Rorate Caeli

Mass outside the church in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, at 28° F... Whose fault is that?

The following is Paix Liturgique Letter 905 of December 16, 2022. Translated for Rorate. 

For almost two years, the faithful of Saint-Germain who are attached to the traditional liturgy, who attend Mass on the square in front of an empty church that has been closed for almost the hundredth time, have been led astray. Certainly, on Friday, December 9, there was a dramatic turn of events: Mgr Luc Crepy, the bishop of Versailles, THEIR BISHOP, finally agreed to receive those whom he had until then considered as a kind of terrorist. At the end of a one and a half hour meeting, a common communiqué was even signed, lenient but vague. We asked our friend Germain, a good source on the local situation, to enlighten us on the reality of the situation.

Paix Liturgique: So, dear Germain, the situation seems to be getting better for the faithful of Saint-Germain-Hors-les murs?

Germain de Paris [GP]: Certainly, for the first time, they were received by their bishop and they even wrote a common communiqué which reads as follows:

"On Friday, December 9, a first meeting was held at the bishop's palace with Monsignor Luc Crepy, bishop of Versailles, assisted by Fathers Marc Boulle, vicar general, and Bruno L'Hirondel, pastor of the parish of Saint-Germain in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and two representatives of the faithful who are requesting the celebration of the Mass according to the missal of Saint John XXIII in this city. The cordial and fraternal exchanges of an hour and a half allowed them to get to know each other better and to share. It was decided to meet again with Bishop Luc Crepy in March or April in order to take advantage of this time to implement mutual signs of communion. This joint communiqué is a first sign of this. It is together that we will find a solution to this situation, which has been painfully experienced on both sides. In the confident expectation of Christmas..."

Paix Liturgique: You don't seem to be convinced...

GP: These are faithful of good faith who have met with the bishop, THEIR BISHOP, and who therefore naturally trust THEIR bishop, which should be the attitude of every faithful Catholic. But for the bishop, it is first of all a "communication" stunt.

Paix Liturgique: To whom?

GP: All directions. Imagine the scandal if an apostle of dialogue were caught in the act of not engaging in dialogue with the faithful who ask him to! But also, and above all, with regard to the world of the media, which is beginning to take an interest in the scandal of the faithful praying in the cold in Saint-Germain and which, quite naturally, is asking the bishop for his opinion on the matter. However, until last Friday, the bishop's position, straight in his boots, with no relations with the supplicants, was that he did not want to hear about these people. Now the bishop can affirm, with a communiqué in hand, that he is in "dialogue" with the alleged seditionists to the point of having reached a joint declaration with them. But it is also a publicity stunt for the authorities...

Paix Liturgique: But then, isn't everything going well?

GP: Who doesn't know the famous song "Paroles, paroles, paroles..." by Dalida accompanied by Alain Delon. It makes you smile or laugh but it sounds so right in the case that interests us.

Paix Liturgique: Why do you say that?

GP: It's very simple. The faithful have been asking to be able to live their Catholic faith according to the rhythm of the traditional liturgy for nearly 30 years -- and 30 years later, they are told, "We'll talk about it again in April." That is, in six months! Because in any case, Father l'Hirondelle, the parish priest of Saint-Germain, having no power, nothing will happen during the next six months except beautiful words. We will take advantage of the wait for spring "to implement mutual signs of communion." The only thing the faithful ask for is to be given a traditional Mass inside a church. And so, the "sign of communion" for Bishop Crepy could well have been to give them the key to the church to celebrate Christmas midnight Mass in the warmth! The sign on the part of the faithful would have been to offer this Mass for Bishop Crepy.

But to say that the dialogue is open... to continue the dialogue... I call that beautiful words. And I return to the words, words, words, of Dalida.

Paix Liturgique: But perhaps the motu proprio Traditionis custodes makes solutions difficult...

GP: You must be joking! The solutions seemed just as difficult to find when the good Pope Benedict had published Summorum Pontificum and almost all gestures of peace were permitted. But in Saint-Germain, and in many other places, our pastors treated us as if WE DO NOT EXIST! Motu proprio after motu proprio, the exclusion persists.

Paix Liturgique: But can the bishop do better than the pope?

GP: The Pope repeats it on every occasion, as he did recently to the Abbot of Solesmes or previously to Archbishop Aupetit when he was still Archbishop of Paris: "It is up to you to do in your dioceses and abbeys what you feel you must do."

Paix Liturgique: Are you quite sure of this?

GP: Absolutely, because when the Pope acts himself, that is what he does. Let's take the example of the last Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to Rome in October 2022: in fact, it was the Pope who granted the pilgrims the right to celebrate their Mass in the traditional form at the altar of the chair in St. Peter's in Rome, insofar as none of the celebrants did so without having asked the Pope's permission.

Paix Liturgique: But perhaps the pilgrimage to Rome has a special status in some way?

GP: Then let's talk about the decree Pope Francis issued in favor of the priests of the FSSP and through them to those of the ex-Ecclesia Dei communities, which de facto reverses the brutal decisions expressed by Traditionis custodes. Let's talk about the letter that Cardinal Parolin sent to the bishops of France and then the pacifying indications sent to the bishops of Italy. Let's talk about all the facilities granted to the SSPX. I imagine that if Bishop Crepy were to ask the Pope what he should do, the Pope would say to him, "Let this chapel be open to them, and then you can work out a more official solution." The pope says he wants to tear down the walls. Here, the first thing to do is just to open a chapel. Simply put.

Paix Liturgique: What do you ask for today?

GP: A little charity. To put an end to what is, you may agree, scandalous. But a little charity right away, starting on Sunday, December 18, if only because of the weather conditions.

Paix Liturgique: But the bishop wishes to have time to reflect...

GP: The ecclesiastical authorities of Versailles have been reflecting for 30 years. Let me refer you to the words of Ecclesiastes: "There is a time to sow and a time to reap." There is a time to reflect and a time to give the key to the church.

And then, of course, concrete dialogue, not blah-blah-blah, must take place so that tomorrow, or at least fairly soon, the situation can be normalized administratively. I say administratively, because from the point of view of ecclesial communion, there is no problem: these faithful are Catholics in their own right, who are not asking for a favor, but for justice.

Paix Liturgique: But it is not Bishop Luc Crepy who has been responsible for this scandalous situation for 30 years.

GP: You are right, but as the successor of his predecessors who allowed to fester a situation that could easily have been resolved, he himself has been procrastinating for two years. Moreover, Father Boulle, who knows many of us, could also have played a role of peace; but he, like many others, preferred to continue to behave like autists.

Paix Liturgique: One last question... Do you think our pastors fail to act because other faithful do not like you?

GP: You mean, who do not like us because we are not like them? It is a question of knowing whether the Church is the community of Christ's faithful in their diversity, or an exclusivist sect imposing its template. For me there is no debate: the Catholic Church to which we unquestionably belong is the Church of all the faithful, without any segregation whatsoever, and the bishop, who is the Pastor, that is to say the father, must love them all and seek to understand them. Everyone knows that a father who has children does not have identical children, but his duty is to love them all as they are: this is what we ask of our bishop. Remember Cardinal Vingt-Trois' answer to those who were surprised that he came to give Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament to the pilgrims of Chartres: "One does not choose the members of one's family."