Rorate Caeli

"The Death of Benedict XVI: The Failure of the Hermeneutic of Continuity"

 by Côme de Prévigny

Much has been said about Benedict XVI in recent weeks. The major newspapers, not very complacent, have recalled that he was called "panzercardinal" when he was the Pope's guarantor of dogma. The more conservative media hailed him as the architect of liturgical pacification, the one who had the merit of publishing the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Perhaps we forget that with his death, a real page in the history of the Church is being turned, since with him the last great actor of Vatican II has disappeared. Even the last six surviving Council Fathers (almost one hundred years old), out of the two thousand five hundred, did not play the outsized role that he did as an expert. He attended the debates as a theological consultant to Archbishop Joseph Frings of Cologne and on many occasions lent his pen to this leading prelate. With Joseph Ratzinger also dies the last cardinal appointed under Paul VI, a key figure who took part in the great papal decisions of the last half-century, one of the eminent figures of the contemporary Church, whose role was to apply the decisions of the Fathers and then to interpret them.

An undeniable evolution

The Council and the Eclipse of God by Don Pietro Leone - CHAPTER 11 (part 2) 'The Effects of Council Teaching'


‘The evil of our day is less a pandemic than a pandemonium.'


5.    Man in his Choice of Life


We here consider, as we have done above:


a)     Marriage;

b)    The Priesthood;

c)     The Religious Life.

Mythbusting: “African Catholicism is a Vatican II Success Story”

Bishop Gregory Ochiagha, of Orlu Diocese in Nigeria, offering pontifical Mass in the old rite
A recent episode of “Word on Fire” responds to Ross Douthat’s two NYT pieces on Vatican II and its failure with two arguments:

Argument #1: To blame the collapse of Catholicism in the West on Vatican II is a “post hoc propter hoc” fallacy.

Argument #2: The growth of the Church in Africa since Vatican II is entirely thanks to The Council.

It hardly requires pointing out that the second argument commits the same fallacy.

Nevertheless, this oft-repeated claim about Africa really deserves to be examined more closely, as it is one of the great myths of our time.

A certain “MrCasey” on Twitter noted:

In Africa, touted most frequently as a “Vatican II success,” the number of Catholics receiving the sacraments per 1000 also collapsed after Vatican II, as this chart indicates (source; interestingly, it seems that CARA has removed the study from their own website, without explanation, although it was reported on widely at the time): 


MrCasey continued:

In 1900 Catholics were 2% of the total African population. By Vatican II, that had ↑ to 13%. After Vatican II, the number's been nearly stagnant: ~16%, paling in comparison to Prots, whose % doubled during that time, 15% → 29%. The “Catholics” ↑ = b/c the population tripled. (source) “But that [post-Vatican II] growth is primarily due to a higher birth rate, ‘not to conversion or evangelization,’ observed Fr. Thomas Reese, social scientist & columnist for NCR.” (source) “CARA: the growth can be attributed to high fertility rates...” (source)


Another interesting graph shared by MrCasey:

A reader pointed out to me this graph as well (click to enlarge):
His comment:

The 600% increase in Catholics in Africa to 1970 has been followed by a 50% increase since. What, I wonder, caused the inflection in the graph? Oh right: the counterfactual that it would have been worse had the Council never....

George Neumayr, the investigative journalist whose death in Africa last week shocked the Catholic world, was in Ivory Coast working on a book on the state of the local Church. One can read on his Twitter feed, from December 26 to January 15, some initial impressions. For example, concerning this photo—

—he remarks: “Here is a picture of the 9am Mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Abidjan. I spoke to the presiding priest before Mass. He was in complete denial about the crisis and said that Islam is only stronger than Christians because of ‘immigrants.’”

On January 13, he tweeted: “As the Freemasons got stronger and stronger on the Ivory Coast, they were condemned not by Catholic bishops but by Pentecoastal preachers. The bishops only weakly criticized them out of embarrassment after it came out that the head of a Masonic lodge had been receiving Communion.”

In recent weeks he has published a series of articles at The American Spectator, enlightening though depressing, about the downfall of Catholicism in Côte d’Ivoire, with many parallels to other parts of postconciliar Africa:

• “The Decline of Catholicism on Africa’s Ivory Coast” (Dec. 28, with the subtitle “Decolonization and the liberalism of Vatican II didn’t help”)

• “Why Are the Evangelicals Eating the Church’s Lunch in Côte d’Ivoire?” (Jan. 14, with the subtitle: “It is because they are more Catholic than the Catholics”)

• “The Curious Story of Ivory Coast’s Notre Dame Basilica, Africa’s Largest Catholic Church” (Jan. 7; the church and its grounds were built to accommodate 200,000 worshipers—18,000 indoors—but only 70 come for daily Mass)

In their article-series at Church Life Journal, Drs. Cavadini, Healy, and Weinandy commit the error of “African exceptionalism” when they write: “Across the continent of Africa, for example, celebrations of the Mass that are both vibrant and reverent attract thousands of people to the Church.”

The assessment of Mass in Africa as “vibrant and reverent” seems to be true as far as it goes, but why should this be attributed to the celebrations rather than to Christ Himself who draws people to the Church? After all, before the imposition of the Novus Ordo, it was the traditional Latin Mass that served marvelously to convert Africans to Catholicism in the first place. I suspect anyone visiting their Masses then would also have found them full of reverence and joy.

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was a missionary in Africa from 1932–1959 and oversaw an astonishing spread of Catholicism in the regions of Africa for which he was responsible, which came to include twelve archdioceses, thirty-six dioceses, and thirteen Italian Apostolic Prefectures.

Just like everyone else on the globe, Africans, too, have been denied something that had already been an appreciated part of their Catholic heritage. The several flourishing TLM parishes currently in Africa, especially in Nigeria and Gabon, suggest that African Catholics, like so many in the West, might flock to the TLM were it made more available to them. The lack of its availability can hardly then be used as an argument against its appeal or power of attraction.

Here it is not inopportune to mention that the notion of an “inculturated” African-style liturgy was not the work of Africans themselves but of European experts who imagined in their classrooms how their southern brethren might best be served. (For a thorough treatment of this question, see “Inculturation: A Wrong Turn” by a Nigerian Catholic, published at New Liturgical Movement Aug-Sept 2022 and available as a downloadable PDF here.)

As we have seen, any honest examination of the state of Catholicism in the “global south” must include reference to the fact that, while Catholicism is growing in absolute numbers due to population growth, Protestant and Pentecostal sects are experiencing much higher rates of growth — and tragically, attracting fallen-away Catholics into their numbers. This does not sound like an unmitigated “success story.”

Notably, the growth rate of Catholicism in Africa was proportionately much higher prior to 1970 — that is, at the tail end of the much-maligned “Tridentine” period. (See the Pew Research Center, “Overview: Pentecostalism in Africa.” For further considerations on the question of missionary expansion, see my article “Did the Reformed Liturgical Rites Cause a Boom in Missionary Lands?” from July 6, 2020.) In short, the African Church is growing simply because the population is growing (since Africans largely want to have families, unlike the trend in Western nations), so there are more Catholics in absolute numbers than sixty years ago; but the rate of growth is dramatically less today than it was prior to the Council. The conclusion is unavoidable: if Vatican II was supposed to be not just about maintaining the status quo of the 1950s but about launching a new evangelistic and missionary expansion, it failed in Africa, as it did everywhere else, compared to the old-fashioned approach followed over the preceding century.

* * *

What we are seeing with claims of African exceptionalism, a myth called into question by the facts, is very similar to what we see in nearly every discussion of the glories or successes of Vatican II or of the liturgical reform that followed it: namely, a willingness either to ignore evidence or, possibly, even to twist the truth for ideological reasons.

First published at New Liturgical Movement (link); slightly edited here.

New online Latin Courses

It is good to see Latin Courses focused on the Church's Latin springing up in different places. This one is online and can be done from anywhere. The Latin Mass Society is offering an 80% subsidy for clergy and seminarians from England and Wales to do it; in other places it could be regarded as a parish expense, or other local groups might like to consider helping their priests meet the cost. After all, Catholic priests are supposed to know Latin, not only for the liturgy, but for their understanding of theology and canon law.

The Council and the Eclipse of God by Don Pietro Leone: CHAPTER 11 (part 1) : The Effects of Council Teaching


After having terminated his analysis of the Council and its causes, Don Pietro returns to the quotation at the beginning of the book: "How does the city sit solitary that was full of people...?" attempting to understand the present state of the Church and the world in the light of his findings. He first surveys the heterodoxy and the chastisement of the Church and the World subsequent to the Council, and then the role that the devil has played in that work of devastation.          F. R.

Martin Cejka interviews Dr. Kwasniewski on the papacy for “European Conservative”

A few days ago, The European Conservative online published an extensive interview with me on the topic of the papacy. Here is an excerpt:

230 Years - Louis XVI, Saintly King, true Martyr: a Catholic going to death and His Last Will and Testament

Procession to eternity

On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children. The pope following day, January 21, dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o'clock a guard of 1,200 horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution. Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event and we join his narrative as he and the fated King enter the carriage to begin their journey:

"The King, finding himself seated in the carriage, where he could neither speak to me nor be spoken to without witness, kept a profound silence. I presented him with my breviary, the only book I had with me, and he seemed to accept it with pleasure: he appeared anxious that I should point out to him the psalms that were most suited to his situation, and he recited them attentively with me. The gendarmes, without speaking, seemed astonished and confounded at the tranquil piety of their monarch, to whom they doubtless never had before approached so near.

Update on the Grand Altarpiece of the Church of the Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer

Readers may recall the interview we posted here on June 21, 2022, "An iconographic project worthy of the Middle Ages — the traditionalist Fraternity of St Vincent Ferrer’s monumental altar in progress," concerning a wonderful and mighty artistic undertaking of unusual beauty, the construction of a monumental historiated high altar for the Dominicans' conventual church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in Chéméré-le-Roi, France.

Today I am pleased to be able to share some photos of the progress to date.

March for Life 2023 -- a very different year

On Friday, January 20, the annual March for Life will occur in Washington, D.C. In the past it was a rally of hundreds of thousands of pro-life people to the U.S. Supreme Court, commemorating the January 22, 1973 anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. This time it will be a (peaceful) march to the U.S. Capitol.

So many things have changed since last year's March for Life. On the positive side, Roe was overturned, with the Dobbs decision. On the negative side, D.C. Cardinal Wilton Gregory banned all traditional Latin Masses at parish churches, allowing just three Sunday TLMs for the entire Archdiocese of Washington (one in D.C. and two in Maryland). Weekday Masses are not permitted by the cardinal.

Nellie Gray Mass, March for Life 2020

So this means there will not be a traditional Latin Mass on Friday in the Archdiocese of Washington before or after the March for Life. The annual "Nellie Gray Mass" -- which for many years was a solemn, and sometimes pontifical, TLM at Saint Mary Mother of God church in Washington honoring the founder of the March for Life -- will instead be a novus ordo liturgy, despite Miss Gray faithfully attending the TLM at Saint Mary's until her death.

So... about that rumor...

Regarding the rumor of a new document on the Latin Mass, a rumor that was widespread last week, our sources in Rome have denied its existence, or at least that it is planned.


One important caveat, however, and this is our own, not from our sources: this Pontificate has seen a plethora of new legislation coming out every month. And, differently from what used to happen in the past, the legislation enacted by Francis does not derive from a measured procedure, in which each Congregation concerned is asked for feedback and considerations.

In Francislaw, there is no procedure.

Latest issue of "The Dowry" (Magazine of FSSP in the UK): Free online

Our thanks to Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, for making this issue available to all for free.

Editorial: Pope Benedict XVI, R.I.P.

Homily at the Solemn Mass of Requiem for Pope Benedict XVI on 7 January 2023 in Warrington. Fr de Malleray expresses gratitude for the fruitful ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. He recalls his involvement in the founding of the FSSP as Cardinal Ratzinger; during the papal interregnum, his uncompromising diagnosis of the woes of the Church; his unexpected election to the sovereign pontificate; his support of the traditional Roman liturgy; and his successful visit in Great Britain in 2010. R.I.P.

Adrian IV, The English Pope – Part 2

In this second instalment (continued from Dowry N°54, Summer 2022), young convert and historian Adam Mercer describes the life of the only English Pope so far, from his election onward. A courageous evangeliser in Scandinavia, Pope Adrian IV (Nicholas Breakspear) was caught into the never-ending political turmoil of the Middle-Ages, hindering his more fruitful theological activity.

Watching "The Chosen"?

Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP discusses the flaws and merits of a successful series on the life of the Lord Jesus. How to bring the Good News of salvation to young people, most of whom spend several hours online every day on social media and watching series? Despite some defects, the highly successful series The Chosen can be an opportunity for evangelisation. May it spur solid Catholics to become involved in making many more good faith films.

Refugees Find a Home in Catholic Tradition

Whereas Catholicism used to prosper in Hong Kong, it is now under threat as part of the alleged “Western” influence targeted by Communist China. Like many families of late leaving Hong Kong, this father-of-two describes his journey to faraway but freer England, and his providential discovery of the traditional liturgy.

Young Catholics Mourn Cardinal George Pell

The late Cardinal Pell supported the young adults of the traditional youth movement Juventutem from the beginning. Whereas Catholics honour the memory of the courageous prelate for numerous reasons, his paternal encouragements to young people attached to the liturgy of our fathers are treasured by the Juventutem International Federation, and by all those who see these traditions as a vital enrichment for the Church universal.

Art: Claude Lorrain’s Seaport by Sunset

Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP comments on a painting by Claude Lorrain, 1639, from Le Louvre, Paris. Claude painted various harbours, delighting in exquisite renderings of sunset and sunrise over the waters, ships and shores. Despite the absence of explicit religious elements however, Claude’s picture offers a meditation on the passing of time that spurs beholders to aspire to everlasting shores.

Minutes from the Commission of Cardinals That Advised John Paul II to Lift Restrictions on the Old Missal

Most people who have read about the liturgical reform and the revival of the traditional Roman Rite have stumbled across references to the commission of cardinals set up by Pope John Paul II in 1986 to evaluate several questions—among them whether Paul VI had abrogated the preconciliar Missale Romanum in promulgating his own missal in 1969.

Since there is a lot of misinformation circulating nowadays about the old and new missals, some of it sadly disseminated from the Vatican, I consider it important to publish here at NLM a translation of an Italian text by Cardinal Dario Castrillón-Hoyos and retrieved from the “” website, that is, the Congregation for the Clergy’s site before it transitioned to “” This Italian text is still there, albeit only discoverable if you have the URL (here), dated to October 2008. Below is a screenshot to show where I found it, in case it is taken down after the appearance of the present article. (I have also copied into a file the complete Italian text for the same reason. We would not want to lose this precious historical evidence.)

His Eminence discusses not only Summorum Pontificum but also the work of the 1986 commission that prepared the way for Summorum Pontificum; he quotes at length from the minutes of this commission. It is truly remarkable just how much of that momentous motu proprio of 2007 was already present in nuce as far back as 1986. As far as I can tell, very few know about this text, which is not only a precious historical document but a witness to principles that will someday be vindicated anew under better leadership.

Responses of the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to Certain Questions

Since the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has received frequent questions on the reasons for the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, some of which are based on the prescriptions of the Document Quattuor Abhinc Annos sent by the Congregation for Divine Worship to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences on October 3, 1984, the President of the same Commission, His Eminence Card. Dario Castrillon Hoyos, saw fit to give the following answers:

Question: Is it licit to refer to the Letter Quattuor Abhinc Annos to regulate matters pertaining to the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, that is, according to the 1962 Roman Missal?

Answer: Evidently not. For, with the publication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the prescriptions for the use of the 1962 Missal, previously issued by the Quattuor Abhinc Annos and, subsequently, by the Motu Proprio of the Servant of God John Paul II Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, come to an end. In fact, the same Summorum Pontificum, from Article 1, explicitly states that “the conditions for the use of this Missal established by the earlier documents Quattuor Abhinc Annos and Ecclesia Dei are replaced.” The Motu Proprio enumerates the new conditions. Therefore, one can no longer refer to the restrictions established by those two documents, for the celebration according to the 1962 Missal.

Question: What are the substantial differences between the latest Motu Proprio and the two previous documents pertaining to this matter?

Answer: The first substantial difference is certainly that it is now licit to celebrate Mass according to the Extraordinary Rite without the need for a special permission, called an “indult.” The Holy Father Benedict XVI established, once and for all, that the Roman Rite consists of two Forms, to which he wished to give the names “Ordinary Form” (the celebration of the Novus Ordo, according to the Missal of Paul VI of 1970) and “Extraordinary Form” (the celebration of the Gregorian Rite, according to the Missal of B. John XXIII of 1962), and confirmed that this Missal of 1962 has never been abrogated. Another difference is that in Masses celebrated without the people, any Catholic priest of the Latin Rite, whether secular or religious, may use either Missal (Art. 2). Furthermore, in Masses without the people or with the people, it is upon the pastor or rector of the church, where it is intended to celebrate, to give permission to all those priests who present the “Celebret” given by their Ordinary. If they deny permission, the Bishop, according to the Motu Proprio, must see to it that permission is granted (see Article 7).

It is important to know that already an ad hoc Cardinal’s Commission of December 12, 1986, formed by the Eminent Cardinals Paul Augustin Mayer, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Agostino Casaroli, Bernardin Gantin, Joseph Ratzinger, William W. Baum, Edouard Gagnon, Alfons Stickler, and Antonio Innocenti, had been created by the Holy Father’s will, for the purpose of examining the possible measures to be taken to remedy the established ineffectiveness of the pontifical indult Quattuor Abhinc Annos about the restoration of the so-called Tridentine Mass in the Latin Church with the Roman Missal of the Typical Edition of 1962, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship with Prot. No. 686/84 of October 3, 1984. This Commission had proposed to the Holy Father John Paul II, even then, for this purpose, some substantial elements that were [only] taken up in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Allow me to make a summary of the minutes presenting the interventions of the Eminent Cardinals in order to understand how the later documents substantially reflect the vision achieved by such an important Commission of Cardinals shortly after Quattuor Abhinc Annos. Indeed, in the minutes it was stated that:

“The concern, desire and mind of the Holy Father [John Paul II] is the promotion of internal concord in the Church and the edification of the brethren within it.

“This is to be accomplished also through the primary rebuilding of communion in the practice of the lex orandi, such as the sound implementation of the liturgical reform, while dutifully respecting the legitimate needs of minority groups that are often distinguished not only for full theoretical orthodoxy but also for authentic exemplarity in the practice of intensely lived Christian life and of sincere and devoted attachment to the Apostolic See.

“Therefore, there must be a commitment of conscience on the part of all—bishops, priests, and faithful—to remove the scandalous arbitrariness that a misunderstood ‘creativity’ has produced, giving rise to the so-called ‘wild Masses’ and other desecrations that have wounded many of the aforementioned faithful by alienating them from the easy acceptance of the liturgical reform and the new ritual books, including the Missal, which erroneously appeared, unfortunately and precisely because of such unedifying desacralization, almost as the cause of it.”

In the same Commission it was proposed that:

“It shall be reiterated, on the part of the competent Dicastery, that the Pope desires internal pacification among all the faithful of the local Churches through the concrete implementation of the concession he made with the indult.

“The bishops shall carry out the will of the Supreme Pontiff by placing themselves spiritually in harmony with His intentions [for granting the indult generously].

“An adequate response is to be given, from the bishops, to those who wanted to discourage the implementation of the indult by presenting it as a reason for division instead of rebuilding. The response was to be not polemical but pastoral, explaining, with delicacy and patience, the letter and spirit of the indult.”

Furthermore, it was stated with authority that:

“The real problem at issue does not seem to be so much the artificial conflict that the indult is intended to resolve, but rather the one that lies upstream of it and was its real cause—that is, the conflict between the rightful implementation of the liturgical reform and the tolerated abuses produced by uncontrolled fantasy. Therefore, in addition to the indult, a far more general level of intervention is required on the part of the Holy See to eliminate the aforementioned habitual abuse that deforms the conciliar liturgical reform.

“The indult, as it stands, on the one hand, gives the impression that the Latin Mass, so-called ‘Tridentine,’ was an inferior and second-rate reality, which was restored only out of tolerant commiseration with those who requested it, and, on the other hand, gives the impression, precisely with all the heavy conditions it contains, that the Holy See itself considers it as such and would not have granted it unless it was forced to do so.

“It is necessary to reiterate and clarify to the bishops the true will of the Holy Father, which consists, not negatively in a concession of tolerance, but positively in a real pastoral initiative taken not to quiet the reaction to the abuses but to recompose the disagreement into reconciliation.

“It is necessary to remove all the conditions contained in the Indult, in order to eliminate the impression bishops have that the Holy See does not want it and the impression on the part of the faithful that they are asking for something almost barely tolerated by the Holy See.”

In the interventions of the assembled Eminences, it emerged that:

“One was in favor of granting the indult to all the faithful and priests who wished to make use of it in aedificationem [for edification] and without anti-Conciliar instrumentalization.

“It is necessary to make it clear to the Bishops that the indult corresponds to a will of the Pope meant to be observed, and it is necessary to make it clear to the faithful that they should respectfully request the implementation of the Pope’s will, so that the Bishops, when faced with respectful requests, will no longer have reason to refuse.

“It should be asked whether, in order to foster reconciliation, it is really necessary to ask the bishop’s consent at all to celebrate Holy Mass in Latin.

“As a general mentality, it would be opportune to tone down the strictness of the limiting conditions of the indult and to eliminate the additional conditions on the Bishops.

“As far as any restriction to particular groups is concerned, since the indult was conceived for them, it should be maintained—but iuxta modum, that is, on the one hand, not meaning by ‘groups’ just three or four persons and, on the other hand, not prohibiting that other persons [not part of the original group] may join the groups that took the initiative in the practice of the concession obtained.”

In the same Commission it was pointed out that:

“There is no difficulty in allowing readings in the vernacular.

“As to the optional use of the [new] Lectionary, there were reservations, fearing some confusion may arise because of the imperfect correspondence between the calendars of the two Missals, while no difficulty was seen in allowing the use of the Prefaces of the new Missal.

“The conditions added by the Bishops and also conditions regarding [the use of] non-parish churches and groups contained in the Indult would have to be removed.

“Under the premise that Latin, as an expression of unity, cannot and must not disappear from the Church, and desiring the Bishops to be ‘helped’ more than to be too ‘respected’ in their prerogatives, it is necessary to come to their aid by reducing the complex conditioning casuistry of the indult to criteria of greater simplicity; it could also thus eliminate the impression that, with those conditions, the Holy See wanted to make it clear that it had granted the indult only obtorto collo [having been seized by the neck]. Moreover, in doing so, the evolutionary coherence of the corrective pontifical measures could be highlighted by obviating their contradictory contrasts.

Citing then No. 23 of Sacrosanctum Concilium “concerning the criteria to be observed in reconciling tradition and progress in liturgical reform, and No. 26 of the same conciliar document, on the subject of the norms that must preside over such reform, as deriving from the hierarchical and communal nature of the liturgy, it was proposed (a) to insist, in the eventual document revising the indult, on the objectivity and not the arbitrariness of the implementation of liturgical reform; (b) to make it equally clear how both the use of the Latin language and the use of one or another edition of the Roman Missal should be considered within the framework of that logic; (c) to grant, at least in large cities, that on feast days there be a Holy Mass in Latin with free choice of one or the other typical edition (1962 or 1980) of the Roman Missal.

“It was proposed, likewise, to extend the granting of the Indult also to Ordinaries, religious Superiors General, Provincials, and others.

“About the necessity or otherwise of the Bishop’s assent for the celebration of the Holy Mass in Latin, it was recalled that Paul VI had said that, per se, the Priest, privately, should celebrate in Latin, since the concession made for the use of vernacular languages is only of a pastoral order, to enable the faithful to understand the contents of the rite and, thus, to participate better.

“The need to leave free the option of the use of either Missal for the celebration of the Holy Mass in Latin was reiterated.

“About the type of intervention [to be desired—i.e., what eventually became Summorum Pontificum], one would opt for a new papal document in which, taking stock of the current real situation of liturgical reform, the aforementioned freedom of choice between the two Missals in Latin would be clearly established, presenting one as a development and not as a juxtaposition of the other and eliminating the impression that each Missal is the temporary product of each historical epoch.

“Referring to the previous concerns expressed, the need was reiterated to ensure the [presentation of] evidence of the logical developmental linearity of the documents of the Church and the free option between the two Missals for the celebration of the Holy Mass, and it was proposed to emphasize that they cannot be considered except insofar as one is a development of the other, since liturgical norms, not being true ‘laws,’ cannot be abrogated but only surrogated—the preceding in the following.”

A report of all this was made to the Holy Father [John Paul II].

(Reposted from, and with permission of, New Liturgical Movement, where the translation first appeared on January 9, 2023.)

"Francis does to Georg Gänswein what the Jesuits did to him in Buenos Aires": Pack up and leave by February 1

Translated from InfoVaticana.

The German weekly Die Zeit has published the news that the Pope wants the former personal secretary of Benedict XVI far away from the Vatican.

According to German media, Archbishop Georg Gänswein has to move out of the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, Benedict XVI's retreat house, on February 1. According to Die Zeit, Father Georg was informed of the date of his expulsion from the Vatican residence on the same day as the funeral of the Pope Emeritus in a letter personally signed by Pope Francis.

Benedict XVI: A Personal Testimony - by Fr. Louis-Marie de Blignières, FSVF

Benedict XVI: A Personal Testimony

For almost half a century, Pope Benedict XVI offered to the Church, as his answer to relativism, selfishness and despair, a Christian epiphany of truth, unity and joy.

Fellow-worker with the truth

What is most striking about Benedict XVI’s life is how he always sought to open up the way of truth, to people living in our difficult modern times. He understood the challenges. He was fully aware of how the metaphysical range of the human intelligence had come to be neglected. He also perceived the decline of the theology of creation, a branch of theology that sees nature and the human body as a ‘message’ sent forth by the wisdom of God.

“The Catholic Church must free itself from this ‘toxic nightmare’” — Cardinal Pells’ final public statement

From Damian Thompson:

Shortly before he died on Tuesday, Cardinal George Pell wrote the following article for The Spectator in which he denounced the Vatican’s plans for its forthcoming ‘Synod on Synodality’ as a ‘toxic nightmare’. The booklet produced by the Synod, to be held in two sessions this year and next year, is ‘one of the most incoherent documents ever sent out from Rome’, says Pell. Not only is it ‘couched in neo-Marxist jargon’, but it is ‘hostile to the apostolic tradition’ and ignores such fundamental Christian tenets as belief in divine judgment, heaven and hell.

The Australian-born cardinal, who endured the terrible ordeal of imprisonment in his home country on fake charges of sex abuse before being acquitted, was nothing if not courageous. He did not know that he was about to die when he wrote this piece; he was prepared to face the fury of Pope Francis and the organisers when it was published. As it is, his sudden death may add extra force to his words when the synod meets this October. 

Read the cardinal's forceful words at The Spectator.

RORATE EXCLUSIVE: First translation of pages on 'Traditionis Custodes' from Gänswein's new book

As everyone now knows, Archbishop Georg Gänswein has written a book entitled "Nient' altro che la verità: La mia vita al fianco di Benedetto XVI" (Nothing but the truth: My life beside Pope Benedict XVI) (Piemme, 2023). So far, no English translation has been announced. Rorate has access to this book and is pleased to present the following section, "Interrupted pacification" (pp. 288-291), in English for the first time.

Gerhard Ludwig Müller: "Pope Francis' clampdown on the Latin Mass was an imprudence"

The following article by Domenico Agasso appeared in La Stampa on January 7, 2023. (link)

VATICAN CITY. "Pope Francis' clampdown on the Latin Mass was an imprudence. I suggest to the Pontiff that he be more attentive to all sensibilities within the Church, even those furthest from his own." And he warns of a possible schism on the left in Germany, sounding a sharp "no" to the blessing of gay couples: "It is against the word of God."

A Monk of Le Barroux Reflects on His Friendship with Ratzinger

Dom Louis-Marie Geyer d'Orth O.S.B., Abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Madeleine Le Barroux, published this reflection at L'homme nouveau on Jan. 4.

When I think of Benedict XVI, two verses from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians spontaneously come to mind, evoking the ability to "understand with all the saints what is the breadth, length, height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge." Benedict XVI was great in his charity, so I would like to tell you the story of the friendship between this great man and our community.

The somewhat sad funeral of Benedict XVI: Václav Klaus reflects

Václav Klaus, an atheist and well-respected European thinker, former President of the Czech Republic, reflects on the funeral. (source in Czech)

For me, and certainly for many others of us, the most significant event of this week was the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Thursday. 

The Funeral Rites of Benedict XVI and the Many Petty Gestures of Francis

 Francis’ Petty Heart

Caminante Wanderer

Argentina, January 5, 2023

Mediocre people surround themselves with ones even more mediocre than themselves in order to be able to manage them as they please and conceal their own mediocrity. This is what Bergoglio did as soon as he took over the papal throne. And it has been demonstrated for the umpteenth time with the death of Pope Benedict XVI. 

I summarize here some of the events of the last few days, mostly anecdotal, but which reveal the mean and petty soul of Pope Francis. Some are public; others, on the other hand, were confided to me by discreet sources who walk the corridors of the Sacred Palace:

New publication: The English Edition of ‘The Execution of Justice’ by Elisabetta Sala


Rorate is happy to announce to our readers the publication of the long-awaited English edition of Italian writer, Elizabetta Sala’s* first-rate historical novel, ‘The Execution of Justice’, a page-turning thriller.

My Benedict Story

I was honored to meet Cardinal Ratzinger during the 10th anniversary Ecclesia Dei and Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter celebrations in Rome in 1998, and am thankful to the New York Post (currently the fifth largest newspaper in the U.S.) for running my account (followed by some commentary...) online Wednesday and in print Thursday.

May he rest in peace.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, pontifical High Mass

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the keynote speaker at a Vatican conference on the traditional Latin Mass in October 1998, seven years before he would become Pope Benedict XVI — whose funeral Pope Francis will lead in St. Peter’s Square Thursday.

Mosebach on Benedict

The following appeared originally in German at Die Tagepost on January 3, 2023.

According to the Frankfurt best-selling author Martin Mosebach, it will turn out that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday, "recognized and named with astuteness precisely the conflict" that will form the "necessary and most important theme" of the internal Church debate: "Is the Church forever committed to the tradition of the evangelists, the apostles, martyrs, and Church Fathers, or can it break that commitment and discover other ever-new sources of revelation? Does Vatican II mark the beginning of a break with tradition or does it stand in that tradition and want to continue it without a break?" In response to a question from this newspaper, Mosebach commented thus on the impact of the emeritus beyond his death.

"The two popes and the mystery of the Church" - by Roberto de Mattei

 2023 conveys to future ages an absolutely unprecedented image: the funeral of one pope presided over by another pope. An image that touches upon the very essence of the papacy, which Jesus Christ meant to be one and indivisible.

In an interview given to Bruno Vespa on Good Friday of 2005, when he was still prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stated that “the pontificate is a unique responsibility given by the Lord, and one that the Lord alone can take back”. Eight years later, however, on 11 February 2013, came the announcement of his abdication — like “a bolt from the blue”, to use the words of the then dean of the college of cardinals, Angelo Sodano. There are those who are convinced that the cause of Benedict XVI’s resignation of the pontificate lies in various kinds of pressure thought to have been applied to him. But in an interview with Peter Seewald, published as his Last Testament, Benedict reiterated: “That’s all complete nonsense... no one has tried to blackmail me. If that had been attempted I would not have gone.” The decision, he always repeated, was taken in full and conscious freedom.

Gänswein: “I believe it broke Pope Benedict’s heart to read [Traditionis custodes].”

— Matthew Hazell (@M_P_Hazell) January 3, 2023

Full interview available here.

Progressive liturgist tells us Ratzinger was motivated by sentimentality and guilt

Normally Rorate Caeli would be the last place you'd expect to find a translation of an interview with Andrea Grillo, progressive liturgist of Sant'Anselmo in Rome and purported ghost-author of Traditionis Custodes (or at very least the one who offered its author the template). It is nevertheless extremely illuminating to see what someone like this thinks about Ratzinger... Published in Italian at RAI News. - PAK

Ratzinger, between tradition and modernity. Interview with Andrea Grillo, professor of Theology and Philosophy of Religion at the Pontifical Institute S. Anselmo in Rome

The Great Resignations — Guest Article by Christian Browne

At the close of the thirteenth century, the papacy was at the height of its religious prestige and political power. Over the course of the preceding centuries, the popes led the moral regeneration of the Church and secured its independence from, and even dominance over, the secular arm of the German emperors—called (at various times) the Holy Roman Emperors. 

“A Tragic Pope” - A Great Intellect is Important; an Iron Hand Even More So - by Juan Manuel de Prada


This is how the tragedy came about of the clairvoyant man, capable of diagnosing the causes of the evil that was leading to the gangrene of the Church

Juan Manuel de Prada
January 2, 2023

The papacy of Benedict XVI was perceived by many Catholics -among whom I count myself- as a precious gift. It was -saving the differences- as if John Henry Newman had acceded to the Petrine ministry. Not only because Ratzinger was a man of high intellectual stature - even if he did not reach Newman's unattainable heights* - but also because from a 'past' prone to the shadow he had embraced the light.

“Everything that contributes to rootedness [in the faith] must be encouraged”

Newly ordained FSSP priest offering the Holy Mass
The following are excerpts from an interview done by Famille Chrétienne with Father Laurent-Marie Pocquet du Haut Jussé, a canonist and theologian, former head of the application of the motu proprio Summorum pontificum in Compiègne. The interview first appeared on July 20, 2022; a translation is made now (from this source) because the issues continue to be entirely relevant.

FC: One year after the motu proprio Traditionis custodes, the pope reaffirmed his will to drastically limit the use of the Tridentine rite in his apostolic letter Desiderio desideravi in the name of the unity of the Church. In what way does the Tridentine rite threaten the unity of the Church more than the other rites admitted within it?