Seeking reconciliation?

Seeking reconciliation?

The Romanitas blog is covering speculation that Pope Benedict is seeking some sort of rapprochement with the SSPX and other Traditionalists through coded references in speeches and homilies. Seems a bit cloak and dagger to me, although I wouldn’t rule out that the Holy Father sees a revitalization of the liturgy as a main thrust of his pontificate and the Tridentine Mass playing a big role in that.

  • This can only be considered good news.  A rapproachment with Rome would bring the SSPX back into full communion, although a sizeable minority of its members might choose to remain separate.  The SSPX requires that the excommunications be lifted (The Pope already did that for the Orthodox bishops) and that the Tridentine indult be made universal. (Any priest may celebrate the Tridentine Mass anywhere at anytime).  The Society claims that these two steps would bring the SSPX bishops to Rome for an ad lima visit where the dialogue would rachet up to a new level.

  • There are more than a few traditionalists who have long considered the former Cardinal Ratzinger to be a notorious modernist. If you don’t believe me, check out the so-called “Novus Ordo Watch.”

    If the Trid Mass could be celebrated anywhere at anytime, the conditions under which this would happen would no longer be an indulgence—“indult,” if you will. As it is, there are already priests who insist they have this right. The use of a private “celebret” from the Holy See, to hear them tell it, allows them to say the Old Mass wherever they want, and to interpret “private” to mean just about anything. All this without concession to a local bishop. These notions are problematic, as it has already led to a vigilante mentality among some traditionalists. If there is to be a broader use of the ancient form of the Roman liturgy (and under this pontificate, I believe that is likely), certain details must be addressed. To do otherwise leads to the same chaos we have had already, just more reverent in outward appearance.

  • I’d be perfectly happy to see a rapprochement with the SSPX, but what, frankly, can Benedict XVI do more than what Joseph Ratzinger and John Paul II did in 1988, but which Lefebre rejected?

  • He doesn’t have to do anything, Seamus – God’s already taken care of that: both Lefebvre and John Paul are dead.

  • “what, frankly, can Benedict XVI do more than what Joseph Ratzinger and John Paul II did in 1988”

    As I read the protocols from 1988, they seem to grant every thing the traditionalists could reasonably expect but do so through ad hoc structures that are very dependent on the good will of the people implementing them.  The alternative would be to erect a permanent Tridentine Rite with bishops and some kind of “patriarch.”  This would give Latin Rite bishops no more authority over traditionalists than they have over the Maronites.

    Should the Pope agree to such a structure?  I think so if that will end the schism.  He should agree because the traditionalists have good reason to distrust the orthodoxy and the good faith of many Latin Rite bishops and their staffs. 

    The other thing that could be done is to clarify exactly how V2 can be,  on every point in contention, reconciled to Catholic Tradition.  This might result in a number of official statements that – like Dominus Jesus – are very difficult modernist theologians to accept.

  • In ten years there will be no need to come to terms with self-styled traditionalists. As evidenced by the desperate financial plight of the schismatic leaning Latin Mass Magazine, the movement is dying: literally.

  • Traditionalism: a dying movement?

    Lessee… last time I was at a Tridentine Mass, the average age was, roughly, 15 years; about 3-5 kids / adult. Something like that.

    At the parish where I play the organ, a typical, no-frills regular parish, average age? 50+

    Yep, sounds like traditionalists are definitely the ones dying out. smile

  • JP II and Cardinal Ratzinger tried to reconcile with the SSPX, but were treated most shabbily for their efforts.  Lefebvre and Cardinal Ratzinger signed a Protocol Agreement on 5 May, 1988 to regularize the situation of the SSPX.  In less than one month Lefebvre began to waiver on the agreement, within less than two months he went schismatic.

    The SSPXers need to reconcile, not the Church and Pope Benedict.

    If you have any doubts about just how wrong the actions of Lefebvre and the SSPX were, see the new book by Patrick Madrid and Pete Vere, More Catholic Than the Pope: An Inside Look at Extreme Traditionalism.  This book is a tightly argued work by a Catholic apologist and a canon lawyer.  It is so carefully written, the research is so solid, that I can find no argument that undermines any aspect of this meticulous work.

  • Just because Lefebvre acted like an ass doesn’t mean Benedict should perpetuate the schism with the rest of the SSPX out of revenge, Fritz.  IMHO, the Holy Father should offer the same deal as last time, and see if the Society can pull back from the upgraded demands Lefebvre made after he reneged on the deal.

  • We have the advantage of a pope whose thoughts on matters of liturgy and theology are well published. If you want to know what’s going to happen with this pope, tune into the Adoremus website ( and look for the section on the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger. Then hop on over to a discussion list devoted to him and his works (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

    But do your homework first.

  • Mr Williams:

    There is no such thing as a “Tridentine Rite” as such. It is essentially a classical form of the Roman Rite, the current missal (such as it is) being its reformed counterpart. This pope has spoken often of a “reform of the reform.” Whatever one may think of that concept, it originated with him.

    Which you’d know if you’ve read his works. (See above.)

  • Read it again, David.  Charles was suggesting a Tridentine Rite could or should be created: “The alternative would be to erect a permanent Tridentine Rite…”

    Having more than one Rite open to the Western Church is a neat idea long overdue, but unfortunately I doubt it – like allowing married men to the priesthood – will get past the real conservatives in the Curia, regardless of the example of our Eastern brothers.

  • I don’t think a universal permission to celebrate the Mass of Pope St Pius V along with the Mass of Pope Paul VI is creating a new “rite”.

    I think a reconciliation with SSPX could turn into a bigger net that could gather up bigger fish that have slipped out through the centuries.

  • Sully,

    Guess what?  Traditionalists are not contracepting themselves out of existence as are “cafeteria Catholics”

    Mark makes a very good point.  The Old Rite has many young adherants. 

    The Old Rite also has more applications for the seminary than they have room for.

  • “Read it again,
    2005-04-29 08:53:36
    2005-04-29 12:53:36
    Having many friends who are traditionalist Catholics attending the indult Latin Mass in Boston, I pray daily for the reconciliation of the SSPX and other schismatic traditionalists with the Church.

    IF (and this is a big IF) the SSPX accepts the validity of the reformed Roman Rite, the teachings of Vatican II in their entirety, and the teachings of post-conciliar Popes in their entirety, then my prayers would be answered.

    I’m hoping and praying for a universal indult for the Tridentine rite and also the implementation of the 1970 Roman Missal according to the written intentions of the Second Vatican Council in Sacrosanctum Concilium.  Those of us like myself in the Latin rite who love the Mass and want its solemnity and Latin language restored will rejoice.

  • Deusvult:

    There is already a “universal indult,” in the sense that the use of the Old Missal is a “legitimate aspiration” for all Catholics of the Latin rite. That being said, its implementation has been uneven. I know of bishops who would allow it in their dioceses this Sunday, if they could find priests who could say it. (Bringing a religious order into a diocese for a set purpose requires more than a phone call.)

    What needs to happen, I believe, is that the bishops need to be told outright that the burden is less on the people who have to prove that their wishes are legitimate—the text of the legislation already presumes that—and more on them to demonstrate why they do not grant this to those who ask for it. I maintain that only then, will you be able to identify those who can realistically implement it, from those whose resources forbid it.

  • Oh please…

    Don’t lecture anyone on “organic development” of liturgy.  The Novus Ordo is not a stage in living development but rather an abrupt break with development and a new construct that was brutally imposed virtually overnight and the Tridentine Mass suppressed.  (Compare the speed with which the Tridentine Mass was eliminated with the painfully slow pace of liturgical “reform of the reform” over the past 30 years) The action of suppressing a valid liturgy in itself was unparalleled in the history of the Church. 

    Can anyone compare the truly organic development between the 1955 missal and the 1962 missal with the radical reorientation, limitless options, and Protestant contributions toward what “developed” between the briefly used 1965 missal and the 1970 Mass of Paul VI??

    I agree, some reform was clearly intended by the Council Fathers, but they lost control of the process and were ignored as soon as the Council closed.  At that point a liturgical committee took over which shut out any voice opposed to their radical agenda and enaged in broad collaboration with Protestant “observers”.  You are correct, however, in your reading of the SSPX site that indicates a broader dissatisfaction than simply the Mass.  The Council itself is a focus of their fury and they must come to turns with that before they return to Rome.  I pray that they will do so.

    Sorry, the Old Rite had seminaries in Europe and America (SSPX) for decades.  The fact that the new orders (FSSP and ICK) have full seminaries in only 10 years of operation is a testament to the power of the Old Rite and the Holy Spirit to inspire men.  Over the next ten years, as the homosexual diocesan seminaries close around the country, I predict that diocese may ask the Tridentine orders for help.

  • “The Latin Mass Magazine is thriving! They just changed from quarterly to five issues per year.”

    I understood that that decision was made on the basis of reader habits rather than circulation growth. (At least that’s what the editor wrote in his cover letter to my first issue.) Each of those five issues is typically smaller than the former quarterly. And if they are indeed thriving, that is only a very recent development, largely the result of new management.

    “What failing magazine ups their shipping charges by 25%?” A magazine whose shipping costs go up 25%.

    Latin Mass Magazine has the advantage of being different, at a time when at least half a dozen Catholic periodicals are virtually indistinguishable from one another. That is its appeal. I can hardly tell the difference, for example, between This Rock and Envoy. (Okay, Envoy’s humor is a little cheekier.) And with the departure of Father Stravinskas, the “improved” edition of the Catholic Answer looks like a cheap imitation of either of them. That, along with Faith and Family, and (to a lesser extent) Crisis, and you’ve got five magazines that all fight for the same audience.

    The main reason for Crisis being… well, in crisis, may be the scandals involving its former editor, Mr Hudson. I can’t say for sure. If nothing else, they didn’t help.

    Occasionally, either Commonweal or America has something worth reading. But unless you buy their editorial slant wholesale (which I do not), you’d hardly want to subscribe to both.

    But TLM is more than just about the Mass. It is about the wealth of Catholic heritage. Every issue has at least one lesson on our birthright, even if you are content with the Latin Mass using the reformed missal. Some of the more controversial articles range from the outlandish to the truly stimulating. One is challenged in any case. This can be food for the starving man.

    By the way, for those who think I’m not “Catholic” enough because I appear to harbor some reservations about the demands of Traditionalists—and you wouldn’t be the first—I have a three-year subscription to TLM.

  • Sacrosanctum concilium, art. 36, para. 2 says that a wider use of the vernacular may be allowed because it can provide a great advantage to the people.

    The others are not in the documents, but that doesn’t mean that such things are outside the bounds of being authentically ordered by the Church. I’m not saying I agree with all of those changes, but just because they’re not in the documents of Vatican II doesn’t make them automatically wrong or invalid.

    A more substantive argument would have to be made against them. Interestingly, Pope Benedict has made those arguments before.

  • Mary:

    Look no more.

    The Council left the possibility open for the vernacular to be used in certain parts of the Mass, particularly the readings of scripture. At the same time, the Latin language was to be preserved, and Gregorian chant was to have “pride of place.”

    But you knew that, didn’t you?

    The “ad populum” orientation of the altar was an option introduced officially in 1964, with the First Instruction on the Implementation of SC. But only as an option. It was also presumed that the altar would be free-standing, to allow not only for this option, but for the priest to be able ot incense the altar from all sides in preparation for Sacrifice.

    Communion in the hand was introduced some years later, left to the discretion of the territorial bodies of bishops, and ultimately, the diocesan bishop himself. An individual bishop can restrict this in his diocese should he so wish. Communion on the tongue is normative.

    The use of female altar servers was introduced as an indulgence in 1994. In the USA, all but two dioceses (Lincoln NE and Arlington VA) allow female acolytes.

    You probably knew all that too.

    What you may not have noticed is that, in virtually all the complaints of the “novus ordo” by traditionalists, the focus is on things that have nothing to do with the substance of the official liturgical reform. Whether or not the text of the Roman liturgy had ever been changed, most if not all the innovations mentioned could very well have become a part of our liturgical life, given the degree of chaos that intruded upon parish life in the 1960s and 1070s.

    To truly appreciate this, it helps to have been born by then.

  • 3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

    This is the complete, in context quote.  It does not mandate the vernacular for the Mass.  So do you concede that every Bishop has the authority to retain the Latin as Bishop Rifan did and Archbishop Lefebvre did?

  • Rifan and Lefebvre did not simply retain the Latin language, since every Novus Ordo Mass can be celebrated in Latin. What they retained was a form of the Mass that the legitimate authority in the Church, i.e. the competent Vatican congregations with the approvel of the Pope, had superceded with a new form. Whether the new form was better is a different argument.

    But your point that Lefebvre et al were simply retaining the Latin language is wrong. They were retaining a lot more than that.

  • (Cousin???) Mary:

    I am not negative about Traditionalism, or the Tradition it espouses. My memories of the older form of Mass as a young boy are pleasant ones.

    My reservations concern the “lynch mob” mentality of some Traditionalists, who decide for themselves, rather than submit to Mother Church, what the litmus test of orthodoxy should be.

    For example. they are quick to demand the “right” to the 1962 Missal, and claim to be loathe to deviations. But the use of the Confetior before communion was eliminated by 1960. Oh, but that exception is okay; just don’t you dare lean in the other direction.

    I remember as a boy responding to the priest when he said “Orate fratres…” and “Ecce Agnus Dei…” But when I attend an indult Mass and attempt the same, I’ll get the Evil Eye from some dour-faced little twit who wasn’t even *born* in 1962. Fraternity priests who attempt to encourage this are known to be run out on a rail, as they once were in a parish I attended.

    After all, haven’t you heard? Such outward participation is the result of “creeping novus-ordo-ism” a concept unheard of in Rome.

    There is very little tolerance for original thinking among their numbers, and so I’m permanently banned from some “Old Mass” lists—not because I broke any list rules, or got off topic, but because enough people whined about whatever I had to say. (That’s the reason I was given.) Is this the result of espousing our noble Catholic heritage?

    Or just bad toilet training?

    I have served for the Old Mass, both publicly and privately. I personally hired a schola to serve a group of pilgrims coming to DC, who were barred from celebrating the Old Mass at the National Shrine. I’ve also noticed an openness to scholarship and speculation among devotees to an organization known as “CEIL,” based in France. Some friends of mine brought it to North America. I had the pleasure of listening to Father Aidan Nichols when he came to DC, to give one of the finest treatises on the beauty of traditional liturgy I’ve heard in years.

    If Cardinal Ratzinger had “faced East” before the alter at his installation, while the reformed missal was used in Latin, I seriously wonder if most people would have noticed the difference between the Old and the New.

    (Oh, yes, some of you would have. I’m talking about the rest of the huddled masses.)

    Does that answer your question, Mary? If not, you are more than welcome to contact me privately. As we say back home: “We’ll leave the light on for ya!”

  • “So do you concede that every Bishop has the authority to retain the Latin as Bishop Rifan did and Archbishop Lefebvre did?”

    What the bishops in question retained was not simply the use of Latin, but the use of the so-called “Missal of Pius V,” codified in 1570, but the result of a process that began nearly a millenium earlier, so far as we can discern. As to what authority a bishop can exercise in this regard, I’m not sure. It sounds as though it would be left to the “competent territorial body of bishops.” In other words, a bishops conference.

    If I were a bishop, I would give my diocesan priests, and those religious under my obedience, three to five years to have at least one High Mass in Latin in every parish, according to the reformed missal, including the use of Gregorian chant, on the grounds that this was the birthright of my faithful. I would start with my own cathedral, and go from there.

    It would probably take that long to re-tool the whole apparatus.

  • David,

    At our FSSP parish, no one is run out on a rail for attempting a dialogue Mass.

    As far as changes to the Missal of Pius V,

    That pretty much is called the 1962 Missal.

    One note, even though many changes had occured from around 700AD to 1960, organically I might add, the Roman Canon itself had not changed an iota until John23 inserted the name of St. Joseph into it.  Most of the problems that the devotees of the Old Rite have with the New are the lack of the Sacrificial nature of the prayers of the NewRite vs the Old.  For them, and I might be included with them, it is not the language but the Rite itself.

  • David wrote:
    “There is very little tolerance for original thinking among their numbers”

    Is it original thinking or bashing traditionalism and traditionalists?

    Domenic wrote:
    “Rifan and Lefebvre did not simply retain the Latin language, since every Novus Ordo Mass can be celebrated in Latin.”

    Tell that to Fr. Mullen of St. Brendan’s who was severely castigated for doing just that in a private Mass. He was warned to never attempt another Latin N.O. or he would risk suspension. (This from Cardinal Law)

    You can rail against Traditionalists, generalize about them/us, criticize, misrepresent, belittle but just remember it used to be considered a good thing to retain Tradition- now it is an automatic disqualification to being taken seriously.

    What it comes down to is how will my soul and the souls of my children be saved? Have you ever met a Traditional priest (and I’m not excluding priests that say the N.O.) who was not prolife, was prohomosexual, pro sex ed for kids, anti homeschooling. No I haven’t either.

    And to say that you didn’t like the way someone looked at you during Mass and to carry a grudge- well that seems a bit prideful and petty.  The focus of the Mass is the Holy Sacrifice, and not how people are looking at you.  But that is a problem w/ the new Mass where it’s all about US, wonderful, beautiful sinless us.- how we feel, how we look, and how others look at us. Rather than genuflect at the Ecce homo est we glad hand those around us and engage in small talk- where is the focus now and where has it led us?

  • And so the Council did ordain a reform of the liturgical books, but it did not forbid the previous books. The criterion the Council expressed is at once more vast and and more strict: it invited everyone to make a self-critique. We will return to this point.

    Now for the second argument, that the existence of the two rites can harm Church unity. Here one must make a distinction between the theological and the practical aspects of the question. On the theoretical and fundamental side of the question, it must be stated that many forms of the Latin rite have always existed, and that these rites declined only slowly as a consequence of the unification of human living space in Europe. Up until the Council there existed, alongside the Roman rite, the Ambrosian rite, the Mozarabic rite of Toledo, the rite of Braga, the rite of the Chartreux and of the Carmelites, and the best known of all: the rite of the Dominicans. And perhaps there were still other rites with which I am not familiar.

    No one was ever scandalized that the Dominicans, often present in our parishes, did not celebrate Mass like our parish priests, but had their own rite. We had no doubt that their rite was as Catholic as the Roman rite, and we were proud of this richness in having many different traditions.

    – Cardinal Ratzinger, October 24, 1998

  • True, the classical missal and its accompanying ritual books were not abrogated, simply replaced for normative use by the reformed editions.

    That being said, and with respect to His Eminence, the comparison only holds up to a point.

    First, a distinction between what is called the “Latin rite.” which encompasses those of the Western church, such as Ambrosian, Dominican, Mozarabic, and so on; as opposed to the “Roman rite,” which is particular to that autonomous ritual church which is based in Rome. This latter church does not have a tradition of two difference rites serving one church. Indeed, both claim to be “The Roman Missal.”

    That two stages of development of that Missal can co-exist side by side is unprecedented, but acceptable for the short run. The whole inspiration behind what Ratzinger called “the reform of the reform” is to deal with the long run. To do that requires the benchmark of the original reform, which was the Missal as it appeared in 1962.

    So, in promoting the classical Roman rite, we are accomodating the needs of the faithful as described in the decree Ecclesia Dei. In discussions on the future of the Roman liturgy (such as Fontgumbault in 2001, and so on), few if any see this as a long term solution.

    By “long term,” we are speaking in terms of generations here, given the whole history of the “liturgical movement” as a basis for comparison.