Rorate Caeli

Liturgical Peace and Vocational success in a diocese?
It's all up to a good Bishop: the example of Fréjus-Toulon, France

Enough with bad news from intolerant bishops who should know better, and intelligent laymen who should know even better, and instead temporize with each prevailing wind.

Amidst the greatest crisis of bishops in living memory, one good Ordinary makes all the difference: as we have always said, if one bad Bishop can destroy the work of generations, one good Bishop can build up generations of good priests and faithful laity. And, not surprisingly, the best Bishops of our age, instead of inflaming disputes or marginalizing the faithful, open up the Church to Traditional liturgical sensibilities and the glorious liturgical liberty desired by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum.

There are few better examples of this in our age than Bishop Dominique Rey, of Fréjus-Toulon (on the Côte d'Azur, southern France). Paix Liturgique reports:

Letter n. 429 of Paix Liturgique - March 5, 2014

A French diocese with no lack of vocations and attractive for priests, whichever may be their sensitibility? A diocese that, on top of that, has practically no church without a priest? This diocese, and it truly exists, is that of Fréjus-Toulon. The secret is simply and entirely in the great pastoral "realism" of the diocesan team that welcomes clergymen, or future clergymen, as they are, respecting their own identity, with the only condition of their having a true will to evangelize.

In fact, a space of true Christian freedom was established in the diocese guided today by Bp. Rey; and of true liturgical peace, as witnessed by the establishment, for the greater good of all, of a Summorum Pontificum [academic] course within the diocesan seminary itself. In many respects, the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon is certainly the one where the spirit of the Motu Proprio has developed best, to the point that more and more parish priests spontaneously open up, within their pastoral, a "window" for the traditional liturgy.

It is about this that we wish to give today a very concrete example through that of the Cathedral of Fréjus, the sole French cathedral where the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated every single day!

I - The History of a Mass

Chambéry, Nîmes, Verdun, Noyon, Cayenne, Toulon and Fréjus [the last two co-cathedrals of the same diocese]. These are the seven French cathedrals that offer at least once a month a celebration according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite to their faithful. Only in three of them is the Mass offered every Sunday: Saint-François-de-Sales de Chambéry (9h30 AM), Notre-Dame de Noyon (6 PM) and Saint-Léonce de Fréjus (at 7:30 AM)! Despite this difficult Sunday timeslot, the latter is nonetheless the only French cathedral offering the daily application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

... It was the auxiliary priest, Father Forestier, who began celebrating in the extraordinary form in the cathedral in 2011, invited by Father Boussand, who was then temporarily responsible for Saint-Léonce, other than his position as pastor of Saint-Aygulf. ... It was in 2012, with the nomination as vicar of Father Brustenga, that the celebration of the extraordinary form became daily in the Cathedral. Father Brustenga, a Spanish priest ordained in 1986, began by celebrating at 7:30 in the morning, Sundays included. Wishing to allow more faithful to take part, particularly the young, he decided to change the time of the weekday masses to 7 AM, in order to allow students to arrive in their classes on time. The extraordinary form is thus offered every day at Saint-Léonce and even twice on Mondays and Saturdays.

According to one of the regular faithful at Saint-Léonce, the assistance to the very early [weekday] Masses of Father Brustenga went from just a few individuals to twenty today. ...

II – Reflections of Paix Liturgique.

In 2014, the presence of twenty faithful at a 7 AM Mass on a weekday is a heavenly gift that many pastors would love to have. The pastoral zeal of the priest who celebrates this Mass finds its reward in this. Of course, such an "extraordinary" result is only possible thanks to the environment of peace that the Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon established in his diocese, and to the goodwill of the pastor, Father Warowny, who nonetheless has an entirely liturgical sensibility.

In sum, what we see in the cathedral of Fréjus is an application that is perfectly serene and true to the spirit that animated Benedict XVI at the time of the promulgation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. ...

Note: in 2013, Fréjus-Toulon, a diocese with a population of about 1 million people (23rd diocese in France by population), had 10 priestly ordinations; still not enough, but by far the largest group in France; in second place came Versailles (8th in population, another diocese very open to Summorum Pontificum), with 8, and Paris (1st in population), with 6 ordinations. Most dioceses had none whatsoever, and most of those that held ordinations ordained only 1 (source). In 2012, Paris had 10 ordinations, and Fréjus-Toulon was the second, with 7 (source). In 2011, Fréjus-Toulon was the first, with 15 ordinations, 6 in Metz, and Versailles the third, with 5 (source).

[Source; our translation, as usual. Tip and image of Fréjus: Tradinews]