Rorate Caeli

“It is the traditional diocesan priests that ‘Traditionis Custodes’ is murdering”: Interview with Louis Renaudin

The following is Letter 906 of Paix Liturgique, published in French on December 21, 2022.

Paix Liturgique: More than a year and a half after the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis custodes, can you tell us to what extent traditionalists have been the victims of this iniquitous decision

Louis Renaudin: Forgive me for contradicting preconceived ideas, but I do not think that traditionalists were the real victims of this iniquitous decision. I would even say that the most "hard-line" among them were not at all concerned.

PL: Explain yourself...

Renaudin: The traditionalist world is composed of at least two large families: the nebula of St. Pius X and the one that continues to be called "Ecclesia Dei" for convenience. It is clear that the nebula of St. Pius X was not in any way concerned by the motu proprio Traditionis custodes. This being said, in my opinion, the SSPX missed the opportunity to show that it was playing the "sacred union" by coming generously to the aid of the Ecclesia Dei communities and the diocesan priests and, in particular, by offering its services for confirmations without any conditions. I note that TC has not in any way questioned the largesse that Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have freely given the SSPX.

PL: Which ones?

Renaudin: First of all, the lifting of the excommunications and, even more so, the granting of the power to confess and to marry legally, which is no small thing at a time when our bishops are going back on these points for the communities that depend on their authority.

PL: So it was the priests of the former "Ecclesia Dei" communities who were targeted?

Renaudin: Basically I don't believe so, even if it could have been a collateral intention on the part of the agitators of Sant'Anselmo and the group of friends of Cardinal Roche, Prefect of the Dicastery of Divine Worship, who, as we now know, are at the origin of Traditionis custodes.

PL: But they were indeed threatened?

Renaudin: Certainly, but in the end and in any case not in a dramatic way.

PL: How can you say that?

Renaudin: By observing the facts. Certainly, a number of bishops, especially in France, have taken advantage of this to persecute the FSSP in several places, to suppress Masses, and to make restrictions in various places. But in many places and in many countries (Italy in particular), nothing has changed. In spite of thunderous announcements about the probable severe application of the decisions of the Motu Proprio, a legitimate fear for the traditional seminaries through the multiplication of canonical visits, nothing has happened to date. Then, less than a year after its publication, the pope grants a decree to the FSSP that pulls back a long way from the previous text.

PL: But this decree concerns only the Fraternity of St. Peter...

Renaudin: And only the worship celebrated in its own houses... Let's be serious. In Rome, this decree, to which various concordant signs are added, is well understood as a disengagement from all Ecclesia Dei communities.

PL: Do you have any proof of this?

Renaudin: In fact, for the moment, no action has been taken against the Ecclesia Dei institutes as such, even though in Chicago the ICKSP has been "barred", the FSSP in Grenoble has been dismissed, etc.

PL: Then was it only against the laity that this operation was carried out?

Renaudin: I don't think so... because you know, the laity do what they want. When they see themselves "forbidden to attend Mass", they can go elsewhere: to the SSPX, to the chapels of the Resistance, and even elsewhere when the need arises.

PL: But against whom was this motu proprio promulgated?

Renaudin: There are several things to keep in mind, the last of which is the most important:

1°/ The way in which the Church is governed is relatively chaotic, but it is a chaos willed as a method of government. A decision is made one way, then half contradicted, and so on. I can tell you that the French bishops, a certain number of whom welcomed TC with undisguised joy, are today dismayed when they receive a message from Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State, to "ease up on the gas pedal".

2°/ Moreover, as I said, the tough little minds of Sant'Anselmo and the Dicastery of Divine Worship believed that their time had come and they shouted their victory a little too noisily, which is something that Pope Francis does not like to do, as he likes to disconcert his best supporters in order to make it clear that he and he alone is the one who rules. It was not for nothing that he sent the message that someone had been manipulated. But be careful, we should not claim victory on our side either, because we could be disappointed.

3°/ But fundamentally, it is of course the diocesans -- conservative bishops (especially those in the United States), diocesan priests and religious, who had taken a liking to the traditional liturgy in increasing numbers -- these are the ones most affected. The Pope is not really interested in the liturgy, but it was not difficult to convince him that the spirit of the Council was in danger in the presbyteries.

PL: But this is ridiculous. There are not many diocesans who are affected by the traditional liturgy.

Renaudin: Then you would be making a great error of appreciation, for if before Summorum Pontificum the diocesans and ordinaries who celebrated the traditional liturgy were few in number, the promulgation of SP, in a way, broke the dikes. Don't forget that in ten years (2007-2017), the number of traditional Sunday Masses has doubled in the world, largely thanks to diocesan priests: in the surveys on the situation of the traditional liturgy in the world that Paix Liturgique published in 2017/2018 and in 2019, it was very clear that the largest number of priests celebrating the traditional liturgy were diocesan -- and this was only the beginning.

PL: The beginning of what?

Renaudin: Of a "terrible liturgical contagion." I am convinced that at the rate things had been going since 2007, and in spite of the stubborn resistance of the bishops, the diocesan clergy were irreversibly and in very large numbers turning to the traditional liturgy, as well as to the traditional catechesis. This was the risk faced by the enemies of peace and faith.

PL: According to you, it was against this contagion that Traditionis custodes was published?

Renaudin: I repeat that things are complex: to say that one wants to forbid the traditional Mass to diocesans implies that one wants to reserve it to the ghettos, push it outside the dioceses to the margin. Except that the ghettos are growing and becoming more beautiful, since the traditional seminaries have all experienced a clear growth since TC, while the diocesan seminaries continue to plunge. Yes, I affirm that the diocesan priests, for their part, have been the real victims of this iniquitous decision for a year and a half. This must be said and we must not abandon them: we must help them with all our strength!

PL: Can you give me an example?

Renaudin: It is enough to reread TC, where it is clearly written that diocesan priests who would like to celebrate according to the usus antiquior must ask permission from their bishops, who in turn must obtain the agreement of Rome. Now, all the requests -- I say all -- that have been made, according to this process, have received a negative response, and this by superior order.

This confirms for me the idea that the motu proprio Traditionis custodes had as its first objective to slow down the traditionalist tsunami, which was irremediably going to upset the Catholic clergy in the midst of the crisis of the Faith. That TC also had the original purpose of sterilizing the entire traditional world, if possible, is not in doubt. But the capacity of resistance of this world was clearly underestimated. Nothing has been able to break it or slow it down for half a century.

PL: What do you conclude?

Renaudin: To attack diocesan priests is to attempt to deal a fatal blow to the indispensable renaissance of the Catholic Church. Because, you see, it is the diocesan priests who, through their action in favor of catechism and liturgy, will be able to work on a universal level for this restoration. The others are only goads -- indispensable, certainly, but temporary. We must therefore pray that heaven will come to the aid of all our priest friends who in the dioceses will be the leaven of the Church's renewal tomorrow and in the future.