Rorate Caeli

Ricard in Lourdes: Motu Proprio "has not been signed"

From the opening speech of Cardinal Ricard to the assembled bishops of the French Episcopal Conference (which he presides), delivered today in Lourdes:


...I wish to make three remarks:
1. The decision to liberalize, for the priests, the possibility of celebrating the mass according to the missal of 1962 has not yet been made. The announced Motu proprio has not been signed. Its project will be the object of various consultations. We will be able to convey, from this moment, our fears and desires [regarding it].

2. This project is not part of a wish to criticize the Missal said of 'Paul VI', nor to proceed to a reform of the liturgical reform. The liturgical books written and promulgated following the Council are the ordinary, and thus habitual, form of the Roman Rite. This project originates, above all, from the desire of Benedict XVI to do all which is within his power to put an end to the Lefebvrist schism. He knows that, the longer the years pass by, the more the relations weaken and [the more] the positions harden.

Watching the history of the great schisms, it is always possible to ask if there could not have been lost occasions of rapprochement. The Pope desires to do his utmost so that the hand be stretched and that the welcome be made clear, at least to those who are of good will and who display a deep desire for communion. It is within this spirit that this project of Motu proprio must be understood.

3. The welcoming of a few to ecclesial communion would not put in question the pastoral work of the whole. No, the Church does not change course. Contrary to the intentions which some ascribe to him, pope Benedict XVI does not wish to turn back from the course which the Second Vatican Council gave to the Church. He has solemnly pledged to it.

From [the day of] his election, he affirmed: "Pope John Paul II rightly pointed out the Council as a 'compass' by which to take our bearings in the vast ocean of the third millennium (cf. Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, nn. 57-58). Also, in his spiritual Testament he noted, 'I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this 20th-century Council has lavished upon us' (17 March 2000). Thus, as I prepare myself for the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, I also wish to confirm my determination to continue to put the Second Vatican Council into practice, following in the footsteps of my Predecessors and in faithful continuity with the 2,000-year tradition of the Church." (Message at the end of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel, April 20, 2006)

In his speech to the Roman Curia where he criticizes a false "spirit of the Council", the Pope declares: "Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing." These words must be heard.
I believe it is not necessary to be governed today by aprehension and by fear. Let us also live in confidence. Why should not recent events be an occasion, for us in France, to make a calm reappraisal of our reception of the Council, to read again its great foundational documents, to grasp anew its great intuitions, and to seek its aspects which are still worthy of consideration? We are not called to an ideological reading of Vatican II, but rather to a spiritual reading, in thanksgiving for what the Lord has given us to live on and in a renewed responsibility for the mission.


Many important words by Cardinal Ricard, who seems to speak as a direct representative of Pope Benedict before the assembly. The Motu proprio is still an unsigned "project"; it may well be influenced by decisions taken by the French Episcopal Conference itself. The main motivation behind the document also seems quite clear.


  1. If Benedict XVI lets the Motu-Proprio be influenced, modified or even controlled by the French Bishops, he will definitively discredit himself with many traditionalist Catholics. Even the FSSP and ICRSP faithful will be disappointed and come to agree, that Benedict XVI is not the "restorer Pope" they believed him to be.

    We shall see. Whether this waiting is mere politesse from Benedict XVI and has as its purpose to pacify the French modernists, or he is effectively incorporating the fanatical protests from the French into the motu-proprio.

    Last weekend there were other, more important guests at the Shrine of Our Lady at Lourdes! La SSPX à Lourdes. Messe Solennelle dans la Basilique St. Pie X, Adoration nocturnelle dans la Basilique du Rosaire. Enjoy!

  2. I can't stand Cardinal Ricard speaking of a "lefebvrist schism", while according to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos there is NONE. One only has to read the article below "We will not be able to follow" to see where the real schism with Rome is: among the modernists of France, Germany, USA, Canada, South America. Thát is clear.

    WHat is also clear, is that Cardinal Ricard is nót favourable to Tradition at all, not when speaking sincerely from his own heart.

    What puzzles me, is that Ricard declares the liberalization of the Missal of St. Pius V (Tridentine Rite) is not part of a Reform of the Reform. Is Benedict XVI giving up on reforming the Paul VI Missal closer towards Tradition? I honestly do not believe that, as that was one of Benedict XVI's prime motivations in his time as a cardinal. To reform the liturgical reform. But Ricard is denying that and saying the Novus Ordo Missae of Paul VI is not going to be touched ("or else...") by Rome and will be declared the "habitual rite".

  3. To take a liberty with Peter O'Toole's line in Becket, "Will no one rid us of some meddlesome priests!"

  4. The delay with the motu proprio and the delay in issuing the Apostolic Exhortation is disturbing to me and has led me to believe that Benedict wil fall short of being Malachy's Glory of the Olive.All because of France.All this is because of a false interpretation of collegiality.There is no problem with consulting and listening but then YOU decide.Alas,the dove that was sent out has returned;the deluge continues.

  5. I see no evidence that Cardinal Ricard may be acting as a direct representative of the Pope. Maybe I am being too paranoid but it looks to me that what Cardinal Ricard is trying to do is to somehow set an agenda that is nowhere in the Pope's mind. If he is betting that the Pope is not going to contradict him I think he is playing with fire.

    The main reason why I think this way is that to me is absurd to pretend that the main driver of the Motu Proprio is the reconciliation with the SSPX. Anyone who has read Ratzinger's books on liturgy knows full well that there is a lot more than that, and also I think it is naive to believe that just reinstating the old rite is going to bring back the Lefevrists.

  6. The Pope has oftentimes commented that the proper implementation has not yet occured. So his full support of VII is not what the French bishops understand it to be so the reform of the reform is still on the table, the way I see it.

  7. We are still waiting for the Council. What we have seen since the late sixties is not VII. We need full liberty for the Mass of the Council, the 1962 Missal.

  8. If Benedict XVI lets the Motu-Proprio be influenced, modified or even controlled by the French Bishops, he will definitively discredit himself with many traditionalist Catholics.

    I agree. Why french bishops are more important in this question than american, italian, spanish, brazilian, argentinian or phillipins bishops? Tradition and traditional Mass are not french questions exclusively, neither SSPX personal matters.

  9. Cardinal Ricard's remarks are very interesting, and could be taken in a number of ways. One thing is clear: he is seeking to calm the tone of the discourse, and is aware of his position of standing between the Holy See and the French hierarchy. He seems to be simultaneously reassuring the bishops that nothing catastrophic is about to happen, but also that everything is still to play for, and that their views will be taken seriously.

    It should be borne in mind that there is a considerable danger of hearing what one wishes to hear on subjects of great moment. I do not think that all that he says of the Pope's mind on all these great questions necessarily reflects it completely or accurately -- or even reflects what he learned of it during his recent audience.

    Whether his account of the Pope's intentions and thoughts is a tendentious one designed to force his hand, or whether it is simply a tactful description designed to placate the other bishops, is hard to know. Either is certainly possible. However, as has been pointed by previous posters, we know quite well what the Pope thinks on these matters, because he has told us over many years. The only question is how he goes about applying his understanding.

    The stress the Cardinal lays on the reconciliation of the SSPX is curious. If that were accomplished, especially if the Society were raised to a PAA, I would think it would have a more dramatic effect on the ecclesiastical landscape of France than a universal indult. The Cardinal seems to think that if what the Pope is doing concerning the traditional Mass is primarily motivated by the desire to resolve the SPPX situation, the bishops will be able to live with the consequences more easily, presumably because the SSPX would be marginal to diocesan life. However, they might be surprised how marginal a reunified traditional movement turned out to be!

  10. THE

    Ruined, bare,
    Nothing hidden,
    Bishops, French,
    Want Mass forbidden.

    Unlike American
    Clergy, sneaky,
    The upfront French
    Give us a peaky

    Of their fears,
    Lefebvrist schism,
    Delay the "project",
    "Damn the chrism!

    Stay the course!"
    Clergy declare,
    No matter the souls
    Who drown in despair.

    So, in a sea of confidence,
    With "compass" of great price,
    The Council's crew stays the course,
    Heading straight for that berg...of ice!

  11. Discouraging words, indeed, but in my (unexpert) opinion it seems quite possible, as others have said, that Cardinal Ricard is engaged in a bit of wishful thinking.

    He claims that the motu proprio will be issued just to try to reconcile the "Lefebvrists". However, Cardinal Rajnith and I believe other Cardinals, perhaps even the Pope himself, have made it very clear that the traditional Mass is not merely the property of the SSPX, but a "treasure of the Church." What Ricard amounts to saying is that Benedict is just going to do this appease the SSPX and that there are no greater goals in mind. I don't see how these two attitudes could be reconciled.

    If there really will be this kind of influence though, it seems a bit misleading to call it a motu *proprio*!

  12. In any case, the cause in France has been won. A subtantial number of French Catholics do not believe that they will lose their souls by shunning the masses of the French hierarchy.

    In essence, this is the only hold that the French church has over their flock and the Church has on any of us. After that belief has been forsaken, the French bishops can do nothing or the Pope can do nothng. The longer the Pope waits and listens the longer people say, we must wait for a new Pope. They wait and wait and wait... And guess what? They say we've waited so long why not let the Lord Himself sort things out. His advent must be fairly close now. Ergo a new church. There is not even need to appoint a pope. People can say we are waiting for a real pope or waiting for the Lord.

    Many souls have been raised in the communities under the SSPX and various sedevacantist groups. They find their spiritual needs satisfied there. They will not be back. Who is to say? They might be the only viable section of the French church to remain after the massive defection of the French people to secularism and other religions. And then what?

    We can perhaps look at the Old Catholics in Holland & Germany and take heart. But back at the time of Vatican I there wasn't so many visible signs of difference bewteen the Church & the Old Catholics. So their schism died on the vine, so to speak.

    Today, things are different. Not only is the liturgy different but the entire spiritual atmosphee that found its grounding in the old liturgy haas changed. Many were trained to meditate upon the liturgy through a method that was continuous with the spirit of the lectio divina or Ignatian exercises, or Augustine Baker's Holy Wisdom, and so on. To people who seek this spiritual tradition the novus ordo can only appear as a huge distraction.

    What I am trying to say is that we haven't had time to re-interpret Catholic spirituality to bring it in line with the novus ordo. Moreover, such a re-interpretation could only issue from a deep prayer life. And the attempts to learn to pray the mass in its new guise have been sidelined by an activist hierarchy & clergy whose interest is not contemplative at all, people's whose religious aspirations co-incide almost precisely with those of Moral Re-Armament or the Ethical Culture Society, Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuler, the Berrigans, Martin Luther King Jr., Jerry Falwell et al.

    Do we have all to become contemplative religious simply to pray the mass? Those who say "no" find a natural home with the SSPX whose masses are more widely available globally than FSSP or so it appears as I travel throughout the world.

  13. long-skirts,

    That was awesome! My gut hurts, that was so funny.

    This speech is actually not a cause of worry for me.

  14. I agree with Brian that the Cardinal's detailed announcement is not a cause for worry. Cardinal Ricard is putting his own spin on what he knows is the Pope's decision to liberalize the old Latin Mass. After all, when you know the umpire is agin ya', you'll try to redirect the interpretation of the decision.

  15. cardinal Ricard is certainly not the equivalent of sectarian Bp Herriot. He was in Rome recently to meet the pope, before this general meeting. At least, this is a good reason to be ... worried.
    Here are some others :
    - cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has been abruptly replaced ... in the middle of the battle ; and by a famous liberal cardinal, the favorite of the neo-modernists after Martini in the last conclave.
    - he is still president of PCED but (for how long ?) has lost most of his weight among the Curia
    - have you all already forgotten the "big bang" of Autumn ... 2005 ? we were promised something for sure just after the Synod and we had ... nothing.
    - have you all forgotten the great Roman festival this Spring ? Curian meeting on TLM, special Consistory on TLM, the great decision would be proclaimed for Easter and we had ... nothing.

    A motu proprio with the restrictions dreamt by some French bishops would be the equivalent of ... nothing. There is no need of a copy signed Benedict from the John Paul signed motu proprio.
    If the surrender of B XVI is the same than the surrender of John Paul II, for the same artificial reasons, in front of the same limited and weak lobby, then this pontificate is over.
    A mere transition for Claudio Ier, a true liberal pope ready for interfaith Vatican III or Assisi I.
    Let us pray that the pope will receive all the grace he needs to confront those who have to confronted at last to save the Church.

  16. Don't panic, folks. Do not fear. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He will fight for us, and we shall hold our peace.

  17. I agree with Brian and Dust. Surely the former Cardinal Ratzinger was aware of this attitude among the French bishops. They are the "wolves" he talked about when he became the chief shepherd.

  18. Speaking of "wolves" and putting the blame on "the French bishops" as if they were ALL of the same kind is going too far and leading to confusion. It's not correct and supremely unfair.
    I think indeed there is a little pack of wolves, alas, among the French bishop Conference. But there are many bishops who are simply disinformed, who do not take the time to read and to check the informations they are fed with by "Catholic" liberal media. Many are prisoners of the twisted doctrines they were indoctrinated with in the 1970's ; many French neo-cons bishops are bitterly prejudiced against trads and TLM for various reasons, sometimes purely personal.

    But crossing the Atlantic and heading to the diocese of Orange for example with the "fantastic" Bp Brown, having a stay in Los Angeles diocese, visiting the new abp of San Francisco, reminding the "emeritus" Abp Weakland, reading "Adoremus" transcriptions of the US Bishop Committee on Liturgy trying desperately to practically ignore Liturgiam authenticam, reading the appalling recent interview of Bp Skylstad, president of USCCB, to John Allen ... just a few examples to remember the readers of this blog that the Church in France is, maybe, not the unique local Church where irresponsible episcopal behaviours can be observed.
    Let us say other episcopates are playing a more intelligent game these days.
    Just remember the pitiful Synod of Bishops gathered in Rome last year : the proposals were so far from addressing the dramatic crisis harming the Blessed Sacrament. The Synod is fully representative of the Catholic bishops all around the world so the wish of then Joseph cardinal Ratzinger in 1998 for a new generation of bishops is - alas - tragically a prerequisite for today.
    Are the new appointments - with the limits of the potential candidates - corresponding to this 1998 wish ?

  19. I did not intend to tar all of the French episcopate with the same brush and apologize for giving that impression. Yes, there are wolves everywhere.

    But I do recall that Bishop Fellay alluded a few years ago to a specific threat some of the French bishops made to John Paul II to deter him from a similar plan to liberate the traditional Mass. That's what Benedict must have known about.

  20. The Pope does not want to cause another schism to arise in the wake of the motu proprio. He is just doing his due diligence. Why don't all you trust him for a change? Joseph Ratzinger has always been faithful to his word and faithful to his God.

  21. Certainly, Cardinal Ricard could be trying to put his own spin on what may be a done deal to fully liberate the old Mass (say). But until we see the motu proprio, we're going to be nervous.

    I think that Pope Benedict is capable of making unpopular decisions - like the "pro multis" for the new English translation - but it's equally clear that he is committed to collegiality at a period when most of Benedict's "colleagues" aren't worth the deference which in any age would be an unhappy derogation from papal primacy.

    Does a commitment to collegiality explain appointments like Levada and Hummes? Those appointments certainly seem related to seeking a balance of elements in the higher echelons of the Curia.

    Until the pope, some pope is willing to let the Second Vatican Council quietly slide into the rubbish bin of history, our fight isn't over.

  22. to janice

    I sincerely pray for your 10.000% optimistic way of looking at events to be the right one.
    Even when nearly every event is providing us with reasons to be as sad as possible ... From the beginning of the pontificate, disappointing news are exceeding the good ones, whether for trads (they have yet nothing), for Adoremus people (they have nothing), for simple Catholics waiting for real Catholic bishops, genuine catechesis, reform of "Catholic" universities, for stopping scandals in interfaith "theologies" etc.
    Yes we have Abp Niederauer in Frisco and now cardinal Hummes, Abp Marini is still here, the 2005 Synod has been a tremendous success for Bugninists, these are very good indications for us to be ... 100.000 % optimistic.
    Being terribly "cartesian", I'd like to have facts for nurturing my underdevelopped optimism. Optimism is like a little bird : if you feed it only with dreams and expectancies, it will die from hunger. My stomach is already suffering to be waiting for food since ... April 2005.

  23. Looks to me that some readers in this blog are genuinely surprised and even scared at the fact that the universal indult for the tridentine mass is encountering some determined oposition.

    If anyone really thought this was going to be a piece of cake, well... think again. The History of the Church is full of good and sacred things which came in through a two steps forward, one step back-processes. I am 100% sure what the final destination is, the actual pace is something the Pope has to deal with with a lot of prudence.

    Cerimoniere- Thanks for your very insightful comment.

  24. "Until the pope, some pope is willing to let the Second Vatican Council quietly slide into the rubbish bin of history, our fight isn't over."

    That comment seems to partake of a very un-Catholic way of looking at things. In light of the essential role of Tradition in Catholicism, there really isn't any "rubbish bin of history" for Catholicism, certainly not for General Councils.

  25. The French episcopate are all collectively wolves as they do not fulfill their episcopal functions adequately or in a Catholic manner. They are also hypocrits since they cry "liberty, equality and fraternity" alongside their compatriots but there will be no religious liberty for Traditionalists. They terrorised JP (RIP) II into a virtual submission on The Latin Mass and they havre planned to do the same with Pope Benedict XVI. Hypocrits too, as they will only obey a pope of their own making.

    In any case, it would appear that he is not as "convinced" as many of you here and elsewhere seem to beleive. One factor is almost sure, there will at some point be something on the Latin liturgy but it will certainly have strings attached like "Ecclesia Dei" which is in the process of being permanently throttled, as it was when it came into being. There are many versions of The Mass around these days - which one will it be?

    A good look at papal statements and appointments since last year are far from being fertile grounds for optimism. However, if The Holy Father does actually do something positive everything will be done by bishops everywhere to make it unworkable such is the lamentable state of the NO church. In France, this strategy will come as no surprise.

    I rejoice in the nonsense Ricard talks about evidence of growth now manifesting itself , at last, since the 1960s. He obviously does not pay much attention to the objective evidence available that the current church he belongs to is thoroughly divided against itself, has completely lost its doctrinal moorings and understands empty churches in ruins, closed seminaries and fragmentation of faithful into several often conflicting groups (Opus Dei, Neo-Cats, Charismatics, Focolare etc). Pope Paul VI was correct to note publicly there is apostatsy from the top since he was the one who finally unhinged it. Indeed, there will be a restoration eventually and such as Ricard will most likely not be part of it. Yes, I rejoice.

  26. The best action for us all to take now is to pray good solid Rosaries with The Holy Father in our intentions. Whatever transpires, he is going to need them. Our Blessed Lady has made ample pleas about this.

  27. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Ricard & lustiger in france, Kaspar in Germany, Mahoney, Brown incorporate in the US the jellyfish called the Canadian Conference of Catholic bishops, Daneel in Belgium, come on folks the aging revisionist that highjacked the second vatican council are still our there in their dying diocese.For what the leftist/Bugnini/revisionist bishops have done they will answer to the King of the Universe. In the mean time as the Catholic church continues it 40 year journey into Bugnini liturgical banality and protestant Catholicism and all its accompaning heresies and aberrations, millions of (former Catholics now sit in the pews of apostate protestant sects or in the "more" apostolic Eastern Orthodox churches.The revisionist revolution following the un necessary Vatican 2 and the prelates that succumb to liberal catholicism will by God, answer to God for their apostasy. Shalom/Pacem

  28. Anonymous6:31 PM

    I heard recently, from a lady who attends a local SSPX chapel, that the Pope is NOT going to open access to the Tridentine Mass because he has been threatened with wholesale rebellion from the bishops. Anyone else hear this?


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