Monday, November 13, 2006

The Mass of Saint Pius V: The French Bishops Raise a Shout with the Pope

Source: www.chiesa

The Mass of Saint Pius V: The French Bishops Raise a Shout with the Pope
They want to maintain the right of veto against the use of the Tridentine missal. But Benedict XVI is set to liberalize it. Arinze’s harangue against the postconciliar liturgical abuses

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, November 13 – The French bishops met in plenary assembly last week, in shock over the news that Benedict XVI is about to grant wider authorization to the celebration of the Mass ‘of Saint Pius V.’

The French bishops feel themselves to be particularly affected by this news because it is in France that the liturgical renewal before and after Vatican Council II has seen some of its strongest development. Because it is in France that there arose the traditionalist schism of archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, an extremely staunch defender of the rite that is also called ‘Tridentine’, in that it was established by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century. And because it is in France that the faithful of traditionalist stamp are the most numerous and volatile with respect to the aggregate of the practicing faithful, who have fallen well below ten percent of the population.

For a good number of the French bishops, the go-ahead for the Tridentine rite would endanger not only the liturgical reform of Vatican II, but the very unity of the Church itself.

The bishops of Strasbourg, Metz, and the ecclesiastical province of Besançon – who are among the most inflamed over this issue – put their views in black and white in a message of protest they released on October 25:

“The bishops are afraid that the generalization of the Roman missal of 1962 would attenuate the guidelines of Vatican Council II. Such a decision would also risk endangering the unity among the priests, and among the faithful as well.”

Two days earlier, on Monday, October 23, Benedict XVI had received at the Vatican cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the former archbishop of Paris. And on Thursday the 26th the pope had been visited by cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux and president of the French bishops’ conference. Both expressed the fears of their brother bishops over the announced pontifical “Motu Proprio.”

That same day, October 26, a conference on the same explosive terrain opened in Paris. The occasion of the conference was the 50 year anniversary of the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie.

Among those who spoke at this conference were the archbishop of Paris and president of the institute, André Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Toulouse and head of liturgical matters for the bishops’ conference, Robert Le Gall, and the prefect of the Vatican congregation for divine worship, cardinal Francis Arinze.

In his address, Vingt-Trois admitted that the liturgical renewal that had been implemented in France over the past decades had seen developments that were “sometimes clumsy or crude, which may have given the impression of a rupture with tradition.”

He also recognized that “in some liturgical gimmicks or tendencies one has been able to identify the assembly’s celebration of itself, instead of the celebration of the work of God – means the proclamation of a new model of the Church.”

But then he continued, to the applause of those present:

“On the other hand, one has witnessed a radical criticism of Vatican Council II, a pure and simple rejection of some of its declarations, under the pretext of mobilization in defense of a form of the liturgy. The rejection of validly promulgated liturgical books was followed by public insults against the popes, and crowned by acts of violence such as the forcible seizure of a parish church in Paris. [...] None of the protagonists of these uprisings either believed or stated that the problem was primarily, much less exclusively, liturgical. It was, and remains, an ecclesiological problem. It clearly poses the question of the meaning of ecclesial unity in communion with the see of Peter. It clearly poses the question of the authority of an ecumenical council.”

But the address by cardinal Arinze fell like a cold shower on many of those present.

Here are some of the passages from this:

“The sacred liturgy is not something that has been invented...”

“Many of the abuses in the liturgical domain have arisen, not from ill will, but from ignorance...”

“We must distance ourselves from that coldness, that horizontalism that places man at the center of the liturgical action, and also from the openly egocentric showmanship that our Sunday assemblies are sometimes obliged to witness...”

“Unfortunately, many homilies seem like addresses marked by considerations of sociology, psychology, or – even worse – politics. Sometimes they are delivered by members of the lay faithful, who are not even authorized to deliver the homily, which is reserved for those who have received ordination...”

“For a priest to try to share with the lay faithful the role that he exercises in the liturgy by virtue of his being a priest, and which is strictly reserved to him, is evidence of false humility and of an inadmissible conception of democracy or fraternity... “

“If one weakens the role of the priest or fails to appreciate it, a local Catholic community can sink dangerously into the idea that it is possible to envision a community without a priest...”

Cardinal Arinze repeatedly cited the 2003 encyclical by John Paul II, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” an encyclical whose “primary purpose” – according to the authoritative theologian Giuseppe Colombo – that of “denouncing what is probably the most widespread abuse in today’s Church: that of celebrating the Mass without an ordained priest.”

* * *

After these stormy introductions, on Saturday, November 4 cardinal Ricard dedicated a good portion of his opening address for the plenary assembly of the French bishops to the feared liberalization of the Tridentine Mass by the pope.

He said, among other things:

“The decision to liberalize the possibility for priests to say the Mass according to the 1962 missal has not yet been made. The announced Motu Proprio has not been signed. Its plan will be the object of various consultations. And, beginning now, we can make known our own fears and hopes.”

“This project [of liberalization] is not being created with the intention of criticizing what is referred to as ‘the missal of Paul VI’, nor of proceeding with a reform of the liturgical reform. The liturgical books that were composed and diffused after Vatican Council II are the ordinary, and thus the standard, form of the Roman rite. This project arises, instead, from Benedict XVI’s desire to do everything in his power to bring the Lefebvrist schism to an end.”

“Contrary to the intentions that some attribute to him, pope Benedict XVI does not intend to double back along the path that Vatican Council II set for the Church. He is solemnly engaged in following it.”

But these reassurances were not enough to put the French bishops at ease. On Thursday, November 9, in the concluding address for the plenary assembly, cardinal Ricard again stressed that “the disputes with the faithful who have followed archbishop Lefebvre in his ‘no’ to Rome are not, in the first place, liturgical, but theological, concerning religious freedom, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue.”

And this is how he formulated the requests from the French bishops to Benedict XVI:

“We hope to proceed with welcoming those who retain an attachment to the ‘Mass of Saint Pius V’. Diversity is possible – but it must be regulated. It must go together with the unity of the liturgy and the unity of the Church. One must not leave the choice of one of the forms of the Roman rite – the Mass of Saint Pius V or the Mass of Paul VI – to subjectivity alone.”

In other words, the French bishops are asking Benedict XVI not to mitigate the impediments to the use of the Tridentine missal put in place by John Paul II.

* * *

This rite has never been completely abrogated, neither by Vatican Council II nor by later provisions. For example, Padre Pio continued celebrating the Mass according to the rite of Saint Pius until his death, according to an indult granted to him personally by Paul VI.

But in those years, it was practically banned.

In 1984, with the letter “Quattuor Abhinc Annos” from the congregation for divine worship, John Paul II permitted a return to the use of the Tridentine rite, while placing this under two demanding conditions.

To celebrate the Mass according to the rite of Saint Pius V, in its latest arrangement dating to 1962, one needed in the first place to recognize “the legitimacy and doctrinal precision” of the missal promulgated by Paul VI in 1970 according to the guidelines of Vatican Council II.

But above all, one needed the permission of the local bishop.

In fact, many bishops have always refused to grant this permission to the priests and faithful who have requested it.

And this widespread refusal, particularly in France, was one of the factors that drove the followers of arch-traditionalist Archbishop Lefebvre to separate from the Church of Rome.

Benedict XVI wants to heal this schism – which is, in effect, more doctrinal than liturgical – but he also wants to grant, beginning immediately, the innocent desire of those priests and faithful who are fond of the Latin Mass in the ancient rite. He therefore has it in mind to facilitate the use of the Tridentine missal, in particular by removing the obligation to obtain permission from the local bishop.

And that has stirred up the French bishops.

But in the meantime, in Bordeaux, the diocese of cardinal Ricard, the Holy See has already authorized a group of former Lefebvrists that has returned to the Catholic Church, the community of the Good Shepherd, to celebrate the liturgy according to the Tridentine rite.

It is thus foreseeable that Benedict XVI will take a little more time, will listen to the objections from some bishops and cardinals, but in the end – probably by winter – will issue the Motu Proprio that will facilitate the use of the Tridentine rite.

He’s sure that this will do nothing but add to the plurality of rites that have always made the Church multifaceted.

The Council of Trent itself was careful not to unify the rites by force. Next to the “Roman” rite, Pius V confirmed the legitimacy of all the other rites in the Church that had been in existence for at least two centuries. And there were quite a few of these rites at the time. The predominance of the Roman rite asserted itself gradually over the following centuries, but it was never complete. Still today, there are marked differences between the Mass in the Roman rite and the “Ambrosian” rite celebrated in the archdiocese of Milan. To this must be added the great variety of the rites of the Eastern Churches united with Rome.

This is without mentioning the incredible – and often unapproved – variety in styles of celebration that was unleashed by the liturgical reform inaugurated by Vatican Council II and by its new missal, enacted in 1970.

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