeting released on March 25 said the commission unanimously hoped that all mainland bishops could avoid gestures that run counter to communion with the Pope.

It specifies such gestures like: sacramental celebrations (with illegitimate bishops), episcopal ordinations (without a papal mandate) and participation in meetings (like the planned National Congress of Catholic Representatives of the “open” Church community in China).

UCA News spoke to three open bishops for their response to the communiqué. They spoke on condition of anonymity, and are given the pseudonyms Joseph, Paul and Peter.

Bishop Joseph noted that the communiqué puts “pressure” on bishops but lays out “a clearer and more concrete direction for the China Church toward reconciliation.”

He admitted some bishops may have difficulties following the Vatican’s advice, as local situations differ in each diocese and the “state of conscience of individual bishops is different.”

His conscience does not allow him to participate in an illicit ordination, he stressed. However, he was hesitant regarding the point on attending the national congress, which he described as “inconsistent with the Church spirit.”

Bishops Paul and Peter also stressed they would not attend episcopal ordinations without a papal mandate since Pope Benedict XVI made his position on the issue clear in his 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics.

“No matter how much my diocese and I have to sacrifice, I will definitely not go to any illicit ordination,” Bishop Paul said.

However, he said concelebrations with illegitimate bishops may happen particularly when attending meetings organized by Church authorities. “I will not join if the main celebrant is an illegitimate bishop, but if he is only one of the concelebrants I can hardly avoid it,” the prelate said.

He said the China Commission has good intentions and “neither I nor many other bishops wish to join the national congress, but it’s hard to refuse.”

The meeting is arranged by the government. “Officials will accuse you of not loving the country if you do not take part. They will aim their anger at bishops after being blamed by their superiors, and Church work in all aspects will become very difficult in future,” Bishop Paul noted.

Bishop Peter said the communiqué’s advice is difficult to follow practically, since bishops will find it “hard to say no” to government officials who will coerce them to attending the congress or illicit ordinations.

“We bishops feel perplexed about what to do. We no longer have room for maneuver since the papal letter came out. We can only choose between surviving in the cracks and breaking off relations with the government,” he lamented.

“The open community is unwilling to break the good relationship with the government, which it has struggled to build over a long period of time,” he explained.

Bishop Peter believed the national congress, which is supposed to convene later this year, will cause a split in the open community.

“I will passively attend the meeting to gain space for pastoral work and not to embarrass local officials,” he said. He believed the majority of open bishops will also attend, adding that it is unrealistic not to go.

Those who wish to follow the Vatican’s advice should be prepared for poorer relations with the authorities and stronger controls, which is another way of being God’s witness, he said.


For what Cardinal Zen has to say about the Vatican's China Commission and the challenges of the Catholic Church in China, see this.


Grab your lightsabers!

From the Italian Catholic blog Fides et Forma comes news of the "Church of the Resurrection" (Chiesa della Resurrezione), a Catholic church to be built in the city of L'Aquila in the next twelve months, by a studio aptly named "Nothing":

Fides et Forma then goes on to compare the shape of the church-to-be to a variety of, er, "things", including this:

For more comparisons, see this and this.

For more on this church, click here.

For other posts on the same blog with pictures illustrating contemporary church art and architecture in Italy, see this, this, this, this, this, this, and this... there are others.

The Reform of the Liturgy and the Catholic Church

The blog of the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny has published a translation of a recent interview with Martin Mosebach on the Reform of the Liturgy and the Catholic Church.

Part 1

Part 2

A Pope of Great Wisdom

Pius XII was the Pope of our youth. With his rich teaching he was able to speak to the men of his time pointing out the way of Truth and with his great wisdom was able to direct the Church towards the horizon of the Third Millennium. I must, however, stressed particularly that Pius XII was the Pope that, as father of all, presided in charity in Rome and in the world, above all in the difficult time of World War II...


The primacy of charity, of love -- which is the commandment of the Lord Jesus -- is the principle and key of the reading of the whole work of the Church, in primis of her universal Pastor. Charity is the reason for every action, for every intervention. It is the global reason that moves thought and concrete gestures, and I am happy that also in this film this unifying principle emerges. I take the liberty to suggest this key of reading, in the light of the genuine witness of that great teacher of faith, of hope and of charity that was Pope Pius XII.

“Creative liturgy… alienates us from God and draws us near to sin.”

From an interview with Msgr. Nicola Bux published last month in the Italian blogosphere:

Then, not too surprisingly, he affirms: “The sense of sin has been weakened by the dilution of the sacrality of the liturgy. There is a close link between ethos and worship.” What do you mean? “That we today have lost values because we often do not give God a worthy worship at Mass. And many atheists ought also to live as if God exists.” (E molti anche atei dovrebbero vivere come se Dio esistesse) But let us return to the liturgical aspect: “People need the sense of the sacred in order to discover God. Sin is a negation of God, but if even when assisting Mass we live far from God, how is it then possible to avoid sin?” Then he specifies: “The liturgy is sacred, divine and glorious; it is vertical in the sense of tending towards the High, towards Beauty and Heaven. It is not something circular or horizontal, some kind of sports stadium, assembly or party. The idea of a fruitful and creative liturgy inevitably loses the sense of the sacred and therefore alienates us from God and draws us near to sin. The people, who are much more intelligent than one gives them credit for, perceive where the sacred is. It is not something abstract but a concrete thing. And it says so in the Gospel. "The woman wished to touch the cloak of Christ. In order to defeat sin, there is a need for certain, unequivocal and firm signs, not fluctuating, unstable ones.”

Therefore creative liturgy creates damage: “Many, especially after the Council, ceded to this unhealthy notion of creativity, but it was not the fault of the Council, as the Council never abrogated or cancelled the liturgy of all times (liturgia di sempre). A sloppy, manipulated and -- even worse – violated Mass is an obstacle to the sacred and alienates the people from the Church. To celebrate creative Masses is a profanation of the sense of the sacred, because it brings us away from God. The minister of the cult must never be an actor, often a mediocre one at that and a source of scandal, but should think that his principal duty is to serve God, never his own unbridled desire to play the protagonist. Only by recuperating or restoring a correct vertical liturgy, can we limit in part the effects of sin, thus rediscovering God.”

VIS Blog

The Vatican Information Service blog is now available.

(Update -- CAP: A simple guide to the CDF's guidelines for sex abuse allegations has been posted on the blog.)

An Interview with Monsignor Gherardini

Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, 85 years old, Canon of St. Peter's Basilica and renowned Thomist, has been called the last living theologian of the pre-Conciliar "Roman School". His book "Concilio Ecumenico Vaticano II: Un discorso da fare" has been praised as one of the most important books of recent years to attempt to study Vatican II in the light of Catholic Tradition. Strangely enough, relatively little has been written about his work in the English-speaking Catholic blogosphere. Rorate published a note about him last year, and the Anglo-Catholic blogger Fr. John Hunwicke has recently devoted a series of blog posts to him (see here, here and here.) A selection of quotes from the book is available on DICI.

Catholic Culture has also published a brief article on the Monsignor.

From the Una Fides blog:

Soon to appear: the new book by Monsignor Gherardini: Quod et Tradidi Vobis. The Tradition, Life and Youth of the Church.

Interview with Monsignor Brunero Gherardini

Aletheia n° 153 – March 20 2010

Interview by Yves Chiron, Editor of Aletheia, Lettre d’informations religieuses
(the publication is no more available at Internet, please write to Yves Chiron, 16 rue du Berry, F - 36250 Niherne

March 20 2010

If you permit me to say so, Monsignor, the year 2009 has been “the Gherardini year”. You have published, one after another, the following works: Il Concilio Vaticano II. Un discorso da fare, in March 2009, then Quale accordo tra Cristo e Beliar? in April of 2009, on the “problems, misunderstandings and compromises” in interreligious dialogue. Then in September 2009 you wrote Ecumene tradita, on “the ecumenical dialogue, between misunderstandings and false steps”. Is this pure coincidence or a wish to draw attention to the necessity of a good “hermeneutics” of the Second Vatican Council?

A dear friend, professor Roberto De Mattei, Director of Radici Cristiane, in October of 2009 succeeded in making an interview with me – this is a genre from which I have always distanced myself. And here I find another friend succeeding in this enterprise…

Far from thinking that there has been a “Gherardini year”, I recognize that the publications to which you refer – and to which today we may add Quod et tradidi vobis. La Tradizione, vita e giovinezza della Chiesa – are not a simple coincidence but a simple attempt to create an answer and an objective content to the “hermeneutics of the continuity”, which – as everybody knows – has been the hope of the Holy Father.

Do you consider that the Report on the faith (better known in English as "The Ratzinger Report" -- CAP) published in 1985 by the then Cardinal Ratzinger was a turning-point in the reflection of the Church on herself? Was it the sign of a “prise de conscience”?

Maybe more that than in the reality, it was a new understanding in the intentions of eminent writers and in the hopes of various theologians, among them myself. The dangers and the misunderstandings were dimly seen; the causes were however not discussed and even less there was the least intention to eliminate them. Consequently one was always standing at the same departing point.

It is said that you are the last representative of the school of “Roman theology”, which was made famous by Cardinal Palazzini or by the dear and regretted Monsignor Piolanti. Is your voice as a theologian an isolated voice in Italy, or do you see in some university, some magazines, theologians who share your preoccupations and your analysis of the situation?

I do not know how far I may be considered as an epigone of the glorious Roman School. Even the illustrious names which you refer to belong to a descending stage of this school. After the Second Vatican Council, the voice of this school, increasingly weak, could still be heard through two Roman academies (the Pontificia Accademia di Teologia and the Pontificia Accademia San Tommaso d’Aquino), the reviews Divinitas and Doctor Communis, and the Thomistic Congresses. Today, if risking oneself still to be aware of it, it is just an isolated voice, admired by some, but more often despised and scorned. This is how I perceive the situation. However, listened to or not, it still resounds, and if you recognize the timbre of the Roman school in my voice, I am pleased.

Fortunately (?? It must be “Sfortunadamente” = unfortunately, CAP), this glorious school today is deprived of university or episcopal chairs. However, also from this point of view, things are beginning to change: On the 25th of this month, I am invited by the academic authorities to hold a conference – in the Lateran university – on the subject of “Thomism and the Roman School of the 20th century” (Il tomismo e la Scuola Romana del XX secolo) and L’Osservatore Romano has already asked for my text to this conference.

If I am not mistaken, you were asked by the Holy See to participate in the “theological discussions” which were initiated in 2009 with the Priesterly Fraternity of St. Pius X. Why did you not accept this invitation?

I am sorry, but discretion prevents me from answering this question.

Is there a possibility that there will be a doctrinal agreement between the Holy See and the FSSPX? And if so, in which form will it be?

Undoubtedly, and I wish it – and also the Church wishes it – for the good of the souls there will soon be an agreement. I would like to reply in an adequate manner, but would not like to go down into details. The Pope has already done a lot in order to find a solution, this we must understand. However, it is also necessary to discuss the “doctrinal framework” to which he himself refers. Nevertheless, this framework will not lead to any result if one permits – as it seems one will do – only the interminable confrontation of one point after the other: the two parties have each one of them appropriate arrows to put to their bow and the dialectics may present in evidence the reasons of the party that is at fault.

In my opinion, there is only one argument to discuss: and John Paul II suggested it when, during the famous excommunication in 1988, he reproached the Fraternity of St. Pius X for having “an incomplete and contradictory view of the Tradition”. Personally, I am of a quite different view, but it is just for this reason that I see in Tradition the only subject to be discussed in depth. If one would succeed in clarifying the concept of Tradition, without taking refuge in the subterfuge of the living Tradition, but also without closing one’s eyes to the internal movement of the apostolic-ecclesial tradition “eodem tamen sensu, eademque sententia” [even with the same sense, and with the same reasoning], the problem would cease to exist.

Objectively the Fraternity of St. Pius X ought not to cease to exist. It could become – in the firmament of the Church – a “society of priesterly life”, a family of “oblates” or just a “Prelatura nullius”, as it already has a number of bishops. But, please, let us abandon all dreams.

Translation from the Italian by Natasja Hoven of Katolsk Observator and slightly edited by Fr. Emmanuel Marfori and Carlos Antonio Palad. The original Italian can be found on the Una Fides blog