Rorate Caeli

For the Record - Tosatti: "Ratzinger's Motu Proprio is ready,
despite the contrary opinion of the French Church"

Published today in La Stampa (Subscribers only)


It is the go-ahead of the Pope; the Latin Mass returns

A hard blow to the opposition to the Lefebvrians [arrives] with Easter


CITTÀ DEL VATICANO - Benedict XVI "frees" the Tridentine Mass, the so-called "Latin" Mass loved - though not exclusively - by the followers of monsignor Lefebvre and, for this [reason], opposed by the "Progressives" of the Church. The "motu proprio" of the Pope, which should be published between the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) and Easter, is ready.

The text is fully armored [blindatissimo]; and, according to indiscretions by excellent sources, should overrule the current situation. Currently, the Bishops have the power, also thanks to an extenuating bureaucracy, to make the celebration of the old Mass extremely difficult. With the motu proprio, their role should change: not arbiters anymore, but supervisors [controllori]. And, as a matter of fact, a sly Curial fox remarks, Bishop, "episkopos", means in Greek exactly that: supervisor. That means that the faithful who wish the Latin Mass (a minimal of thirty) have the right to demand its celebration, in any church whatsoever, except for a few general conditions of opportunity.

The "liberalization" will have a remarkable effect on relations with the Lefebvrists. It deprives them of one of their most powerful weapons, that is, the denunciation of the liturgical "betrayal" effected after the Second Vatican Council, and - according to many - against the will of the Conciliar Fathers; it forces them to dialogue with Rome, making clear the danger of "emptying" the movement at its base. If I am a Traditionalist faithful, why should I follow schismatic bishops and priests now that the Mass of Saint Pius V is "free", celebrated by priests in communion with the Pope?

At the end of February, at a farewell dinner before his permanent return to Chile, the 81-year-old Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, member of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", charged with relations with the Lefebvrists, told his porporati [Cardinalatial] friends that the publication of the "motu proprio" was imminent. A matter of weeks, other sources of the Sacred Palaces make clear.

[This] although the very feisty opposition party is always on guard. When, last Fall, the "motu proprio" began to take a concrete shape, some prelates met at a dinner in an abbey on the Aventine [Hill, Rome]: among others, an abbot and an extremely important character of the Papal entourage, notoriously inimical to the Tridentine Mass. It was discussed [at the meeting] how it was necessary to "help" the Pope, making him understand that the liberalization was a mistake; Bishop Le Gall, of Toulouse, was a point of reference in this work. And, in fact, Le Gall made very harsh declarations and, in a rapid succession, Cardinal Lustiger, his successor in Paris Vingt-Trois, and the Cardinal of Bordeaux, Ricard, arrived in Rome ("the invasion of the Gauls" [dei Galli], some remark in the Vatican) to campaign against the "motu proprio".

The detractors [of the opposition] hold that the French Church, which has seen the percentage of people who attend Sunday Mass drop from 14% to 4.5% in the 1978-2006 period, fears as a most dangerous poison the "clearance" of the lovers of the Traditional Mass. [This] also because, according to provisional data, in the current academical year, 120 young men have entered the seminaries in the 91 French dioceses; while four or five "Traditionalist" seminaries count some forty admissions.

The "invasion of the Gauls" truly froze the situation for a while, as the prelates of the Aventine, good connoisseurs of the character of Benedict XVI, prudent and almost shy, hoped [would happen], faced with an open and decided opposition. But now, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, president of the "Ecclesia Dei" commission, has confided to a friend, "the Pope is very decided".


Tip: reader; Transcript: Papa Ratzinger Blog.


  1. As always, we wish to make clear our great skepticism regarding specific dates or date ranges. This translation is published here for the general record of events.

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    'The "liberalization" will have a remarkable effect on relations with the Lefebvrists. It deprives them of one of their most powerful weapons, that is, the denunciation of the liturgical "betrayal" effected after the Second Vatican Council ...'

    There is more to the liturgical betrayal than the imprisonment of the Traditional Mass. There is also the catechetical disaster that has issued from the liturgical revolution. Don't write off the SSPX so hastily.

  3. Truly this is a Lent that none of us will ever forget. May the otherside of the coin, a joyous and memorable Easter, also take place.

  4. Tomorrow, being Laetare Sunday, would be a perfect time to announce it, wouldn't it? (Wistful sigh). Yes, I'm sceptical too about specific dates, but look at the concrete nature of what's being discussed, and how that has changed from a mere rumour this time last year. The mere discussion at this level constitutes material progress, and fruit on an apologetic level. Still, if Benedict is withholding the document in the hopes of getting the SSPX to sign up before it comes out, that would be a mistake. The proof will be in the pudding. Either way, we still win, the gains will simply be in smaller increments.

    But please see my comment in the previous post about how to capitalize on this event if it happens. This could be a HUGE publicity opportunity for traditionalists.

  5. Anonymous4:20 PM

    'Still, if Benedict is withholding the document in the hopes of getting the SSPX to sign up before it comes out, that would be a mistake.'
    I doubt that is the case. The MP is only one step in the process of reconciliation.

    The SSPX is a salutary thorn in the side of temporal Rome, which despite the traditional affinities of the current Pope, is still infected with the spirit of Conciliarism.

    I feel a bit more hopeful this morning, all things considered.

  6. If there would be the limit of at least 30 obliged to attend every time, I am not sure we will have Tridentine Mass so easily in Slovakia.

  7. Sklenko: Good for you, ask right away. There may be some differentiation between thirty for a "Public Mass" i.e. part of the regular schedule, and any number even one, for a private mass, anything added to the regular schedule, if a priest is willing. But we'll see - I hope.

    Brideshead: I doubt that too, just thought I'd say it. The notion from Tossati's article that the faithful will think, "why should I follow schismatic bishops then?" seems very uninformed.

    In the first place, unless the regular church actually does something to offer more masses, of course they're going to follow the "schismatic" bishops, (though they really aren't at all) because their own church is continuing to slap them in the face. Such good publicity.

    Second thing is that in order for the "marked effect on the Lefebvrists to take place, the Bishops would have to be declared not in Schism in the first place. Which they aren't - I'm not in the SSPX, it's just common sense and any knowledge of canon law.

    If that doesn't happen, it's just been naievte on the part of the Vatican. I don't think they'll make that mistake. But you can count on the bishops to try to scuttle this. Be proud, loud and...what rhymes...Shroud? Nah, just Loud and Proud all over again.

  8. Anonymous4:47 PM

    With all my heart, soul, mind and strength, I hope and pray that we will see the document soon. How long, Oh, how long must we continue to endure these Stalinist bishops and their suppression of the ancient Mass?

  9. Anonymous4:51 PM

    "The SSPX is a salutary thorn in the side of temporal Rome..."


    Brideshead, there is no such thing as a "temporal Rome" that is set in opposition to "eternal" or "spiritual Rome". Both spiritual and visible elements go together in the See of Rome and these can't be seperated or set in opposition to each other. Indeed, that error has roots in protestantism.


  10. I do like the comment about the meaning of "episkopos."

  11. I visit here often and post little. I am now 41 and pretty much raised N.O.. I do remember when the priest chanted the N.O. Mass in english reverently. Years later I had to leave my parish due to the chaos and rock n roll. I now attend a very reverent N.O. parish (kneeling, priest's back to congregation, no girls) and a recently added TLM. I have been "pulled" towards tradition since my teens. My question is-- How are yunz (traditionalist)going to "convert" N.O. generation who know nothng of ritual and tradition? Jumping to Latin is a huge leap. What "baby steps" can be employed? Who's going to teach Chant? Tutorial CDs? Should little parts be "sneaked" into N.O. Mass and slowly indoctrinate the masses?
    I enjoy reading the opinions here but I ask -who on this blog is going to put up and shut up?

  12. Anonymous5:45 PM

    Before we get too excited let us all remember that this statement from La Stampa is after all an Italian news agency, who are known for sensationalism and inaccuracy.... That aside I do hope that it is true : )

  13. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Remember, La Stampa is the paper that solemnly announced about this time in...2002 was it?...that the SSPX and Rome had formally reconciled and that it would be announced at Easter. Needless to say, the report was wrong.

  14. As we said earlier, we are greatly skeptical. Nevertheless, this report is by Marco Tosatti, the Vaticanist whose recent scoops have included the naming of Cardinal Hummes for Clergy and of Archbishop Bagnasco for the presidency of CEI -- several days or even weeks (in the Bagnasco nomination) before the events took place.

  15. Anonymous6:01 PM

    Schoolman, I was waiting to hear from you. :-)

    Eternal Rome is visible in the person of the Pope and the infallible dogmatic decrees of the Church. Unfortunately, temporal Rome is also visible in the person of heretical Cardinals and the ambiguous decrees of a non-dogmatic and uninfallible ecumenical council, and in all of the silliness that has followed.

    I say again, let the salutary thorn continue to bother them.

  16. Anonymous6:05 PM

    Pyrogrunt is right, we have a very tough mountain to climb here. It would be helpful if the Pope provided us with the necessary gear, i.e., a strong re-affirmation of the traditional theology of the Mass.

  17. His Eminence Cardinal Gagnon,after his visitation of the Lefevists communities in France,told me that most people don't realize that the Mass is but one (although the chief one)problem with the Lefebvists.He said the priests in France wont teach their children catechism and those who do teach heresy,they will not hear confessions or visit their sick.The priests of the SSPX do all that and at times at a great price.The Cardinal said it was not only the mass but the entire faith structure in France that is the problem. Pyrogrunt--- you are correct.But the traditional mass if celebrated correctly and with reverence and beauty will draw the young.The people must be led to it gradually but with firm but caring steps.Courses in Latin must be offered in the parish ,and the same with Gregorian chant.My parish offered a Latin course on Satrurdeay morning and over 100 people showed up (including Judge Robert Bork).The local media picked it up.Even if it is only one mass a week in a parish schedule it will have an effect.And the people must be told that even a social radical activist Doroth Day loved the TLM (and for the record she despised the NO)and said she drew all the porwer to do her work from the mass.They have to be told that the so-called decadent poets of England and France (including Oscar Wilde) loved the Mass and eventually converted because of her transcendent power.A Seventh Day Adventist wrote in her book against Catholics (published in 1898)that protestants should be warned to beware of the Catholic litugy.She called it entrancing and hypnotic and beautiful.Of course she thought it to be a work of the devil.Lastly and forgive me for mentioning this perhaps,but one of the great lovers of the TLM was Frank Zappa of the Grateful Dead!

  18. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Re. French bishops

    It would be a serious mistake to mix up the Lefebvre movement in France with liturgical questions. It's EXTREMELY complex in France. There are elements of anti-Romanism (yes!), fascism, xenophobia and royalism (for an absolute monarch) in the Lefebvre movement in France.

    The liturgical problem is only a tiny one in the "liberal" movement within the French Church. This "movement" is, you are right, failing in MOST parts of France to hold on to the faithful. Paris is the notable exception - the "liberal" movement is not at all strong there. Living in France, I can best describe the "liberal" movement as one that cut its ties with the past in the 1970s (not strictly a Vatican II phenomenon) following the 1968 French "cultural revolution". The liturgical issue within it is only a symptom of the broader state of affairs.

    I feel seriously sorry for the French bishops. The Lefebvrists ARE violent. They occupy churches to which they have no right. Paris and Bordeaux are the two examples I know of. In the case of Paris, they simply walked into the church and presbytery and took it over. Imagine that happening in your parish!!! The primary concern is not with liturgical issues, but with themselves having more authority than the Pope.

    I'm sorry to say that that is the case.

  19. Anonymous7:13 PM

    Any guesses as to who the "extremely important character of the Papal entourage, notoriously inimical to the Tridentine Mass" who has allegedly managed, with others, to delay the motu proprio in the hopes of killing it is? Levada?

  20. Please, let us calm down here.

    Regarding the events which took place at Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, that was certainly not the case: the church was then (1977) part of another parish and was all but abandoned.

    Saint-Éloi in Bordeaux, now mother-Church of the IBP, was completely abandoned. In purely objective "architectural" terms, the "invasions" of both Chardonnet and Saint-Éloi were the best events which could have happened to both buildings. (The "invasions" may be seen as extremely problematic for other reasons, but to portray them as the takeover of fully functioning parish churches is simply not true.)

    Are there "extremist" elements among the Traditionalist faithful in France? Certainly - though there are many more in the editorial board of L'Humanité.

    As for being in favor of an "absolute monarchy", that may be politically unrealistic, but it is far from incompatible with the Catholic Faith... and quite understandable in a nation in which the demise of the monarchy signaled the beginning of serious persecution of Catholics.

  21. Another bit of context re: the Lefebvrist church occupations. In France, all church buildings have owned by the state since the laicite laws of 1905. Churches are then given back to church boards to manage. Thus, abandoned churches are state / municipal property. In several cases the SSPX has been able to get secular authorities to support their claims to control church buildings. In the case of St. Eloi in Bordeaux, the situation has now been regularized, and the church is controlled by the Institut Bon Pasteur with the approval of the Holy Father and by agreement with the local ordinary.

  22. The "extremely important character" must be sour apple martini...I mean sour puss Marini.

  23. Anonymous10:20 PM

    What does the SSPX gain by reconciling with the Holy See, if not all the clerics want the SSPX? If there are clerics who hate the SSPX, why should the SSPX reconcile with the Holy See? I see more disadvantages than advantages for the SSPX to reconcile with Rome.

  24. Anonymous,

    I'm glad others have responded to your comment about the "violent" FSSPX and have set forth the true facts of what happened in France. But perhaps you could comment on the recent church-closing tactics of the ordinaries of New York and Boston - let alone how the post 1965 "reforms" were implemented.

  25. Anonymous11:21 PM

    I definitely don't know much about how the Lefebrist behaved in France. It seems that it was a very violent situation there. If there was violence from the SSPX, there was definitely violence from the Catholic Church in France and from the Holy See. It was a matter of power and the Lefevbrev movement had to borrow guerrilla tactics in order to survive. They were been targeted for extermination by the Catholic Church in France and by the Holy See. It was a war.

  26. Given the source of this report and their track record, I am taking this with a grain or two of salt. Well actually pretty much the whole salt shaker. I think there was a recent article by John Allen ripping the British press for their routine disregard for the truth in favor of a good story in matters relating to the Catholic Church. Many of their more sensational "news" items originated in the Italian press. Once again I am back to "show me the money."

  27. I appreciate the detachment with which this news is being received. However, I think its credibility as to the timing of the Motu Proprio is greater in the light of Cardinal Castrillon's interview, and the fact that the Exhortation is now published.

    As to the inimical member of the Papal entourage...Cardinal Levada is altogether too senior to count as "entourage." Nor is he famously hostile to the traditional Mass; indifferent, but not notably hostile.

    No, I think, we are looking for someone usually seen attending on the Pope's person, someone whose best-known views are on the liturgy, and someone to whom tradition is utterly repugnant. In fact, I think we are looking for someone who has recently "accepted a new assignment."

    As I began to ponder what that assignment might be, it occurred to me idly to wonder who was the present Apostolic Nuncio to Iran. It seems that the office has been vacant since 25 January this year. Your charitable prayers are requested for the Holy Father, as he considers this appointment...

  28. Anonymous3:05 AM

    "Frank Zappa of the Grateful Dead"?


  29. Anonymous5:11 AM

    Anonymous said:In the case of Paris, they simply walked into the church and presbytery and took it over. Imagine that happening in your parish!!!

    Please!! Send them here:

    Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
    555 W. Temple Street,
    Los Angeles, California 90012-2707

    Tel: (213) 680-5200


    Thank you!

  30. Cerimoniere,
    I do not doubt the MP exists. That has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt by many reputable sources including high ranking members of the Roman Church who have put their names on record. What I doubt is the latest (in a long string) of supposed release dates. Especially since no sources are named. Every few weeks someone in the Italian Press throws out a time frame in which the MP will supposedly be released. One of these days someone will actually get it right. But my guess is that it will just be an accident.

  31. Anonymous11:57 AM

    "The SSPX is a salutary thorn in the side of temporal Rome, which despite the traditional affinities of the current Pope, is still infected with the spirit of Conciliarism."

    There are many things wrong in the Roman Church today, but the medieval heresy of Conciliarism is not one of them -- or if it is, it's nowhere near among the worst problems.

    "What does the SSPX gain by reconciling with the Holy See, if not all the clerics want the SSPX?"

    What does anyone gain from reconciling with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, even though her members are sinners? Answer that question and you'll have the answer to your question.

  32. Ad Orientem:
    I agree with you. I simply meant that external factors suggest that this is more likely to be right than previous ones.

  33. Anonymous12:34 PM

    I was not aware that Conciliarism was a medieval heresy. Jordan Potter, can you elaborate?

    I was refering more to the adulation of Vatican II that is a stumbling block to every attempt at true liturgical renewal.

  34. Anonymous12:49 PM

    I just looked up "Conciliarism" on Wikipedia. I now understand Jordan Potter's comment. No, that is not what I meant. I was referring to the habit of mind that sees Vatican II as a "new beginning" and the method of argument that meets every traditionalist objection with the words "But Vatican II says ...". This form of "Conciliarism" is indeed a major problem in the Church today.

  35. Anonymous1:09 PM

    It has just dawned on me that all of this talk about the SSPX "reconciling with the Church" is misleading. The SSPX refuses to reconcile, not with the Church, but with the reforms of Vatican II. What I have loosely termed "Conciliarism" is precisely that habit of mind that sees "the Church" as coterminus with everything that has happened since 1965. This is what the SSPX resists -- and shouldn't we all?

  36. Anonymous1:42 PM

    One can hardly agree that this would represent a "hard blow" to the SSPX no matter what form it takes. I don't think they have any reason to tremble at its approach. It seems to me that the more the faithful are exposed to the traditional mass in a limited way in Novus Ordo parishes, which seems to be what the effect of the papal permission would be, the more attractive a completely traditional parish becomes. It is the modernists who are getting the shot "upside the head" here for, as we have so frequently noted, their hatred and loathing of the traditional mass which we often compare to the reaction of the, we sincerely hope, late Count Dracula to the crucifix is well founded. Every new traditional mass, no matter where in the world it is celebrated, rings out another peal of their death knell.

  37. This goes back to the "Conciliar Church" usage which was discussed a few weeks ago. There are indeed many people who would pretend that the Church began with Vatican II. This is the "hermeneutic of discontinuity" against which the Pope protests. It is the adherents of this position who coined the term "Conciliar Church" to describe the institution they wish the Church to be.

    "Conciliarism" is thus a reasonable label for their view. Actually, it is not unrelated to the more usual meaning of that term, since they set the authority of "their" Council against that of the subsequent Popes, who have constrained its revolutionary effect to some extent.

    As to the SSPX's position, the acute problem for them is that, while opposing the adherents of the "Conciliar Church," they have opposed the legitimate authorities of the actual Catholic Church. Their response, of course, is that they have only opposed those authorities insofar as they have abused their power.

    Knowing the appalling abuses that have occurred, and the neglect (and frequent collusion) of the hierarchy in their regard, this position is rather attractive. Whatever its merits, however, it is a perilous path to take. Cardinal Castrillon's recent comments are very apt. Any separation from the successors of the Apostles, beyond what is absolutely necessary, is sinful and will breed grave consequences.

  38. Anonymous1:49 PM

    Today, there is another article on Quotidiano Nazionale...the same things, but with a bad notice (true or false?): there must be thirty people to join the indult. Also this seems to be an old voice.

  39. I agree strongly with Jordan Potter's comment - reconciliation with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church would be to the benefit of any organization, especially after the release of our much-anticipated motu proprio.

    One other thing - why should it matter to anyone but the members (clergy and lay) of the SSPX whether they ever reconcile with Rome? I concede that the SSPX contains a great number of fervent traditionalists, but those of us who still maintain fidelity to Rome, despite the undeniable problems within Holy Mother Church, need to worry about more pressing matters. What of the arguments made by pyrogrunt? When and if the MP is released, the traditionalists who have stayed with the Church all these years will need to bring the Novus Ordites to a greater knowledge of the Truth! All we can do for the members of the SSPX is pray continuously for their reclamation. We must also pray that, if they do bring themselves again within Holy Mother Church, they prove to be a powerful ally in the battle to restore the complete supremacy of the Traditional Mass - even to the point of joining the fight to actively "convert" Novus Ordites!

    Personally, I feel no differently about the members of the SSPX than I do about every other human soul which dwells "extra ecclesia." I hope for the day when they are all under the Reign of Christ the King! The only thing that separates the SSPX from all those other souls is that the conditions necessary to effectuate their return would work to the betterment of all Catholics.

  40. Anonymous5:10 PM

    The best way for our Holy Father to free the TLM and to show him self as the leader of our church would be to celebrate it in St Peters on Easter Sunday for the whole word to see.

  41. What exactly does this mean? That a priest can perform the TLM without his bishops approval? What a great career move! This like Ecclesia Dei is just another ploy to put a chink into the SSPX armor as the church continues to lose members fed up to them or to independents. The church changed :

    The Mass
    Code of Canon law
    Retranslated the NAB 4x or so
    New Customs
    Eucharistic Ministers
    Altar Girls
    New Sacraments


    The church today has more in common with the Anglicans and Protestants than it does with pre Vatican II Catholics and doing this will do little unfortunatly, and theologians all agree that one must not be under a Pope to be saved (as the church now teaches that even Protestants can be saved in their ecumenical efforts so one cant have it both ways) but does make clear one must hold fast to Tradition

    God bless

  42. Anonymous7:01 PM

    Tehran? Perhaps not. Don't be too surprised if the much anticipated new appointment for "that important character in the papal entourage" involves, in due course, a red hat!

  43. Anonymous8:37 PM

    John said:
    The church today has more in common with the Anglicans and Protestants than it does with pre Vatican II Catholics and doing this will do little unfortunatly, and theologians all agree that one must not be under a Pope to be saved (as the church now teaches that even Protestants can be saved in their ecumenical efforts so one cant have it both ways) but does make clear one must hold fast to Tradition....

    That is quite true, nowadays ordinary even quite devoted Catholic attending NO is warned by their priests not to have anything to do with SSPX, for this sect, schism and evil, and sadly it extends to Tridentine Mass, in does not fit the mentality which has been effectively protestantized for years now. We can only pray for miracle that it will change. Maybe the liberalization of the True Mass will be the beginning, but the limit of 30 people is bit unrealistic in ordinary parish, not to mention the small one. This is substantial limitation, we will see what else will be in the document.

  44. Az:
    I imagine you appreciate the aesthetic merit of such an apointment, given who the next Nuncio's last predecessor but four will be?

    It is, of course, extremely unlikely that the Pope would do something so pointed. Still, the Holy Father has a sense of humour and of justice. He has already managed one splendid banishment to the Islamic world, via the diplomatic service.

    What are the other options? An Italian diocese, possibly. This might lead to a red hat, but probably only if he is named directly to a cardinalitial see; he is 65 already. A senior office in the CDW? Archbishop Ranjith isn't going anywhere soon, I wouldn't think, and something tells me that the Pope will not be moving Cardinal Arinze to replace him with that man.

    The only other possibility that immediately springs to mind, which would be likely to inflict him on a future conclave, would be appointment as Archpriest of one of the Roman basilicas. That would be unfortunate, but it would at least get him out of the eye of the world, and allow him to be replaced by someone less hostile to Catholic worship.

  45. Anonymous12:01 PM

    Interesting post from Father Zuhlsdorf:

    Reviewing my own comments the past few days, I wonder if I have been reading the Apostolic Exhortation through "a lens polished and cleaned with obedient openness". In any case, Father Zuhlsdorf's analysis of the translation of paragraph 62 is eye-opening.

  46. Anonymous7:25 PM

    Funny that such an avowed traditionalist like Brideshead, who prides himself in safeguarding the historical legacy of Holy Mother Church, to too look up the meaning of "Conciliarism" on wikipedia...

  47. Anonymous7:26 PM

    *had to look up the...*

  48. Anonymous5:19 AM

    Sorry, Brightonrock, I shouldn't presume to know where you stand with regard to Tradition. My display of ignorance about Conciliarism was fair game. Touche.

  49. "Tito", you went so far that I am also closing comments for this thread.