Friday, January 05, 2007

Pope picks up phone in defense of Old rite [it is claimed]

[Source: Catholic Herald]


POPE BENEDICT XVI has spoken by telephone to a number of French bishops to persuade them to accept a wider use of the Tridentine Mass, it has been claimed.

The Pontiff brought French bishops who oppose the Tridentine Mass "to a reluctant but decisive change of view", according to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), an organisation of Old Rite priests that the Pope strongly supports.

It is widely expected that a papal document will soon be released to allow priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass - using the pre-Vatican II 1962 Latin Missal - without the explicit permission of the local bishop, though probably only in the low-key setting of a "private" celebration. The document, which will be released motu proprio, or on the Pope's own initiative, has caused concern among bishops in France, where traditionalist groups are particularly active.

But efforts by the French episcopate to "torpedo" the initiative have failed, according to Videre Petrum, the FSSP's British newsletter.

"It is said that the mild but persuasive words of Pope Benedict, who personally spoke by telephone to many of the most intransigent enemies of tradition among the bishops of France, worked a sort of miracle, and brought them to a reluctant but decisive change of view, or at least to a recognition of the limits of disobedience," the newsletter said. Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, a former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said last month that the Vatican's Ecclesia Dei commission had discussed the document and would pass on its conclusions to the Pope.

The cardinal added that he did not expect the commission, set up in 1988 to oversee Vatican relations with traditionalists, to discuss the document any further.

Commentators say priests will be allowed to celebrate the Tridentine Rite without permission at "private Masses" that would be nevertheless be open to the public.

The proposed reform would put pressure on the bishops of England and Wales to adopt a more welcoming stance towards the FSSP, which currently has only two priests based in London.

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