NEWS:  October 25, 2006

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

LIFTING THE BAN ON THE TRIDENTINE MASS  – I have been asked to comment on the information spread by Card. Zen Ze-Kiun of Hong Kong on October 10 that Benedict XVI would have already signed a document allowing any priest at any place to say the Tridentine Mass if he so desires, unless his Bishop explicitly forbids it.

There are two perspectives from which one can view the subject: Benedict’s perspective and the traditionalist one. I will analyze them one at the time.

No schism in the left

Pope Ratzinger’s pontificate has been, so far, very modest in attaining good results for the Conciliar Church.

He was elected as the man who would use a “German hand” to achieve on two fronts a long-dreamed unity for the Conciliar Church. On one front, he would arrive at unity with the Schismatics and Protestants. On the other, he would find a way to stop the seepage of persons inside the Catholic Church from the Progressivist camp to Traditionalist ground. He would bring back the SSPX priests to “full communion” in the Church. Unity outside and inside, to attain this was the reason Card. Ratzinger was elected.

Cardinal Zen Ze-Kiun

News leaks from Card. Zen Ze-Kiun, Hong Kong, about a signed papal document
Now then, even though 18 months of his pontificate have passed, nothing significant has been achieved regarding the first mission. I restrain from analyzing this further here.

Regarding his second task, some steps have been taken. He met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of SSPX (August 29, 2005); it was said that he explained his plans on this topic at the last consistory of Cardinals (March 2006) and received their approval, and now it seems that a document lifting the ban on the Tridentine Mass is waiting in the wings.

How should we interpret the information released by Card. Zen?

When the Vatican chooses to spread information from Hong Kong and not from its own headquarters, it is clear that it is floating a trial balloon. This balloon is to check the reactions in the left wing of Progressivism. Indeed, it makes sense. If Benedict wants to finish with a “schism” on the right, it would not be at the price of opening a schism on the left. This seems obvious to me. Therefore, after the word is out, all the Vatican’s seismographs must be at work to measure the degrees of anger or discontent in the left or center-left, and evaluate whether or not they will lead to a schism. Depending on these conclusions the lift on the ban will or will not be released.

Looking for this kind of symptom, I found only two worthy of mention:
  • Almost simultaneously with the release of Zen’s information, Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Canada, made remarks expressing his disappointment. He reported that Card. Castrillon Royos had spoken briefly with the Canadian Bishops on a possible permission for the Tridentine Mass. Then he commented that this new permission is “apparently motivated by a desire to bring comfort to older people who may miss the old rite. But in my Archdiocese the few people asking for it are young people who never experienced it” (Catholic Online, October 11, 2006).

  • On October 22, the French Catholic newspaper La Croix published news that five French Bishops and 30 priests had publicly expressed their concerns about lifting the ban on the Tridentine Mass. Their main argument is that the traditionalist priests who would be readmitted would continue to refuse to follow Vatican II and its reforms (Washington Post online, October 23, 2006).

    Bishop Robert Gall, an expert on liturgy of the French Bishops Conference, told La Croix: “This could create grave difficulties, especially for those who have remained loyal to Vatican II” (ibid.).

    In an open letter the 30 priests advised Benedict XVI to encourage traditionalist priests “to work in the world as it is rather than plunge us back into the liturgical life of another age” (ibid.).
These are the only two pieces of negative reactions from the clergy that I found. I am sure the Vatican has a full spectrum of reactions at hand and is duly analyzing them.

If the Vatican considers that it can handle these reactions without raising problems of unity, it seems it will allow the Tridentine Mass everywhere.

If not, it will either postpone the document, or give one of those vague and general permissions that doesn’t mean anything and maintains the same state of affairs.

From the traditionalist perspective

Regarding this accord with the Vatican, Bishop Bernard Fellay has been the center of attention for the last two year. In his variant statements, he is not crystal clear regarding whether he will accept Vatican II, and if he does accept it, under what terms he would do so. Until this point is unambiguously established, I think that we are wasting time in speculations.

Abbe Philippe Laguerie says mass in Bordeaux

Abbe Philippe Laguerie, above, head of the Good Shepard Institute, says Mass in his official parish in the Archdiocese of Bordeaux, France - La Croix online
To me it seems hard to believe that Benedict XVI plans to bring into the Conciliar Church more than 400 priests who would start to discuss the validity and legitimacy of Vatican II and raise all kinds of objections regarding ecumenism, inter-confessional dialogue, adaptation of the Church to the modern world, the Protestantization of the liturgy, religious liberty, etc. It would be the equivalent of putting a hornets’ nest inside his house. No sane person does such a thing.

So, if the Vatican agrees with the lifting of the Tridentine Mass and gives the SSPX priests a good juridical standing, it must have a guarantee from Bishop Fellay and other leaders that polemics like the ones above will never be raised. But if this is the case, we return to the same song and dance made by individual priests and associations which dealt with the Commission Ecclesia Dei to arrange their canonical status: the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, the Fraternity of St. John Baptist Vianney, and established last month, the Good Shepard Institute.

Before the agreement, what they said they would do was to “interpret the Council according to tradition.” In fact, after the agreement was signed, the lions suddenly became rabbits. They raised no serious obstacles against the Council, and ended by accepting it completely. Today those “heroes” run no risk and are comfortably installed in the Conciliar Church as members of a club that prefers the “old liturgy” in Latin and Gregorian Chant rather than the modern Protestantized mass with its dialogue and modern rhythms. No important doctrinal objections were raised.

Therefore, the grassroots of the SSPX are facing a dilemma that shortly should end in a decision: Will they follow persons – their compromised superiors – or will they follow principles? If they follow persons and compromise, thenceforth they probably will have a comfortable life in the Conciliar Church. If they follow principles and refuse to compromise with Progressivism, they will have a hard life, harder than the one they had before. However, these persons will be choosing to remain faithful to the immutable principles of the Catholic Faith, to save the Holy Mother Church from the usurpation of Progressivism, to hold high the banner of the fight for tradition. It is the path of saints, all the more glorious in that only a few are remaining on it in this epoch of the great apostasy.


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