Thursday, October 05, 2006

Cardinal Ricard to his diocese on the new Institute

[The following is an unofficial translation of Cardinal Ricard's, Bordeaux letter.]

How to receive in Bordeaux the Institute of the Good Shepherd, an apostolic society of life of pontifical right? In charity and the truth!

The Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, in an article dated October 6, 2006 in the official journal of his diocese evokes the preconditions and the conditions of realization of a convention.

On September 8 the Institute of the Good Shepherd was set up in Rome. It is an apostolic society of life of pontifical right. It currently includes five priests and a deacon. Its superior general is Fr. Philippe Laguérie. Like the other socieies of apostolic life of pontifical right, it depends on Rome for all that relates to the internal life of the Institute. On the other hand, it needs the authorization of the diocesan bishop for any apostolic activity in its diocese and to have the pastoral care of faithful. This Institute has a particular characteristic: to it it was granted “the exclusive use” of the liturgical books of 1962, i.e. books used before the Second Vatican Council and the implementation of the conciliar reform. The priests of this Institute will not concelebrate. This said, nobody can prohibit a priest from concelebrating with the bishop of the diocese or the Pope himself.

This decision is related to the desire of the Pope Benedict XVI, expressed several times by him, to make a gesture of reception with respect to those which followed Msgr. Lefebvre in its “no” to Rome. The pope knows by the history that the more the years pass, the more the schisms harden and the less the conditions of a reconciliation are likely, each side carrying on on their own road. The creation of this Institute is thus the sign of a gentle (?) hand, an invitation to overcome suspicion and to start a dialogue in a more fraternal spirit. The future will see if this creation is a promising initiative or a fallen through hope.

In Bordeaux, the creation of this Institute has resulted in strong emotions. One cannot forget the violence which marked, during several years, the relations of the occupants of St. Elias church with the Diocesan church. Some approved the gesture of the pope seeking to promote the group. Others wondered about the direction of this decision to create this Institute. They felt [déjugés?] compared to their liturgical life, with their pastoral activity, their fidelity with the conciliar reform. Within the framework of an extraordinary meeting of the Presbyterial Council, each priest could deliver his opinion and ask questions. The laity engaged in the life of the diocese were also expressed collectively. I heard their. There is the expression of a concern which must be taken into account. I however believe that it is necessary to bring back the things to their right proportion: a generous and exceptional gesture of offer of communion with respect to a particular group does not call in question the way that the Lord has had us live in Church for 40 years, under the guidance of our successive popes: Paul VI, John-Paul II and today Benedict XVI.

How will we proceed now in Bordeaux?

The structure most adapted to allow the recognition of an apostolic activity of this Institute in Bordeaux is that of the personal parish, such as it is defined in canon 518 of the Code of Canon Law. This parish will accomodate faithful attached to the pre-Concliar liturgy, which the pope calls “the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.” It could not be territorial because one cannot oblige the faithful of a given territory to live their liturgical life according to this [i.e. extraordinary - NLM] form of the Roman rite. To set up a personal parish calls the signature of a convention between the diocese and the Institute. This one will suppose an agreement on operating modes and conditions of implementation. It is only starting from this agreement that the church of St. Elias, [whose diocesan church is affectataire?], could be put, for a fixed time, with provision of the personal parish thus created.

In which spirit we will live? In charity and the truth. In charity first of all. We all are invited to enter, not in a logic of political strategy, or even pastoral giving, but in the evangelical attitude of the reception of our brother, which always implies generosity and hope in the faith. The Gospel says to us: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful: judge not, nor condemn and you will not be condemned, discharge and you will be discharged, give and one will be given you. It is a good measure, full and overflowing that one will pour, because it is the measure of which you are useful yourselves who will also be used as measurement for you. ” (Lc 6, 36-38)

In the truth too. A true reconciliation could not be carried out in a climate or spirit of revenge, shadows of the convictions or practice of double speak. Saint James recalls us: “That your yes is yes and your no, no, so that you do not fall under the judgement. ” (5, 12) It is important that the preconditions put to the recognition of this Institute are better known. I will have the occasion myself to go to Rome and to ask for additional information on this point. The entry in a full communion implies, indeed, fidelity with current Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops and a clear position with respect to the magisterial acts which were taken at the Second Vatican Council and the promulgation of its texts. Admittedly, the questions and the difficulties do not therefore disappear. But the communion implies that these questions are shared fraternally, in a climate of mutual respect and subsidiary obedience to Magisterium, and not expressed in a climate of polemic as wearying as it is fruitless. Yes, the communion implies reception of the other, mutual knowledge, will to be put together at the listening of what “the Spirit called to the Churches” (Acts 2, 29) This call is really addressed to all. It implies a conversion of each one.

Let us not forget finally that communion is with the service of the mission. The evangelization of our [society?] is the major challenge that our Church has to rise to. No one has a miracle solution. That would be known for a long time. We know simply that neither the dissolution of the Gospel in the spirit of time nor the constitution of Christian ghettos folded in on themselves are the satisfactory answers to this challenge of evangelization. On that ground, each one of us is yoked to rise to it. We need to join our forces, all our forces, and to share our [experiences?]. We have to live the same apostolic adventure. Certain days, the sea can appear turbulent. The barque connected with the Church is shaken by it. But let us be not afraid! Let us intend Christ to say to us: “Men of little faith, why did you doubt? Do not know not that I am with you until the end of the time? ”

Yes, time is really with confidence and the mission.

+ Cardinal Jean-Pierre RICARD

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