Rorate Caeli

Motu Proprio notes:
Stopping the Spin Cycle

How amusing it is to watch a Cardinal spin and downplay the greatest move of a pontificate. "This issue of the Latin Mass is not urgent for our country," says Cardinal O'Malley.

This is quite at odds with what the Cardinal responsible for the matter in the Roman Curia, Darío Castrillón Hoyos, said just last month in Aparecida: "The interest of the young curiously increases in France, the United States, Brazil, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, and China". Any study of the "Traditionalist Question" around the world would confirm that: the number of Traditionalists in America is probably smaller only than that of France. And no other nation has such great potential for the Traditional Mass in the near future as the United States: the motu proprio will almost certainly have a greater numerical impact in America than in any other country.

Cardinal O'Malley does not stop there in this rhetorical tour de force: he dives deep into his own personal experience to say that "in the United States the number of people who participate in the Latin Mass even with permission is very low"; he adds that in his "archdiocese, the permission to celebrate the Latin Mass has been in place for several years". Very true, but Catholics in Boston are well aware of the humiliating and persistent denials of the Archbishop for the establishment of a more stable community, despite the "rightful aspirations" (Ecclesia Dei, 5) of the faithful attached to the Traditional Mass. We go to our archives to find this letter from an Archbishop and Chancery officials who believe they are being generous enough with the faithful:

First I wish to express my regrets that your 21 August 2005 is being acknowledged in such a tardy manner; however, I only recently have received it from the Office of the Archbishop with a request to respond to it. I note that your letter regards Holy Trinity Parish in Boston and specifically your request that the Archbishop invite either the Fraternity of Saints Peter and Paul [sic] or the Institute of Christ the King to come to the Archdiocese of Boston to service the Tridentine Community.

Please know that the Archbishop has received requests similar to yours in the past and has consistently responded that in accord with the request of Ecclesia Dei the Archdiocese of Boston provides the celebration of Mass in the Tridentine Rite and has the qualified priests to celebrate this Mass. It is not the intention of the Archbishop to begin a Tridentine Rite parish, thus at this time he does not envision the necessity nor the advantage of inviting priests from either of the two groups that you mention to the Archdiocese as we can provide for the celebration of the Mass on a weekly basis.

So, while the Cardinal spins and downplays the significance of the motu proprio now ("this document will not result in a great deal of change for the Catholics in the U.S. Indeed, interest in the Latin Mass is particularly low here in New England"), what was actually acknowledged by the Archbishop in the quite candid letter sent by the Archdiocese to a Catholic in Boston was that: (1) there had been repeated requests for the establishment of Ecclesia Dei orders in Boston (so much for "particularly low interest"); (2) it was enough to provide for the celebration of the Traditional Mass in one venue on a weekly basis in one of the largest archdioceses in the country.

This venue was recently relocated, as is often the case with Ecclesia Dei Masses, distinguished around the world by their great instability, including all kinds of incidents (such as the arrival of a new bishop, or the death of an old priest, or the closing of a church) which prevent most of the Ecclesia Dei faithful from establishing any long-term plans for their spiritual welfare and that of their families, as almost all Catholics are able to do in their parishes.

Unfortunately, Cardinal O'Malley's spin operation does not end in his own backyard. Considering the great relevance of the current position of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX/SSPX) for the papal decision, SSPX activities in America were nonetheless presented as a minor operation:

"In my comments at the meeting I told my brother bishops that in the United States ... , according to the research that I did, there are only 18 priories of the Society of St. Pius X in the entire country."

This must come as quite a surprise for the SSPX superiors, for whom the District of the United States is their second largest operation worldwide. Since we must charitably presume that the Cardinal is not intentionally presenting a skewed view of the SSPX numbers in America, we have to assume that his aides are not much of a help prepping him for important meetings. Had the Cardinal taken the trouble to merely checking the SSPX website in the United States, he would have been able to give a more accurate picture of the "SSPX Question" in the country.

For instance, according to the SSPX website, the numbers are more like this, similar to those of a small diocese: besides the "only" 18 priories, which are not only "parishes", but "priest distribution centers", there are regular Masses in 38 states, 104 Chapels (not counting SSPX-friendly chapels), 24 schools, 4 retreat houses, 4 Summer camps, 1 College, 1 Seminary, 64 priests, and 63 seminarians .

The time is up: it is time to stop giving the wrong picture to the "brothers". The age of mere generosity is coming to an end. It is time to face facts and to end the spin.


We repeat our caveat for readers who may be curious on why various rumored contents of the motu proprio are not being discussed here: Considering the closeness of the date of publication of the motu proprio on the liberalization of the Traditional Roman Rite and its accompanying letter, we will avoid commenting on the contents of both documents, until the actual texts are publicly known.


  1. Anonymous12:15 AM

    Notice no mention in His Eminence's blog of 1. the MP as helping out those attached to the TM but who are not SSPX and 2. the ability of the TM to act as a rich treasure for the Church. Both of these were the other reasons given by Bertone for the MP. However, it was only the SSPX question which Cardinal O'Malley mentioned.

  2. Anonymous12:55 AM

    Interpretation: "This issue of the great treasure/valued Tradition is not urgent for our country," says Cardinal O'Malley.


  3. Cardinal O'Malley is a great Archbishop, probably He's goals are in a different way.

  4. Anonymous1:15 AM

    Everywhere the TLM has been celebrated brings a full participation of all age groups. Many families with young children especially -- with parents born AFTER Vatican II. They appreciate the liturgy's continuity with tradition, and especially the "sense of the sacred" in the Latin liturgy. Card. O'Malley is incorrect to suggest that the number attacted to the TLM will be few/limited. The potential is unlimited as were the millions upon millions of souls saved prior to 1969.
    Truly free the Mass of Ages and allow it to be seen and worshiped as it was intended by Pope St. Pius V, Pope St. Pius X, & Pope Leo XIII among the many.

  5. Coincidence? But 5 minutes ago I posted a 7 minute video I found on You-Tube. It is a report, a fantastic report, by the mainstream media, New England Cable News from Massachusetts (my wifes home state) broadcast at the beginning of May.

    It features Cardinal O'Malley, Phil Lawlor of CWN and Allen Maynard of Una Voce America. The reporter, I think, does a really good job and makes opposition look silly.

    Anyway, I hope you all can watch it as it seems no-one has.

    Please click here.

    (ps just pause the blog music to your left before watching).

  6. His eminence mentions the "moto proprio" three times: please note this is not a reference to the Pope's own motorcycle: it is a "motu proprio" to be published soon by the Holy Father (by his own motion).

  7. Anonymous2:37 AM

    Though I agree the MP will be monumental, I think it might take years, even decades for it to take effect. Consider the obstacles it faces.

    How will your average parishioner even find out about the Motu Proprio. Probably in from the secular media, and when they approach their priest to get the detail, will they generously inform them of their rights? Most of the priests I know despise the Latin Mass, traditional spirituality, Thomistic theology etc. My own pastor seems to believe that so long as he doesn't read a document coming from Rome, he's not obligated to follow it. I don't imagine these clerics will be very willing to learn it when a handful of people from their congregation request it. But the traditional liturgy has a way of producing vocations, so I'd expect that within a few decades, we might have priests who are neutral or prefer the TLM.

    Secondly, the MP won't appeal to most Catholics who are apathetic when it comes to truth, beauty and goodness. Although I'll admit bishops like O'Malley seem to underestimate the faithful's longing for transcendence and ritual, most Catholics like a Mass that is short and entertains. If they have kids, then it ought to be fun, and we should have lots of bands and lifeteen programs to attract the youth. At the very least, it needs to be homey and communal. That's the kind of Mass Catholics want, and I don't expect that to go away next Saturday when they're suddenly given an alternative.

    Where I do see immediate results is in religious communities that are are already orthodox and have hitherto shyed away from the TLM because of it's stigma. Perhaps the youth even the more heterodox communities will become curious and give the TLM a try. The traditional Rite is so conducive to the contemplative life that I expect many to see the fruits it produces and adopt it as their own. Wouldn't it be nice to see EWTN air a TLM once a week?

  8. Cardinal O'Malley said...

    "This issue of the Latin Mass is not urgent for our country," says Cardinal O'Malley."


    For centuries beeswax,
    In the sanctuary reigned.
    Our sacred purpose
    From the first ordained.

    Producing honeycombs,
    All that, we handle --
    Though our sacred purpose?
    The Holy Mass candle.

    But at the last council
    Of the great Church bee
    Man turned to man
    Birthed sterility.

    Graces for fruits,
    Crops and offspring,
    Schools, churches shut --
    Can’t pollinate a thing,

    Until man again
    On His altars lets towers --
    Candles of beeswax,
    Sacred purpose all ours!

  9. Anonymous5:10 AM

    What amazed me is that Cardinal Sean's blog removed my posting within the last four hours.

    It was nice, explained why this was good, and that my kids liked the old rite better, even though I usually attend the new rite.

    They are actively editing his blog

  10. Anonymous5:27 AM


    I watched your post... It was awesome - I can't believe how balanced it was. Now only if we could get CNN to use this footage.

    In Christo,


  11. Anonymous6:42 AM

    H.E. did not mention the SSSP, or Releigious Communities in the US who use the TLM.

  12. A local Catholic (in the Diocese of Fall River) sent us this by e-mail and asked us to post it here:

    Well, what the Cardinal Says about the TLM on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, ("the Cape") is quite an obfuscation.

    After 2 years of petitioning the Catholics of Cape Cod got their representative a personal meeting with the Cardinal, when he was the Bishop of this Diocese (Fall River): that was on April 2, 1999. After a desultory meeting, the rep. obtained the signatures of over 100 catholics in the Diocese (of whom I and my entire family made 5). After another 2 years of waiting, the Bishop established the indult on Cape Cod.

    Though at least 1 diocesan priest begged to say it, the Bishop decided that it was best for the diocese of a priest of New York City did (NYC is 4 hours away)! He was a retired priest, and at the very first Mass he forced everyone to receive in the hand standing!

    Other travesties followed, complaints were made to the Bishop, nothing was done! Most traditionalists do not even talk of the indult on Cape Cod now, they drive from Cape Cod 1 hour to go to
    Providence or Boston!


    And it is common knowledge that priests in both his former diocese and now Boston are greatly discouraged in saying the TLM.


  13. Anonymous11:07 AM

    I'm not quite sure it's accurate to refer to SSPX priories as "parishes." This is a jurisdictional term being as it is a subdivision of a diocese. But, of course, the Society make no jurisdictional claims.

  14. It is not, which is why we used quotation marks.

  15. Fear, uncertainty and doubt...

  16. Anonymous4:29 PM

    The Cardinal says that the motive of the Holy Father is merely "pastoral", that two American bishops (out of only 15-30 worldwide) were summoned to Rome only for the purpose of understanding the pastoral situation in "other countries".

    Given that the real contents of the MP will soon be available for all to read, one can only conclude that, by promulgating what appears to be a deliberate misrepresentation, the Cardinal is simply not very bright.

  17. Anonymous5:05 PM

    Thank you for your defense of the Traditional Mass - and of Traditional Catholics in Boston. I live with this reality every day, and I suspect that the pastoral attitude toward the Latin Mass Community from the beginning has contributed to its lower weekly attendance (250) than in, say, St. Louis (1000).

    How are adovcates of the Latin Mass in Boston ever going to convince other members of the faithful that this is an authentic ecclesial movement which can aid the salvation of THEIR OWN souls and that continues the liturgical movement begun in the nineteenth century, if their own ordinary, a CARDINAL ARCHBISHOP standing IMMEDIATELY TO THE LEFT of THE POPE HIMSELF says otherwise?!!

  18. The Archbishop could not even spell Motu correctly. He obviously takes a keen interest in this matter.

  19. Anonymous2:03 PM

    My comment at "Cardinal Sean's Blog" was still up last night; this morning it is gone. As much as one wishes to apply a hermeneutic of charity wrt those who're unfriendly to the Extraordinary Rite, that seems increasingly unrealistic.


  20. Note 1: I heard through the grapevine that the blog comments on Cardinal O'Malley's blog were shutdown by a "crash". But I note that the vast majority of comments were sympathetic to the TLM and that one of the deleted comments was from the president of Una Voce Boston. Here it is:

    Your Eminence,

    Thank you for your comments on your meetings in Rome and the
    beautiful pictures. The picture of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in
    particular, brought back memories of my honeymoon, as my husband
    Robert and I visited it. (We also had the privilege of meeting the
    late Holy Father, John Paul II, as sposi novelli, or new spouses,
    during a Wednesday general audience.)

    I am intrigued by your comment that interest in the Traditional Latin Mass is low in New England. As the leader of Una Voce Boston and a member of the Traditional Mass movement for almost twelve years, I sense a lot of "pent up demand" for this form of worship. One leader in the movement reported that even last fall, as the first stories about the motu proprio were appearing, that callers to a talk radio show on which he was a guest felt that they were, for the first time in decades, able to talk about their desire to attend the Traditional
    Latin Mass. We hope that the new motu proprio will give the faithful a sense that they are able to attend what will now be labeled the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite and become better Catholics as they encounter Christ in the Mass with renewed devotion, that the number of such faithful will increase substantially, and this will also "spill over" into increased attendance at the normative rite.

    May Our Lord and Our Lady bless your vacation.

    Comment by Christine M. Quagan — June 29, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

    Note 2: The NECN segment was due to an insider at NECN being friendly to traditionalists. I don't know any of the details about that but if Allan Maynard, the president of Una Voce Rhode Island ever runs for public office, he has my vote.

  21. Thank you very much for that, Clemens Maria. It is certainly clear that, if demand or "interest" for the Traditional Mass is "low" in New England, it is exclusively due to the dismissiveness, if not hostility, of most bishops.

    Cardinal O'Malley has certainly been kept informed of the general feeling of his audience. The Traditional Mass "will rise again", as Tito Casini said: even in Boston!


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