Rorate Caeli

Traditional Mass: Sign of Contradiction
In Italy and around the world

From the Friday edition of Italian daily Il Foglio:

Debate in the CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference): the motu proprio on the Mass should not be interpreted, but applied.

ROME. Last Monday, in his opening statement to the meeting of the Permanent Council [of the Italian Episcopal Conference-CEI], the President of the CEI, Archbishop of Genoa Angelo Bagnasco, had included a decidedly positive reception of the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" by which Benedict XVI has recognized the full citizenship of the pre-Conciliar Mass in the Catholic Church, liberalizing its use.

Yet, from the first interventions in the discussion which happenedbehind closed doors, it was understood that not all think thus in the little parliament of the CEI. Critical words towards the so-called Tridentine Mass came from the Archbishop of Lanciano, Carlo Ghidelli, a Lombard, and from [the Archbishop] of Chieti, Bruno Forte, a Neapolitan, both of them former students of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

The Archbishop of Lucca, Benvenuto Italo Castellani, the Archbishop of Palermo, Paolo Romeo (in the line to receive the cardinalatial porpora in the next consistory), and the Bishop of Cerignola, Felice di Molfetta -- president of the Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy and who, in the past, was harshly critical even towards "Redemptionis Sacramentum", the instruction against liturgical abuses published in 2004 by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, in agreement with the [Congregation] for the Doctrine of the Faith, guided by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- also spoke against the Missal fully rehabilitated by the reigning Pontiff.

The common thread of all these critical interventions was, on one hand, the charge that the old Missal is imbibed in an ecclesiology now incompatible with that which would be expressed by the new Missal, a product of the liturgical reform effected in the post-Council, and, on the other, the call for the CEI to take responsibility for the preparation of an interpretative document of the motu proprio for its application, in an obviously restrictive sense, in the Italian Church.

The attempt to weaken "Summorum Pontificum" in the very nation which has the Pope as its primate was nonetheless voided.

The demand for the promulgation of an interpretative document was not accepted also because Cardinals of great relevance, such as Camillo Ruini, Carlo Caffarra, and Angelo Scola, expressed themselves against this possibility in clear interventions.


The perplexities of consistent sectors of the Italian Church regarding the motu proprio had already been revealed in late August, in Spoleto, where the 58th National Liturgical Week was celebrated. At the time, many liturgists had asked Bishop Di Molfetta to convey to the Pope, with a letter endorsed by the CEI, the concerns and perplexities with the liberalization of the pe-Conciliar Mass. But the secretary of the CEI, Bishop Giuseppe Betori, avoided signing it.