Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Official Report from the Roman Summorum Pontificum Conference

The NLM recently reported on a liturgical conference held in Rome. This was the conference which was concluded by the Solemn Pontifical Mass offered by Archbishop Raymond Burke in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter's Basilica. (To re-review those articles, see: Day One, Day Two and the Solemn Pontifical Mass).

The NLM has now been provided with a summary report (originally reported in Italian on Corrispondenza Romana) from that conference which it is pleased to present to you today. (The photos were inserted by the NLM as were certain bolded emphases of names and papers delivered.)

A Conference on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

A long awaited conference has been held in Rome on 16–18 October, just a few steps from the Vatican, entitled A Great Gift for the Entire Church, on the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” of H.H. Pope Benedict XVI.  The success of this important event is undeniable and it was marked with a Papal greeting to the participants.

The event was organized by the association “Amicizia Sacerdotale Summorum Pontificum” (Priestly Friends of Summorum Pontificum”) and the lay group “Giovani e Tradizione” (Youth and Tradition).  The conference was chaired, directed and concluded by the organizer and founder of the two aforementioned organizations, the Dominican theologian, Father Vincenzo Nuara.

The Conference proper, which was preceded by a retreat for priests on Friday 16 October, commenced on 17 October.  The great numbers of young priests, seminarians and religious, many of them under the age of 30, was a clear signal that the current “signs of the times” are indicating a clear return to the roots of Christian faith, doctrine and spirituality. 

Following the celebration of Holy Mass in the extraordinary form by Monsignor Athanasius Schneider, Fr. Nuara gave a remarkable opening speech to the conference in which he reminded his audience that since the promulgation of the Motu proprio the lives of many of those present had been changed.  Regretting the difficulties surrounding the application of the pontifical text, Fr. Nuara recalled the ascetic significance of suffering for a just cause: it was precisely because of the pains endured in silence and abandonment by those priests and faithful who are wholeheartedly attached to the traditional rite that the true reform of the Church will begin.

The first lecture was that of Mgr Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Karaganda (Kazakhstan), on the theme “The Sanctity and Beauty of the Liturgy of the Holy Fathers”.  According to the prelate, the worship of God must take place in awareness of divine sanctity.  This fundamental and unavoidable notion has been present since to the very first ancient liturgical texts that come from tradition.  In practice, this is the exact opposite of that which the prevalent liturgical “fashion”, steeped in humanistic and worldly values, has tried to impose for the past few decades.  The symbolism and gestural expressiveness are essential for the proper understanding of the mystery being celebrated.  As far as the prelate is concerned, nothing - absolutely nothing - must be left to chance, improvisation or human discretion.

This was followed by a presentation by Professor Roberto de Mattei, president of the Lepanto Foundation, who spoke on “Catholicism and Romanità in the Church Today”.  He presented a synthesis of the significance of Rome and of the Roman tradition within the Catholic worldview.  He noted that the Roman tradition is not merely a supplementary note of secondary value used to identify God’s true Church; rather, it is the quintessence of Catholicism.  It is not by chance that the enemies of the Church are also enemies of the (true) Roman and Latin traditions.  Modernism, inaugurated by the Lutheran anti-Romanism, demonstrates two phenomena which are in fact mirror images of one another. On the one hand it seeks to purify Christianity from the Roman tradition — as do all Protestant sects, Jansenism, and then modernism and neo-modernism.  On the other hand, Ancient Rome is exalted so as to create a sort of anti-Catholic idol: one thinks of Frederick II, Machiavelli, the Ghibellines, Jacobins and lay nationalism of the 1800's.

That same morning, there were two brief but important talks given by the Vice President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and for Sacred Archeology, Dom Michael John Zielinski, and Mgr Valentino Miserachs Grau, President of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.  Both were meant to stress the importance for sacred art and Church music of their ties to the Latin and Gregorian liturgical traditions.  Both prelates criticized many of the recent artistic and musical evolutions that hide that sanctity which is so necessary for Christian worship and the spirituality of the faithful. 

After lunch, the lecture by Mgr Guido Pozzo, new Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Pontifical Commission, was warmly received.  The prelate reiterated the importance of the traditional liturgy for the continuity of Catholic doctrine and noted that, despite the current difficulties, implementation of the Motu proprio will continue to expand.

The lecture by Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, founder of the “Francescani dell’Immacolata” (Franciscans of the Immaculate) - one of the youngest and most prominent families of the “Franciscan reformation” – had been eagerly awaited.  The distinguished priest addressed, at length and with heartfelt pleas, the inseparable bond that exists between religious life - which he has lived for well over half a century - and liturgy.  The current liturgical decadence, often pointed out by Benedict XVI, has certainly had an impact on priestly and religious vocations, as well as on the secularization of monasteries, convents and institutes that once flourished.  The decision by the Franciscans of the Immaculate to return to the traditional Mass and liturgical offices is bearing precious fruit, both in terms of the number of vocations and in terms of the improvement of the spiritual life in both their male and female communities.  According to Fr. Manelli, the Motu proprio especially encourages religious to resume the ancient liturgical and ascetic practices; by doing so, will they form those holy oases that the faithful say are ever more necessary.

The last speaker was the renowned theologian Mgr Brunero Gherardini, the author of a recent important study on the development on the value (and limitations) of Council documents.  After having reminded the audience that the Motu proprio has been set up as a “sanatio”, he demonstrated the true sense of Tradition, as a banner of dogmatic and magisterial continuity.  With acumen and theological depth, Mgr Gherardini demonstrated the opposition between living Tradition, understood in a Catholic sense - that is to say, the infinite capacity of the Magisterium to proclaim “new” dogmas which in fact are already a part of Divine Revelation - and the so-called “living tradition” invented by Modernism that uses this expression to adjust dogma and doctrine to the almost infinite variations of the fragile human mind.

Fr. Nuara closed the conference by thanking all guests and noting that the Conference itself was the result of God’s grace and its success a true miracle.

On Sunday, 18 October, the participants had the joy of attending Pontifical Holy Mass, celebrated by Mgr Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signature, in St. Peter’s Basilica.  It should be noted that the final Mass, as with those throughout the conference, was attended by members of all the institutes that use the old Missal: from the Fraternity of St. Peter to the Institute of Christ the King, from the Franciscans of the Immaculate to the Institute of the Good Shepherd, as well as the well known figure of Mgr Perl. 

The unity of the “traditional Catholic family”, even among so many difficulties, is not the least of the successes of Fr. Vincenzo Nuara’s initiatives.

During the Angelus on that same day the Holy Father greeted all Conference participants, thereby supporting this important initiative from on high.

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