Rorate Caeli

Emerging slowly from secrecy: the Traditional Latin Mass in Spain

The following interview was first published in French by Paix Liturgique on November 30, 2011. The English translation (posted below) was published on the same website very recently. The interviewee, Fr.Manuel María de Jesús, is the founder of the Fraternidad de Cristo Sacerdote y Santa María Reina, a biritual association with a clerical branch, the Hermanos de la Fraternidad de Cristo Sacerdote y Santa María Reina, that currently has care of the Iglesia de Salvador in Toledo, the sole church in that archdiocese where Mass is said every Sunday (and every weekday as well) according to the 1962 Missal.  The Santa María Reina blog of the Fraternidad chronicles the liturgical life in that church.

(Paix Liturgique English Letter 24)

A few months ago in Spain the superior of the Fraternidad de Cristo Sacerdote y Santa María Reina, Padre Manuel María de Jesús, published a little book titled "Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Problem or Asset?" This work was soon translated into Portuguese, showing the interest it has garnered in the Iberian peninsula. 

This self-published book goes straight to the crux of the issue and is actually breaking the silence surrounding Benedict XVI's liberation of the traditional Mass in Spain as in Portugal. This great silence has been quantified in the survey polls conducted in those countries: in Portugal, according to the 2010 Harris Interactive survey, 74% of Catholics had never heard of the Motu Proprio; in Spain, according to the 2011 Ipsos survey, the proportion reaches 81.7%. 

Father Manuel's work is deserving. For this reason, we propose the following interview for you to discover the spirit that motivates him; it is deeply concerned with obeying the Holy Father and is filled with joy and gratitude for the discovery of the traditional liturgy. 

The Portuguese cover of Fr. Manuel's book. 


1) Father Manuel, would you introduce yourself to our readers? 

Father Manuel: My name is Manuel Folgar Otero--Father Manuel María de Jesús in religion. I was ordained in 1988 for the diocese of Santiago de Compostela where for ten years I was an assistant priest at Saint Joseph of Pontevedra, as well as a hospital chaplain, director of the Legion of Mary Curia and spiritual director of a section of the Ladies' Night Adoration. I taught Religion in middle school for twelve years. I have also been the administrator for a number of rural parishes for the past fifteen years and, finally, founder of a private lay association, the Fraternity of Christ the Priest and of Saint Mary Queen (Fraternidad de Cristo Sacerdote y Santa María Reina). From this fraternity came the Missionaries of the Fraternity of Christ the Priest and of Saint Mary Queen, a public clerical association (Paix Liturgique editor's note: like the Community of Saint Martin) which is also in formation. It is located in Toledo and I have been its superior since 2009. 

2) What is your experience of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite and of the place held by the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in your life as a priest? 

Father Manuel: Given my age--I was born in 1962--I have no memory of the traditional Mass in my childhood, not to mention my youth or later. The first time I ever attended a celebration of holy Mass according to what is now called the extraordinary form was after the year 2000. It was only from 2004-2005 that I got to know the traditional liturgy, during my visits to the monastery of Le Barroux. And in 2007 I was also able to discover the international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King, in Gricigliano, and Cardinal Cañizares who was conferring priestly ordinations there at the time. In fact, it was only after 2007, when the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was published, that I began regularly celebrating the extraordinary form. In October of that year, during an unforgettable audience, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, encouraged us. 

Today the extraordinary form is a characteristic of our community and is acknowledged as such in our statutes. 

My experience has been very positive and, in certain respects, even exciting. I have travelled along the path of discovery of this marvelous treasure that had been hidden from us in the company of my community's brothers as well as with my parishioners. For the older ones it was a rediscovery; for the younger ones, a total novelty. In my various parishes I have never encountered the slightest aversion or resistance against the traditional Mass. This may surprise some people, but it is so. My faithful and I, together, have lived in our own flesh the experience mentioned in the Gospel of the father, a householder, "who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old" (Mt 13:52). For us this father was His Holiness Benedict XVI, who opened up to us this marvelous treasure, old yet always renewed, that is the Church's 2000-year-old liturgy, an authentic monument of faith and piety. 

In my priestly life it has meant an enrichment at all levels: in doctrine, prayer, identification with Christ priest and victim, etc. And also in so many other aspects I need not get in to today. I'll take this opportunity to point out an error. Some people acknowledge that the traditional liturgy can enrich the priest who celebrates it, but deem it to be detrimental to the faithful on the grounds that it would impoverish them spiritually by markedly decreasing or even preventing their participation and understanding of the liturgy. I must humbly say that this does not correspond to my own experience, quite to the contrary. 

The celebration of the traditional liturgy compels the priest to give greater pastoral attention to the faithful, in the sense of devoting more time and energy to their doctrinal and spiritual formation. This permanent formation rests on teaching the true meaning of "actuosa participatio": the interior disposition to uniting oneself to Christ the Victim through the priest as the intermediary who, as minister of Christ and the Church, renews and offers the Holy Sacrifice. It also rests on the greater care with which one forms one's faithful liturgically and mystagogically. What right or basis do we have to underestimate the laity's capacity to participate in the Church's twice-millennial liturgy worthily and fruitfully? There are laymen with little education from simple backgrounds who could tell a thing or two to any number of those who think themselves learned. These are laymen who have never set foot in a school of theology yet who know by heart the content of the faith and who live out the Eucharistic mystery incredibly deeply and in profound union with Christ the Priest. They draw from their participation in the Holy Sacrifice the force and the inspiration to offer themselves up in turn, in their daily life, as living hosts, holy and agreeable to God. 

Today, thank God, the faithful can read and follow the texts of the Holy Mass in their missal. They thus associate themselves more perfectly to the Prayers of the Holy Liturgy. This demands a greater concentration and attention than among those who rest content with listening. 

Behind many of the objections to the Motu Proprio, one finds more ideology than legitimate reasons. 

3) In the introduction to your book, you justify your work by the lack of knowledge regarding the Motu Proprio among Spanish priests and, to an even greater degree, laymen. So you are not surprised by the result of the Ipsos survey that Paix Liturgique commissioned just before the WYD, which indicates that 69.5% of Spanish practicing Catholics had never heard of it? 

Father Manuel: I am not surprised at all. As a matter of fact I find that the result seems to fall short of the reality. I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of the faithful has never heard of the Motu Proprio. And that those who have heard something of it, including priests, do not know its content. There is little to be read about it. The idea that predominates, which is totally distorted, is that the Pope has authorized the Latin mass for Bishop Lefebvre's followers, period. Many are those who spread this equivocation with a view to soft-pedaling the Pope's teaching and to minimizing the importance of the Motu Proprio which, by the way, has force of law for the universal Church and which, as such, dictates authentic rights and duties to be respected by all. 

Unfortunately, many people satisfy themselves with the sensational headlines that certain media offer and which distort the reality and truth of the report's content. 

4) So your book--and its form as well as its content bear this out--principally seeks to make the text of the Motu Proprio and the Pope's desire in liturgy better known. What reception did it have in Spain? 

Father Manuel: I've tried to do my best. The reception among those whom the book could reach has been very good, even though our means were limited. I self-published the book and, beyond my personal contacts, the book did not elicit much response besides a few sites on the internet. 

For this type of subject you cannot count on Catholic publishers. They are not interested, it doesn't fit in with their editorial line . . . . Think only that when Bishop Schneider's fabulous book, Dominus Est --which is said to have been so pleasing to the Holy Father--was offered to different Spanish editors for minimal copyrights, none was willing to publish it. I don't know how that would go today . . . . And I am here speaking of Catholic publishers, some of whom are reputed to be "conservative". There again, ideology prevails. It's as though they wanted people not to know too much, not to think for themselves, and to bow to the dominant way of thinking. As sad as it is, it is so. Benedict XVI has often denounced the dictatorship of relativism. Well, one could just as well, I suppose, say that there is a dictatorship of single thought that is present and very powerful in certain circles. 

Why do some people show so much fear at the idea that people might know, experience, and decide for themselves? Hasn't there been, for many years, a much-proclaimed notion that the laity are now adults? Couldn't we let the faithful decide, and stop throwing spanners into the Holy Father's decisions? 

5) In your chapter 9, you insist on the necessary unity of local churches with Rome. Only one Spanish prelate, Bishop Ureña Pastor, has celebrated the extraordinary form in his diocese yet. (See this - Augustinus) Can one hope that other bishops will soon follow his example? 

Father Manuel: To date, two other Spanish bishops (see this -- Augustinus) seem also to have actually celebrated the extraordinary form, although this took place in near-secrecy: during WYD. No announcement, no reports. Nearly the only ones who attended were those who were sure to do so as they belonged to groups linked to the extraordinary form. I do not know whose responsibility this situation was, but I won't allow myself to believe that this was done in bad faith. 

I don't imagine that other bishops will soon celebrate the traditional Mass in their dioceses, especially since there does not exist any significant demand on the part of the faithful, the religious, or priests. Yet many priests acknowledge that they dare neither learn nor celebrate it out of fear of uncomprehending criticism. In Spain, we are at the Nicodemus stage: we learn to celebrate secretly . . . . 

There is no arguing against facts. And the facts tell us that it is up to the most determined and convinced laymen and priests to move things along. I do not know the Holy Father's innermost thoughts, but it seems that with the Motu Proprio the Pope has freed the argument from bishops' arbitrary decisions. These last years Rome has consistently insisted on the "right of the faithful" to participate in the traditional liturgy, not on the right of the bishops to authorize it or not. The highest liturgical authority is the Pope. It is Benedict XVI who promulgated the Motu Proprio and seized the occasion to recall that the traditional Mass was never officially forbidden. This leads me to think that wherever it was in effect forbidden, this was in defiance of the law. 

Local churches are called to live in affective and effective communion with the Mother Church of Rome. This communion is expressed and manifested in an excellent way through the liturgy. Without a doubt, in every diocese, the bishop is the supreme responsible person for the liturgy, an office he must fulfill in perfect communion and harmony with the Apostolic See. This is precisely why the Motu Proprio in no way diminishes the bishops' authority. 

Another monumental outrage consists in claiming that the coexistence of different liturgical forms jeopardizes ecclesial communion. This argumentation is easily refuted both from an historical point of view and from concrete reality. It is enough to consider the richness of the diverse Oriental and Latin rites. Who can seriously claim that such diversity jeopardizes the unity of the Church? On the contrary, the unity of the Church is under attack when truths of the Faith are denied, when the Magisterium is questioned, when the Vicar of Christ is disobeyed or whenever someone appropriates the liturgy for himself as though it belonged to him, "making it up" for himself outside of the Church's laws. 

There are also some bishops who explain that in reality there isn't a sufficient number of the faithful requesting celebration in the extraordinary form. This sometimes happens to be true, at least in Spain. It is also true, however, that one cannot ask for what one does not know. Now, today, many are those who are unaware of the very existence of the extraordinary form and, for that reason, cannot freely express an opinion. 

6) Getting back to the Ipsos survey conducted for Paix Liturgique: what do you think of the figure of 50.4% of practicing Catholics who declare themselves ready to attend the extraordinary form at least monthly if it were celebrated in their parish, without taking the place of the ordinary form? 

Father Manuel: It does not surprise me per se. I even believe that the actual percentage of attendance might be higher, as I have noticed that wherever the extraordinary form is celebrated--after forty years!--the faithful are filled with wonder and ask to be able to attend again. They do not understand how such a treasure can remain hidden behind a bolted door. And I am speaking of laymen of all ages. It is very strange to see how much children like the extraordinary form. The traditional Mass is especially attractive to altar servers; likewise to young people who are particularly sensitive and disposed to beauty, the sense of mystery, adoration and contemplative silence. 

I must also say that a preliminary formation and a veritable liturgical catechesis are required to rediscover all the symbolic, doctrinal, and spiritual wealth of this liturgy. The faithful are delighted by it. 

7) Any last comments? 

Father Manuel: I'd like to thank Paix Liturgique for this interview. As its name indicates, it seeks to attain liturgical peace and, above all, peace among hearts, which is the fruit of justice. And it is a work of justice to respect the rights of the faithful and to give the traditional liturgy its rightful place! This is how our dearly beloved Pope, Benedict XVI, puts it in the letter accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum: "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. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." 

To obtain the book (in its original Spanish version), you can send an email to: 
or call at: 0034 619 011 226 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            0034 619 011 226      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


  1. Amos Moses9:24 PM

    So why am I the first to comment on this? It has been up for a while. It is a pretty positive uplifting piece, that builds up instead of tearing down. Is there something about us that we ignore things like this, but go buckwild commenting on bad things, building into a frenzy like sharks after someone chums the water. What ails us?

  2. Gregoriam Mass9:30 PM

    If the Holy Father would celebrate this Form of the Roman Rite once in a while this issue of the majority of Catholics not knowing the Tridentine Mass is an option as a valid form of Mass and was never banned. The Holy Father really should as the author of Summorum Pontificum, celebrate the Mass he liberated and wants all the Church to know on occasion.

  3. Barbara9:47 PM

    "I have travelled along the path of discovery of this marvelous treasure that had been hidden from us.."

    " His Holiness Benedict XVI, who opened up to us this marvelous treasure,"

    And this one:

    "Why do some people show so much fear at the idea that people might know, experience, and decide for themselves? Hasn't there been, for many years, a much-proclaimed notion that the laity are now adults? Couldn't we let the faithful decide, and stop throwing spanners into the Holy Father's decisions?"

    "They do not understand how such a treasure can remain hidden behind a bolted door.

    "What right or basis do we have to underestimate the laity's capacity to participate in the Church's twice-millennial liturgy worthily and fruitfully?"

    What a special priest! Thank you for this excellent interview.

    He could be talking about Italy - the best kept secret in the Church at present is the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum! The greatest prayer of the Roman Catholic Church has been traded for ideologies and strange agendas!

    But this is heartwarming. A great big thank you Father Manuel for speaking out for so many who do not have a voice and I pray that many other priests will follow your example!


  4. Dream is free. In Spain bishops don't want the OLM. In consecuence they order properly to block the Motu Propio and the Universae Eclessiae and minimize the propagation and, trust me, they know how to lie and lie well.

  5. Thorin1:20 AM

    Amos Moses is on target.

  6. I third the motion of Amos Moses. Also, if I knew Spanish, it would be a delight to buy him dinner and listen to his story.

  7. Barbara7:05 AM

    What ails is?"

    I have noticed this too Amos's a very good question. I could shoot out a few answers (obviously my own) but it would undoubtedly be presumptious of me.

    I shall venture with 2 though. Maybe just fear and lack of trust are part of it I but I know it is more complicated. It is certainly a strange malady among some traditionalists .

    We Catholics have everything we need to live - I think it's great to be Catholic and when I read of priests like Padre Manuel, I know that all will be well despite much evidence to the contrary at the present moment
    Lord that it may be so. It won't be a dream world of perfection that will be restored - but a solid Catholic Identity nased on the Real Catholic Mass, the Old Roman Rite.

    Prayers for everyone at Adoration today!


  8. Gratias7:45 AM

    Father Manuel's reward will be in heaven. Many thanks for your service to the Church. The growth of the TLM requires the participation of the Faithful. We mustwrite the Bishops, insist, and attend at every possible opportunity. Only then the Modernists will allow TLM to be built so others will come. This is why Rorate, traditional blogs and Una Voce chapters are so important: they generate a spiritual yearning among those that have not yet attended a Traditional Latin Mass. In my particular case, I received a free issue of The Latin Mass Magazine in 2004, subscribed, and a year later found a Mass 75 miles from home. And now I am in.

    Gracias Padre Manuel!

  9. Robert8:37 AM

    When Pope Paul VI promulgated the NOM, about 5,000 Spanish priests, members of an Union de Santo Antonio Maria Claret, begged him to allow them to keep the usus antiquior. Needless to elaborate on how their requested was treated but my question is: where have those 5,000 Spanish priests gone? Surely some of them are dead by now, some of them have grown accustomed to the NOM and accepted it, but at the very least a few hundreds of them must still be around and interested in a revival of the traditional rite. Does someone have any clue or info about this?

  10. Ecclesia Militans9:09 AM

    Maybe not many have commented this because they stand in silent recognition and deep respect for the encouraging and true words of this faithful Father.

    Even after so much brain-washing ideology by the Conciliar Church, and what is the Conciliar Church other than ideology, it is comforting and encouraging to hear that the Lord always finds those that will continue the work.

    If a few more bishops would take his example, Italy, Spain and Portugal would be certain to have a bright future, much diffent than the grim vacant reality that they are in now.
    But maybe, Deo volente, it is future bishops that we hear when we read the words of such priests as Fr. Manuel.

    Keep this hush-hush, but I believe we are in the introduction to the Restoration.

  11. Is the Mozarabic Mass much used in Spain?


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