Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cardinal Ricard: The Motu Proprio is Not Signed Yet

Source: Eucharistie Misericordieuse

The entire original address: Link

[An unofficial translation of an address given by Cardinal Ricard today... some brief commentary to follow]

In the opening speech pronounced in front of the Plenary assembly of the Bishops of France, on Saturday November 4, 2006, Cardinal Ricard reconsidered the recent issue [of the Motu Proprio]. He made a point of specifying that:

“1. The decision to liberalize, for priests, the possibility of saying the Mass according to the Missal of 1962 is not yet taken. The Motu Proprio is not signed. This project will be the subject of various consultations. We can make, as of now, of our fears and our wishes known.

2. This project is not part of a desire to criticize the Missal known as of “Paul VI” nor to proceed to a reform of the liturgical reform. The liturgical books written and promulgated following the Council are the form ordinary and thus usual to the Roman rite. This project's origin is rather in the desire of Benedict XVI to do all that is in his capacity to put an end to the Lefevbrist schism. He knows that the more the years pass, the more the relations distend [?] and the positions harden. In the face of the history of the great schisms, one can always wonder whether there were occasions for bringing back together. The Pope wishes to make his possible so that a hand is held out and that a reception is expressed, at least with those which are of goodwill and who express a deep desire of communion. For this reason it is necessary to include/understand this project of Motu Proprio.

3. The reception of such into the communion of the Church could not call into question the pastoral work of the Council [l'ensemble]. No, the Church does not change a course. Contrary to the intentions that some attribute to him, Pope Benedict XVI does not intend to reconsider the course that the Second Vatican Council gave to the Church. He is solemnly committed in this regard. As of his election, he affirmed: “Rightly, the Pope John-Paul II indicated the Second Vatican Council is a “compass” according to which we can be directed in the vast ocean of the third Millenium (Apostolic cf Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, 57-58). And it also noted in his spiritual will: “I am convinced that a long time still it will be given to rising generation to draw from the richnesses that this Council of the 20th century lavished on us” (March 17, 2000). Consequently, for me also, while I prepare to achieve the service which is that of the Successor of Peter, I want to affirm with force my very firm will to continue the task of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, in the steps of my predecessors and in a faithful continuity with the bi-millenial Tradition of the Church” (First message of His Holiness Benedict XVI at the end of the Mass to the Sistine Chapel, April 20, 2005). In his speech to the Roman Curia where he criticizes a false “spirit of the Council”, the Pope Benedict XVI declares: “Forty years after the Council, we can stress that the positive one [?] is larger and more alive than than it appeared in the agitation of the years following 1968. We see today that the good seed, while developing slowly, grows however, and thus grows also our deep gratitude for the work achieved by the Council” (Short speech of the Pope Benedict XVI). These words deserve to be heard. I believe that one should not be inhabited today by fear. There too, let us live confidence. Why the recent events wouldn't be an occasion, for us in France, to make a peaceful second reading of our reception of the Council, to read again the momentous founding texts of it, to seize with new vigour [?] the great intuitions and to locate in them the points which still deserve to be taken into account? It is not with an ideological reading of the Vatican II that we are called but well with a spiritual second reading, in the thanksgiving of what the Lord gave us to live and in an availability renewed for the mission. (...)”

[Commentary: I think it is clear to all that Pope Benedict does not intend to "reverse the Council" of course, and all should be clear on this point. That being said, he does intend and wishes to see it properly implemented, which Cardinal Ricard makes reference to. His mention of the opportunity to re-evaluate how the Council has been implemented is also welcome of course, though this welcome must be tempered with a hope that it will be a real and critical evaluation of fidelity to that Council's documents and directives. Indeed, on his comment that the Church does not change its course, we must be realistic in our evaluation, as Ratzinger/Benedict has been, which is that the course that many local churches, seminaries, religious orders, etc. have taken, either in theology, liturgy or various other domains, has not been the true to the genuine course of the Council, which as Benedict reminds us, must always be understood in the light of continuity. Thus indeed can it be said that the full riches of the Council need to be explored. This is not a call for further steps on the present problematic course that has been taken in so many regions, but is in fact a call to adopting the course of the Council as it actually was pronounced.

Further, it is curious to see what Cardinal Ricard has to say about the "reform of the liturgical reform" in relation to Pope Benedict's thought and this Motu Proprio. From these thoughts, it seems that for certain of the bishops of France, the issue is not simply about the 1962 Missal (though that is a significant part of it), but even concern about a reform of the reform. Perhaps this is somehow viewed as "backsliding" as Bishop Donald Trautman in the United States has termed it in the past. But of course, the principles potentially behind this statement is problematic as a reform of the reform is not about a rejection of Vatican II, but rather about seeking to implement that "second-reading" that His Eminence refers to.

Cardinal Ricard's statements must be understood, I believe, in the light that they are an attempt to settle any discord or concern amongst the French episcopacy and reveals precisely the depth of their concerns.

It likewise potentially emphasizes something we already know: that while the reform of the reform advances, there is a significant generational divide in regard to the question. However, at very least this is demonstrative that the reform of the reform is tangibly "on the books" and a serious force which has been noticed. While we can respectfully disagree with His Eminence about the necessity of a reform of the liturgical reform, there is consolation in this fact.

As regards the Motu Proprio, this speech would certainly indicate the internet rumours of today as a release date won't come to fruition and that likely more discussion is happening. However, while some might view such consultations as a potential for watering down the Motu Proprio, I would caution people at making quick judgements in this regard. First off, we do not know that such consultations weren't to be a part of the process in the first place. Certainly a man so intimately involved in this question as Benedict has been would be aware of this sort of response. He would also know that such consultations can be important in helping quell any uprising of resistance, once such a Motu Proprio was put into effect.

Second, Pope Benedict is the supreme pastor, and so if his bishops come to him with concerns, he will, as a good pastor ought, seek to address them and assure them of what this does and does not mean, including that this is not a rejection of the Second Vatican Council.

I, for one, am not terribly concerned.]

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