SANTA MESSA TRADIZIONALE
Roma 24 maggio 2003
Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore
Articoli e segnalazioni prima della celebrazione
1 maggio 2003 - The Catholic Herald
Pope prepares to lift restrictions on Tridentine Mass
English bishops request secret report from Latin Mass Society
By Simon Caldwell
The Pope might soon allow the world's Catholic priests the right to
celebrate the old rite Latin Mass on Sundays and holy days without the
permission of their bishops, according to sources close to the Vatican.
John Paul II is understood to be ready to grant a "universal indult"
by the end of the year to permit all priests to choose freely between the
celebration of Mass in the so-called Tridentine rite used up to 1962 -
before the disciplinary reforms of the Second Vatican Council - and the
novus ordo Mass used after 1970.
It will mean that a priest who wants to celebrate old rite Masses will
no longer need to apply for an indult to Ecclesia Dei, a pontifical commission
set up to study the implications of the Lefebvrist schism, after first
gaining permission from his bishop.
The indult may be announced as part of the publication of forthcoming
juridical notes on Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the new encyclical on the Eucharist,
published on Holy Thursday, in which the Pope affirmed the Church's traditional
teaching of the sacrificial nature of the Mass.
It might also be announced at the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome
on May 24, when Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the Prefect for the Congregation
of the Clergy and the president of Ecclesia Dei, becomes the first cardinal
prefect to celebrate an old rite Mass in a main Roman basilica for 30 years.
Organised by the Latin Mass movement, Una Voce, the event is one of
many indications that Rome is dropping restrictions on the celebration
of the old rite.
Last month, the Holy Father, who celebrated a Tridentine Mass last
summer, published a command called Rescriptum ex Audientia to authorise
the celebration of the old rite Mass in St Peter's Basilica, Rome, by any
priest who possessed an indult.
The Vatican also asked the Scottish bishops, ahead of their five-yearly
ad limina visit to Rome in March, to reveal what provisions they made for
the celebration of the old rite Mass in their dioceses. Since the meeting,
the Scottish bishops have stepped up their provision from just four a year
in the whole of the country to at least one a month in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The same requests have been made in a questionnaire to the English
and Welsh bishops, whose next ad limina visit to Rome will take place in
The bishops have invited the Latin Mass Society (LMS), set up to promote
the practice of the old rite, to submit a report on the provision of the
Tridentine Mass ahead of their low week meeting in London this week when
they were scheduled to discuss the issue.
John Medlin, LMS development officer, confirmed that a "full document"
had been circulated to the bishops but refused to discuss its contents.
But Francis Carey, LMS treasurer, said: "We are approaching a critical
point in the process to re-embed the traditional rite and sacraments in
the centre of the Church's life, something for which a generation of traditional
Catholics has prayed. I am looking forward to the future months with great
As a result of the efforts of the LMS, the old rite Mass is celebrated
with varying frequency in most dioceses of the country, mostly in the archdioceses
of Westminster, Southwark and Birmingham and the Diocese of Hexham and
The LMS says it is acting in accordance with the wishes of the Holy
Father, who published a motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei, in 1988 calling for
the bishops of the world to be generous in their provision of the old rite.
The Pope was distressed that Swiss Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who
rejected the reforms of the 1960s as "Marxist" and "neo-Protestant", incurred
excommunication that year after he ordained four bishops against the wishes
About 400 priests followed Lefebvre out of full communion with the
Church to form the Society of St Pius X. The Pope, who has actively sought
the unity of the whole Church during his pontificate, remains keen to heal
the schism. <sommaire>
"On all sides, we hear that the Pope would like to settle this matter
before he dies," said Swiss Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Priestly
Fraternity of St Pius X, in a letter to supporters in January.
Bishop Fellay, consecrated by Lefebvre and excommunicated with him,
said Rome had offered to give him an "personal apostolic administration",
similar to a diocese, as it did in 2002 with the Priestly Union of St John
Vianney, a group of schismatic traditionalists in Campos, Brazil.
But he said: "If one considers Rome's offer of an apostolic administration
just by itself, it is as splendid as the architect's plan of a beautiful
mansion. But the real problem is the practical problem of what foundations
the mansion will rest on. On the shifting sands of Vatican II, or on the
rock of tradition going back to the Apostles?"
In an interview with Il Giornole last Friday, the bishop welcomed Ecclesia
de Eucharistia as a "positive sign". He also said there was a chance of
reconciliation with Rome but he wanted a declaration that the old rite
had never been abrogated and that the decree of excommunication of Lefebvre
and his followers be annulled prior to any agreement.
He said: "The negotiations continue - they are not dead. They advance
with prudence on both sides. I do not envisage, for the moment, the possibility
of an immediate agreement. We need a slow process. But we have confidence
in God, who can change the plans of men. We believe in the Church, we believe
in the Holy Spirit, who can make what is not foreseeable today happen."
The Pope believes the old rite poses neither a threat to the unity
of the Church nor to the genuine reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Indeed, he has been ready on at least two other occasions to grant
a universal indult once in 1982 and once in 1986 - but was dissuaded
by influential bishops, in the latter instance by Cardinal Basil Hume,
among others, who was said to have been irritated by the actions of some
people promoting the old-rite Mass.
Today, however, the LMS is keen to demonstrate its obedience to both
the local bishops and the Holy See. Last year, it suspended Dr Carol Byrne,
its deputy chairman, because of her public support for the Society of Pius
The Pope has furthered his cause by appointing to the Ecclesia Dei
Commission people who hold his views, among them Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who became
a member two years ago.
The Cardinal shares the Pope's concern that abuses of the new rite,
listed in the latest encyclical, have led to the depreciation of the Eucharist
and the loss of some of the awe and mystery of the Mass.
A constant theme of the two has been "reform of the reform", rather
than "restoration", and some Vatican observers claim wider practice of
the old rite Mass would provide a norm against which the new Mass could
be considered. "Nobody would be able to deny the sacrificial nature of
the Mass," said one source.
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