Rorate Caeli


1. «SPE SALVI facti sumus» —in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?

Faith is Hope

2. Before turning...

New Bishop for Savona-Noli

The Holy Father has also named today the new Bishop of Savona-Noli - the small diocese in Liguria, Italy, whose Diocesan Administrator has "forbidden" all Traditional Masses since Monday.

The new Bishop will be Monsignor Vittorio Lupi, up to now Vicar General in the Diocese of Ventimiglia-San Remo. May he be obedient to the letter and to the mens of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum...

The good Marx from Trier

As the German press had increasingly mentioned in the past few days, Pope Benedict XVI named today Reinhard Marx, Bishop of Trier, as the new Archbishop of Munich and Freising. The website of the Archdiocese of Munich all but reveals the name officially, by announcing that the Press Conference for the announcement will be held in Rome, Munich, and Trier...

Bishop Marx was first mentioned here in January 2006, in the episode of the permanent suspension of the "Super-Ecumenist" Father Gotthold Hasenhüttl, in that same month:

Father Gotthold Hasenhuttl released a letter dated Jan. 2 from Bishop Reinhard Marx of Trier, who said that Father Hasenhuttl's recent writings "have made it clear that you are not prepared to give way, that you consider your view to be correct and that you see no reason to bow to the ecclesia[s]tical discipline on the issue which led to your suspension."
An encouraging sign, indeed.

Castrillón: is the lifting of the excommunications near?

Article by the Swiss religious news agency Apic (published in the website of Swiss Protestant monthly Bonne Nouvelle):

Rome: is the lifting of the Lefebvrist excommunications near?
Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" in charge of traditionalists has declared that the lifting of the excommunication weighing on the bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St. X since 1988 "can happen" but that it definitely “depends on them."

Thus he implicitly recognized that this gesture from Rome would come after a formal acceptance of the consequences of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) by the Lefebvrists.

As for the celebration of a Mass by the pope according to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite (Tridentine Mass), it was felt that this would certainly take place but that "the time was not ripe."

For his part, the Colombian cardinal presided - for the first time in Rome since the publication last July of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum – at a Mass in the pre-concilliar rite on the evening of November 22. The Mass which opened a festival of Baroque music was celebrated in a church in the center of Rome.

(Translation by Mornac)

Incredibile! Italian Diocese settles the problem:
All Traditional Masses forbidden

Monsignor Andrea Giusto is the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Savona Noli (a suffragan of Genova, in the region of Liguria), while the see is vacant. He has settled the "problem" created by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in his diocese: all Masses are henceforth forbidden, as this communiqué in the official website of the Diocese makes clear (link / PDF)

Don Giusto: "Stop to the Masses of Saint Pius V"

Published Monday, November 26, 2007

Stop, until further rules, to Masses celebrated according to the rite of Saint Pius V. After recent episodes which took place in the oratory of Saint Michael, at Celle Ligure, the diocesan administrator, Monsignor Andrea Giusto, takes a stand: "In the absence of the bishop - he affirms - and not being still sufficiently clarified the conditions which would render licit the celebration according to the Missal of Saint Pius V, I firmly ask the priests of the diocese not to give permission to groups that ask for the celebration and to ensure that in no church in the diocesan territory Masses according to the pre-Conciliar rite are celebrated."

[Rorate note: the first paragraph is then repeated]

"The conditions for this kind of celebration - explains Savonese liturgist Andrea Grillo - are the presence of a stably constituted group and their active participation in the rite. This means that a solid liturgical formation and a knowledge of the Latin language are needed, and that these Masses cannot be organized 'by invitation', almost as if they were a show or a private event."

The decision of the diocesan administrator will have as its consequence that, until new rules which will depend on the future Bishop, Masses according to the ritual of Saint Pius V may not be celebrated in Celle or elsewhere [in the Diocese].

The transcript will remain here in case the original content suddenly "disappears". (Tip: reader)


So what were the "episodes" in Celle Ligure that moved the Diocesan Administrator to issue his (absolutely illegal) edict? A simple Traditional Mass - seemingly, with no scandal involved.

Il Giornale (regional section Liguria Cronaca) reported yesterday: Celle Ligure, in the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel, the first Mass in the ancient rite in the diocese of Savona took place. A celebration followed by 150-200 faithful, but criticized by the parish priest.

...[T]he Latin Mass [in Celle] was organized in the oratory neighboring the church of the Genoese "Una Voce" Association. The parish priest, don Piero Giacosa, was not opposed to the celebration, which he now criticizes harshly, however. "Why did I authorize it? I told the organizers that the matter did not interest me - he explains - I thought it was enough to dissuade them."

The Mass nonetheless took place, with the readings in Latin, the priest (an Italian-Brazilian from Verona) who turned his back to the assembly, and a homily in Italian. "I fear that Italy, the garden of the Catholic Church, may become the garden of pagans, of Muslims. - the celebrant said - Benedict XVI has liberalized this rite to make us remember that Mass is not a theater, but a place for prayer." Those who were present appreciated "the return to the past, to serious things". Gianno Romollotti says: "I saw people of a certain age, moved. There were also young men, new faces. It was not hard to follow the Mass, in the booklet there was an Italian translation. The criticisms? It is jealousy, we will repeat it on December 8."

If the Curia allows. "The stop is fair - don Giacosa replies - The Latin Mass was a concession by the Pope, it is supposed to unite, it cannot become a way to do proselytisms or to please the nostalgics, mostly [from] outside the Parish."

Scandal in Constantinople
1150 years ago

The schism of the Churches in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, completely materialized only in the 11th Century, began in earnest with scandalous events in the Byzantine court exactly 1150 years ago, in November 857. The [old] Catholic Encyclopedia details the events, in the biography of one of the most brilliant and astute clerics in History, Photius. As it would happen in a future schism in the West, the desire of a ruler to have the Church accept his unlawful relationship and the whims of an ambitious bishop would ignite an unpredictable chain of events, which, in less than 200 years, would definitively separate millions from full communion with the Vicar of Christ:

In the year 857, then, when the crisis came in his life, Photius [then, a layman] was already one of the most prominent members of the Court of Constantinople. That crisis is the story of the Great Schism.

The emperor was Michael III (842-67), son of the Theodora who had finally restored the holy images. When he succeeded his father Theophilus (829-842) he was only three years old; he grew to be the wretched boy known in Byzantine history as Michael the Drunkard (ho methystes). Theodora, at first regent, retired in 856, and her brother Bardas succeeded, with the title of Cæsar.

Bardas lived in incest with his daughter-in-law Eudocia, wherefore the Patriarch Ignatius (846-57) refused him Holy Communion on the Epiphany of 857. Ignatius was deposed and banished (Nov. 23, 857), and the more pliant Photius was intruded into his place.

He was hurried through Holy Orders in six days; on Christmas Day, 857, Gregory Asbestas of Syracuse, himself excommunicate for insubordination by Ignatius, ordained Photius patriarch. By this act Photius committed three offences against canon law: he was ordained bishop without having kept the interstices, by an excommunicate consecrator, and to an already occupied see. To receive ordination from an excommunicate person made him too excommunicate ipso facto.

Suspension by Bishop? - Parish priests on "strike"
- Bishop defends himself

La Stampa (in Italian) reported on Monday on the possible persecution of parish priests who want to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass by their Bishop, in the Diocese of Novara, Italy.

The event has been summarized by Catholic World News (we thank the several readers who have sent the link):

Italian bishop suspends priests for insisting on Latin Mass

Rome, Nov. 26, 2007 ( - Bishop Renato Corti of Novara, Itay, has suspended 3 priests who refused to celebrate Mass on Sunday, according to the newspaper La Stampa.

Fathers Alberto Secci, Stefano Coggiola and Marco Pizzocchi refused to celebrate Sunday Masses after Bishop Corti said that they could not exclusively celebrate the traditional Latin Mass.

In Father Alberto Secci’s parish, parishioners insisted that they would only attend a traditional Latin Mass celebrated by Father Secci. Six hundred people signed a petition in support of their parish priest.

Father Stefano Coggiola’s parishioners were reportedly divided over their pastor’s decision. While one group supported the priest’s decision, another complained that their children did not like the Mass celebrated in Latin.

Actually, the La Stampa report does not say that they were suspended, but that they "suspended" themselves ("il è autosospeso") - that they went "on strike" ("sciopero") because they were ordered to celebrate the Latin Mass only once every Sunday and only in the afternoon, even though most faithful in their parishes prefer the Traditional Mass (this was the "interpretative" decision of their Bishop which motivated their protest). The episcopal Vicar for the region managed to send priests to celebrate the New Mass in Italian (for a very small number of faithful).

The Bishop of Novara, Renato Corti, defended his actions in an article published today (in Italian) in the semi-official daily of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Avvenire.

The need for a clarification document becomes each day greater as Bishops raise the stakes in their dispute with the Pope. The position of priests who wish to celebrate the Traditional Mass exclusively - not "as a matter of principle", but because they love it more - or primarily must be as protected as that of the majority of priests who do not wish to celebrate it at all.

It is true that Bishops must manage the parishes and communities in their dioceses according to the liturgical inclinations of the faithful: that is, it is understandable that a priest may be transferred from a Parish church to another activity in the diocese if he is the only priest in the Parish and does not wish to celebrate the New Mass - but he cannot be suspended or suffer any kind of punishment for the use of his right to celebrate the Traditional Mass, which "was never abrogated".

100 Years of the motu proprio Præstantia Scripturæ Sacræ

...[W]e find it necessary to declare and to expressly prescribe, and by this our act we do declare and decree that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission relating to doctrine, which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Roman congregations approved by the Pontiff; nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity, and consequently of grave sin, who in speech or writing contradict such decisions, and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions.

Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree "Lamentabili sane exitu" (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters "Pascendi dominici gregis" given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto, under the censure contained under the chapter "Docentes" of the constitution "Apostolicae Sedis," which is the first among the excommunications latae sententiae, simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication is to be understood as salvis poenis, which may be incurred by those who have violated in any way the said documents, as propagators and defenders of heresies, when their propositions, opinions and teachings are heretical, as has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, especially when they advocate the errors of the modernists that is, the synthesis of all heresies.

we again and most earnestly exhort the ordinaries of the dioceses and the heads of religious congregations to use the utmost vigilance over teachers, and first of all in the seminaries; and should they find any of them imbued with the errors of the modernists and eager for what is new and noxious, or lacking in docility to the prescriptions of the Apostolic See, in whatsoever way published, let them absolutely forbid the teaching office to such; so, too, let them exclude from sacred orders those young men who give the very faintest reason for doubt that they favor condemned doctrines and pernicious novelties. We exhort them also to take diligent care to put an end to those books and other writings, now growing exceedingly numerous, which contain opinions or tendencies of the kind condemned in the encyclical letters and decree above mentioned; let them see to it that these publications are removed from Catholic publishing houses, and especially from the hands of students and the clergy. By doing this they will at the same time be promoting real and solid education, which should always be a subject of the greatest solicitude for those who exercise sacred authority.


Given at Rome in Saint Peter's, the 18th November, 1907, the fifth year of our Pontificate.

You report: Traditional Mass "banned" in Łódź
Polonia semper fidelis?

A dear reader reports from Łódź, the second largest city in Poland:

The people gathered today at 2030 CET (7 30 PM GMT) to hear the Tridentine Mass in St. Joseph's Church in Łódź (Poland) had an unpleasant surprise. Instead of the Tridentine Latin Mass, the ordinary Novus Ordo was celebrated in Polish.

In the beginning, the priest explained, that there are the "different interpretations of the Motu Proprio in different countries, and due to the new regulations taken by the Polish Episcopal Conference each priest may celebrate in Tridentine Rite, but only once, and for regular celebrations the [episcopal] permission is necessary". He asked the archbishop for such a permission, but before the decission will be taken, only Novus Ordo masses will be celebrated.

Unofficially it is said that there was the pressure upon the celebrant, and that one of the the reasons was the large number of people outside the parish who attended previous Tridentine masses.

The rebellion of bishops against the Pope, identified by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige is particularly strong in Poland, and the Archbishop of Łódź is currently part of the problem, not of the solution. Polish Catholics who wish to be faithful to Pope Benedict (unlike the Polish Episcopal Conference) strongly need the clarification document to be published by the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

The Mystery of Christ

The Church is the depositary of the mystery of Christ: she is so in all humility and with no sign of pride or arrogance, because it is the greatest gift which she has received without any merit and which she is called to offer freely to the mankind of every age, as a horizon of meaning and of salvation. It is not a philosophy, it is not a gnosis, even though it may also include wisdom and knowledge. It is the mystery of Christ; it is Christ himself, Logos incarnate, dead, and risen, made King of the Universe.
Benedict XVI
November 25, 2007

Fellay speaks about the Motu Proprio - and more...

Full translation of an interview granted by the Superior-General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), Bishop Bernard Fellay, to the great French daily Présent:

-Where is the Motu proprio since September 14?

The feedback that I’ve had until now has been quite negative with some bishops clearly seeking to limit its application. There is a certain irony here in so far as they act as though the Motu proprio created a mess because it is no longer necessary to ask them for permission to celebrate the sacraments according to the traditional rite. There is an objective contrast to the magnanimity which the Pope intended.

-Nevertheless, is this Motu proprio in your opinion a positive thing?

Indeed it is. The cause of our joy lies in the assertion that the Mass of St. Pius V has never been abrogated. That includes a multitude of implications beginning with the fact that, since it continued to exist, it has always been the law of the Church. Hence, the conciliar reform has not been able to replace the old Mass, though in a sense it was banned.

-Does this mean that the crisis is over?

Certainly not! It now becomes our mission to help reintroduce this rite. Many priests are asking us to teach them how to celebrate it and their stories can be summed up by the words of a Roman prelate: "The priest can not find his identity in the new Mass." Of course this will take plenty of time.

-Is it not a paradox to say in a tone of loving support for the Pope, that the Motu proprio is an undeniable step forward and that you expect much more to follow, and then say at the same time that it will take a long time - perhaps several generations?

No! Because every coin has two sides. On the one hand, the opportunity for immediate practical solutions. On the other hand, peace within the Church by resolution of the crisis at its roots - which is doctrinal. The present situation is very diverse. For this to be accomplished, both sides must be considered.

-But according to the interlocutor, you seem to present rather one aspect or another…

This is to see where the interlocutor is - to reach him. When it comes to our faithful, I try to give the proper line, to correct errors. My concern is to give them, and keep them in the Catholic spirit. That is to say, an unwavering commitment to faith, and on another level, an attachment to the Church.

-But you said in front of some journalists to expect “much more” leeway given by the Pope from the Motu proprio.

What I mean by this is that I see the possibility, relatively forthcoming, of finding practical solutions. But, when I say to the faithful that it will probably take several generations, I am referring to the peace that is to be restored in the Church through the settlement of the doctrinal crisis. If we want to combine the two issues - both sides of the coin - it means that practical solutions will arrive well before the end of the crisis.

But even on this first point, it will be important that the necessary conditions are met. There is of course the Mass, as we have just found in the Motu proprio. Also he withdrawal of the decree of excommunication, which does not seem to pose a problem. But above all, we must cease being made to swallow poison with regard to the faith and dogma. That is always the first - the main condition.
Transcript: Le Forum Catholique; Translation: Mornac
Each one of you, dear and venerable brothers new-Cardinals, represents, thus, a portion of the articulate Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church spread everywhere. I know well how much weariness and sacrifice the care of souls demands today, but I know the generosity that sustains your apostolic activity. Due to this, in the circumstances which we are living, it is dear to me to confirm before you my sincere appreciation for the service faithfully rendered in so many years of labor in the diverse areas of ecclesial ministry, a service which now, with the elevation to the porpora, you are called to accomplish with even greater responsibility, in extremely close communion with the Bishop of Rome.
Benedict XVI

Second encyclical to be signed on November 30

According to Italian news agency ANSA, Cardinal Bertone has affirmed that the second Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, on hope (which we first mentioned here in early October), Spe Salvi, will be signed on November 30 - though its date of public release has not yet been set. (Transcript)

UPDATE (November 23: 1100 GMT): The Encyclical "Spe Salvi" will be officially presented next Friday, November 30, in a press conference hosted by Cardinal Cottier and Cardinal Vanhoye. The encyclical will be published in the Latin original, and in French, English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish translations.

Anglican "requests" to be discussed by Pope and Cardinals

This Friday, on the eve of the consistory for the creation of new Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, the Pope will host a meeting of all Cardinals who are in Rome (including the ones recently named and who will be created on Saturday) - just as he did on the eve of his first consistory and which he mentions in Summorum Pontificum ("having listened to the views of the Cardinal Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006").

The general topic of the meeting, as several news outlets have revealed, will be "ecumenism", and there will certainly be a discussion on the Ravenna Document. However, Paolo Luigi Rodari reports today in Il Riformista that:

"Other than relations with the Orthodox, tomorrow's meeting will include a discussion dedicated to the Protestants and, in particular, to Anglicans. The Pontiff wishes that the many requests of return to the Catholic Church put forward in the last few months by exponents of Anglicanism be closely evaluated."
These "many requests" include Anglicans of the Anglican Communion (that is, in "communion" with Canterbury), but they are most probably related to the famous letter of the Traditional Anglican Communion (a part of the "Continuing movement" in Anglicanism) "to the See of Rome seeking full, corporate, sacramental union".

Rodari also mentions that the problem of liturgical abuses may be addressed, including the "disobedience in the application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum" and also "the 'super-power' of the Episcopal Conferences and their ever-growing bureaucratization".

Mediator Dei - 60th Anniversary - III
Comments by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer - I
The priesthood of the faithful

The most famous writing by Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop of Campos, Brazil, from 1949 to 1981, was his "Pastoral Letter on the Problems of the Modern Apostolate", published in 1953. The letter included a section with 80 erroneous propositions, based particularly on two of the most important Papal documents of the 20th century, the landmark encyclicals of Pope Pius XII on Sacred Liturgy (Mediator Dei, of 1947) and on False Theological Opinions (Humani Generis, of 1950).

Bishop Castro Mayer's letter is an extremely useful tool in the interpretation of several aspects of Mediator Dei and underline the relevance of Pope Pius's warnings.
False Opinion: The faithful "concelebrate" the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the priest.

True Opinion: The faithful participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Pope Pius XII explains the problem in Mediator Dei, 83-104: "...[T]here are today, Venerable Brethren, those who ... assert that the people are possessed of a true priestly power, while the priest only acts in virtue of an office committed to him by the community. ...[W]e deem it necessary to recall that the priest acts for the people only because he represents Jesus Christ, who is Head of all His members and offers Himself in their stead. Hence, [the Priest] goes to the altar as the minister of Christ, inferior to Christ but superior to the people. The people, on the other hand, since they in no sense represent the divine Redeemer and are not mediator between themselves and God, can in no way possess the sacerdotal power. All this has the certitude of faith."

Castro Mayer further explains the papal words:

These two propositions require an explanation. Never can it be said that the faithful "concelebrate" with the priest, for in the Church the expression "concelebrate" refers to Masses with several celebrants. They all actively concur in offering the sacrifice and in effecting the transubstantiation. An example of this is found in the Mass of priestly ordination, in which the new priests concelebrate with the bishop their ordination Mass. Likewise, the proposition in which it is said that the faithful participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass requires an explanation. Many understand it to mean that the faithful "concelebrate" the sacrifice. ...Others understand it to mean that the priest is but a mandatary or delegate of the people, and his priestly acts have no value except insofar as he represents the people. It is not in this way that the proposition is to be understood according to the teaching of Mediator Dei. In fact, the priest is not a delegate of the people, for he is chosen by divine vocation and engendered by the sacrament of holy orders. This does not mean that the priest, in a certain sense, does not represent the people. He does represent it insofar as he represents Jesus Christ, head of the Mystical Body, of which the faithful are the members, and when the priest offers the sacrifice on the altar, he does so in the name of Christ, High Priest, who offers it in the name of all the members of His Mystical Body. So, in a certain sense, the sacrifice is offered in the name of the people. That is why [the faithful] must participate in the sacrifice. In what way must they participate? Mediator Dei tells us:

[T]he people unite their hearts in praise, impetration, expiation and thanksgiving with prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest himself, so that in the one and same offering of the victim and according to a visible sacerdotal rite, they may be presented to God the Father. [Mediator Dei, 93]
Thus there is a definite meaning to the expression participate which can be used if one takes care to exclude every other less exact meaning.

Summorum well received in the Netherlands

Mr. Jack Oostveen, former president of the International Federation Una Voce, reports from the Netherlands:

The Dutch Bishops have not only decided to publish a book containing the translated text of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the letter of Pope Benedictus XVI to the Bishops, and a positive statement of the Dutch Episcopal Conference with the text of the Traditional Missale Romanum (Latin-Dutch Ordinary), but even seminarians will learn to celebrate both the ordinary and the extraordinary Roman Rite at Dutch seminaries, as reported by Radio Vaticana (German).

Congratulations to all those who have been fighting for the Traditional Mass in the extremely harsh ecclesiastical and social environment of the Netherlands! We pray that Pope Benedict may choose a solidly orthodox and obedient man as the next Archbishop of Utrecht.

In the picture: first page of the impressive book published by the National Committee for the Liturgy of the Dutch Episcopal Conference (Source: Juventutem).

Mediator Dei - 60th Anniversary - II
Ranjith speaks to L'Osservatore Romano

In a special interview to L'Osservatore Romano, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige, remembers the 60th anniversary of Mediator Dei and reminds readers that the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum had a double cause: the need to establish a rapprochement with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) and the abuses in the celebrations according to the Novus Ordo.

By Maurizio Fontana

Sixty years since the publication of Pius XII's encyclical Mediator Dei, the debate on liturgy is alive and open. The recent going into force of Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum - which allows celebration of the traditional Mass without asking the local bishop's permission - has fueled a confrontation which has never really died down since the Second Vatican Council.

In the November 18 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, Nicola Bux, referring to Mediator Dei, reaffirmed the importance of a wide-ranging debate on liturgy carried on 'without prejudice and with great charity'. A confrontation, he said, that should be guided by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacramental Discipline.

We therefore interviewed Mons. Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of that Congregation.

Let us start with Mediator Dei. Could we summarize its most relevant aspects?

With that encyclical, Pius XII - working also on the basis of what Pius X wrote in his Motu Proprio Tra le sollecitudini - sought to present to the faithful a theological summary of the intimate essence of liturgy. He dwelt on pointing out its origins and defined it as Christ's priestly act to render praise and glory to God and, above all through his supreme sacrifice, to fulfill God the Father's plan for the salvation of mankind. In this sense, Christ is at the center of prayer and the priestly function of the Church.

"The Divine Redeemer," we read in the encyclical, "intended that the priestly life he began in his mortal body with his prayers and his sacrifice, should not cease in the course of centuries in his mystical Body which is the church."

Essentially, the encyclical shows that the rite of worship is not ours, but Christ's, in which we all take part. That is more or less the line that Benedict XVI has offered in his liturgical writings before and after he became Pope: namely, it is not us who carry out the liturgical rite, but in performing it, we are simply conforming to a heavenly liturgical act which happens in eternity.

Pius XII's encyclical on the liturgy preceded Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II by 16 years. What relationship can we find between the two documents? Is there a continuity? And is it true, as Fr. Bux wrote yesterday, that without Mediator Dei, one cannot fully understand the liturgical constitution of Vatican II?

One can definitely say that the pre-conciliar liturgical reform begun by Pius XII was an opening for what would take place in Vatican II.

The fact that Sacrosanctum Concilium was the first document to come out of Vatican II confirms not only the primary importance of liturgy for the life of the Church, but also that evidently, the Council Fathers already had ready instruments at their disposition to proceed to a rapid definition of the issues and the renewal of the liturgy.

One must also remember that most of the experts who worked in the pre-conciliar reform were integrated into the committee that prepared Sacrosanctum Concilium.

In fact, Sacrosanctum concilium - even with its emphasis on the pastoral concern to make liturgy more effective and participatory - expresses the concept of participation in the celestial liturgy quite well. In a way, this aspect of Mediator Dei flows naturally into Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Even in the formulation of the two documents, we can see a more or less identical scheme of composition. The links are quite clear -Sacrosanctum Concilium continues the great tradition of Mediator Dei, just as Mediator Dei itself was in line with preceding Popes, particularly Pius X.

So with this continuity, perhaps some prejudices against the pre-conciliar church, and in particular, against Pius XII himself, may be overcome...

We can certainly hope so. Moreover Cardinal Ratzinger - in The Ratzinger Report - spoke of the difference between a faithful interpretation of the Council and an approach to it that was rather adventurous and unreal, as advanced by some theological circles animated by what they would soon call 'the spirit of Vatican II', but which he instead called an anti-Spirit or Konzils-Ungeist.

The same distinction can be seen relatively to what happened in liturgy. In many of the innovations that have been introduced, one can see substantial differences between what Sacrosanctum Concilium textually says and the post-conciliar reforms that were carried out.

It is true that the document allowed room for interpretation and research, but it was not an invitation to liturgical renewal understood as something to realize ex novo. On the contrary, it declared itself fully within the tradition of the Church.

As you pointed out, from Mediator Dei to the Vatican II documents, the centrality of Christ in the liturgy was always affirmed with clarity and vigor. Has the so-called post-conciliar church been able to embody this?

With this, we touch a sore point. It is, in fact, a practical problem: the value of the norms and instructions given in the liturgical books have not been fully understood by everyone in the Church. Let me make an example.

That which takes place at the altar is well explained in the liturgical texts, but some instructions have not been taken seriously at all. In fact, there has been a tendency to interpret the post-conciliar liturgical reform as if it intended 'creativity' to be the rule. But that is not allowed by the published norms.

So, in many places, the liturgy does not seem to express Christocentrism at all, but rather a spirit of Immanentism and of anthropocentrism.

But true anthropocentrism should be Christocentric. That which is happening at the altar is not something that is 'ours' - it is Christ who acts, and the centrality of his figure takes away the act from our control, so to speak. We are absorbed - and we should let ourselves be absorbed - in that act, so much that at the end of the Eucharistic prayer, we proclaim the stupendous doxology which says, "For him, in him, and with him".

So the 'creative' tendency I referred to is not allowed at all in the instructions found in the liturgical books. Unfortunately, the practice comes from a wrong interpretation of the Council texts or perhaps an unfamiliarity with them and with liturgy itself!

We must keep in mind that liturgy has a 'conservative' character, but not in the negative sense that the word has today.

The Old Testament shows us the great faithfulness [of the Jews] to their rites, and Jesus himself continued to observe the rites of his ancestors faithfully. Therefore, the Church followed such examples.

St. Paul says, "I pass on to you that which I received" [Tradidi quod et accepi] (1 Cor 11,23), not 'that which I made up'. This is very central. We are called on to be faithful to something that does not belong to us, but which is given to us. We should be faithful to the seriousness with which the sacraments should be celebrated. Why should we fill up page upon page of instructions if everyone thinks he is authorized to do as he pleases?

After the publication of Summorum Pontificum, the debate between so-called traditionalists and innovators has re-ignited. Is there a sense to this?

Absolutely not. There was not and there is no break between the before and after, there is a continuous line.

With respect to the traditional Mass, there had been a growing demand for it over time, which also became more organized little by little. At the same time, faithfulness to the standards of celebrating the sacraments was falling. The more such faithfulness diminished, along with the beauty and wonder of liturgy, the more some Catholics looked back to the traditional Mass.

So in fact, who have been asking for the traditional Mass to be made more easily available? Not just the organized groups, but even those who have lost respect for Masses that are not performed with appropriate respect for the actual norms of the Novus Ordo.

For years, the liturgy has undergone so many abuses, and so many bishops have simply ignored them. Pope John Paul II made a heartfelt appeal in Ecclesia Dei afflicta, which called on the Church to be more serious about the liturgy. And he did it again in the Instruction Redemptionis sacramentum. But many liturgists and diocesan offices of liturgy criticized the Papal documents.

The problem then is not so much about the traditional Mass, but an almost unlimited abuse of the nobility and dignity of the Eucharistic celebration. And this was something about which Pope Benedict could not be silent, as we saw in his explanatory letter to the bishops and in his many speeches. He feels a great sense of pastoral responsibility.

Therefore, this document, beyond being an attempt to bring back the Society of Saint Pius X into the Church is also a gesture, a strong call from the universal Pastor for a sense of seriousness about the liturgy.

Is it also a reflection on those who are responsible for the formation of priests?

I would say so. Moreover, in the face of some arbitrary concessions in liturgy that one cannot take seriously, one must ask what are they teaching in seminaries now?

One cannot approach liturgy with a superficial, 'unscientific' attitude. That goes both for those who have a 'creative' interpretation of liturgy as well as for those who presume too easily that they are recreating liturgy as it was in the early days of the Church. In liturgy, one always needs careful attentive exegesis; one cannot launch into fanciful and ingenuous interpretations.

Above all, there is a tendency in some liturgical circles to undervalue how much the Church matured in the second millennium of its history. They talk about impoverished rituals, but this is a very banal and simplistic conclusion.

Instead, we believe that the Tradition of the Church manifests itself as a continuous development. We cannot say that one part of tradition is better than another. What matters is the action of the Holy Spirit through the highs and lows of history. We should be faithful to this continuity of tradition.

Liturgy is central for the life of the Church: lex orandi, lex credendi, but also lex vivendi. For a true renewal of the Church - as Vatican II intended - liturgy must not be limited only to being an academic study. It should become an absolute priority in the local Churches.

That's why it is necessary that the proper importance should be given at the local level to liturgical formation according to what the Church teaches.

After all is said and done, the priestly life is tightly related to what the priest celebrates and how he does it. If a priest celebrates the Eucharist well, then one can be sure that he is disposed to consistency (with the Church) and that he indeed becomes part of the Sacrifice of Christ. And so, the liturgy can be that fundamental in the formation of priests who are holy.

And that is a great responsibility for the bishops who, in this way, could do so much for a renewal of the Church.

An aspect that is not secondary in this debate on liturgy is on sacred art, starting with the important matter of liturgical music. Recently, this newspaper confronted this issue and reported some considerations by Mons. Valentín Miserachs Grau which were hardly reassuring.

The Congregation is still studying the document for the new antiphonal, and we have consulted the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music; we hope to come to a quick conclusion.

To sing is to pray twice, Saint Augustine said, and I think this is very true, especially of Gregorian chant which is a priceless treasure.

In Sacramentum Caritatis, the Pope spoke clearly about the need to teach Gregorian chant and Latin in seminaries. We should guard, preserve and value this immense patrimony of the Catholic church and use it to praise the Lord. But we certainly need to do much work on this aspect.

Of course, there are many songs used in Church which are not in the Gregorian tradition. We have to make sure they are truly edifying for the faith, that they provide spiritual nourishment to those who participate in the liturgy, and that they truly prepare the hearts of the listeners to listen to the Word of God.

In any case, the contents of songs used in Church should be watched closely by the bishop to avoid, for instance, New Age concepts. In this respect, a great sense of discretion is necessary with respect to musical instruments that are appropriate for Church, that they can serve to edify the faith.

In terms of church architecture, the dialog with the specialists is pretty well delineated. More difficult is that with figurative artists. While some leading contemporary artists appear to be involved in works that interpret sacred themes, they seem to be far less involved when it comes to works specifically intended for places of worship. Is it simply a matter of commissions or does the dialog with modern artists that was so dear to Paul VI need new impetus?

The Council dedicated an entire chapter to sacred art. Among the principles stated is the relationship between art and faith. Dialog is essential. Every artist is a special individual, with his own style of which he takes great pride. So we must be able to enter the artist's heart with the dimension of faith. It's not easy, but the Church should find a way to carry on a more profound dialog.

In fact, on December 1, the Congregation is sponsoring a day of 'study' at the Vatican on this matter. We hope this will be an occasion to give new impetus to the dialog with artists and to the promotion of sacred art.

(L'Osservatore Romano - 19-20 November 2007)

Interview: in Italian (permanent link).

"The right to absolute,...with no exception whatsoever"

While this understanding of Christian family life finds a deep resonance in Africa, it is a matter of great concern that the globalized secular culture is exerting an increasing influence on local communities as a result of campaigns by agencies promoting abortion. This direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances that may lead some to consider taking such a grave step.

When you preach the Gospel of Life, remind your people that the right to life of every innocent human being, born or unborn, is absolute and applies equally to all people with no exception whatsoever. This equality "is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice" (Evangelium Vitae, 57).

The Catholic community must offer support to those women who may find it difficult to accept a child, above all when they are isolated from their family and friends. Likewise, the community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ.
Benedict XVI
Address to the Bishops of Kenya
November 19, 2007

Mediator Dei - 60th Anniversary

...while We derive no little satisfaction from the wholesome results of the [Liturgical] movement ..., duty obliges Us to give serious attention to this "revival" as it is advocated in some quarters, and to take proper steps to preserve it at the outset from excess or outright perversion.

Indeed, though we are sorely grieved to note, on the one hand, that there are places where the spirit, understanding or practice of the sacred liturgy is defective, or all but inexistent, We observe with considerable anxiety and some misgiving, that elsewhere certain enthusiasts, over-eager in their search for novelty, are straying beyond the path of sound doctrine and prudence. Not seldom, in fact, they interlard their plans and hopes for a revival of the sacred liturgy with principles which compromise this holiest of causes in theory or practice, and sometimes even taint it with errors touching Catholic faith and ascetical doctrine.
Pius XII
Mediator Dei, 7-8

Two years after the end of hostilities in Europe, Pope Pius XII, considering the several and growing abuses of the corrupt wing which was threatening to engulf the Liturgical Movement -- abuses which had multiplied in intensity during the 1930s and in the war years, particularly in the Germany he knew so well and loved so much, in Belgium, and in France -- decided that the time had come for the Apostolic See to take control of the Movement once again and to deter and subdue its bizarre deviations.

More than forty years had passed since the stern measures by which Pope Saint Pius X (whom Pope Pacelli would soon beatify and canonize) successfully tamed the great impulses which had characterized the Liturgical Movement since its beginnings in the previous century and guided them towards its true Traditional end: "the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church" (Motu proprio Tra le Sollecitudini, 1903).

It was clear to Pius XII that the worst aspects of Modernism (as well as several Jansenist ideas on Sacred Liturgy) had infiltrated the Liturgical Movement. Or rather: the measures adopted by Saint Pius X against Modernists had been so successful at driving them underground that their worst ideas survived only as corruptions of the Liturgical Movement. Mediator Dei was, then, a solemn gesture to hold in place and within the limits of orthodoxy the centrifugal forces which were causing increasing distress and scandal throughout the Church.

Yet, it would not be appropriate to limit the scope of this majestic encyclical to the abuses of the Liturgical Movement. It was, first and foremost, the definitive and unsurpassed Papal document on Sacred Liturgy, as current today as it was then, as we will examine in detail in the next few weeks.

Important: Ecclesia Dei to ask seminaries to teach Traditional Mass

According to Italian news agency Adnkronos, the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will soon publish an order addressed to seminaries "in which it is required that the celebration of the Latin Mass be taught to future priests":
"According to what has been learned from authoritative sources, the dicastery presided by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos (among the main supporters of the return of the Mass according to the pre-Conciliar rite) would be considering a circular addressed to seminarians which, in practice, is aimed directly to those bishops who [are] 'disobbeying' the Pope's motu proprio (...)."
It is not entirely clear from the report if the order will be an exclusive document or if it will be part of the general document of clarification of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum which will be published shortly (according to several news agencies and sources).

UPDATE (Sunday, 2300 GMT): The news of this order which would be sent to seminaries was confirmed this Sunday by the Vaticanist of Italian daily La Stampa, Marco Tosatti. It remains unclear if this norm would be a specific document or if it would be part of the clarification document.

Tip: Le Forum Catholique.

New English Bishop: "That's not how we do things here"

The "Progressive" wing of the Church in England and Wales remains solidly in power. The Holy Father named today Monsignor Terence Patrick Drainey, president of Ushaw College, new Bishop of Middlesbrough.

Who is Father "Terry" Drainey? Just a few days ago the Anglican Journal published this report:

A three-week course designed to introduce foreign priests to the British way of doing things in the Roman Catholic church has opened at Ushaw College outside Durham in Northumberland, England.

The first group of seven priests is from India, Nigeria and Poland.

“Some foreign priests working in Britain tend to be too dogmatic about the church’s moral rightness on just about everything,” said Rev. Terry Drainey the president of Ushaw College. “That’s not how we do things here. This course shows how we deal with a whole range of issues affecting Catholics, including the role of women, divorce, the lay ministry and homosexuality.”

Tip: Father Blake.

In other appointments, the controversial spokesman of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, considered a "conservative", who had been tipped to become the Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, was named an Auxiliary Bishop of Madrid - the first Jesuit ever made a Bishop in Spain.

The powerful Sostituto of the Secretary of State, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, was named today a Consultant of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Ranjith speaks to Fides: the message of the motu proprio

From an interview granted by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to Fides, the official news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (in Italian; the English translation will appear in the next few days in the English section of Fides):

UPDATE (November 16) - English translation by Fides:

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 July 2007 came into force on 14 September. The document treats the Rite of Saint Pius V revised in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. The Motu Proprio (Latin, "of his own accord") allows the celebration of Mass using the Tridentine Missal without the formerly requested permission of the local bishop. The Second Vatican Council and in particular the Liturgical Renewal of 1970 promoted by Pope Paul VI, issued a new Missal to replace the old Missal. Although the latter was never officially abolished, to use the old Missal, the faithful had to obtain permission from the local bishop. This permission was sanctioned by a Motu Proprio: Ecclesia Dei adflicta signed by Pope John Paul II on 2 July 1988. Now, with this new Motu Proprio, permission is no longer necessary and any «stable group» of faithful may ask the parish priest to celebrate Mass using the old Missal.

On the subject of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was kind enough to answer some questions put by Fides.

Archbishop Ranjith, in your opinion what is the significance of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum?

In this decision I see not only the Holy Father's desire to open the path for followers of Monsignor Lefebvre to return to the full communion of the Church, but also a sign for the whole Church with regard to the safeguarding of certain theological-disciplinary principles with a view towards the profound renewal, so desired by the Council.

It appears to me that the Pope is anxious to correct the tendency visible in certain circles, to see the Council as a break with the past and a new beginning. It suffices to call to mind the Holy Father's address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005. Besides, the Council never thought of itself in those terms. With its doctrinal and liturgical, juridical-pastoral decisions, the Council was one of many moments of profound reflection and renewal undertaken by the Church in her bi-millennial history with regard to her rich theological-spiritual heritage. With the Motu Proprio the Pope clearly affirms that any temptation to scorn venerated tradition is out of place. The message is clear: progress, yes, but not at the expense of history, or without it. The Liturgical Reform must also be faithful to all that went before from the beginning down to our day, nothing excluded.

On the other hand, we must not forget that for the Catholic Church divine revelation comes not only from the Sacred Scriptures, it comes also from the living Tradition of the Church. This belief distinguishes us from other Christian confessions. For us the truth emerges from both these poles Sacred Scripture and Tradition. I find this position much richer than others because it respects God's freedom to lead us to a deeper understanding of the truth revealed also by events in the future. Naturally it is up to the Teaching of the Church to discern what emerges. However we must realise the importance of Tradition. The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum makes this very clear (DV 10).

What is more, the Church is a reality which surpasses the level of pure human invention. She is the mystical Body of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem, God's chosen people. Therefore she is above earthly borders and limitations of time, being a reality which greatly transcends its earthly and hierarchical appearance. So what she receives must be faithfully handed on. We are neither the inventors nor the masters of truth, we are merely those who have received it and have the duty to safeguard it and hand it on to others. As Saint Paul said, speaking of the Eucharist: “ For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,” (1Cor 11, 23). It follows that respect for Tradition is not our freely taken choice in the quest for the truth, Tradition is its basis and must be accepted. Therefore fidelity to Tradition is an essential attitude for the Church. In my opinion the Motu Proprio must be understood in this sense. It can spur the necessary correction of route. In fact in certain decisions of the liturgical reform implemented since the Council, directions have been adopted which obscure certain aspects of the liturgy, better reflected in the earlier practice, because, for some people, liturgical renewal meant starting ex novo. However, we all know this was not the intention of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which underlines that “care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23).

A characteristic of the pontificate of Benedict XVI would appear to be insistence on a correct hermeneutics of Vatican II. Do you think the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum goes in this direction? If so, in what sense?

In his writings while still a Cardinal, the Pope rejected a certain spirit of exuberance seen in some theological circles, motivated by the what they called “spirit of the Council” which, for him, was instead an “ anti-Council spirit ” or “Konzils-Ungeist” (Rapporto sulla Fede [The Ratzinger Report], San Paolo, 2005, chapter 2) and I quote: “we must firmly oppose this schematism of 'before' and 'after' the Council in the history of the Church, totally unjustified by the documents of Vatican II which repeatedly reaffirm the continuity of Catholicism” (ibid p. 33).

Now, this mistaken interpretation of the Council and of the Church's historical-theological journey, has affected every ecclesial sector including the liturgy. A certain attitude of rejection of ecclesiological, theological and also liturgical developments in the past millennium on the one hand and an ingenuous idolisation of what was said to have been the thought of the early Christians, on the other, has had no little influence on the liturgical-theological reform of the post Council era.

Categorical rejection of the pre-Council the Mass, as a relict of a epoch now “outdated”, was the result of this mentality. Many saw things in this way, but thank God, not everyone.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Liturgy, offers no justification for such an attitude. Both in the general principles and in the norms proposed, the Document is moderate and faithful to the significance of the liturgical life of the Church. It suffices to read paragraph 23 of the document to be convinced of this spirit of moderation.

Some of the reforms have abandoned important elements of the Liturgy with the relative theological considerations: now it is necessary and important to retrieve these elements. The Pope, who considers the rite of Saint Pius V, revised by Blessed John XXIII , a way to retrieve elements obscured by the reform, must have certainly reflected at length before making his decision; we know he consulted different sectors of the Church on the matter and, despite contrary positions, decide to allow the old Rite to be freely celebrated. Rather than a return to the past, as some say, this move indicates the need to restore an integral balance between the eternal, transcendent and heavenly aspects of the liturgy and the earthly and community aspects. It will also help eventually to establish a balance between a sense of the sacred and the mystery on the one hand and on the other the external gestures and social-cultural attitudes and commitments deriving from the liturgy.

While still a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger insisted that the Second Vatican Council should be understood beginning from its first document, precisely, the Sacrosanctum Concilium. Archbishop Ranjith, in your opinion, why did the Council Fathers choose to concentrate first of all on the Liturgy?

First, this decision was surely prompted by a profound awareness that the Liturgy for the Church is of vital importance. The Liturgy we might say is the hub of the matter, because we celebrate what we believe and live: this is the famous axiom, Lex orandi, lex credendi. Hence all authentic reform must involve the Liturgy. The Fathers realised this. Moreover the process of liturgical reform started long before the Council and was spurred on by the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini by Saint Pius X and Mediator Dei by Pius XII.

It was Saint Pius X who attributed to the Liturgy the expression “primary source” of authentic Christian spirit. Perhaps the existence of structures and experience of persons engaged in the study and introduction of a few liturgical changes, prompted the Council Father to choose the Liturgy as the first matter to be discussed at the Council meetings. Pope Paul VI expressed the thought of the Council Fathers on the matter when he said: “we remind you to respect the scale of values and duties: first place to God; first obligation prayer; first source of divine life communicated to us, first school of spiritual life, and the first gift we can offer the Christian people, the Liturgy …” (Paul VI, discourse to close the 2nd session of the Council, 4 December 1963).

Many saw the publication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum as a move by the Pope to bring schismatic followers of Lefebvre closer to the Church. Do you agree?

Yes, but this was not the only reason. The Holy Father explains his decision in the Motu Proprio and in the Letter with which he presents the document to the Bishops and gives other important reasons. Of course he will have taken into account the growing request from various sides especially the Society of Saint Pius X [FSSPX / SSPX] and the Fraternita Sacerdotale of San Pietro [Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter - FSSP] and certain Associations of lay Catholics, to make the Mass of Saint Pius V more available. It was important to ensure total integration of the Lefebvrians also because, errors of judgement committed in the past which caused unnecessary divisions in the Church, threaten to become almost impossible to heal. The Pope says this in the above mentioned Letter.

What in your opinion are the most urgent issues for a worthy celebration of the Sacred Liturgy? Which instances must be emphasized most?

I believe that in the growing request for the more frequent celebration of the Mass of Saint Pius V, the Pope saw signs of a loss of spiritual depth caused by the way in which the Liturgical moments have so far been celebrated in the Church. These difficulties arise from certain orientations of the post Council liturgical reform which tended to reduce, or better, to obscure essential aspects of the faith, and also from adventurous attitudes, not in keeping with the liturgical discipline of the Reform; this is seen everywhere.

I believe that one of the reasons why certain important elements of the Tridentine Rite were abandoned by certain liturgical sectors in the implementation of the post-conciliar reform is that what is said to have happened in the second millennium of the history of the Liturgy was underestimated and abandoned. Some liturgists saw the developments of that period, negatively. This opinion is mistaken because when we speak of the living Tradition of the Church, we cannot pick and choose to suit our preconceived ideas. Tradition, considered in a general sense also in the areas of science, philosophy or theology, is something living which continues to develop and progress, at high and low moments of history. For the Church, living Tradition is a source of divine revelation and the fruit of a continual process of unfolding. This is true also for liturgical tradition, - small t. Liturgical developments in the second millennium have their value. Sacrosanctum Concilium does not speak of a new Rite, or a break with the past. Instead it says "new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing". This is why the Pope writes: “ In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.” (Letter to Bishop, 7 July 2007). To idolize what happened in the first millennium to the expense of what happened in the second is hardly a scientific attitude. This was not the attitude of the Council Fathers.

A second problem would be a crisis of obedience to the Holy Father noted in some circles. This attitude of autonomy, visible among certain ecclesiastics, also in the highest ranks of the Church, is of no benefit to the noble mission which Christ entrusted to his Vicar.

There are voices that in some countries or dioceses bishops have issued regulations which attempt to practically annul or completely change the Pope's intentions. Such behaviour is contrary to the dignity and nobility of the vocation of a bishop of the Church. I am not saying this for everyone. Most bishops and ecclesiastics have accepted the Pope's decision with due reverence and obedience. This is praiseworthy. But sad to say there have been some protests.

At the same time we cannot deny that the decision was necessary because as the Pope writes: “…in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.” (Letter to the Bishops). The result of this abuse has been a growing spirit of nostalgia for the Mass of S. Pius V. Moreover a general lack of interest in reading and respecting the norms issued by the Holy See, and even of the Introduction to the liturgical books, made the situation worse. Liturgy is still not on the list of priorities for courses of ongoing formation for ecclesiastics. It is necessary to make a clear distinction. The post council reform is not all negative; indeed there are many positive aspects in what has been achieved. But there are also changes and abuses which continue despite their bad effect on the faith and the liturgical life of the Church.

I mention for example, a change not proposed by the Council Fathers or by Sacrosanctum Concilium, Holy Communion received in the hand. This has contributed to some extent to a weakening of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This, and the removal of altar rails and kneelers in church and the introduction of practices which oblige the faithful to sit or stand at the elevation of the Sacred Host, weakens the genuine significance of the Eucharist and the Church's profound sense of adoration for the Lord, the Only Son of God. Moreover in many places, the church the 'house of God', is used for meetings, concerts or interreligious celebrations. In some churches the Blessed Sacrament is almost hidden away in a little chapel, hardly seen and little decorated. All this obscures a belief so central in the Church, belief in the real presence of Christ. The church, for Catholics, is the 'home' of the Eternal One.

Another serious mistake is to confuse specific roles of the clergy and the laity at the altar making the sanctuary a place of disorder, too much movement and certainly not the 'place' where the Christian is filled with a sense of wonder and awe in front of the Lord's presence and His act of redemption. The use of dancing, musical instruments and singing which have little to do with liturgy, is not in keeping with the sacredness of a church and liturgical celebrations; I would also add, certain homilies of a political-social character, often badly prepared. All this distorts the celebration of Mass, making it a choreographic, theatrical event, instead of an event of faith.

There exist other aspects not in keeping with the beauty and wonder of what is celebrated on the altar. The implementation of the Novus Ordo is not all wrong, but much remains to be put in order, to avoid further harm to the life of the Church. I believe our attitude to the Pope and his expressions of concern for the good of the Church must be that of St Paul who writes to the Corinthians “Let all these things be done in a way that will build up the community” (1Cor 14, 26). (P.L.R.)

You Report: Traditional Masses around the World - V

Our reader Barbara Bershak reports from Merchantville, New Jersey:

These pictures were taken at St. Peter Church in Merchantville, New Jersey at a Requiem Missa Cantata offered by Father Anthony J. Manuppella, Pastor. The Church was filled with about 1,000 people in attendance.

Starting on the first Sunday of Advent, December 2nd, and every Sunday thereafter, Missa Cantata in the extraordinary form will be offered at 12 noon. The Traditional Mass will be offered on Christmas at 12 noon as well.

These Masses were preceded by a 12 week course Father Manuppella offered entitled "UNDERSTANDING THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS."

The course has been very well attended by about 300 people of all ages. The course each week lasted one hour and has been professionally audiotaped.

Thank you. Please, keep sending us reports from anywhere in the world.